Episode Writers' Analysis Part 16: Samurai Sentai Shinkenger
Here's Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, a series that would probably be a season I like but these days, I just can't enter it into my list of awesome.
Yasuko Kobayashi (main writer) : 1-13, 17-28, 31-35, 38-49 (42 eps)
Yasuko Kobayashi has a head writer for Sentai series had written 38 episodes of Gingaman, 40 episodes of Timeranger and 36 episodes for Gobusters. So far, this was her biggest pile of work done for Super Sentai.
Acts 1-2 is a basic two parter introduction arc. We are introduced to the different personalities of the Shinkengers such as Ryunosuke is a kabuki actor, Chiaki and Kotoha as students and Mako as a school teacher. The two-parter features Takeru as a loner for some reason. We also get a good glimpse of personalities like Ryunosuke's being overly loyal, Chiaki the slacker, Kotoha the dedicated youngster, Mako as the feminine one and Takeru the loner.
Act 3 is Chiaki focused. Chaki learns the responsibilities of being a vassal. He realizes he can't always hang out with his friends because they can get hurt. I kind of like this development episode especially when he discovers how to beat the ground-based monster. He does go out of balance though but learns what it is to be part of the team.
Act 4 has Mako and Ryunosuke on focus. This episode focuses on some character flaws. Mako for one, we get the horrid revelation that she is a bad cook and Ryunosuke easily misunderstands people, plus he gets annoying at times. This episode can be misunderstood that Ryunosuke was dating Mako... nope he just thought she was interested in him and she wanted to help him. I do find the plot to make a kid cry despicable though I don't think that plot was good enough for the Sanzu River.
Act 5 has Takeru training the new Kabuto Origami. It kind of tries to use the Aura Power concept of Maskman, Dairanger and Gekiranger in a samurai's way. Takeru tries to harness the power of the Kabuto Origami disc to beat the monster of the week, who can easily dodge their attacks. I find this concept better than the cliche armor of a thick armor.
Act 6 features an Ayakashi who can hurl insults. At this point, we get a hint something is not right about Takeru when he gets hurt when he is called a liar. I kind of had a lot of assumptions why he was a liar. Again, Kobayashi's foreshadowing either can be obvious or two, not obvious just like Inoue does it. This episode shows Kotoha's uniqueness in a sense, she is immune to insults compaed to the others. At the same time, Chiaki develops in a way.
Act 7 has the Gedoushu trying to release poison into the surface world. I just thought though that the plan could have been more effective if the monster spread it somewhere. In this episode, Ryunosuke becomes the only one who can save them. It also features a former kuroko who returns back to the Shiba Household after seeing Ryunosuke's determination to capture the Swordfish Origami. This tried to balance Shinkenger's otherwise lighthearted tenure.
Act 8 has no monster of the week but it does get a bit of who Dayu is. Dayu kidnaps brides for some reason to make a beautiful cloth out of their tears. Really why can't she just buy one?! I thought it could have used some creativity like re-hash bits of Dynaman, like Dayu could have attempted to make the brides marry a monster or stolen their feelings. But this one kind of made me think Kobayashi had some few moments of originality in a good way. I started shipping Takeru and Mako starting with this episode.
Act 9 is a Ryunosuke/Takeru focused episode. In this episode, the Tiger Origami is found but it's unde the control of a whip-lashing Ayakashi. Ryunosuke falls under the influence of the Ayakashi which causes him to do berserk. In this episode, Shinken Red and Shinken Blue duke it out. Shinken Red uses an ancient technique to free both Tiger Origami and Shinken Blue from mind control.
Act 10 focuses on major development on Chiaki. Chiaki wants to use the Kabuto Origami but he is not powerful enough. The Shinkengers learn that the Kabuto Origami, the Tiger Origami and the Swordfish Origami can form into Daitenkuu a new combination, Chiaki learns more about himself in this episode.
Acts 11-12 focuses on some major issues with Takeru. Mako notices all the more something unusual about Takeru. Takeru crosses swords with Juzo the first time, creating a rivalry between them. The two episode parter features Takeru's strange behavior which disturbs everyone. For some reason, only Mako could sense what's wrong with him (which I wish Kotoha also did, considering she and Mako are a duo). Ryunosuke shows some brains (finally) to get the Shinken-oh to combine with the Daitenkuu into the Tenkuu Shinken-oh.
Act 13 is probably the first girl team power episode for this series. Girl team power episodes should happen when there's more than one girl in the team. What I love about this episode is that it shows more of Mako's past and feature the funny part about her, her BAAAAAAAD cooking. Children are replaced with some kind of white living manikins and worse, the guys are incapacitated with red humanoids clinging to them. Both Mako and Kotoha show that it's not always brawn that win. A nice episode with some comic goodness.
Acts 17-19 has Genta introduced. We get a taste of Kobayashi's weird sense of humor in introducing Genta. So we have Ryunosuke and Chiaki who are funny, Genta enters in. Genta's introduction is chock full of silliness. I love how he is connected to Takeru in the past, rather than just silly guy who rents with his uncle and he is also the sixth. Unlike the others, he is not samurai. I love how he was introduced here as someone who really proved his worth.
Act 20 is the introduction of the Ebi Origami. It's also Kotoha's birthday, which was probably why that this episode was written for Suzuka Morita. In this episode, Kotoha's soul got stolen by the monster of the week which puts her in a life and death situation. Genta also shows he's not stupid when he uses the Ebi Origami to draw out the monster of the week, saving Kotoha.
Act 21 has Chiaki on focus with his father. So we learn Chiaki doesn't have a mom anymore, how she died was never known. This also tried to connect to the Decade crossover in a way. I thought the idea of getting people to grow some kind of apples and going violent was too standard. It did lack Bandora's nightmare fuel of turning children into apples for her to eat, instead this was a scheme to get the Sanzu River to rise up. I kind of thought this explored Chiaki looking up to Mako as his older sister.
Act 22 is for some a potential Kotoha/Takeru shipping but like Mako/Takeru, neither is canon at all. Kotoha is being wooed by some geeky rich guy, he's a nice guy but this causes some problems when an Ayakashi has possessed the rich guy. In this episode, Takeru pretends to the butler of Kotoha's would be suitor. I just love how Kotoha uses her sharp mind, pretends to be a bitch and gets the monster out of the rich geek's body.
Acts 23-24 focuses on a rampaging Gedoushu, the secret of the Tengan Box and the new samurai combination. This episode again has some focus on Juzo and Takeru who are fated to battle to the end. The arc introduces the idea of becoming "super" and the unlocking of the Tengan Box. Genta is shown to be a master of unlocking secrets in this episode. We also get to learn more about Juzo as Takeru's potential rival and who has some sense of honor, in spite of being a villain.
Acts 25-26 is another major arc that focuses on Dayu. In the first half, we are introduced to the Dream World which traps Mako, Ryunosuke, Chiaki and Genta into it. I do appreciate a bit of comedy here. In this one, Mako enters into Dayu's dream and discovers the latter's past of how she fell into Gedou leading to focus on Dayu. The second half of the arc has Juzo and Shinken Red as they duke it out against each other. Also, Ryunosuke develops into a good sub-leader though in hte OVA, he sucked.
Act 27 is a Chiaki/Kotoha episode. The monster of the week swaps people's souls with objects, which leaves Takeru, Mako, Ryunosuke and Genta helpless. The worst part is you destroy that object, the person dies. Not a bad plan if you ask me. For Genta, the worst for him is that he became sushi and nearly died in this episode. Chiaki and Kotoha both go into all their might, saving the day with their wits.
Act 28 is more of executive meddling than Kobayashi's fault imo. So we do have Genta becoming scared of sushi. I love how this episode has everyone trying to help Genta in the funniest way possible. Unfortunately we are also introduced to Daigoyou who's just there for... TOY SALES? Yes, that's what I was thinking. I mean Genta could have just recovered at the end of this episode but introducing that paper lantern got me 50/50 or something about him.
Act 31 has the Kyoryu Origami (Seriously?! That origami looks more like a shark, at least PR Samurai got the name right!) plot. This is a serious episode featuring a nurse and her patient. I really think Akumaro is a game-changer with this despicable plan of manipulating a nurse and her patient. Genta' s not even funny in this episode but Shinkenger was meant to be a balanced season compared to Go-onger.
Acts 32-33 is the Ushi Origami arc. Again, producers' fault anyone? My problem with Utsunomiya is getting too many toys. For one, the whole story is a recycled concept of Maskman's Galaxy Robo. Unlike Galaxy Robo or Red Puncher,
Act 34 is a major focus on Mako. We don't know much about Mako yet but here, we learn more about her family life. She was left to her grandmother to raise her, because her mother was severely injured and they had no choice. Mako's dad return and shows up, which also shows some emotional reunion. He wants to make up for leaving Mako with her grandmother. Mako also saves a couple of kids and she gets her rare moment of brilliance, but the fight scene is mostly stuntman-relied. I love how this episode managed to flesh Mako out in a way.
Act 35 has Ryunosuke on focus and WTF that cluster combination?! Well, Ryunosuke's kabuki is being touched all over again, which brings interest to more to what he was going through. In this episode, Akumaro prepares yet another diabolical scheme that could have ended the Shinkengers. Ryunosuke loses his Shodophone but it was recovered thanks to the help of the others. I love how this episode focuses on Ryunosuke's kabuki background. On the other hand, executive meddling brought in such an unsually ugly combination. =P
Akatsuki Yamatoya : 14, 16, 29, 36 (4 eps)
Act 14 is almost like an episode if Bulk from MMPR landed into the world of Shinkenger. This episode continues a bit of Ryunosuke. If you remember the episode where Ryunosuke got the Swordfish Origami, Mr. Brown here (the foreign guy) discovered the identity of the Shinkengers. I'm just glad Spike wasn't in this episode! Here, Mr. Brown's wanting to become a samurai brings one hilarious incident after the other which a fire-based Ayakashi causes trouble. I thought it was nice to have Mr. Brown encourage the Shinkengers. In the end, he vowed to spread the ways of the samurai to the west.
Act 16 has the Shinkengers learning from the Kuroko. This is another comic episode where an armadillo-like Ayakashi enters and it's very hard shelled. Somehow I wish this monster was tad more aggressive but he was shy. The humor involving the Shinkengers competing with the Kuroko was funny especially Ryunosuke and Chiaki. They learn their different roles in the series. I also love the use of basic science to beat the monster. Heat it up, crack the shell, cool it down... hehehehe!
Act 29 has the plot of Daigoyou and Genta. I really thought Mako shows her team mom skills in a way. Daigoyou and Genta are both quarreling over minor issues. Daigoyou runs away. Akumaro also shows up in this episode with his new cool Ayakashi. At least Daigoyou got to be useful even if I felt like was more of a toy commercial. For Mako, she did try to apply her fixing skills on what isn't human. However this episode got me pretty mixed with what possible direction is Kobayashi heading towards.
ct 36 has Genta on focus. I find this one something I'm glad Toshiki Inoue wasn't the writer of this episode because it's already weird the way it is, I mean Genta could end up in a cooking battle instead. Genta prepares some curry rice which turns out to be very tasty. For one, I prefer Indian or Java curry better because I want strong flavors. Moving on, this episode kinda shows Genta's passion in making sushi and choosing between fame or friends. I love how Genta chose his friends. Good thing this episode doesn't have a stupid cooking battle! Sideline, Kotoha shows how much she has grown in this episode too!
Act 38 is where Kobayashi goes against executive meddling in a way. I mean, I don't find that whole Mougyubazooka all that useful except for toy sales. On the other hand, I love how the Rifle squad with a rifle-related monster of the week tries to best out the Shinkengers. Now why didn't Shitari think of this earlier? We also learn more about Jii's background, his daughter and grandson in this episode. I kind of love how badass Jii was... provided that he's acted by a legendary actor like Goro Ibuki.
Act 39 is a Takeru/Mako focused episode. I just think that Mako here tries to reach out to Takeru. This episode has some nightmare fuel when an entire village gets possessed... so think of it as a low budget version of Village of the Damned or any horror movie. The ashes make people hostile. In this one, Takeru shoves Mako off because he doesn't want her to get involved... yet Mako goes in for his defense anyway. I thought the focus on these two brought me back to memory lane. I kind of thought that this episode shows Takeru is really hiding something... and Mako's suspicions are all getting confrimed.
Act 40 has the treachery of Akumaro revealed in full, showing he's one manipulative bastard. We also learn more about Doukoku himself. During this episode, Akumaro has revealed more of his plans to get Dayu and Juzo to do his ultimate master plan which will be revealed a few episodes later. Doukoku appears for the first time but reveals that while he is very powerful, he does dry up faster than the rest because he was born purely of the negative energy of the Sanzu River. This of course gives a hint that Doukoku won't be so easy to beat.
Act 41 is one Kotoha focused episode. This one involves humans being hit by stand that puts them under extreme thirst and hunger, which hits Mako, Ryunosuke and Genta. For one, Kotoha here shows a huge degree of maturity for this episode. I thought that getting her sister to write to her was helping Kotoha. I mean, Kotoha wasn't supposed to be Shinken Yellow by birthright but her sister's condition made her take the burden.
Acts 42-34 is the end of Akumaro arc. Akumaro's plans creat ea straight line which would inevitably bring Hell on Earth. Akumaro reveals that he plans to use Juzo's Uramasa which is now repaired, to crack Hell on Earth. For Juzo, being a stray Gedou means he does not take instructions. I just thought this two parter was pretty intense, considering that it could be a bad Christmas Eve for everyone. I just thought it was nice to see Juzo slash Akumaro instead, which saves the day. The Shinkengers engage Akumaro to a huge battle, which they defeat him. However, danger likes with the possibility of Doukoku returning anytime soon.
Acts 44-45 gives us some details on Kaoru. Act 44 is where Takeru must reveal that he has been pretending to be the lord of Shiba, because he was assigned to do be her guard. Shitari has designed an effective bullet that could make Takeru blow into fire, but Takeru only mastered the Mojikara to carry on his job as a shadow lord. Kaoru shows up and explains why Takeru was there. Takeru agrees to leave everyone now that the true head has shown up. We can see that Kaoru values her shadow warrior. Meanwhile, it's all about tradition and whether or not it should adjust in certain situations.
Acts 46-47 tries to bring more of Takeru's role as a shadow warrior. For Kaoru, she was truly the head and she returned because it was already her time. However the retainers have developed a friendship with their shadow lord. Here Takeru decides to fight Juzo, feeling like he has nothing to live for. I love the whole plot where the Shinkengers are caught in the conflict. The Shinkengers try to stop Takeru who emerges victorious against Juzo. Takeru's interaction with everyone gets fairly distributed. I also love how Genta is appreciated by Kaoru even if he is no samurai. At the same time, Doukoku is revived thanks to the shamisen being broken. Doukoku then absords Dayu into himself, making him more powerful than ever. It's just in time for the final battle.
Acts 48-49 is the finale arc. So we learn that Doukoku is now more powerful than ever. What truly disappointed me is how Kaoru imo wasn't so properly used, so fair enough she later had herself focused in Gokaiger during the Shinkenger arc. While Kaoru unleashes the sealing symbol, however it fails to destroy Doukoku because he now has some human components after absorbing Dayu. I think Kobayashi like Inoue likes to make WTF moments. If killing Gai Yuki and making him die without anybody noticing was STUPID, Kaoru does the absurd to adopt Takeru. In a bit of Jetman tribute, Doukoku now has an open wound which the Shinkengers take advantage when they defeat him once and for all. The ending has the Shinkengers leaving for different directions which I thought was bittersweet but they managed to get together during Goseiger vs. Shinkenger (which is most likely non-canon).
Act 15 has Chiaki on focus. An Ayakashi who can copy forms, has framed Chiaki. This naughty version of Chiaki causes more trouble than the real one. I really felt sorry for Chiaki in this episode, being framed up and all. In this one, Kotoha does discover something is wrong while the others are clueless. I love how Chiaki managed to prove himself innocent in this episode.
Act 30 has Ryunosuke and Kotoha enter into a manipulated academy. I felt like I wish this episode involved a kendo class instead of a regular high school. So Kotoha makes a new friend named Eri (and she will also befriend another Eri, Gosei Pink). I thought it was a good plan though to possess innocent civilians against the Shinkengers.
Act 37 is a Ryunosuke/Chiaki focus. I love how this episode glued Ryunosuke and Chiaki in a way, I mean the two hardly agree with each other. In this episode, both of the realize that they must work together now they are stuck with each other. I kind of thought the plot of gluing people to cause despair can be stupid. In this one, I love how they both coordinated to beat the monster of the week who put them in the predicament, teaching we don't accomplish anything by whining.