This episode excites me the most out of the three we’ve had so far. Making the first episode of a Super Sentai show enjoyable is pretty easy to do because you’re going to be introducing us to new characters and new suits and new situations that will naturally seem more fresh and interesting because we’ve just finished sitting through around 50 episodes of the previous characters and suits and situations. What’s really difficult is maintaining the same level of interest through the following 49 episodes, and it’s here that I’ve had my doubts about Kyuranger. Originally I thought we were going to be starting off with a core team of three (Green, Yellow, and Black) and gaining two new rangers in each of the first three episodes, basically dumping the whole base team of nine on us at the start, after which the show would relax into its default state of filler. Episode 3 took these expectations and subverted them in such a way that gives me very high hopes for the show’s future.
For one thing, two rangers don’t join the team in this episode. In fact, no rangers join the team. Orange is introduced but he’s an anti-hero who’s involvement in the early stages of the show will presumably be used to introduce us to the main villains while elegantly giving the Kyurangers and the evil Galactic Empire some personal beef with each other. Throughout the episode I was waiting for the moment where Pink actives her powers and jumps into the fight, but that scene never came. Instead, that moment, which I expected the show to rush through in the same way it rushed through Blue’s big henshin moment in Episode 1, will actually be the main focus of Episode 4. This is wonderful because it stretches out the gathering of the main nine, making for less filler later on and giving each of the nine characters room to breathe and react to their new situations.
Which leads me to the second thing about this episode that made me excited for the show’s future: the expansion of Black’s backstory. It was very surprising to have an episode I expected to be an Orange + Pink focus actually turn out to be an Orange + Black focus, but it really sets me at ease knowing that the show has its priorities in the right place. Instead of relentlessly charging ahead to give us the next thing and the next thing week after week while neglecting what we already have, this episode slowed things down so we could learn more about a character who’s main contribution to the show before now has really just been background decoration. As it turns out, Black is a really strong character with a lot of room to grow. In particular, I could easily see a future focus episode around the pairing of Black + Silver as Silver continues his quest to unlock his emotions and Black continues his quest to be more than just a machine.
Once again, it’s Lucky that holds the entire thing back from being a truly good time. He continues to not only be the most annoying character by far but also the source of all the show’s narrative problems, which is kinda fascinating to think about. All of the bad writing and dialogue in the show so far is in some way a result of Lucky’s influence. For example, in this episode he spouts out a bunch of nonsense about Orange, trying to get Black to drop his grudge with him for no reason other than “He’s a Kyuranger”. The logic behind that makes no sense on any level, and that’s not even factoring in that many viewers will have likely seen a Super Sentai show before and know full well that evil rangers exist. The weird thing about his outbursts is that Lucky is the only character in the show who spouts that sort of nonsense, over-emotive Sentai philosophy and all the other characters listening to him are just as aware as the audience is that it makes no sense. And yet, the show insists on treating Lucky like he’s the main character. I didn’t notice this until now, but it looks like every episode is going to open with “I’m Lucky, the luckiest guy in the universe!” which I’m not really a fan of. It makes the show about him rather than about the team.
The other big addition to the main cast other than Orange is Xiao Longbao, who, and I know I say this in every review about a different person but I simply don’t care, is probably going to be my favourite character. I love how he’s very laid back and fun without trying too hard to be funny. Also, unlike other mentors in other stories who hold back on vital information for the sake of drama, the first thing Xiao Longbao does when he arrives is tip his entire Kyutama collection out onto the table. This is the third thing that made me excited for the show’s future: the Kyutama. There are so many of them and it means that whenever the show starts getting boring they can just play around with new powers and gear. The Gemini Kyutama in this episode alone showed off the potential these things have for keeping fight scenes fresh. This episode as a whole did a great job of showing us that there’s a lot to look forward to in Kyuranger‘s future.
And now: some random thoughts about the episode as a whole. After the fairly casual nature of the Zyuohgers’ set-up, it’s refreshing to have a Super Sentai team who are so co-ordinated. I liked seeing the team fly the mecha down to the planet’s surface and how the fight scene was intercut with Raptor and Xiao Longbao in the main ship above. It made them seem more like an official group than just a bunch of inexperienced kids, as fun as that can be. I know it goes without saying but I also adore the suits for the series. Even the small detail of the starfield visible in their visors really makes the designs pop.
Three episodes in to Kyuranger and I am, on the whole, having fun watching it. I’m concerned about the direction the series is going and how it’s going to handle its nine-person ensemble once all the pieces are in motion, but after Zyuohger, I’d rather a show that was overcrowded rather than one that was boring. Ultimately Lucky is the show’s biggest problem and if they don’t either A) get him to shut up or B) give his character some more dimensions soon, he could kill the show for me.