Zyuranger, Abaranger And Kyoryuger: My Thoughts On The Threefold Dinosaur Super Sentai Trilogy!
Not everybody loves dinosaurs, maybe a lot of children do but not all of them. In 1992, we had Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. Strangely, the two successive dinosaur themed shows happened during the 10th anniversary and 20th anniversary of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers which I think is not wrong at all. I guess Toei wanted to celebrate their entrance into the American market for Abaranger and Kyoryuger which I will expand further.
Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger started out as the first dinosaur Super Sentai though I still feel like saying, "Mammoths and Sabertooth Tigers are mammals!" The show itself is IMO pretty much a shadow of Chojin Sentai Jetman, even if I do feel like it's overall better than Mighty Morphin' but I can agree with some of the flaws of the show. Unlike Jetman, it may have been overshadowed and I wonder is this show really overrated or underrated? I wonder how are Power Rangers fans liking the Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger DVDs if they already have one?
The story of Zyuranger takes place in a fairy tale type setting instead of cavemen like the Flintstones. For warriors from the time the dinosaurs walked the Earth, the current set of Zyurangers are dressed up like medieval warriors using dinosaur powers. For a "Land Before Time" setting, I felt like the show itself ends up as an RPG-type series. The whole series focuses on a lot of becoming more kiddie but it's still that serious for American standards. Bandora may be a hammy villain but she's also pretty scary, the show contains a lot of nightmare fuel compared to the other dinosaur Super Sentai series.
The series had some concepts refined from its Super Sentai predecessors. The show started innovating the animal mecha concept that instead of just animal-shaped machines - we have sentient animal-based mecha in their place. It was also the first show to innovate the concept of a sentient robot that while Bio Robo had feelings, Daizyujin was shown to talk in some instances. Burai is the first official sixth ranger that while it was just a concept with characters like Shota Yamamori who became the Magne Warrior (Bioman) and Ryo Asuka/X-1 Mask (Maskman), Zyuranger managed to do the first official sixth ranger with Burai's arrival.
The good guys of the series has me mixed or I feel like it's been apples and oranges to compare it to Mighty Morphin'. The Zyurangers are warriors from tribes, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers come from regular people who get dragged into a conflict they never expected to be. The Zyurangers are pretty cool cast but are they really better? Not all of them. I felt like Geki's conflict of interest especially with his brother challenged him while Jason Lee Scott was more of a Soda era professional red ranger. Goushi was the wise one while Zack Taylor was a cool guy fighter. Dan and Billy, I still feel Billy is worth my while over Dan though both developed in their own ways. Trini Kwan and Boi - they are both great in their own ways, Trini can still tell Boi, "Don't underestimate me because I'm a woman." Between Mei and Kimberly, you know I'd still choose the latter, right? For Burai, I felt like his backstory with Geki was pretty interesting plus he had a better written "Green with Evil" arc for Zyuranger than Tommy Oliver can ever have it. Barza is an interesting fellow but I felt like he wasn't all that special either.
The villains were hammy but scary at the same time. The unique differences lay on Bandora against Rita Repulsa, Griforther against Goldar and Lami against Scorpina. For Bandora, she's got more nightmare fuel to offer than Rita Repulsa considering she wanted to eat children turned into apples or she was responsible for the dinosaur extinction in the past. Griforther has been more silent than Goldar - serving as a real threat to the Zyurangers. Lami is Griforther's loving wife and has engaged Mei in actual combat. I just thought it'd be impossible for Kimberly and Scorpina to engage in actual combat during that time - budget was low and MMPR was just starting to kick out. Would have been cool though if Kimberly actually fought Scorpina. Bukback and Tottobatto feel more funny and stupid in this version based on unused footage. Priprican isn't that much different from Finster though.
I felt like this show had the effect of Golion in Japan in contrast to Lion Voltron in the United States. Golion wasn't popular in Japan but its American adaptation or localization Lion Voltron became popular in the United States. Zyuranger may not be as popular as Jetman but its American adaptation or localization Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers became a monster hit. When it comes to choosing a better show, I really can respect those who don't really have a huge liking for Zyuranger. The more I think of it, Zyuranger isn't that great of a show for me. Mighty Morphin' might have gotten my vote if it really ended in forty episodes as planned rather than Saban Entertainment getting Toei Ltd.'s permission to overextend for the sake of profits on both sides.
Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger starts out on the tenth anniversary of Mighty Morphin' instead of Zyuranger. I pretty want to speculate that as I said earlier, Toei wanted to celebrate their entry into the American market last 1993 with Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Power Rangers Ninja Storm happens to be the 10th anniversary of Power Rangers. This was also the series that started Naruhisa Arakawa's work as a head writer while Jun Hikasa continued his era as a producer. Zyuranger was under the Takeyuki Suzuki era.
While Hurricanger had some 90s old school type near to Liveman type mecha, Abaranger started redoing multi-gattai with dinosaurs. Unlike the sentient Gao Animals in Gaoranger, the Bakuryus actually spoke and had their own personalities. The show itself also had some Jetman referenes like the Trinoids (a modified version of the Bio Jigen in Jetman, except they needed a plant element to be completed), the love story of Asuka and Mahoro (who was brainwashed as Jeanne) or the arrival of a real douchebag villain in Mikoto.
The Abarangers for me are a likable cast. I can't really compare too much with Dino Thunder since I haven't seen much the latter. Though for a few episodes, Connor has given me the impression of, "Please no more." and I wonder if other Power Rangers fans felt that about him. Ryoga Hakua on the other hand is a lovable goofball. Yukito Sanjo is more or less another Gai Yuki type character - he tries to run off but finds out he's really needed. Ranru exists as a beauty and brains type of character - she's Kimberly on the outside (being really attractive) while having Billy's brain. My favorite Asuka exists as some kind of team support. Unlike the Zyurangers, I felt like their being modern day warriors was better done than the Zyuranger's RPG-like theme.
The members of Evorian are more or less for both post-Zordon arc Power Rangers and post-Timeranger Super Sentai. The main villain Dezumozoryla is pretty much a threatening force but hasn't had provided nightmare fuel like the big bads of Hirohisa Soda, but still threatening nonetheless. Jeanne is actually a brainwashed and crazy Mahoro. Zoffa and Volfa are comedic monster makes where one creates Trinoids and the other creates the gigantic Giganoids. My favorite villain is Mikoto Nakadai who appears as both sixth ranger (later part) and mostly the villain for most of his part. Mikoto plays his deadly games, he's a literal game-changing villain with cruelty that makes you say, "WTF is wrong with you man?" Heck, Mikoto even temporarily became Evorian's de-facto ruler.
This season may have come out as "too Japanese" for some which I want to question that claim if some of them who said it were enjoying Japanese culture themed Super Sentai series namely Kakuranger, Hurricanger, Shinkenger and Ninninger. Dinosaurs aren't Japanese-themed, the toys don't look like they are stuff you only get in Japan but what makes it "too Japanese"? Is it Arakawa's sense of humor? Personally, I enjoyed Abaranger's fun spin from Zyuranger which while it was lighter and softer for a 90s Super Sentai, it does't really fit in with Abaranger's TV-Y7-FV lighthearted humor. I felt like most of Abaranger is lighthearted with lots of comedic moments.
Between Zyuranger and Abaranger, I usually end up thinking Abaranger refined Zyuranger. It may not be the perfect series but I find the series' characters better written. Though I also have a shallow reason to prefer Abaranger to Zyuranger because of Ranru. Putting Ranru aside, I felt like the characters in Abaranger were better written due to Naruhisa Arakawa. So far, I might think this is the best dinosaur-based Super Sentai ever.
Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger is one show I've had some issues with. During the time it premiered last 2013, I really told myself, "No, can't we find another theme, Toei?" Plus, it didn't help it had this stupid Takahito Oomori who ends up up creating a horrible show. OF course, I do expect many Kyoryuger fans to get defensive and throw all sorts of mud saying I'm just a caveman who's against modernization, that I should stop watching Super Sentai if I can't appreciate this show, blah blah it's getting old. I tried watching this show all over again but like ToQGer, it really just falls flat and I feel like for some, it's four means death if you go from Gobusters to Ninninger. Though IMO, Ninninger is enjoyable but lacks the badly needed do your own stunts Kyoryuger has. This show still has that, "Back then, we did a lot of our own stunts." Today, it's just, "These days, not much at all." starting with ToQGer and Ninninger.
Like the Abarangers, the Kyoryugers get selected for some reason although in Daigo Kiryu's case, I guess it's because he's the descendant of some famed Japanese samurai who looks exactly like him. It's not clearly explained if it's lineage or not but maybe like the Abarangers, they had enough of this power in them to become Kyoryugers. Amy Yuzuki is the sweet girl but I feel like she tends to overreact based on writing. Ian Yorkland is an attempt to do another Gai Yuki but I felt like no, he just fails harder than Masumi. Noboharu Udo isn't he too old to be a newbie Super Sentai guy plus he's so not funny. Souji Rippukan is okay, I kinda find him tolerable plus he's got some really awesome sword skills. Utsusemiraru appeared too early though not giving enough development space for the first five Kyoryugers. He's more or less like Shirogane who was possessed by a villain, redeems himself and is from an era way earlier than the rest.
The villains... well I could care less if they were meant to be stupid or what. Super Sentai villains aren't really meant to be smart ones but it takes practice to craft well-done stupid villains. Carranger and Go-onger had stupid villains. For the Deboss Army in their quest to gather different emotions to revive their master Deboss, I am not all that impressed. It's almost like a Wizard of Oz with Canderilla, Dogold, Aigaron and Luckiero. Then a gamechanging villain in Endolf arrives but he wasn't all that utilized either. For Deboth, I felt like the guy doesn't get as much chance to be really threatening compared to Dezumozoryla or Dai Satan. I felt like what in the world is going on watching this show?! Three of their monsters though namely Debo Hyogakki, Debo Viruson and Debo Nagareboshi caused the dinosaur extinction as far as this continuity is concerned.
The more I watch it, the more I think it's not the kind of comedy that would click to me. Okay, we have kids dancing and submitting their videos during its airing which is a pretty fine gimmick. I pretty much feel like the whole show was really collapsing. Comedy is fine - I have nothing against a funny Super Sentai like Carranger and Go-onger. Abaranger was chock full of laughs, Shinkenger might be a samurai series but it's a lighthearted series where I felt like most of the comedy just came out naturally. My problem with this show might be the characterization that like Magiranger, I feel like a lot of characters were unlikable with what might be considered as forced comedy. Daigo Kiryu or King ends up hogging most of the screen time, I feel like everyone's just too lively to the point they're obnoxious. The dino mecha is cool and all but as said, cooler mecha and equipment don't necessarily write a good show. Take for instance that Kamen Rider Black may not have as many cool moves and stuff to its sequel Kamen Rider Black RX but the former had better ratings.
I'll confess I enjoyed Riku Sanjo's other writing styles in Kamen Rider W and Kamen Rider Drive, he also wrote a couple of Kamen Rider Fourze episodes. I was excited to see him do Super Sentai and he wrote just... EVERYTHING. I always felt like he really had no idea what he was doing. The cast is okay but I always felt like the writing wasn't good. Good thing I had Kamen Rider Gaim to at least help me cope up with being a casual Tokusatsu fan. The show could have been better if it had other writers helping it but having Sanjo do all the headwriting wasn't a good idea. The show had potential to be a good dinosaur comedy but it ended up not pleasing me that much except for some really good action scenes. Looks like I'd watch this series over ToQGer any day.
So what's your favorite dinosaur-themed Super Sentai?