Welcome back for part two of my look at the best episodes of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, my current favorite entry in Toei’s Super Sentai series of shows (although this might be a thing that changes frequently as I watch more shows, who knows).
Before I jump into it, I wanted to acknowledge and pass along the very good news that Sasuke (Ninja Red) is slated to appear in an upcoming episode of Toei’s current (and just started) series, Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, which so far has been a fun series (with definite hints of Kakuranger).
Previously, we covered the premise of Kakuranger and the Flower Kunoichi Gang, the best evil Sentai team ever. But if you thought that was all there was to love about Kakuranger, then prepare for much, much more.
The Heavy Metal Concert From Hell! (Ep. 23, “Blitzkrieg!! The Strange White Bird”)
At the beginning of the series, we were shown how the ancestors of our heroes sealed the evil power of yokai way, and then how that evil was now escaping in the present day (of the early 90s). Unlike previous shows like Zyuranger or Jetman, we aren’t given a main villain right up front, but instead we see the heroes deal with seemingly loosely affiliated yokai. At a certain point, however, we finally meet somebody that seems intent on uniting the Kakurangers’ enemies, and that guy is Young Prince Junior.
The lead villain for the first half of the series, Young Prince Junior (or Young Noble Junior, depending on the translation/interpretation) is a real treat to watch, as he wails on guitars and pianos and yells about his plans to destroy Kakuranger.
Looking sort of like Billy Idol if he decided to start stealing just a hint of GWAR’s fashion sense — a look that we really need more of in the world — Prince Junior picks up the title of Epic Sentai Villain previously held by Witch Bandora in Zyuranger, combining her style of insane schemes with the melodrama and ego of Jetman’s Radiguet. Taking things to a whole other place is his alternate form, that of Gashadokuro, a Megadeth-esque skeleton trooper (which Power Ranger fans will recognize as Rito Revolto).
As far as “metal-ness” goes with Prince Junior, we could get into all sorts of discussions about where he would fall on the spectrum, from the Slayer end of things down to the “metal-in-logo-only” spot, where you’ll find Kip Winger. The way I’d calculate our villain is probably somewhere above Twisted Sister’s cameo in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure but a smidge below Alice Cooper’s set in Wayne’s World.
Sadly, Junior isn’t the true big bad of the show. His father, the high lord of all evil yokai Daimaou, has been locked away, waiting to return to our realm, and will eventually show up to take over as the Big Boss of the series, and frankly, he’s nowhere near as entertaining. He’s definitely the dad jeans of Tokusatsu Final Bosses.
Not since Kamen Rider Amazon have I been so disappointed by a change in lead villains. Thankfully Daimaou is still a monster, unlike Amazon’s Great Emperor Zero, a doof in a stupid headdress.
Anyway, all that nonsense aside, the road to Daimaou’s return is paved with Sentai gold, starting with this episode. Prince Junior begins the process of resurrecting his father by turning children to stone — actual human-sized stone slabs…
…and using their souls to build a GIANT SKULL CASTLE ON TOP OF A SKYSCRAPER.
Then, he proceeds to PERFORM THE MOST EVIL METAL CONCERT INSIDE THE GIANT SKULL.
This is the kind of thing that would pop up all the time on something like Metalocalypse, I suppose, but frankly it would probably end on that show with a cynical gag about a bunch of people being dead as a result, and as much as I enjoy Metalocalypse, I mean come on.
Eventually too much bad shit happens and a new ally must enter the scene. The Kakurangers are left beaten and rough, powerless against the might of Junior’s Skull Fortress and the kaiju of the week, Umibozu. That’s when we meet Tsubasamaru (hinted at in the episode title) a giant mechanical bird that shoots missiles from its wings.
Tsubasamaru joins with the Mighty Shogun, and together they blow some shit up and save the day. The kids are brought back to life and everything is great.
You know, except for the whole “Daimaou is coming back soon and you’re all gonna die” thing.
But wait, I almost forgot!
At the very beginning of the episode, Tsuruhime celebrates the bond the rangers now have by giving each of them FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS!
So then it makes all the more sense that by the end of the episode, the rangers have made a new friend, huh?
Anyway, that’s all for now. Deciding to write about Kakuranger has proven to be a bigger task than I first imagined, so what I thought would be a single listicle-like entry is unfolding into a multi-part waste of time likely stretching out for weeks. I appreciate everybody who has made it this far and wishes to check out the next installment of Watch More Toku, in which we (finally) see what happens when Sho Kosugi, the only true ninja on Earth, appears on a Super Sentai show.
I know, I know, I keep promising Sho Kosugi, and once again you are forced to wait. MY APOLOGIES!
Let that hold you over until next time!
As an aside, I want to give a shout out to Grown Ups In Spandex, the folks responsible for the fansubs of Kakuranger I’ve been using. Without their work, I’d probably still be awkwardly staring at unintelligible clips on YouTube and wondering what the hell this show is about. Fansubbing takes a lot of time and work to do, and is technically illegal, but hey, we can’t really sit around hoping Shout Factory puts out more DVD sets of Sentai shows, now can we?
PS here are some extra stills of Prince Junior being awesome