Uchu Sentai Kyuranger – Episode 41 Review

This episode got off to a strong start with a longer than average pre-title sequence. Rather than taking down the Crux System’s shield with the click of a Kyutama, we actually see the effort it took to get in position and activate everything. I love how competent the Kyurangers are as a team and this opening does a good job of showing them planning a mission and executing it perfectly. There’s some really cool time-jump stuff here too, where we’ll see the action spliced with flashbacks to when the plan was made. It’s a good way to taking us straight into the plot while also showing how much care went into what they’re doing. It’s a little detail but it makes these heroes seem more on top of things.

This pre-title sequence also did a good job at ramping up the tension as we head towards endgame territory, with the armada of Jark Matter ships and the short scene of Don Armage’s hologram sending a new general after them. Side note: every now and then an episode starts with a short scene of a Jark Matter general being given orders is a cool darkly-lit Gothic location and then that location is never used in the rest of the episode. Jark Matter has serious style.

I’m surprised Super Sentai has been doing Star Wars for this long and we haven’t really had a ‘join the dark side and we can rule the galaxy together!’ moment. We’ve had evil relatives but never any real temptation that the rangers would turn evil as well. Not that I expect them to; this is Super Sentai after all. It’s just interesting that we’re 41 episodes in and we’re only now getting a monster of the week trying to pitch the benefits of joining Jark Matter to the team. If nothing else, it gives this villain a bit more personality than most weekly villains are given. This one actually has a backstory and a sense of loyalty to the cause he’s fighting for to make him seem actually evil. For being merely a ‘guard’, he has about as much personality if not more than some of the recurring Jark Matter generals.

We’ve seen this sort of illusion gimmick in episodes before (and it’s crazy that the heroes fall for it every time) but it’s played a lot more seriously here. It might even have come off as being genuinely dark if the fact that they all fell for it didn’t make it so cartoonishly silly. That being said, the panning shot of them all writhing in pain while the villain walks through them, monologing, before arriving at Lucky who’s just staring forward calmly was a pretty effective shot. Of course Lucky broke out of the illusion before having to actually choose between joining Darth Vader and letting Han die because this is Super Sentai, where trolley problems are defeated with the power of friendship. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and the illusion of Lucky’s dad was actually quite menacing. This episode just had good villains all around.

Not only are we now in endgame territory in the sense of being right at the main villain’s door, but the show is also starting to get a little darker in tone. One of the benefits of having a large 12-person cast is that you can severely injure what in most series would be a full team of rangers and still have enough left over to generate fun fight scenes. Not only was the scene of Lucky walking into the ship and seeing all his friends bleeding pretty harrowing but it came right after Darth Vader told Lucky who his daddy was. This episode set up the next arc beautifully and overall did a great job of shifting us into the finale mindset.

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