Review: Ultraman Ginga (2013) & Ultraman Ginga S (2014)
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Seijuu Sentai Gingamanis the 22nd series in Toei’s Super Sentai franchise. Debuting on Feb 22, 1998, and lasting for a total of 50 episodes, Gingaman returned to the mystical/magical motif reminiscent of the early 90’s series like Zyuranger and Dairanger. It is also the last Super Sentai series to use the ‘-man’ suffix.
The Balban space pirates were sealed away at the bottom of the ocean by five warriors from the legendary Ginga Forest, with help from the Seijuu (Star Beasts). In present day, as the 133rd generation prepare to inherit the mantle of the ancient warriors, they are attacked by the revived Balban, which leads to Hyuuga, one of the chosen warriors, falling into a crevice, but not before handing his Seijuuken to his younger brother Ryouma. Ryouma and the remaining four must become the Seijuu Sentai Gingaman to stop the Balban once and for all!
I have had the first few episodes of Gingaman sitting around in my hard disk for the longest time, and never really got into watching them. I’ve seen a little of the team in the crossovers with Megaranger and GoGoV (I’ve only completed the former) from way back in the early-mid 2000s and I did find the characters quite likeable. One of the things that also caught my interest about Gingaman was Ogawa Teruaki’s role as Hyuuga/Bull Black. For those who don’t know, Ogawa played Sasuke/Ninja Red in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger only four years prior. MillionFold Curiosityreally picked up the pace on the episodes in the past few months (Thanks guys!) and so began my journey to save the Ginga Forest.
Gingaman was a pleasant surprise throughout. I didn’t like Zyuranger at all. In fact, I barely lasted 10 episodes and couldn’t be bothered to skip to the Burai parts like most people would have, and I expected Gingaman to be similarly lacklustre. However, for Gingaman I eventually found myself cramming an episode or two whenever I could do so around my busy work schedule.
It’s never easy coming off an excellent series like Megaranger, but the Gingaman proved itself to be a gem of a series. The plots were almost never boring and we learnt an incredible amount of information about each character through what most may usually call ‘filler’ episodes. I particularly liked the episodes where Gouki had to contend with his emotions for Suzuko-sensei, as well as the build up to the Knight Axe arc.
Children are also normally intrusive and distracting in Tokusatsu shows but Yuuta always felt like an important part of the show—providing an essential link between the Gingaman team and the outside world.
Gingaman also had a very unique villain structure. They were all Balban, but each commander had his/her own faction, complete with its own name, battle plan and thematic monsters of the week, similar to the various Shocker sub-groups in Kamen Rider. The only thing they shared in common were their much disputable loyalties to Zahab and the Yatoto henchmen.
Lastly, music. Epic background music. Sahashi Toshihiko. ’nuff said
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Charlie Brown suits have been mentioned over and over again, but I won’t dwell on them because they had little effect on the viewing experience for me. The team did have some amazing helmet designs though.
Some of the subplots had interesting set-ups but never really felt satisfying in the end. One of these was the Knight Axe plot as well as the rivalry between Hayate and Shelinda. The Knight Axe saga was wonderfully built up, with two characters from both sides of the battle forced to give up their allies for a common goal. However, due to the extensive nature of the main plot line, this one played out over fewer minutes, and I felt they could have given the series at least one more episode to explore this one properly.
The one thing I really disliked was the repetitive mecha battles, in which the sequence of appearance for each robot could be predicted after a few watches, especially after the Steel Seijuu appeared.
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?
Gingaman feels like a great Sentai series for newcomers to start with, or Sentai fans who are looking to check out old but not so old series. It may not seem as enticing as the flashier 90’s entries such as Dairanger or Megaranger, but it is one with a lot of heart and soul. And a talking tree.