One day, five children from earth were kidnapped and spirited away to the far flung reaches of space. Twenty years later, they returned to the planet of their birth as the Flashman. They have one year, 365 days, to live on earth before its atmosphere becomes deadly to them. Over the course of the last year they have searched for their parents and defended the planet against the great threat of the Mess Empire and La Deus. Now the time has to come to confront their kidnapper and learn the secret of who their parents are.
Gardan, Cowler’s partner, has betrayed Mess and been captured by Keflen and Nefel. Keflen does not take kindly to traitors and traps Gardan in a reconstruction tube. The Flashman then arrive to a mysterious location after being challenged by Mess. Nefel and the newest Mess monster, The Gardes, appear and go on the attack. Cowler watches on from behind as the new monster makes quick work of the team before reverting to Gardan for a moment. Turns out Keflen used him as one of the base creatures for a reconstruction experiment.
With their time on earth drawing closer to an end, the team is unable to sustain their transformation for too long and writhe on the ground in pain. Despite not being able to transform, the team takes on Gardan and Nefel, but Sara is soon taken by Cowler in his ship. The arch nemesis promises to tell the team who the child of Doctor Tokimura is if she plays the Genetic Synthesizer and reconfigures Gardan’s DNA back into its base state. Sara obliges and soon enough Gardan is back. Sara’s playing the Synthesizer is causing La Deus terrible pain as he calls out for Keflen’s help. Keflen simply stands in the shadows and watches his master in pain with a slight yet cruel smile curves on his face.
Gardan and Cowler are pissed and they’ve had it with Mess. It’s time for an all out attack! The pair battle their way through a pack of Zoros and finally face La Deus head on. Cowler promises to kill Deus and become the strongest being in the universe. It’s time for bad guys to face off against bad guys in what can only be described as an epic battle for survival. How often is the final villain of a season truly threatened when one of his underlings wants to throw a coup? The shows usually present it as the villain having known all along that their services would end in treachery and that they always had the upper hand against their underlings.
Not here. La Deus, standing in his luster, is using all his power to fend off the combined forces of Cowler and Gardan. The two mercinaries have had enough of this monster and are on the attack. Laser beams, plasma energy attacks, javlins to the face, and whips are flying left and right. Finally, Cowler breaks La Deus’s mask with his whip and this destroys the once unstoppable overload. Keflen, who was standing by the entire time, simply watching, transports the pair off the ship and examines the remains of his former master. It turns out La Deus never had an actual body, he was just a mass of sentient liquid using the Deus body as a shell to contain itself.
On the rocks near a body of water below the Mess ship, the Flashman and the mercenaries meet. Cowler gloats over his victory against La Deus and the fact that he is now the most powerful man in the entire universe. Naturally, the Flashman are in shock and not sure what to make of this revelation. Cowler is more than happy to show off his power to the team and a battle begins. Gardan takes on the others while Jin rushes straight towards Cowler.
It seems that Cowler might have the upper hand, but his…hand…has actually been wounded and is dripping blood. He fights through the pain and turns his whip in a javelin as Jin brings out his Holy Prism Sword and it’s time for an amazing battle. The two are fighting each other against the rocks and waves of the sea and we can only just slightly make out the details of their bodies against it all. Jin is basically getting his ass kicked. The rest of the team isn’t doing much better against Cowler.
And now it’s time for the duel. The. Duel. You know the one. The duel that future Sentai would try to imitate, but nothing comes close to the scale of this battle. Cowler, the mercenary who kidnapped our heroes as children, robbing them of any normal life, yet at the same time inadvertently being the reason they have their powers at all. Jin, filled with a hate for the person who stole him from his parents. The others were taken while they were still babies, but Jin? He was old enough to remember his parents and have memories, so it’s been hardest on him. And now it’s coming down to one final duel between these two heated rivals.
Cowler looks off at the setting sun and the sky bathed in orange light. “The blood that bathes the setting sun is finally disappearing,” How awesome is that? Dude is poetic in all his appearances. And you can’t help but love Jouji Nakata’s delivery on this line. He’s got a world weary fierceness to him, as if he isn’t afraid to face death head on. If ever there was a Sentai villain to love, it’s this guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a villain through and through, but he isn’t a “HAWR HAWR I SHALL DESTROY THE WORLD JUST ‘CAUSE” type. He’s got honor and a legacy he’s trying to form so that he can survive in a cruel universe, he is Sir Cowler.
So now it’s time for the final battle between these two. Even though the first is 50 episodes long, this is what I consider the climactic battle of the show, just 48 episodes in. Cowler is the one who really set everything in motion. Without him, earth would have just been taken over because these five kids would have never been kidnapped and raised on far away planets, trained in their ways and given the power to defend their home planet. This is the battle that the series has been building towards. And what a battle it is.
The two warriors are fighting against a setting sun, all you can see are their silhouettes. Things go into slow motion as they wave their swords around and back I into full motion as they deliver strikes. Jin strikes at Cowler’s javelin with his sword and both break against each other. There is an incredible orchestral piece of music playing to compliment this scene. Loud drums and deep horns punctuate the emotion that both warriors are feeling. The two warriors are desperate and it shows, they’re attacking each other with broken weapons here!
Cowler slashes at Jin, who falls to the floor and stabs his weapon into Jin. But this isn’t the end! Jin pulls the weapon out of himself and then runs his own broken sword straight through Cowler’s chest. Cowler screams in pain, flails his arms in dramatic fashion, and falls to the ground. There is some amazing suit acting going on here. Red Flash stumbles back slightly and you can sense he’s just as weary from the battle.
But this isn’t the end of the battle for anyone. Gardan appears and again is in terrible pain, transforming into the monster Keflen turned him into. And now Cowler drops a bomb on Keflen, metaphorically. Cowler tells Keflen that he himself is a human being. The man who detests the creatures of earth is a human himself. Gardan then delivers a terrible blow to Cowler and Nefel appears with a ton of Zoros.
The team fight off the Zoros but are are still next to no match against The Gardes, Gardan’s transformed state. Despite this, Jin pushes on and slices him with his sword. The busts out their canon and destroy Gardan, or at least attempt to. Before he can die, Nefel turns him into a giant beast. So now it’s time for a giant battle! The team manage to finally destroy Gardan with the combined Great Titan machine.
Back on the beach, Cowler lays dying and Sara begs him to tell her which one of them Doctor Tokumura’s father is. Cowler simply responds that he won’t die until he kills Keflen. And so, his ship comes by and takes both him and Sara with it into the distance. Six days remain.
Now that was an episode! To start this series off, I wanted to showcase what I consider to be the very best Super Sentai episode ever. This has everything you could want in an episode. Secrets, betrayals, epic battles and conclusions. The reason I got into Flashman was thanks to a member at HJU who posted the clip of Gardan and Cowler taking on La Deus. My first thoughts were “Cowler looks cool” and then “Holy crap did they just take out the big enemy of the seasons?!” At the time I had only seen newer Sentai, so this was a shock to me. I needed to see more, so I downloaded the episode. I loved the episode and…had no idea what was going on. Flashman is not one of those shows you can skip episodes with. So I began to watch the series from the very start and loved it. That is how I was introduced to what I consider to be the very best Sentai ever.
While I often find it hard to defend a show like Goseiger, even though it’s one of my favorites, the same cannot be said of Flashman. This show is outright amazing. The cast is great, the cinematography is just there, the music sets the tone amazingly, and the story is the best Sentai has to offer. I’ve always hated attempted coups by generals in later seasons that were met by “You fools! I’ve known all along, I was just letting you play your game!” from the antagonist. They struck me as contrived, like they were trying to achieve this artificial sense of depth. Flashman has none of that, everything is genuine. La Deus, the demonic and otherworldly looking antagonist, the guy you’ve wondered how the team could possibly defeat, is on his toes against Cowler and Gardan.
Speaking of, those two guys kick butt. Cowler inadvertently creates the Flashman and gives earth hope. There’s some sort of irony there, especially for Jin, he hates this guy’s guts for taking him from his parents when he was old enough to remember them, but if not for the chain of events he set off, they would have been normal humans, powerless against the threat of Mess. That’s some amazing stuff right there. It adds layers of true depth to the show that I love so very much. When people say that older Sentai doesn’t offer anything interesting, that its characters are bland and never changing, I have to laugh. Nothing could be further from the truth! The characters in some of the best Sentai shows are almost Shakespearean at times. This is the best that Sentai has to offer.
I feel that sometimes you need a bit of a spoiler to get into a show. Though, honestly, the simply premise of Flashman stands out to me more than others. Five kids are kidnapped and raised on other worlds, as adults they return to earth to protect it but find that the atmosphere of their home planet is now alien to them and will kill them in year’s time. That right there sets the stakes for some great dramatic tension later on in the series. That said, it’s not always enough for people. Sadly, it wasn’t for me – at the time I was one of those people who wasn’t sure about watching older tokusatsu shows. They felt cheesy to me, but seeing that one clip of one of this show’s defining moments? Yeah, it sold me. Because of that, I’ve gotten into older tokusatsu like crazy and have found a show that is not only my favorite Super Sentai, but one of my favorite shows in general.