Writer: Noboru Sugimura
Director: Ogasawara Takeshi
This first in a two part story has the team encountering a prince from a mysterious land that was tasked with ensuring the safe-keeping of the two remaining dinosaur eggs in existence. (one male, one female) Things, of course, get a little difficult when Bandora decides to stick her nose into things and sends the prince to a strange dimension along with a young girl who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What we’re treated to here is an episode that plays out in very rapid-fire motion, to the point that you really can’t help but wonder just how this thing is going to actually work as a two parter. Yet, somehow, it works. I mean, yeah, sure you could have probably wrapped things up a little faster, but I think the run time for Sentai back then, a mere 19 minutes, precipitated the need for something spread out over two weeks. Of course this wasn’t something that happened all the time in shows back then, so I also believe the two part nature is unique to Zyuranger. And you know what? I love it.
The plot for this week is fairly standard and there isn’t anything ground breaking, but we’re getting more of that world building that I love. This time we find out that after Bandora declared war on the dinosaurs all those milenia ago, the last dinosaur eggs in existence were put into a chest and tossed into the oceans in hope that they would one day find a safer land to be hatched on. Because there’s absolutely nothing out there in the ocean that could possibly harm two eggs.
Anywho! At some point, the eggs find their way to Delos island, where the Guardian Beasts appear in the sky and tell the people of the island that it is their duty to protect the eggs and ensure they hatch safely. What we don’t learn until a little later on is that the Delos people aren’t doing this just so that they can ensure the continuation of the dinosaurs. they’re doing it because they’re cursed. The monster this time around is DoraCockatrice, a giant bird-like monster who has a history with the people of Delos.
Long ago, the people of Delos lived in peace and joy within a garden created by God. They had everything they ever wanted there and had no worries until DoraCockatrice one day tricked the people there into eating forbidden fruit. Well, of course, this makes God all sorts of angry and so the inhabitants of the garden are cursed to walk around as monkeys and are cast out onto the island of Delos. The Guardian Beasts tell the people of Delos that they will be allowed to rejoin God and take their human forms yet again should they ensure the safe hatching of the eggs. Rough stuff.
The rest of the episode deals with a rather annoying character, Emiko, a random girl caught up in this mess and sent to the strange dimension with Yuro, the prince of Delos. Emiko is…a bit of an annoying little girl. She berates Yuro one moment and is totally happy with him the next, everything she says or does is totally contigent upon the situation and it doesn’t really feel like she’s got her own personality. Not the greatest character to be part of a two parter. Honestly, I think the episodes would play just fine with Yuro as the sole kid of the week. Sure, the actor isn’t the best, but the character isn’t your typical annoying kid and he definitely seems wise beyond his years, okay I just realize how weird that sounds considering he’s older than the human race moving on from this run on sentence!
When Yuro was a young…er boy, his parents died and ever since then, his closest servants took him in and treated him like their own. When Yuro is spirited away to this strange dimension, the two servants are doing whatever they can to get him back and enlist the help of the Zyuranger. They manage to find Yuro again thanks to a strange set of stupid looking sunglasses that allow them to see the dimension holes and get into DoraCockatrice’s dimension, where they do battle and eventually defeat him.
But Bandora manages to escape either way. She kidnapped Emiko and threatened to kill her unless Yuro gave her the location of the eggs, which he does and soon enough it’s a mad dash between Yuro and his servants, the Zyuranger, and Bandora to get to the location of the eggs first.
Now this is the sort of episode I love, even though no one really gets any focus as far as the Zyuranger go, there is some definite world building going on and actually feels like there’s something more immediate at stake here. The narrator basically says the survival of the dinosaurs is now in the hands of the Zyuranger. So it looks like they have two races to protect now. I think this is the perfect way of working the kids into the plot and not have them be these nuisances, at least as far as Yuro goes. He’s relevant and isn’t totally helpless, and better yet, he isn’t a hindrance to the team.
Zyuranger at the moment mostly consists of two parters, episodes eight and seven being the only stand alone episodes. It’s odd because it feels so normal in Kamen Rider these days, but you don’t realize just how rarely Sentai actually did these two parters. I’m loving them, if only just for the scale that they bring to the stories. But even beyond the scales, it allows for really great writing. You’re giving yourself enough time to dive into certain themes and leave no corner unturned as far as story goes. Character is another matter and Zyuranger’s one lacking area at the moment. When we do get character focus episodes, they don’t actually feel as if that’s what they are because the kids get more focus. I think this is another reason I like the two parter formula so much. We do get bits and pieces of character focus and growth, so it feels more natural. It’s not like the show beats you over the head by saying “THIS GUY IS THE CHARACTER WE’RE FOCUSING ON TODAY, K?”. It’s a bit more subtle and, oddly enough, I think this sets Zyuranger apart as an advanced storytelling method.
Also, the story used for the inspiration today is clearly the earliest sections of Genesis focusing on the Garden of Eden and that is always going to be surprising to me. I guess because the themes can be universal, and because Japan doesn’t have a large Christian populous, it works over there, but it strikes me as an oddity – though it is one I’m enjoying.
Something else to note, Noboru Sugimura, the head writer, has done every episode thus far. There was one episode he worked on with a different guy, but there hasn’t been a single episode he hasn’t worked on. I think this counts as one of the longer stretches of head writer episodes – they typically tend to do two to four episodes in a row, not nine or ten.
This episode also has an…interesting scene. DaiZyuJin saves Emiko by grabbing her as she’s falling from a height and…this is portrayed by having the girl fall into a giant hand. It’s…weird. It doesn’t look perfect, but you really have to give them points for letting the characters interact with giant props.