Saturday 19 July 2014

Movie REVIEW: Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Returns - 100 Years After

Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Returns - 100 Years After

Once upon a time Super Sentai 'Returns' movies weren't a lot to get excited about. Sure they were a chance to see your favourite heroes once again prior to the annual versus movie, but story wise they were bits of fluff that didn't really offer very much at all. Then last year Go-Busters vs. Go-Busters came about and changed that by being a genuinely fantastic movie. And this year, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Returns: 100 Years After looks to do the same, featuring the kind of plot that even non-fans of the series can't help but get a little interested/excited about.

Quite the family resemblance
The new Kyoryugers!

Taking place 100 years after the end of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger in the year 2114, the Deboss Legion has returned - consisting of the thousand-faced priest Ghaos, remorseful knight Athreban, submission knight Sneldo and jealousy knight Hoshigairon. To battle them Candelira, the new Wise Goddess, forms a brand new Kyoruger team made up on the ancestors of our original heroes. Meet Dai-kun, Icchan, Nobuta-san, Soujiro, Ami-neesan and Uppy!

But something's wrong! Navy, Silver, Blue, Grey, Cyan and Violet all on the same team? Surely that can't be right! As the new Kyoryugers learn about their true colours, they'll also learn more about their ancestry to put a stop to Deboss' new plot. Most importantly, they'll discover the true power of the Kyorugers and their dinosaur partners - bravery.

Show of hands if you preferred these colours
But surely this can't be right?!

Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger was always at its best when it was playing up its fun, colourful side, and this movie makes sure to continue that tradition. After all, when you have Candelira (and Luckiero serving as her apprentice) as a mentor, things aren't going to go as smoothly as they did back when Torin was in charge. The new Kyoryuger team are absolutely brilliant, with each actor playing a descendant of their original character with a fresh new twist. Dai-kun (Daigo and Amy's grandson) is meek and timid, while Icchan (Ian) and Uppi (Utchy) are boisterous, larger than life versions of their ancestors. Soujiro takes Souji's hot-headedness to a whole new level, and while Nobuta and Ami retain the most similarity to their predecessors, the scaled-back puns and catchphrases do help to make them feel like new characters.

Oh Toei, never change
Looking good Souji

This isn't the first time direct descendants of a Sentai team have featured in a show, with Gosei Sentai Dairanger doing a similar thing for the epilogue of its final episode. While this is naturally a more fleshed out version of that idea and thus does a far better job of it, there is one element retained - hilarious old person make up. What, you thought the never-aging Candi and Lucky would be the only people still alive 100 years later? Making a surprise appearance is old man Souji, who seems pretty spry for a guy in triple digits. Of course you can't keep a good team down, the original Kyoryugers also make an appearance through the magic of time travel. Of course this is where Daigo takes the spot light, but the movie does an excellent job of keeping the importance on our new team and not continuing to thrust Kyoryu Red as the greatest thing ever.

One of these things is not like the others
The more things change the more they stay the same

Meanwhile there isn't a whole lot to say about the Deboss Legion, since really most of them are simply pawns in a much larger scheme (the clue is in the fact that only one of them is a brand new character). The new spins on Chaos, Dogold and Aigaron are more comedic which fans may or may not approve of, but in the case of the latter two their personalities are fitting with the new emotions they've been assigned. Also making a return are the four season-based Debo Monsters, which is perfect as they are not only perhaps the most memorable of Kyoryuger's monsters (especially Yanasanta), but it also helps tie the theme of years going by together nicely.

Candelira fans rejoice!
Gotta pimp Haruka Tomatsu's singing career somewhere

The only real problem with 100 Years After is that it doesn't fully embrace one of its biggest appeals. Here we have a team that's (temporarily) not made up of red, blue, green, black and yellow and it's only really used for a few jokes and a fight scene in the opening. I'm not trying to deny the story of them learning their true colours, because it works really well. But there's just so much else that could have been done here. Sadly the budget wouldn't have probably stretched as far as some original Tobaspino combos (Bakuretsu SpinoDaiOh anyone?) but the potential was certainly there, even if it was just something that failed because the team weren't with their correct partners. It just feels like the film forsakes something different just to praise more of the same, which is a huge shame.

Though it isn't quite up there with Go-Busters vs. Go-Busters (which wasn't just a great 'Returns' movie, but one of the best Sentai films period), 100 Years After is an excellent film which is further proof of how far the 'Returns' series of films have come recently. It fully embraces the fun side of Kyoryuger, and while admittedly has the same level of red-focus as the series did it doesn't do it in such an obnoxious manner. Saving the very best until last, it's the best thing to have come out of Kyoryuger and something even the biggest detractors of the show should be able to find some enjoyment in.

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