2017/12/01

Wins, Opportunities, & Top 7 Episodes! Denji Sentai Megaranger Part 2 of 2


Welcome back to my revisiting of the 1997 Super Sentai series Denji Sentai Megaranger! Didn't catch Part 1? Fix this immediately by reading it here. In that part I talk about the majority of the characters that inhabit the series. I know I skipped some favorites like Koichiro's foil Ooiwa and the lame duo of Shintaro and Jiro...but really, who cares? Ooiwa was a cool drunk initially and was always supportive of his students, but he always felt shoehorned into situations later on.

I never really said whether or not I liked the show. I'll save my verdict until the very end, so keep that in mind as you read on. I really had to concentrate a little bit harder this time since, like I mentioned previously, I'm not entirely familiar with this show. As I watched, however, one glaring issue jumped out at me. It's something I talked about previously...and it's something that still bugs me about Super Sentai.

In no particular order I am now going through what I found to be the wins and opportunities this series had.

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Megaranger WINS

WIN: Suit Designs

Honestly, there are no bad Super Sentai team suits of the 90s. Well, except Jetman. I love the Megaranger suits. They're slick, uncomplicated, and fit the theme perfectly. There isn't a bad design among them and even Megasilver looks fantastic.

WIN: Yugande's Design

Awesome, awesome, awesome design. I needed to give this it's own shout out since I love it so damn much. Like I said, it's kind of a bummer that they gradually ruined it as the series progressed, but it is what it is.

WIN: Arsenal

Digitizers, Keitaizer, Battle Riser, Drill Saber, Multi Attack Rifle, Cybersliders, Silver Blazer, etc. All awesome. The only one that was weak was the Mega Sniper, which is a two-piece weapon that I think only once in the entire series was used as a two-piece. This series was surprisingly sparse with the gadgets.

WIN: Locations

To make up for the lack of real high-tech sets, the series used a number of really interesting locations to give the visuals and extra oomph. The quarry was VERY rarely shown. Some really neat architecture made up for the fact that they really couldn't show us a warped Nejirejia hellscape or a Megaranger digital experience. It was a nice trick, and it really paid off.

WIN: Characters/Acting

I liked everyone well enough in the series. I know I playfully dismissed a lot of behavior on both sides in the last post, but I enjoyed spending a year with pretty much everyone in the series. The acting was pretty good all around--not an obvious dud to drag everything down in sight. Personally I think Eri Tanaka was the best actor (or at least the most natural) even if we didn't get too much of her. Shigeru Kanai was a ham as Yuusaku, but a lovable ham.

WIN: GALAXYMEGA

I love Muteki Shogun. I love RV Robo. Third place for my favorite mecha design ever belongs to Galaxymega. The fact that it doubles as INET's base of operations means that it got plenty of screen time for a good portion of the series, but I feel like it kinda got left in the cold once Mega Voyager arrived. Yeah, I liked Delta Mega quite a bit as well. Mega Voyager and Mega Winger were half-assed looking next to Galaxy Mega. I mean, that's kinda par for the course when it comes to secondary mecha of the 90s...but the latter two mecha completely lacked the intricate little details of Galaxy Mega and Delta Mega.


Plus it had the best theme song ever. FIVE-FOUR-ONE, FIVE-FOUR-ONNNNNNE!

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Megaranger OPPORTUNITIES

OPP: Music/BGM

If you listen to the three Megaranger Music Collections, you'll be treated to some incredibly serviceable tunes. Really, listening to the CDs is enjoyable. There is some great action stuff and some nicely themed pieces scattered throughout. My big issue? How it was used in the series. A lot of fights use this really weak drumbeat track that had no business being part of the show. Even the eyecatches were almost intentionally bad. The early episodes used these really good little pieces to bring us to and from the commercial break. They inexplicably changed it up to these AWFUL horn pieces.

Experiencing the music through the show and through the CDs are two completely different experiences. In the show: Almost terrible. Through the CDs: Good, but not entirely impressive compared to the fierce competition of 90s Sentai music. Composer Keiichi Oku was a one-and-done composer for Super Sentai (he composed some vocal songs for Gingaman, Kamen Rider Kuuga, and Gaoranger but never composed a second series), but has acclaimed work elsewhere.

OPP: Nejirejia's Razor Thin Motive

I really had to bite my tongue in the previous post. Nejirejia is a joke. Some interesting yet unoriginal moments poked through when Dr. Hinelar just wanted to be a better scientist than Dr. Kubota. Outside of that, the world domination stuff was just done ridiculously. This wasn't even a problem until the end was in sight. Really, who cares about motivation on the bad side for the first forty episodes? The build-up to the ending is what justifies the previous nine months. Two words brought Nejirejia to a screeching halt...

Hinelar. City.

Seriously, I know I can write a lot of things that are easy to disagree with...but I challenge someone to defend this bullshit plotline. The only defense I can think of is maybe the whole idiotic data card thing being a metaphor for our digital lives being easier to manipulate and one that can potentially outlive our physical selves...but no, that's way too clever. This was 1997 after all, who was really thinking about that? Hinelar City was as flimsy as the time bomb that Yuusaku used to bring it down.

OPP: Runtime

I made a quicky post about this in the past. Beginning with the eighth episode of Megaranger, the timeslot moved from Friday nights to Sunday mornings. The move itself wasn't the problem, it was the additional five minutes the episodes gained in the process. Filling twenty-five minutes instead of twenty should have been absolutely perfect for Megaranger. We have a group of five interesting characters that we barely get to know over the course of the year. Granted, backstory doesn't sell toys...but I have a hard time placing what the hell they wasted the extra time on. It wasn't fight scenes (see next OPP), so where did that time go? The opening credits were a little bit longer...and the episode previews had a little more time...but that's only like thirty seconds added between those two.

I know this grievance is in the middle of the list, but this is one of my biggest disappointments with Megaranger. Ignoring the youth drama aspect in a series with actual youths is just daft. I feel like I know way more about the Zyuranger characters...and they were millions of years old bores! They weren't meant to be fun or interesting...they were warriors who woke up in 1992. A lot of what I wrote about the Megaranger gang in the previous post was speculation based on actions. I don't know for sure if Shun was icy because his mother died at some point in his eighteen years, I connected the dots based on what little I know about him.

I really just missed the laser-focus of the twenty minute episodes. On very rare occasions we got something fun like the extended Diet Crepe song, but most of the time the obvious struggle to fill time was embarrassing. I'll get to that later, though.

OPP: Action

I criticized Carranger for being very light on action with only a few standout scenes. Megaranger, however, has nothing memorable. There was like two Megared vs Yugande fights and pretty much any of the slick Megasilver fights were good. There really wasn't anything montage-worthy or anything of passing interest.

Much like Carranger, the out-of-suit stuff was very limited thanks to the secret identity aspect. Though both series had their reasons for keeping their identities a secret. Carranger had an excellent pay off at the end of the series while in Megaranger it was done to protect their friends and families.

OPP: Budget

This was a close one. Megaranger almost made it to the end of the series with a consistently good look. The budget noticeably fell off a cliff starting with the New Year's clip show (more on this fucker later). The complete lack of money made something as impossible as Hinelar City even more baffling.

OPP: Nejirejuu/Psycho Nejilar Designs

Yugande? Awesome. Shibolena wasn't a terrible design either. This is one of the blandest series for weekly monsters. Nothing from Nejirejia looked cool until the Nejirangers showed up...and even they weren't as cool looking as everyone makes them to be. Usually the best monster designs end up in the first eight episodes or so...but when you're leading off with an awful, uninspired stingray...eww....... This is like Golgom all over again...except Golgom worked.

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As a little bonus before I get to the Top 7 episodes from Megaranger, I want talk about three episodes that were absolutely horrible for completely different reasons. Unlike the WINS/OPPS, this list is in order. This series has fifty-one episodes, though it really should have been forty-eight...


03. Miseru ze! Aniki no Miracle Shoot (34)

The next two episodes I'll be talking about are awful for different reasons. This one is just terrible for an extra stupid story. Koichiro's younger brother is having a hard time playing soccer. His coach turns out to be a Psycho Nejilar called Yamaarashi Nejire who brainwashes the team to become his minions. The grand plan is to have them kick explosive-packed soccer balls into the grand stands during an upcoming game. This...is one of the lousiest plans in the history of Super Sentai.

Apparently this episode was written because Atsushi Ehara was pretty good at soccer. Sometimes episodes are written around talents/skills that the actors might have, but I think they may have been scraping a little too deep for this one.

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02. Imakoso! Inochi o kaketa cho gattai (21)

This episode was an absolute waste of time. Delta Mega debuted in the previous episode, but this is the one where they combine it with Galaxy Mega to form Super Galaxy Mega. It wasn't that simple, though. Delta Mega ends up getting taken over and to save it they have to perform the incredibly risky procedure of combining the two mecha together...which could potentially kill everyone on board.

Here is an extreme example of the struggle to pad out the five extra minutes. The story was weak enough to begin with...but what the hell was this crap about it being so risky? Ummm...these are robots that YOU designed and built, Kubota. It's true that Delta Mega wasn't in their control at the time, but I kinda gathered that the combination was a last ditch effort that should never need to be done. Whatever. Completely unnecessary.

Oh, and if you don't believe me about the padded runtime, pay close attention to the Henshin. If it were any more drawn out it could have been an episode of Dragonball Z.

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01. Okiraku! Kenta no toshikoshi sodo (44)

A clip show...and a BAD one. Normally I really don't mind clip shows, but this one had the most skeleton plot woven into it. Kenta loses his Digitizer (ugh) while taking photos of himself for New Years cards with his Cyberslider and Drill Saber. Naturally he had to do it in the Digiken, so his Digitizer was discovered almost immediately by his friends.

Words can't accurately describe how much I hate this episode. The title effects are even extra shitty. Considering the budget had pretty much evaporated in the episodes following this I really have to wonder why in the world they bothered. Take the week off... I mean, the complete lack of effort from everyone kinda suggests they did. Kenta had always been depicted as being a lousy student, but in this one he's practically brain dead. Nobody even bothered to do their hair or anything. Nejirejia doesn't appear at all... The big cop out is that the episode ends with the gang running off to deal with a fictitious Nejirejia attack.

Want to see how a clip show should be done? Kakuranger 39. They dug the storyteller from mothballs and even brought back the Jusho Fighters (well, Battle Saruda) one last time. It was less clip show and more retrospective. It even had a new story woven in.

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Top Seven Megaranger Episodes

For some reason this is the only capture I made from this episode. I must have been hungry.

07. Gekiyaba! Oretachi shinu no ka? (16)

Dokuga Nejire has poisoned thousands of people, leaving the infected with twenty-four hours to live. As it turns out, all five of the Megarangers were exposed to the poison as the moth's mark appears on all of them as well. The team kinda panics as they are now given a death sentence and they head out to live their remaining time to the fullest. While they are indulging, they notice that everyday people are talking about their future plans while completely unaware how little time they have left. The team is motivated to drop the shithead act and figure out a way to save everyone's lives. Koichiro manages to get a piece of Dokuga Nejire and gets it to INET, who was able to make an antidote. Dokuga Nejire is beaten and the day is saved just in time.

This was still early enough in the series for it to be expected for the team to let their youth to lead them to the rash decision to quit and slap together their bucket list together in their remaining time. While their true test would have to wait until the end of the series, this episode was a good example of what one might do once they are given a time limit.

Oh yeah, and Kenta finding his mark was hilarious. Hahaa.

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06. Bikkuri! Otonari wa Nejirejia (14)

A young boy named Shinya is being picked on after claiming to know Megapink. By sheer coincidence, the near-abandoned apartment building he lives in is slowly being inhabited by Kunekune for...reasons I don't quite remember. Shinya discovers this, but nobody believes him. Megaranger saves the day and Megapink makes an appearance to say hello to Shinya while he's with the neighborhood kids.


The real reason to like this one was for the absurdity of the Kunekunes dressed in everyday clothes as well as King Kunekune being an awesome monster design. It's just hundreds of Kunekune forming one gigantic, demented looking Kunekune. Obvious weak point be damned...

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05. Tsukamu ze! Oretachi no sotsugyoshosho (51)

The finale. I have to say, this was a decent episode to go out on.

With Yugande and Shibolena out of the picture, a delusional and rapidly weakening Dr. Hinelar launches an all-out final attack after transforming Death Nejiros into Grand Nejiros. With Delta Mega destroyed and Galaxy Mega and Mega Winger heavily damaged, the Megarangers are only able to hold off Hinelar with an also damaged Mega Voyager. Despite completely shunning the Megarangers after learning their identities, their classmates begin to cheer them on. This motivated them to carry on with their fight and to latch onto Grand Nejiros and fly off to safety as it exploded (come to think of it, didn't that stinkfest Dark Knight Rises end this way too??). Their classmates watch in horror as both Grand Nejiros and Mega Voyager are completely destroyed in the explosion.

Graduation day was somber as there was five glaring vacancies. As Kenta's name is called, the Megarangers arrive on their Cybersliders and all five of them collect their High School Diplomas. Dr. Kubota and Yuusaku both show up for the ceremony as well.

Like I said, it was a good finale. It would have been nice if we got a little personal time with the five of them at the very end...but it's all good. They survived AND they graduated. Well done!

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04. Yasetai! Miku no ayashii Diet (29)

Miku decides to go on a diet and comes across a vendor of a strange Diet Crepe. The vendor claims that eating one will result in rapid weight loss no matter how much you can eat. Naturally she tries one as a puzzled Yuusaku looks on. The diet crepe is a success and Miku loses quite a bit of weight. As it turns out, she fell into a Nejirejia plot as the diet crepe vendor is really Buta Nejire and the diet crepe itself causes insatiable hunger. As it turns out, the spell wears off after only twenty minutes without food (lame as ever, Nejirejia), which Miku manages to accomplish only after being tied down by Yuusaku and then falling into the sewer. Hilarity ensures and Buta Nejire is beaten.

This is one of the most gifable episodes of Super Sentai. Between Buta Nejire's henshin pose, Miku doubling back to the restaurant as the team runs off without her, and Galaxymega getting whacked over the head with a frying pan, there is a lot of fun to be had watching this one. Also...this...


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03. Dokuso! Giniro no New Face (24)

This episode is the standard "sixth hero debuts in a pinch" episode, but what makes it fun is the sixth hero himself--Yuusaku. He playfully teases the Megarangers earlier in the episode and finally jumps into battle when Buffalo Nejire proves to be too much since it has data on all of the existing Megarangers. His excitement to join the battle while basically everyone was scratching their head on who the hell this guy was made for a great episode.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Yuusaku is a fun character. He was a career INET engineer who created the Voyager Machines...but in secret he revived the prototype Megasuit, eventually made it useable, and then created a mecha for himself. Heh. Not bad for an egghead.

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02. Doshite! Chisato ga Oyaji-goe (37)

I kinda talked about this one in my write-up of Chisato. The talent show is coming up and this is Chisato's last shot at making her singing debut after not being able to perform the previous two years. On her way to the event she encounters Canary Nejilar, which Bibidebi sent without permission. Canary Nejilar steals Chisato's voice and replaces it with his own, which leaves her once again unable to participate in the talent show unless she can get her voice back. Ooiwa does his best to stall with a solo guitar performance while the team tries to defeat Canary Nejilar and get Chisato's voice back. After defeating Canary Nejilar in a mecha fight Chisato's voice returns and she is finally able to make her singing debut.

Wait...that didn't happen at all. After defeating Canary Nejilar, her voice doesn't go back to normal. Kubota chimes in and says that she is stuck with the old man voice until it wears off. The dejected team arrives at the talent show after everyone had gone home and is ambushed by Ooiwa and some classmates. Everyone cheers Chisato on to get her to perform anyway even if her voice is screwed up. As it turns out, it came back just in time and she is able to sing her character original song Watashi rashiku ashita e.


I like this one for a number of reasons. For starters, Chisato didn't really get too many good stories on her own. This was only one of like three focus episodes she got in the entire series, and the other two were pretty weak. This is the kind of episode I was hoping to see more of from this series. It was a great balance of Tokusatsu and drama. Not to mention, it had a decent life lesson wrapped into it at the very end. It might not be the most original story, but it feels at home here.

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01. Kireteru! Ao no Kyofu Nejiblue (41)

After Nejipink was defeated in the previous episode, Nejiblue is on a tear to kill Megablue. While Shun and Yuusaku were reviewing the previous battle footage on the moon base, the TV starts to go on the fritz. Yuusaku does like any guy would do and starts hitting it and fidgeting with the cables. The footage goes black and white which gives Shun a brilliant idea. As Nejiblue seeks out Megablue once again, Megablue arrives. So does Megablue, Megablue, Megablue and Megablue. This kinda causes chaos among the remaining Nejirangers as Nejiblue doesn't want anyone but himself to kill Megablue no matter how many there may be. To make matters weirder, Nejisilver suddenly appears. Naturally this turns out to be Yuusaku in disguise. Nejiblue becomes Nejibizzare and is taken out in a mecha battle.

What a fun episode. The Nejirangers were incredibly strong when they debuted, but started falling one by one because they really didn't have a grasp on Megaranger's biggest strength--teamwork. This time in particular Shun came up with a pretty solid plan thanks to the faulty TV. The plot of this episode is kinda Megaranger in a nutshell. Dr. Hinelar tries to one-up Kubota through brute strength, succeeds at first, and then is taken out by Megaranger as they continue on at their marathon pace. Plus it was just thoroughly enjoyable.

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So what do I think of Megaranger? It's alright. I understand why a lot of people really dig this series, but I feel like a lot was left on the table. I know I moan a lot about the five extra minutes, but it really was this show's biggest failing. This series was almost a sloppy experiment for the extended time slot and move to mornings. That said, I will give it props for at least pulling off filling the time better than a lot of newer Sentai series have. All that extra time these days has been filled with hanging around their shitty, over-lit sets with lots of mugging at the camera and going "eeeeehhhhhhhh!?!". Super Sentai, your anime days are drawing nearer and nearer...

Megaranger was still trying to keep the live action flame ablaze. I've always been more of a 90s Super Sentai fan, but I really enjoy the 80s as well. Maskman seemed to deal with criticism for the beginning in decline in the action factor in Super Sentai, but I really think that it only opened the door for us to get better balance in the 90s.

Remember in the first part of this Megaranger write-up when I mentioned that I tend to group Super Sentai into threes? The Ohranger-Carranger-Megaranger grouping just feels right as big changes were happening in those three years. Zyuranger-Dairanger-Kakuranger was about legacy and revenge. All of the heroes had their roots planted firmly in the past and were the chosen generation to suppress a recurring evil. Those three series started with that block of clay and molded the shows around that. Ohranger was a different beast, however. Sure, history plays a part in the plot...but change was happening. Carranger was a much needed break from the mold, but unique in a way that whatever followed it would benefit from tabula rasa. Megaranger certainly felt new and different by several metrics. I can't quite say I agree with the direction the franchise took following this, but it was far from the death of all that was familiar.

I will say this, though... It was nice to see a set of villains completely wiped out for a change. When was the last time? Jetman? Baranoia kinda got eliminated. Buldont's baby, Acha, and Kocha are still traveling space with Gunmajin. Good going, Megaranger. You killed an old man that was going to die on his own anyway. Hahaa.

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I hope you enjoyed this very, very long write-up. Not having ads on my site means I didn't have to dice this up into like twelve articles. Hahaa. I put together a special page with all of my past series overviews on it. If you're looking for more, check it out here. As of right now, I've covered Jetman-Megaranger. Up next? Gingaman. If the incredible Shout!Factory keeps to their schedule, we should all have our DVDs next month.

I'm sure you're done listening to me blab. There will be one more post in 2017. I hope you'll come back for my 2017 year end Top 7 list extravaganza!

Take care!

-CC

Install! Denji Sentai Megaranger Part 1 of 2
Super Sentai Series Reviews

9 comments:

  1. Great write-ups. As the Shougo-appointed Spokesman for Shout Factory's Super Sentai releases, I like that you keep honest about where you feel the show went wrong. (Even as a Megaranger fan, it's hard to disagree with a lot of your criticisms, especially regarding Nejirejia. I appreciate that Megaranger wanted to evoke tech teams of the '80s and modernize them with the heroes and villains, but the Nejirejia often feel like an afterthought.)

    You make an interesting point about locations. I never really even realized that the show kind of rips you off in terms of never showing digital or twisted realms, heh. I'll have to keep an eye out on the variety of locations they film at, too. (I haven't gotten around to watching my Megaranger set yet. Not in a real Mega mood.)

    BTW, the extra time in the newer Sentai shows also goes to fiddling with ugly Bandai toys. I seriously can not believe -- and I never thought -- that toku would be reduced to the actors (and suit actors) just standing there playing with themselves. I always wonder what the JAE old-timers think -- there's no longer stunts or fights, but toy crankin' and standing there just waving a toy that's unleashing a wave of CGI and spouting gibberish. And it's not just Super Sentai's problem! Kamen Rider's just as bad. That franchise is in danger of being turned into an anime, too. (And if anime installments replace the real ones, I'm pretty much done with 'em.)

    I think we're the only two people who realize that Sentai's worse off for the additional five minutes. (Mega's answer seemed to be mecha and tech stuff. The first episode right out of the 25 minute gate? Mecha junk! And I think that's how we ended up with stuff like episode 21.)

    Clip shows should be against the law. Nothing but money-savers, every showrunner will tell you that. Just take the week off and spare us.

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    1. Thank you, sir. :D

      We're definitely not alone on the subject of the extra five minutes. When I made that post like six years ago about it I was kinda surprised when a lot of people agreed with me. Honestly, moving Super Sentai back to 20 minutes now would probably do wonders if they did it properly. But yeah...that will never happen.

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    2. What i thought was true you to are really hopeless

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    4. You will never enjoy a new tokusatsu ever again

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    5. You're right...because Sentai just keeps getting better and better /s

      To reply to your deleted comment...umm, Megaranger is well after my childhood. I really don't have any kind of attachment to it. I take the piss out of shows I like too...so what's the problem?

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    6. forget i said that other thing okay

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    7. Even so...what's wrong with being critical of something that is clearly moving in the wrong direction and becoming less and less relevant over time?

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