Back after thirty years, can Gavan steal the minds and hearts of kids again?
We’re back only to say “sayonara”. Gokaigers is over, at least as a thing of its own and I can’t help but to feel just a tad bit sad about that. I got to know the characters well, I shared their laughter and I shared their pain, I shed my fair share of tears and I cheered when they stood tall against adversity. Honestly, it was a hell of a ride and I’ll miss them like crazy.
But before we get into the nit and grit of my feelings of this show, there’s two things I want to cover. One, the enemies and then the robots themselves. I’ll only touch upon each briefly this time because, for one, there’s not a lot to say and secondly, I really don’t want this page to become a mile long like the previous ones. So, let’s start with the main baddie of the show.
Warz Gill serves as the main bad guy for most of the show. Unlike Goseigers that had a tendency to switch its bad guys rather quickly, Gokaigers stuck to its gun for much longer but that can easily be attributed to its format. The plot is about an invasion which means that Wars Gill gets to sit back and command from a safe distance rather than get entangled in hand to hand combat. As such, for the majority of the show, he’s never seen directly interacting with the Rangers and it’s more his commanders that do the actual warring against the Rangers. Despite all of that, I still enjoyed him as a villain. Although it takes a long time for him to get any actual character development other than “whiny son of the emperor”, when it does come around you can’t help but to feel a bit sorry for the guy. Not enough to want him to survive but when you realize he knows of the mockery he suffers behind his back, you can understand why he’s so driven to accomplish something that make others respect him.
He only has one intimate connection with someone else and that’s with his bodyguard, Barizorg. Barizorg is by far the darkest of the villain, having a past that intersects with one of the Gokaigers, Joe Gibken. Barizorg is in fact Joe’s long lost friend and mentor Sid Bamick who was captured after his defection from the empire and turned into Barizorg, stripping him of everything but his raw skills and combat prowess. Fiercely loyal Warz Gill, he continuously clash with Joe, ignoring his pleads to come back. In fact, he is unable to return to how he was before, regardless of whether he wants to or not and ultimately sacrifices his life in the line of duty. Barizorg’s death hits Warz Gill hard and it’s a sad moment when you realize the pampered son has lost the only one he could consider a friend.
There are other villains along the way, Warz Gill eventually beats the dust as sons of villains tend to do in these show but his father isn’t all that interesting and isn’t around long enough to make any sort of impression, his commanders even less. Warz Gill’s other commanders, Damarasu and Insarn, are never truly explored as characters and while Damarasu eventually clashes with the Gokaigers impressively, Insarn has even less than that. Her final showing is weak in comparison to the others and feels more like an afterthought than any sort of finish. Even in her role as science advisor, she never does much more than enlarge the bad guys once they die, a process that even the show itself can’t help but to mock at times.
I really like the design of Warz Gill, except for the thing on his chest. Mostly because it turned out to be nothing despite its immediate similarities with Gokai Silver’s powered up mode, Gold Mode. I figured it would finally come into play when he got his hands dirty but no such showing came. Instead it just looks kind of silly where it sits, drawing attention for no real reason. I imagine one of the main sources of inspiration behind this design, other than Napoleon, is a bird of some sort, possibly a swan, so the thing on his chest could be seen as feathers, I suppose. On the other hand, I’m not fond of Barizorg’s design even though there’s nothing specific to draw your eyes or anything wrong with it. It’s a very busy design, lots of pipes and metals and pistons and what not. It sets him apart from the other designs in the show and he feels like a left over from Go-Onger. It just sort of looks out of place but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. He’s much more visually interesting than Damarasu or Insarn.
However, there is an additional villain that bears talking about and that’s Basco Ta Jolokia.
Basco, you brilliant bastard you. With the introduction of Basco, the show gained some much needed momentum and really started moving in an interesting direction. For two reasons.
Nr. 1! Basco stands in direct opposition to the Gokaigers. To reach the Greatest Treasure in the Universe, the pirates need to collect the 34 Grand Powers. In simpler words, they need to be given the approval of the Super Sentai teams that preceeded them. Usually this would lead to some new attack though there are a few odd ball ones that… serve no purpose what so ever. While others serve more than one purpose. However, Basco is also looking for the treasure and can take the powers by force so it becomes more of a race. Whereas the Gokaigers could take it in their own pace before, with the introduction of Basco there’s a certain sense of urgency which really helped the pace of the show.
The second reason is his connection with Marvelous. They both served together under Aka Red before Basco betrayed them to take the treasure all to himself. Before this, Marvelous and Basco were practically brothers. From his introduction to his finale, Basco lends the show some serious intensity as he continuously clashes with Marvelous. Though he at first fights using a number of Ranger keys that he can give physical form with Rapparatta, a device that looks like a trumpet, the Gokaigers eventually manage to take the keys back which forces Basco to reveal his true appearance.
At his side at all times his monkey Sally. And she’s exactly that, a monkey that’s proficient at fighting with cymbals. It’s not really possible to talk about her much without spoiling one of the best two-parter completely so I’ll just say that she ends up being far more important to the plot than one might expect. Basco stores a number of giant monsters in a safe on her stomach called Pseudo-Lifeforms. They’re really not all that interesting, each embody a certain thing such as gold or water but their fights tend to be pretty one-sided in favor of the Gokaigers and are really just there to justify ending the episode in big mode.
I only have one gripe about Basco and that’s that they seemed to be building him up to something much more than he really was. Always scheming and plotting, you never quite knew where you had Basco. He quite clearly still cared for Marvelous as he had numerous opportunities to finish him off and at times he even straight up helped the pirates. He was a fascinating villain and a part of me sort of wanted him to survive the whole ordeal and come out on top, perhaps even joining the Gokaigers in some manner. If there had been a seventh Ranger, Basco was more than qualified to take the position as far as I’m concerned. He’d make a fabulous anti-hero and I would’ve loved to see his and Marvelous relationship begin to develop again as there was quite clearly a lot of affection going both ways at one point.
Crazy cred go out to Kei Hosogai, the actor who portrayed Basco so well.
But enough talk of the villains, what about the giant robots this time around. Well, we really only have two to talk about which compared to some Super Sentai shows is… downright paltry. And I like it. Yeah, not everyone agrees about this, some like it when Super Sentai have ridiculous amounts of robots but I prefer a smaller number that can do more things. The main robot, the Gokaigers’ Gokaioh, eventually receives various equipment upgrades and the ability to combine together with Goujyujin and Machalcon, the Go-Onger’s Grand Power, to form the Kanzen Gokaioh but I don’t really see that as an additional robot. So what we get is the Gokaioh and the Goujyujin, Silver Gokai’s own robot, and between them, Goujyujin is the clear winner.
Why? Because it’s a huge ass drill machine that turns into a t-rex that turns into a giant robot with a drill for an arm! That’s why. Each form is taken straight out of the series where Gokai Silver gets his initial three powers: TimeRanger, ZyuRanger and AbaRanger. And it is glorious, doubly so if you get what they’re doing. As a bonus, the t-rex form gets a decent amount of screen-time for a mid-tier transformation but I’m most certainly not complaining.
The only thing in this show that I don’t particularly like design wise are the monsters of the week. They’re just very forgettable, bordering on completely unremarkable. Many Super Sentai shows have very specific design ideas in mind; animals given humanoid forms, animals crossed with machines, everyday objects given life, animals with spiral themes and so on, so on. But if there is such a theme present in Gokaiger, I didn’t see it. That’s not to say there was no though behind them, some monsters were clearly intended as throwbacks to older monsters and more than once did I go “Oh, that reminds me of that monster from the episode of that show.” and I refuse to believe that wasn’t at least somewhat intentional. Other monsters are specifically said to come from older Super Sentai shows so I’m guessing that was the running theme throughout the entire series, I just didn’t pick up on it with most of them.
But I’m not entirely sure if that’s enough. And even if it is, the designs still weren’t all that good. I don’t really remember most of the monsters except for those that played bigger parts but even then I’m drawing partial blanks. I know there were two monsters in the Hurricaneger two-parter but I only remember one of them. And that’s not the only example.
But before I wrap this up with a final thoughts sort of thing, let’s talk a little about Gokaiger vs Gavan, the third and final movie of the Gokaiger series.
There’s… not too much to say about this movie other than “I liked it!”? Well, perhaps not with a ! at the end but I definitely came away from the movie smiling like a kid. And it’s hard to explain why, I’ve never seen Gavan myself so it’s not nostalgic in that sense. But I am very much aware of Gavan’s existence, the first of the Metal Hero series, a tokusatsu series I very much intend to get into one day. That’s right, I’ve never seen any of the Metal Hero series and sadly, that’s unlikely to change in the immediate future. They’re not as popular as either Super Sentai or Kamen Rider or Ultraman for that matter, a series that despite its legacy can’t really keep up with the two bigger ones today. In other words, there’s not a whole lot of fansubbing going on with these shows and I can only hope that once more of the old Kamen Rider and Super Sentai are done, groups will take a more dedicated look on them.
However, you don’t need to have seen the series to understand the movie. Space Sheriff Gavan isn’t a difficult character to wrap your head around, it’s pretty much right there in the name. He’s come to Earth to apprehend the space pirates Gokaigers. But all is not well in the Galactic Union Police and the Gokaigers find themselves knee deep in trouble once again as it’s soon revealed that the GUP is under Zangyack control and Gavan is slated to be replaced. But to Marvelous it’s much more than a fun adventure, it’s repaying a very old debt to the hero that saved his life as a kid.
From what I’ve gathered, the movie takes place after the original Gavan series but that never really plays a part. And unless you consider a thing like “the hero lives at the end and saves the day” a major spoiler, watching this before Gavan probably isn’t going to ruin the series for you.
It’s worth noting that this movie serves as part of Toei’s 30th anniversary of the Metal Hero series, together with Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie. And it stars the original actor that played Gavan: Kenji Ohba. There’s a particularly delicious treat waiting for fans of the old Super Sentai as Gavan meets both Battle Kenya from Battle Fever J and Denji Blue from Denshi Sentai Denjiman. It might not seem like much of a treat if not for the fact that Kenji Ohba played all three roles in the past and does so again in the movie, creating much confusion for the Gokaigers.
Overall, the movie isn’t all that impressive. It clearly got a bit of a boost to the budget and the one hour run time allows it to make something more of itself than “The Flying Ghost Ship” did. And it’s a fun look into Marvelous past and what he possibly sees as a father figure. And I can’t help but to think that maybe, just maybe, this will give Toei the traction they need to make more Metal Hero series. Because we need it. You can never have too much tokusatsu… unless it’s made by Toho but that’s a story for another time. But Gavan and Kenji Ohba is really the only thing that keeps this movie interesting to the end and just highlights why we need more middle aged men in our tokusatsu. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of room for pretty, young guys too but I would kill to see a revived Gavan with Kenji Ohba in the lead. He definitely seems fit and eager enough for such a project so why not? I mean, he’s not even sixty yet, the guy has decades of acting left in him.
There’s plenty of action throughout the movie and you get to see some villains from Super Sentai past make an appearance however unsatisfying and short a cameo it is. The final battle, especially between Gavan and his impostor, is a lot of fun though I would’ve liked much more cooperation between Gavan and the Gokaigers. Oh, and the Super Sentai set to replace Gokaigers, the Go-Busters, makes a cameo much like how the Gokaigers made a cameo in the Goseiger/Shinkenger cross over movie.
But now it’s time to wrap this up. And I’ll wrap this up… next time. You see, when I start writing this I don’t actually know how long each post is going to be. I said I wasn’t going to talk too much about villains and I ended up doing exactly that. And that’s sort of the point of blogs, I think, that you write your thoughts down and what comes out, comes out. So what I’m getting at is… well, what was meant to be three parts will end up being four parts. But I’ll probably call the fourth part “Finale!” or something like that.
So see you in a day or two again.