Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger Ep 1: We Are Ninja - Summary/Review


 

It's the Alien Rangers and Season 3 of MMPR. But, actually it is the first of many Ninja Themed Super Sentai. Airing in Japan from 1994-1995 and staring the first female leader of a Sentai, Ninja White Tsuruhime. (Although, she doesn't get to stand center.) Click "read more" and let us take a look at what this trend setter season began with. Thank you Shout Factory for the free English subtitles.





Analysis


The episode begins with an announcer introducing the villains, setting, and rangers. To summarize, bad guys are called the Youkais, the Kakuranger's power comes from a hidden ninja shrine, and we get a ranger roll call before any of them are properly introduced. May as well do the same.



Sasuke - Ninja Red. The first Red Ranger to never be leader who fights with the monkey style. Age 26. Reckless and a hot head who is always eager to fight and is the most agile of the team. (And is definitely not Hyuuga.)









Tsuruhime - Ninja White. The first female leader of a Super Sentai team and the youngest Kakuranger at only 15-16. She takes the duties as a Kakuranger the most seriously and is considered the most mature member who has the old story of being the standout in a group who slowly grows closer to the others. She is also the one that all the other rangers try to impress.







Saizou - Ninja Blue. Age 22. A chatterbox, worrywart, and a know-it-all who is easily flattered and makes rash conclusions. Likes to help people which makes him popular with kids and is often paired with Seikai as one of the lazy duo. 









Seikai - Ninja Yellow. Age 24. He is a bro, likes video games, eating, sleeping, and especially women. Has great physical strength and shows great admiration towards Tsuruhime. Follows a traditional male yellow ranger trend.









Ninja Black - Jiraiya. Acts as an American stereotype, despite not being American. Speaks English to tease and confuse the other Kakurangers, acts like a cowboy and surfer, and is obsessed with fighting-based T.V. shows. The loner of the group who tries to do things on his own.






All with very generic ninja names. Back to the episode.

One preview of the current episode and theme song later, we get an old man explaining the premise of this season.  I am really not a fan of all this narration. Just let the actual episode do the talking.



Long story short, the Kakuranger's ancestors, who all have the same names, fought a "bloody" battle in the Sengoku Era which ended in them using a Seal Door to seal away the Youkai forever. Sadly, the 5 ninja had to get sealed with him.



This brings us to present day where we meet Sasuke and Saizou arguing about what to food to get, hamburgers or ramen. 



Why is that narrator still here?

This is interrupted when Sasuke and Saizou see an old man getting his bag stolen. They rush to his aid, beat up the thief, and return the bag only for the old man to beg them to deliver said bag to Kappa Inari Island before passing out. The bag is full of money, and the two ninjas to be agree after being promised a big reward. (The old man briefly regained consciousness to make that promise.)

It is nice to see rangers have hero qualities even before getting their powers. One could say they were motivated by money, but they didn't know about it before rushing to the old man's aid and so far either of them suggested stealing it.

After a boat ride which doubled as a transition, (no idea where the boat came from), Sasuke and Saizou  arrive on Kappi Inari Island with a confusing map. Quickly, they try to ask for directions by some creepy looking locals. 



All these people starting running off and singing after Sasuke and Saizou tried to talk to them. After a while of chasing the people and looking, the two of them contemplate giving up, going home, and turning the money over to the police. However, the strange song that the local kids were singing begins to speak of the Tenjin Shrine that they are supposed to deliver the bag too, so they follow the kids.



As the two of them pass through the tunnel, the children's singing gets louder and more ominous. Finally, once on the other side, the kids reveal their true forms as ninjas. 



Sasuke and Saizou are attacked by these ninjas and the two run for their lives. Saizou falls into a pit of skeletons and Sasuke is nearly impaled by a spike trap. Eventually, they find themselves at the sealed door their ancestors used. The little girl who is still in kid form tries to steal the money bag with a fishing rod, but Saizou stops it and accidentally steps on a button that opens the door. Now the seal is broken, the little girl reveals herself to be the same old man that sent them on this quest.



So wait, to break that great seal all that needed to be done was to step on a button in front of the door? I can buy that some sorcery prevented the villains from doing so but there is no way they could have expected that easy to break lock to last forever.

The money in the bag turned into cucumbers and another old man comes flying in on a cloud carrying a sword named Sandayuu. No it's not Goku. Sandayuu tries to warn Sasuke and Saizou about the Youkai, but it is too late because the seal door is already open. With the seal door opening, there is lightning and smoke everywhere, and the old man reveals his true form and Kappa.



The narrator shows up again to give some backstory on what a "kappa" is in legends. They live in swamps and like to touch young girls.

At this point it's obvious the narrator is going to be a reoccurring thing. Completely undeeded.

The Youkai spirits and grunts emerge form the seal door, do a little victory dance, and rise to the sky to begin their conquest of Earth. Sandayuu tells Sasuke and Saizou that this will be their destiny, implying he will make them Rangers.



Surprisingly not bad effects. I love the way the 90s seasons did them.

Kappa teleports Sasuke and Saizou  to a subway where they are ambushed by grunts and a few of the YouKai.

Those look more like ghouls then ninjas.



I wonder what Oscar the Grouch would say.




A wall monster?




This one opens up what resembles a coat and looks at you with a bunch of eyes. New meaning to flashing them eyes.

Sasuke and Saizou flee for their lives and end up back in the city where a ghost ninja castle appears in the sky. 



The design reminds me of the Shogun Megazord. I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that will become the Kakuranger's HQ.

Sandayuu appears again and tells the two that they are to battle the Youkai and that Tsuruhime  is waiting for them in the Illusion Castle. Afterwards, he teleports Sasuke and Saizou into a field by waving a rose at them.

Is the Ninja mentor figure going to double as a magician?

Sasuke and Saizou appear at the place where their ancestors fought in front of 5 color coded katanas. 



Those are totally real blades... Oh look! The white one is in the middle.

The castle appears again and a giant origami crane flies from it where Tsuruhime  jumps from and makes her appearance. 



The Ninja suits are not color coded as you might think. Hers is white and the 4 guys have black ones. 

Tsuruhime is quite mad about the door being opened and how slow Sasuke and Saizou are to pick up on what is going on and gives the two guys instructions on white katana to pull out. Sasuke and Saizou don't take Tsuruhime too seriously and mumble about how cute she is, to her annoyance. All three of them pull out their respective katanas which causes lighting, a rockslide, and the castle to turn into their Megazord Super Robo.





Power Rangers fans might be surprised to see Shogun first. Fun fact, Season 3 of MMPR switched the order of the ninja mechs appearance. Which, is a better order in my option because this Muteki Shogun looks a lot cooler and stronger then the Ninja Megazord.

The 5 ancestors appear from Muteki Shogun and 3 of them give the current 3 ninjas their Doron Changers. 



There is a morpher they skipped over in the States.

The ancestors give the typical passing on the torch hero speech, "you are the Kakurangers now", fight the good fight, and all that. Ancestors vanish, and Kappa with some grunts bounce in for an attack. 

How did the Youkai get there?

This time, Sasuke and Saizou, still mad about being tricked, are ready to fight. Tsuruhime  leads the first henshin of the season. Here we go!










Good thing Saizou and Sasuke just knew how to do that. Tsuruhime  makes sense. 

Everyone does their rollcall and now we get the first ranger battle of the season, but with only 3 of the 5 rangers. It involves a lot of sword slicing with Ninja White doing all the work at first and some silly comic moments thrown in for no reason.




There is some serious inconsistencies with the Red and Blue rangers.

Ninja White takes out a bulk of the grunts with a bunch of shuriken and a cherry blossom Ninjutsu. Kappa sneaks up on the slacking Red and Blue Ninjas and punches them into the fight. 

One of moments where your glad the bad guys attacked.

Even two on one and with some guidance from Ninja White, Kappa is winning this little duel with Red and Blue. Soon, Kappa kicks a Ninpo Basketball at the Kakurangers which somehow bounces off all 3 of them and explodes. 



First off, that is not a basketball;. it is obviously a soccer ball. (Or football for non Americans.) Second, he clearly kicked one and all three Kakurangers got hit.

Kappa is about to deliver the finishing blow, when Muteki Shogun acts on its own and swings his flaming sword at Kappa. That's cheating!



Kappa jumps up to dodge the giant sword when out of nowhere, his women shows up.



Yes, the narrator comes back to interrupt the episode here. He tells us this new Youkai is a secret until the next episode and then vanishes. To Be Continues!

That is a lame way to end an episode.

Final Thoughts


This episode was pretty good, but weird with some inconsistencies. The narrator interrupted the action a lot and wasn't even that funny to watch. Also, Saizou and Sasuke kept jumping back and forth between being cowards and courageous. Nothing really happened other then basic introductions, everyone got welcomed in and then were dragged along by the story which felt very fast paced. Fight scenes were below average and added some effects from old 60s super hero shows randomly. Hard to say, but it feels like this season is trying to be both funny and serious. Tough sell, but as a whole, the episode was enjoyable enough to give the benefit of the doubt. Until next time, let's see if these Ninja's can hold their own. 3/5

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