Wednesday 5 July 2017

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Dino Force Brave

When an image of the Kyoryugers in slightly altered suits turned up online last year no one quite knew what it was. Some thought V-cinema, others thought it might be part of the next Super Hero Taisen release and some simply brushed it off as a high quality cosplay shoot. What no one expected though was it to be a sequel the 37th Super Sentai series, spurred on by the success of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger in South Korea (where it was released as Power Rangers Dino Force). Produced by Sentai’s Korean distributor Daewon Media (who despite the Power Rangers banner have no affiliation with Saban) and filmed in collaboration with Toei, Power Rangers Dino Force Brave is a 12-episode series featuring an all-new cast and modified mecha designs. The series was also released in Japan under the name Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Brave, with Shigeru Chiba, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Haruka Tomatsu and Ai Orikasa returning to reprise their roles as the narrator, Torin, Canderrilla and Luckyulo respectively.

The cast of Dino Force BraveThe Power Rangers Dino Force Brave

Sometime after the Power Rangers Dino Force/Kyoryugers defeated the Deboth army, Earth faces a new threat as Neo Deboth arrive seeking to harness the power of the “Dinosaur King” in order to exact their revenge. Sensing their presence, Torin returns to Earth and along with Canderrilla and Luckyuro finds five new warriors to become the Dino Force Brave. These are the wanderer Kwon Juyong (Brave Red Dino), police officer Jeon Hyeonjun (Brave Black Dino), idol superstar Kim Sechang (Brave Blue Dino), spoilt millionaire Lee Pereun (Brave Green Dino) and the short-tempered Yun Dohee (Brave Pink Dino).

Together the new Dino Force must learn to work together while facing off against the Neo Deboth Generals. Also crossing their path is the mysterious Juhyeok (Brave Gold Dino) – a mercenary initially hired to help take them down.

Torin, Canderilla and LuckyuroJuhyeok/Brave Dino Gold

With only 12 episodes at a length of around 15 minutes each, it was immediately clear from the get-go that Dino Force Brave wasn’t going to be able to offer much in the story department. Despite its sequel status there’s very little exposition to connect the two series outside of the returning characters, so elements like the new powers and Zyudenchi don’t have any real explanation behind them. In that respect Dino Force Brave feels more like a spiritual sequel than a direct one – retaining the core elements of Kyoryuger but putting a new, if perhaps simple, spin on it. It’s got its own version of the ending dance though, so at least the most important element was covered.

After opening with a few episodes to introduce the team and bring them together, it’s straight onto the main plot with no time for any sort of divergence – be it character focus or filler. While this does result in the series lacking the variety a full-length Super Sentai show would offer, it does mean a pretty rigid plotline. Evil villains, antagonist/loner sixth ranger, finale involving some sort of magical power – it’s typical Sentai fare, but at a much faster pace. One particularly impressive element to the show is just how long it clings onto Juhyeok as a rival to the team. Whereas Kyoryuger (along with many other modern Sentai series) drop that act within a few episodes, even when he’s no longer targeting them Juhyeok doesn’t simply just join the team – in fact there’s trust issues there right up until the very end.

Deizaras of Neo DebothThe Neo Deboth Generals

The running time also means there isn’t a whole lot of room for character development either. True to its predecessor the main storyline focuses around Kwon, however this only really comes into play once Juhyeok is introduced as well. Ultimately they’re the only characters that matter to the core story, but while the other rangers may feel like wasted potential they’re likeable enough to not be wholly forgettable. They don’t get to do a whole lot, but their personalities shine through in what little they have to work with. Arguably the more disappointing inclusions here are Torin, Canderrilla and Luckyuro, who despite being the only real anchor to the original don’t actually have all that much to offer even in a mentor capacity. It’s nice to great to see them again, but that’s about it.

Such brevity might make it sound like Power Rangers Dino Force Brave is a failure, but what it lacks in deeper story it more than makes up for in action. With Koichi Sakamoto on the show as director Dino Force Brave has his usual flavour of action, but without the obvious level of fanservice that can often distract in his other works. Even though the suits just have extra white sections (annoyingly the helmets haven’t switched around despite three of the rangers having different dinosaurs, and Kyoryu Gold’s doesn’t have any sort of alteration) and recoloured weapons, with different team members and less focus on Zyudenchi gimmicks the show still has a noticeably different feel to the original Kyoryuger. As a contrast the Neo Deboth generals have received quite the overhaul, and in some cases would be almost unrecognisable from their Kyoryuger counterparts if not for the distinct visual cues. Both sides are full of colour, resulting in plenty of visually pleasing suit shots and battles.

Brave Tyranno King vs PteravoltGigant Brave Tyranno King

But perhaps the biggest highlight of the whole series is the mecha fights, which are quite unlike anything usually seen in Super Sentai or Power Rangers. As well as the usual range of suits, miniatures and practical effects, Dino Force Brave also features heavy use of CGI models to make the robots more mobile than ever. While admittedly Toei CGI has never been the most convincing thing in the world, watching Brave Tyranno King (aka Brave Kyoryuzin) and Pteravolt (a recoloured Pteragordon) leaping around engaged in a surprisingly well choreographed fight is a very welcome change to simply having a bulky suit lumber about for a few minutes and then throw out one final attack. The greater focus on action also means the mecha battles feel much longer and less like added-on toy adverts, with some episodes them even taking up the majority of the running time. In addition to the aforementioned Pteravolt, Bragigias returns with a new paint job as Giga Bragigas while the five original Zyudenryu are also updated with new colourschemes and weapons. With names like Guntyra, Rap-ax and Shovcera these are all as completely ridiculous as they sound, but in a show where the action is at the forefront a giant robot Tyrannosaurus with a gattling gun sticking out of its head works perfectly. And if that wasn’t extreme enough for you, the combined form doesn’t have a sword any more – it has a chainsaw. The modifications are completely over the top and wholly unnecessary, but you’re inner child won’t get enough of them.

As a fun extra the show even includes a surprise appearance and handover to the Zyuohgers, who are taking over from the series in South Korea as Power Rangers Animal Force. Yamato himself even makes appearance, and together with Reimein’s cameo in Chou Super Hero Taisen it’s pretty cool to see Toei tie this series to the wider Super Sentai franchise even if its canonicity is questionable.

Introducing the Zyuohgers!Handover to Yamato

As a series quite unlike anything that’s come before Power Rangers Dino Force Brave was a series that came with unknown expectations. While the story may be relatively simple thanks to its short running time, the series makes up for this in its high quality action – making the most of each fight scene as well as offering a calibre of mecha fight rarely seen in the mainline Super Sentai shows. It feels less like a proper show and more akin to Tsburaraya’s Ultra Fight shorts, which while ultimately leave you wanting more never have a chance to badly stray away from the action. Whether you choose to watch as Power Rangers Dino Force Brave or Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger Brave, this series is a charming little oddity that’s well worth checking out.


finalmaster24 said...
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Alex said...

Hmmm...yes and no really. Since it's much shorter it's also A LOT less developed than Dino Charge, but that also means it has a lot less time to go off the rails than Dino Charge did. If you're looking at this as an alternative to a full-length show then I think you might end up disappointed, but as a miniseries it ticked almost every box for me.

Panharith said...

Ultraman X was my toku of 2015.

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