Bandora’s newest plot involves stealing away the greatest idols in the country so that children will have no one to look up to and lose all hope as well as the will to live. Singers, dancers, and sports stars are being whisked away by Dora Chimera, who has the ability to mimic their techniques. The monster goes after Sayaka, the greatest fencer in Japan as well as a stickler for tradition and strength. Unlike the others Dora Chimera went after, Sayaka is able to hold her own against the monster. Goushi appears to help Sayaka and the monsters runs off, leaving Sayaka angry that Goushi wasn’t able to finish the monster off. We learn that Sayaka is the teacher at a local kendo dojo where her students are worried about her being able to protect herself. Goushi waits outside the dojo in the rain and catches Sayaka’s attention. The fencer challenges Goushi, who wants to protect her, to a battle. Sayaka claims that anyone willing to protect her needs to be stronger than she is or else the entire endeavor is pointless. The two agree to have their match the next day and during the middle of the night, Dora Chimera casts a spell over Sayaka, making her willing to hurt Goushi with a real sword.
During the match, Goushi notices something is off about Sayaka and pleads with her to come to her senses, something that only happens as Goushi catches her sword mid swing with his hands. The rest of the team shows up and start a battle against the now present Dora Chimera while Goushi and Sayaka stay behind. The fencer binds Goushi’s wounded and bloody hands with cloth, feeling horrible for what she did earlier. Goushi thanks her and heads off to battle, despite Sayaka’s protests. During the battle, Goushi takes down the Dora Monster on his own as it begins to snow and Bandora summons the creature back in its giant form, who turns DaiZyuJin to ice. But some quick thinking allows the team to win. Later that night, the team enjoy a meal at a restaurant and watch the snow fall as Sayaka returns to her dojo to train with her students, hoping for the day peace comes so that she and Goushi might meet again.
There was something to this episode that I enjoyed quite a lot beyond the story. The story itself isn’t anything grand or special, but the presentation of it was amazing. The director for this episode (and the previous), Taro Sakamoto, I think that’s how you read his name at least, seems to have a penchant for doing these dramatic presentations, but this episode sort of just blows everything that he’s done before out of the water. Zyuranger has had its fair share of dramatic episode, no doubt about that. After all, we just finished a week’s worth of episodes revolving around the death of Burai. The dramatics in those episodes always had this element of grandiose fantasy to them though, playing right along with the themes of Zyuranger as a series. They felt like stories you could read about in fairy tales or hear about in legends and myths. This episode played things differently.
The dramatics here were quieter, much more down-to-earth than just about anything I’ve seen this series present before. You do have the stoic warrior heading off to battle, but it doesn’t feel like that’s all he is. Goushi and Sayaka both play things very personally here, almost as if they’re two lovers who don’t want to be separated. There was this almost J-Drama/Jetman quality to the subtleties the actors had going on. What sucks about this is, as much as I like it, an episode like this makes it so obvious to me how much the cast has been wasted throughout the series. I like how they’ve been portraying the characters, but episodes like this and a few others make it so apparent that they could do so much more. Umon in particular has the chops to play a much more vulnerable character than Goushi is typically portrayed at, it was great seeing this side to the actor.
The direction overall was great here, it wasn’t just the stuff with the face actors. There was some great scenes going on in the giant battles. Close, shoulder-level stuff again helps sell the illusion of something being giant and when you mix that with a Zyuranger mecha? You can’t ask for anything better. (well, maybe give it Go-Busters’ A-game mecha direction, but that’s for another day)
Well, that’s a pretty heavy episode! I can’t even go on about how much I really really really loved this episode, because it was a ton. It’s so bizarre to watch this episode, a very down-to-earth one about some sort of emotion going on between Goushi and Sayaka when you realize what came before it. I’m not sure how you go from something focused on a sad puppy-dog giant dragon robot to something like this. There’s a little mood whiplash there, but if you enjoy what both episodes bring to the table, I don’t think it’s going to matter. Zyuranger’s major strength has always been its ability to handle various ends of the spectrum.
We’re getting close to the end game here, six episodes left and even the stand-alone episodes are starting to be pretty amazing. This could end up being the best quarter this show provides its viewers with.
Random fun fact: this was the last episode of 1992 and aired on Christmas day. Nothing like a great Sentai episode for a Christmas present.