The ninth episode of Kyuranger is unexpectedly fantastic! Every time this show starts to give me doubts, it immediately turns things around for the better. I can’t even begin to express how refreshing that is for a long-time Sentai viewer like me.
I’m going to get the few negatives out of the way first. I’m not a fan of episodes that don’t have solid, self-contained stories. Of course this isn’t a hard rule; serialized storytelling demands that some episodes need to end on cliffhangers and sometimes entire episode plots need to continue into that of the next. It just wasn’t executed well here. Episode eight ended in an awkward spot, meaning that this week’s episode begins in full force and the plot just doesn’t stop coming. Ultimately that’s okay because the plot itself is strong, but this two-episode storyline could have been rearranged and paced differently. I’m also a bit sad to see Madako go so soon, but it looks like Ikagen has other plans for her. On a side note, I’m confused as to why Over-Time is translating her octopus puns as if she were making jellyfish puns. Madako is clearly inspired by an octopus; the motif is present visually as well as in her name and the puns she speaks (-dako comes from tako, meaning octopus). This, I fear, might be a case of over-localization—but this review is meant to analyze the episode itself, not any weird fansub elements (still, I’d appreciate an explanation from Over-Time or maybe one of our viewers as I feel there could be a better way to translate this particular octopus-related insult).
Beyond that, episode nine is fantastic. The Commander makes it clear to the team that he isn’t a Kyuranger because according to the legend, there are only nine chosen warriors. He is simply using a Skill Kyutama in order to transform into what is essentially a bootleg Kyuranger, which explains Ryuu Violet’s time limit. It surprises me that they address this so quickly, as I was afraid they were just going to sweep it under the rug. Of course, by the end of the episode, Lucky encourages his Commander to join the team and the spirit of the Draco constellation itself appears before Commander Xiao Longbao and makes him an official Kyuranger! We see this visually, as instead of transforming into Ryuu Violet, Xiao Longbao transforms into Ryuu Commander (meaning it’s not a mode-change but rather a completely different form). This stuns me—as Lucky states in the episode, reality is better than the legend. The concept of heroes being chosen by destiny to fight evil isn’t new at all, but seeing those heroes add to the original legend and create a new destiny? I love that.
Xiao’s lines about insubordination from last week’s episode are given a greater sense of gravity this week, as his erstwhile recklessness led to the death of the Rebellion’s Supreme Commander Big Bear. It’s fantastic to see the Commander’s character explored like this, as his silly moments can now be seen in a different light and appreciated for what they are. He also makes a Zyuranger joke at the end of the episode, and his Ryuu Voyager seemingly allows for an awesome Dairanger homage during the mecha battle.
Overall, Kyuranger keeps surprising me. Ryuu Violet’s not a “real” Kyuranger, but his upgraded form, Ryuu Commander, is—meanwhile, the Kyurangers seemingly have the power to overwrite their own legends and carve out their own destiny. This show is definitely going places, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next!