Okay quality. A big disappointment from Dairanger, but nothing like Ohranger's low. The main eps were good, the others pretty much sucked. Let's get on with the review.
The Good: General faithfulness to its "ninja" theme throughout the series. As is to be expected, the show's reliance on this theme fell as it went on, but the theme still stayed. Ninja powers were a bit less cool than the Ki powers from Dairanger, but still okay. The fight scenes clearly weren't as researched as the ones from Dairanger, but they still reflect a "ninja"ish way of attack. (Note that everything in this section is "okay, but not as good as Dairanger".)
The Tsuruhime-Hakumenrou plotline was carried out beautifully. My only complaint is the cheezy way they saved him at the end. Everything else was golden. I loved the 3-part Daradara saga, if only because the emotional message there was so strong.
The comedy episodes were true comedy episodes, while the serious episodes (basically all the Tsuruhime-Hakumenrou eps) were always serious. A real accomplishment compared to Zyuranger's utter lack at separating the two. The characters were more suited for comedy in Kakuranger, and if everybody but Tsuruhime kept their mouths shut during the serious episodes, then the characters were played well for seriousness too. In truth, I liked all the Kakuranger personalities to an extent. While many times they get grating, their comedic aspect is second only to Carranger in terms of entertainment.
The Muteki Shougun is VERY well-designed. I liked this mecha from the moment I first saw it (on Power Rangers, but oh well). It looks a tad bulky, but as Kakuranger #4 demonstrated, this is the Invincible Shougun.
I like how the heroes weren't introduced all at once but were gradually intro'd until ep #3. The mysterious nature surrounding the ninja ancestors and the Muteki Shougun and the Wind Illusion Castle was suspenseful was well.
The OP was really good. ED wasn't that bad except for the visuals. BGM was okay, but didn't really do that much for me. An exception is that cool track used for the "Next Time" segment for the finale episode. That one rocks.
Probably one of my favorite characters, Jiraiya continually blurts things out in English. In episode #3, his debut, Jiraiya has trouble getting his teammates to understand him. In that episode, Jiraiya only speaks one Japanese phrase the entire time. Even his ancestor taunts him about his wussy way of screaming "Help me!" before nonchalantly tossing him his Doron Changer (Jiraiya really does scream that pretty unconvincingly - I hope that was intentional on the part of the actor).
A great ending. Not really a huge fight-the-villain bit, but a strong (if somewhat cheesy) message about love, bravery, and courage. The finale episode pulled this message off better than the next-to-the-finale episode with its "look at the flowers" bit did.
The Bad: Too many mecha. There's 16 individual mecha which can combine in 4 different ways, for a total of 19 different mecha suits and a flying falcon. Those guys working the mecha suits must have been paid a lot to work all those long hours. They should have kept Muteki Shougun, and added Tsubasa Maru a little later, eliminating the Juu Shou Fighters and the Chou Nin Juu altogether.
Comic books? The first eps of Kakuranger (and the movie) played up its zaniness by adding Batman-style "Bonk!" "Zap!" "Boom!" lit-up effects to the attacks. They are very degrading to fight scenes which I otherwise found quite enjoyable.
If Kakuranger manages to keep comedy and seriousness apart, then it is also guilty of going to the extreme in both cases. While the serious episodes were generally better than Zyuranger's, the comedic ones went off the deep end. The stupid Batman effects mentioned above surely didn't help.
An almost complete lack of side plots. Once it is intro'd, the series seems content to run soley on the Tsuruhime-Hakumenrou storyline, filled in with one-shot monster episodes. Dairanger was kickass in terms of plot because it had many different things going on at the same time. While Shouji was dealing with the Three Stooges (err, I meant Fools), Ryou's fighting with Jin and Kujaku's going after Gara. In Kakuranger? While Tsuruhime whines about her father, nobody else is doing anything worthwhile. Monster comes, monster grows, monster gets killed. That gets boring after a while.
Hakumenrou had the cheeziest revival scene I've ever seen. Tarou and Jirou, seemingly on the brink of death, sacrifice themselves with no explanation to bring him back. What the?! Not enough thought was placed into this section.
Final Analysis: Just a notch above Zyuranger for its ability to keep its comedic and serious aspects separate. More serious than Zyu during the serious eps, more stupid-looking than Zyu during the comedy eps. Characters were more interesting than Zyu. In the end, I think it's really just a matter of personal opinion whether you like Kaku or Zyu more. Though it is to be noted that it really doesn't compare with anything of quality.
Almost anything would be an improvement over Season 2. Luckily, Season 3 succeeded with a nice bit of continuity.
The Good: First things first. Perhaps the most significant feature of Season 3 was that it is not Season 2 anymore. Celebration time!! If the end of Season 2 isn't a cause for cheer, I don't know what is.
But, onto the actual series. Obviously, the best part about it was the Kim/Kat saga. It was an incredible thing to see Power Rangers adhere to such a strict continuity, if only for a few episodes. For my part, I never saw "A Ranger Catastrophe Part 2" and I am lost without it. I love it. Season 2? Heck, don't worry about not catching the last seven episodes. You didn't miss anything. Season 3? I missed one lousy ep and now I'm completely lost. For those nine or so episodes, Power Rangers acheived something that I wish was the norm for PR. Even the episode after Kat took Kim's place, Rita's Pita, dealt with Kat just starting out as a ranger.
Speaking of continuity, the Alien Ranger saga was great. It allowed the viewer to see another ranger team and how it functions, while also faced with another continuity-minded problem, the reversal of time. Once again, as in the Kim/Kat saga, miss one ep and you might well be lost. "Zeo Quest? What's that?" "Hydro Hog? When was he intro'd?" And so on. The Zeo Crystal was set up well before it was actually needed, giving that universal feel, that things don't just disappear when PR is not actively discussing them. Beatiful ending, too. One of only two successful cliffhangers for Power Rangers, IMO.
Rito is the only villain who was meant to be funny from the start and has succeeded in doing so. Other villains like Squatt and Baboo are more annoying than funny, and people like Goldar, Rita, and Zedd . . . we'll talk about them later.
The general writing of the plots got better. Obviously. It can't possibly get any worse.
It was good to see actual Sentai footage of rangers again with the Aquitian Rangers, since Season 3's fighting displays went down (see below).
The Bad: Season 2 influenced Season 3. That's the only explanation I can give for seemingly inexplicably weird stuff happening during some good plots. I'm not kidding. As Season 3 got further away from Season 2 in terms of time, we saw the writing get much better.
Zedd got his lobotomy all the way back in "The Wedding" in Season 2, but we see it pick up here. He's gone from a spooky, evil, ultimate villain to a mindless, one-line dispensing machine. Somebody shoot him so we aren't tainted with the memory of Zedd laughing like a stooge. Same goes for Goldar.
Season 3 still has the White Ranger. And he's gotten worse. No longer is he content to simply mouth off, now the writers have decided that he really IS as tough as he talks. The result is that Tommy doesn't even break a sweat when going up against Goldar, who back in the day would have given Tommy one heckuva run for his money. And the incredible Tommy-Vs.-Zedd matchup, which should have been a grand fight, was over in four minutes. And, contrary to what actually happened, Zedd should unquestionably have been the winner. Luckily, this is the last review I'll have to write bad-mouthing the White Ranger.
Ninja fight scenes. While amusing at first, the different special effects got old VERY quickly. Even Kakuranger had the good sense to drop them later on in favor of traditional ninja hand to hand combat. Season 3 kept them in for the long haul. Fight scenes deteriorated into exercises in special effects and camera cutting techniques. What happened to fighting?
Final Analysis: I can feel that the writers tried to accomplish some real entertainment in Season 3, but ultimately failed except for those two sagas, the Kim/Kat saga and the Alien Ranger saga. I blame Season 2 for locking down the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers formula so that no variation in storytelling could be made in regular episodes, though that's just me. Luckily, next season will break that MMPR formula down, as well as getting rid of that annoying White Ranger.
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