First Look: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger


In the distant past, the evil Bugnarok were defeated by five brave warriors who went on to found the five kingdoms of Terra. However, a prophecy foretells that after two thousand years the Bugnarok will rise again, and a new team of heroes will have to assemble to save humanity, the Royal Sentai, King-Ohger!

Zigg’s verdict: Royal Welcome

It’s both the blessing and the curse of Super Sentai that it re-invents itself on an annual basis. It’s a curse because no matter how much we love a show and a group of characters, we know that we’re only going to be with them for 50-something episodes before they sail off into the sunset. But by that same token, it means that misfires can only really stink up the joint for so long before we get a breath of fresh air blown in.

Around these parts at least, Avataro Sentai Donbrothers was a definite misfire. I’ve heard from generally reliable sources that the show got better as it went along, but those first few episodes were rough. What’s more, they seemed to represent the apotheosis of worrying trends in the production of Sentai over the years – less money, more slapdash CGI, and an even heavier focus on merchandising (if that’s even possible) at the expense of story cohesion.

With all that said, the King-Ohger premiere had a lot of ground to make up to restore my confidence in the franchise. And you know what? It mostly accomplishes that. True to previous debut episodes this is an incredibly busy, hyperactive first instalment that throws way too much at you all at once, a frantic blend of extremely major exposition delivered in just a few seconds, and a visual palette that basically jumps off the screen and punches you in the face lest your attention waver for even a single second. It is, as it always has been, A Lot, and how you feel about that will probably dictate how you feel about this type of tokusatsu as a whole.

The thing which immediately struck me though was just how ambitious this episode is. We’ve got an entire alternate earth setup, with five distinct cultures and geographies, a gigantic battle between monsters and big robot bugs, and some more-than-suspiciously Attack On Titan-looking giants versus fortress imagery. Let’s be clear here, the CGI and greenscreen work is still definitely not good in the traditional sense, but man if you’ve gotta have bad VFX then using them on imaginative, huge-scale lavish backdrops like this is the best thing you can do. Most importantly, we’re back to a good old fashioned man-in-a-suit for our giant robot battle, complete with plenty of miniature sets being blown up and trashed. Overall, the aesthetic is firmly routed in the flamboyant, stylish crumminess which is the mainstay of good tokusatsu. I’m a little concerned about how the show will handle going from this to ‘filming three weeks at that one stadium for a bunch of fights in car parks’ but as far as a good first foot forward, it’s hard to be too upset about this.

The characters are a little harder to get a handle on, given how action focused this opener is, but one thing that’s pleasing to me is the choice to subvert the role of the ‘Red’ King almost immediately. Revealing him as actually a corrupt ruler is hardly a shocking twist, but it does indicate that this story isn’t going to go strictly by the numbers, and that’s reassuring. Gira himself seems to be the perpetually teflon character Red Rangers are always fated to be, but at least he has some backbone, and the surrounding cast seem goofy enough to ensure there’ll be some fun ensemble work. Head writer Minato Takano is new to the position and so is a bit of an unknown quantity, but he’s done solid work on a bunch of Kamen Rider spinoff material, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the step up to running a show.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this opening episode of King-Ohger. Perhaps it’s just having sat out for a year, but it felt full of fresh energy and admirable ambition to me, and a huge step up over what came before. If they can maintain spirit going forward then this could well be a fun piece of fluff that’s well worth tuning into each week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.