Remembering Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger's Successful Ambitious Voyage Across The Universe After Five Years
It's been some episodes now since the 2,000th Super Sentai episode but I still want to talk about Gokaiger's successful ambitious voyage across the Universe. I would assume that back then a lot Super Sentai fans would have already dreamed of a massive Super Sentai crossover. Years later, Gokaiger accomplished that and a lot of fans got what they were asking for: a huge anniversary Super Sentai crossover.
Gokaiger can be viewed that it's probably almost every Super Sentai fan's dream come true. You've got a season long crossover. You've got a big bang opening where the 34 other Super Sentai teams of the past way back from 1975 up to 2010 battle the invading Zangyack Armada. They sacrifice their powers and the Gokaigers are now caught in this battle against the Zangyacks. They seek to get the "Greatest Treasure in the Universe" by unlocking the Greater Power from each and every Super Sentai teams.
Officially, Gokaiger's the first team where all the members didn't come from Earth. It's a huge fix from that awful mini-series Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers. They're a bunch of pirates and it felt like Captain Marvelous is an anti-hero of sorts. They're more after treasure than the safety of the Earth which they ended up protecting. They were only after the Greatest Treasure in the Universe but they ended up as heroes without intending to be heroes. When they show their heroic behavior even if they're supposed to be pirates, it was a nice unique touch than the typical anniversary. Along the way, they find that they share in the huge legacy of the 34th Super Sentai teams before them. In the later episodes, they put aside the Greatest Treasure in the Universe because it would affect the Super Sentai timeline in their show.
So what's with the core members of the Gokaiger team? Captain Marvelous used to be best friends with the rogue villain Basco but they ended up in a death duel. Ahim was born a princess but lost her kingdom during a Zangyack attack. Joe used to be a Zangyack officer and was best friends with Barizorg (when he was still Sid) and must choose between persona life or duty. Luka was also an orphan who fended for herself explaining why she's got that headstrong personality. Doc's the team mechanic and doesn't like taking risks but learns to accept them.
What I like about Gokaiger over Kamer Rider Decade would be that they didn't go with Alternate Reality words for Super Sentai. Instead, they decided to create a Super Sentai timeline as part of the whole story. Instead of alternate versions of Super Sentai characters played by different actors, you have Super Sentai old school actors and new school actors resuming their roles or at least a different version of their roles without doing what Kamen Rider Decade did. You had a lot of them resuming their old roles where they help the Gokaigers unlock the Greater Power of each team. My favorite episode was where Gai Ikari and Ryou teamed up... though I still wish it were a team-up between him and Gai Yuki. Even if most of the Super Sentai shows have events that may not agree with each other like how dinosaur extinction varied from season to season but Gokaiger's done a good job in making a massive crossover a lot of fans dreamed of.
Gokaiger also presented other pretty good what if events for the audiences. If you remembered the Timeranger arc of Gokaiger, Domon's son with Honami is shown to have grown up. I felt like what in the world was Yasuko Kobayashi thinking with that side plot? But it did show this one... what if Domon knew he had a son and how would have he felt about it? Another one was that what if Satoru met the Boukengers and it was a cool episode. While I don't think it's possible that Ryuon would have been in the state he was given given that his body could have been burned at the end of Boukenger, it was still nice to make a what if he's still out there. After all, wasn't Gokaiger a huge what if all the 34 Super Sentai seasons were crammed into one show?
In short, Gokaiger succeeded where Kamen Rider Decade failed. Decade had a lot of good ideas but the whole Alternate Reality Riders felt silly IMO. The series didn't even last long and instead of a one whole year Kamen Rider season, it ended up getting canceled after 31 episodes. Not even its two parter crossover with Shinkenger helped. They had a movie finale which wasn't even good for me. Decade was a good concept but it was a failed anniversary. I still want to call it as "Saban's Masked Rider repackaged with better acting and special effects but majority of its writing failed." Gokaiger is a good concept and a successful anniversary. I guess the producers learned from their mistakes during Kamen Rider Decade's time making Gokaiger the season long crossover it's known to be.
Gai Ikari (the only Earthling member of the group) is somebody you could relate to in more than one level. I'm glad that Gokaiger created him as a sixth member. Back in Shinkenger, Genta was a samurai wannabee who became a Shinkenger even if he wasn't born from a samurai lineage. Gai Ikari gets his wish to come true when he becomes a Gokaiger. Both Genta and Gai Ikari were initially refused by the red rangers but they proved their worth. Gai Ikari improved what Genta left behind. He's a Super Sentai fan and he got his dream to come true. He knows everything about Super Sentai. How nostalgic and appealing can that feeling get with this character? A lot. I guess some people wished they became Super Sentai warriors when they were a lot younger until they realized it was just fiction. He may be that character that many Super Sentai fans can relate to.
Not only did Gokaiger give fans what they may call as one of the best anniversaries ever but you also have a creative implementation of mecha. It's really cool to think how seniors not only resumed their roles but also created a lot of cool stuff for toy sales. The mecha and various combinations are cool. The possibilities seemed endless for cool toys. I wouldn't deny that these are probably the coolest toys ever made for the Super Sentai franchise. I felt like the designers were truly dedicated in implementing innovative ideas in all the badass Bandai merchandise the show sold to its viewers and toy collectors. While not all the Super Sentai shows before it had a mecha to add but you can't deny that it was still pretty cool nonetheless.
With all that in mind, I might as well call Gokaiger as an ambitious voyage that succeeded in doing what it did best. While getting all the Super Sentai seniors is really impossible given a lot of time that passed out but they succeeded in doing so. I could raise how the final episode was rushed but it could be understand due to time constraints. Not all the old school actors may have agreed to resume their roles in a tribute episode due to real life issues. But you can't deny how it may not be a perfect series (no series ever is regardless of genre) that it accomplished its ambitious voyage across the Super Sentai franchise. While I don't think it's the best series ever but it's definitely one of the best series ever out there.
I could still name a few weaknesses Gokaiger had even if it's a huge hit. I can't deny that the nostalgic feeling is there but the tsunami last 2011 may have been a reason why Toei needed to dumb down the villains. I don't know or can't confirm whether or not the Zangyacks were really meant to be stupid like the Bowzock in Carranger or Gaiarc in Go-onger. I didn't feel anything special about the Zangyacks compared to a lot of previous villains. The only villain I truly cared about was Basco himself since he was truly cruel and competent making him a real threat. Another weakness Gokaiger had was since it's meant to be a season long crossover then the team must rely on the Ranger Keys and give them up at the end of the series. But again, every series has its flaws that must be accepted and even major hits like Gokaiger aren't spared from flaws.
The Gokaigers made it back after five years just in time for Super Sentai's 2,000th episode. As of right now, I think that Zyuohger's a fun show while I may want to rewatch Gokaiger again after some time. After Gokaiger, things may have looked pretty dark (no pun intended) when Go-Busters had really low toy sales. Kyoryuger, ToQGer and Ninninger had a lot of toys to sell but were marred by production and writing issues. Takahito Oomori's sexist views aren't good for Tokusatsu since we've had a lot of Toku females who were tough as nails with or without henshin. Naomi Takebe is pretty much hit or miss... I enjoyed a lot of her works but Ninninger's isn't one of them. Well, Ninninger does teach a lot of good lessons but it's just not my cup of tea but it's crossover with Kamen Rider Drive is still worth a watch. ToQGer had its potential to be great as it got its wreath of recognition for its maiden voyage but Yasuko Kobayashi was overworked at that time or two a different writer like Naruhisa Arakawa or Junko Komura should have been assigned in her stead. I also felt that ToQGer's concept could have been kept until the 40th anniversary since trains may make a good anniversary theme.
Toei may have exhausted itself after making Gokaiger such a huge hit. After big events, it's highly possible that organizers can so exhausted that they can't think of better ideas for some time. That didn't happen during Gaoranger (which was basically the opening of a new era for Super Sentai and Timeranger may have been a "finale" for the 20th century Super Sentai) or Boukenger. Gokaiger felt like a huge grand finale and Super Sentai is now in another era. Zyuohger doesn't look like an era opener or an era ender even if it's the 40th anniversary of Super Sentai. Hopefully, Toei will get back on its feet with their planned 41st Super Sentai series Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger after Zyuohger shows signs of recovery.