On this week’s episode of Kyuranger, Kotaro finally becomes Koguma Skyblue while the rest of the team faces a dilemma onboard the Orion. It’s a lighthearted episode with a slightly more serious emotional core, but while there’s nothing wrong with the episode itself, it has me wondering where exactly Kyuranger as a show is going from here on out.
The Kotaro storyline reaches its apex in this episode, as the young boy finally joins the team as an official Kyuranger. There are plenty of elements here that work in the show’s favor. Big Bear shows up as a ghost who can possess the living, and he—like Stinger—doesn’t want Kotaro to be involved in the war. The former Supreme Commander is still beating himself up over dying an early death and forcing Xiao Longbao to lead the Rebellion before he was ready (though Lucky contests this assertion later on). His desire for redemption translates into trying to talk Kotaro out of joining the war, but the young boy insists on protecting his own planet. The spirit of Big Bear finally relents and grants Kotaro the power to transform into Koguma Skyblue, a tiny Kyuranger. Using the Ohguma Kyutama allows Koguma Skyblue to grow into a giant, which is a rare ability in terms of Super Sentai (usually we see giant robots fighting giant monsters, not giant Rangers fighting normal-sized monsters). Koguma Skyblue sports a unique design just as the other Kyurangers do—his scarf is adorable—and his short stature allows him to blend in easily among the Kyurangers due to their dynamic Ranger suits.
The only downside is that everything unfolds a bit too easily. Big Bear doesn’t want the young Kotaro to start fighting, but the boy says a few bold, inspiring words and the gruff ghost quickly changes his mind. On top of that, while I appreciate the show’s continuing theme of rewriting legends and creating one’s own destiny, the impact of Koguma Skyblue is vastly overshadowed by Ryuu Violet/Ryuu Commander and the fact that we already have nine Kyurangers in the first place. If anyone can become a Kyuranger by wishing for it hard enough and proving oneself to the spirits of the constellations (apparently Big Bear is connected to both the Ursa Minor and Ursa Major constellation spirits in the afterlife), then it’s not going to make an impact on the audience when we see new members join the team.
Some of my worst fears for the show are starting to come true. I don’t mean to complain because the show is actually lots of fun with a decent plot, but we are being introduced to more and more characters and Kyurangers at the expense of character development for our existing team. Lucky’s in the spotlight basically all the time, while Stinger and Champ have their history (which I hope will be explored more in the near future!); meanwhile, Raptor has a strong arc in becoming a Kyuranger and the Naga/Balance antics are seen often enough. Unfortunately, characters like Spada and Hammy are still being relegated to the background, and Garu hasn’t done anything of note since the premiere! What is it going to take for Kyuranger to be fair to all of its characters, especially now that we’re ten episodes in?
The B-plot in this week’s episode is cute, zany Sentai fun. Naga is discovered unconscious onboard the Orion and the Commander initiates an investigation, as he suspects the culprit is disguising himself as one of the Kyurangers. The characters accuse one another and it’s lighthearted and entertaining, but the mystery is cut short when Naga wakes up and explains that he just fell and hit his head while he was practicing his smiling. Meanwhile, the Orion is headed straight for the sun—this is a machination of the monster of the week (a moth monster that’s bizarre-looking even for Super Sentai), but the team initially suspects that this is part of the “plan” set up by the “culprit” who apparently struck down Naga. Of course, when Lucky and Kotaro defeat the monster of the week, the Kyurangers are able to regain control of the ship and fly to safety.
When it’s all said and done, there is nothing wrong with this episode—it just displays symptoms of bigger issues within the show itself. With such a large cast, we need stronger character arcs for all of the Kyurangers. I’m confident that the show will return to the Stinger/Champ drama before long, but hopefully the story won’t continue to ignore characters like Hammy and Garu for the sake of new Kyurangers.