It’s time to say goodbye to Go-Busters and talk about why I’ll never forget it.
Go-Busters changed things for me. It changed how I view Super Sentai and tokusatsu in general. It was such a unique creature in the modern tokusatsu world that I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It left me pondering a fair bit and after having a while to think about what it was it really did, I do have a few things to say.
But before that, fair warning: there will be spoilers in this post. That’s why I do things like this, I post generally about the series first and then I can pile on with the spoilers in a single post rather than keep warning you about major spoilers. There’s one in particular that’s pretty damn important but other little things are scattered about so you only get this one warning.
Beware, from here on out I will not be pulling my spoiler punches.
It’s been a crazy ride from beginning to end and it’s probably the Super Sentai with the plot that surprised me the most. Most shows like this have a pretty straight line in terms of plot and I’ve talked about this before. Bad guys show up, good guys form a team, they fight for about 50 episodes and then they defeat the big bad.
But Go-Busters’s story is a much more personal one and while it can get a bit meandering at times, it’s really about the characters and less about the conflict at large. Messiah’s destruction is the ultimate goal but it’s at what cost that’s important.
The show is also way more geared towards an International audience than ever. The central theme is “espionage” or at the very least “secret organization”. This time around there’s no magic or mechanical beasts, it’s all built, organized and conducted by a single organization, probably with government funding or something similar. As such the designs reflect this and there are clear American influences scattered about.
There’s quite a few nods to Power Rangers in general and I suspect it was made partly with Power Rangers in mind. Ironically they chose to not adapt Go-Busters, at least so far, which made me snicker a bit when I found out. Or perhaps it was created as a sendoff to Power Rangers as it was no doubt worked on when the announcement of Power Rangers’ cancellation was announced? On a conceptual level, at least.
Whatever may be the case, all their shouting of “Let’s Morphin’!” and use of the term zord were apparently for naught as Power Rangers Clandestine Organization seems to never happen. Perhaps the sense of realism was too great?
‘Cause that’s a thing that really struck me with this series, how grounded in reality it really was. Magic aside, they don’t suddenly becomes strong and skilled fighters because they put on spandex, these are kids raised from childhood to become fighters in a war, essentially they’re child soldiers. Their existence has been a singular one and it’s robbed them of so much. Nothing comes without a cost and the only way they can continue is knowing that their sacrifice was worth it in the end.
It’s a very fresh take on a formula we’ve been getting for a good long while and while I don’t necessarily want them to mix things up regularly, not to this extent, it’s seasons like this that makes it all worth it somehow.
As such they were less bumbling idiots like we so often get in these shows and far more skilled and practical. Though we do get to see their other side at times, they none the less are very dedicated to the cause, going so far as being willing to kill not just themselves but others as well.
And that’s really where the show became grim and dark and really foreboding. I spoke briefly about how the kids probably had a very rude awakening in their future and I stick by that. But I didn’t understand just how cruel the show would get and to what lengths they would go to drive home the point and theme about sacrifice.
This is where the real spoiler territory begins, by the way.
Just over halfway through the series, the Go-Busters finally go into the subdimension to take out Messiah once and for all. However, once there they discover the horrible truth behind the state of their loved ones and what’s been going on for all those years. As it turns out, when everyone was transported thirteen years ago, they were turned into data. And incorporated into Messiah.
Once there, they’re forced to make the hardest decision in their lives. Destroy Messiah and essentially kill their families and loved ones or let Messiah be and potentially risk the entire world. Realizing that they have little choice, they destroy Messiah’s core, erasing their family’s data in the process.
I’ll just let you process that for a moment. Although ultimately sensible, Hiromu essentially killed his own family as well as Yoko’s. A big, noble sacrifice had it not been for the fact that we’re only half way through the series.
Only a few episodes later, Enter reemerges and is perfectly fine, revealing that so is Messiah, in a sense. After all, what is Messiah if not code? And like all good programmers, Enter had made a backup just in case. Armed with this backup, he sets his biggest plan in motion, recreating Messiah… or is it?
The next big twist and hammering about sacrifice comes towards the end of the series when it’s revealed that Enter can keep coming back over and over again, stronger than ever as long as Hiromu lives. Because Enter planted one fragment of Messiah’s code, the part that contained Enter himself, within Hiromu during a battle. Hiromu has essentially been walking around collecting data for Enter himself, the rest simply a ruse to keep the Go-Busters occupied, playing into his hand. Destroyed by this revelation, Hiromu considers suicide as it was the only way to get the code out.
And that’s when Jin Masato steps up to reveal their final plan to save the world and Hiromu.
Oh, Jin. When I first saw him I was struck by a weird sense of nostalgia and I couldn’t quite place it. But then, one or two episodes later, a flood of memories returned and I started singing the MagiRanger theme song. Why? Because Matsumoto Hiroya, that’s why.
So young! So innocent!
For those of you who don’t know what that is, that is Mahou Sentai Magiranger, better known to me as the second Super Sentai I ever saw, after DekaRanger. And Hiroya played Tsubasa Ozu, the yellow ranger on that show! And he was easily one of the highlights in an otherwise already good series. And now he’s easily the best in Go-Busters!
In all honesty, when Jin was introduced I wasn’t a big fan. He was introduced in a very typical way for first extra ranger (normally the sixth but in this case the fourth) where he’s all brave and wanting to go solo but he quickly turns around and grows on you. He’s a very unique character, loves to stand in the center of attention and he has a very, very playful side to him. But the carefree nature hides a very dark and tortured side of him that’s suffered for thirteen years in subdimension.
He ends up playing the biggest, most important part in the finale of the show. The reason why he hasn’t crossed over to our world is because though he wasn’t incorporated into Messiah, a small part of him was and without it, he can never return to the real world, as it were. Instead he sleeps in a glass sarcophagus in the subdimension and is quickly running out of time, every blow landed on him, every defeat bringing his code to disperse, killing him.
And in the end, with no other way out, Jin suggests teleporting both him and Hiromu at the same time, his gap in code attracting the bit of Messiah code within Hiromu. It is only at the final moment that the Go-Busters realize that doing this will essentially kill Jin as his body will not be able to handle the procedure. Undeterred Jin pleads his case with both the Go-Busters and J that one life to save a whole world as interesting as our own is worth it endless times over.
With no more miracles waiting around the corner, no aces up their sleeves, no tricks to pull, Jin gives his life so Hiromu may live and goes out fighting together with the others in one last glorious battle to take down Enter. And as Enter falls, Jin’s avatar is dispersed.
I cried like a little baby.
This is the first time since I started watching Super Sentai that a member of the team died… like, really died. He is dead and while I’m sure they can pull off some sort of resurrection act for the next cross over movie, there is no denying that he dies at the end of the series. His data destroyed together with the subdimension as the rest of the team escapes.
He entered like a total boss and he exited like a total boss.
In a strange way, I’m glad they did this. A lot of Super Sentai tends to tease the possibility that someone will die or that they may have to sacrifice themselves in order to save the day but usually a god in the machine somehow sorts it all out. They did it in Go-Onger where several members died only to be resurrected in the end and Dekaranger teased it but it never came to be.
But not Go-Busters, no sir, not only are they forced to kill their parents but the looming, foreboding sensation of worst case scenario becomes reality and one member of the team is forced to sacrifice himself in order to save the world.
This rather forces me to talk a bit more about J of whom I have a completely different opinion now than I did before.
J, or Jey if your prefer, is a child. He’s not an idiot nor a socially awkward dude, he’s simply put a child. And he’s Jin’s child at that. If one theme running throughout this series is sacrifice then another is family. And family isn’t easy. We quarrel and we argue and we might even hate each other but we’re still family. Just like Ryuji, Hiromu and Yoko have become like brothers and sisters, Jin and J are very much like father and son… well, without the physical violence.
J is a very quirky character but once you start to see him like a child exploring the world, his antics make a lot more sense. Everything about him is childlike. I said I didn’t see him as much of a character but now I see him as one of the strongest in the show. J was born in the subdimension and all he had were Jin’s stories of how great the other world is and how it was worth protecting. So when he got out it makes sense that he wants to see as much of it as possible.
He’s also the one hit the hardest by Jin’s sacrifice, saying they haven’t had the time together in the real world that he was promised. And as the series draws to a close, we see that J took Jin’s last words to heart, now a protector of the beautiful nature we see all around us. Although still a child he’s grown somewhat and promises to embody that which Jin died for.
Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. Either way, Jin and J will definitely live on in my mind as one of the greatest duo in Super Sentai history. A much better robot than Gosei Knight, that’s for sure.
But what was it about the series that put me off watching it? If you remember from my first post, I spoke about giving you a reason why I haven’t talked about tokusatsu in a while and what my reason for it was. And, simply put, it was Go-Busters.
One of the first things you see in this series is Hiromu being frozen midair due to having seen a chicken in the newspaper. The next few episodes are really just a marathon of Super Sentai cliches such as the wise and calm Blue, young and loudmouth girl Yellow and the Buddyroids being absolutely silly. There were good aspects and there were bad but it really didn’t sell itself well to me. There’s being a children’s show and there’s being utterly childish.
So I stopped watching it expecting it to be the same thing we get every year and it seemed to have split the community down the middle so I really didn’t feel like bothering at the time.
And I still don’t like the humor in this show. The main character’s weakness being chickens is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard my entire life, worse than the Green Lantern’s weakness being yellow. There’s occasional funny joke but really, the show only got better for me when Jin and J were introduced proper. Although still silly, their comedic timing was far better than the rest of the cast’s. Give all the backstory you want for why Hiromu freezes when he sees chickens, I still call it f****ng stupid. J constantly jumping in front of everyone, however, I can get behind. Or have him dress up as a woman, that works too.
I’d hit it!
I did mellow on the whole chicken thing and it was only when it was really up in your face that I got super annoyed with it but luckily it wasn’t mentioned that often. They tried to poke it every now and then to make sure we didn’t forget but it just made for a really bad introduction after Gokaiger who balanced its humor much better. The issue really comes from the fact that you don’t have any other kind of humor to balance out the super childishly silly humor in the first few episodes before Jin and J enter the series. At which point they introduce a deliciously meta sort of humor. And that worked much better for me.
J jumping in front of people, spoiling their introduction, is just one of the many ways they bring out this humor. J often takes things for granted in a way that a child watching the show would. Can these two mechas combine? Of course they can, why wouldn’t they!? There are also more meta jokes scattered about, like Jin’s comment that he felt at home in the MagiRanger robot or how Jin is somehow able to spoil someone’s introduction with a splitscreen.
Once this type of humor got introduced and the team seemed more complete with the inclusion of Jin and J, the show worked much better. And it was also here that the plot really got started. So if you are, like me, feeling that the show really isn’t that good, then give it up until after Jin is introduced as that completely changes the series tone and direction.
And there you have it. What seems like a really silly series actually ends up being one of the darkest, most adult things I’ve seen in a long time. Its mature themes easily rivals that of Kamen Rider and actually seeing one of the team die really shocked me. It’s really not a bad way to get into Super Sentai, I’d say.
It has good characters, a good story and pretty good visuals as well. It may be a bit on the silly side at times but that’s offset by being one of the darkest Super Sentai in a very long time.
Up next is Kamen Rider Wizard which means only one thing: it’s showtime!