Thursday 12 January 2023

Special REVIEW: Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers

Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers

With Super Sentai having been continuously on the air since 1975, every year is an anniversary of some sort. But when it comes to teams that celebrate their anniversaries in style, none do it quite like Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger. After celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2013 with Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 YEARS AFTER, they'll be back again later this year to celebrate 20 years with Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger Degozaru! Shushuuto 20th Anniversary. The cast's return has also heralded Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers, a short 15-minute special for the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub which sees the 26th Super Sentai team crossover with the latest instalment.

Haruka's Surprised FaceWelcome back Hurricane Red!

As Haruka struggles to come up with the perfect situation for her romance manga, Café Dobura is suddenly overrun with a swarm of Magerappa! Giving chase is a mysterious red ninja, who is after a small blue gem the Magerappa have stolen. As other ninjas arrive, Haruka demands they clean up the mess they left – or provide her with an interview as inspiration for her manga.

While Haruka learns more about the Hurricanegers and their exploits over the past 20 years, they also explain that remnants of the Jakanja still survive. As one of their generals shows his face in order to retrieve the crystal, a fight breaks out – and it's a festival that Don Momotaro can't help but join in on!

The Hurricanegers ReturnA new enemy

Right off the bat it should be clear that Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers is little more than a piece of cross-advertising for the forthcoming Hurricaneger movie. Quite a lot of Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub specials are made in promotion of something else (be it toys or otherwise), and this is no exception. That is not to say it should be completely dismissed though. Even with a rather significant lack of Donbrothers content (Taro and Haruka are the only characters that appear, and Haruka the only one out of suit), the special still manages to have the usual brand of irreverent fun you'd come to expect from the 46th Super Sentai series. As always Kohaku Shida's comic timing is flawless, expressing Haruka's surprise at the whole situation and her subsequent anger brilliantly. It's also a nice reintroduction (or for some, introduction) to the core Hurricaneger cast, who as expected slip back into their roles wonderfully and feel like they've barely aged at all.

The middle portion of the special is taken up with the Hurricanegers regaling Haruka with tales of their previous exploits, which for long-time Super Sentai fans might not seem all that remarkable but given the time elapsed since the end of Hurricaneger makes a lot of sense. 20 years is a LONG time (consider this: some members of the Donbrothers cast weren't even born when it first aired), and given Sentai's target demographic a good portion of the audience likely haven't watched the show. Even though a Hurricaneger 20th anniversary film is going to be primarily targeted at those who've seen the original, recapping it in this fashion brings these new fans on board and allows them to look forward to and potentially enjoy the film as well. As well as covering off all the other key Hurricaneger characters that don't appear in this special (like the Gouraigers), it's also a chance to introduce new members of the team like Moeru Kirarasaka - Oboro’s new apprentice. So even in amongst the familiar territory, there are snippets here and there for older fans excited to get up to speed with what the Hurricanegers have been up to since we last saw them.

A trashed cafeThe Hurricanegers' new ally

The special then finishes up with a fight scene against new Jakanja General Aunja, which is an opportunity to properly show off the Hurricanegers to new viewers as well as tease one of the main villains (as well as the plot) for the Hurricaneger 20th Anniversary movie. The fight is further enhanced by the arrival of Don Momotaro, who of course in typical fashion isn't concerned by the details and just wants in on the fun. Though not anything particularly special, these scenes work extremely well due to how well the Hurricaneger and Donbrothers aesthetics are able to blend into one another, and it's cool to see them get in on each other's finishing moves (both of which of course have their own unique backdrops). The introduction of Aunja is good too, showcasing his fantastic suit design as well as posing him as a credible threat for the actual movie. With things ending basically as they began Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers may not have any real bearing on the latter team, but in its short runtime it definitely does enough to promote the Hurricanegers and hype up their forthcoming venture.

Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger with Donbrothers isn't essential viewing by any means, but it does work as a nice little primer for those who want to watch Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger Degozaru! Shushuuto 20th Anniversary but don't have the time or means to watch the main series first. Above all it's just a fun excuse to get a veteran Sentai team together with the current one, and when that current one just happens to be Donbrothers you know the result is going to be interesting at the very least. Certainly not the most remarkable output from the Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub's ever-growing list of exclusive content, but as a bit of harmless fun you can certainly do much worse too.

1 comment:

Stephen Cassat said...

I watched Hurricaneger on Shout Factory and it ended up being the first Sentai I ever finished in it's entirety.

Needless to say I'm a fan.