Two Morally Gray Characters In Mirai Sentai Timeranger
Timeranger is probably one show that's complex for many, some consider it Yasuko Kobayashi's Magnum Opus (though which series she was the main writer is somewhat debatable) and yet there's some gray areas. These are probably what I'd call the gray areas of Timeranger or what really happened.
Remember spoilers ahead so read at your own risk!
As much as I'm a fan of Timeranger but I tend to think about criticisms even from Super Sentai fans towards this guy are also valid. What could be a weakness and a strength for the show at the same time is Naoto's role. He appeared pretty late in the series in contrast to other sixth rangers before him like Burai who appeared in the 17th episode. So what was his role? I thought Yasuko Kobayashi's tendency to write anti-heroes and maybe, just maybe she wanted her own version of Gai Yuki (minus the womanizing, gambling and drinking) but this guy took it too far in some way. He's a real douche and has taken Gai Yuki's character too far. I wish Gai Ikari made a comment on that in Gokaiger!
What I thought was this guy might be a preview of next year's Kamen Rider Agito with the character known as Hojo. Both he and Hojo could be considered morally grey people in some way. Both of them are rivals to the main heroes but have a certain degree of respect. They are both power hungry. Naoto's hunger for power is because he started with nothing and he considers Tatsuya's willingness to run from the Asami path to be stupid. He also has questionable motives like why in the world did he want to exploit the Timerangers' identities? He also wanted to take over the City Guardians and he's always presenting himself to be even more aloof than Gai Yuki ever was in Jetman. He ends up helping the Timerangers though but he always remains as Tatsuya's rival.
I thought about one area where he and Gai Yuki do fall down. I really felt like their deaths were written in a bizarre way. I don't know which feels out of place between Gai Yuki's death by a mugger or Naoto's death by a lone Zenitto firing at a distance. Granted, Naoto did eventually start mellowing down a bit like when he decided to rescue the pet birds of a little girl or when he served to inspire a younger child to get the surgery. But after that episode he still shows his signs of being the douche he really is and maybe he wants to stay that way. Gai Yuki started to get better midway but Naoto just feels like he always intends to remain as Tatsuya's rival.
Also, I can't stop but still bring up the whole Naoto vs. Eric Myers debate. I can't blame some people who may think Eric is better though the argument could be apples and oranges. Timeranger is meant to be darker and edgier while Power Rangers Time Force is meant to be lighter and softer. Eric's decision not to reveal the Timeranger identities or not to try and seize control was a good thing. It's also another thing to see Eric take the bullet for both father and son. I think Eric himself was a better character for that reason. On the other hand, Naoto's unique writing can be a good thing though it it could leave a lot of mixed reception.
On the other hand, I thought about the Naoto doppelganger in the finale. Was it him revived because time changed or was it just a lookalike? I could discuss about that (to a certain extent) in the next entry which will be much longer than this one.
Oh boy where do I even start with this guy? This section will be longer because he's really trapped in the shades of gray much more than the first character. I thought about how Shogo B'Stard listed him under the list of mentors and had this to say about him:
Asshole extraordinaire. People like to pretend like Ryuuya is this deep character, realistic in his flawed shades of grey, but I think he's just a sloppy, nonsensical mess of a bad writing complimentary of master of sloppy, nonsensical messes of bad writing Yasuko Kobayashi.
Ooh, Ryuuya, this shady guy who we're going to be cheap and just use the awful guy playing Time Red. He's in the shadows for most of the show while we think up what to do with him. Ooh, he's a descendant of the Red, and is coming to take back the powers! Ooh, he's pulling strings and is up to shady shit to ensure his safety. Ooh, one of our heroes kills him. Just...screw this guy. He made no sense. We're told he's so cold-hearted that he rewrites history in order to have people die in his place*, but he's just such a softy that he feels bad for the Timeranger and repeatedly saves them by sending their mecha, even though they need to die to further his agenda? What? Kobayashi Bullshit. Stupid.
(*I think that's an interesting sounding, villainous character, but Kobayashi sure couldn't pull it off.)
I dunno I've had disagreements with Shogo in many areas with Tokusatsu in general. I like Timeranger, Hurricanger and Boukenger (which are popular seasons) and he doesn't but I won't let that ruin anything between me and him. I still want to keep all these disagreements as friendly as possible. I could think about it that I agree with him that Ryuuya is an or the a**hole extraordinaire with what he did in Timeranger. Come on, let's think about the bad things he did. He was guilty of willful neglect where he could have prevented Dolnero's escape (which triggered the events of the show) but he chose not to. Later, he would even free Gien from his pacifying device for some stupid reason. It's all part of his scheme to prevent himself from dying so he could live a normal life. I think about how often this guy made me thankful that Masato Kusaka in Kamen Rider Faiz didn't have a time machine. Though both of them can die for all I care. =P
What I thought about this guy is the attempt to write a morally gray character. Yes, he was guilty of neglect by not doing anything when he could have prevented Dolnero's escape. Yet it was also him who sent those Bandai merchandise into the Year 2000 which saved everyone from dying again. Yet he was also thinking of the Great Disappearance which I thought could have been prevented. He wasn't giving orders to the recurring villains but he was trying to be a puppet master.
Here's what Toku Warriors has to say about him as a morally gray character:
Captain Ryuuya: as the one being pulling the strings of the plot, and the one who was the mastermind of all that happened in the show, he seems to be a real Big Bad. And why has he done all that stuff? to save his life. However, it's forgetting the important fact that he wanted to save his life without otherwise changing history and also protecting the 30th century, which means that, had he done nothing, events would have been pretty as destructive as they have been with him pulling the strings; perhaps even worse, since apparently, had he done nothing, Yuuri, Domon, Ayase and Shion would have died. One could say that Ryuuya is responsible for Naoto's death; but Naoto has been choosing his fate of his own free will.
So he was really doing all the events. So I thought about him as the big plot driver he could be like the Overlord of Darkness in Kamen Rider Agito. Both were pulling the strings with some noble intentions yet were guilty of actions that can't be justified. Seriously allowing the villains to escape to the 20th century and let the Great Disappearance take place or restarting humanity because of the Agito Seed issue is just STUPID. But I thought what if Ryuuya foresaw another event after the Great Disappearance? I even think that with the ambiguous rules of time travel in science fiction that maybe there's this third event that we don't know could have happened. I thought about a number of times that I called this douchebag extraordinaire an idiot because if Tatsuya died in the past then wouldn't that mean he would be deleted from existence instead of dying?
What's this third outcome I'm talking about? I remembered the last words of Captain Ryuuya in the final episode prior to his death.... though I wish Ayase broke his neck like how Masato died in Faiz. It was that he saw the two futures. He saw an entire era vanish if Gien were to get killed by the G-Zord and if the Great Disappearance happens where 2/3 is destroyed the 30th Century will be saved. So what if he saw that the Great Disappearance may happen and never happen? If you don't get what I mean let me explain it to you. So let's say the Great Disappearance happened and it killed Gien with it. I mean killing villains from the future in the past can have an impact to the future. Spielban's ending prevented the events from happening to the future and Don Dolnero's death in the past prevented the assassination of Yuuri's family. So what if Captain Ryuuya saw that if Gien died during the Great Disappearance of 1/3 of the 21st century then 1/3 of what disappeared would just return, people who died will just resurrect and the event would be like it never happened?
So I thought what if the ending were actually worse if Ryuuya didn't intervene? I dunno but Captain Ryuuya if there was ever a third outcome (which the show is probably not going to mention AND the viewers are left to decide) could have just told them of the outcome. I thought about how the future changed (again) and Tatsuya has to be torn apart by time. So what if all the changed Ryuuya did for the 30 century are undone after they won the battle? Gien disappeared and maybe, just maybe that would have changed time for both eras. But what if Ayase is going to die after all from the Osiris Syndrome and a cure no longer existed? What if Yuuri will have to accept her family is gone? The show does remain ambiguous about what happened to the future. But the ending seems to provide some crazy answers or not. I still feel that everything is somewhat left for viewers to decide.
So in the end of Timeranger, Tatsuya runs into some doppelgangers of his friends and even his rival Naoto. The show doesn't suggest that they were either the ancestors of the other Timerangers or just lookalikes. I doubt it that the Sion-lookalike was ever a Hubbardian from thousands of years back or maybe he was. It's possible that all the meddling caused the timeline to change with aliens starting to blend even more with humans in Timeranger's continuity. The Naoto lookalike may or may not be Naoto revived for this reason. If everything from the future was destroyed from the past then maybe Naoto is alive without his memories. Maybe Naoto never became Time Fire or never died because the Zenitto that did the act no longer existed. Wow, I think that's a whole lot of speculation there. Heck, maybe Captain Ryuya who supposedly died several minutes ago is probably back to life as a better (or worse) person after the show ended.
So I wonder who's really screwed up time in Timeranger now? I guess we're all left to our decisions to what the ending really was.