Friday, April 17, 2015

Ryu/Rie aka Maria ; Asuka/Mahoro aka Jeanne : two romances with similar concepts written in a very different way

Jetman and Abaranger share a similar concept : the main villainess is none other than the brainwashed girlfriend (or wife) of one of the main heroes. Indeed, Jetman's  Ryu Tendoh/Red Hawk had a girlfriend, Rie Aoi who ended up becoming a Vyram general, Maria, and Asuka/Abareblack's wife Mahoro became Evolian's messenger of destruction Jeanne.

However, while Abaranger obviously took that concept from Jetman, it's worth mentioning that both storylines were written in a very different way within their respective series, well beyond merely their ending (Ryu and Rie's romance ended up in tragedy, while Asuka and Mahoro's had a happy ending (the last photo shows Asuka and Mahoro together at the end of the show, full of hope for their future).

This blog post is gonna review both romances, and the way they were written in their respective sentai series

1) How it started

Ryu and Rie met when they were already adults (Ryu tells Kaori about his first meeting with Rie). Their romance was a happy one, in a peaceful environment, involving going out , playing games, and Ryu enjoying his girlfriend's amazing piano playing (she played flawlessly Beethoven's Appassionata piano sonata). They were also working together as fellow soldiers, but before Vyram's invasion, they didn't suffer the hardships of war. Ryu and Rie had the classic life of a boyfriend and girlfriend in happy times.

Asuka and Mahoro had a different story. They knew each other since they were children. However, unlike Ryu and Rie, they suffered since they were very young from the harships of war and the Evolian's invasion, forced to hide and fight as rebels. It was a very hard life, and often Mahoro, her brother Mizuho and Asuka felt despair. Like Rie, Asuka was skilled in playing music. Asuka was a very good harmonica player, and when his friends were sad, he played the harmonica to cheer them up. Mahoro and Asuka ended up falling in love with each other, and their romance was also a way to fight against their terrible situation, find comfort and hope. Asuka and Mahoro eventually married, the day before they planned an attack against the Evolian, hoping victory and a better future.

2) How lovers ended up separated, and how the ladies became villainesses

One day, after a successful operation against an out of control robot, Ryu and Rie have been called by their commander, Aya Odagiri, because she wanted to involve them in a special project, the J-project, involving using special waves, Birdonic waves, to give selected humans superpowers, and allowing them to become very powerful soldiers, the Jetman. Both Ryu and Rie agreed, especially since it allowed them to work together. Indeed, Ryu had the time to be exposed to the waves, and to become a Jetman, Red Hawk. However, before Rie had the time to follow her lover's steps, the Vyram attacked the Earth Guardian's mothership, and while evacuating, Rie ended up sucked in a outside the ship, despite Ryu's efforts to save her. Ryu and Aya survived, but they believed Rie had died. However, Rie was still alive, but she had become a Vyram, Maria, after being brainwashed by the cruel Vyram general, Radiguet.

In Asuka and Mahoro's case, Mahoro and her brother had gone willingly in a mission to attack the Evolian. However, during that mission, they ended up being captured by the Evolian, and Dezumozorya, the Evolian god, decided to use Mahoro as a vessel to introduce his essence, convincing her that Asuka had given up on her, and went to another woman, to bring her into despair and break her resistance. He eventually succeeded,  basically raped her, and eventually, a kid holding Dezumozorya's essence was born, the Messenger of Dawn Lije. After the kid's birth, Mahoro completely threw away her former identity.
Mizuho and Mahoro felt intense hate against Asuka, who they felt had betrayed them, and both agreed to get revenge against him. Dezumozorya send some of his powers to Mahoro and she became the cruel messenger of destruction, Jeanne.
Actually, Asuka hadn't given up on them, even deciding to use a forbidden armor to save them. Unfortunately, the armor turned him into a mindless killing machine, even making him kill his fellow Ryujin. Asuka eventually was defeated and freed from the armor, but at that time, like Ryu, he believed his wife was dead.

3) Maria and Jeanne : their role within the villain group. 

While Maria and Jeanne were both fearsome and cruel generals in their groups, the way, and the motivations they attacked the heroes, humans and the world were pretty different.

Maria, despite being human herself, viewed herself as a true Vyram, and she shared the snobbish ways of her fellow Vyram. Like them, she attacked humans because she  despises them as inferior creatures, and loved tormenting sadistically with them as a little child  torments little animals (as suchn the Vyram aren't unlike Liveman's Volt, with the Volt members feeming superior to other humans because of their superior brain). Making humans suffer and even killing them was a game for her, exactly like her fellow Vyram, notably Tran. In the first half of the show, the Vyram are acting like snobbish people who feel superior and discuss how they despise humans and get ideas for their sadistic plans from human behaviour. That behaviour is pretty much what the Vyram have in common with each other, and Maria is like her peers.
Maria's plans are often using themes linked to appearance and female weaknesses. It's telling that she used a mirror, a diamond, a camera,  a monster recording female voices (satirizing the way women are talkative) as basis to make dimensional beasts. She often fights alongside her monsters, and is a dangerous fighter.
But other than tormenting humans in general, Maria, like her fellow Vyram, also wanted to defeat the Jetman, since the one who defeats them is gonna be the leader of the Vyram. She hates the Jetman and desires to defeat them as much as her fellowVyram. In her determination to defeat them, she even created a new kind of Dimension Beasts, the Bio Dimensional beasts, using animal DNA, and sometimes even puts herself in danger to defeat them, as seen during the shadow Jetman plot, and at the end, when she turned herself into a vampire like creature to get stronger.
However, while a dangerous enemy, and despite her deep desire to become the leader of the Vyram, she isn't seen by her peers as a dangerous rival. Most of the major plots involving rivalries among Vyram or between fellow evildoers are between Radiguet and another villain, such as Empress Juuza, the Majin demons and, eventually, Tranza, a grown up Tran. Radiguet never saw Maria as a dangerous rival, and always felt she was his property. And indeed, in a lot of cases, Maria behaved pretty recklessly, and would have been defeated if she wasn't protected by her fellow Vyram Grey, a robot who is in love with her. In fact, in most of the plots involving rivalries between villains, she's an helper, like when she helped Radiguet get the BEM meteorite, or when she was involved in Tranza's Veronica plot.

Jeanne was a very different enemy. While Maria was driven by snobbery, sadism, and ambition, Jeanne was driven by vengeance and lust for destruction. However, Jeanne was a very pragmatic villainess. Her plans either involved getting a new weapon, such as power to handle the dark armor or finding new Bakuryuu she could manipulate, or using those weapons to make mass destruction. While she wasn't above tormenting humans, she mostly did it as a means to an end, rather than doing it for pure sadistic reasons.
Unlike Maria, who's acting like her fellow Vyram, Jeanne was pretty much an outcast among the Evolian. She had no affinity for her fellow Messengers, Mikela and Voffa, and often stays by herself, training, or involved in her own plans. Her indifference for the other Evolian generals can be seen when she didn't help Mikela and Voffa fight the Abaranger during the "schoolgirl monster " plan, or how she didn't care about getting Lije back in Dino Earth in the Rakopima plot. She never really worked with Trinoids. She mostly used the dark armor and her sword as weapons, and sometimes, used Giganoids and even when she could, Bakuryuu as weapons of mass destruction. 
However, unlike Maria, Jeanne is a key enemy in Abaranger's major plots, as the only Evolian general who's regularly leaving headquarters during the first half of the show, and she's the one who faced the most the Abarangers (especially Abareblack) notably during the key plots of the quest for the lost Bakuryuu or her quest to gain back the power of the dark armor. However, while she's very active before Abarekiller's appearance, her involvement decreases when Abarekiller became the major opponent of the Abarangers, until her final showdown as Jeanne during the Anomalogaris/Barugigenia plot.

4) Maria and Jeanne's relationship with the heroes

Maria wished to defeat the Jetman to become the leader of the Vyram. As such, she wanted to defeat all of them and attacked them without discriminating. It's especially obvious during the first half of the show, when the Jetman don't know she's Ryu's brainwashed fiancee. Her hate wasn't against one hero, but against the Jetman as a group.  She often targeted Ryu, Gai and Kaori, but she also attacked Ako and Raita when given the opportunity.  She attacked them either by herself, or with the help of a Dimension Beast, or with her fellow Vyram, notably Grey and Tran. She was very sadistic when attacking them, enjoying their pain especially when her enemies were in a weak position.

Jeanne's hate was mostly targeting Asuka/Abareblack, and she was always ready to attack him and torment him. In fact, her desire to destroy the world was a lot her way to get revenge against Asuka. Asuka also hated Jeanne because he believed Jeanne was a creature who had killed her lover Mahoro and took her body. However, she very seldom attacked the other Abarangers, usually avoiding direct confrontations when she feels she's not in a stronger position. While she saw the other Abarangers as enemies to defeat, she didn't really hate them, and never specifically targeted them. In fact, her only other strong rivalry with an Abaranger was with ... Abarekiller, who was an enemy of the other Abarangers. She opposed him because she wanted to get back the powerful weapons he had taken.

5) Maria and Jeanne faced with their former identities

By the time Maria and Jeanne started attacking the heroes, they had forgotten about who they were originally.
In Maria's case, she saw herself as a pure Vyram, not as an human.  Indeed, when in episode 13, Maria was starting playing the piano, she didn't remember why she was skilled at it. And when Ryu discovered her true identity, she responded with pure denial, seeing Ryu's words as foolish words, deepy offended by his love and kindness, even hating him  even more for seeing her as a human. Several times, she viciously attacked Ryu, refusing to listen to his pleas to have her turn back into Rie. She even pretended once to be Rie to have Ryu lower his guard, and attacked him. It's only when her mind was completely breaking apart because of Radiguet's insane plan to turn her into a dimensional Beast, that Ryu's kindness managed to go through her and make her turn back into Rie.

In Jeanne's case, Jeanne had rejected her past as Mahoro, but she still remembered how she felt betrayed by Asuka, and she was driven by her hate against him. Because her main motivation for doing evil was linked to her past, Jeanne was more easily reminded of her past than Maria, and when a mysterious girl (looking like Lije) appeared and reminded Jeanne of her past and her love for Asuka, she ended up so tormented that she wasn't able to fight afterwards. While at first she responded with denial, that denial was much more forced than Maria's.

6)  What happened after the heroes realize their enemy's true identity

In both shows, the heroes are convinced that Maria and Jeanne aren't really former humans, or even their comrades's former girlfriends until about the 30'.
Ryu realizes in episode 31 that Maria is really Rie when Maria briefly turned back into Rie, until Radiguet brainwashed her again, and Asuka realized Jeanne was really Mahoro in episode 32, when Asuka sees the bracelet she gave Mahoro worn by Jeanne.

When Ryu and Asuka discover the truth about their girlfriends's fates, they both tried to save them, instead of seeing them as enemies.

Ryu tried to undo Rie's brainwashing, but failed and even almost lost his mind, broken by the fact he was able to find back his love, only to lose her so quickly. Ryu eventually managed to overcome his pain, but whenever he faced Maria, he was seeing her as Rie and had a lot of trouble fighting her, while she was still seeing Ryu as her hated enemy, even hating him more than the other Jetman because of his feelings for her (previously, she equally hated all Jetman). Despite Rie being Maria and a dangerous enemy, Ryu loved her. When Maria ended up unconscious after another fight, and threatened by cold because of an heavy rain, Grey allowed Ryu to stay with her to bring her the warmness he couldn't give her because of his robotic nature. Ryu was very protective of her, because of his deep love, at last being able to show his love when she wasn't able to see him. Unfortunately, as soon as she was healed, she was the hateful enemy she was just before. Despite everything, Ryu loved her whatever she was, despite everything hse had done, and, after many tried, eventually managed to break through her brainwashing during the "Maria becoming a vampire like witch" arc, when her mind was already messed up by her transformation.

In Asuka's case, Jeanne had already her memories awakened by the mysterious girl when Asuka discovered the truth and Asuka managed to break through her and managed to have Jeanne become back her lover just after convincing her he never betrayed her. At the end, the only reason Mahoro was remaining evil was because of the influence of the evil armor, and Asuka did the ultimate sacrifice to save his wife : defeating her and take the power and curse of the armor.

7)  Rie and Mahoro's relationship with the heroes

While Rie was Ryu's true love, she had already disappeared to be turned into Maria when the other Jetman appeared. After episode 1, Rie only appeared in flashbacks, and in briefly in two episodes, episode 31 and episode 49, her final episode. In episode 31, she only met back Ryu, and in episode 49, after becoming back Rie, she only talked either to Ryu or to the other Vyram, Radiguet or Grey.
She never had any interactions with the other Jetman as Rie.

Unlike Rie, Mahoro had become good again after episode 32, and remained so during the remaining episodes. As a result, she had much more opportunities to interact with them as a good woman.
After having been freed of the armor, she was amnesiac when the heroes found her. Because she didn't remember her actions as the evil Jeanne, because the heroes realized she was none other than their comrade's wife, and because the Abarangers are incredibly kind people, they quickly offered her their friendship, a shelter and a job.
Mahoro quickly became very friendly with the Abarangers, and their friends Emiri, Ryunosuke and little Mai, working with them, having dinner with them, and even eventually, helping them as technical support in their fight against the Evolian, and the heroes did everything to help her feel at home with them and find back her memories. At the end, the heroes had much more memories of Mahoro as the good Mahoro, who had shared their daily lives, than memories of the evil Jeanne they pretty much seldom confronted directly.
She eventually gained back her full memories when Asuka at last reappeared before her eyes wearing the dark armor. Despite gaining back her memories, including her past as Jeanne, she didn't hate her husband any more, and loved him even more than ever. She desperately wanted her husband to escape the destructive power of the dark armor, and eventually, went back to the Evolian to become Jeanne again, to gain the weapons she needed to destroy the evil armor (her sword and Abarekiller's help) and free her husband.
Afterwards, she remained with the Evolian, but in truth used her Evolian identity as a spy to help the heroes defeat the enemy, but also because she wanted to save her daughter Lije, who had grown up into Lijewel, at last seeing her with a mother's eyes, despite the tragic circumstances linked to her birth. She saw the Abarangers, especially her husband Asuka, as her allies, and was able to send them major information which ended up being a major help to defeat the enemy. The final arc was as much about defeating the evil Evolian god as it was "mission : save Mahoro".
At the end, Mahoro had become pretty much a member of the "Abaranger family".

8) Rie and Mahoro facing their guilt

Of course, as good people, Rie and Mahoro ended up feeling intense guilt over their actions as Maria and Jeanne.
In episode 49, Rie had the time to remember her actions as Maria, and was insanely ashamed by them. She felt that there was no way back after commiting all those evil acts, and she was so ashamed that she didn't even joined back Ryu when Radiguet appeared, seeing herself as a Vyram general. Actually, she wasn't anymore a true Vyram, and decided to strike Radiguet, taking him off guard, to get revenge against him and his brainwashing.
However, despite that, she felt that things couldn't be what they were before, because she felt rotten by her evil actions, and she didn't feel she had the right to be loved by Ryu.
When Radiguet gave her the killing blow, she didn't even let Ryu approach her, because of her shame, and the only one who was there for her final moments was her Vyram friend Grey, whom, even as Rie, she felt great affection. Even if deep down, Rie wished to start over with Ryu in her final moments, she was too much overcome with guilt to even be able to be with him at that time. She felt irreversibly stained by her time as a Vyram, so stained that she felt she didn't have the right to join back the human world, and she spent her final moments as a Vyram, with a fellow Vyram, the only one who was genuinly kind with her, the robot, Grey, who was deeply saddened by her death.
 Of course, Ryu had a lot of trouble to accept Rie's tragic fate, and her death brought him much sorrow.
Eventually, thanks to Kaori/White Swan's love, he was able to overcome his grief, and he eventually married her.

Mahoro also felt intense gult for her actions as Jeanne, especially her involvement in her brother's death and her vicious attacks against Asuka. However, unlike Maria, she had much more to think about than her guilt. She needed to free her husband, help the heroes and she also had to do everything she could to save her daughter. Actually she only had time to feel guilt when she was trapped by Dezumozorya in the Evolian's headquarters, and that she felt that she was doomed anyway. However, Asuka hadn't given up on her, and, unlike Ryu, he also was full of guilt because of his actions under the evil armor's influence.
Besides, while Asuka and Mahoro were full of guilt, they weren't alone. Mahoro has had the time to bond with the other Abarangers, and all of them wanted to save her, especially her husband.
But more importantly, Asuka and Mahoro were parents, they had a baby (Lije, who was actually Asuka and Mahoro's child), and when they were about to be overcome with despair and guilt, even being ready to let themselves be killed by Dezumozorya, Ranru was able to bring back the desire to live in their heart by reminding them of their child. As a result, they were able to overcome their guilt and survive an attack from the evil Evolian's God thanks to the power of their Dino Guts.
Afterwards, both were saved, and the Abarangers (including Asuka) were able to defeat the evil god, and eventually, Asuka and Mahoro went back to Dino Earth to start their lives anew.

9) Importance of love stories in Jetman and Abaranger

Jetman's storyline involved plenty of love stories, with plenty of drama and rivalries.
Indeed, while Ryu and Rie's love story was a key plot, plenty of characters in the show were involved in love stories. The most important ones are of course the love triangle plot between Ryu/Red Hawk, Kaori/White Swan and Gai/Black Condor. Kaori quickly fell in love with Ryu, but Ryu didn't return her feelings, because Rie was the only one for him. He did everything to remind her of his true love, but even despite that, she still wanted to win his love.
Gai quickly had a crush on Kaori, but she didn't care about him, because she enjoyed much more Ryu's courage and kindness over Gai's rough and brutal behaviour. While Gai did really love Kaori, he had trouble making her love him back. Gai resented Ryu because he knew he was his rival for Kaori's heart, even if Ryu actually wished Gai to win Kaori's heart if he was sincere. However, Ryu often made things get even worse, because he had trouble understanding Gai's feelings. It's only after saving her from the Majin that Kaori was able to realize Gai's true love for her, and she decided at last to become his girlfriend. However, soon afterwards, their different backgrounds (she was from upper society, while he was more in lower social position) dommed their love story, and they ended up breaking up.
it's very striking that the love triangle between Ryu, Gai and Kaori took a lot of screentime, with even one episode (episode 22) which was only almost only about it.
Another important love story was the love Grey felt for Maria. Grey felt in love with Maria after listening to her piano playing, and afterwards pretty much became her bodyguard, saving her whenever she was in danger. Grey loved Maria so much that he was ready to let his hated enemy be with her to warm her up if it means saving her life, and when Radiguet decided to turn Maria into a monster, he was even ready to go to the Jetman to ask for help, ready to lose her if it meant her being safe. While Maria didn't understand Grey's love and was often surprised by Grey's help, she realized her kindness towards her and responded by small acts of kindness herself.
It's very telling that Rie spent her final moments with Grey.
Minor love stories include Raita (Yellow Owl)'s crush on Kaori, and love stories involving guest characters. Even if it can't be called love, Radiguet's lust on Maria must be mentioned, because it's the major reason he brainwashed her, and why, when he realized he couldn't get her, he killed her to have noone get her, especially Red Hawk.

Love stories are less prominent in Abaranger, but some of them are worth mentioning. Other than Asuka/Mahoro's story, the most important "love story" is of course Lije/Lijewel's crush on Mikoto/Abarekiller. her crush on Mikoto is the major reason she decided to bring Abarekiller among the Evolian, allowing him to become the Evolian's leader, and then te reason she made herself grew up as Lijewel, and even, eventually, made her reveal to Mikoto how he had been deceived by Mikela and Voffa, even if it meant he wouldn't come back to her and the Evolian.
Other than that, Yatsudenwani's crush on Ranru is worth mentioning, even if of course, it's not really "love", and Emiri's relationship with Yukito, even if they only ended up married years later, as mentioned in Gokaiger.

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