Every year around this time I like to take a few days to marathon Kakuranger. I'm not sure if I've ever made the official declaration, but it is my favorite Sentai series of the 1990s. Yes, even though I know in my mind that Dairanger is the better show, my heart has always had a stronger affinity for Kakuranger.
Yeah, I don't know either.
Regardless, I always get a giant thrill watching the show even though it has a number of major issues. This is a list of some of the problems I've always had with the show.
NOTE: I am writing this list entirely from memory. Yes, I have watched the series several times...but I also tend to have spotty memory. Let's face it, memorizing IRL stuff is way more important than a 20-year old TV show...
07. I feel for you...
While each Yokai was a true menace and usually either killed or atleast incapacitated innocent people, I couldn't help but feel bad for some of them--particularly early on in the show.
One of my favorite episodes of the series is episode 17. Amikiri (played by Ami Kawai) one day decides that she is fed up hanging out in the Yokai bar (Seriously. She is seen in the background several times in the series up to this point and suddenly remembers her burning grudge with Saizo's ancestor???) and finally moves in to exact revenge on Saizo. Why? His ancestor cut her arm off.
She doesn't do much of anything wrong except make misery for Saizo by cutting up his used Honda City. Ummm...she also likes dancing...but doesn't really cause much havoc outside of harassing Saizo. I kinda felt bad for her. I mean, yeah, the alternative would be much worse--she kills Saizo and probably the rest of the team (since Gashadokuro is in town at this point), but I'd be pissed off too if my arm was chopped off! Then to be sealed away for hundreds of years to stew about it?
I felt similar about the Yokai from episode 9 and the strange moodiness in episode 10 made me feel bummed out about those guys too. Though, they were pretty menacing.
06. The weakest link
People seem to think that Saizo is the weakest of the group--I disagree.
I feel that largely Seikai and Saizo are pretty interchangeable in their uselessness, but atleast Saizo had some really cool and memorable moments. The Saizo-focused episodes were almost always good since his character was a consistent failure (losing his wallet/gold, getting his car diced up, being blackmailed over underpants photos, having his Daimoah disguise fail almost immediately, having his face stolen, etc.). It was fun to see Saizo constantly fail.
Seikai is the real deal.
He was...*ALWAYS* getting kidnapped. His focus episodes were just alright I guess. When he wasn't getting kidnapped, his insides were being taken over. There was one episode in the teens or so when, for once, he was the only one not captured and he had to save the day. The guy was barely a hero...which I guess can be said about puffy-chested Saizo...but he was fun. Seikai was just meh.
Oh, and that yell of his. WAAAAAAAH~!
I kinda like Daimaoh, but I don't. The way he made his arrival was pretty creepy and I felt that he was dealt with appropriately in the finale.
I guess it's just the costume.
04. Pulling the plug on Koshakushi
I genuinely liked the narration in this series. It wasn't overbearing like Dekaranger but it was able to get across important points about the Yokai or just random stuff.
If I had to bet, I'd say that Enjo Sanyutei was let go because his narration required screentime that was no longer available. His stint ended at the midpoint when the shit hit the fan plotwise and the 18 minute runtime was just not enough. Having either the Yokai or one of the Kakuranger's explain the Yokai briefly was definitely less time consuming. Also, the series definitely took a sharp right turn with it's momentum...so who knows how well he would've fit with episodes like Jiraiya getting beaten to a bloody pulp.
It was sad to see him go, but he definitely looked well-rested when he made an appearance in episode 39.
Speaking of Enjo Sanyutei...
03. The kids aren't alright
Like the previous shows with Noboru Sugimura as head writer, this show is lousy with brats of the week. It just gets olds. Kid is either A) A burden B) A brat or C) Crucial in saving the day. If you've seen Zyuranger or Dairanger, you know the drill. It just feels like that dial was turned up a bit for this series.
02. Jusho Fighters
I like the Jusho Fighters, but I don't. They debuted in episode 12 to be more nimble versions of the Kyodai Jusho. Instead of being alternate forms of the Jusho, they were their own entities for some reason. I guess there was a need for Kakuranger to suddenly have ten mecha at once instead of just a paltry five. On the flipside, the Jusho Fighters did have some pretty exciting fights and were definitely fun to watch.
My issue is how they were brought in and, more importantly, how they vanished without a trace.
For starters, episode 12 was just lousy. Enough said. After Episode 22 or so, they are basically abandoned. I think Battle Saruda appears once to do a triple-attack with Red Saruda and God Saruda...and that's all we ever saw of them.
They were pretty pointless in the long run.
01. Who's The Boss?
Tsuruhime is largely considered to be the leader of the group, but is she really? Sure, she is clearly in charge until about episode seven. From there, it's very murky. Her leadership issues rise once again when she is tested in episode 26 when she has to protect the robo-Kakurangers from harm
The real issue is that Sasuke is awesome. He seems to be the leader of the group when it matters. Episode 16 comes to mind as one of the best examples of his true skills as a leader. When the others are violently captured, an injured Sasuke has to free them from the grasp of the Shuten Doji Kyodai. He stealthily breaks into the warehouse where everyone is being held and is able to sneak his friends a small blade undetected.
That is just one example. It felt like Sasuke was not only the master of skill, but also a master of strategy. For being *not* the leader, they certainly gave him the bulk of the glory.
My theory is that, while she did a great job, Satomi Hirose was too young to play Tsuruhime. Her acting is much better than it was in Shushutorian the year before, but this is going from a shared starring role on a Fushigi Comedy Series show to leader of it's flagship Tokusatsu series. On top of this, I think the novelty of having a girl as the leader didn't translate into easy writing. Maybe it would have been an easier task if the role was given to a more capable actress.
She plays a tough girl, but outside of the few times she gives instructions or has a plot thread thrown her way...Tsuruhime just feels like she's co-pilot to Sasuke.
Sheesh. After reading that it probably looks like I hate the series. Not so! It's definitely my favorite of the 90s even with all of the flaws listed.
If you haven't watched the show yet, give it a go. It's being subbed as of this writing. I tried out the first few episodes of it and can attest to it's quality. Seriously, go watch it!
That conclude another Top 7 list. Please be sure to check out my previous Top 7 lists with this handy link.
See ya next time!