PT’s Annual Birthday (Day) Thread Forms An Animal Squadron (7/21)

It’s my 40th birthday today. I don’t know how I feel about this. It’s just a number, yes. But I’m seeing some grey in my hair already. That’s not good! Am I truly getting older?

….technically, Goranger and J.A.K.Q. were grandfathered in and Battle Fever J was the first show to be termed “Super Sentai” but…

Last year, I began what will hopefully be an ongoing series (gag?) concerning this yearly birthday thread – discussing the Super Sentai team corresponding to my age. For instance, last year I wrote about the 39th Super Sentai team, Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. And that was a terrible show with one of the worst leaders (Reds) in the history of the franchise. (And we have some whoppers for Reds, good and bad, coming up provided I’m still doing these in a few years.)

The year is 2016. Super Sentai is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary, and thankfully the team/show this year is very good!

Zyuohger is the sixth series (after Sun Vulcan, Liveman, Jetman, Gingaman and Gaoranger) focused on animals. For comparison, there are only four Super Sentai series (Zyuranger, Abaranger, Kyoryuger, Ryusoulger) based on dinosaurs.

Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger, often translated as “Animal Sentai Zyuohger” or the wordy “Animal Squadron Beast King Ranger” instead, could be described to someone as “animals meets Minecraft meets a Rubik’s Cube.” The transformation devices are giant blocks, the robots come from giant blocks, etc. The parallel world (Zyuland) for which four of the main characters come from is a strange world of animals (furries?) and…blocks?

First things first, the cast is an instant improvement over last season’s group, starting with the leader. Yamato (played by Masaki Nakao) is a zoologist who stumbles upon Zyuland and meets the other four “zyumen” in their natural animal forms. The five join up and utilize the powers of magical cubes (one of them that Yamato conveniently had as an “artifact” from his childhood) in order to combat the evil Dethgaliens. The Dethgaliens have selected Earth to be the spot for their 100th “Blood Game” competition, in which monsters are foisted onto a world to cause as much destruction as possible before eventually taking over.

Without a sixth magical cube that has long gone missing, the zyumen are trapped on Earth and must help defend it while looking for a way home.

Ultimately, the characters are likable archetypes. Nothing deep here, but also no one is stealing the show and/or becoming Poochie like Ninninger’s Takaharu (or Kyuranger’s Lucky, who we will hopefully talk about next year). As the leader, Yamato/Zyuoh Eagle is direct and empathic toward animals and humans – despite essentially now living with a bunch of weird animal people at his home. Sela/Zyuoh Shark is competitive, friendly and shows disdain for showing weakness. Leo/Zyuoh Lion is kind but also foul-tempered, but considerate to those weaker than him. Tusk/Zyuoh Elephant is smart, but standoffish and ultimately too prideful. And Amu/Zyuoh Tiger is carefree but determined.

Zyuoh Eagle! Zyuoh Shark! Zyuoh Lion! Zyuoh Elephant! Zyuoh Tiger! Zyuoh The World! Don’t mess with this planet!
Misao Mondo, the sixth Zyuohger and also
a man without any social tact whatsoever.

Just an agreeable cast that is only helped by the introduction of a sixth member, the anxious mess that is Misao Mondo. Misao was kidnapped by the Dethgaliens and forced to absorb the essences of three imprisoned animals, hence becoming Zyuoh The World and forced to fight against our heroes before turning good. He kind of has infinite guilt with the animal essences that were forcibly melded into his body.

Just a good cast all around. Likable main characters, fun powerups, and great villains including a “cracking” commander/midboss. It’s a pretty easy watch, and you eventually ignore how silly some of the robots are – notably since every robot piece has a specific number on them. Ultimately, if you are a fan of tokusatsu and especially Super Sentai, this was a pretty watchable season. One of the better ones in recent years.

Our villains this season, the Dethgaliens, have made Earth their 100th “Blood Game” event, and the planet must deal with that.

Super Sentai as a franchise celebrated its 1,000th overall episode midway through Zyuohger, and with that, the 999th and 1,000th episodes respectively featured a two-part return appearance by the Pirate Sentai Gokaiger, the 35th anniversary team. Yes, lots of wacky transformations take place, including the use of Ranger Keys from teams past and also those who debuted after Gokaiger aired. (The Gokaiger would then, five years later, appear in their tenth anniversary special, Ten Gokaiger. Pretty sure they’ll be around every five years or so if the actors are willing to reprise their roles.)

From Pirate Sentai Gokaiger: Ten Gokaiger. It just wouldn’t be a Gokaiger episode/movie/special without the use of old powers.

Next season/year: The franchise goes back to space, yet again, but this time with the largest team ever as absolutely everyone defends the universe. YOSSHA LUCKY!

Take care of yourself, everyone. Have a good day, a good day thread…just be good to yourself and everyone around you.