Himitsu Sentai Goranger Episode 04

Episode 04: Kurenai no kikku! Kudake mikuro dai sakusen/ Crimson kick! Shatter the great micro plan
Original air date: Saturday 26 April 1975

Note on episode title

This is an interesting title. Rangerwiki states that it is “A Crimson Kick! Smash the Great Microbe Plan”, however the word in the second part of the title is simply “micro”, not “microbe”. I think the meaning is clear, as it is about a great plan involving something very small (micro).

Crimson? Not pink?

I’m curious about why the title went with the colour crimson rather than pink, given it was centred on Momoranger. Up to now, every episode title colour has focused on the colour of the focus character, but Akaranger barely appeared.

Meet the Team

I really liked how the episode began with Jade Mask / Hisui Kamen identifying the Goranger team members to his minions. It gave some information that had not yet been revealed, such as the fact that Midoranger is only 17 years old. It also helped to explain how they match up as a team – each has a clear role to play. Pretty convenient that they were the sole survivors from their respective EAGLE branches… other than the other surviving EAGLE agents…? Hmmmm.

The entire episode focused around them having roles within the team, and relying on one another, even if it was far less blunt than in later Super Sentai series. Momoranger showed that, despite being “just a woman”, she is independent and capable – when she infiltrates the lab being used by the Black Cross Army, she kicks butt. She’s also clearly tough, moving from fighting using her powers to taking a guy out using a hairpin to gunning down Zolders with a captured machine gun.

It also really established the colour dynamics used by all later Super Sentai. We have a pink who can disguise herself easily, and can alternate between being girly to being a one-person army – I immediately thought of the episode of GoGo Sentai Boukenger where BoukenPink pulls out a machine gun, and then thought about how similar Momoranger and BoukenPink are in general…

We have a dumb, but compassionate and kind-hearted yellow. A kid-friendly green. A blue “second leader” who can operate entirely independently (nailing the hot air balloon from the Variblune) but also support his team (heading out to discreetly back up Kiranger and Midoranger when Gon felt they might need it). A red who trusts his team, telling the worried Momoranger to chill, knowing that Aoranger was likely on the way with a plan.

Really well done. I love the team. This may become my favourite series!

Smoking

Early in the episode, Momoranger sees who she thinks is Dr Muto – later revealed to be a disguised Jade Mask – smoking. Later on, Aoranger is smoking while he entertains Taro with music at Snack Gon. I have no great issue with seeing smoking, etc. in film, TV or literature as long as it isn’t product placement / promotion. I was actually a bit disappointed when Nick Fury and Wolverine both stopped smoking in Marvel comics. I’m not a smoker, I don’t support smoking, but it is a thing which happens and it doesn’t harm you to see it – it also reveals a lot about characters.

That said, I am so used to not seeing it that I was shocked to see it!

Momoranger’s Envelope

When snooping around the lab, after climbing over a small garden wall, Momoranger leaves the big brown envelope she was carrying on top of the wall. It looked very intentional to me, like maybe it was going to lead to something later – maybe that was how Kiranger and Midoranger were going to work out where she was – but it was never mentioned again. I wonder what the deal was, and what was in it… did 1970s female reporters just carry them around?

Riddle!, from Taro to Kiranger

What kind of fish is bigger than a whale but smaller than a killifish?
There is no fish which is bigger than a whale but smaller than a killifish.

I swear, Taro is just messing with Kiranger at this point. That said, after Taro confirmed Kiranger was correct, he had a pretty blank expression – and Midoranger then took him aside to teach him new riddles. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be a trick, and he actually just doesn’t get how riddles work…

Himitsu Sentai Goranger Episode 03

Episode 03: Dai gyakushuu! Kiiroi tsumujikaze / Big counterattack! Yellow whirlwind
Original air date: Saturday 19 April 1975

Archery and Arsenals

I really liked how when using his bow and arrow, Aoranger kept shouting “Archery!”. I just realised he is, in fact, saying Ao Cherry – a play on his colour (ao) and the -chery from archery. The weapon I really can’t understand yet is Akaranger’s ‘Red Bute’. It’s a whip. I don’t know of any language with a word similar to ‘bute’ which means ‘whip’, and when Googling it all I can find is reference to a whip called the Flame Bute from Final Fantasy. Hmmmm.

Commander Gon and the Mysterious Door

The mysterious door is finally opened, revealing that Master Don is the Gorangers’ commander, and that the three women are EAGLE agents 007, 008 and 009. This makes me wonder. In episode two, we saw Agent 002. In this episode, we saw Agent 003. Are episodes seven, eight and nine going to focus on these three?

I really liked that only Kiranger and Momoranger seemed surprised. Akaranger and Aoranger seemed like they already well and truly knew who and what was behind the door, and Midoranger seemed barely even there…

Riddles, from Taro to Kiranger

What is a papa’s (least) favourite fruit? Papaya! Of course!

Found out

Bronze Mask / Seidou Kamen seemed incredibly capable. His plan was clever and went off with all but the least of hitches. If his detonator had not been stolen, drawing the Gorangers’ in, he likely would have gotten away with his master plan. Even in the middle of being foiled, he clearly had things well in hand, until being overpowered.

His Zolders also seemed very capable. I like that each showed some personality throughout the episode. These are not generic cannon fodder as we later get in Super Sentai. It makes them far more menacing – they can actually think, plan and act for themselves.

What I’m stuck on is the revelation that the Gorangers are based at Snack Gon. Did Bronze Mask relay this information to the Black Cross Fuhrer? He seems the sort who would, which means the Gorangers won’t last long with that base. I get the feeling that for the sake of story it will turn out he never passed it on.

Himitsu Sentai Goranger Episode 02

Episode 02: Aoi chikyuu! Shi no sabakuka keikaku / Blue Earth! Desertification plan of death
Original air date: Saturday 12 April 1975

Notes on episode title:

Aoi – blue
Chikyuu – Earth
Shi – death
no – grammatical particle indicating the preceding is a possessive noun
Sabakuka – verb meaning ‘to turn into a desert’; oddly specific…
Keikaku – plan or project

Why am I noting this? Again, most sources call this episode ‘The Deadly Desertification Plan’, which is fine, I guess, but the more accurate translation I have provided adds some nuance. Since the plan belongs to Musha Kamen / Warrior Mask, is he ‘death’? Is the intended plan behind the desertification to cause death? All aspects apply.

Archery and Birdies

I really love how when Aoranger uses his bow and arrow, he literally just shouts ‘archery’. It’s so… obvious. He’s doing archery. To the bad guys. It looks bizarre when I read the sentence back, but it absolutely works in the context of the show.

During the end credits, the Gorangers are shown flying with rocket propulsion on their belts. My only exposure to the Gorangers so far has been through their appearances, or others’ using their powers, in later movies or episodes in the Super Sentai series – and none of these have included the rockets. They appear in this episode to help Akaranger and Momoranger join the rest of the team for the roll call – they are literally called ‘birdies’, which is also what they say to activate them, which is just incredible.

The Tokusatsu Element

The genre of programme to which Super Sentai belongs is called tokusatsu, but when I use the term, I generally mean the elements which are specific to tokusatsu – the dioramas of buildings, the models of vehicles, etc, as opposed to the acting, plot or general direction.

The tokusatsu element in this episode – and the show as a whole, so far – has been amazing. We get big elaborate displays of the Variblune going into action, Warrior Mask’s rocket emerges from the ground, it’s all really well done.

The Mystery Door of Mystery

Well done for spotting this door, Kiranger. Akaranger clearly knows what it is and suggests we’ll all find out later. Can’t wait.

The Realistic Element

I think it is a stretch to call the show realistic, but I like how real it feels. When Aoranger is hit by an arrow fired by Warrior Mask, there’s no bizarre explosion or anything like that – he gets an arrow in his shoulder, which later has to be removed and the wound tended to. Similarly, when the Zolders fire at people, they are struck by bullets and die as anyone would under those circumstances.

It was also neat that Akaranger didn’t escape captivity by the use of some kind of ancient alien relic or previously unrevealed secret power – he just slipped a hidden knife from his sleeve and cut his bonds. Simple.

That said… I find it hard to believe Koichi would so easily get out of Snack Gon, with so many people watching him and keeping him safe. I also find it hard to believe that Midoranger and Kiranger would bring him to Snack Gon but not bring his mother with him.

And… well… when Warrior Mask had the chance to fire the sand ray at the Variblune, he chose to fire it at Akaranger and Momoranger. Riiiiiight. Plausible, those, as his plans were being foiled and he may not have been thinking straight.

Spies Among Us

Clearly one of the girls at Snack Gon is up to something, with her cryptic message for the proprietor immediately before Midoranger and Kiranger were summoned beneath the building. Now that we know there is at least one EAGLE agent among the Black Cross Army – well, sorry, there was at least one agent among them – it wouldn’t surprise me if the three girls were all secretly EAGLE members.

You’ll be missed, 002. The question is… who is 001?

Himitsu Sentai Goranger Episode 01

Episode 01: Makka na taiyou! Muteki na Gorenjya! / Bright red sun! Invincible Goranger!
Original air date: Saturday 5 April 1975

I have started watching Himitsu Sentai Goranger – finally! A big part of the decision came from the fact that I am reading the Goranger manga collection recently published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment. Makes sense that I’d finally watch the show along with it.

And I love it already.

Goranger or Gorenger?

This is a difficult one for some people. The Seven Seas Entertainment manga collection refers to the show as Himitsu Sentai Gorenger. So does Rangerwiki. I don’t understand this, though. Fans and localisers seem very inconsistent about whether they translate, transcribe or romanise words.

The katakana in the title is GO + RE + N + JYAA. It is clearly a combination of the Japanese word which can be written in romaji as “go” and the English word “ranger”. If people are going for accuracy, why change the JYAA to “ger” but not change the RE to “ra”? I’m not overly fussed about how people do it, but do it consistently.

I am going with Goranger because that’s what it is. GO + RANGER. They are rangers. Where it can be tricky is for series like Boukenger, but that is a very different case – it is combining “bouken” with the N + JYAA from “ranger”. The show is Himitsu Sentai Goranger, and the heroes are Akaranger, Aoranger, and so on.

Hero Introductions

I like the introductions of each of the heroes as the Black Cross Army destroy each of EAGLE’s bases across Japan. I could immediately see what each character was like. Akaranger is passionate and skilled; Aoranger is skilled, but focused on the skill rather than compassion; Kiranger is focused on compassion and his skill comes to support that; Momoranger… um… is a girl, so she rides horses?; and Midoranger is nice and caring and that gets him through.

Each also has a clear challenge. Akaranger will need to learn how to lead and focus on skill, not just passion. Aoranger will need to learn compassion. Kiranger will need to stop relying on stubbornness and strength. Momoranger… is a girl…? Midoranger will need to learn that sometimes you need to make tough choices.

Neat!

Yellowness

I didn’t think I’d like Kiranger, because while Yellows are always my favourite, they tend to be quite disciplined ones. MagiYellow, GoukaiYellow, Yellow Four II, KajikiYellow and probably even Yellow Four I all have the core Yellow traits but are also very dedicated to what they do – and usually because of love or commitment of someone or something else.

I thought Kiranger would just be a “I’m fat and stubborn and funny so things will work out!” character but I was wrong. He certainly has elements of that, as many Yellows do, but like the Yellows I really like it is established as being underpinned by hard work. An easy guy to underestimate, as we see from his fight training early on and his curry eating later on…

Bad guys

I like the bad guys in general. Black Cross Fuhrer is pretty intimidating. The Zolders are actually quite scary, too, as they use guns. They aren’t generic ninjas with random energy blasts or anything like that – they are clearly people, in uniform, firing guns and planting bombs. It is confronting – much moreso than monsters-of-the-week or alien cannon fodder.

Warrior Mask scares me a little bit, but that is mainly because of the manga (at least the Weekly Shonen Sunday version) where he kinda owned the Gorangers in their first outing. If the TV version is anywhere near as capable, he’ll be fun to watch.

TV vs manga

Having started reading the manga before starting the show, it was interesting to compare things. I like Snack Gon, and the guy who runs it. I also liked the elaborate way of getting into their base, and Aoranger being several steps ahead of the team. They are very similar in the manga, and I hope Shinmei gets the same comeuppance he got there.

I also like that Midoranger and Kiranger have their riddles. The riddle in the manga was a basic one: “Imagine a square with corners A, B, C and D. It takes 90 minutes to run from A to B, 90 minutes to run from B to C, 90 minutes to run from C to D, but an hour and a half to go from D to A. Why?” The one in the first episode is much trickier: “What kind of lamp can’t be lit?” Poor Kiranger asks everyone for the answer, even a Zolder as he defeats him – the Zolder finally tells him it is a trump, which makes no sense to me whatsoever.