Uchu Sentai Kyuranger – Episode 35 Review

When the team finally head off for a confrontation with Don Armage in the show’s present, I didn’t think we’d get there for at least another episode. The team deciding to stop off on the way for pop-related hijinks was obviously a set-up for a filler episode but, like always, Kyuranger has a much, much better way to handling filler than other Sentai‘s do and we actually ended up getting a lot of huge plot-important stuff in the second half.

We’ve seen this gold alien pop star dude a lot throughout the series so it’s nice to finally have him explained, and the fact that he’s been in the show before is actually referenced. He sang in the advert for the Jark Matter luxury planet thingy, which meant he’s somehow connected to the villains. It’s crazy that they went back to that small detail so much later in the series but I’m also a continuity nerd who loves call-backs like this.

But a call-back to an episode where a few members of the cast got to dress up and adopt wacky comedy personas to infiltrate a Jark Matter-controlled facility turned out to be very deliberate, because that’s exactly what this episode is too. Kyuranger has given its cast a lot of opportunities to act as other personalities or characters and it must be so fun for them to film. It also must have been fun being at the filming of the performance scene, which I imagine there was some contest to be in or something because the front row is all kids. Or maybe members of the production crew just brought their kids along to fill out the audience. I’d love to know the behind the scenes backstory there.

It was refreshing to finally get a focus episode for Hammy, who started off as my favourite when there were only five, but who’s screentime has since been reduced so much by all the other larger-than-life characters who’ve joined the show. The new bit of backstory of her meeting the pop star before he was famous after she’d escaped her home planet was actually quite a moving and unique little detail for the character. It’s just a little weird that they gave Hammy CGI tears in the dream-like part of the flashback scene though. Was the actor unable to cry while filming or did they forget to tell her to when they originally filmed that scene, and had to add tears in later to make her voiceover line about wanting to cry make sense? I don’t know, and I don’t mind either way, but it just jumped out at me as a weird thing to do as an effect. I liked that the dialogue in that changing room scene is being had with Naga. Finally, we’re actually seeing Naga talk about human emotions and asking questions. It’s something I’d liked to have seen more of in the build-up to the ‘evil Naga’ arc.

The performance scene was pretty standard stuff until Don Armage himself showed up. Credit where credit’s due, I thought we’d have to wait quite a while before seeing him again so it took me by surprise. It really shows how effective giving a character a reputation is, because we’ve seen Don Armage so rarely that it did genuinely shock me and raise the tension when he arrived. It’s been a while since we’ve had a final boss with such presence and that design is just incredible. It’s big and badass while still being simple and memorable. The mecha fight was suitably epic thought I wish they’d have picked a different colour for the sky because it kinda looked like they’d forgot to edit out the green screen. It made sense in the shots where we could see clouds and planets up above, but when it was just a block of green it was kinda distracting.

This episode started off as a fun little side-adventure but it surprised me by giving Hammy some much-needed attention and depth, giving Naga closure and developing his emotions, and giving us a lot of new info about Don Armage’s ability to survive after having died twice already (I just realised, that makes him the Clara Oswald of Super Sentai). Also it was nice to see Hiroya Matsumoto in his 219023rd Super Sentai appearance. He really needs to win some sort of award for ‘Services to Toku’.

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