The year is 2011. Bandai and Toei have just finished what might have been the most successful season in their merchandise-driven cash cow, if not in terms of viewership, then surely in terms of toy sales. The 35th Anniversary of the Super Sentai franchise was immensely popular, and its gimmick would ensure toy sales for the future of the series for years to come. There was only one problem now.
The 36th Super Sentai. It had to happen.
Such is the nature of merchandise-driven franchises; however, following any anniversary season puts the current team in an automatically unenviable position. The last team to follow an anniversary special – Gekiranger – was apparently very poorly received in Japan, following the enormously popular Boukenger. This time, the marketing blitz made Gokaiger a veritable giant whose shadow would probably be felt for a long time to come. Stepping out of that shadow would prove to be a titanic task for any succeeding season, and Go Busters had its work cut out for it. Compounding this problem is that its head writer was Yasuko Kobayashi, who had previously been the head writer of sentai seasons such as Gingaman, Timeranger, and Shinkenger, as well as working on a sizable amount of Boukenger. So, it’s safe to say expectations were REASONABLY high.
Okay, here we are. I’ve been looking for excuses to put off watching this series for as long as I could, but now that I’ve promised to cosplay Tessai for my friends’ Kyoryuger group, the time has finally arrived. I have to watch Kyoryuger to know what I’m getting myself into. My mistake with Go-Busters was going in expecting something on par with Gokaiger, so this time I’ll go in with as open a mind as possible. Enough stalling. Time to watch this series and see how it is.
Well… THAT was something. So, let’s talk Kyoryuger.
Let’s take it all from the start. The first few episodes of every sentai are meant to show off the ranger gear, because it’s setting the stage and letting the viewers see what new powers and mecha the creative team behind this particular season has thought up. The aim is to hook viewers – predominantly children – with as many new gadgets, trinkets, and giant robots as humanly possible. This is often why A) the first few episodes of a particular sentai are the most memorable, and B) why it rapidly starts becoming boring for everyone other than the hardcore fans once the sixth ranger(s) has entered the fray and the viewers start recognizing what the rangers’ game plan for each monster is.
More recently, the beginning of every sentai teams’ run not only showcases that team’s power base, but also their gimmick for the season. Gokaiger had ranger keys. Go-Busters had that weird sunglasses morpher and not much else because Go-Busters was boring. This season, Kyoryuger, has the Zyudenchi batteries – charged cells that activate the powers and abilities of a variety of different dinosaur-themed equipment and mecha (or which there are over 20). So right off the bat we see the sentai teams sticking batteries in their gun-morphers and summoning exotic abilities/gear like the deinonychus-based motorcycles or (SIGH) the farting power of Ovirappu, because that’s apparently the ‘in thing’ for dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period when evil space Cthulu came a-knockin’.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.