Thursday 23 May 2024

Movie REVIEW: Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger

In 2013 Super Sentai revisited dinosaurs for a third time, and the result remains one of the most popular instalments in the franchise to this day. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger was a massive hit, to the point where South Korea even produced its own non-canon spin-off/sequel (which was in turn dubbed in Japan). As such there was no way its tenth anniversary was going to go uncelebrated, and in true Kyoryuger style a reunion movie simply wasn't going to be enough. Instead Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger hosted a two-part crossover, where the stories of the two series were intertwined in a way rarely seen in Super Sentai. Again that wasn't enough though, and so their story continues into Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger. The film was released in early 2024 as a special King-Ohger VS Series double-bill alongside Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Donbrothers.

The Kyoryugers battle DagdedDaigoro "Prince" Kiryu

When the Galactinsect King Dagded Dujardin invades Earth with a revived Deboth Army, he is pursued into space by Kyoryugers Daigo, Utsusemimaru and Yayoi. Unable to defeat him, Daigo is imprisoned and his teammates are sent hurdling across time to an alternate future where the Kyoryugers were unable to defeat Deboth. It's here they meet Daigoro "Prince" Kiryu, the son of that timeline's Daigo and Amy. Returning to the present day, under the tutelage of Souji Prince is taught to how to master his bravery - eventually transforming into King Kyoryu Red and defeating the revived Deboth alongside both the Kyoryugers and King-Ohgers.

However their victory is short-lived when Prince begins to fade out of existence. Travelling to Chikyuu in order to find both Dugded and Daigo, Utchy's meddling with the timeline eventually leads to a dark future where Gira defeats Dugded and takes his place as the new Galactinsect King. Though finally reunited with Daigo, the Kyoryugers must now work to restore the memories of the other Kings so that they return Gira to normal.

Galactinsect King GiraKings in another timeline

Having previously established links between the two series as well as new characters and points of interest to be explored further within King-Ohger itself, it really doesn't take long for King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger to start firing on all cylinders. Immediately after a tantalising tease of the King-Ohgers' alternate future it launches into the biggest questions raised from the series crossover - just where were Daigo and Utchy the entire time? Though it sadly comes at the expense of a great deal of time spent with the other Kyoryugers (particularly Ian and Nossan), centring the film around those two (along with Prince) was a good decision given their previous absence. Bringing Yayoi along for the ride only sweetens it, ensuring that all of the living Kyoryugers have played a part in this rather grand crossover.

Though Kyoruyuger director Koichi Sakamoto returned to direct, rather than have either Riku Sanjo or Minato Takano return to write the film was instead penned by Kaori Kaneko - whose previous Super Sentai writing credits include Lupinranger VS Patranger, Ryusoulger and Kiramager but most notably did the crossover episodes within King-Ohger. This provides a good sense of consistency between the two crossovers, not only in the sense that this one can fill in all the blanks from the previous one but also in terms of tone and flow. Takano shows a good understanding of both series and is most definitely a Kyoryuger fan - even managing to sneak a quick reference (via archive footage) to 100 Years After of all things on top of all the other love shown for it in these 40 minutes.

Daigo returnsUtsusemimaru

In fact for a lot of the film the King-Ohger element feels like a backdrop to the story rather than a proper crossover element – a scenario in which the Kyoryugers' story can continue. This isn't all that surprising given Kyoryuger's tendency to dominate any crossover it's a part of, but thanks to all that previously established continuity it all works quite nicely. Taking Daigo out of the picture early on raises the stakes, but Utchy's time travelling antics provide a comedic element that keeps the tone balanced. As far as the story goes time travel and alternate futures are a fairly standard trope and the film follows the basics well, but when it comes to the specifics it can get a little messy at times. It plays quite loosely with the idea of causality despite it being a significant part of the plot, and it's a shame that it's only really interested in outlying Chikyu's alternate future rather than exploring it in more detail. It also perhaps gets a little too heavy with the comedy at times, with Utchy particularly coming across as a lot more bumbling here than he did in Kyoryuger.

When Souji, Ian, Amy and Nossan all returned for the series crossover it barely felt like ten years had passed at all – and the same can be said for the return of Daigo, Utchy and Yayoi. All three actors slide back into their roles beautifully, with enough personality to carry the plot on their shoulders. Though Yayoi's involvement is far more limited compared to the other two it's great to see that not only wasn't she forgotten but also remains the technical support of the team. Daigo "King" Kiryu is just as big a presence as ever, and the energy behind his return here really cements him as the heart behind Kyoryuger even if it does sometimes feel to its detriment.

Utchy meets young GiraSeeing double: Kyoryu Red

Though technically not his debut as such this is also the perfect opportunity to talk about Prince, who I didn't really cover in my King-Ohger review. Having previously introduced Daigo and Amy's grandson in 100 Years After it's fun to see gaps be filled in the Kyoryuger timeline here as well, with Prince nicely representing a "next generation" Kyoryuger whilst also making him an amalgamation of the Kyoryuger and King-Ohger power sets. Actor Rintaro Kawana does a great job of matching the energy Ryo Ryusei brings to Daigo, with the characters feeling similar enough to feel like father and son but without him simply feeling like a carbon copy. As a character who feels like such a product of the two Sentai represented here it doesn't feel all that likely we'll see him again unless the two teams cross paths again, but with Kyoryuger clearly intent on establishing a firm chronology it may be possible should they show up again in another decade for a 20 Years After celebration. That is of course unless Yayoi doesn't manage to dismantle the timeline where Daigo and Amy end up together first.

As previously mentioned for the King-Ohgers play a background part for the good portion of the film, so there's no a lot to say about them – particularly when a lot of that screen time is taken up by alternate timeline versions. Gira becoming the next Galactinsect King was a great point to hook the premise on as the risk of it happening was raised in the series, but it's a shame there isn't time in the film to see how or why this happened. That said, the idea of it is all spiralling from a tiny little ripple in the timeline fits in with the causality aspect perfectly. While Gira has always had the penchant for theatrics with his Tyrant King persona seeing turn it into a genuine villain is actually quite chilling, and it would have been nice to see more done with it before his memories return and the "Evil King" aspect is split off into a generic "final boss" type villain.

Gira captures the former KingsThe Evil King

For the rest of the Kings' alternate selves the film plays with having them hit rock bottom and taking away their Kingdoms. In some cases this stems from expanding upon their more negative traits, such as Himeno's selfishness, Kakuragi's deception or Yanma's overconfidence. Others they seem to fall into jobs matched to their personalities or previously shown traits, with Jeramie continuing to be a storyteller through the guise of a tour guide (adding all the necessary exposition for this new timeline) or Rita becoming a singer. Though returning them all to normal is a big part of the film's story, the time we actually spend with them is minimal. Even after they get their memories back, the film quickly moves into its final act where spectacle takes precedent over story.

Because if you've somehow got through most of the movie and still don't think that Kyoryuger has been serviced enough, said final act is more than enough to dispel that. As well as delivering the high-quality fight scenes the VS movies so often do, this sequence ticks off just about everything that could be wanted from a Kyoryuger 10th anniversary (and anything it doesn't it was already covered in the previous crossover). There's a brand-new Anniversary Carnival mode for Kyoryu Red, there's a Carnival mode for Kuwagata Ohger, there's new Armed-On modes for the other King-Ohgers, there's even cameo appearances from Torin and the other spirit Kyoryugers (albeit suit only). If it was important to Kyoryuger in any way, it's probably represented here in some shape or form. Koichi Sakamoto is already renowned for his action sequences but reunited with the Kyoryugers he's totally in his element, matching the same energy the show had a decade ago whilst "Vamola! Kyoryuger" plays over the top to create that perfect sense of nostalgia. Though there is a little red-centricity going on, that's just part and parcel with the whole Kyoryuger experience – and by this point Daigo (along with both Prince and Gira) have earned it. Any Kyoryuger fans would be hard-pressed to be disappointed with what's offered here, and even those who are perhaps more mixed on the series will likely find enjoyment in just the sheer energy and love there is for them. All it's really missing is the original ending dance.

Armed-on King-OhgersThe Spirit Kyoryugers

Time travel is never the easiest concept to pull off, but while Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger vs Kyoryuger might not be the neatest film in terms of story it undoubtedly succeeds at the main thing it set out to - be a celebration of all things Kyoryuger. The tie-in with King-Ohgers' storyline and the foundations made during the in-series crossover are the perfect springboard to launch into this film, catching up with characters previously missing, filling in the blanks and once again showcasing how well these two casts (as well as shows overall) work together. The final act is Kyoryuger fan service at its very finest, the kind that'll make you nostalgic for the series no matter how you might feel about it. While we may get Super Sentai VS movies every year, rarely do they feel as significant as this.


CPF said...

Err, there are couple of grammer mistakes you might wanna check out. Otherwise, good review!

Though I REALLY would have been interested in exploring this AU Tikyu, perhaps in a novel?

Klom89 said...

It was...okay. I like the concept, but so much of the movie is focused on Utchy whining and crying that there's not really a second act. They do jack with the Elseworlds concept, which sucks 'cause Evil Gira's why I watched the movie. The movie's okay, but it kinda meanders from set-to-set hoping the references do the work. The final battle was kinda cool. I'm not a fan of Kyoryuger but even I found their entrances really cool.

Not a terrible film, but it really needed some polish and a bigger runtime.