This series is one of the first I saw. It wasn't quite as good as some of the stuff I see now, but back then, it was incredible. The characters were believeable, had good acting, and did reasonable things. As a Power Rangers fan, I was unaccostumed to any of these (sorry for anyone out there I offended!). In fact, in episode 19, when the Zyurangers were bringing the dinosaur eggs to Bandora in exchange for a kid friend, a friend of mine predicted that Bandora would refuse to give the kid back and keep both him and the eggs. Impossibly, what did we see but Tottpatt giving the kid to the rangers. What was next was even stranger: the rangers fought Bandora for the eggs again! The rangers were the ones who double-crossed Bandora! That was an incredible scene. But, enough with that . . .
The Good: The series had a pretty good overall storyline. The driving force on this show was the Geki-Burai relationship. Without this storyline, Zyuranger would have perished. In fact, the case could be made that Geki and Burai were the stars of the show, with the other characters and the other plot lines in the background. Even the finale episodes had a cameo by Burai, who was long since dead. The story, which had the potential to turn into another boring sibling vs. sibling story, was handled beautifully, with episode 22, when Geki and Burai reconcile, being my favorite Zyuranger episode and one of my favorite overall eps.
The villains, unlike their portrayal in Power Rangers, had distinct personalities. Even Bukkbuck and Tottpatt had separate thoughts and ideas. Bandora herself was portrayed as a truly sinister force, while at the same time she was shown to be a caring mother at the end. The villain of the week had good designs, generally.
The mecha, though oddly enough metallic in shape, were self-thinking. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first Sentai show to make such an assumption. As a result, we saw the Shugozyus and the Zyurangers constantly quarreling. The Shugozyus, much like the pagan gods of the olden days of Greece and Rome, were not omnipotent. Likewise, they did not automatically reveal everything to the rangers; they preferred the process of stringing the rangers along, giving them hints. In episode 22, Daizyujin tells Geki to kill Burai. After Geki refuses, Daizyujin congratulates him, as if that had been the original intent all the time. In the finale episodes, the Shugozyus wanted the Zyurangers to know how Bandora came about, what the true meaning of the two dinosaur eggs was, and who knows what else. But instead of telling them, they gave a book to Barza to translate. Though it seems to defeat the purpose and sounds very unusual, this type of stringing along was very entertaining, and was pulled off realistically.
The ending to the series was pretty outstanding. The whole Kai thing was a good wrap-up to the show. The Bandora-Kai scenes are really well made. But, IMO, Kai should have played a lesser role to Dai Satan (more below).
The music, while not an outstanding piece of work, was pretty good. The OP had a good theme, and sets up the mood for the "legendary fighters". The ED I could have done without. The BGM, in general, didn't stick in my mind, but didn't turn me off to the show, either. That's a pretty good accomplishment - many shows just have bad music which really detracts from it.
The Bad: The most maddening thing about Zyuranger is its 'schizophrenia disorder' (I'm not sure who first came up with the phrase, but it really caught on!). For those of you who have not seen Zyuranger, the show constantly switched from serious to funny, and back to serious. I don't mean episode to episode; even that might have been tolerable. I mean from one second to the next. In episode 1, the four Zyurangers charge Bandora's palace, and the scene is ripe for the first big battle of the series. What do we get instead? A bunch of clay figures dancing around on the floor. True, they were enemies, but still, it was ridiculous. The way the show was set up should have made it a serious show, but it wasn't at times. What is especially true of this is Bandora. I personally don't see what the big deal is with her. A lot of people on the 'net apparently like the way she acts, and that's okay. It's just my opinion that her personality sucked. She even has her own song! It's not even some evil chant song, either; it's some kind of weird happy song that belongs on the Barney show.
The show had massive conflicts, both with common sense and with modern science. Everybody knows dinosaurs and humans did not exist at the same time. Why were the Shugozyus metallic in shape, if they were gods? It's not quite the shape I would take if I were a god. Either the Zyurangers have an entire wardrobe of the exact same costume, or they don't shower. Ever. I have yet to see them in some other pieces of clothing on the show (no, the ED doesn't count). That's just the few that come to mind.
Not a real bad thing, but I would have preferred to see Dai Satan play a more active role in the series. He's the embodiment of evil, and he only shows up on the series twice. He really doesn't do much more than kill people with his breath and revive monsters. The final battle should have been between the Shugozyus and Dai Satan, not the Shugozyus and Dora Talos/Kai. I'm not saying to get rid of Kai outright, but Kai's role should have been downplayed a lot, and replaced by having Dai Satan play a menacing role.
Final Analysis: The show itself was very entertaining, with a good overall plot, but again, that schizophrenia disorder thing really detracts from it. Silly, completely irrelevant episodes contradicted the serious God/Satan tone of the serious eps. Any type of summary which focuses on the war between God and Satan will make Zyuranger sound much more serious and interesting than it really is.
The Good: All series almost inevitably begin with a rough start, and it's pretty true here. None of the first few episodes are particularly memorable. That changed with the intro of Tommy. Again, just like Zyuranger, the Green Ranger was the focal point for this series. As the writers began easing their way into the show, and the characters began gaining more individual personalities, the storylines became better. Though, of course, Saban would never allow the death of a main character, Tommy's power loss was still a very devastating thing to those of us who did not expect it. Subsequently, when Tommy temporarily reclaimed his powers, it was a source of celebration.
The second half of the first season is filled with episodes that I really wish I had kept on tape. The characters began interacting remarkably well, as compared with the forced friendship of the first half. Of course, this is to be expected, as the actors grew more accostumed to each other, but the improvement is very noticeable.
When Tommy reclaimed his powers, Saban showed that he would not just stick to the plot given by Zyuranger. This could be good or bad. Tommy's recovery was a good thing. The second season was a bad thing (I could go on about this, but I'll spare you until I finish the actual review for that season).
The Bad: It's hard to find a good place to start for this section, but I've decided to first remark upon the damage this series caused to tokusatsu in the states. Nowadays, do you think it's likely that you can go down to Blockbuster Video and pick up the latest sentai? Fat chance. This series also spawned the unrelated exploits of such bombs as V.R. Troopers, CyberSquad, Masked Rider, and Beetleborgs. Do you think it's likely that Blockbuster is going to be carrying any Metal Heroes or Kamen Riders? Don't make me laugh. If it was even remotely possible before Power Rangers, it's not possible now. It's depressing to know that people today would rather watch some sitcom with pointless dialogue and a plot that stinks like rotting carcasses than something gripping and moving like Kikaider, Kamen Rider, or even sentai like Liveman and Bioman. They don't even know what they're missing, and even worse, if given the chance, they don't even care. (Conversely, PR showed a lot of people like me the beauty of tokusatsu. Unfortunately, I place the estimate at 30 people, tops, that got converted this way. That's not a good trade-off to the millions of people now prejudiced against tokusatsu shows.)
But enough about that, back to the show . . . the major problem is the lack of experience in sewing sentai footage together. I think every shot of Rita from the first season originated in only four Zyuranger eps. In other words, Rita repeated actions, repeated words, had corny dialogue, and still never matched the lips with the words.
That's all the bad stuff, really. First season did pretty well for a new series based loosely on another series. I can think of worse ways to go (like Second Season . . . ugh).
Final Analysis: Not bad for the first step in such a risky experiment. The later half of this season still shines brightly in the eyes of many, even considering what recent series like PRiS have brought.
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