Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sentai Time! Engine Sentai Go-Onger

Pressing down the road of mediocrity.
Translation: Engine Squad Go-On Ranger
Number of Episodes: 50
Original Run: 2008-2009
Theme: Vehicle/Animal hybrids and technology
Adaptation: Power Rangers RPM

Welcome back to Sentai Time! This time, I’ll be reviewing Engine Sentai Go-Onger, and sadly, I’m more interested in tearing it down rather than praising it. Let’s get started.

The Concept
These guys literally fight pollution. Its exactly as existing as it sounds.

Our universe exists in 11 Braneworlds, alternate dimensions layer on top of each other. One such world is Engine World, populated by Engines, animal/vehicle hybrids that wage war against the Bankizoku Gaiark (translated as “Barbaric Machine Tribe Gaiark”). The Gaiark are chased out of Engine World and escape to Human World (Earth), and plan to pollute Earth to suit their race. To prevent this, several Engines travel to Human World and ally themselves with strong-willed humans, who borrow their power to become the Go-Ongers. Together they wish to stop the mechanical menace from dirtying the beautiful blue planet.

The Sentai
From left to right: Hanto, Ren, Sousuke, Saki, and Gunpei.

The Go-Ongers consist of Sousuke (Go-On Red), a fiery former auto racer, Ren (Go-On Blue), the encyclopedic cook and former bus driver, Saki (Go-On Yellow), an optimistic girl who dreams of opening her own sweets shop, Hanto (Go-On Green), an easily distractible job-hopper, and Gunpei (Go-On Black), a former cop with a tough guy facade. Each have a Engine partner, who are similar in personality and give the Go-Ongers their gear and powers.

Imagine this shoved into your face for 22 minutes at a time. Not very pleasant.

The sentai of Go-Onger is, quite frankly, annoying. Everything they do is preformed with this sort of cartoony energy, which makes nearly every action they perform over-the-top and obnoxious. I understand this is still Super Sentai, but the Kyoryugers managed to be energetic without causing migraines thanks to good (or at least better) writing and more subtle moments to break up the hyperactive moments. It also doesn’t help that the cast don’t make endearing characters: Sousuke is a hardheaded brat, Hanto is an annoying twit, and Gunpei is more of a jerk than a jerk with a heart of gold. This is a very weak sentai, and are about as deep as their merchandise.

The Villains
From left to right: Yogostein, Kegareshia, and Kitaneidas.
The Gaiark are made up of Yogostein, Kegareshia, and Kitaneidas, the Ministers of Land, Water, and Air Pollution respectively. They wish to pollute Human World so that their race can live in a filthy paradise. To do so, the Ministers create Bankijyu (or “Barbaric Machine Beasts”) to create havoc and dirty either the Earth’s land, water, or air. Alongside their Bankijyu, the Ministers command armies of junk soldiers and entire fleets of flying walker mechs.

This isn't an outlier; all the monsters look this stupid.
I dislike the Gaiark almost as much the Go-Ongers. The Ministers are terribly bland, and I have trouble naming character traits for them other than how they end their sentences. The Bankijyu are even worse. They are all based on machines found on Earth, and by based on, I mean they slapped some arms and legs on some machines and added goofy faces. The designs are lazy, and I found them far more stupid than threatening. The Gaiark have a decent concept behind them, but are drowning in either blandness or stupidity.

The Mecha
One of the better looking mechs, in my opinion.
The Engines are all animal/vehicle hybrids: for example, Sousuke’s Engine is Speedor, a racecar-condor combo. The individual Engines can combine into mecha to take down giant Bankijyu. In the thirteen episodes I’ve watched, there are three mechs: Engine-O (pictured), Ganbaru-O, and Engine-O G6 (a combination of Engine-O and Ganbaru-O).

This is Speedor. As you can see, he's going through a bit of an identity crisis.

While I did like the concept of a race of sentient vehicles that look like animals, I found the Engines to be just as flat and boring as the rest of the characters. They are often carbon copies of their human partner’s personalities, and it also doesn’t help that they have annoying verbal ticks of their own. The mecha they form are pretty awesome, however, and their theme songs make the fights epic, even if they are often one sided.

The Fights
How come the most annoying member of the cast gets the coolest weapon?
The fights are some of the few redeeming features of the show. They aren’t as impressive or as well choreographed as the fights in Kyoryuger or Shinkenger, and it may use shaky-cam a bit too much, but they are still very solid. One thing I have noticed, however, is that this series uses a lot of flashy effects, often more than the other Sentais I’ve mentioned. Still, the fights look impressive and do a decent job of showcasing the individual strengths of the individual Go-Ongers.

The Music

The music also saves the show from being terrible. The music is not only fun to listen too, but its also pretty darn catchy. I especially like the instrumental of the theme song, which gives off a mariachi/surfer vibe. In terms of music, I’d place Go-Onger between Kyoryuger and Shinkenger- not as good as the former, but more memorable than the latter.

The Engrish
They all wear jackets like this. Its quite painful.
I just had to bring this up. This show constantly abuses the English language by throwing in tons of English words into each episode. I know Sentai shows often feature engrish (even Shinkenger had it), but the frequency of which Go-Onger uses it is grating. Its hard to not roll your eyes whenever an English word is thrown into the middle of a sentence, and it just doesn’t stop. It feels more like “we’re cool too, guys!” rather than a stylistic choice.

The Verdict
I know Super Sentai is meant for kids, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Kyoryuger and Shinkenger, mainly because it was competently made. Go-Onger may be lighthearted, but often its too hyperactive and in-your-face. The cast is largely forgettable and annoying, the villains are lame, and I often found myself stomaching it rather than enjoying it. I wouldn’t consider Go-Onger a good show, or even a good kids’ show.

4/10 - Below Average

That should do it. I’m preparing for my first Sentai movie review (Gaburincho of Music), as well as a followup for Shinkenger. Until then, see ya.

Magiranger is up next.

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