The 35th anniversary Super Sentai series – Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger – premiered this past weekend. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (Pirate Strike Force Gokaiger) is a team of space pirates coming to Earth for the universe’s greatest treasure. On the way, they run into the evil space empire Zangyack, with bounties on each of the rangers’ heads.
The first episode is packed with more than enough action and gimmicks to captivate an audience yearning for an exciting Super Sentai series again. Again following Kamen Rider Decade, the episode starts with a massive Super Sentai war. Except they’re actually fighting bad guys and doing a pretty good job. This “Legendary Great War” features every sentai ranger ever, satisfying every generation of Super Sentai fan.
Fast forward to present day, and we see the Gokaiger team isn’t made of slouches. Ship combat and megazord action soon follow, and while the megazord fight is almost entirely CGI instead of my preferred suit action, it is smooth, fast paced and fun. The Gokai Gallion, the team’s base and GokaiRed’s zord, is a pirate ship with a giant blade on front (ala Captain Harlock). Of course, that forms a sword for the the megazord, just as pirate-themed and featuring large shoulder pads with guns. It’s a neat megazord that hopefully won’t become saddled with too much crap with adding more on as with some recent megazords (I’m looking at you, Engine-Oh G12).
When the team gets to properly fight, it’s big and exciting swashbuckling action. The team fights with a sword and and gun each, sometimes switching with each other to dual wield the same weapon. The team jumps around, swings on ropes and charges right in. The entire fight is well choreographed and fun, and it would be enough on its own, but then we get into the team’s gimmick…
The entire five-person team transformes into Goranger, Shinkenger and then Magiranger to untilize that team’s special abilities. Shinkenger seems a bit redundant as they already fight with swords, but the fan service action is still extremely gratifying (especially since I really liked Mahou Sentai Magiranger).
The show holds up as an adrenaline-filled rush, but how are the actual characters?
The red ranger leader, GokaiRed/Captain Marvelous (yes, that’s his name), has the calm and confident demeanor of Harlock and the appetite of Luffy. I tend to prefer the more serious and capable red rangers, so this is a treat.
The rest of the team is likewise pretty stereotypical, with the monotone and focused blue, rambunctious green, tomboyish yellow and pretty little princess pink (who I think might actually be a princess or at least formerly well off and pampered). Outside of red, GokaiYellow/Luka Millfy looks to soon be an audience favorite (especially when slinging swords on strings at enemies).
The main enemies themselves don’t get much screen time. We meet a pompous and whiney prince of the empire, Commandant Oiles Gil and his generals Barizorg, Insarn and Damaras. The rest are minions and a monster of the week. But as Oiles is set up as the son of the emperor, then that sets up his father and any other possible family members for plenty of mid-season baddies.
I really enjoyed this first episode, and I’m pretty excited for the rest of the series. The combat and action are great. I actually like the red ranger again (unlike with last year’s Tensou Sentai Goseiger). Seeing all the teams that I’ve enjoyed over the years is immensely satisfying. However, Kamen Rider Decade, likewise has a strong first episode, and it gets marred in a mess of inconsistent and incomplete plot lines. Hopefully the traditionally more episodic nature of Super Sentai over Kamen Rider, as well as this series’ more lighthearted nature, will save Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, from being crushed by its own ambitions.
Have you seen Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger yet? What are your thoughts?