No one on the Sagitariark is crying over Bangurei’s demise. Especially Cubaru who has apparently attached Bangurei’s mind reading hand to this body. Downtown, Yamato and Micchan are explaining Halloween to the Zyuman when the tails get stiff. Team Azarudo’s Sambaba appears and orders the Moebas to attack the citizens. Tusk jumps in to save a little girl who immediately falls in love with him. They morph.Sambaba dances, setting itself on fire to attack the Zyuohgers as a preview of what’s to come in this episode. The little girl, Mami, scolds a little boy for leaving her during the attack and says he’s no prince, leaving him very sad. Next day, Mami excitedly catches Tusk on his way to buy Halloween candy and declares that he is her new prince. Mami latches on to him as he heads back to the treehouse. Everyone is shocked. Amu asks Tusk where’s the candy she asked him to buy, but he was a little preoccupied to go get some.Mami sees Amu as her rival for Tusk’s heart. Uncle Mario arrives home and is surprised to learn Tusk and Amu are dating. Misao faints. Back on the Sagitariark, Sambaba is being just as clingy as Mami as he wants to spend time with Azarudo instead of fighting the Zyuohgers. Tusk makes pancakes for everyone to make up for no candies. Mami opens her mouth wide and wants Tusk to feed her and make Amu jealous. Yamato and Leo think this is very strange, but Sela understands that young girls are in love with the idea of being in love. Misao doesn’t want Tusk to leave him, but remembers he has Yamato and reminds him about them all getting Halloween costumes.They all head out. Sela helps Mami find a princess costume. Amu jokes that Tusk should really date Mami. She tells Tusk not to underestimate even a little girl and to just come out and tell Mami that it’s very creepy and illegal for them to be in a romantic relationship. Yamato is a pumpkin, Sela is a witch, Leo is a sexy French maid, Tusk is a prince , Amu’s in a tophat and tux looking like a man and Misao is a Joker-type ghost which everyone laughs at. Princess Mami sees Tusk and Amu chatting, so she decides to grab her prince and run away with him. Instead, she grabs Amu and ends up giving her a piece of her mind. Mami tells Amu to stay away from her man. Amu tries to reiterate that she and Tusk are not dating. But Mami points out how Amu acts like a spoiled princess with a prince. Mami wants to be a spoiled princess too.Sambaba suddenly appears and announces Azarudo’s Game of Love will begin. He dances to Kyoryuger‘s theme song and sets everyone on fire. The Zyuohgers morph and fight the Moebas. Amu gives Mami a little bit of girl power advice before joining the others who have been forced to demorph. They morph again when Amu arrives. Mami watches Amu being badass and a huge smile appears on her face. The Zyuohgers fight off more Moebas before turning their attention to Sambaba. They take care of him with a Zyuoh Final before Naria comes down with a Continue. The Zyuohgers hop into Wild Tousai Dodeka King to finish off Sambaba for good. Mami comes running to… Amu and hugs her tight. Mami says she wants to be Amu’s princess. But Amu says she doesn’t swing that way.A fun episode that doesn’t add much to the overall arc of the series, but a good watch for halloween.
When the 1982 video game Xevious launches an full-scale attack on the real world, Emu turns to the video game “Chou Super Hero Taisen” for help – a world where Rider and Sentai clash led by Kamen Rider True Brave, a game version of Hiiro Kagami. For them to help, Emu must first win the game and earn the power of the Kamen Sentai Goriders. To do so, he forms a team with game versions of Momotaros/Kamen Rider Den-O, Kamen Rider Zolda, Beet Buster and AoNinger.As Emu fights, the CR and Super Sentai members join forces to uncover the origin of Chou Super Hero Taisen. While Poppy and Naga Rei of the Kyurangers discover a young boy named Eito also living inside the game, Amu of the Zyuohgers uncovers the link between him and a case the real Hiiro has kept secret for the past yearWith Toei insistent that the majority of their crossover films must take some sort of “versus” format (even if it’s in name only), there’s always the problem of how you get two lots of superheroes to fight both conceivably and believably. Chou Super Hero Taisen gets around that by dropping them into the one place no one will ever question the logic behind it – a fighting game. Certainly there later comes the question of how exactly a child could have programmed a game with all these heroes, but with the video game-themed Kamen Rider Ex-Aid in the spotlight the idea fits perfectly. So much so that Bandai/Toei could have easily made an actual game out of it, as the five-member team concept has so much potential. Though many of the teams aren’t properly highlighted (it’s well worth looking up all the ones listed in the match-ups scene), the film does have a lot of fun with putting them together and the character selection segment for Team Ex-Aid is genuinely hilarious. It’s really wonderful to see Momotaros, Jin and Shuichi back. Yakumo less so, but to his credit he works great within the team and his inclusion was worth it just to set up an obvious (but definitely obligatory) Magi Yellow/Beet Buster joke.Speaking of games Toei use their Bandai affiliation to good effect here by introducing classic Namco arcade games Xevious and Galaxian as the invading forces from the game world. Though not the only time actual games have been used in the context of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, their implementation helps makes the show feel that little bit more “real” while at the same time giving off an added layer to that retro gaming vibe the show has going for itChou Super Hero Taisen also thankfully takes a leaf out of Super Hero Taisen Z’s book and focuses on a much smaller cast that doesn’t necessarily include the usual major players. The film is almost entirely led by the Ex-Aid cast, it does throw out a few surprises in terms of Super Sentai characters. Though present for the obligatory misunderstanding fight at the very beginning Lucky is actually absent for most of the runtime, with the Kyuranger quota filled by Naga and, to a lesser extent, Balance. As well as the BN thieves being two of the best characters in Kyuranger, Naga’s lack of emotions works perfectly alongside both Eito’s same infliction as well as Hiiro’s stoic disposition. Meanwhile it’s just Amu properly representing the Zyuohgers, which is great considering she was one of the more undeveloped characters in the show itself. What she gets here doesn’t really add anything of real value to her in terms of development, but it’s always nice to see how Sentai characters outside of their usual teams.Chou Super Hero Taisen is another excellent crossover films that sees some welcome returns and a few surprises. This is a must see for any Kamen Rider and Super Sentai fan.
Crossovers can be a strange thing. Sometimes they can pair up the most unexpected of things and others are such perfect match ups that you can’t believe they didn’t happen sooner. The pairing of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Space Sheriff Gavan definitely counts as the latter. After the roaring success of their 10 Years After special, the space-cop Super Sentai team are back once again and teaming up with the new Gavan, Geki Jumonji – who took on the mantle in the 2012 Gavan movie and subsequently appeared in Super Hero Taisen Z as well as the Next Generation Sharivan and Shaider movies. Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger isn’t just a match made in heaven, it’s one with its sights set on the wider Sentai and Metal Heroes universes as well.While chasing down an intergalactic arms deal, Geki and his partner Shelly are lured into a trap by Juspion’s resurrected foe Mad Gallant – now leading a branch of the mysterious Genmakuu Syndicate. Not only is the new Gavan humiliated in battle, but Shelly is shot and taken by a mysterious assailant. Removed from the case due to his thirst for vengeance, Geki goes rogue and turns to the Dekarangers for help.Together the two branches of space police investigate Mad Gallant’s scheme, taking them from a diaper factory all the way to another dimension where a long fallen evil is about to rise again. Can the combined forces of the Dekarangers and Gavan defeat the Genmakuu? And will Gavan be able to best Mad Gallant’s sword skills?One of the biggest advantages to Dekaranger’s more episodic storytelling was that while the show was still able to end with a higher stakes battle, there was no finite ending to it. Whereas most Super Sentai series end with the team defeating the evil they came together to defend against in the first place, this was just a particularly bad day for the Dekarangers. Characters were promoted and the team dynamic shifted, but as 10 Years After proved there are still plenty of stories to tell. It’s a shame that Ban’s new position doesn’t properly integrate him back into the team until the very end, but for the other Dekarangers it really seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. Picking up where 10 Years After left off the relationship between Umeko and Sen plays a big part in the story, and we get to see the two characters finally tie the knot. All of the show’s main players are back, with both Tetsu and Doggie getting in on the action in-suit as wellBut with the Dekarangers as the veterans of this story, it’s Geki’s character development that’s central to this story. Even though it’s been five years since his debut the new Gavan can still be quite a difficult character to get on with at times in terms of personality. His brash, impulsive nature is a lot more bearable in Sentai reds because at least there they’re playing off characters, but Gavan is more of a solo player. So having him rely on a team is a big step towards humbling him, preparing him to be the Space Sheriff Retsu knew he always could be as well as something bigger. You don’t need the characters constantly reminding you to know that Geki is essentially what Ban was like at the beginning of Dekaranger, so to now see Ban in a position of authority mentoring someone else is a fantastic evolution of his character. Just as Ban was brought to position where he can now competently lead the Fire Squad, here Geki not only becomes the Space Sheriff Retsu knew he could become but also the leader of something bigger – the Space Squad. Retsu himself isn’t quite done yet either, and though not as prominent as he used to be continues to be a big part of Geki’s growth while being just as badass as ever. Kenji Ohba truly is a tokusatsu treasure.With the villains also comes a second Metal Heroes element – incorporating Juspion antagonists Mad Gallant and Satan Goth into the mix as well. Even without any prior knowledge of the show (which isn’t in any way essential viewing to follow Space Squad), Mad Gallant immediately oozes the kind of presence you know doesn’t come from an all-new character. Not once but twice is he able to completely overcome Gavan, and it’s a testament to just how striking the suit design that it remains barely unchanged from his original appearance back in 1985. Even when the villain is needlessly unmasked, the two distinctly different personas work together to create something really memorable. Working alongside Mad Gallant are the “Space Kunoichi” Benikiba (a villain from yet another Metal Heroes show – Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya), as well as alien assassin Cronen – who in a wonderfully Dekaranger-esque bit of name play hails from the planet Berg. Whereas Cronen is more or less just a glorified Alienizer for the film, Benikiba is a little more interesting. Though slightly updated visually she’s still a perfect throwback to the Showa era villains of the 70s/80s, and character-wise the film leaves her shrouded in mystery. Her sense of honour makes her more than just a cliche villain, while her unwavering dedication to the “Prophet Fumein” makes her perhaps the most dedicated of the three. Though we don’t ever get an answer to who or what Fumein is, it’s clear that Benikiba could continue to be a major player in the story yet to come.The genius of Space Squad as a concept though isn’t just that it’s a perfect Dekaranger/Gavan crossover, it also has the potential to expand into so much more. Incorporating elements from Juspion were just a sign of things to come, with potential future Space Squad instalments teasing the likes of the B-Fighters, Janperson, the Megarangers, Gingaman and more from both Super Sentai and Metal Heroes. The fact that the film even finds a way to slip in an Akibaranger reference of all things just shows how ambitious this series could become should it continue to go on. In interviews director Koichi Sakamoto has directly compared Space Squad to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going as far to even call it the first step in creating his tokusatsu equivalent of The Avengers. Since usually these sort of multi-franchise crossovers seem to come with very little internal logic to them, the thought of Toei moving into something that isn’t immediately rushed into is a very exciting concept indeedSakamoto thankfully also puts aside his love for fanservice to properly focus on the other element that earned him his reputation – fantastic action sequences. Whether it’s in-suit or untransformed fights, there’s a certain slickness to Space Squad that elevates it above the norm and emphasises its cinematic qualities. While the stylised lens flare is undoubtedly overkill, there is a nice juxtaposition between the inviting natural light of its Earth/planet-based scenes and the overpowering, artificial light of the spaceship/station sequences. Similarly the gun-toting Dekarangers offer a different kind of action to Gavan’s swordplay, so the film has plenty of variety on offer to keep things exciting.Toei may have produced an abundance of crossovers across their various tokusatsu properties, but you can count on one hand the number of truly spectacular ones. Space Squad: Gavan vs Dekaranger can happily be counted among them. 13 years on the Dekarangers are just as fantastic as ever while the Gavan cast continue to prove that they’re being wasted on just the occasional movie and tie-in episode (seriously, just make a combined Space Sheriff show already Toei). This isn’t a crossover that just works, it’s one that’s come together to suggest something even bigger. If Toei can now deliver what they tease at the end of the movie, this could be their first step in creating a shared universe that their previous crossovers have always lacked – coherency.
While Toei tokusatsu hero crossovers have become fairly commonplace these days thanks to the annual Super Hero Taisen movies, every so often one rolls around that promises something really special. The Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Space Sheriff Gavan crossover Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated events in sometime – bringing together these space-faring heroes in a crossover that not only sounds good on paper but also makes perfect sense continuity-wise as well. But before we get onto the main action there’s also Girls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero – a prologue V-cinema release starring Jasmine/Deka Yellow and Umeko/Deka Pink as well as the new Space Sheriff assistants Shelly, Sisi and Tammy.Waking up in a strange place, Jasmine, Umeko, Shelly and Tammy are being hunted by a feral alien. No matter what they do every outcome leads to the same eventuality – their deaths. However each death leads to them waking up in the same place once again, repeating events over and over until they can defeat the monster and break the time loop. Meanwhile the Galactic Police are putting together a team for a special mission to rescue their President, who has been captured by the reformed Genmakuu.If the recent Kamen Rider Brave special has taught us anything, it’s that children’s tokusatsu can get a lot more violent when detached from its usual Sunday morning television slot. Whether that violence is warranted however is a different matter entirely. Girls in Trouble opens less like the sci-fi space cop special it is and more like a J-Horror survival film, as we watch the leads run around cramped corridors – dripping in sweat and wearing the shortest shorts possible as they’re repeatedly killed. The means of death aren’t especially gruesome, but the Kamen Rider Amazons-esque blood spurting is enough to remind you this is no picnic. The obvious fetishisation of the whole sequence should come as no surprise when you see the director is none other than Koichi Sakamoto – a man whose talents for great action sequences are unquestionable.But in spite of the somewhat sleaziness of this first section, the film does a lot of good with its characters and setting – going as far as to even play up some of the viewers’ expectations based on previous films. We expect the Horusian alien with the creepy laugh in the darkened room to be the villain based on a similar villain appearing in the Next Generation Sharivan/Shaider movies, but then the film goes and subverts that by revealing that Birdie is just adverse to light and her “evil laugh” is her species equivalent of hiccups. Genius, even if the costume is just as ridiculous here as it was there. While it’s a pity Sisi isn’t more directly involved with the action (although there is a good reason for that), the characters immediately work together brilliantly – to the point where it doesn’t even feel like this is only their first meeting.Jasmine and Umeko are both on top form, and after 13 years it feels like the pair have just kept getting better and better over time. Umeko especially, who between this and Dekaranger: 10 Years After has established herself far beyond the cutesy, bath-loving persona she’s usually lumped with. Meanwhile Shelly, Sisi and Tammy all a decent amount of focus in their respective films but the chance to see them without the action focused on the Space Sheriffs shows not only shows just how brilliant all three of these characters are, but also how perfect they would be for a full Metal Heroes television revival. Toei has lined up an absolutely brilliant cast for the new generation Space Sheriffs, yet for the most part have barely been used.The most commendable thing about Girls in Trouble is it’s proper dedication to keeping an all-female cast. While surprise cameos from the likes of Doggie Kruger and Juspion’s Mad Gallant are always welcome, the story completely revolves around the shows respective female casts and not once do the males ever gatecrash the party. Even the plot comfortably removes this unwanted and unneeded element from the film, cliche as it may beGirls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero is a wonderful enjoyable film that not only highlights two of Dekaranger’s best characters but also gives the Space Sheriff girls to shine away from their metal-clad partners.
It’s amazing how fast time flies. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger’s big 35th anniversary bash was a whole six years ago, which means now Super Sentai’s 40th anniversary has now passed us as well. That said, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger still has a few last hurrahs left in it – not just presumably from next year’s vs. series movie but also their obligatory epilogue movie, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Returns: Give Me Your Life! Earth Champion Tournament! When we last left the Zyuohgers quite a lot had changed for planet Earth, and we rejoin Yamato, Leo, Sela, Tusk, Amu and Misao as part of this brave new world.Some time after the merging of the Earth and Zyuland, humans and Zyumans live peacefully together and the six Zyuohgers have all gone their separate ways. However the team are brought together once more when they’re invited to participate in a fighting tournament to declare Earth’s newest champion. Eager to live up to his title Misao accepts, with Yamato and Leo also joining. Sela also agrees, seeing it as a chance to finally have an even rematch with Leo.As the tournament gets underway, Bard appears and reveals to Yamato that the tournament’s mysterious host, Pocane De Niro, is not all what he seems. While Misao, Leo and Sela advance in the tournament, the remaining Zyuohgers have to infiltrate De Niro’s betting palace and put a stop to the former Dethgalian’s evil schemes. If there’s one thing Zyuohger Returns does well straight from the get-go, it’s establishing its place at the very end of the show’s timeline. When the initial outline for the film was first announced some fans assumed its tournament would revolve around humans and zyumans trying to live together in their new world, but instead it kicks off with the two species already living in perfect harmony. While the former plot might have made an enjoyable film, this set up fits Zyuohger’s message about humans and animals coming together far better.The three characters that mainly benefit from the story are Misao, Leo and Sela – all of whom successfully build upon their development in the show and/or events that happened within it. The Misao here is cheerful and confident – a far cry from the mentally tortured hero he was when he first joined the team. Watching him come to accept himself and overcome his traumas was one of Zyuohger’s biggest highlights, so seeing him living so happily now is equally satisfying. His subplot mainly revolves around his entry into the tournament and eventual face off against Lilian, a rhinoceros Zyumen also vying to become Champion. Although their interactions get off to a bad start with two cliche “accidental pervert” gags, the direction the plot heads in is much better – eventually not just giving Misao the happy ending he’s always deserved but playing that one obvious direction Zyuohger was yet to go down.Meanwhile Leo and Sela’s storyline runs a bit deeper, building upon their fight in episode four and Leo holding back against Sela just because she’s a woman. Though the plot point isn’t something that came up particularly often in Zyuohger, it’s an important part of Sela’s character – she wants to be seen as an equal, and not just someone who “needs protecting” simply because of her gender. With the current rise in female action heroes and further push for equality this message couldn’t have come at a better time. Even though it’s just a subplot this conflict really is at the heart of Zyuohger Returns, which just goes to show how strong the show’s characters really were. Even when it might not be the main focus of the film, it’s their struggles that the viewer really cares about.As far as everything else goes it’s pretty much business as usual for a Super Sentai Returns movie. Pocane Di Niro is an enjoyable, though rather forgettable, villain for the film and his motivations of games for profit is a nice twist of the Dethgalian’s senseless blood games. In usual fashion the fallen generals get to make a brief return, with even the extremely short-lived Jagged making an appearance and being the butt of the film’s best joke. Given that the guy died in the very first episode, I’d almost forgotten that the guy was of any real importance as well. Not straying too far away from the status quo has always been what Zyuohger did best, but Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Returns: Give Me Your Life! Earth Champion Tournament certainly offers a very different landscape to what we usually see at the end of a Super Sentai series. In terms of structure though it’s pretty much business as usual, and what the film lacks in even development it makes up for in some fantastic moments that build upon the series itself. Most of all though it’s just plain old fun, which is arguably the main criteria for these epilogues now that the threat of the main villain is long behind us. Even with a Kyuranger crossover looming in 2018, Zyuohger Returns is a fitting end to the latest animal Sentai and the 40th anniversary as a whole.
Due to the precedent set by Gaoranger, Boukenger and Gokaiger’s anniversary celebrations, there was the expectation that Doubutsu Sentai Zyohger might celebrate Super Sentai’s 40th anniversary with a special “Vs Super Sentai” movie – featuring guest stars from all across the franchise’s long history. However much like the show itself Toei instead seemed to opt for a more subdued celebration, continuing the standard line of versus series movies with Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger vs Ninninger: Message from the Future from Super Sentai. As well as featuring the return of preceding team Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, this movie also features the first appearance of the Uchu Sentai Kyuranger.The future of Super Sentai is in danger when the Zyuohgers are randomly attacked by the Ninningers, who have been tricked into believing that they are Yokai Monsters responsible for the destruction of planets. In the midst of their battle a boy appears before Takaharu and Yamato, claiming to be Takaharu’s son Yoshiharu from the future. He reveals that on this day both the Zyuohgers and Ninningers are defeated in battle, ending the legacy of the Super Sentai. Zyuoh Eagle and Aka Ninger must now work together to persuade their teammates to stop fighting and work together to defeat the villain orchestrating these events.Much like how Zyuohger as a series celebrated the anniversary by emphasising the spirit of the franchise, Zyuohger vs Ninninger pays respect to its heritage in a different manner – by looking towards the future. Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle is only six years old and still fresh in everyone’s minds, so any big scale anniversary movie would immediately draw comparisons. But not every anniversary series can be as huge as Gokaiger was, because if they were all like that none of them would be special. Zyuohger’s strengths didn’t lie in throwbacks and homages, they were in creating a strong story and cast. Zyuohger vs Ninninger may feature the spirits of previous reds and a special 40th anniversary mecha power up, but the story focuses squarely on moving towards the future. Certainly on a wider scale there was a lot more the film could have done with this idea (it would have been great to see the 100 Years Later Kyoryugers, the adult ToQgers or the future Dairangers for example), but the generational element of the Igasaki clan is enough to get the point across. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.As well as not getting too caught up in the past Zyuohger vs Ninninger also doesn’t get too caught up in continuity either. Though the film is quite obviously placed following the end of Ninninger and before Quval’s betrayal in Zyuohger, the plot is a relatively standalone and doesn’t feature any heavy referencing to either series events. Genis isn’t even in the film, there’s no lingering Yokai and the Kibaoni Generals only show up through Sentai’s standard “current villain resurrects past enemies” trope. Again these sound like things that might result in a weaker film, but free from plot ties and elements that weigh it down Zyuohger vs Ninninger is free to work completely on its own merits. Yoshiharu is a great addition to Sentai’s current string of excellent child-ranger characters, while new villain Gillmarda is a good one-off opponent that doesn’t have any wider implications.As far as setup goes this is one of the most literal Versus movies there’s been in a while, with at least half the film featuring the two Sentai teams at odds with each other. The result is that the film features plenty of great Sentai vs Sentai fight scenes before they come together once they realise they’ve been tricked. It’s often the case that a weaker team can find strength in being pair up with another one and this is definitely true of the Ninningers, who play off their successors wonderfully. This is technically an anniversary movie though, and as you can’t truly look toward the future without acknowledging the past the previous 38 Sentai are on hand to lend their power. Daisuke Shima returns to reprise his role as Liveman’s Red Falcon in voice only (arguably the perfect character to address the Zyuohgers), but everyone the else only appears as part of group shots (the reds also getting a quick pose each). Wild Tousai King also gets a nice new 40th Anniversary shuriken-themed power-up, which isn’t much to look at but does come with a rather satisfying final attack. The wider Super Sentai stuff really doesn’t have all that much prominence in the film and would have easily worked just as well without them, but seeing them altogether still proves to be just as satisfying as ever even as a 30-second snippet.Yoshiharu may be the embodiment of Super Sentai’s future but he isn’t the only one representing it in the movie, as per recent versus series tradition this also marks the first appearance of the Kyurangers. Like the Kamen Rider summer movies these cameos are always interesting to gauge how much refining the characters have before their full series starts, and in the case of the Kyurangers there seems to be little change. The cameo ultimately boils down to a sidelined fight scene that goes by unwitnessed by the main teams, but it’s nice to see all nine main Kyurangers in action since that’s a rarity in the actual series. Naturally the scene mostly focuses on Lucky (with a nice little use of his trademark luck in battle) but each one gets their own little fight snippet to show off their individual powers (which again can be a rarity for some in the show, such as Washi Pink). It would be nice to have a cameo where the new team comes face to face with their predecessor again as the last one was all the way back in Gobusters vs Gokaiger, but this is still a great spotlight for the Kyurangers and would have certainly turned heads for those seeing them in action for the first time.It isn’t the loudest or most memorable 40th anniversary Super Sentai could have had, but it’s one that encapsulates its endearing spirit and looks forward to what will hopefully be many more adventures.
Engine Sentai Go-onger is the 32nd Super Sentai series and the third to have some sort of car motif. Three generals of the Gaiark – a group dedicated to creating a polluted world they can rule over, invade Earth with their sights on polluting it. Following them are three inhabitants of Engine world (one of 11 different worlds that exist, another being ours – the ‘human’ world), who recruit three people to become Go-ongers and fight the Gaiark. These three are a racing driver named Sōsuke Esumi (Go-on Red), a former bus driver and aspiring mechanic Renn Kōsaka (Blue) and racing track worker Saki Rōyama (Yellow). Soon the team expands as 2 more engines come to the human world and recruit Hant Jō and Gunpei Ishihara as Go-on Green and Black respectively. Co-ordinated by Bomper, a small robot also hailing from the Engine world, the Go-onger team battle against the Gaiark and their Banki monsters. As time goes on, they find they aren’t the only ones with Go-onger powers as they meet brother and sister team Hiroto (Gold) and Miu (Silver) Sutō – the Go-on Wings.Go-onger is a pretty light hearted series at heart and really has fun with that at times – such as the episode where both the Go-ongers and Gaiark team up to beat a monster that grows when it hears loud music, but will shrink if it hears a sweet song. After failed attempts by Hiroto and a hilarious hair metal effort from Yogostein and Kitaneidas, Mui, Saki and Kegaleshia team up to form a pop idol unit – complete with an interesting version of the show’s closing theme. I’ve often found the comedy to feel forced in other Sentai series, but here it feels natural and manages to flicker between laughs and seriousness nicely. The Go-ongers themselves are unfortunately not a lot to write a home about. Each one fills a different role in the team, and there’s never really that much develop outside those characters. The introduction of the Go-on Wings does help to liven things up a bit, and the drastic difference between the Go-ongers determination to act on impulse and the Wing’s cold strategic logic makes their initially strained relationship that much more interest. Still, the teams do eventually come to get along, and so Hiroto and Miu do lighten up quite a lot. Still, the difference in tactics does thankfully remain and show every so often (which is particularly reassuring given its essential to Hiroto’s character). Personally, it was refreshing for me to have a series where I didn’t gravitate toward the red ranger (like I do for Gokaiger, Shinkenger and Magiranger). By the end of the series I’d certainly developed a fondness for Miu, but I also felt Gunpei and Hiroto was also excellently represented.The engines themselves however completely steal the show when it comes to the protagonists. Giving each component of the mecha a personality and accompanying anime styled sprite was perhaps a bold movement, but in the end Super Sentai is mainly for children and this really shines throughout Go-onger. The super deformed avatars for engines when their souls are being projected though the morphers are adorable, and it means the engines (along with Bomper, who is equally as adorable) themselves get some spotlight episodes. Admittedly these are sparse, but when they do appear they are without a doubt some of the strongest episodes of the show. The mecha are interesting as there are 4 different ‘main robots’ (each made of 3 separate engines) and then G6, 9 and 12 combinations. These combinations do get a bit cluttered as they get bigger, but at the same time it does show nicely show how much bigger they are getting and the strength of unity between the Go-ongers and the engines.On the other side, the Gaiark ministers are all excellent well-rounded characters. What sets them apart from other Sentai villains and make them more interesting as characters is also how they work with each other and the obvious friendship that the three share with each other and their comrades. Yogostein’s relationship with his subordinate Hiramechimedes and how he comes to terms with his defeat/death is an excellent example of this, as is how Kegalesia and Kitaneidas deal with Yogostein’s death and their eventual rebellion against the series big bad – the Gaiark Prime Minister Yogoshimacritein. If you don’t mind a series that doesn’t take itself as seriously as some of the other Super Sentai series out there.