Monday, August 10, 2015

Sentai Time! Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger Review

Where there are otakus, there are cries for Super Sentai!
Translation: Hundred Beast Squadron Roar Ranger
Number of Episodes: 51
Original Run: 2001-2002
Theme: Animals
Adaptation: Power Rangers Wild Force

Welcome back to Sentai Time! This is a review of the first “season” of Gaoranger. Before I start, I would like to thank Gao Soul Forever for subbing the series and Awesome Screenshot for the software used to make this review’s pictures. Let’s get started!

The Concept
The Gaorangers and their Power Animal comrades.
One thousand years ago, humanity was at war with the Orgs, a race of demons that crave destruction. With the help of the Power Animals, the ancient Gao Warriors were able to defeat and seal the Orgs. Now, in modern day, the Orgs have resurfaced and wish to resume their quest for destruction. Five new youths are chosen by the Power Animals to counter the Orgs, and they must abandon their lives to protect the life on Earth.

The Sentai
Left to right: Sotaro, Gaku, Kakeru, Sae,and Kai.
The Gaorangers consist of Kakeru (GaoRed), a passionate veterinarian, Gaku (GaoYellow), a former Self Defence Force pilot, Kai (GaoBlue), an energetic freeter, Sotaro (GaoBlack), a gentle giant florist, and Sae (GaoWhite), a martial artist and Team Mom. Each Gaoranger is the partner of a Power Animal, a large mechanical beast. GaoLion, GaoEagle, GaoShark, GaoBison, and GaoTiger are the partners of Kakeru, Gaku, Kai, Sotaro, and Sae respectively.

The Gaorangers in their suits. Also, EXPLOSIONS!
I have mixed feelings about the sentai of this show. They’re fairly unique in terms of character, and they’re developed fairly well. They manage to have energy without being totally annoying. However, there are a few things that hold them back from being considered great. For one thing, the members don’t have much of a character to talk about, and their development, while competent, is still fed to the audience in small pieces. They also don’t interact with each other in meaningful manners that often. While individually they’re pretty well characterized, but as a group they’re just decent.

The Villains
The big Orgs for the first season. From left to right: Yabaiba, Tsuetsue, and Shuten.
The villains of Gaoranger are the Orgs, a race of demons born from the negative emotions of humanity. They often take the forms of man-made objects, and they are only driven by a desire to destroy life. They follow a strict hierarchy, with the creator of the Orgs, the Org Master, at the top. The Org Master gives orders to the Highness Duke Org, who in turn commands the Duke Orgs and Baron Orgs (the Monsters of the Week). The current Org leadership include Shuten, the multi-eyed Highness Duke Org, Yabaiba, a knife wielding Duke Org, and Tsuetsue, a magic wielding Duchess Org.

One of the Baron Orgs. All are based on man-made objects.
I have similar feelings about the villains of the show. The Duke Orgs and Shuten look pretty cool, if not a bit silly, but they don’t have much in the area of character. It doesn’t really help that their MO boils down to “blowing stuff up for funsies,” which doesn’t make for awfully compelling villains. It also doesn’t help that many of the monsters look far more ridiculous than threatening or amusing. That said, the Orgs do their job rather well, and they do cause trouble often enough to feel like a threat. But just like the heroes, the villains, I don’t find them to be particularly strong, but not terribly weak either.

The Mecha
GaoKing, the primary mech of the Gaorangers.
The mecha used by the Gaorangers are the Power Animals. The core five Power Animals, who are also the partners of the Gaorangers, can form the primary mech of the show, GaoKing. Throughout the show, the Gaorangers manage to recruit several other Power Animals, which are used to augment the abilities of GaoKing or help create other mecha like GaoMuscle. The mecha of this show are fairly decent, even if the Power Animals are a bit simplistic. However, the giant robots formed by the Power Animals are really cool and imposing. I like the auxiliary attachments a good deal, and GaoMuscle is probably my favorite auxiliary mech. This show has my second favorite group of mecha (next to Kyoryuger) thanks to their power and design.

The Fights
The Gaorangers will often fight like animals, especially like their partner animal.
Like how Magiranger incorporated it’s gimmick into the fight scenes, Gaoranger regularly incorporates the animal motif into its fights. The Gaorangers claw, lunge at, ram, drag, and smash their opponents in a similar manner to animals. They even claw at the ground occasionally. The concept was pretty cool at first, but the novelty wears off when you realize how little they can do with it. Thankfully, there’s more to most of the fights to avoid being boring. However, like most of the things in the series, the fights are just decent. They certainly have some great moments, and the weapon combat is interesting. However, nothing stands out as extraordinary. It’s not terrible, but it’s far from great.

The Music
Oh look, more mixed feelings. Yay…

In all seriousness, the music of Gaoranger is pretty unremarkable. Sure, there are several great songs, like Dynamic Soul, the mecha themes, the roll call theme, and especially the opening theme. But every other song is just totally forgettable and generic. Thank goodness the good songs are as amazing as they are, otherwise I would have found my first crap soundtrack in Super Sentai.

The Verdict
Gaorangers is one big mixed bag. Most stuff it handles it does with adequacy. However, Gaoranger doesn’t do many things exceptionally, and the product as a whole is more mediocre than good. It’s not a bad show; far from it. But the show does very few things that can be considered great. It’s pretty hit or miss overall.

6.5/10 - Decent

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