[立て!! 大獣神] Tate!! DaiJuujin
Writer: Noboru Sugimura
Direct0r: Taro Sakamoto
When we last left the Zyuranger, everything had gone to hell. The team wasn’t getting along, then kids are turned into trees, then everyone except for Geki is turned into a tree, then Geki is taken away to a barren wasteland. Oh and someone’s dog probably ran away or something.
Picking up from the last episode, everything pretty much looks hopeless for the team, despite this, as Geki is about to find out, things can get a whole lot worse. Tyrannozaurus has spirited him away to a strange and barren land filled with sand and rocks. Wandering around aimlessly eventually leads Geki to see a twisted and disfigured tower, that he soon realizes is actually Tokyo Tower and what remains of the city. Freaked out, Geki takes a step back and tumbles down a hill, where he sees four skeletons. Upon closer inspection, Geki realizes these guys are his teammates.
The Guardian Beasts appear to Geki and tell him that this world he’s seeing is a very probably future should the team not get their act together. Geki then finds the ruins of a gigantic robot buried in the ground and is told this is the DaiZyuJin, the combined form of all five Guardian Beasts. If the team can work their problems out, and find the legendary Dino Crystals, they’ll be able to create this combination. (as well as its secondary tank mode) The Beasts take Geki back to his own world as he promises to make things right again.
With new found motivation, Geki finds his teammates and vows to free them from their strange prison. Barza appears and Geki tells him he needs the Dino Crystals, but the old geezer has no idea where they’re located. Fret not! A battle with DoraSphinx and Griffozar in giant form soon erupts. All seems hopeless until Geki’s sword shows him the location of the Dino Crystals, which he uses to free his friends from their prison. The team is able to create DaiZyuJin and, through some trickery of their own, are able to outsmart the riddle master that is DoraSphinx and finally defeat him.
For the most part, this was a great episode. Zyuranger so far has been filled with episodes that can be hit and miss, but I genuinely enjoyed just about everything here. The one thing that might have bothered me was the sword showing Geki the location of the Dino Crystals right at the moment he needed it. These were the sort of things that bothered me the first time I saw the series, but I think I’ve managed to outgrow these complaints now. The reason these things don’t bother me as much is because I’m starting to think I “get” this series a lot more around this time.
What I didn’t take into account as often as I should have in the past is that Zyuranger, while primarily based on dinosaurs and ancient beasts, is also based on fairy tales. They’re fighting and evil witch! Fairy tales often involve twists that come out of nowhere once our hero has learned a lesson or perhaps because they needed to learn a lesson. These are the sort of things that have happened over the last two episodes. Geki needs to be a better leader? Toss him into a possible future that shows a ruined Japan. Geki needs the Dino Crystals to save his friends once he realizes what he has to do? Let’s have the sword show him the way!
A lot of what can be seen as cop outs here are actually just playing to traditional fair tale devices. We know the weapons themselves are sentient, so the sword itself can be seen as yet another guardian for Geki. Once Geki proves himself worthy of being the leader that the Zyuranger need, he’s given the tools to help realizes his determination.
On top of that, there was a lot of fun to be found in the giant robot battles here. Zyuranger was really the first show to go all out and make these battles creative, which is strange to realize. Liveman was the first Sentai that had some cool independent puppet work going on for the giant robots before they combined, but I think Zyuranger really took it to another level. We’ve got some creative ideas here, DaiZyuJin becoming the tank in the middle of the battle to avoid a sword attack aimed at its head, some nice punches and sword maneuvering help make it a great fight to watch. Even the nuances in the enemies are rather interesting, from DoraSphinx’s giddy battling to Griffozar calm and collected attitude, which we see when he literally lays on the ground in giant form as he watches DoraSphinx try to trick the Zyuranger with a riddle.
So now the team is working together, we’ve got the giant robot after a pretty cool introduction arc and we’re ready to face the rest of the series!