Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hurricanger: a very plot driven sentai series

Ninpu Sentai Hurricanger: the 26th Super Sentai series.
On Earth, there were two important rival ninja schools: the Hayate school  and the Ikazichi school. However, one day, a group of Space ninjas, the  Jakanja, came to earth in order to make it rot, and bring out a mysterious yet powerful force, called "that" ("are" in Japanese). In order to avoid trouble, they decided to wipe out the Earth ninjas, and pretty much killed almost all ninjas of the two schools, except three young ninja students who were outside the school at that time. Those three young ninjas quickly found the director of their school, Mugensai,  which had changed himself into an hamster to escape being destroyed. They quickly joined their teacher's daughter, Oboro, a technology genius, in a secret hideout and there, became the Hurricanger, the heroes of the Hayate school, and with the help of their teacher, his daughter, animal shaped mechas (a Red hawk, a Yellow Lion and a Blue Dolphin shaped mechas) that can fuse into a robot, Senpuujin, and some other weapons, they began to fight the Jakanja to protect Earth.
A few word about the heroes:
-Yousuke/ Hurricanered : a pretty hot blooded, not very smart but well meaning young man, who does various little jobs to earn his life, like working in a bakery, construction work or cleaning windows
- Nanami/ Hurricaneblue: a young girl with singing skills, which she uses for her job
- Kouta/ Hurricaneyellow : a young man who woks at a daycare center and is very protective of his little sister.

They're helped by their ninja master, Mugensai Hinata, who is stuck in his hamster form: he's well meaning, but sometimes absent-minded, and at times, he seems to hide stuff from his students and daughter. Oboro Hinata, Mugensai's daughter, is the one involved in all the technology stuff, and she's always ready to make new weapons to help the heroes. She has a sarcastic personality, and her favorite target is her dad. But she's very kind, and can show a very fun personality as well.

However, Hurricanger is very storyline driven, and I'll mostly talk about the other characters when describing the storyline.

Hurricanger is pretty much divided into three main arcs, and I'll describe the other characters and the villains while describing the arcs. I'll especially focus on the roles of each villain  during each part, since they're the ones who mostly drive the storyline

1)  Part 1: the Gouraiger conflict

That arc starts with episode 1 and ends with episode 19.
After wiping out the ninjas school, the Jakanja started to try to make Earth rot, but they had to confront the Hurricanger, who did everything to thwart their plans. However, at the time, they didn't know that two brother of the Ikazuchi school had also survived the Jakanja attack, and had become another team: the Gouraigers, with the elder brother Ikkou being the crimson red Kabuto Raijer and his little brother Isshu the navy blue Kuwaga Raiger. However, at that time, the Gouraigers weren't allies with the heroes, and that first part focuses a lot on the conflict between the Hurricanger and Gouraigers. During that time, the Jakanja began trying to destroy earth and used the rivalry between the Earth ninjas to their benefit. However, at the end, the Gouraigers became the allies of the Hurricanger, and the arc ends with the defeat of one of the Jakanja generals, the Second Spear Chuuzubo

Antagonists during the first part :

Jakanja: Tao Zanto : leader of the Jakanja
Tao Zanto during that time had five generals: the Darkness  Spears (which are seven when all together, but were just five at that time): First Spear Furabijou, Second Spear Chuuzubo, Thrid Spear Manmaruba, Fourth Spear Wendinu, and Fifth Spear Sargain

Others : the Gouraijers, Kabuto Raiger, Kuwaga Raiger
During that first part, each antagonists were involved in a different level

Main antagonists: the Gouraijers: Despite being more misguided than truly evil, the Gouraigers are the most important antagonists of that first arc.  At first, the two brothers cared much more about the rivalry between the Hayate and Ikazuchi school, and as a result, were mostly seeing the Hurricanger from the Hayate school as rivals to defeat to make the Ikazuchi school win over their rival school. To do that, they decided to seek the power of "that", that they saw as a major force that would make them the best ninjas of the universe.  Moreover, they wanted to follow the path left by their father, who also searched for "that". Because the Jakanja were also seeking the power of "that", they often joined forces to find "that" and defeat the Hurricangers.
However, the Gouraigers were mostly on their own side, fighting the Hurricanger, but never really true allies of the Jakanja.  During that time, they often fought the three heroes, and inflicted them a crushing defeat in episode 10, (using their own mechas, a crimson horn beetle one and a dark blue stag beetle one, which could fuse into a robot called Gouraijin)   that the Hurricanger barely survived.
Afterwards,  they mostly went on searching  "that", and trying to discover more info about the legacy left for them by their father, while regularly fighting the heroes. However, after deciphering a message left by their father  they ended up realizing that to make "that" appear, they had to fight each other to the death, and they ended being sent to a island in another dimension with the Hurricanger and two kids by the Jakanja. Once there, they realized that they couldn't bring themselves to fight each other, and how misguided they were. Thanks to the Hurricanger's help, and two kids that reminded them of their real good side, the Gouraigers came to their sense, forsake t their cruel father's legacy and desore to get "that", and helped save the world from the Jakanja's attack.

Tao Zanto: he's the leader, and thedriving force to find "that". He doesn't do much and never leaves his throne

Main Jakanja antagonist in the first arc: Chuuzubo : a big guy with a green body,  he's the one who is the most involved in rotting earth, by sending many ninjas from his biological ninja army. However, because of his many failures, he ended up under heavy pressure from Tao Zanto with his life at the stake. He's also the main catalyst in making the Gouraiger discover their true destiny, and make them fight each other to the death to uncover "that", and he's the one who sends them to the island thnaks to one of his ninjas, and tries to rot Earth  by making it freeze. However, the Gouraigers managed to overcome their ordeal in the island , and, together with the Hurricanger, stopped Chuuzubo's evil plan. With nothing to lose, Chuuzubo fights the Hurricangers and Gouraigers in a last showdown, but ended up defeated. He's the first Jakanja general to die in episode 19, and his death ends up the first arc.

Supporting antagonist: Sargain : he looks like a powerful warrior in a massive  armor, but he's in fact a little insect that controls  the big robotic body. He's very skilled into making machines that he sends to fight the Hurricangers and rot the Earth, and he's also a fierce fighter against the heroes.

Comic relief villains:
the two Kunoichi (female ninjas):  Wendinu, a woman with a snake motif in her outfit, and always trying to look and sound sexy. She's also the one involved in making the monsters turn big. Furabijou is another young woman with a bee motif in her outfit, with a childish personality. Despite their immature behaviour, they are tough opponents, and they have a focus episode tother in that first arc (episode 6)
Manmaruba: at that time, he's in its juvenile form, looking like an insect larva, and as such, doesn't do much. He's got a child voice, but already shows his seer abilities.

2) Part 2: the Gouraiger's destiny, new allies, new enemies, new plots
That arc starts with episode 20, and stops at episode 38. During that arc, the Gouraigers were the allies of the Hurricanger, but, because of their guilt and differences in personalities, they weren't able yet to become their friends, rather trying to help them from the shadows. That new part deals with the struggles of the Gouraigers to find their path, the arrival of new Jakanja generals, but also the coming of a new ally, Shurikenger.
Shurikenger is a mysterious ninja in a green outfit, who enjoys speaking gratuitous English, has an energic personality and is surrounded by mystery. He doesn't seem to have a definite identity, but rather appeared in different guises (usually the appearance of people he just met, that, in a running gag, were played by actors having  played sentai heroes in previous series). Despite his strange behaviour, he showed himself to be a reliable ally of the heroes, often rescuing them from the Jakanja, notavly thanks to his personal mecha, a green helicopter like mecha called Tenkujin that could transfom into a robot.
The arc ends with Manmaruba's defeat, and the Gouraigers at last becoming true friends with the Hurricanger and Shurikenger. 

Antagonists during the second part : 
Jakanja : Tao Zanto : leader of the Jakanja
At that time, five Darkness Spears were involved :  First Spear Furabijou, Third Spear Manmaruba, Fourth Spear Wendinu,  Fifth Spear Sargain and Sixth Spear Satarakura

Main antagonist of the second arc : Manmaruba : At the time of Chuuzubo's death, Manmaruba was in the process of making himslef grow, and he became an human sized warrior wearing a hooded mantle. He still had his seer abilities, and decided to have revenge against the Gouraigers by putting a Space Scorpion egg into Ikkou/ Kabuto Raiger's body, which would end up killing him after making him suffer during several weeks. Ikkou ended up realizing his life was about to end, with no way to completely stop the scorpion in his body from killing him. He still wanted to do everything to help the Hurricanger against the Jakanja, even hiding his life threatening state from his brother. At first, he tried to slow down the egg's hatching thanks to a shaman, but soon Manmaruba thwarted that attempt.  However, Isshu ended up finding out about his brother's fate, and eventually told the Hurricangers about it. In a bold move, Yousuke deceived Manmaruba into infecting him with the scorpion egg and thanks to that, saved Ikkou from his cruel fate. Manmaruba ended up defeated by Kabuto Raigers, soon after realizing his fate thanks to a premonition. However, he still had time to clone himself, and soon the new clone tried to defeat again the Gouraigers, and get information about "that". However, while collecting information from a meteor shower, the excessive information made him turn into a giant mindless monster form. He ended up eating the Gouraigers in giant form, but eventually the Gouraigers were saved by the Hurricanger, and Manmaruba was eventually destroyed once and for all.

Main supporting antagonist: Satarakura : he's a clown-like ninja, with a pale head and always wearing a mask; loves doing puns and has a sick sense of humor. He appears in episode 21 and often uses vicious but over the top plans to defeat the heroes. However, his first attempt to destroy the heroes was stopped by Shurikenger, who made his entrance at that time. During that second arc, he regularly sends monsters to defeat the heroes and make "that" appear. His most important plot to make "that" appear" involved three wolf like creatures that turned humans into beasts-like creatures, were able to become a three headed monster by fusing together and would have a key role in making "that" come. However, his major plans was stopped by the Hurricanger, the Gouraijers and Shurikenger, who joined their powers and destroyed the  three Wolf Ninjas thanks to a new weapon, the Revolver Mammoth. Afterwards, Satarakura was pretty much in disgrace, and was much less involved in the Jakanja's plans.

Sargain was still there and had the same role as before, but because of the big involvement of Manmaruba and Satarakura, was less involved than in the first arc. Wendinu and Furabijou were still the two female comic relief villains, Wendinu the sexy, Furabijou the childish . Episode 30 focused on Furabijou while episode 34 focused on Wendinu.

2) Part 3: Shurikenger's secret, Gozen sama, and the final fight against the Jakanja

That arc starts with episode 39 and ends with the final episode (episode 51). At that time, the Hurricanger, the Gouraigers and Shurikenger were at last allies and friends. However, Shurikenger's identity and background were still a mystery. Besides, Mugensai was often communicating with a mysterious person he called "Gozen sama" (that can be translate by "his majesty") Soon, the Hurricanger and Gouraijers discovered that Shurikenger was working for that Gozen sama. They tried to have Shurikenger make them meet that Gozen sama, but at fiirst he didn't want to do it out of loyalty for his master. At that time, a new Jakanja general, Sandaru  appeared, with a new plan to make "that" appear. He had found a mysterious medal, called " the Arrow of Rage" after destroying a planet,  and needed to make "that" appear, to find another medal, the "Sad Bow". It was then revealed that that "Sad Bow" medal was sealed into Gozen Sama 's body. Gozen sama, who was revealed to be a woman born 500 years before, and who survived thanks to the "Sad Bow"s power, was hiding from the world to avoid seeing people fighting to get the "Sad Bow" known then as the 'dark stone". However, she was forced to show herself to the heroes in order to save them from the Jakanja. However, that resulted in her being exposed to the world, and soon, Sandaru realized she was the one who had the "Sad bow" sealed in her body, and managed to get the cursed medal from her body, killing her in the process. Soon after , Shurikenger, who at last has been reveealed to be a young ninja student from the Hayate School that disappeared and decided to become  the one devoted to Gozen-sama's protection, losing his human indentity and face in the process, sacrificed himself to save the heroes.   At the end, the Sad Bow and the Arrow of Rage were used to bring "that" to Earth, but eventually, the Hurricanger, Gouraijers managed to defeat the last Jakanja generals and destroy "that", which was in fact an evil destructive force that would destroy everything. Afte their victory, the Hurricanger and Gouraigers were at last able to graduate in their ninja school, with the two rival schools united at last

Antagonists during the third part : 
Jakanja : Tao Zanto : leader of the Jakanja
At that time, five Darkness Spears were involved :  First Spear Furabijou, Fourth Spear Wendinu,  Fifth Spear Sargain,  Sixth Spear Satarakura and seventh Spear Manmaruba

Main antagonist of the third arc : Sandaru : that evil shark-like ninja general was the last to come, but he was a deadly opponent. He had already destroyed a planet to get the "Arrow of Rage" and went to Earth to seek the "Sad Bow" which was needed to make "that" appear. He soon realized that the secret behind the sad bow involved the mysterious figure behind the Hurricanger and he soon started deadly attacks against the heroes, using his fighting skills and his fan beasts to force the mysterious figure to reveal herself to help the heroes with her powers. Sandaru then managed to learn where the Sad bow was, and how to get it. He eventually succeeded in getting the deadly medal, killing Gozen Sama in the process. He was also the one who defeated Shurikenger, and made the deadly blow against him.
Unlike the other Jakanja spears, which were pretty loyal towards each other, Sandaru was not above backstabbing his comrades for his benefit. He's the one who killed Sargain, and he had a key role in Satarakura's death, by breaking his mask and making him thus turn completely insane and out of control. Besides, after realizing that Tao Zanto merely used his Spears as pawn for his aims, he decided to defeat Tao Zanto, just at the time he gained the powers from the "Sad Bow" and "Angry Arrow". However, he was finally defeated by the Gouraigers while sacrificing Gouraijin at the same time

Other antagonists:
Tao Zanto : once the "Sad Bow" and  "Arrow of rage" at the Jakanja's hands, he began at last to get a new body that would allow him to fight. However, soon after becoming a giant, he was killed by Sandaru, who realized that he didn't have any reason to be loyal to him.

Sargain: Sargain had pretty much the same role as before. However, at that time, he came back into the spotlight because of his strong rivalry with Sandaru. Episode 42 and 43 were his final arc, when he fought the heroes with all his might, using the power of the "arrow of Rage", getting data about their weapons and mecha attacks. However, Sargain was weakened by the excessive power of the "arrow of rage" and was finally defeated by the combined powers of the Hurricanger, Gouraigers, Shurikenger and Gozen sama. Despite having survived, he was soon killed afterwards by Sandaru.

Wendinu and Furabijou still had the same role as before. They had one focus episode together, episode 46. At the end, while they look seemigly killed by the Victory Gadget, the fact that they were still alive in the Abaranger vs Hurricanger movie, and their upcoming appearance in the "Hurricanger ten years after" V-cinema movie means that their fate was meant to remain ambiguous.

Satarakura: at that time, he was pretty much reduced to a comic relief role. It's pretty significant that he was involved in the episode involving the two comic relief villainesses. However, in his final arc, he tried a last time to defeat the Hurricanger and help his master to get the powers from the weapons. However, Tao Zanto decided to use him to his advantage, even ready to sacrifice him. That revelation, with the addition of Sandaru breaking his mask, made him insane and out of control. He finally was defeated by Shrikenger whi sacrificed himslef and his Tenkujin mecha to destroy the evil clown.

Final comments: 
-The Jakanja generals are named after the days of the week (Manmaruba/Monday, Chuuzubo/Tuesday, Wendinu/ Wednesday, Sargain/ Thursday, Furabijou/ Friday, Satarakura/ Saturday, Sandaru/ Sunday)
- My opinion of Hurricanger:
Characters : the most striking point of Hurricanger is that the characters have as much development as they have focus on the storyline. As a very plot driven series, the most well done characters are usually those are the most involved in the story.
Heroes: The biggest flaw of the series are the three main heroes, who feel like they are more like supporting characters than the protagonists. Most of their focus episodes are some of the weakest of the series. Besides, the Hurricanger often show a pretty stupid side, that turned out to bring them and their allies a lot of trouble, and the fact that despite all they've been through, they still managed to do stupid stuff doesn't make it better. The Gouraigers are must more well done and interesting, because they pretty much dominate the storyline during the two first parts of the series, with a very rich storyline and a lotn of development. The fact that the Gouraigers are brothers even adds more to them. Even if in the last part of the series, they're somewhat sidelined, they still are very well done characters. Shurikenger is also pretty well done: at first, he's shown as a somewhat comedic character, with his over the top personality, his gratuitous english and the running gag of taking disguises, played by former sentai actors. However, he's also a very good ally that also showed a wise side. During the last part, we learn Shurikenger's background, which shows him in a different, more tragic side, and iit makes him an even more well done character.

Supporting cast: Mugensai is an okay mentor, even if him being changed to a hamster makes him look silly. However, Oboro is an awesome helper, with her very lively personality and her sarcastic side. Gozen sama is okay, and appropriate for her role, much not much more.

Villains: the Jakanja are a very colorful cast of villains. Of course, with 8 regular villains, they're of course uneven in quality, the best ones being Manmaruba, Sandaru, and Satarakura. However, what makes the Jakanja a fun group is how much different they are, and even less good ones, such as Furabijou and Chuuzubo have their meaning, and bring some contrast to the whole ensemble. Tao Zanto however isn't really a really worthy Big Bad, since he doesn't move during almost all of the show and when he does, he's killed by Sandaru before having shown itself to be a true threat

Motif, mechas : Hurricanger is a strange mix in its motif, but that mix somewhat works. The heroes are ninja themed, but also a strong technology flavor with Oboro being a mechanical genius.   The show has mechas that bring together the main animal mechas of Liveman (Red bird of prey, yellow lion, blue dolphin)  and the insect theme of B-Fighter. The different robots are well done, and the use of teh Karakuri balls as weapons is pretty fun.

Story : Despite a pretty simple premise, the story is pretty well done, with a very rich storytelling and lots of arcs, which makes the series a pretty entertaining one, with very few stalling moments.The concept of having the protagonists belonging in different teams (three heroes being the Hurricanger, two, the Gouraigers and Shurikenger) is pretty original in the sentai franchise and adds a lot of dynamics in the interactions between the different heroes, notably by bringing up conflicts. As shown before, the series uses in a creative way its villains, despite the Big Bad being pretty disappointing. Another big issue of Hurricanger is that a lot of plots points are caused by the heroes behaving in a stupid way, like how they can make big mistakes because of either pride or beign annoyed of not knowing enough.  The plot of Manmaruba coming back to life with a clone wasn't really useful either But overall, Hurricanger's story is pretty nice, and is pretty well told.

Overall, Hurricager  is indeed a fun show that had a lot of influence on following sentai series, such as Magiranger and Gekiranger (as mentioned in a previous post). A worthy 8/10

To conclude, here are the pictures of the Jakanja :

Tao Zanto the leader

First Spear Furabijou

Second Spear Chuuzubo

Third Spear Manmaruba

Fourth Spear Wendinu

Fifth Spear Sargain

Sixth Spear Satarakura

Seventh Spear Sandaru 

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