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Old 04-03-2017, 07:49 PM   #1
Talon87
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Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger


In 1993, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers took America by storm. You probably already know the story: five teens from Angel Grove High are selected by Zordon, a mysterious man of science, to become the Power Rangers -- heroes who will defend humanity against the forces of evil. These "teenagers with attitude" pilot giant semi-autonomous robots which resemble prehistoric creatures such as the T-Rex, woolly mammoth, and saber-tooth tiger.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was based off of an earlier Japanese work, called Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. It spliced together original footage shot in California with stock footage from the Japanese TV show, pairing the edits with brand-new scripts which almost entirely departed from the source material.

But how familiar are you with Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger?


The story goes like this: 170 million years ago, humans and dinosaurs lived side by side. Then the great witch Bandora appeared. Her terror was put to an end when heroic forces sealed her within a prison jar. This jar was relocated to a roaming planet that would not cross paths with Earth for another 170 million years. Five of humanity's greatest warriors were then placed in stasis, one from each of five tribes. Should Bandora ever reappear, these five warriors would come to humanity's rescue.

In the present day (the early 1990s), Bandora is released from her prison. Swearing vengeance against mankind, she threatens to turn the world into a barren wasteland. A great sage, Barza, rushes to a hidden temple where he awakens the five warriors from their deep slumber. Now, these five heroes from prehistoric times find themselves in the modern era, faced with a terrifying adversary and an even more terrifying reality: everyone they ever loved, everyone they ever knew save for one another ... is dead and has been for over 170 million years.


Fans of the Super Sentai franchise have written that the original Japanese TV programs are much, much better than their American counterparts. Four episodes in, I can see where they're coming from but I also think that the two versions are on more of an even footing than sentai fans let on. For instance, I disagree that only Power Rangers is cheesy -- both series are, incredibly so. But they're cheesy in different ways. They are hugely products of their very different cultures. But in general, I would have to agree even just four episodes in that, forced to choose between the two, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger is the better show to keep.

This is my first sentai, and I am overwhelmed by just how perfectly it matches the stereotypical depictions of sentai programming in other shows I've watched. Whether it's BokuMachi or Level E, whether it's Tari Tari or School Rumble, the camaraderie, the over-the-top purity of heart, the speeches, the theme music ... all of it, it's so spot on. Even though this is my first sentai series, it feels so familiar.


Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger is available in the United States on DVD with English-language subtitles for around $50. I couldn't find it online and I didn't want to purchase it blindly, so what was a guy to do? Luckily for me, my local library happened to have it. O_o Yours might too! So give it a shot, especially if you live in a city or college town. You might be pleasantly surprised.

I'll be sure to keep you posted with my thoughts as I press on with the series.
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Old 04-03-2017, 11:42 PM   #2
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It's easy for me to understand that someone would prefer Zyuranger, since its story is not nearly as "kiddie" as MMPR. MMPR is only a step up from Barney as far as lessons/morals go, extreme violence nonwithstanding.

I also dislike the origins of the Guardian Beasts. Spoiler:

Spoiler: show
They look like mechas but are supposedly ancient gods. Not mechanical at all despite having cockpits and computers. Okay. MMPR just made them mechas.


It's ironic, but the American-made MMPR actually feels like a port of a 1960's Japanese toku, rather than a '90s one.
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Old 04-04-2017, 06:39 PM   #3
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I'm through Episode 08 now. The series continues to be enjoyable. It's a family show, clearly, one meant to be watched by small children accompanied by their parents. But I can enjoy it on my own just fine. A few small discussion points:

Spoiler: show
The original series establishes pretty strongly that Bandora (Rita in MMPR) despises children. Many of the episodes not only have her stating this but flat out feature her trying to wreck children's lives and to tear up families in the process. Whereas Rita is non-specifically evil in MMPR, here she's given this anti-kid angle which makes her a pretty decent villain for a family show. Kids can both fear her and boo her, while parents can get taken for their own special ride: every episode begins with children getting stolen, eaten, cursed, or otherwise screwed; the children's parents despair; the children are eventually returned to their parents in perfect health; and the parents cry with joy. It's sappy, sure, but it's the sort of thing that you can imagine being just perfect for parents on the couch who are accompanying their kids through this otherwise fairly childish show.


In the seventh episode, the Blue Ranger makes a Japanese gesture that caught me off guard. When asking a 10-year old boy if the girl he has a crush on is his girlfriend, Dan (the Blue Ranger) holds up his hand with all his fingers clenched except for his pinky. This gesture, as seen here, is a Japanese hand gesture used to convey a girlfriend, wife, or mistress -- women whom, categorically, one typically associates with sexual intercourse. My understanding of the origin behind this hand gesture was considerably more ... vulgar than what I find online. Most people seem to explain it as having to do with the "Japanese finger family" and how the pinky is considered the "baby finger," and since women / male-female sexual intercourse would be associated with baby making then I guess this is why that finger is used to convey the idea of "girlfriend; wife; mistress". Still, I had thought it a crass hand gesture. Apparently it's not! Or at least it's not, depending on the context. Because Zyuranger is the very definition of family-friendly entertainment.

The first six episodes of the series follow a narrative progression, although they do not comprise a story arc together. Episodes 1 and 2 form the series premiere; Episodes 3 and 4 explain how the Rangers obtain their new weapons; and Episodes 5 and 6 establish the Rangers' use of the Megazord, here known as Daijuujin "Great Beast God". But each episode leads into the next, each story arc into the next. It's been nice. ... That stated, Episode 07 marks the arrival of the first stand-alone episode, it seems like, with little in the way of narrative establishment. And Episode 08 continues that trend. So we'll see. I'd like it if the story continues to be developed on a regular basis, but I also understand that the point of shows like this one is that families can opt to tune into them or they can opt to miss them and tune in without penalty next week.

There hasn't been much evidence of romance directed towards or coming out of our leading lady Mei, but what little signs have been shown would seem to weakly indicate that all of the men are lightly infatuated with her save Goushi and that Mei might possibly have feelings for squadron leader Geki. We'll see? It's clear from these first eight episodes that romance is not a major factor in Zyuranger's writing.
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Old 04-04-2017, 11:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
Still, I had thought it a crass hand gesture. Apparently it's not! Or at least it's not, depending on the context. Because Zyuranger is the very definition of family-friendly entertainment.
That could have been adult innuendo that kids don't get. Such is more common in toku than you would think:

https://webmshare.com/rZB5x
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Last edited by Doppleganger; 04-05-2017 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 04-04-2017, 11:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
Still, I had thought it a crass hand gesture. Apparently it's not! Or at least it's not, depending on the context. Because Zyuranger is the very definition of family-friendly entertainment.
That could have been adult innuendo that kids don't get. Such is more common in toku than you would think:

https://webmshare.com/rZB5x
AMAZING. XD
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Old 04-07-2017, 01:03 AM   #6
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Currently 15 episodes in. I'm still enjoying the series, but this one fan's thoughts on Zyuranger sum up my own at this point in time almost perfectly:
"I think once the novelty of, "OMG this is the sentai that became the source footage for the first and most iconic Power Rangers! And it's a lot 'darker' than Power Rangers too!" wears off, it becomes apparent how mediocre this show is. Aside from the fact that the plot makes just as much sense as Power Rangers', the heroes are even more devoid of personality. At least the MMPR were defined by thin stereotypes of stock high school kids. Zyuranger had, uhh, leader, serious guy, goofy guy, the other guy, and the chick. And pretty much every plot was: kid of the week has problems; Witch Bandora decides to do something bad to children; Zyurangers help kid with problems; kid is happy; lather, rinse, repeat."
I'm hoping that this is just a phase, a weak Act 2 that I'm stuck in while the show delays the arrival of the inevitable Act 3. If any episode gives me promise that this might be the case, it's the very episode I just finished, Episode 15. In this episode, our first ever Goushi-centric one, we get a lot of minor character development for Goushi all at once, catapulting him from the single least developed Zyuranger to one of the most:

Spoiler: show
  • despite his physical stature and demeanor, Goushi is actually a younger brother
  • he idolized his older sister
  • his older sister was his childhood trainer in the martial arts
  • when Bandora attacked 170 million years ago, one of the people she killed was none other than Goushi's sister
  • while Bandora acknowledges that Geki is the official leader of the group, she admits believing that Goushi is the group's "shadow leader"; that Goushi is the smartest/wisest of the five Zyurangers; that Geki isn't terribly smart; and so it is Goushi's shadow leadership, his sage advice given to Geki who then acts on it, which leads the Zyurangers to triumph

It's good stuff! I'm hoping it's not too little too late. I'm really hoping that things continue to pick up like this and that we get more character development for Goushi and the other rangers. But fan comments online don't have me holding out too much hope. Seems like an awful lot of people rate Zyuranger near the bottom of the barrel , and a common complaint seems to be the underdeveloped main characters. Sigh. We'll see. :')
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Old 04-07-2017, 01:10 AM   #7
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See my complaint about the Guardian Beasts.

There's a big fight toward the end of Zyuranger that was much more epic in MMPR.

Spoiler: show
How could Goushi's sister die 170 million years before he was born?
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Old 04-07-2017, 02:00 AM   #8
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I'm not even six minutes into Episode 16 and already:
  1. there's a short segment with Bandora singing a small ditty written in the style of early '90s rap
  2. there's a clown whose clothes keep inflating right below the belly button, and he shoves this rising bulge of his in a kid's face all the time ... before dropping a golden soccer ball out
What am I even watching?
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:10 AM   #9
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Through Episode 17. Burai! The Dragon Ranger has arrived.

Spoiler: show
Episode 16 was another painful Monster of the Week episode to sit through, but Episode 17 marks the beginning of Zyuranger's own, original take on what Power Rangers fans know as the Green Ranger arc. In MMPR it was a five-parter; here, I have no idea how long it'll be. I'm hoping to be in for a treat, as Episode 17 was quite delightful.


The episode leads off with Machiko Soga looking quite the part, as the evil witch Bandora invocates Satan , bringing on screen for the very first time a familiar sight from MMPR: the plastic skull with the flashing red lights for eyes. Oh, nostalgia.


I already knew going in what Burai's relation was to Geki, so I enjoyed the surprise-in-reverse that Geki doesn't initially know who Burai even is, much less know his circumstances. Towards the end of the episode, as we reach our climax, Burai identifies himself to the other rangers as the "Yamato Tribe prince". The thing is, that's Geki's title. So what's going on here!? Geki wonders that. Audiences wonder that too! I'm over here smiling because I already know what's going on, but I'd rather be along for the suspenseful ride with the audience. Seems like a really exciting surprise that Episode 18 promises to reveal in great detail.

It was interesting to me, as someone who grew up watching MMPR, that Burai's debut episode features neither the DragonZord nor the Green Ranger's iconic dagger-flute. The series is taking its time here, delivering us the Dragon Ranger in morsels. That's fine, though, because compared with the tedium of some earlier episodes these morsels pack a perfectly fine amount of punch!


In MMPR, this scene -- where the Green Ranger enters the MegaZord cockpit and lays waste to both the controls and the Rangers -- was both exciting and dark. In Zyuranger, something about it is unintentionally hilarious. I think it's because Zyuranger's version of the story builds Burai up as "the greatest warrior", someone whom the Zyurangers are absolutely no match for, someone who has absolutely no interest in teaming up with weaker warriors; and so when he awakens from his 170 million year-long slumber, it's kinda hilarious to see that his first order of business is to help himself to the inside of the Rangers' cockpit and beat the ever-loving shit out of them, as if to put them in their place, as if to say, "You kids can go home now. I'll take care of things from here," in the most forceful manner possible. Burai is the Mewtwo of the Zyurangers, and he'll have these five Rattata know it!
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