During the first years of Super Sentai, most main villains and villainesses were pretty much one dimensional, and evil at the core ; of course, some of them showed more depth, like loyalty towards their leader and/or allies, or refusing a tyrannical leadership; however, they still remained the enemies of the heroes and of humanity. However, during his time as a sentai main writer, Hirohisa Soda decided to create antagonists with more complex motivations for attacking Earth and humanity. Changeman is a very good example, with most of the Gozma being initially Bazoo's enemies that were defeated by the evil Star King, and forced to fight for him. In a lot of cases, they attacked Earth hoping that by obeying Bazoo's order, they would be able to save their own home planet. Indeed, Changeman had for the first time enemies that defected and became the heroes's allies, like Shima and Gator. Since Changeman, a lot of sentai series have shown redeemable enemies, that could be brought to the side of good. Some redemption stories were very well done (Jeanne/ Mahoro and Lije/ Lijewel from Abaranger, a lot of the "evil ranger" storylines, Zonnette in Carranger (in a parodic way), Gou/ Doctor Obler in Liveman, Sphinx in Magiranger), others were reasonably well written (Rio and Mele in Gekiranger, Shima and Gator in Changeman, Dolnero in Timeranger), and some were awkwardly written (Igam in Maskman, Rie/Maria in Jetman, Vancurya in Magiranger).
Among those redeemable sentai antagonists, one of the most interesting was Kirika from Turboranger
Turboranger: some background
Turboranger was the first Heisei sentai series, and the eighth sentai series with Hirohisa Soda as a main writer. Here is Turboranger's storyline : Thousands of years ago, humans were fighting alongside fairies the Boma (Violent Demon) tribes, and managed to defeat them and seal them, thanks to the power of the fairies. However, in recent times, because of the degradation of the environment caused by men, the fairies's power decreased, and the Boma managed to break the seal.
Fortunately, five high school students, who, as children, were able to see the fairies, were being able to hear Seelon, the last fairy, and, with the help of Dr Dazai, managed to gain superpowers, thanks to Seelon's magical power and Dr Dazai's technology, and become new heroes, the Turborangers: Riki Honoo/Red Turbo, Daichii Yamagata/Black Turbo, Youhei Hama/Blue Turbo, Shunsuke Hino/ Yellow Turbo and Haruna Morikawa/ Pink Turbo.
Together, they started fighting the Boma tribe, led by their emperor Ragorn, and his generals, Dr Leyda, Princess Jarmin, warrior Zimba and the cowardly Zulten. After some time, a new student joined the Turboranger's high school, Hikaru Nagareboshi, and at the same time, a new enemy, the wandering Boma Yamimaru appeared. The Turborangers soon realized that Nagareboshi and Yamimaru were one and the same, and he was pretty much a lone wolf, fighting the Turboranger (especially Riki/Red). He was a wandering Boma, half Boma, half human, and he was fighting alone, antagonistic both towards the Turboranger and the other Boma. He was full of hate, because he was a complete outcast, both rejected by the humans because of his demon blood, and by the Boma because of his human blood and was forced to always wander during millenia. However, after many fights against the Turboranger, Yamimaru had a vision of a young girl, who would forever change his life as a Wandering Boma. During that time, the Turboranger had defeated most of the Boma generals, Leyda, Jarmin and Zimba. However, they didn't know at that time that they would soon meet a new and very dangerous enemy.
In the Turboranger's school, there was a young student, Sayoko Tsukikage who was not very popular: when she tried to compete against Haruna to get the main female role in the school play, she had also no vote for her, since most of the votes favored Haruna. Moreover, her volleyball team never allowed her to be a regular member. Besides, her childhood was not very happy, because she was often bullied by other children. However, she still had a kind heart, donating her blood once to save people, and she still met nice people, like young Shunsuke when she was a child, or Riki later. At that time, it was her 18th birthday (even if her age is somewhat inconsistent through the series, since later episodes stated that she was born 20000 years before), strange events started to occur (mirrors that were breaking, an exploding volley ball , with a demonic creature appearing each time). Riki who witnessed those events tried to talk to Sayoko about them, but she didn't understand anything about them.
Sayoko invited Riki to her birthday party at ther house (she was a fan of Riki's baseball playing, and Riki had signed a ball to her). However, Sayoko's caretakers were not pleased about that and tried to poison Riki. But Riki realized it, and the caretakers were revealed to be Boma, who diguised as humans during Sayoko's childhood to protect her. However, at ther 18th birthday, it was the time when her Boma powers would manifest themselves. Sayoko indeed wasn't human, but a Wandering Boma, half human, half Boma. Yamimaru, who recognized in Sayoko the girl of his visions, quickly made her realize her true self, and how similar their situations were. At that time, Sayoko was struggling with her identity, with all those new information coming at once. Soon, the Turboranger managed to defeat Sayoko's Boma's caretakers, but thanks to Yamimaru, Sayoko's Boma powers at last came out, and she became the Wandering Boma Kirika.
Yamimaru and Kirika : a deadly duo
After becoming Kirika and becoming a true Wandering Boma, Sayoko completely threw away the human past, and joined Yamimaru in his fights, both against the Turborangers and the Boma tribes. Yamimaru, after all those years alone, at last found a companion, a kindred soul, and as a result, his determination was even stronger. Likewise, because of her past as an outcast, Kirika was completely understanding of Yamimaru's struggles, and soon as Nagare Boma, they decided to fight against both humans and Boma in order to have a world for them, the wandering Boma. Kirika completely threw away her human past and only saw herself as a wandering Boma. At first, they joined Ragorn and earned his respect by taming the legendary dragon Dragras. However, they had no loyalty towards Ragorn and planned to take over the Boma by forcing Riki and Ragorn to fight to the death. Ragorn was defeated and Yamimaru and Kirika took over the Boma tribes.
During those times, Yamimaru and Kirika had numerous and bitter fights against the Turborangers. Kirika's plans often involved using the lowest instincts of people, like when she used one of Youhei's nerdy classmate who was jealous of Youhei's success with girls, to test a switching face Boma, or when she gave kids some magical powers in order to see them doing mischief. She had great empathy for Yamimaru's suffering from both Boma and humans, and as a result, showed deep hatred for both humans and Boma, and fully involving in Yamimaru's revenge against them. Because of her sad memories of being bullied, Kirika became a cruel woman without empathy, ironically becoming herself a bully, as shown in the episode when she attacked an amnesiac Shunsuke, who, in a ironic twist was her childhood friend who protected her from bullies. At that time, she hated so much her human blood that, after a vision of her caretaker, she even tried to become a full Boma and to gain amazing power, by fusing with Armor Boma. However, even at that time, she was torn, because more than power, the most important thing ofr Kirika was being with Yamimaru and fighting with him : her main motivation to fight as a Wandering Boma was her loyalty and even love for Yamimaru.
The fights against the Turborangers and the Wandering Boma was reaching its climax, and both side were obsessed into fighting each other. However, Ragorn, emperor the the Boma wasn't dead, and used that conflict to gain power again. Haruna was fed up of that fight which seemed so meaningless, and she tried to find a way to stop it. Ragorn used that and thanks to a Boma Beast, lured Haruna into finding a "love stone" in a special dimension, with the Turboranger and the wandering Boma following her. However, it was a trap and, by trying to use the love stone, Haruna cause both Turborangers and Wandering Boma to lose their powers, while Ragorn came back to life with a stronger body, as Neo-Ragorn. Ragorn took back the leadership among the Boma tribe, and Yamimaru and Kirika went back into their human form, as Hikaru Nagareboshi and Tsukikage Sayoko.
They were completely weakened, and Dragras left them to join Neo-Ragorn, and they only managed to stay alive thanks to a old man named Kashim, who saved them and protected them. Hikaru and Sayoko still tried to fight the Turborangers and the Boma, but without their Boma powers, they couldn't fight properly. However, they still wanted to fight, and when the Turborangers managed to get their powers back, they were even more obsessed to get their wandering Boma forms. However, Kashim didn't want them to fight, since he believed that wandering Boma should live peacefully. Kashim told to the Turboranger, Hikaru and Sayoko an old storyline about a Boma who had been wounded during the war between humans, fairies and Boma , and has been rescued by a beautiful human woman (looking like Sayoko/Kirika), and who, touched by her kindness, which he never really experoenced before, fall in love with her and ended up having a daughter.
It was soon revealed that that daughter was in fact, Sayoko/ Kirika herself (and here is one of Kirika's background inconsistency: she's supposed to be 18 but in fact was born thousands of years before; the more likely explanation is that Kirika and her guardians were sealed long ago, with time stopping, and only were released much later, when they ended up living disguised as humans), as seen by the fact that Kashim wanted above all to protect Sayoko. Sayoko and Hikaru eventually managed to get back their powers as Kirika and Yamimaru, much to Kashim's dismay.
Kashim eventually died from the wounds he got when fighting for his daughter, but, before his death, managed to reveal to the Turboranger that he's in fact Kimen Boma, the Boma of his story, and Kirika's father, and about how he loved Kirika's human mother, and his wished to protect Kirika and Yamimaru and have them stop fighting.
Touched by his kind heart and determined to follow Kimen Boma's last wishes, Riki revealed to Kirika that Kashim/ Kimen Boma was his father, and that she was born thanks to the love between her father Boma and her human mother. Yamimaru didn't care at all about that, and still wanted to fight, because his heart was still full of hate and desire for revenge. However Kirika/Sayoko, which only recently discovered her Wandering Boma roots, was deeply moved by this revelation, and started to question herself. She didn't have anymore hate in her heart, because she knew at last that her roots involved love between two seemingly bitter enemies, who still managed to overcome prejudice and love each other. She even prayed for her father. She still fought the Turborangers out of loyalty for Yamimaru, but she didn't have any more the heart for it, because her hate has disappeared. At that time, Ragorn was trying to destroy the big seal that was keeping most of the Boma to go back to Earth, with those attempts involving notably earthquakes. After one last fight, Riki had to save Kirika from a Spider Boma, and Kirika understood at last that Riki wasn't her enemy anymore, but her ally, who wanted to save her, since he promised her father to protect her and because he knew that Kirika's heart was more human than Boma (her humanity being symbolized by her red blood).
After that, Kirika wasn't able to fight the Turborangers anymore, and when Yamimaru tried to kill Riki during a fight, she couldn't do anything else but stop him. Despite deeply loving Yamimaru, she couldn't agree with his fight anymore, and they ended up parting from each other. Yamimaru was still obsessed about fighting both Turborangers and Neo Ragorn, still believing he could win by himself. He called Kirika a traitor and hit her when she tried to stop him. At that time, Neo-Ragorn was still trying to break the Big Seal and to do so, captured Yamimaru and Kirika to sacrifice them. However, the Turborangers managed to save them. However, Yamimaru was still full of hate and still wanted to defeat Riki, despite Kirika's opposition, and challenged him into a fight. Even if Riki ended up winninf the fight, he didn't kill Yamimaru out of loyalty for Kirika.
Eventually, the Turboranger started the final fight against Neo-Ragorn, to save the Earth from the Boma, and Yamimaru tried as well to defeat Neo-Ragorn. However, Neo-Ragorn easily managed to incapacitate him, and left him almost dead in the Boma fortress. Eventually, the Turborangers managed to defeat Ragorn, but Yamimaru was still trapped in the Boma fortress who was about to crash into Earth. However, Yamimaru, after being called by Kirika, the Turboranger, and even Seelon and one of his teachers in high school, managed to come into his senses, and was saved from the crashing fortress thanks to Kirika and his bond with her, shown as a red string (the same string that made her become Kirika at the first place), which manaed to get him out of the Boma palace, which was immediately destroyed by the heroes. At the end, Yamimaru and Kirika decided to live a peaceful life together, and Sayoko thanked the Turborangers for everything they did for them.
Kirika's storyline is one of the most touching stories about a sentai antagonist, because unlike most antagonists, she is initially shown as a young girl with a genuine good heart. However, her life was completely turned upside down by the revelation of her demonic nature, and during most of Turboranger, she had to struggle with her identity as a half demon. Moreover, her struggle was further complicated because she found a kindred soul in Yamimaru, who easily managed to make her join his fight, because she really identified with his fate as an outcast from both the human world and the Boma world, and his suffering because of both humans and Boma, because of her own background as an outcast, and her suffering from other humans. As such, she joined the fight to destroy both humans and Boma and have a world ruled by them, the Wandering Boma. However, after meeting her father, she realized how meaningless that fight was, because her own existence was evidence of the fact a Boma and a human were able to forget hate and be bound by love. That revelation was able to bring back the kindness in Sayoko/ Kirika's heart, which was even strengthened when she realized that the Turborangers also behaved with kindness towards her, both before becoming Kirika, and after meeting her father. Moreover, she wasn't alone anymore thanks to Yamimaru, and she really wanted to have a happy life with him, and that meaningless fighting couldn't bring them happiness. Moreover, Kirika brought much more depth to Yamimaru's character. Yamimaru was initially during the first part of Turboranger, the classic "lone wolf", both antagonistic to the heroes and the main villains. However, once Kirika came, Yamimaru was mostly defined by his relationship with her, and he soon realized that Kirika was the most important thing for him. Both him and Kirika discovered love after meeting with each other, and it was that love that eventually managed to overcome the deep hate and resentment that Yamimaru had in himseld during all those years.
Thanks to that amazing storyline, Turboranger had in his second half one of the most complex and touching storyline in sentai history.