Super Sentai + Cats

I’d been wanting to see 2007’s Juuken Sentai Gekiranger for a while, partly because I’d heard good things about it, and partly because the martial arts theme intrigued me. A couple weeks’ worth of insomnia and aches allowed me to finally watch the series very recently, from beginning to end. And I really liked it, mostly. No spoilers.

I don’t know what it is, but something feels off about the series. I guess I don’t care for the Gekiranger costumes, and the mecha are kind of forgettable compared to the smaller things. The main trio also feels a little weak. I don’t hate them, but none of them really stand out to me, and Jan tends to annoy me a lot of the time (though I think it’s his voice more than anything).

But those are the only negatives I have to say about the series. I don’t even know where to begin with the positives… I guess I could start with the opening, which is still stuck in my head. It’s sung by Takayoshi Tanimoto, who will henceforth be referred to as Dragon Soul Guy, and kicks the ass of every other song of his I’ve ever heard (all three of them).

Speaking of kicking ass, the fighting is just awesome. The small, non-mecha fighting in the spandex. And even out of the spandex. I guess I have a thing for down-to-Earth, hand-to-hand combat. Or at least I assume so, because I also like Dragon Ball a lot. But I apparently also enjoy training and power-ups, because this series had a lot of that on both the good and evil sides, and I loved it. It made the villains appeal to me especially, since they had a gray-area purpose and didn’t just want to blow up everything.

I thought the story worked really well, too. It started out relatively simple, but it kept throwing so many new elements and plot twists into the mix as the show progressed. Granted, a lot of the twists were predictable, but not everything. For instance, Rio mentioned a white tiger guy fairly early on, but the way that ended up playing out was something I couldn’t guess until the last minute. And the final few episodes were full of swerves that genuinely surprised me. It made the ending feel kind of bittersweet, because I expected a few things to play out a little happier than they did.

Though I’d mentioned that the main trio didn’t do much for me, Gou and Ken were another story. I feel like a tool for preferring Sixths to the original team, but I can’t help it in this case. They just seem a lot more, I don’t know, balanced? Relatable? Especially Gou, AKA Michael J. Wolf. But a lot of the villains and masters were really interesting, too. I love the fact that Master Shafu, an eccentric old cat master, is voiced by Ichirou Nagai, who also played an eccentric old cat master in another martial arts-themed series I like (hint: scroll up). There are also a few other actors I like in prominent roles, like Takeshi Kusao (who played an unrelated cat in Magiranger) and Shuuichi Ikeda. It’s always nice to hear old favorites.

But yes, this was a very fun show, and I’m glad I finally got to watch it. Definitely not disappointed. I’d love to buy it on DVD, but you’re breakin’ my balls here, Toei.

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Categories: Review, Television

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