Thursday 12 December 2013

Movie REVIEW: Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Gaburincho of Music

The Gaburincho of Music title card

It feels a little bit odd to be reviewing a Super Sentai summer movie before its respective series is over and done with, but rather than wait until early February when Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger finally draws to a close I've decided to start doing separate reviews for both Sentai and Rider movies. The Kyoryuger movie has felt like a rather special one since early information and teasers reared their head, not only promising a new evil ranger alongside the obligatory movie-exclusive mecha but also being billed as a musical. Now while Kyoryuger undoubtedly has a musical theme, it isn't the most prominent of things so seeing how it would be handled was very exciting indeed. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Gaburincho of Music was released in theatres back in August, as part of the a double bill with the Kamen Rider Wizard movie, Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land.

The Kyoryugers ready for battle
You'll hear us roar, but we won't be singing all that much

Taking place roughly between episodes 20 and 21 of the series, Gaburincho of Music sees the six Kyoryugers face off against D, an ancient Deboss Knight who uses evil Zyudenchi powers to become the evil Deathryuger. By kidnapping a pop idol named Mikoto Amano (nicknamed Meeko), who is descended from a race that had special powers through song, D plans to use the #00 Zyudenchi to awaken the ancient Zyudenryu Tobaspino and force him to help him conquer the planet.

Daigo "King" Kiryu (Kyoryu Red) is an old friend of Meeko, and with the five other Kyoryugers will stop at nothing to rescue the idol and put a stop to the rogue Deboss plan's for destruction once and for all.

Mikoto Amano, aka Meeko
I will be on the other hand

The big problem with the Super Sentai summer movies is that on the whole they're pretty forgettable. The stories usually feel so detached from the series that they're barely worth remembering, and the fact they're usually about half an hour long hardly makes them feel like movies at all. The odds felt pretty stacked against Gaburincho of Music before it even started, but somehow it really manages to pull it off for the most part. The first thing to note is that is predictably isn't a musical in the way many were expecting it to be - there's plenty of songs, but the majority of them are background music rather than have our characters sing their way through a 30 minute epic (how good would that have been?). Naturally with a central character being a pop star there are some moments of proper singing, and the Kyoryugers do have their own little moments every so often. Even regular villain Candelira gets in on the action with a nice little tangent number.

An evil ranger that doesn't turn good. I can get behind this.

Ferocious knight D is an excellent villain, and his Deathryuger form features some great little homages to the evil dinosaur-themed rangers of the past (how can you look at a musical weapon and NOT think Dragon Ranger?). The Deathryuger suit itself is nicely done, standing out from the others with its own unique motifs but at the same time feeling very much inkeeping with the hereoes' suits. This "excellent redeco" mindset also stretches to Tobaspino, who's effectively a spinosaurus remould of Gabutyra. Topbaspino also has his own combined form using Ankydon and Bunpachy as forced components - SpinoDaiOh. 

With such a good looking movie-exclusive mecha, you can guarantee that the film has plenty of gratuitous mecha action. This comes in both practical suit and CGI forms, with the balance between them held nicely (something I like to think carried over from Go-Busters). The suits are used exactly where they're needed, but the explosion battle between Kyoryuzin and SpinoDaiOh is something only CGI would be able to do justice and is certainly a highlight of the entire film.

T-Rexes are out, Spinosauruses are in.

This film certainly does a lot of good feeling like an epic adventure that still relates to the series (bringing the musical theme to the forefront moreso), but sadly the terribly short run time is a huge hindrance to it all. Set up is thrown out the window almost altogether, with things that should take about 20 minutes to set up done away with in under five. New characters like Meeko and D have two sentence backstories which are glossed over as quickly as possible, which D especially suffers from because he betrays the Deboss Legion almost immediately after he's been properly introduced. A longer running time would have allowed things to be ironed out much smoother, with more downtime for establishing all these new characters between the flashy action sequences. The same goes for the Kyoryugers themselves, as all the film really concerns itself is with Daigo's relationship with Meeko and the others being his backup. But then this is a common thing in Kyoryuger, and something I'll be bringing up again when I review the whole series in a few months time.

Candelira sings
Oppa Aigaron style?

Gaburincho of Music is quite easily one of, if not the best Super Sentai summer films there's ever been. It has a good plot, great villains, excellent action and actually feels like part of the show rather than something unnecessarily tacked on. However a step up in quality means not as much as it should when the length is still hampering any attempts these "films" have of being perfect. No matter how good the content is, its impossible to escape the feeling that this film is rushed and would have benefited far better from around double the running time. And since it's unlikely that Super Sentai will ever take the spotlight away from Kamen Rider in these double features, that's a real shame.

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