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Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger – Part 2 (Episode 17 – 33 + The Flying Ghost Ship)

When I left you last time I was right between episode 16 and 17, having just seen the team-up movie with the Goseigers and since then a lot of things have happened. Both in the show and when it comes to my opinion of the Gokaigers. First up, the sixth member of the Gokaigers has joined the team and a new series baddie was introduced in the same go but I’ll probably talk more about that in my final post on the show. So that leaves my opinion on the show itself and in what way that has changed.

Fear not for it is for the better.

I intentionally skipped doing any sort of lengthy character introduction/analysis last time because I felt it would’ve dragged the post out for too long if I had. And I worried I might not have had much to write about this time if I’d spent all that delicious talk of characters back then. So this time around, we’ll be talking a bit more of the individual characters themselves.

I’ve already mentioned how varied the characters are, especially if compared to previous incarnations of Super Sentai, such as the Goseigers, who were more or less just a bunch of Mary Sue’s. Ironically, they reminded me a great deal of the very first Power Rangers, the Mighty Morphin’ gang, in how each episode had a serious issue to deal with such as bullying, environment, healthy eating and so on. These things tend to vary significantly in Super Sentai, with some series going for some seriously kid friendly stuff while others go somewhat darker. My favorite Super Sentai to date, Dairanger, is the latter with Goseiger fitting in nicely in the former category. Gokaiger falls much closer to the darker end of the spectrum, most evident in the characters.

Gokai Red - Captain Marvelous
Pirate Captain Marvelous

First up, and always most prominent, is Captain Marvelous, played by Ryota Ozawa. If you can’t guess from his marvelous coat, he plays Gokai Red, the leader of space pirates and in some ways the main character of the show. He’s the first Gokaiger who gathered the others to go hunt for the “Greatest Treasure”. As such he’s also the one with the most fleshed out backstory, mostly revolving around the Red Pirates, the pirate crew that started gathering the Ranger Keys, led by legendary Aka Red. But when they had gathered all the keys, they were betrayed and Marvelous was the only one to get away.

In many ways, Marvelous has the least interesting story but he makes up for it by simply being great fun to watch. He has a very cavalier attitude to life, seeking adventure where ever he may find it and yet beneath his tough exterior hides a serious, smart man. Anyone who offers to make his day a little more interesting is someone he likes. He’s fiercely loyal to his friends and willing to support them through thick and thin though he also strongly believes that people, young and old alike, must stand up for themselves and be ready to reach out and grab what they want rather than wait for it to be delivered to them. He wants to be given nothing.

Gokai Blue - Joe Gibken
First Mate Joe Gibken

In some ways, he’s the very opposite of his first mate, Joe Gibken, the first addtion to Marvelous’ Gokaigers. Joe carries one of the darker pasts in the crew, having been part of Zangyack’s special forces in the past though he defected when asked to kill defenseless children. It was only through a chance meeting with Marvelous that he found a new purpose in life, defying Zangyack to his last breath. His story is further complicated when he finds out that his friend and mentor was turned, against his will, into one of the fiercest warriors in the Zangyack Empire and bodyguard of the Emperor’s own son. Though he struggles for a while, he eventually comes to terms with the situation and swears to set his friend’s soul free. He’s played by Yuki Yamada and yes, he’s Gokai Blue.

Joe is a very serious guy, often hiding his true feelings and nature under a stoic facade. Much like Marvelous, he strongly believes a person must be willing to fight for themselves first. Extremely skilled with a sword or two, he’s often considered the group’s finest fighter and one of the most skilled swordsmen in the universe.

Outside of the sixth member, he’s probably one of the most passionate Gokaigers though he’ll never admit it. Trained to be a soldier in the Zangyack empire, he’s learned to hide and mask his emotions, making it a right treat when they finally do break through. His past offers a really dark twist to the series, one I didn’t really see coming, and gives him a very solid reason to want to fight the Zangyack empire other than the obvious ones such as oppression and tyranny and death.

Gokai Yellow - Luka Millfy
Lookout Luka Millfy

Third member of the crew, Luka Millfy, also has a very dark past having grown up on the streets of a planet invaded by the Zangyack. There she helped care for many of the city’s orphans but when her little sister died from an illness, she vowed to acquire enough money to come back and save the orphans from their current life. It was during one of her thefts that she came across Marvelous and Joe who invited her into the crew upon seeing her skills.

She’s played by Mao Ichimichi and do I even need to point out she’s Gokai Yellow?

Personally, I don’t like Luka much. She’s very pushy and at times borders on being a bully. She’s completely obsessed with money and jewels and isn’t afraid to show it. Like Joe and Marvelous, though, she too hides a very deep rooted sense of justice and she hates seeing people being pushed around. And it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her when her past with her sister is revealed, twanging away on those heart strings expertly. She’s only second to Joe in terms of fighting prowess, also favoring swords but having a few other tricks up her sleeves, relying more on her agility than strength.

In some ways she’s one of the more realized characters but at times her flaws are just so overpowering. At times she’s incredibly inconsiderate of other’s feelings and this rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t hate her, though, but she’s probably my least enjoyed character on the show.

Gokai Green - Don Dogoier
Mechanic Don Dogoier

Yes, when everyone else gets a little profile picture to the side, Don Dogoier, aka Gokai Green, gets a banner picture because dammit, I love this character something fierce. He’s probably the biggest reason this series is going to remain in my heart for a very long time and why it jumped up quite a few placements on my Super Sentai ranking list. He’s played by Kazuki Shimizu

Don Dogoier, or Doc, is anything but a pirate. His actual backstory hasn’t really been revealed this far into the series but it’s not difficult to surmise from his personality that he didn’t join the crew because he wanted adventure. He’s an engineer and quite a good one at that, being in charge of their home base’s technical aspects and making sure everything is up and running. He’s also the cook, having devised a dinner plan that takes all members’ nutritional needs into consideration. Acting as a bit of a mother hen around the base, he also pleads with the other to keep their living space clean.
And he can’t really fight either, having had no actual formal training of any kind. He favors ranger combat and relies more on trickery than any sort of fighting art, using his inexperience in his favor. He’ll often utilize the environment he’s in to defeat the enemies, reminding me a great deal of Jackie Chan as he vaults over objects and uses even his fumbles as a way to gain the upper hand.

Overall, I just really enjoy seeing him fight which is rare for a Super Sentai but then again, this series choreography is rad, totally up the walls, good.

However, my interest in this character reaches far further than that. He’s by far the most cowardly Ranger I have ever seen, often opting to run away rather than fight. Not only that but he also suffers from massive bouts of doubt in himself, lacking any sort of confidence in himself despite the evidence of the contrary and the support of the others. When the sixth Ranger was introduced, Doc was so distraught seeing his skills he was close to leaving the team. He can’t hide his feelings at all, easily being the most emotional of the Gokaigers. Despite all that, deep down he’s a very courageous young man, something that often only shows when his friends are in serious danger.

All that combined makes for a character easy to relate to. He’s kind, sort of shy and very clumsy and outside of being good with machines, doesn’t really display anything that no normal person couldn’t do themselves whereas most other members are grander than life itself. He also displays the most evolution as a character, at least so far, with him slowly becoming more and more comfortable in his role as a hero.

Gokai Pink - Ahim de Famille
Ambassador Ahim de Famille

Fifth, and last of the original members, is Ahim de Famille, probably the most out of place character on the pirate ship. Once a princess before Zangyack invaded and killed her parents, she’s now taken up the mantle of Gokai Pink and is the last recruit to the crew before coming to Earth. Much like Doc, she has no real training to speak of in combat, but her desire to save the world and get revenge on the Zangyack empire forces her to learn and become much more capable.

As a character, she takes on the role of the Pink Ranger, meaning she’s cute, a bit ditzy and avid believer in peaceful solutions.  She’s in some ways the conscience of the crew and acts in such a capacity here as well. Though she does start out this way, she soon starts displaying actual combat prowess, easily surpassing Doc in this area and she’s not the delicate little flower many think her to be. Luka sort of adopted her new little sisters unconsciously, something Ahim doesn’t care a great deal for and eventually tells her off, asking to be taken just as seriously as the rest of the crew. Later she singlehandedly takes on a monster and saves the day and before that, when dealing with the Hurricanegers promises them that if they do not return the Ranger keys, they will take them back by force.

Though she always carries her past a princess with her, still concerned about her appearance and reputation, more than anyone else on the crew she desires the Empire’s head on a plate. In other words, he cute and adorable outwards appearance hides a true warrior underneath.

Gokai Silver - Gai Ikari
Trainee Gai Ikari

The final-final member of the Gokaiger was introduced in Episode 17 after an extremely brief cameo at the end of the first movie. His name is Gai Ikari, played by Junya Ikeda, and he’s an extremely enthusiastic Super Sentai fan who is given the ability to transform into Gokai Silver.

When he first appeared, I pretty much immediately hated him. He was excitable, energetic and quite loud. And he’s an utter Super Sentai fanboy so perhaps it just hit a bit too close to home. However, not only has my opinion of him changed, he also turned out to be a much needed member of the crew that I didn’t even realize was missing.

His inclusion in the series is no doubt intended to give fan a taste of what they want: how it would be like to actually become a Super Sentai hero. He states more than once that it was his lifelong dream to be a hero like the heroes he idolized and that also become a huge part of his character arc. At more than one point he loses the ability to transform into Gokai Silver and you can tell, thanks a great deal to the life Ikeda brings to the character, that it crushes him to know his adventures could be over and he needs to be reminded that he was a hero before he became Gokai Silver.

And it’s difficult to tell where they want to take the character. Since the main goal of this series is to revisit old teams and gain their powers, Gai’s knowledge of all previous teams streamlines the process considerably where before his inclusion they were fumbling around in the dark. And he’s also there for the fans to latch on to because he very much IS them.

But there’s more to the character than meets the eye or at least there could be. For one, he didn’t receive his powers like the other Gokaigers did. It was given to him by the dead Rangers of the past after rescuing a little girl and getting injured in the process, nearly dying. Or did he die? Fan speculation was rife for a while but I’ve made sure to stay away from any spoilers in this regards because to me it’s an exciting mystery.

Which ties into what I’m going to say next: the anniversary aspect has gotten better. And much of this is thanks to Gai and I finally figured out why they rolled out the most recent teams first: young viewers were more likely to know who they were without needing a great deal of exposition. But Dairanger is too old to casually introduce with a “they did this thing twenty years ago” so they needed Gai to introduce them in show. And it works. Really well.

In these past episodes we’ve seen OhRangers, Hurricanegers, Jetman and Dairangers… yes, Dairangers got to show off and it… was… AWESOME! I’m not even joking, I was quite literally jumping up and down like a five year old when Keiichi Wada stepped up and delivered an ass kicking unlike anything previously seen in the show… obviously, without transforming.

Old school ass kicking

I’m not even joking when I say this made me squeal like a little girl seeing Justin Bieber in real life. He’s still ridiculously fit and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume the guy trains martial arts off camera as well.

And before I go too fanboyish, Hurricanegers revisit was a two-parter and a really fun one at that. And Jetman’s? It revolved around the ghost of a former Jetman member scolding the Gokaigers for being weak and needing to step it up a bit. Chilling yet strangely respectful. And I think it was where people first started thinking seriously about Ikari Gai being dead or having been spared from that fate by Rangers who died in the past since he couldn’t see the dead Jetman.

Finally, I’m gonna talk about the movie:

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie: The Flying Ghost ShipKaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie: The Flying Ghost Ship

There’s not much to say here. It’s less of a movie than 199 Hero, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, making it more of a glorified episode than a movie. Each modern Super Sentai gets one movie for themselves but the thing is that it usually goes hand in hand with a Kamen Rider movie and it’s easy to see who’s the dominant one in this relationship. They’re usually shown back to back in theaters so expecting them both to be full fledged movies is of course unrealistic, you can’t expect kids to sit still for three hours or more, especially not surrounded by other kids.

And when it comes to divvying up the run time, Super Sentai usually takes the backseat since they are often less serious in nature whereas Kamen Rider tends to deal with more serious, adult themes needing the time.

The plot this time is that a ghost ship appears in the sky, fabled to carry a wish-granting item that could seriously expedite the Gokaigers search for the Greatest Treasure. However, once inside the ghost ship they find themselves forced for their lives against the revived souls of previous enemies of Super Sentai.

It tried to pay homage to the series of old but the limited run time seriously hampers their ability to tell a respectful story and it’s instead reduced to a flustercluck of brief cameos that aren’t satisfying in the end. The point where they have to fight revived incarnations of footsoldiers from the past had me seriously excited but it was over far too quick and they never did anything clever with it which is a shame.

Overall, it’s just another episode made for the big screen with slightly better effects but not a whole lot. The ongoing series is unaffected by anything in the movie and they didn’t even have the decency to give them a Grand Power for their efforts. The last movie gave them 11!

Check back next time for my final opinion on Gokaiger and I’ll talk more about the villains and monsters.