So last time I established that I liked Vyram. They may have made some hairbrained decisions toward the end of the show, but they worked great as classic Sentai villains. When it comes to the heroes, however, things get a whole lot less rosy to me.
The Jetman team is comprised of five individuals from different walks of life. Ryu, Red Hawk, has a career with the Sky Force and is the only member who was always meant to be a Jetman. Kaori, White Swan, is an heiress with very little going on in her life. Raita, Yellow Owl, is a farmer who doesn't seem to have much interest in fighting yet is the strongest member of the group. Ako, Blue Swallow, is a high-schooler who basically exists to translate the drama to kids who may be watching. Finally there is Gai, Black Condor, who is a bar dwelling loner that has a short fuse.
...so basically as far apart as a group of people could get without bringing race into it. It is usually interesting to see how a group of totally random individuals can band together and over come a dire situation, but this show really plays out like a bad drama... Before I really get into the reasons why, let me do a full character breakdown as I did with Vyram in my last entry...
Being the leader and a career soldier you think this guy would the ultimate warrior of the group. Ahhhh...no. He is a hopeless individual who can't seem to connect his words to his actions or his fists to his enemies. Every single time Kaori made a move on him, he would say "We're fighters first and people second.". Five minutes later he would be crying at Rie's headstone. Once he realized that Maria was definitely Rie (I'm pretty sure he noticed early on and the writers kinda whistled and swept that under the rug), he basically turned to putty and let her beat the snot out of him. You know, like a fighter would.
In addition to this, he has to be the most mentally unstable Red in history. When the story got too deep for him, he literally lost his mind. In other shows where there is equal or greater tragedy for the leaders--or any character really, they would use that to fuel their fight and become stronger. Kaori and Gai found Ryu on a swing, where he introduced them to his invisible girlfriend. Ugh.
The biggest bummer to me was the lack of a big rematch between him and Tranza. When Tran became Tranza he immediately started to fuck with the Jetman guys. First he beat the crap out of Ryu, then he stole the girls that were flirting with Gai (which he kinda smiled and shrugged off), and then he beat Raita in a food eating contest (which was probably the most passionate about something Raita ever was in the entire series). Ryu never got a rematch with Tranza. Sure they fought, but there was never a fight. Then Radiguet took out Tranza. Ugh.
Ryu's default face...
Bottom line... Ryu sucked.
For someone whose best years were likely behind her, Kaori seemed pretty cheery. Immediately after she broke off her engagement with the rich assclown she began persuing Ryu...hard. Watching her blush over Ryu was just...ugh. As I mentioned before, Ryu constantly told Kaori that they should be concentrating on being Jetman and not on having *ick* feelings. This didn't stop her for about 30 episodes. She pressed Ryu for a relationship until he brought her to his (not dead) girlfriend's grave. This seems to get the point across that not only was she chasing after someone who wasn't interested...but someone who wasn't interested and an asshole.
So how was she as an actual Jetman? Terrible at first, but I guess she improves. In certain publications it's said that she is the best shot of the group. OK, I guess... They have to give her something...
If there is one member of this group that belongs in a Sentai show...weirdly it's this guy. Of the group he is the most stable...in fact, Raita and Ako are the only two who never quit during the show.
Being a bigger dude from the country, he easily falls into the role of being a bumpkin. For whatever reason he becomes attracted to Kaori (OK, they did give a reason...but it was so lame that I've pretty much forgotten it), which never goes anywhere. Sorry, Raita, but Kaori's sad violin music will never play for you. Beyond this, he is determined and level-headed. Stable...as I mentioned before...
He is a decent member of Jetman. He isn't exactly a skilled fighter, so he relies on his unusual strength and strategy. In episode 15
Like I mentioned earlier (and in my last post under Tran's entry) Ako almost exclusively exists to point out the unspoken feelings of other characters (Kaori mostly) to younger viewers in the audience. There isn't too much to her, and mercifully she had no feelings for anybody or anyth...wait. She had a little thing with Dan from the Berserk Senshi. Dammit, they couldn't even keep their grubbing mitts off of Ako's feelings. Though, after Dan is killed Ako didn't lose her mind like Ryu did countless times. Gah...the highschool girl is tougher than the military guy...
Ako was an alright fighter. I can't really think of any outstanding moments she had. She did shed her bratiness rather quickly, which is more than I can for the others.
So we have a character who is completely selfish and prefers the setting of a dimly-lit bar to the cockpit of a giant mecha. It takes a very, very long time for Gai to accept that he must accept his role as a Jetman. Why does he have to accept? Besides the fact that he was mistakenly hit with the Birdonic rays...he actually happens to be the most heroic of the bunch. Granted, most of his biggest heroic acts were to win Kaori's wasted affection for Ryu, but for being so selfish...he was quite selfless a lot of the time. He even saved Ryu early on when he was trapped inside Apartment Jigen.
In addition to being the unlikely hero of the group, he was the best fighter. Some people will probably say that Ryu was, but I just marathoned the show and Gai is consistently the best at fighting. I mean, the last *really* decent fight in the show was reserved for him and Grey.
I like him as a Jetman...but he was terribly obnoxious as a character. He had the demeanor of a date-rapist toward Kaori most of the time and when he finally won her over...he had no idea what to do with her. He was a man who was all about the chase when it came to women. Everytime he is seen flirting with a woman, he is determined and passionate. Once he actually lands a woman, Kaori or any of the random skanks he seems to fancy, he pretty much becomes a lethargic lump of clay.
This man is a tough nut to crack. I liked his determination, but he was driven for all the wrong reasons. He is pretty damn annoying for most of the series, but I can't picture him being any other way. In fact, whenever he does that Double Beam attack with Ryu...it just feels out of character.
She's alright as a commander. She doesn't do enough to smack them into shape, though. Sure she puts them through their training exercises (which we rarely see on screen), but she really needed to whip them into shape a little bit better.
She did get to briefly live out one of my fantasies though...
Aim for Ryu's beanbag!
It was cool to see her piloting mecha atleast. Heh.
Alright, so the ending of this show is a character of it's own. Once Vyram is wiped out, the Jetman pretty much go their own ways. We join the action three years later when everyone is gathered for the wedding of Ryu and Kaori. I guess Kaori figured out that she needed three years to win Ryu rather than just the better part of one. Gai is late for the wedding as he stops to pick up flowers. He happens to witness a mugging and steps in. After giving the mugger a stern talking to, he is stabbed in the stomach. He stumbles to his friend's wedding where he is spotted by Ryu. They have a nice chat while Gai is literally dying on the bench they're sharing. After having a last look at his friends having a good time, Gai dies.
That........is fucking horrible.
I thought I had bad luck for getting married on Mischief Night, but getting married on the day that your friend was murdered feels like more of a curse than anything. Ryu and Kaori will have to live the rest of their lives sharing an anniversary for the day they exchanged vows and their best friend died...right in front of them no less.
This was a poor move. I really hate whenever someone throws in the defense "it teaches kids that even superheroes can die". No. It is Indie Film 101. Not sure how to end something? Kill off a lead character.
To recap...Ryu and Kaori are getting married. Raita has begun a relationship with his childhood friend Satsuki and Ako has become a pop singer (really??). Gai...atleast made enough money to buy a snappy suit to wear to the wedding. He may or may not have accomplished anything in the time since Vyram was destroyed, we'll never know. I would've been happier to have an ending where he turned his life around and became something thanks to lessons learned during his time as a Jetman. We'll just know him as the man who died at his friend's wedding.
The creepiness doesn't end with that episode, though...
The umm Second Epilogue...
Years after Jetman ended, a video encyclopedia was released by Toei. The special is basically a clip show that went over character information, facts, and stats. However, there was a little bit of plot woven in.
At the beginning Kaori receives a deliver of vegetables from Raita's farm along with a note saying how things are good and that he is expecting a child with his now-wife. I mean, could you expect anything else from the guy? Ryu arrives home and they go through their photo album and recount their adventures during their Jetman days (this is where the gratuitous clips come in).
As the special draws to a close, and before there is a single mention of what the hell Ako is up to, we hear a baby crying. Oh! So Ryu and Kaori have a kid now? Makes sense.
His name? Gai Tendo...
So not only do they share a wedding anniversary with their tragically dead friend's death, but they named their kid after him? Loving tribute or not, doesn't that just feel like they're trying a little too hard?
If there is a God, he'll live up to his namesake and give his parents hell...
Ryu-Kaori-Gai Forever!......I guess...
So that's the colorful side of the Jetman cast. My overall feelings on the show? Eh. When the show is really good, it's great. Whenever feelings rear their ugly head, I hate hate HATE this show. It is a little bit of a shock watching this show after Dairanger and before Ohranger in my marathon cycle. The drama is too much for a show about five people saving the world.
It is an interesting concept...but it is an interesting concept that constantly needs to remind you how clever it is. "Heh, the characters in the show are all different and they're forced to work together, heh. Watch what happens when they have a love triangle. Heh.". Ugh.
Bottom line...give it a watch. It's acceptance is polarizing, so you might love or hate it.
The ending song is amazing, though.