The Fantasic Fantasy World of Seijuu Sentai Gingaman!
Well years ago, I learned that Seijuu Sentai Gingaman is Fantasy Leader's favorite Sentai (hence this post is primarily dedicated to him) and I am proud to announce that I have completely watched the series. Gingaman itself would be Yasuko Kobayashi's first headwriting work and a masterpiece at that. So I can't really make a comparison similar to Fantasy Leader but I'll give my own tidbits. This would be the second production (or third considering Kamen Rider Kuuga was his production too and I saw Kuuga from start to end BEFORE Megaranger) by Shigenori Takatera that I would see from start to end. So after watching the series, while I can say that I do like Timeranger (spoilers ahead) better than Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, but I am happy that I watched this series. Again, people know that my top favorite Super Sentai is Chojin Sentai Jetman.
Based on series I've watched from start to end vs. those I have read about, Gingaman felt like it was mixing a lot of stuff. For example, the rangers were from tribes and descended by lineage (they are the 133rd Gingamen and descendants of the original Gingamen), you get that from Zyuranger especially with their tribal outfits. I like them all but my favorite ranger in the show as the show went by is... Ryoma, who also happens to be Fantasy Leader's top favorite red ranger. Hayate, Gouki, Hikaru and Saya are likable characters and I still like them, but for me Ryoma's development from Hyuga's younger brother to becoming truly Ginga Red was fun to watch. They all lost their home had had to blend in with civilization where they live with the father/son team of Haruko and Yuuta. They have to blend in with the modern world if they expect to stop Balban from destroying Earth as its next target.
They are also guided by their tree-like mentor, Moak and the tree fairy, Bokku. It's pretty much a fair tale setting if you ask me. Moak was planted to guide the Gingamen, he was the mentor given their actual mentor, the Tribe Elder Ohgi to guide them. The Ginga Forest gets petrified since the Elders would choose to be petrified, rather than let the newly revived Balban get the energy to revive the Daitanix. Moak and Bokku would serve to assist the Gingamen as much as possible as they struggle to protect the civilized world from the forces of Balban. I pretty much thought Moak was taken from folklore of talkign trees. Bokku seemed like some acorn fairy you can get from a fairy tale book. Gingaman itself is pretty much a fairy tale based Super Sentai done in such a satisfying manner.
Warning spoilers ahead!
The Gingamen drew their powers from some distant galaxy each coming from a different planet (or I'd love to say, lost galaxy in reference to its one year later adaptation Power Rangers Lost Galaxy). The five Starbeasts (or Galactabeasts) at first appear stone-like but they can assume their metallic appearances and to their elements. It's just me speculating but I felt like Gingaleon shows the lion is the king of the jungle, Gingalcon well it's wind after all, the Gingarilla shows Gouki is a gentle giant, the Gingaverick well I guess a pun on lightning fast and Gingat, somehow Saya makes a reference to it at times. While the Gingamen were tribal characters, they drew their powers from a cosmic source as they battled the Balban space pirates.
Well I can't help but compare a bit to Shinkenger's Gedoushu with these guys, the Balban when it comes to being enemies in a vessel (though this may be a very forced comparison but both wanted to get their vessels moving to attack the humans though the writers and producers had a way different approach). Like the Gedoushu, the Balban were riders in a gigantic ship but theirs was mounted on a living monster known as Daitanix. Their leader Captain Zahab has been leading his crew to pillage and destroy one planet after the other, turning it into some jewel for some evil reason. After 3,000 years, the seal was broken by an earthquake allowing these hooligans to wreck havoc yet again. Their modus operandi was focused on how to get the Daitanix arrived, with the narrative style similar to Goranger and the earlier Kamen Riders. Each of the generals had a different operational tactic, forcing the Gingamen to change their strategies. They are all focused on reviving the Daitanix, which or who is a giant monster they used to devour life from planets, converting them into power jewels. On the other hand, Shelinda was Captain Zahab's steerwoman who did everything for her master, while she rivaled Hayate. I feel like the similarity is hot-headed captain (Zahab/Doukoku), undersized adviser (Pucrates/Shitari) and ruthless bitch (Shelinda/Dayu).
Sanbash's gangster was a cool, bug-like gang that lasted for the first 12 episodes. Captain Zahab wasn't willing to commit the same mistakes again so he ended up sending Sanbash first, that is until Sanbash runs out of troopers. I thought Sanbash was a cool gunslinger who was up to gathering different sources of energy. He even spread deadly poison which the Galactabeasts were supposedly defeated but it only allowed Gingaoh to be formed. He was also looking for the Lights of Ginga during his encounter with Bullblack. I was upset to see him leave so soon. Fortunately, he died in a badass duel with Ginga Red.
Episodes 13-24 would bring us to the Budoh Arc. In Budoh's case, he was after the Lights of Ginga (shortly after Sanbash died in battle) which he believes would revive the Daitanix, at the same time he was an honorable opponent. His subordinates were all Japanese-based monsters who were in charge of looking for stuff where the Lights of Ginga were hidden. The Gingamen had to prevent him from getting all the stuff where the Lights of Ginga were hidden. It was also in this arc where another opposition named Bullblack appears, in the race for the Lights of Ginga. Budoh would later be framed by Illies to which he chooses to die a warrior's death against Ryoma rather than commit seppoku. The Lights of Ginga also showed new powers for the Gingamen to use in their fight against Balban... while it seemed they were going to get easy, the war was getting tougher.
Illies came next from episodes 23-33 as Budoh's replacement, focused on mystical arts and using magical spells in an attempt to revive Daitanix. Illies could not tolerate the fact that Budoh would overshadow her, designed her treachery which backfired badly at her later on. Since she is the niece of Pucrates, this also created an interesting element. Pucrates did care about her and her troops which also included her daughter Medoumedou, her sister Merudamerdua and her brother Desufuraisu. After she is defeated, Zahab ruthlessly orders her remains to be used to preserve Daitanix. This also results to Pucrates betraying the crew since he really cared about Illies.
The final general was the axe-wielding viking Batbas who was focused on heavy artillery, finding ways to power up Daitanix through destructive ways like creating massive explosions. He would be the last general in Captain Zahab's disposal, playing an important part towards the finale.
One of the more interesting arcs was the arrival of the crazed anti-hero Bullblack together with his badass mecha Gotaurus. Hints of Hyuga being alive were written aka classic Kobayashi's style of foreshadowing stuff. Bullblack is crazed and wants to destroy the Balban in revenge for his little brother and his home planet, unaware that he had taken the wrong direction. It was fun to see the conflict where he plans to get the Lights of Ginga for his own selfish purpose vs. the Gingamen who want to use it to defeat the Balban. During that time, we see more of Bullblack's short arc going from anti-hero to last minute redemption.
What happens later is that Bullblack's ghost would later pass his powers to the much alive Hyuga as the sixth hero. Durign this time, Ryoma was again in doubt of his position, looking at himself as a mere substitute but Hyuga affirmed that Ryoma is indeed the 133rd Gingared. For one, I get shades of Geki and Burai considering the sixth member is older than the red ranger. I wasn't all too surprised to find Hyuga alive due to every foreshadow Yasuko Kobayashi placed into her stories, or that Ryoma always felt Hyuga's presence in Bullblack, since during that time the former was the latter's temporary host body.
Later on, Hyuga would end up in a difficult alliance with Pucrates in order to find a way to destroy Captain Zahab once and for all. Later, Zahab discovers of the conspiracy and would do anything to stop it. During this time, he makes a really difficult choice of giving up his powers just so he can find the way to defeat Zahab. During that time, he separates from the Gingamen hoping to make the ultimate sacrifice. The Knight Axe was created by Pucrates who wished to avenge his niece and himself from Captain Zahab's cruelty. Pucrates was at first thinking of his personal vendetta, but he later committed suicide, while asking Hyuga to leave him to die.
Another interesting plot was the arrival of Biznela (this was during Batbas' turn) and the Steel Starbeasts where the Ginga Rhinos, Ginga Phoenix and the Ginga Bitus were forcibly turned into metal while ALIVE. I thought the whole Starbeasts Arc had displayed Biznela's greed and dirty tactics but it was predictable that the Gingamen get the Starbeasts to be part of their group of mecha. What was not predictable about it was how they were going to get the Starbeasts. It was one of the more interesting parts of Gingaman as it's obvious Captain Zahab wasn't going to relax one bit until he destroys the Gingamen and Earth.
Biznela would also play a major part in the finale, and I thought the way he died was pretty much badass, destroyed by the Steel Starbeasts that he so oppressed. I thought seeing Biznela's mutated form and getting destroyed was a badass way for him to go as well. I thought that sending Biznella to attempt to enlarge the Earthbeast was also giving him more development. I mean, he was pretty stagnant (except for assisting Batbas in cooking up schemes) after he had his awesome entry of the Steel Starbeasts, which the Gingamen were almost defeated. I thought it was fun to see the cold villain finally getting a badass and at the same time, karmic death.
It was exciting to see the vicious Daitanix into battle but it wasn't exactly the end for it. After several failed attempts and three deceased generals, Batbas sacrificed Degius in order to get the comet energy, after he had also several failed attempts to revive Daitanix. Daitanix appears to be a vicious opponent to which Hyuga appears to use the Knight Axe against the monster. However Zahab had planned something more vicious with Daitanix. After Daitanix's death, the cells of the monster entered into the Earth creating the more evil Earthbeast, which would play its role into the finale. Batbas is forced to use whatever resources he had to revive the Earthbeast.
During the series' finale, the Earthbeast reveals that it releases a deadly poison that would have plagued the Earth. In a sad moment, Moak starts to absorb the poison into himself to which he actually and supposedly dies. The Gingamen honor Moak's sacrifice to do whatever they can to destroy the Earthbeast. Captain Zahab's cruelty and soft side are revealed at once... he didn't really care too much about Batbas' death (who was eaten together with the growth serum) but he did care about Shelinda's death (Hayate eventually killed her in their one on one match where both were indeed worthy opponents) for some reason. He would later show his extreme cruelty as he controls the Earthbeast, showing his high disregard for life and that, he was also a cunning adversary. The Gingamen manage to destroy the Earthbeast in a rather dangerous stunt of sorts which could have destroyed them. The Earthbeast is disintegrated but they had to face Captain Zahab. At that point, Hyuga discovered that Captain Zahab had relocated the source of his power, which by the way, was really his own home planet turned into a jewel.
So it does look hopeless for the Gingamen when they are beaten up badly by Captain Zahab's immense power. While it seemed that Captain Zahab would eventually win, both Hyuga and Ryoma show up. Hyuga regains his Earth power from his heart which both Hyuga and Ryoma use their united powers to destroy Captain Zahab's power source. The Gingamen eventually destroy their longtime archenemy, something that the first batch of Gingamen failed to do. In the end, the Earth (?) or should I say Mother Nature rewards them with the restoration of the Ginga Forests which brought back their Elder Ohgi and other members of the forest back to life, including Hayate's fiance who he missed so dearly. Heck, even Moak returns back to life after he is planted to the soil of the Ginga Forest where he is finally returned to his rightful place.