Now after being difficult on the environmental factor in Hyakkujuu Sentai Gaoranger, you’d think I’d probably be the same for this show. I am…in a sense. I still dislike the over the top “need to save the environment” sentiment because it’s one that we’ve heard time and time again. And the majority of us are sick of it by this point. But as Engine Sentai Go-Onger is it’s own separate series, I can’t judge it based on that merit alone. So let’s look at the pros and cons of this series…
The insanity. If you like a lot of craziness in a show, you’ll probably appreciate Go-Onger then. The show has a clear story, the characters are nicely developed, their engine partners are adorable (in their chibi “soul forms” anyways)…so the insanity doesn’t get in the way of the plot or the character development. It nicely works with it to create a series that’s both hilarious when it wants to be and “serious” when it needs to be. Though it would be best to explore the best of the insanity Go-Onger has to offer…
1) Hiroto’s fear of ghosts. While it’s also explained why he has this fear you never expect this sort of reaction from him. From the moment you’re introduced to Hiroto, he’s always been cool, level-headed, and a bit of a self-righeous snob. He’s a rich kid. It comes with the territory. You get a few moments here and there where once he’s used to being around the Go-Ongers he loosens up and can have a bit of fun like they do. But he still retains that level-headed coolness that he has for most of the series. But then you get this one gem of a reaction from him. A reaction so glorious that I just had to replay it a few times over just to make sure I wasn’t imagining this. Sure. There’s a few other moments in the series where he has over the top reactions. The other that comes to mind is the episode in which he sings to a creature and when it turns out the creature considered his singing just noise, he ends up wallowing in his own sorrow and hanging his head in defeat. Or the moment where an other worldly creature mistakes him for its mother and Hiroto has to pretend to be a mother to this creature. No, no…those pail in comparison to his phobia of ghosts. We only find this out because he and Saki are transported to some dark, scary place thanks to Cleaning Minister, Kireizuki. When trying to find their way out they’re confronted by what Hiroto believes are ghosts. Even Saki is taken back by this grown man with a cool level-headed temperament turning into a scared little boy, screaming and hiding behind a tombstone in a fetal position. The only thing missing that would’ve made that scene complete would be him sucking his thumb. I guess even the coolest of people have to be scared by something. Too bad these “ghosts” were just actors in a haunted house in an amusement park.
2) Random amounts of male cross dressing. This just started off as a quick gimmick. Hanto is trying to help out an old woman who helped him out when he was injured. She’s all alone and the only one that she used to have in her life previously was her granddaughter but she says that her granddaughter is dead. So being the nice kid that he is, Hanto decides that he’ll play the role of this woman’s granddaughter for the day. Though in order to really get into the role he decides that it’s a good idea to dress up as her as well. Turns out that Hanto looks “cute” in womens clothing so this tends to be a running gag in future episodes. In the short lessons after each episode, you find out (though most likely it’s a joke…would be better if it wasn’t), that Hanto’s favorite job was working as a maid in a maid cafe. The other guys get their turn at cross dressing as well. In episode 38, the men are all frozen due to Shower Banki’s acid rain and it’s up to the women to both protect them and defeat the Bankijuu. The only way they could think to hide them was to hide them as mannequins in a store window…unfortunately for the men the mannequins were women. Needless to say when they transformed out of their ranger forms, they received quite a surprise. If you’re not amused by cross dressing though, you won’t find this as funny though.
3) This one’s episode specific but have you ever just wanted to see the heroes in a show just go evil for no reason? And I don’t mean world class super villain status evil like you see in other super hero shows or comic. I just mean “here’s a good guy…let’s corrupt him so he’s your everyday criminal” sort of evil. That’s pretty much what episode 30. While trying to figure out what this liquid is that Straw Banki dropped, Sousuke and Ren end up spraying themselves with the chemical. Well since this was a concoction created to raise the strength of an evil creature, somehow it…turns Sousuke and Ren into…semi-old timey gangsters. I didn’t need to try to figure it out why they needed to be old timey criminals. No one does really. Sousuke’s full of justice and excitement and Ren is a very motherly, gentle sort of man. Watching them go from that to these sneaky, conniving, low lives is just plain fun. Instead of protecting people they’re scamming them out of money, robbing banks, stealing from children, fighting Hiroto and somehow winning when there was no chance that he would’ve every beaten Hiroto in a fight previously. Ren gets snapped out of it fairly quickly but it takes a lot more to bring Sousuke back to normal.
There’s a lot more randomness to the series but to break out of that vein there’s at least one more thing that needs to go under this section and that’s the music. Specifically the opening theme. It’s really all you need in a song. It’s catchy, fun, and reflects the spirit of the show very well.
Hiramekimedes. Here’s a villain that I wish we saw more of. He’s introduced as the Vice Minister of Earth Pollution and when you first meet him, he’s threatening. I mean, he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. So much so that it was his introduction that spurred the introduction of the Go-On Wings. Without the Go-On Wings, the Go-Ongers literally had no way they could over power him. Even his back story is interesting. He was just another one of the Gaiark who believed that he wasn’t of any really importance and he believed that no one recognized him as important. So in order to prove his worth, he was planning on killing Yogostein. When Yogostein instead approaches him to be the Vice Minister of Earth Pollution and presents Hiramekimedes with a protractor based sword. He then decides to dedicate his life to serving Yogostein.
When Hiramekimedes is introduced he’s seen overpowering the Go-Ongers based on his speed and tactical genius. Even the engines are frightened of him and initially do not want to fight him. With the introduction of the Go-On Wings, you can see Hiramekimedes become more and more frustrated with his plans failing. Every time a flash comes to him, the Go-Ongers and Go-On Wings end up foiling his plans. While Yogostein still believes in him, Hiramekimedes believes there’s no other way around it other than to fight power with power. His cunning and brilliance wasn’t working so he decides to fill his body with enough Bikkurium for 100 Bankijuu and becomes Detaramedes. His mind is destroyed in the process but his strength is nearly unmatched and his fighting style becomes completely random and unreadable.
The only reason I just consider Hiramekimedes “good” and not “great” is because of Urameshimedes. This was a completely unneeded episode after Detaramedes is destroyed where Hiramekimedes comes back in a ghostly form. While the episode is charming in one way, Hiramekimedes had no purpose of being there. He does nothing, the battle was quick and easy, and in the end he’s just destroyed again. They should’ve just let him go out on a high note.
The Go-On Wings. Admittedly I really dislike the way these two were introduced. It was almost like they were haphazardly thrown into an episode because they needed a way to save the Go-Ongers from Hiramekimedes. And I really disliked their personalities in the beginning. Here are these two people who come out of absolutely nowhere and it turns out they have their own engine partners who are equally as stuck-up as they are. They’re rude, disrespect the Go-Ongers on multiple occasions, and treat the Go-Ongers worse than dirt. Yet they believe they’re the only people in the world qualified to be heroes.
While Hiroto and Miu are complete jerks when you meet them, their characters grow quite a bit as they learn more from Master Jumbowhale and about the Go-Ongers. They begin to realize that their way of life isn’t the only path to happiness, that there’s more than one way to be a hero, and that sometimes passion is all that’s necessary to fulfill your destiny. In a way, these two characters develop more over the course of the series than the actual Go-Ongers. Not to mention they also follow the cliche of the “6th ranger”. Although in the case of the Wings, they’re the 6th and 7th rangers respectively. They have the better outfits, the better abilities, and Jetras an Toripter are amazing partners. In fact, we were introduced to those two before we’d ever meet the Go-On Wings. That was a smart choice. It leaves the audience curious about who these flying engines are and who their partners were (because we clearly knew they had partners…if all the other engines had partners there’s no way these two were going to be any different).
The environmental message. I know. I already covered this in the Hyakkujuu Sentai Gaoranger review (linked above). So I won’t repeat myself. I do have to say this about it. You’re only getting bombarded with the concept of polluting the Earth from the Gaiark. There’s literally a Minister of Earth Pollution. If that isn’t spelling it out for you I don’t know what is. Their only duty is to pollute the world so the Gaiark can inhabit it because apparently they don’t like anything to be clean, clear, fresh, or beautiful. What’s beautiful to them is a dirtied world. What makes this environmental message so conflicting at time is that the focus of the series are engine partners. Sure they’re engines that are mixed with animals but they’re more engine than anything else. And just so you don’t forget that most of their names are combination for what they are (Buson equals “bus” and “lion”; Birca equals “bike” and “orca”; Bear RV equals…”bear” and “RV”). It’s a little bit odd to use the engines as a focal point of a series when the message is clearly and environmental one. Why use something that people consider detrimental to the environment as the thing that’s suppose to help protect the environment? It really doesn’t make sense. I suppose that’s why we have a moment where we’re told that the engine partners run on clean energy. I’m sure someone else in the world questioned that logic too.
Kegareshia and Kiteneidas. It’s a shame. These two, especially Kegareshia, had something going for them. Unfortunately they were mostly used for comic relief. You rarely see them fight or see what their abilities are but these two are supposed to be the Water and Air Pollution ministers respectively. All you really see them do is create Bankijuu to do their bidding. Whereas Yogostein really went out their and battled the Go-Ongers, these two just created minions to do all the work for them. And then at the end of the series when Yogostein’s father, Yogoshimacritein, takes over, they suddenly have a change of heart from being used a shields and controlled. They decide to help out the Go-Ongers. While the idea of the bad guys turning good is a staple in many sentai series, you usually see the character develop a bit beforehand. You know…regretting their actions, thinking things through, wanting to make things right…stuff like that. This was just a spur of the moment action. There’s nothing hinting at the possibility that Kegareshia and Kiteneidas might turn good and help the Go-Ongers. They just do. While I like Kegareshia as a member of G3 Princess (the “idol” unit created by Miu, Saki, and Kegareshia in episode 31), this is about the only interesting thing she ever does.
Last but not least, the usage of various universes. We’re told that there are 11 different worlds out there but we’re really only introduced to 5 of them. Human World is clearly the universe that most of the show takes place in. Junk World is where the Gaiark are from. And Machine World is where the Engines are from. These are the only…the only…worlds that needed to every be brought up. But they had to bring up more and these just get stupid. First of the ridiculous worlds we’re introduced to is Samurai World which is just like the Human World except it’s in a constant Edo Period state. While it would be nice if this were just left to the movie…it isn’t. The movies in the sentai world seem to be canon and so Samurai World is brought up various times throughout the show after the movie takes place. The second ridiculous world we’re introduced to is Christmas World. This world literally only exists for the Christmas special but it was used once again in the Go-On/Shinken crossover.
Now this was difficult. I didn’t find anything that was glaringly wrong with the show. What’s bad is bad, but it isn’t horrible. The only thing that really confuses me is the decision to make the mechs a mix of animal and machine. This is never explained but it’s just accepted. The world they’re from is called Machine World so it’s expected that they would be machines. Usually when sentai series create mechs, they relate to the series in some way. Abaranger was about dinosaurs so their mechs were dinosaurs. Gekiranger involved using kenpo that mimicked the movement of animals so their mechs were their specific animal spirits. So why were these guys part animal? Is it only to play to the environmental issues? Most of them don’t even use abilities that their animals would use. We all thought that Speedor could fly but apparently it was only jumping (even though he’s a condor). Bear RV bites things but most animals bite things so that’s not bear specific. The only one that seems to behave in a manner similar to its animal counterpart is Gunpherd and that’s only rarely. Really the only time was when he needed to do a bit of scent tracking and since he’s a police dog (German Shepherd…no he’s not a wolf. His name is Gunpherd for goodness sake. He’s a police car and a shepherd dog) that’s what they do. They don’t even make animals sounds. Their speaking mannerisms consist of saying parts of their name at the end of sentences. So why make them animals if you weren’t going to play to the fact that they’re also animals?
Overall Rating: 3.8/5
Not quite a 4 but almost there. What can I say. The series is fun and funny with a fairly consistent story all the way through. It has a couple of issues here and there and really you don’t think too much about the engines being part animal because that’s something that you get used to from episode one. If you like cars and animals and insanity (or if you just like insanity) then Go-Onger’s a good series for you. If not then…I say you’re missing out on some really funny stuff.
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