SERIES REVIEW: Kyuranger

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Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger was an anomaly and an absolute treat. It’ll be a long time before we get another Super Sentai season as special as this one. It really felt like it should’ve been the 40th season instead of Zyuohger. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some serious flaws, but none of those flaws kept me from enjoying it.

The best and worst parts of Kyuranger revolved around its massive cast of characters. The story is character-driven rather than plot-driven, which led to some amazing storytelling but also sometimes a lack of direction. When I first found out that there’d be 9 rangers, I was…unsure. when I realized that there were gonna be 12 I was…even more unsure. But they mostly pulled it off!

The show employs multiple strategies to separate characters and give valid reasons to focus on some over others. The Kyu Roulette was a method introduced early on, but was eventually set aside once the characters developed more and most of the cast had the advantage of being grouped in pairs or trios. Unfortunately, the women of the series (neither of whom really pair up with anyone) suffer most. There are only two women out of twelve fighters and one of them is a robot! But that’s an issue for another article. What matters here is that they got among the least development of all the characters, especially poor Raptor, who I was partial to for all her fun Sailor Moon references (speaking of which, Hammy makes some great references to Sailor Moon as well!)

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Other ways the cast was managed was through splitting them on different missions or disabling a character or two for awhile. This worked especially well for Stinger, Champ, and Kotaro. They and Balance and Naga were my consistent favorites, probably due to their many chances to grow. Balance and Naga were my special faves because they were largely comic relief that developed into much more.

This show also has the distinction of having two Reds, with the second joining the cast halfway through the series. Lucky and Tsurugi build an interesting, strong bond throughout the latter half of the series, and Tsurugi develops from outsider asshole to integral team member.

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For a massive cast, there is only a little bit of romantic tension between two characters that don’t get much screen time. Because it was a cute pairing and because they didn’t get much attention, I wished there was a little bit more tension. I also expected the show to end a little darker than it did; some good characters do die in the series, and some very important characters get seriously maimed. The final ten episodes carried a surprisingly heavy air of drama that made me expect the worst, and I was a little disappointed when they kept finangling their way out of things. I feel like the ending would have carried a bit more weight if there was a bit more sacrifice involved. But then again, I am critiquing a children’s show on not having enough deaths, so I’m not that salty about it.

The plot of Kyuranger is straightforward: an evil empire has taken over the universe and nine/twelve saviors have been chosen by the constellations to defeat it and bring peace to the galaxy. Most of the story arcs are personal and focus on one or two particular characters. Lucky, of course, gets the most development and arcs, but the Balance/Naga and Stinger/Champ arcs were long and among the most engrossing. I was disappointed by the next-to-the-last arc (which focuses on Lucky and his family), but the ending was still fun, heartfelt, and satisfying.

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This series was one that I looked forward to watching every week. Even after I stopped writing weekly reviews for it due to work-related stress, I still took the time to download and watch each episode. While the large cast meant that some loose ends were never tied and some characters never got to shine, Kyuranger was a unique Super Sentai installment that made me laugh and cry much more than a kid’s show should.

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