I have been thoroughly enjoying Uchu Sentai Kyuranger. At this point, it’s probably, at the very least, number 3 on my all-time Sentai list. It has rarely, if ever, really disappointed me this season. But, that changes now after watching The V-cinema release Episode of Stinger.
I really had high hopes for this special. For one, I was really looking forward to seeing more of Stinger and Champ’s adventures from when they walked into the sunset together. There’s certainly a lot of material there for some crazy and exciting adventures. Also, of all the Kyurangers, I think Stinger is probably the most interesting and has the most readily available foundation for his or her own movie.
However, Episode of Stinger has to be the first time this season that I’ve been left underwhelmed and even a little disappointed.
Episode of Stinger begins with the Kyurangers on the planet Sleeby. It continues on from the special High School Wars minisodes. But the focus quickly shifts to Stinger and Champ as they are thrown off a cliff by who apparently is a familiar foe. The two of them then flashback to what is implied to be the one and only adventure that Stinger and Champ encountered while on their journey together.
They encounter a small community of human Jark Matter refugees who are apparently being tormented by a strange woman with a grotesque arm. She is assumed to be some kind of Jark Matter alien/assassin. And is thus driven away from the colony by the people who want nothing to do with her. Stinger and Champ arrive just as she vows to kill them all in the name of Jark Matter. But Stinger doesn’t readily believe the locals after the woman, who is named Mika, says that she only seeks power. Those words make Stinger remember his own brother’s wish which he said before he murdered their entire Village.
The rest of the movie involves Stinger trying to understand where Mika is coming from. She reveals that she had been ostracized, quite violently, by the locals for being half-human/half-alien. That drove her to join Jark Matter, seduced by Daikaan Thunderbird/Zandabarudo.
Despite Stinger’s attempts to get Mika to see the light, she ends up murdering every single person in the refugee colony as revenge for the way they treated her. But she is also killed when eventually it is revealed that Thunderbird had merely set everything in motion, pitting the humans against each other until they killed each other. That apparently delighted Don Armage to the point that Thunderbird was promoted to Karo.
Of course, at the end of the movie and back in the present day, an enraged Stinger, with the help of all the other “human” Kyurangers, defeat Thunderbird. (This is also while Champ is conveniently berserk.)
The movie is almost an hour long, but the story never felt like it needed an entire hour to be told. A large chunk of the movie was merely an excuse to have Yosuke Kishi show off his excellent singing voice.
Most of the rest of the movie was filled with some violent and gory action. Now Sentai and Kamen Rider V-cinemas are usually much more gory and violent than the series and even the theatrical releases. But this movie has to take the cake. People were being slaughtered left and right. And it wasn’t just colorful zaps and lasers and camera trickery. People were getting stabbed and gorged to death. And I don’t seem to remember any V-cinema that I’ve watched that involved mass graves.
That brutality would have been pretty powerful if it had been accompanied by an equally heavy story. But the movie really lacked the depth that the series itself has been able to do on a regular basis.
As I mentioned earlier, I was looking forward to lots of different adventures with Stinger and Champ as they searched for Scorpio. But it did seem like the events of this movie were really the only interesting thing that happened to them. And that is quite a shame. Even if there had only been one adventure, at the very least it should have been big and epic. But if all that happened was what we saw in this movie, then that is very disappointing.
The overall premise of this movie is not bad in and of itself. The idea that Don Armage has one of his Daikaan pit humans against each other in some kind of Most Dangerous Game/Zyuohger-Ginis type of situation is very terrifying. That’s a level of evil and brutality from Jark Matter and Don Armage that we haven’t seen yet. Being a V-Cinema release, the movie could’ve done a lot with the idea of discrimination and really, racism as well.
But you didn’t really feel that sense of gravity in the situation.
It wasn’t even fun since most of the movie was depressing, having people kill each other over what is basically racial tensions in the Intergalactic sense. And we got basically what we already had in-series of how Stinger and Champ’s relationship grew and developed.
Yosuke Kishi definitely deserved a much better showcase than this movie. It was definitely all flashbang with no substance.
I mean, you can definitely see what they were trying to do with it. The sepia tone aimed to give the whole thing this gritty sort of atmosphere. It aimed to really highlight just the sheer brutality of (at the end) Don Armage, but during the film, the brutality of Mika and the locals. And this experience overall seemed to try and provide more basis for Stinger’ s actions when he finally came face-to-face with his brother.
As we saw in-series, Stinger held out hope that he could save his brother. But he was heartbroken in the worst way. Not only did Scorpio attempt to play Stinger one more time, he would have killed Stinger had it not been pardner Champ stepping in front of the attack.
Stinger wanting to be the noble hero is certainly in his character. But the movie really only made it seem like he wanted to save Mika because she was hot and cute.
There’s definitely a great movie hidden somewhere in this movie’s premise. But compared to how well the show has been written and how it has dealt with heavy plots, this movie definitely fell short. If this movie had been done for any other season even, I think I wouldn’t see it as harshly. But my expectations for Kyuranger are pretty high. And unfortunately, Episode of Stinger just didn’t seem to come together as well as the series has been.