Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ninninger : thoughts after 22 episodes

After Toqger, the show where the two more sympathetic characters were in the villain's side, with a storyline going pretty nowhere during most of the show, an anti-climactic ending, and train mechas which, all together, don't hold a candle to the GoLiner alone, we have now "Ninninger", or "The sentai show where idiots and nonsense are kings" (MOEETEE KIITAAA")

After 21 episodes, one can easy realize how the show is REALLY not very high quality.

Ninjas are popular, and having a family team fighting a clan of Yokai is a simple concept, but not without potential.
However, unfortunately, Kento Shimoyama isn't really able to use the concept very wisely, and it's not like producer Takebe was really able to give it life either.
Let's start with the heroes, the Igasaki clan:
-Takaharu/AkaNinger : probably one of the biggest idiots among Red Rangers ever seen in the franchise : he's reckless, he hates thinking over stuff, even if it makes him do mistakes : and his "Moeetee Kitta"" (I'm fired up), especially the way he screams is pretty much a pain to hear. Even worse, as the Red Ranger, he gets plenty of focus, at the expense of other characters which might be a little less annoying. Another annoying point is his tendency to childishly steal the spotlight from his partners, and even in episodes where he's supposed to learn about teamwork, he still ends up stealing the spotlight, never allowing others to shine without at least some resistance. He's supposed to be the main hero, but it's hard to really root for such an imbecile.
-Yakumo/AoNinger : he's supposed to be Takaharu's foil, and the smarter among the boys, but unfortunately, a lot of his antics makes him look as idiotic as his Red suited cousin, such as his mommy boy's tendencies, his "easy" catchphrase, which sounds at least as silly as Taka's "MOETTE KITTA", and let's not even talk about that dreadful lawnmower episode. Moreover, his "magical talents from England" feel completely random.
-Nagi/Kininger : Nagi who? who's that guy? After 21 episodes, except him being the younger boy, he only seems to be just there.
-Fuuka/Shironinger : As Takaharu's little sister, she's more acting as his foil, often annoyed at her big brother's immaturity. She's had a few alright episodes, showing that she's tougher and more enthusiastic about being a ninja than she thinks she is, but other than that, there's not much to say about her.
-Kasumi/Momoninger : Without a doubt the smartest character of the show (and that not difficult, given who's the competition), she has often shown that she's the most reasonable character, stopping Takaharu in his first fight against Gabiraizo, when he was very likely to be beaten, not being fooled by the monster with nice balloons, using her talents in mechanics and science to make useful devices for the team, and outwitting a Yokai who was manipulating Kinji. She's also very good in manipulating and deceiving enemies ans allies alike. But frankly, the thing is she mostly looks smart compared to the omnipresent idiocy surrounding her.However, she's the best female sentai ranger since Gokaiger, and by far.
-Kinji/Starninger : okay, one should tell Toei that a cowboy outfit and a toy sheriff star doesn't make you American: in Kakuranger, Kane Kosugi looked fully Japanese, but at least, he was more convincing as an American raised ninja. Kinji pretty much is the main competition with Takaharu over "who's going to be the stupidest and the most over the top", with him being a fanboy of the other heroes's grandfather, the original Last Ninja.  Among other stuff shown to highlight how idiot he is are the way he does selfies of defeated Yokai, the way he doesn't even really realize it's wrong to try to kill his idol's grandchildren (not that they really care), and how he's easily fooled by Yokai who aren't even that bright. While he has a tragic background, having lost his father and older brother to Yokai, that element is more overshadowed by how stupidly over the top he is.

Allies :
- Takaharu and Fuuka's father, Tsumuji : a well meaning man who tries to teach his children and nephews and niece ninjitsu, despite not being skilled in it. His feelings of powerlessness are touching, and he really tries his best (even once, managing to use a ninjitsu technique flawlessly to save his pupils, but unfortunately, it was only a one time success), but the problem is that he often end up being useless.
- The heroes's grandfather Yoshitaka : the Legendary Last Ninja, who defeated Kibaoni Gengetsu and his goons, and was able to do plenty of awesome stuff : the problem is that he's mostly behaving as a jerk, (seriously, what was that concept of baiting Kinji to try to kill his grandchildren by an empty promise of being his ninja teacher), with his know-it-all attitude, and his way of dismissing pretty much everyone who isn't him (notably his own son). One can wonder why he's so admired by his grandchildren, especially Takaharu, but given how stupid are the heroes (except perhaps Kasumi).  His biggest failure is however, how he saw his pupil Kyuemon become evil, and it being the reason why he doesn't want to teach ninjitsu anymore. That said, he's so annoying that it's not hard to understand Kyuemon's betrayal.

-Villains : the Kibaoni clan 
A clan of yokai warriors led by Kibaoni Gengetsu.
Members : Kibaoni Gengetsu himself, who's still sealed, only being able to use Sealing Shurikens to create Yokai from everyday objects.
Among his lieutenants
- Gabi Raizo : the hot blooded warrior, who doesn't really care about gathering fear for his master, and would rather like fighting the heroes, especially "that Red one" : he's as hot blooded as Takaharu, and pretty much as stupid. After a few episodes, his potential seems pretty much exhausted, and he ended up quickly disposed of by Takaharu and even Kyuemon didn't care for him, and made him grow giant even if he didn't want to.
- Masakage Tsugomori : despite his snake like designs, his old man design doesn't make him really threatening, and despite his pride as a stategist, he hasn't really managed to be that effective. Oh, and looking like a henpecked husband faced by Ariake no Kata is likely to make him more comedic than he should be
- Ariake no Kata : Kibaoni Gengetsu's wife (at least, according to her) : one word to describe her : ANNOYING, behaving like a royal brat. Her only saving grace is that she at least can fight.

The most interesting villain (or is he/she a villainess) is Izayoi Kyuemon, who's the one behind the resurrection of the Kibaoni clan. She (or he) was a former pupil of Yoshitaka, before betraying him and joining the Kibaoni clan. However, while she's on their side, she's not a true member of the clan, as Masakage pointed out, and she seems to have an agenda of her own, involving the Final Shuriken, who is supposed to have incredible powers, which could potentially destroy the world. (S)he's still a mystery, and her background storyline involving Yoshitaka is probably the least boring element of the series's storyline. It's also interesting how she tried to lure Kinji to her side, by suggesting him to be hi(her) pupil.

Suits and arsenal : the suits aren't bad looking : however the arnesal is pretty uneven : the sword is okay, notably as a henshin device, but the Toad guns look silly. the Lion upgrade for Takaharu looks cool though.
Mechas: pretty much a mix of every sentai theme used before, vehicles, robots, animals put completely randomly. it makes a strange mix, and the mecha combos, with a seated mini mecha at the center feel silly

Storyline : in order to become the Last ninja, and become their grandfather's suvvessor, five grandchildren use Ninjitsu to defeat their enemies, the Kibaoni clan. And that's pretty much it, the first episodes showing the heroes becoming ninjas, getting more and more toys to defeat the enemies, meeting the former ninja sentai Red, and Akaninger showing he's even more reckless and stupid than them, and then, an arc involving a "American" fanboy, who uses a guitar weapon, a bison like mecha, and a plot where he's supposed to defeat the five main heroes, but ends up only being used as a running gag at the beginning of a few episodes, with him being an ally during most of the episodes's air time, and  completely in an anti-climactic way with a stupid time zone gag.
The Yokai are pretty ridiculous in design and it's hard to see them as dangerous foes, when they often are written in a comedic way : when you see them, you never really feel the heroes are in real danger, and it's pretty obvious they will be able to defeat them. Oh, and the intro of Lion Ha Oh is not very interesting as well, given that even when he didn't want to help the heroes, the Lion mecha still was ready to defeat a giant Yokai.

To sum up, except Kasumi being a likable character, and the mystery behind Yoshitaka and Kyuemon's past, and the mystery about Kyuemon's true plans, Ninninger feels unfortunately like a pretty silly show which doesn't even hide his "toy commercial" aims with interesting stories and characters.

Frankly, Toei, do you even try ?

Your thoughts?