Recap: Ian and Souji must put aside their differences and team up to help a mysterious stranger from
Canada the distant past
Dragonzigg’s Thoughts: OK, now we’ve united the team and gotten the relatively easy plots out of the way, it’s time for Kyoryuger to get down to establishing an actual story arc to keep us somewhat involved in the series long term. Every Sentai series is mostly about taking a core idea and then seeing how well you can milk it over the cours of fifty or so episodes – naturally, some do it a lot better than others. What’s a little surprising then is that Kyoryuger is so quick to drop quite a lot of info on us. Early episodes are some of the most acceptable time to place standardized monster-of-the-week filler, so I honestly would have expected some of that before any major plot revelations.
Let’s go through them then. We’re quickly told that there are 23 power batteries in all, a not so subtle piece of toy marketing that nevertheless lets us know there are going to be plenty of powers for our heroes to pull out when they’ve got their backs to the wall. What’s much more interesting though is the subsequent appearance of Ramires and the expodump from Torin (who’s been surprisingly sidelined considering he’s meant to be the team’s mentor figure) explaining that aside from the five Voltasaurs we’ve already seen, another five lie waiting to be discovered.
We knew some of this already just from deduction – a sixth Voltasaur (Pteragodon) is mentioned in the ending song and it was pretty safe to assume this would be the Sixth Ranger’s whenever he chooses to show up. But with ten Voltasaurs, it’s suddenly a whole different affair. Could the show be looking to break Dekaranger‘s record for number of rangers (nine, and two of those were one episode only)? This certainly gives them the capability to, and it’ll be interesting to see if they try. The team certainly won’t be hurting for powerups in any case.
And then there’s Ramirez, a really interesting spin on the story who makes watching this episode a little disconcerting. There’s no other way to put it – seeing a Caucasian actor in Sentai is super weird. That’s not the fault of Robert Baldwin, who gives a solid, if slightly stiff, performance. Rather, it’s just the inherent culture clash thing – Baldwin speaks perfect Japanese (to my untrained ear at least) but his accent, especially in his English phrases, is markedly ‘foreign’ and clearly stands out (though given he was born in Japan, this may very well be put on). In a way, it’s a stroke of genius, as it very clearly marks out Ramirez as character from a very different time and place, clearly exactly what the production team were going for. Baldwin’s age helps as well – at almost fifty he’s more than twice as old as everyone on the team except for Yamato Kinjo, who plays Nossan. The idea of the Kyoryugers being aided by their predecessors is an intriguing one and given we see him in the preview we no longer have to spoiler tag the fact that Ramirez will join the team as Kyoryu Cyan, though how he can do that when he’s a ghost remains to be seen. I’m also interested whether he becomes a full time team member – I suspect he’ll probably not join and instead pop in and out as an ‘extra ranger’ rather than a true #6.
With all of that, the conflict between Souji and Ian, and the mysterious force controlling Ankydon and corrupting the Deboss monster sort of fades into the background a bit. Ian and Souji’s spat is kind of dull and predictable, and the whole ‘i was a jerk to you so I could discover the enemy weakness!’ is played out and uninspiring. The rogue Deboss angle is much more interesting and leads me to wonder if there’s a second, slightly less stupid enemy faction lurking in the background for when things get dramatic. In any case, this was perhaps not as frenetically fun as previous outings, but its importance in world building and laying out some basic foundations for thep lot should be clear to all.
- Attention nitpickers – Yes, I know there were technically ten rangers in Dekaranger, but Deka Gold was a) movie exclusive and b) rubbish, though it’s for reason (a) I don’t count her.
- Attention nitpickers #2 – Yes, I know there have been Caucasian characters in Sentai in the past, most notably in recent years Richard Brown/ShinkenBrown from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. It’s still an uncommon enough trope that seeing one pop up is very unusual, especially as Ramirez is not a joke character as they often are.
- The revised ending song unconcernedly spoils the names of the other Voltasaurs, although the funfair backgrounds are delightful.
- Our sub group of choice Over-Time left the commercials in this episode, meaning that we were treated not only to a splendidly ironic shill for Kyoryuger themed chocolate, but the appearance of the greatest sleeping bag ever. It’s so great I put it in the header!