Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shinkenger Series Review


Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (English translation Samurai Squadron Shinkenger) (2009-10) was the 33rd installment of Super Sentai, and the first Sentai since Jetman that didn't get adapted for Power Rangers. That is, until Saban bought back Power Rangers from Disney and decided to adapt Shinkenger for next year's Power Rangers. Shinkenger was a more serious oriented Sentai, though it still had a fair amount of comedy, especially the V-cinema movie.This series had a samurai motif which many fans had been waiting for and was a season of many firsts. As well as being the first samurai themed Sentai, it was the first Sentai to have a team up with its sister program Kamen Rider (Kamen Rider Decade) and to feature a female red ranger, although she was only present for the last six episodes. It is also arguably the most culturally "Japanese" of all the Sentai, which led to ridiculous speculation that Shinkenger was "too Japanese" to be adapted for Power Rangers. Shinkenger is one of the most popular Sentais, and helped bring a lot of new fans to the Sentai franchise. Fans love the samurai motif, as well as the cast, a very serious red ranger, deep character development, strong villains, and overall strong plot. However, like any show, Shinkenger isn't without critics. Critics of the show complain that the plot focuses too much on Takeru, has a hiccup in the middle of the season, and has mecha overload. Others criticize Kaoru, the female red, for being a spoiled brat, although this criticism mostly comes from Takeru fanboys.

The Good
Among 2000's Sentais, Shinkenger has one of the best casts along with Dekaranger and Boukenger. Character development is strong in this season, not only among the rangers but some of the villains (like Dayuu and Juuzo) are well developed. Even some of the side characters, like Jii, are well developed. The only character that was really under developed was Kaoru. Some of the villains, like Dokouku and Juuzo, are among the most fearsome and evil villains in Sentai. Shinkenger has a very strong plot. While some criticize the plot for being too much Takeru centric and stumbling a bit in the mid season, I disagree. Takeru gets the majority of the focus but the other characters got proper focus as well. As for the mid season stumble, I think it's during this stretch when characters such as Genta and Mako get strong development, and among all the mecha's, the Ushi Origami had the strongest story, which also came during mid season. The theme song is also awesome, which was by Psychic Lover, who I consider to be the Ron Wasserman of Sentai. The two team-ups so far, with KR Decade and Go-Onger are both good team-ups and the second movie, the V-Cinema movie was also pretty good.

The Bad
The season does have a mecha overload problem, with Samuraihaoh looking rather awkward. Also, I didn't like the MOTW's excuse for retreating every battle, running out of water. The monsters basically lack stamina and it happens everytime they're in battle. The outro was rather bland as well.

The Ugly
The first movie, is one of the worst Sentai movies ever. In fact, it's so short that even most Shinkenger episodes are twice as long.

My Rating
9/10 (Grade A-)- Despite some of its flaws, I think Shinkenger is a great season with some really strong character development.

My Favorite Episodes
Episode 6- This episode gives development to both Chiaki and Kotoha, while establishing a bit of an attraction between them.
Episodes 11-12- Establishes the rivalry between Takeru and Juuzo while also establishing that there is something troubling Takeru.
Episodes 17-18- Genta's first appearance, and it's a good one. Gives further development to Takeru since Genta is his childhood best friend.
Episodes 25-26- This two episode long arc establishes many key plot points in the series. It gives strong character development to both Mako and Ryuunosuke, as well as one of the main villains, Dayuu. It also includes an awesome sword fight between Takeru and Juuzo, which ends with Takeru letting Juuzo strike his body so he could strike Juuzo's body.
Episode 27- A funny yet serious episode. Involves a funny moment in which Chiaki draws on Takeru's face while his body is frozen solid. Also gives a few more hints of Kotoha and Chiaki. Sadly, after this episode their relationship went nowhere.
Episodes 32-33- A lot of people don't like the Ushi Origami arc, but I think it has the best story out of all the other mechas during Shinkenger.
Episode 34- Presents some family values concerning Mako, and I felt gave her strong development.
Episode 36- In this episode, we learn that Genta makes really good Curry, but his dream is to open a Sushi shop, not a Curry shop.
Episode 41- Another strong character development episode for Kotoha. This episode involves flashbacks about her sick sister, and also shows Kotoha maturing by the episode's end.
Episodes 44-47- This arc begins by introducing the first female red ranger in Sentai history. It ends with a strong bonding moment between Takeru and the other Shinkengers, while leading into the final battle. It also includes an awesome sword fight between Takeru and Juuzo.


  1. The weird thing is, I've never heard anyone criticize Shinkenger for focusing on Takeru, other than my fellow bloggers. xD

    Yeah, Shinkenger had a mecha problem. I think Daigoyou was probably the worst example. You know, the mecha that can shoot disks out of his crotch? xD (Yeah, I'm inappropriate =P ). Though not just the mecha, but I think the arsenal itself also went a little crazy. Like the many new disks that they got. The many uses of Super Shinkenger. The bazooka. And Kyouryuu. A lot of this all appeared in the middle.

    Another problem with the middle was that the story came to a complete halt. Indeed, the other characters got more development, but everything else wasn't as much fun. Like Juuzo and Dayu didn't do as much as they could've during this time. And how Akumaro never did much either. It didn't even give hints to what the heck he was doing until he just got tossed aside in the end. Other than the character development, the plots just weren't as fun to watch in the middle.

    Overall, I'd say beginning and end were good. The middle is just messy.

    Good review Mr. Smith. And I'm still working on those Sentai ratings. ;)

  2. The Comment above mine speaks of their arsenal going a little crazy . . . but you'd never know it from how it was used. Nine times out of ten what were the Shinkenger fighting with? Their swords, and just their swords. Even their individual weapons got little screen time. Yeah, their Ultimate Mecha was extremely awkward Waaaaay more so than Ultimate Daibouken or the G-12.

    Despite the Mecha and Arsenal Overload, I kinda feel like Shinkenger valued simplicity. Note that it was their most basic gattai that took at the Big bad, and not the Ultimate.

    Plus after years of wire-fu and increasingly messy explosions, this series reminded me how entertaining and suspenseful a simple sword fight can be. The Mexican Standoff between Takeru, Juuzo, and the MOTW early in the season stands out in my mind.

  3. IMO, the concept of this sentai is really original yet creative, elegant yet fun, funny but not cheesy, the drama are really good, you can felt the cast bonding and how each other connected well
    The suit and costumes are really elegant, simple, but cool at the same time, the fighting coreograph is effective and efficient, not too much but enough good (considering this is samurai, not brawl like gaoranger or martial arts like dairanger or gekiranger) the characters can easily fill the gap of each other weakness, you'll easily fall in love with mako affection, kotoha naivette, laughing at chiaki and genta goofyness, admire ryuunosuke will and conviction, all of that easily fill takeru (red ranger) the main protagonist bland, which is great because you'll see how he grews to be a great leader episode by episode...
    in my opinion this sentai is the benchmark of what a good sentai supposed to be and the pioneer of what I called "new sentai style" along with gokaiger...
    i agree the only weakness is the mecha, it's too clunky and stiff sometimes, but what I like is they can combined the practical effect and the cgi effect in their mecha with a good balance...
    overall this is solid 9 and 2nd best sentai after gokaiger, with the perfect balance of the drama, action, comedy, and stories to watch for those who still new in sentai series or those who want to rewatch it again...