Episode Reviews

Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger 17 – Enter the Dragon

[六人目の英雄] Rokuninme no Hero!
Hero Number Six!

Writer: Noboru Sugimura

Every now and then, we’re witness to a great moment in Sentai, something truly dramatic and ground breaking. What we have here is no exception. This is the first appearance of Burai, the Dragon Ranger. But just who is he? This is the first time a sixth Ranger has appeared since Maskman and the first time at all that one has stuck around longer than a single episode. One episode just wouldn’t be enough to contain Burai and his story as things are just getting started by the end.

It’s June 19th and that means something very important to Bandora. This is a day she’s been waiting for, but we aren’t told exactly what’s so important about this day. Bandora begins to chant and call for Dai Satan – this is the first time we’re lead to believe that the witch herself isn’t the strongest opponent in the series. They’re getting really good at showing the more theatening side to Bandora during these incantation scenes. Everything is dark, what scare light there is around just amplifies mysterious going ons. Bukbak and Totpat Being so happy about the incantation also adds an air of creepiness to it.

On earth, a young boy by the name of Ryota sneaks into his grandfather’s place while the guy is at work and finds his grandfather’s hiding place. What exactly is his grandfather hiding? A small chest containing a very big green key. But would could it be for? Whatever it is, the fact that the kid has it has alerted his grandfather to it via an alarm he has on him. I’m pretty sure that alarm is actually just a recolored changer from one of the older shows, but I can’t quite put my hand on it. Either way, stealing the key is a big enough offense that Ryota’s grandfather, Gnome, yes, that Gnome, is chasing him down with a fork lift.

Conveniently enough, the Zyuranger are around! They have no idea what’s going on, but nonetheless, someone chasing down a kid with a fork lift isn’t the sort of thing they’re going to let go. Though things get stranger when Barza shows up, tells the team to stay out of it, and chases Ryota down in a van. Something fishy is definitely going on. Ryota books it and eventually Mei and Geki catch up to him, demanding to know just what the heck is going on.

Ryota reveals that the key will allow him to open the seal on a great warrior and that it can only be done on the day he was sealed up – June 19th. The kid reveals that the warrior, named Burai, is the greatest warrior ever, stronger than all of the Zyuranger. Burai’s rather mysterious, but he lived with Ryota and his grandfather millions of years ago (it’s here we discover Ryota himself is a Fae) and trained on their land. Though mysterious, Burai seemed like a nice guy and saved Ryota from trouble a couple of times, so he’s eager to reawaken the guy, believing that he’s the only person strong enough to stop Bandora. When Geki suggest they go back to Barza and Gnome, the kid books it out of there again.

Back in the Zyuranger’s hideout, Goushi, Dan, and Boi are trying to figure out what that key is for, but can’t seem to find any information in their scrolls. Bandora sends a message to the trio and tells them everything that’s happening and that they should probably go ahead and meet up with Geki and Mei and the others. Goushi’s suspicious though, why would Bandora be telling them to go awaken a supposedly invincible warrior that can stop her?

Geki and Mei are trailing after Ryota, who by now is getting pretty close to the cave Burai was sealed away in. Gnome brings Barza back to his apartment and the two realize they have to do whatever it takes to stop Ryota from awakening Burai and they’re taking the reason with them to the grave. Since neither of them have offensive attacking magic, they use the next best thing – grenade and assault rifles! So the two geezers track down Geki and the others, right at the same time as Goushi and the others catch up to them. At this point Bandora sends down a ton of Golems along with Griffozar, Totpat, and Bukbak to get in everyone’s way.

While the battle escalates to giant scales and Bukbak and Totpat attack the two geezers, Ryota breaks away and heads into the cave. Deep in the cave’s recess is a door with the carving of a strange creature. Ryota uses the key to finally open the door and is blasted away by a gust of wind from within the sealed chamber. Griffozar disappears in the middle of the battle against DaiZyuJin and the Zyurangers and the two geezers are looking mighty scared of what’s about to happen.

Within the chamber sleeps a man, his resting place lined with dark green candles, providing a very slight lighting. His body is covered in a sort of foam that disappears as he awakens. In a storm of lightning, the man teleports outside of the cave and announces himself as Burai, prince of the Yamato tribe – the very tribe in where Geki was the prince. Ryota runs up to Burai, happy to see him, but the guy tosses him away and Ryota begins to cry. Gnome shows up and comforts his grandson, Barza says that this probably couldn’t be avoided either way.

Geki has himself a “say what” moment, feeling incredulous at this strange man announcing himself as the prince of Yamato. But that’s not all, the guy pulls out a golden Dino Buckler and transforms into Dragon Ranger, the green Zyuranger. He then teleports up to DaiZyuJin where the other Rangers are, heads inside to the cockpit and beats them around before throwing them off the robot and down to the ground.

On the ground the team have lost all illusions that this guy is an ally. He might be wearing the trappings of a Zyuranger, but he’s no friend, and he’s more than willing to prove that. Burai immediately goes on the offensive and starts kicking major ass. The guy can handle two Rangers at the same time without even breaking a sweat. And just when it looks like things can’t get any worse, Burai sends a ball of energy their way and leaves the team in total defeat as he walks off.

Hot damn! Now if that isn’t the best episode of the series thus far, I don’t know what is. This thing has nearly everything a story guy like myself could want. We’ve got a mystery going on regarding why Barza and Gnome don’t want a seemingly unstoppable Zyuranger awakened, though when he does awaken, it’s rather obvious. Whoever this guy is, he wants to kick some ass and is more than happy to beat the team around several times within the span of a couple of minutes.

You’ve also got a very interesting angle going on with Bandora here. Why would the witch want to awaken a warrior supposedly strong enough to defeat her? There’s gotta be something more to this. (oh and there is) And we get some strong indication that she isn’t at the top of the villain food chain in this series, but for know, all the viewer has to go on are slight clues.

That rush to the cave is madness, everyone is fighting everyone and there are different battles going on at different scales at the same time. It’s frantic and energetic as heck and a lot of fun to watch. As you watch it, you can’t help but feel the fear in the two geezers, whatever it is they’re trying to stop is big. And when it does happen? All the good guys are screwed.

Towards the end of the battle before Burai basically Hadoken’d the entire team, there was a really great one on one going on between him and Geki. Don’t worry, if you loved it, this won’t be the last time you see such a great fight scene. And there’s a good reason for that too, this is the debut role for Seiji Takaiwa, better known as That Guy Who Played Damn Near Every Heisei Title Rider in Suit. He’s at the top of his game here and you know had to to have impressed someone to have something like Dragon Ranger be his first major role. His movements are in such stark contrast to the rest of the team, he’s fresh and energetic, but very precise. Hiroshi Maeda (who will go on to act as the Red Ranger in Power Rangers for the next 11 years or so)  is at the top of his game in suit as Tyranno Ranger against Takaiwa’s Dragon Ranger. These two guys really bring out the best in each other and if you love fight scenes, you’re going to be in for a treat over this arc.

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One thought on “Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger 17 – Enter the Dragon

  1. I sometimes wonder what it must have felt like for people in the 90s who bought those tapes with only the “Burai saga” subbed… the stuff with Ryota and his grandfather is great, weird, fun stuff perfectly in line with Zyuranger’s tone if you have it in context. If you’re coming to it only knowing about Tommy and the Power Rangers take on the series, though, it must just seem weird as hell.

    The actual first appearance of DragonRanger must be one of the greatest scenes of Sentai. There’s so many great moments. I think my favorite is when Geki is all, “why must we fight?!” and Burai’s response is to silently fold up his Ranger Sword and throw it at Geki. It’s beautiful comedic pacing. Also while we don’t see it in this episode, I think the out-of-suit fights between Mochizuki and Izumi are also spectacular.

    Also in this episode, I’m quite fond of how Sugimura manages to work in the kid/family themes. The superficial (awesome) elements of the plot aside, you also get a story about how the rules and boundaries made by adults can seem so utterly arbitrary to kids, right up until the moment when they witness the consequences of their actions and it’s too late. Gnome can’t tell Ryota why they can’t unseal DragonRanger (and for once, there’s a good reason for it!) and Ryota simply can’t understand that a reason could exist.

    And then, Gnome goes from throwing hand grenades at his grandson to comforting him and telling him it’s alright once what’s done is done and the danger is there. It’s like a parent who yells at their kid for always leaving the fence gate open, but know they have nothing to offer but love and reassurance after the dog has run away.

    (Just, with hand grenades and dinosaur people.)

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