Sunday, May 30, 2010
My Thoughts on Kaoru Shiba, Sentai's First Female Red Ranger
One of the main reasons why Shinkenger has recieved a lot of praise from the Sentai fandom (especially from American Sentai fans) is the appearance of the first female red ranger in the franchise's history, Kaoru Shiba. Interestingly, she recieved a lot of negative comments from the Sentai fandom, in particular from Takeru fanboys who like the Shinkengers, felt that Takeru was the "true Shinkenred." On youtube I've noticed that she's unfairly criticized as a "spoiled brat," mostly by people who seemingly watched only episodes 44, 45, and 46. Basically the episodes that were before we really get to know her as a person.
Kaoru (called princess by the other Shinkengers) was the official 18th head of the Shiba clan, and was in hiding while trying to perfect the sealing character. Takeru served as a decoy to prevent the Gedoushu from finding Kaoru. This was such a gaurded secret that none of the other Shinkenger knew anything until Kaoru comes out of hiding in episode 44. Initially she wasn't well recieved by other Shinkengers, who were loyal to Takeru, and were reluctant fight with the princess. The Shinkengers (except Genta, who's a childhood friend of Takeru), choose to fight with the princess after pleading from Takeru and recognizing that she's kind and easy to work with. Kaoru, however, notices their close bond to Takeru, and maturely keeps her distance from the rest of the team to try to prevent tension. This becomes somewhat difficult due to her very rude and outspoken retainer Tanba. After overhearing a conversation between the princess and Tanba, in which the princess stands up for the Shinkenger's bond with Takeru, Genta decides to rejoin the team. Kaoru is injured during battle while when attempting to defeat Dokoku with the sealing character. Afterwards, she adopts Takeru as her son, making him the 19th head of the Shiba clan. This makes for an interesting plot twist as it is hinted that Kaoru is actually younger than Takeru (Hikoma had raised Takeru for 17 years, who was a boy when he was recruited, while Kaoru's mother was still pregnant at the time). The actress that plays Kaoru, infact, is still only 14 years old although she looks a good 5-10 years older.
As explained above, I feel that Kaoru recieves unfair criticism for being a "spoiled brat" even though she handled the situation with the Shinkenger team in a mature way. Its a shame that there's only 6 or so episodes in which she appears in. She's not given enough time to have her character properly developed. It would have been better if she was introduced earlier in the series. From what I've seen in the movie trailers and pictures, she's not in the upcoming Shinkenger sequel movie. I hope to see her in the Goseiger-Shinkenger team up special, and that more attention is focused on her. It is plausible to have two Shinkenred's fighting alongside each other at the same time, as even after revealing herself both Takeru and Kaoru could transform into Shinkenred. I also hope in the near future there's a complete season with a female red ranger.