In the first episode, Blue is a jerk. In the second episode he’s still a jerk but the team also have to deal with Yellow being a klutz.
There’s not too much about these first two episodes that’s radically different from the normal Super Sentai template, and that’s both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because the introductory setup is tried and true, and as a result we get a pair of solid, funny and well-executed episodes that do a decent job building character and world. It’s bad because…well, it’s all very predictable really.
As if we couldn’t tell that Yakumo was the snooty, upstart style of Blue Ranger, we get an entire episode of him being arrogant and then humbled in succession. The issue that I’ve always had with this sort of ‘knock you down a peg’ episodes is that Yakumo is largely right here. He is way better and more competent than Takaharu (who is an idiot, as Red Rangers tend to be). Of course, the moral here is a solid one, and hubris is always to be avoided, but I just wish we could have a little more nuance in this sort of situation. Either that or Yakumo just needs to go further in the direction of being a complete out-of-control asshole so it’s actually funny to see his confidence be utterly eroded.
I’d say on balance episode 3 works slightly better, since Nagi is an inherently more sympathetic character and his plot arc is a little more backgrounded in favour of the villains getting more screentime, something I’m more than happy to accept. It’s been a while since we’ve had the overtly militaristic structure of baddies we see here and it certainly seems like it’s ripe with potential for conflict too. It’s also been a while since a female villain has been the main antagonist (so far) and I’m digging the stoic, relaxed potrayal of Kyuemon Izayoi so far.
What’s common over the episodes is a good grasp of the fundamentals that make Sentai worth watching. We’ve got sharp, well choreographed action scenes, decent character work and enough craziness to keep everything up and running well. In particular I’m digging the odd-couple relationship between Yoshitaka and Tsumuji. Their presence is one of the key things which sets the Ninningers apart from teams which have gone before, and they paly off of each other well. Despite the fact Yoshitaka gets the scene stealing wackiness, I’m actually drawn more to Tsumuji’s role as the bumbling but earnest father figure, a rare ‘normal’ in a world full of spandex-clad heroes. If Ninninger is going to get going, it’s going to have to bridge the gap between and keep going mad while also keeping its feet on the ground.
- Particularly memorable moments so far – Metal magic, water broomstick sword riding
- Really really digging the monster design this season, funny and clever in equal measure.
- Although it’s not eligible for coverage on the site, Aqua and I have been watching Power Rangers Dino Charge, the series adapted from our beloved Kyoryuger. It’s…really really good. No, I’m not kidding. Check it out if you have a chance to see how the Sentai formula can be smartly and elegantly adapted to western audiences.