Uchu Sentai Kyuranger – Episode 34 Review

When Xiao Longbao came out of the deep-sleep chamber thing in the last episode, my immediate first reaction was ‘Okay, so where’s Champ? He’s a robot so he probably doesn’t need to go into hibernation, but where is he?’ It was brought up briefly at the end of the last episode that he went to find Professor Anton, and now we have the result of that search.

One of the things that’s so impressive to me about Kyuranger and one of the reasons why I think it’s lasted for 34 episodes without once losing my attention is because it knows how to squeeze every drop of goodness out of its ideas. The only real bit of wasted potential for me personally is the decision to set the show almost entirely on Earth instead of on a different planet every week like the way the show started. Here, rather than Champ climbing into a deep-sleep chamber beside Xiao and coming back to the present with no consequences, the writers decided to do something creative with his return.

Unfortunately, the fact that it comes almost immediately after the evil Naga arc hurts how cool this idea is, but the idea of an evil Champ, who was copied due to his robot-ness, was at least an original way of doing an evil clone ranger. The arrival of the evil black Kyutama of death was a cool way to introduce us to the evil Champ, and when the real Champ arrived, the gag of putting a mask on the Kyuranger with by far the most distinctive design was wonderful. Although, it did have the unfortunate side-effect of me finding it harder to tell which suit is his robot form and which is his transformed form. It’s an issue I sometimes have with Balance too, where he’ll be the only character in a scene not transformed but because he’s already a bulky guy in a helmet I’ll forget he isn’t already transformed. That’s not a flaw with the show though, that’s a flaw with my dumb brain.

Champ originally being a Jark Matter robot was a good twist with a lot of potential but it does unfortunately make the death of Professor Anton even more simple. Originally he was a good guy who was killed someone who looked like Stinger, creating conflict within the team. Rather than pursuing this storyline and adding some depth and moral ambiguity to the situation, the show has since revealed that it wasn’t Stinger who did it and that Professor Anton was evil anyway. What was once the most intriguing element of Champ’s backstory is now incredibly straight-forward and dull. Still, the dialogue between disguised Champ, a suspicious Stinger, and a Garu who was totally convinced Champ wasn’t Champ was a lot of fun and Champ’s motivations made a lot of sense when explained.

The simultaneous ground and mecha fight was excellent and I love the way the new ship loads each giant Kyutama into the mecha. It’s a little detail but it’s a creative use of this year’s mecha designs. That new recurring monster guy with the pipes and stuff at least has some presence now to back up his cool design. Shame he died as soon as he got there. I’m still waiting for the mystery of why none of the generals recognise Tsurugi to be resolved but knowing this show’s track record I’m sure it’ll be addressed at some point.

I can’t decide how I feel about a monster who can reflect attacks being defeated by a bigger, shinier attack. On the one hand, it’s in-keeping with Super Sentai‘s typical unrelenting optimism that by believing in the heart of the cards, Lucky is able to overcome a seemingly un-overcome-able enemy. On the other, it is a little silly. I was expecting them to use something like Lucky’s solar mode, so when his light-based powers were reflected back they’d charge Lucky up. Something like that would’ve been a little more creative and clever instead of just brute force.

The final fight with 4 giant robots against 2 giant monsters was awesome. I could try my best to go more in-depth with that analysis but sometimes ‘awesome’ is all you need. It’s 4 building-sized robots smashing 2 building-sized monsters to death: that doesn’t need analysis.

Like with the way the show didn’t introduce all 9 main Kyurangers at once, I like that they’re holding back on the big final combined mode of the series. The return of Champ was a big-enough deal that this episode didn’t really need anything bigger. That, and the used of the ship as a finisher weapon for a three-person Sentai team of mecha was impressive enough on its own. It’s such a simple idea that was so cool to see. This episode ended with the team discovering where Don Armage’s base is, so it looks like we’re about to start slowly ramping up to the endgame. There’s still quite a bit of Kyuranger left to go, but I’m so impressed with how well the main storyline of this series has held my attention and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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