I finished the series and now have a better grasp on my thoughts. But before then…
BUSTERS READY GO!
Alright, before I get into the gritty, detailed analysis stuffs reserved for the “Final” post, let’s talk a bit more about the series itself. For one, I pretty much said nothing about the villains last post and that’s for a reason, one which I hope will be clear in a little while. I also want to talk a bit about the robots themselves and the general designs of both robots and monsters. And, of course, the movies need their reviews as well (promise not to forget them this time!).
So, villains then. The main villain is Messiah. At least, that’s what the show insists for a very long time even though anyone watching knows that’s simply not the case.
Enter, played rather amazingly well by Syo Jinnai, is the main villain of the show and the show bloody well knows it no matter what else it might pretend early on. He’s the villain we see the most of right off the bat and although he starts out shrouded in delicious mystery it doesn’t take very long for the character to deepen significantly and the further into the series, the more complex he becomes.
What I especially like about him is that he’s a villain with a plan. Whereas many Super Sentai villains tend to go off on a whim, we had that pretty much the entirety of Gokaiger, Enter is one who has a point to just about everything he does. Even when he’s just out to annoy the Go-Busters, it’s with an ulterior motive. He uses diversion, stalling and many other tactics to get what he wants and even if he may be defeated time and time again, each plan takes him one step closer to his ultimate goal.
As such he’s probably the most dangerous villain I’ve ever seen in a Super Sentai. He’s cold and very calculated and doesn’t like expending energy if it can be avoided. Although he starts out simply trying to steal Enetron to feed Messiah, it’s not long before a much bigger plan starts taking form. And even better, though he looks very frail he reveals himself to be more than a capable fighter and a serious threat.
If any villain would ever ultimately defeat a Super Sentai team, I can definitely see it being Enter.
It, of course, also helps that he’s a rather handsome lad and portrayed as very intelligent. Aka, pure dream boy.
The secondary villain is Escape. She’s a woman. You might have noticed that if you looked at the below picture. Trust me, no-one missed that part.
Her portrayal is… a bit weak. Let’s not pretend or anything, her main purpose in this show is to be drop gorgeous, an acting gig she has down a to t. Because she is drop dead gorgeous. Beautiful… Though I question the need for her to show off her tits. And don’t you come here with your cries of “she’s allowed to dress as she wants” because of course she is… though she’s a fictional character so she doesn’t really have free will… whatever. My point is rather that she’s drop dead gorgeous with or without the serious cleavage display. One can always argue that there’s reasons for her portrayal in-universe but… well, someone somewhere still said “And let’s have Enter’s counterpart be a girl… with cleavage.”
That aside, she doesn’t have as strong a presence in the show as Enter and nothing is really done with her character until the end and while I applaud what they did, it’s just a little too late for that. Her schtick is that she fights with two guns, Gog and Magog, which eventually becomes a clue in what’s going on with the plot but more about that later, as well.
However, her personality leaves a lot to be desired because her whole being boils down to “fight” and “Papa”, that is to say her creator, Messiah. There is something brewing between her and Ryuuji, the Blue Buster, but it never really amounts to anything and I really wish they’d followed this up with something more interesting. There’s some payoff right near the end but… it’s just that so much more could be done with her in the end.
Her lack of development almost makes her tiresome to sit through eventually. Whereas Enter plots and schemes, Escape is more of a classic villain in that she shows up to wreck some shit, encounter the Go-Busters and the fight it out before being beaten and having to make a hasty retreat as the monster of the week is blown up.
Speaking of the monsters of the week, let’s talk about the Metaroids, the robots that Escape and Enter create with their viruses. It’s common day items and while they at times stray a bit too far off the beaten path with their designs, they’re typically very recognizable if a bit silly.
Really, that’s the only complaint I have for them, that they’re sometimes a bit too obvious. I know the show is primarily aimed at kids but turning vacuum cleaners into actual vacuum-wielding robots is a bit too simple, really. Or a robot that uses needles as its primary weapon because it was created from a syringe. But this is nitpicky and it works within the scope of the setting which is the most important aspect.
Sure, one might question about the objects’ size and the resulting robot but that’s also a bit nitpicky for a show about two teenagers and an adult fighting an otherworldly evil in big robots.
What I AM a big fan of, however, are the zords. Both the good and the bad guys’ zords. And before you think I’m using Power Rangers terminology, this time around the robots are actually called zords even in Japan but this is another thing I’ll talk about in the next post.
Taking a page out of Dekarangers’ book, these are actually manufactured machines rather than an enemy enlarged, which is the norm. Instead there are a couple of different types and what type is sent to our dimension depends on the Metaroid created. Each robot then take on an aspect of the Metaroid to create some uniqueness but it’s merely a change in their arsenal rather than a complete redesign.
I like this way for a couple of reasons. Constantly enlarging enemies becomes tiresome as it always has to follow the same routine. Good guys fight enemy of the week, enemy loses, grows large which in turn forces the good guys to summon their big ass robots to kick them down again, monster of the week is defeated with a special attack and falls down, spouting a one-liner or the like. But here they can change things up with the good guys splitting up to cover all angles. Beet and Stag can go off and fight the Megazord while the original Go-Buster focus on the small monster of the week. It also means one can be defeated before the other as their both individual beings, one not being needed for the other. Metaroids don’t pilot the Megazords in any way. As such they’re sometimes defeated at the same time while other times one dies before the other.
Another big reason why I like this is because it feels more real. Just like Dekarangers before it, it feels very much like how things could work if such a thing ever became a reality. This in turn makes it more interesting for me because I’m way more into mecha than I am into giants. It simply fits with the more realistic take on Super Sentai that Go-Busters is and while I wouldn’t want to see it every season, it’s nice to see the idea hasn’t disappeared.
I also really liked the overall designs of the various base mechas so that helps. They’re very animeish, if that makes sense, and often reminded me of something straight out of a Gundam series.
Which also kind of extends to the friendly megazords, the Buster Machines. I think this may be the first time in something like ten years that they don’t introduce a ridiculous amount of mechs with increasingly cluttered designs that become less and less practical with each bit added on. Even the final combination, Go-Buster King, is positively reserved compared to some of the things we got during shows like Boukenger and Goonger which were just… horrifyingly cluttered.
The reserved designs also make sense in-universe as we’re dealing with a human organization this time around, meaning the mechas were designed by humans. Other shows can get away with a lot of this stuff simply because it’s magic or living creatures, or whatever. And even when another, more advance fusion is revealed, the previous incarnations aren’t suddenly considered useless. You don’t bring out the biggest guns to battle the weakest of foes just because you can. Go-Buster Ace, Gorilla and Rabbit continued to be of use late in the series which we don’t often see in Super Sentai, “old” mechas quickly discarded in favor of promoting new toys.
Another design thing I feel I need to talk about are the suits. The three main Rangers actually don’t wear spandex this time around but instead leather or something similar to that. Stag and Beet do wear spandex, I think, it at least seems a lot more spandexish. But the point is… no spandex! And I like it. From what I’ve read, not everyone approved of this change but I do because it makes sense. It’s not magic or even pure technology, it’s simply designed by an organization to be practical and offer at least some protection. The harness is a nice touch but sadly under utilized.
In other words… good show, Go-Busters. Good show.
Another thing I forgot to mention in my first post were the Buddyroids.
When the three children were saved from the event, they were not just enhanced (or vaccinated) but they also had a buddyroid assigned to them. If the color isn’ a dead give away Ryuuji got Gorisaki (blue), Hiromu got Nick (red) and Yoko got Usada (yellow) and they each follow the Rangers animal motif… well, Nick doesn’t really look all that much like a cheetah though I guess since he’s a motorcycle he’s fast so… that covers that?
I both forgot and kind of intentionally didn’t talk about them in the last post because they don’t really amount to much. I mean, they were enjoyable and amusing and the show went to great lengths to show that they had ostensibly become something of a stand in parent, especially in the case of Usada and Yoko. However, only Nick play any sort of active role in the series with the other two being way more support than main characters. And they never really change. Which makes sense since they’re robot but it also makes them uninteresting to talk about, really. I’ll probably talk a bit more about them in my last post about Go-Busters but I felt I had to mention them now.
Also, before I start talking about the movies, I just feel like I have to point out that Space Sheriff Gavan shows up for a two-parter. GAVAN! That made me so happy I basically made a happy… dance. I wasn’t going to say in my pants, I swear.
Now movies! Starting with Go-Busters vs Gokaiger!
Unlike “Protect the Ene Tower!” that I talked about last time, this is more of an actual movie, almost being a full hour long. And as is tradition for Super Sentai, it revolves around the current team meeting last year’s team, hence the title.
When a black pirate ship appears over the skies of Tokyo, it signals the return of the Gokaigers. But what should have been a joyous occasion soon turns out to be a nightmare as what remains of the Zangyack Empire launches a full out attack on Tokyo together with Enter. And together with the Gokaigers. Once enemies, they teamed up to find the Phantom Ranger keys, five keys said to hold immense power. With no other line of defense, once their friends and allies, the Go-Busters must take up arms against the Gokaigers to keep the mythical power out of evil’s hands. What caused the Gokaigers to fall? And just how powerful are the keys?
I’ll say right off that I liked this movie a lot more than I did the previous team up movie, 199 Heroes. For many reasons, as you can read in my review, but I didn’t really talk much about the team up between Goseiger and Gokaiger that time. Mostly because it wasn’t really the point of the movie but also because it was weak as hell. This one definitely has more of a focus on the two different teams and there’s ample time for it to, with the anniversary thing no longer a factor.
It, sadly, doesn’t really do much to further the story of the Gokaigers beyond how they ended up working with the Zangyack empire. They’re more or less the same as when they took off. But there’s absolutely no growth in the characters despite a whole year gone by since we last saw them. I could accept less growth if the movie had come out early during Go-Busters but the movie hit theaters only a month or so before the series ended. The Go-Busters have already celebrated Christmas and New Year’s at this point so… what the hell, that’s a whole year!
But I could live with that if it was just fun seeing the Gokaigers again but… quite frankly, it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t boring either but Marvelous and Gai are pretty much the only Gokaigers that speak. And my favorite was Don so that’s kind of shit for me.
Instead the focus lies pretty much solely on the Go-Busters. Them and their Buddyroids. I’d be fine with this except it kind of only discusses stuff the series has already done. Though the movie does it better, I’ll admit that. It goes out of its way to show that the Buddyroids are not glorified servants but just as integral to the team’s success as they themselves are. They work in union and without the other, they’d be pretty useless.
The show did touch upon this at an earlier point but I think they did it much better in the movie.
Easily the best part of the movie was the final battle where they summon robots from five other series to utterly crush the bad guys in the end. There’s a particularly funny quip about Jin Masato feeling strangely at home in the MagiKing which had me laughing way more than it should’ve. I’ll… talk about that more next time, heh.
Overall, it’s an okay movie but had it not been for the summoning of five previous mechas in the final battle I wouldn’t have rated it much higher than mediocre. Still, there’s been worse team up movies, I’ll tell you that!
I think this is the first V-Cinema release I get to talk about on this blog. What’s V-Cinema? Well, it’s more or less the Japanese term for “Direct-to-Video/DVD” and quite a few Super Sentai manage at least one. I know Goseiger got one, as did Shinkenger though I think Gokaiger missed out for some reason. Could be because of the cross over with Kamen Rider. Either way, they usually come after the series has ended and often offer a look at what happened to the rangers after the series ended. With Go-Busters, however, the movie is set before the end of the series despite being released a few months after the end.
It’s New Year’s Eve and the Go-Busters are setting up for their annual party. But when wishing for the year to end on a quiet note, a monster never before seen begin attacking the city and the Go-Busters must go on one more last mission before the end of the year. But thirteen minutes past 1PM the unthinkable happens and the Go-Busters are defeated… and they all die in battle. However, when Nick awakens, he finds himself staring at the face of Enter… well, actually, it’s God. Nick was the millionth person to die that year and as such he gets a single wish. J, incidentally, was the 999999th to die. Nick wishes that the incident that awoke Messiah never happened and the three kids got to go on to live normal lives. And as God sends him back, it seems Nick got exactly what he wished for. Although different, there is no sign of Enter, Messiah or any of the destruction they wrought and Hiromu appears to have lived a normal life, talking motorcycle not withstanding.
But where is everyone else? What happened to Yoko, Ryuuji, Jin, J and everyone working at the Energy Management Center? As Nick follows Hiromu to his new job, it would seem history has a tendency to repeat itself, however unlikely. A new threat is looming and it’s time for Dobutsu Sentai Go-Busters to step up and save the day.
“Go-Busters Returns” is, put simply, a parody. I’d say primarily of 1992’s Zyuranger, the show the first season of Power Rangers was based on. Instead of a sleek, super-spy organization, this parallel universe Go-Busters operate out of an agricultural school and their animal motifs are much more in focus. Not only that but the series also parodies many common tropes Super Sentai enjoys writing time and time again, including a surprise sixth ranger as well as a seventh.
Worthy of note are the little ears on the Green Ranger’s helmet. They’re adorable!
And while the parody aspects of it were enough to get me excited, it’s also an interesting look into how things could’ve been if the incident hadn’t happened. The road not traveled and all that. Of course, it’s a bit amazing that the kids end up being a Super Sentai team anyway but obviously I’ll forgive it for that because at least they made me smile. There’s a lot of self awareness at display here, more than I ever expected Super Sentai to possess, and while they’ve been parodied many times before, this is the first time I’ve seen it done by the “official” people.
And no, I have not yet seen Akibaranger.
I’ll come back to this a little in my next post but all in all I really enjoyed this movie. It’s actually the same length as the cross over movie and it looks about as good, honestly. Sure, there are some cheap aspects to it but whether it was intentional or not, they made it work brilliantly.
There’s simply so many little nods everywhere it’s impossible for me to hate it.
That just about wraps it up for this post. Next post I’ll summarize my thoughts on the series and get a bit more spoilerish because there’s surprisingly much to talk about.