Going back to 1995 - 1996 we have the 19th Super Sentai Chouriki Sentai Ohranger which roughly translates to "Super-Powered Squadron King Ranger". link Funny enough, not 1999 like the title of this episode would suggest, but rather this season takes place 3-4 years in the future oddly. This is the original Sentai for Power Rangers Zeo and one that is not talked about often. What could this season have to offer? Click "read more" for my full coverage of this first episode.
The episode begins with an announcer giving the setting of the season and the Machine Empire Baranoia that is plotting to invading Earth and it is up to the Ohrangers to stop them. Looks like Zeo kept that plotline minus the name Baranoia. Then, the theme song.
I appreciate getting that out of the way fast.
One theme song later, we are at the Baranoia Machine Empire's moon base where we learn the royal family/main villain's names.
A family and Butlers all robots. I wonder who built the machine empire; or is R.A.D. true and the final stage of evolution is robotic?
The Baranoia are confident their army cannot be matched and begin their invasion of Earth. What follows is Tokyo full of people running in fear before the city goes up in flames and buildings blow up. A little girl even loses her doll. That was a focus point for some reason. We eventually are introduced to a pilot and captain of some military group called U.A.O.H.
Goro Hoshino. An introduction like this can set him up as either a Ranger or the mentor.
Goro and some other military personal go over the aftermath of the Baranoia attack. Within a week they have hit New York, Paris, and Tokyo with the casualty count still rising.
Why do other countries think that New York is the heart of America? Thinking about it, a lot of popular stories/characters take place in New York. Spiderman, the Ninja Turtles, Futurama (sorta). Maybe it is.
Now, the demands from Baranoia are in. They want the surrender of Earth which means handing over all the natural resources and half the human population to be taken to other planet. Until the surrender is met, everyday at noon a major metropolitan center somewhere in the world will be attacked. Naturally, these demands will not be given.
A few things. First, why does a Machine Empire want our natural resources? Second, they didn't say why half the humans will be taken to other planets, but I'm guessing to be enslaved. Third, Baranoia saying "noon" is a little confusing; which time zone do they mean because they hit 3 completely different ones? Also, how do they even know about our time zone system? Am I over thinking? Probably.
Goro asks his commander about the 4 soldiers picked for a "special force" and is told they are on their way. The fact he said 4 instead of 5 and addressed someone else as his commander pretty much confirms he is the 5th. At this point, the group get a signal that two jets, Thunderwings, got caught up in a Baranoia attack. Now, 4 more people get introduced.
I feel like names should have waited until after they take off the helmets and masks.
The two Thunderwings end up in a dog fights with 3 of the Baranoia ships and things go well until it is revealed that their weapons cannot hurt them. So, the 4 of them get shot down and Goro goes to their location for a rescue. While waiting for said rescue, the 4 Ohrangers to be run for their lives as the Baranoia continue to hunt them.
Interestingly, despite being in a crash landing none of them are even scratched.
Eventually, the enemy ships summon in this seasons grunts/foot soldiers, the Barlo Soldiers. Androids that act like monkeys using some very choppy stop motion effects that aged terribly.
Now, there is a full fleet of the Baranoia that are hunting the 4 Ohrangers to be that goes through a mountain and the stakes are high. I will admit, they did a good job of making the situation look dire. The four of them end up at a dead end and a long drop but manage to get down safely with some vine swinging.
I couldn't resist showing a Tarzan moment. I must say though, those were very long and conveniently placed vines.
The chase continues on with many gunshots and explosions and even a thunderstorm breaks out. However, it looks like Goro is finally ready to hop in his own Thunderwing and fly to the rescue.
Looks like he is already wearing a changer.
Cutting back to the fleeing four, they are exhausted and dirty, but the rain stopped and they have momentarily lost their pursuers. During this brief moment of rest, Juri holds confidence that everyone will survive and gives the group some backstory. All of them were considered the best from the United Airforce and have helped each other survive dire situations many times. Looks like this is a ranger team for the Airforce.
This exposition is interrupted by something from the bushes, a snake that freaks out Momo. This screaming almost made Juri not notice the Barlo Soldier behind her. It is hard to put in words, but this was kind of a funny fake-out.
These soldiers seem almost immune to damage until they manage to take a couple out by using fire and their own weapons against them. Even so, this is still a losing battle that pushes the group back to a dangerous waterfall.
If this is a real water pit I want to go see it.
All 4 rangers to be get blasted into the water and carried off by the current, but manage to get on dry land. Then, if things weren't bad enough for them, the first monster of the week drills out from the ground to attack them.
This Empire really knows how to hold a grudge.
Finally, Goro arrives to save the day. His Thunderwing is able to shoot down the enemy ships and soldiers, (even though the others didn't have any effect) and the crew back at base all jump with joy. While at base, we get introduced to one more important looking person that the staff call "colonel".
Miura. He basically just walks in from off screen to say "we can't rest easy yet" and to let everyone know about the Barbaria base on the moon. I sense a mentor. This serves as a transition to the moon base where the Machine Empire's royal family boast about how much better they are then humans and literally compare themselves to Gods. Okay, I'm convinced, I'll be an Ohranger now.
Back to the battlegrounds, Goro leaves his jet in mid-air on a motorcycle to take the fight to the ground. Once parked, it's henshin time!
Just like that, OhRed is born. Goro proceeds to defeat the grunts with his martial arts and weapons; a sword and hand gun called Battle Stick and King Blaster. Great names... The grunts on the ground are defeated, but the drill monster causes some trouble and there are still grunts piloting those giant spider like vehicles which are blasting away. Many jump cuts later, we see our first weapon combination, the King Smasher which is a combination of the Battle Stick and King Blaster.
Okay, if the ranger setting is King, why is it an Airforce setting? The only "King" setting comes from the enemies. Is it supposed to reference the soldiers of a King? That's a stretch.
The King Smasher damages the spider like vehicle, but doesn't go down even after Goro tricks the Drill monster into blasting it as well. Now, it is time to reveal OhRed's main weapon, a sword he summons from his visor.
Goro flies into the air and jams his Star Riser into the Drill monster to destroy it. At the same time, the other 4 who were just watching up to this point, finally finish off the spider mecha by throwing the Barlo Solider's weapons into it. Now, OhRed emerges from the smoke of the two explosions and introduces himself to the others. To be continued!
This episode was a lot of fun with none stop action. The stakes felt high, the characters were introduced quickly and effectively, most of the effects, minus the stop motion, have aged fairly well, and the acting was on point. However, there are a couple issues. Oddly, the action actually slowed down considerably once the actual Ohranger appeared, but not too badly.
But, the biggest issue is the writing that feels very rushed. There is no explanation as to how or why the Machine Empire came to Earth and I went on a decent tangent earlier about their demands for surrender. A few small moments too, like when 4 of the Ohrangers were in jet crashes and did not get any injuries from it and why the Machine Empire put so much effort into hunting them after they lost their dog fight. That chase would have made sense if they were already Ohrangers, but this was before they got their powers. However, while it is easy to overthink these details, for a kids show it is an acceptable amount of unrealism.
Overall, this episode was not perfect, but fun to watch. It is only of those earlier seasons that only had a 20 minute runtime instead of the now standard 24 (not counting commercial breaks) so it is expected that the pace is much quicker. That sped up pace worked well with the none not action. I would recommend this episode if you are just looking to enjoy some cheap 90s action. Since this was the first of a 2 parter, I will hold off saying if the season got the hook or not. 4/5