Author’s Note: These are my opinions. My opinions are vastly different than most of the fandom 90% of the time. I also wrote this late at night where my mind was certainly in an incredibly satirical mood. If you disagree with what I’m saying below, hurray! Let me know your thoughts on the show in the comments.
There WILL BE SPOILERS. I sum up the show, reveal the fates of characters, and several other things. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, close the review, go watch the show, and come back when you’re ready. I REPEAT: THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE.
Anyway, spoiler warning completed. Enjoy the review, and look forward to more reviews as I watch new Toku in 2013. This is really fun to do.
It’s been over a month since I finished Dairanger. In fact, I just finished Gaoranger. Doing Keitai around the same time threw me for a bit of a loop, and here we are. Needless to say, this review of Dairanger is more or less going to be a regurgitation of my thoughts instead of anything remotely coherent. To sum it up easily, Dairanger was one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve watched lately, but it’s still not perfect.
To sum it up, a long time ago there were three civilizations: Dai, Shura, and Gohma. The Gohma were assholes and decided to rebel. The Shura, ancestors of the modern human, were apparently too stupid to fight their own battles, so the Dai tribe began fighting the Gohma. The Chi (Qi/Ki/Whatever) Beasts finally showed up, and five Dai tribe members allied with them and fought. The Gohma were gone, and all the Dai peeps up and vanished. The Gohma reappear in the present day, so Master Kaku, a Dai warrior, plucked five people with high amounts of chi to fight the Gohma.
That actually sums up Dairanger as a whole. The main plot of the story revolves around defeating the Gohma. However, unlike Zyuranger or even Jetman, Dairanger weaved in some independent character stories that I thought were pretty interesting. Some were pretty small, like Ryo’s dad. the three idiot Gohma, and later on the story revolving around Kaku and his relations to the Gohma. Some are rather insignificant, but run throughout nearly the entire show, like the relationship between Daigo and Kujaku, and the history of Kujaku and Gara. However, the story of Dairanger has one solid plot running through it that enters around about a third of the way through the show: Kou. Kou is Kibaranger, and is later revealed to be the son of Kou’s mom (a Dai tribe member) and Shadam, one of the commanding Gohma members. While the story begins with Kou just wanting to find his Mom, they later learn that if Kou doesn’t meet with his Mom by his 10th birthday, he’s going to turn into a Gohma. To top things off, before this was all revealed, Kou already had a strong rivalry with Akumaro, who ends up being his brother.
It’s a story like that that keeps me invested in the show. The story of Burai in Zyuranger had me invested, but it sort of withered away and became rather meaningless. In Dairanger, not only do you have Kou’s story driving a majority of the show, you also have the previous stories I mentioned. To put it simply, there was enough actual story running through this show that I actually cared to watch everyday. It never became a chore and a lot of the time I wanted to get ahead and find out what happens next.
Unfortunately the characters aren’t all that deep. Kou arguably has the most character growth and character depth, given the circumstances of the story, but that doesn’t mean the others are cut short. Even Rin, the sole female of the show, got several character focus episodes. They were never that good, but they’re there. Besides Kou, Daigo and Ryo are probably the most interesting characters. Ryo is essentially the lead character, so while his main story was really quick in the beginning, he was always a driving force. Ryo also had the benefit of being a foil to one of the recurring villains, Jin. That story popped up a few times before being resolved, and was one of the driving forces in building Ryo’s strength, confidence, and resolve. Daigo had his story with Kujaku. While it didn’t necessarily build on him all that much, it did make his character interesting and worthwhile. Plus he ran a pet shop or something, and that’s pretty neato. Shoji had an ongoing character story with the three idiot Gohma that was actually pretty interesting. While I hated them at first, by the third or forth time they popped up, I was actually relatively invested in it. Kazu and Rin didn’t have all too much going for them, but Rin was cute and Kazu dressed all snazzy, so they were rememberable in that way I suppose. There’s also Kameo, who eventually becomes Daimugen. He’s pretty neat in that fat nerd kind of way. Plus I like Turtles.
The villains were simply there. Besides Akomaru and Shadam fighting amongst each other, and eventually being related to Kou, they didn’t do all that much. Gara had an ongoing rivalry with Kujaku that essentially tied to Daigo, so she was rather important. Zaidos however served no purpose other than to be the first mud puppet reveal. We also have Gohma the 15th, who served no purpose other than to be a figure head and pretend he was important. I also think he had pedophile tendencies and sounded really creepy. As I mentioned earlier, we also have Jin, who became a Gorma after his debut so he could become stronger. Jin ultimately killed his girlfriend and became a total douche, but like most villains, had a moment of retribution and became a worthwhile rival for Ryo before they had their final battle. The “honorable villain” archetype is overdone, but it worked really well for Jin, and his dynamic with Ryo was a worthwhile watch. We also have Daizinryu, who was basically a space god that hated fighting. He deemed the battle against Dai and Gohma to have lasted way too long and came to settle it himself. He basically just roars, destroys things, steps on turtles, and leaves.
I was not a fan of the music much in this series, but the designs won me over. I’ve always been a fan of the MMPR Season 2 Megazords and Zords, so needless to say this was a bit of a bias. While their toys ultimately sucked, I do like the designs, and really hope we get some cool Super Robot Chogokins one day. I’m also happy we’re starting to see some S.H.Figuarts, as I love the Dai suits. We never got to see them in PR, but they’ve always been a favorite of mine once I knew what they looked like. The weapons stay true to the Chinese roots of the show, and fit in perfectly. Have to give them credit on that too.
Overall, Dairanger is a pretty fantastic show. It has its flaws, and being an older Sentai takes a little bit of effort to watch coming from the effects and storytelling we’re used to today. Regardless, I fully enjoyed Dairanger, and was really happy to see an older Sentai carry a fluid story that I could really get into. Sure, it has a fair share of flaws, but it’s an overall fantastic show that is definitely worth the watch. While it doesn’t break my top 3 by any means, it was an overall enjoyable experience.