I watched the last episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (Pirate Sentai Gokaiger) yesterday, the latest Super Sentai series in Japan. I ended up loving this series so much that I thought it warranted its own blog post. If you have no idea what Sentai is, it's basically the set of Japanese superhero team series that have been adapted into Power Rangers here in the U.S. Every season the Sentai teams change, and so (sadly) must Gokaiger.
The 2011 Gokaiger series was celebrating the 35th anniversary of Sentai in Japan, so they obviously had to go all out. I'd never watched any Sentai before (though I've been a Power Rangers fan since Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in 1993), but usually every year I'd only keep an eye on what the new outfits looked like (knowing that they'd eventually make it over to the U.S. in some new Power Ranger series). I actually distinctly remember rolling my eyes when I heard that the 2011 Sentai would be pirate-themed. Stupid pirates, I thought. Then I actually saw the uniforms, and was surprised how cool they were. But I still wasn't planning on watching the thing...
Then at Power-Con last year my friend Augie told me how freakin' cool the series was, and tipped me off on where I could download subtitled episodes. So I decided to give it a shot... and then I was hooked. I mean, hooked.
The premise of Gokaiger is that a group of space pirates are trying to find the "Greatest Treasure in the Universe," which they track down to Earth. However, they can only obtain the treasure by first acquiring the powers of the previous 34 Super Sentai teams. They end up having to battle the Space Empire Zangyack, whose invasion force wiped out the 34 Sentai teams before the Gokaiger series starts.
So basically, the Gokaigers can transform into any of the previous 34 Super Sentai teams after obtaining their powers. Want to see the team randomly transform into the Mighty Morphin' rangers to battle it out? Check. Want to see different color combinations from various teams at any given time? Check. Want to see an all blue/black/white/red/etc. team fighting it out at any given time? Check. The combinations are endless, and that's part of what makes it so fun.
But apart from that, the characters in this series are fantastic. Every one of them is likable in their own way. When Gai, the sixth member of the team, showed up, I disliked his overly enthusiastic nature for like half an episode. Then I couldn't get enough of him. He (along with Doc) ended up being my favorite characters. But I love them all, really.
I didn't want this series to end. And I can't count how many times I teared up either thinking about it ending, or seeing screengrabs from the last couple episodes and knowing that it was almost time to say goodbye. (And I would think, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME, it's just a Japanese show aimed at kids! But still, I couldn't help myself. It was too damn good.) And the last episode, which we finally watched last night, didn't disappoint. It was glorious, with balls to the wall fight scenes and a proper goodbye to our favorite characters. Sigh.
I still have two Gokaiger movies to watch that haven't been subbed yet, so at least I do still have something to look forward to. But still. I will miss this show terribly. Such a great way to get into Super Sentai. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to either give it a shot, likes Power Rangers, or is even slightly curious about Sentai.
Goodbye, Space Pirates!