Warning. Major Spoilers Ahead.
This time instead of making brief reviews, I decided to give my reviews a new look with a longer analysis. I may do the same with some of my older reviews, depending on how much time I have.
Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, (百獣戦隊ガオレンジャー, Hyakujū Sentai Gaorenjā), translated into English as 100-Beast Squadron Gaoranger, was the 25th anniversary installment of Super Sentai. The series uses a beast-themed motif and its power rangers counterpart is Power Rangers Wild Force.
One thousand years ago, a war raged between humans and the demonic Org race. With the help of the Power Animals, the ancient Gao Warriors were able to defeat the Org's leader, Hyakkimaru, and seal the Orgs.
Today, the Orgs have begun to revive, and five warriors have been chosen by the Power Animals. They must abandon their current lives and give up their names to become the new generation of Gaorangers to protect the life of earth. The current five warriors are called by their color.
Similar to Goseiger or Magiranger, Gaoranger has several different "Big Bad" villains, each of which come in after the previous one had been defeated. Thus, Gaoranger's plot can be divided up into multiple story arcs depending on who's the main villain at the time. All of which are from the same villain group (the Orgs), and two Duke Orgs, TsueTsue and Yabaiba, are present throughout the series.
The first arc begins under Highness Duke Org Shuten, and lasts 14 episodes. Shuten as a villain doesn't really do much but is pretty cool and badass thanks to the voice acting of Tetsu Inada (Doggie Krugar of Dekaranger). Shuten lasts for 14 episodes before being defeated. However, it's during these first 14 episodes that some of the series' best character development episodes occur. I particularly liked the episodes during this arc that focused on Kakeru, Gaku, and Sae. Later on Soutarou has a good focus episode involving a girl he liked at a flower shop. I should also mention that the characters are referred to their colors and rarely are called by name. This is understandable due to their mission to defeat the orgs but on the other hand it makes it difficult trying to remember their actual names.
The Shuten arc is followed with the Ura arc. The Ura arc is where there's the most action and the best plots during the series. My favorite happens to be the Rouki sub-arc. Rouki is an ancient demon who's revived by Ura and wants revenge for his defeat to the Gaorangers over 1,000 years ago. However, Rouki isn't an ordinary demon. He's able to wield his own power animals, much to the Gaorangers' surpise. Rouki also shows several complex emotions, including tending to an injured Sae and being conflicted with vague memories. Eventually Rouki is revealed to be Shirogane (born Tsukumaro Oogami), an ancient warrior who used Rouki's mask to try to use the three power animals. However, after becoming Rouki himself, he has the Gaorangers of that time period seal him away. Eventually Tsukumaro's memories are recovered, and he becomes GaoSilver. I felt that this arc was the best in the series. Furthermore, Rouki was by far the best villain in the series, being both badass and having a complex variety of emotions.
Among the Highness Duke Orgs, I think Ura was the best. He's the only one that actually had any kind of plan to defeat the Gaorangers, and took action. This included reviving Rouki and then later using Tsukumaro and Rouki's wolf mask to revive Rouki again. The Ura arc ends with a two-parter involving episodes 30 and 31. Ura kills Kai, Sae, Soutarou, and Gaku. However, they're revived by a mysterious kid and are able to help Kakeru and Tsukumaro defeat Ura. However, this is where the lack of realism creeps in. Ura was easily able to kill Kai, Sae, Soutarou, and Gaku, but spent nearly all of episode 31 fighting Kakeru and Tsukumaro but neither of them never looked like they were in danger. Ura for the rest of the episode isn't nearly as menacing and at times seems like he's uninterested in finishing the job.
Up to this point, I felt that Gaoranger was pretty solid. It was overall pretty well written, with some solid character development early on followed by a good storyline with Rouki. However, after this point, Gaoranger just kinda loses it's intensity.
Taking over for Ura is Rasetsu, whom I have to say is one of the lamest villains ever. All he/she wants to do is eat and nearly all of his plans circle around him trying to kidnap Tetomu to try to make her, his personal cook. Also, at this time I felt it would have been appropriate to give some more character development to the Gaoranger characters. Instead they spend most of the arc running around with this bratty kid named Futaro (whom happens to be Gao God in disguise). To Futaro's credit, he's the one that actually did revive the Gaorangers after initially being killed by Ura. However, this arc really loses the drama and the action that were present during the first 31 episodes.
It doesn't really get better again until Rasetsu uses TsueTsue as a body shield, leading to her death. However, TsueTsue is revived by Yabaiba a few episodes after Rasetsu is defeated. However, Yabaiba also accidentally revives the three Highness Duke Orgs as well. After all three are defeated, Ultimate Org Senki is created with the Org Heart and the remnants of the Highness Duke Orgs. Eventually Senki is defeated, while TsueTsue and Yabaiba apparently survive. Overall, I felt this was an ok ending to the series.
Overall I feel the first half of Gaoranger is pretty good while the second half is mixed. The first half brought some good character development and story arcs, but I feel that the show after the midpoint begins to become too arc driven and loses sight of character development later on.
For me, the Gaoranger cast has three characters that I like (Sae, Gaku, and Kakeru) and three that I felt were ok. Sae was pretty cool. She's a tough fighter. Although not as badass as Sakura for example, I thought she's one of the better fighters among 21st century female Sentai senshi. I liked her level headed personality as well, and her focus episode involving her father was one of the best in the show. It was kinda disappointing that they didn't do more later on in regards to her relationship with her father.
Gaku I felt was pretty similar to Domon/TimeYellow in many ways. Like Domon, Gaku is a tough, badass fighter yet has somewhat of a quirky personality. The major difference between the two is that Gaku isn't as hot blooded as Domon, but Gaku was still awesome.
Kakeru I felt was pretty interesting being a veterinarian. Which kinda makes sense because of the beast theme of the series and the fact that their mechas are actual living beings. I really enjoyed the episode where he lost his memory and went back to being a veterinarian, before gathering the guts to fight with the other Gaorangers despite not having his memory. In that episode we got to see two sides. One, that the Gaorangers really needed him, and also that the other Gaorangers saw what he meant to his own community.
Tsukumaro for me is a tough egg to crack. He gets the most character development among the Gaorangers, but at times I feel he gets a little too much focus. I like his backstory as Rouki, but after he becomes human again (and GaoSilver) he doesn't really do much and doesn't have a lot of personality.
Soutarou I felt had one of the better focus episodes with Shi-Chan. Although their relationship does go somewhere (unlike a lot of Sentai relationships), it was a little disappointing that they didn't do anything with their relationship between Shi-Chan's first and second/last appearances. Other than his relationship with Shi-Chan, there's not a lot that comes to mind about Soutarou.
Kai I felt was kinda on the bland side. He lacked character development and the writers didn't do a whole lot with his character, other than his friendship with Soutarou. He's not the worst Sentai character ever, but it felt like the writers kinda ignored him.
Tetomu is another hard egg for me to crack. Unlike her power rangers counterpart, Shayla, Tetomu does show the ability to fight back both at the beginning and end of the series. She's a more tolerable character than Shayla, and her singing is much better as well. However, like Shayla, she often falls into the same damsel in distress cliche. She also tends to be very forgetful, though I guess it's understandable when you're over 1,000 years old.
For me the mechas are mixed. There are over 20 individual mechas in this season but for me that's not the problem. Unlike more recent seasons, the mechas don't have a bunch of cluster mecha formations of nine to a gazillion components. Instead, usually if one set of mechas are damaged (or injured) they use others as back-ups or replacements, which is pretty smart. I also liked that the mechas had animal spirits and living souls. For me the issue with the mechas is the terrible CGI. Gaoranger was the first Sentai to use CGI mecha's extensively. The problem was that it looked CGI, and really fake. It's not as bad as the CGI in MMPR the Movie, but for me it still wasn't very good.
The music was also mixed. I really love the ending theme song, Healing You. It's one of the better ending themes among 21st Century Sentai's. I also liked the song sung by Tetomu to Gao Deer. However, I really hate the main theme song. It has a poor mix of a jazz-like background music, and the singer singing in a heavy metal tone. Furthermore, I felt that the singer couldn't sing at all.
7/10- Overall, Gaoranger is an ok series. It had some good moments here and there, and a couple not so good moments.