It’s hard to believe the first half of Power Rangers Megaforce is already over. (And yeah, I consider Megaforce, Super or not one season. Because why would anyone want the idea of two seasons of a Megaforce or a Samurai anyway?)
But yes, there actually were 20 episodes of Power Rangers Megaforce this year. And when you think about those 20 episodes, all the feelings of disappointment and annoyance are coupled with the half-season itself being meaningless and hollow.
After Samurai completely upended any expectation of sensical storytelling on Power Rangers in this Saban Brands/Saban II Era of the franchise, fans at least held out hope that Megaforce would be a little bit better if only because it would be the big anniversary season and all the Jason David Frank cameos would make up for any shortcomings.
But these first 20 episodes of Megaforce not only took the franchise even more steps back from the retreating Samurai did, it served as a disconcerting preview for the real anniversary celebration that would take place in the 2nd Super half of the season.
Biggest thing Megaforce taught us this year? Drop all expections and get used to what you’re seeing because this is Power Rangers and this will be Power Rangers for the foreseeable future as long as Saban Brands still holds the keys to the tiny little box it intends to keep the franchise stuffed in.
How about the biggest, most unexpected surprise from Megaforce this year? That something would actually make Power Rangers Samurai seem somewhat decent, watchable and *gasp* have better writing and acting.
But it’s true.
Power Rangers Megaforce has been 20 episodes of no story and no plot.
An interesting final two episodes does not a season make. Without any build up or story development in the episodes previous, the events of the final episodes and especially the finale felt hollow and meaningless.
The haphazard way Megaforce tried to condense 50 Goseiger episodes and its four distinct arcs added to the clusterfrack. You think they’d be able to cobble together a simple story in 20 episodes, but they instead tried piecing together random episodes and events that contributed nothing to the bigger picture. And especially not to the final scene of the finale.
Tensou Sentai Goseiger, from which Megaforce is adapted from, had the interesting concept of three different villain groups. Different from Power Rangers Operation Overdrive (a great season, by the way), the villain factions on Goseiger did not battle our heroes at the same time but taking over once the previous threat had been defeated.
The final act of Goseiger tied everything together.
Megaforce didn’t have three different villain groups and instead made the Yuumajuu and Matrintis Empire generals into mere monsters of the week under the first villain group, the Warstar. The problem? Admiral Malkor (aka Monsdrake) does not exist in the Sentai footage during the Yuumaju and Matrintis arcs, yet they still went with him as the perceived “big bad” of the season anyway and then had him disappear for most of it.
The simplest thing to do would’ve been to make Vrak the big bad of the season since of course, *Spoiler Alert!* Buredoran was the real big bad of Goseiger anyway. But making that simple story decision would’ve meant actually having to film new scenes (which they still ended up doing for Metal Alice and Vrak anyway to remove Robogog aka The Messenger until he was needed).
But who cares about logical writing when they could save money instead, right?
Weak, convoluted villains? Okay. As long as the Rangers themselves are great and fun to watch.
Who would’ve thought the Samurai Rangers would be more likeable and relatable than the Megaforce Rangers we’ve eventually gotten?
The lack of character development for any of the Rangers leaves us with paper-thin characterizations that we have to glean from the first time we meet them through the meaningless “stories” we get in the episodes since.
So what do we know about them? Jake is a pissy jerk who is racist against robots, likes to
creep crush on Gia and brings a deadly weapon to school in his backpack. Emma is a Princess Shayla-wannabe who wishes the Earth were free of infrastructure and modern development. Noah is a smart nerd, only when he’s not. Troy is an emotionless robot other than when he’s programmed to laugh at Noah’s lame jokes or when he lets out his irrational hatessss towards water bottles.
And on the surface, Gia’s HBIC personality makes her the only tolerable one in the group. Until you realize maybe she might just be as much of a jerk as the guy crushing on her.
Then there’s them partying it up after every “mega win.” Yeah, you really haven’t done anything to deserve any sort of celebration.
What a group indeed. And we still haven’t mentioned Robo Knight’s flip-flop of a character (he has emotions… then he doesn’t… he wants to learn about humanity!… he’s only a robot…). Or how about the utter uselessness of Gosei and Tensou?
The poor acting certainly doesn’t help anything and compounds the effects of the poor writing. Many will say this year was a waste. And they’d be correct, because absolutely nothing happened. Twenty episodes went by and you can’t even point out what Megaforce is actually about.
But to be fair to the season though, you actually can point to what Megaforce‘s “plot” is all about: High school students being pretentious about saving the environment and eliminating all the disgusting robots on Earth, even though they work with two of them on their team.
Now about that Samurai comparison. Yes, I will definitely say Power Rangers Samurai is the better season so far over Megaforce. Why? The most basic reason is that Samurai had a discernible story. The entire season may have been fed through Google Translate, but in doing so, they also got Shinkenger‘s story and plot. A complete one, at that. There was build-up and actual purpose.
The Rangers were actually doing stuff. Any stuff. Most importantly, they continually trained and were on alert for the impending threat. The Samurai theme certainly helped. But by the Rangers training and actually acknowledging that they need to prepare for some coming evil, it provided them and the season itself a sense of purpose and meaning.
Samurai had a reason to exist. It wasn’t always articulated well, but they had one.
Megaforce did and still does not. At least, the 20 episodes did not play out as if they did. These first 20 episodes were supposed to build up to the arrival of the Armada and the main conflict of the 2nd half of <Megaforce. The MIDseason finale was entitled “End Game” when really it should’ve been titled “Pre-Game.” You can’t say the invasion was Vrak or Malkor or anyone’s end game because the entire year, it seemed as if the Warstar aliens had no idea what they were doing. Maybe just to annoy the pretentious nature-loving Megaforce Rangers I guess, but definitely not preparing for an invasion.
Samurai‘s problem wasn’t that it was a direct adaptation/translation. It was that it was a BAD adaptation and translation. But you can almost give them a pass for being a mere translation because we now see what Saban Brands does with an original story with Megaforce. It’s nonexistent.
When it comes to characters, the Samurai Rangers come off more developed and more likeable. Which is surprising because the Samurai Rangers were jerks the entire time to Mia about her cooking. Actually, not just jerks but real assholes to her. Mia came off the best in the finale when she acknowledges she isn’t the best cook, but doesn’t stoop down to the others’ level when really she should’ve cooked a whole bunch of food and poured it in their luggage before they left the Shiba manse.
But even just comparing the non-Super Samurai season, we already got a clear sense of who the Samurai Rangers were. For Megaforce, we’ve only got cardboard cutouts who you can barely root for.
Three years into this Saban II or Saban Brands Era of Power Rangers and it is more than abundantly clear that this is the Power Rangers we need to accept because they are not going to be changing any time soon. It may be a negative view, but nothing in these last three years and heading into the Super Megaforce suggests otherwise.
What should be the franchise’s 20th anniversary celebration is an empty and hollow attempt at a weekly 30-minute toy commercial. Never mind that Super Sentai and Kamen Rider can sell toys while crafting great stories, American television shows aimed for children, live-action or simple cartoons, can feature interesting, widely appealing stories, great writing, great acting and an overall better experience than anything Saban Brands has turned out for Power Rangers in the last three years.
Instead of being excited about the Power Rangers hanging out at NFL Network or performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you almost feel embarrassed. Would you want to use a Samurai or Megaforce episode to introduce to a new possible viewer or fan? I wouldn’t.
Jason David Frank proclaimed on his Facebook that Disney ruined Power Rangers. Well, if Disney ruined Power Rangers, then after Samurai and now the first half of Megaforce, it appears Saban Brands has burned and shat on it then sold it to unsuspecting consumers. Great for Saban Brands and Bandai who take in the money, but bad for fans and even more importantly, the children who actually deserve more than a burning heap of pointless crap.