*Redemption of KibiMangoez points complete*
Avataro Sentai Donbrothers has been a great season. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Did it come close to perfection like my favorite Sentai seasons Go-Busters and ToQger? No.
But did I enjoy the season and have fun this past year? Definitely!
Donbrothers is such an interesting season. It actually has a lot of missteps and shortcomings and flaws that would absolutely ruin any other season for me. Yet, Donbrothers is one of the rare instances where they fostered a lot of goodwill early on and built upon that throughout the season.
That’s why later in the season, I called that goodwill KibiMangoez points. The season earned so much goodwill with me that they could cash in some KibiMangoez points and I would forgive it for things that would absolutely annoy me on any other season. I would be much more lenient with missteps or story decisions I did not agree with.
A big part of the goodwill is the season’s overall lighthearted and loose nature. As slapstick and random as the season could get, I never got the feeling that it went too far or became too annoyingly extreme. Perhaps part of that is also accepting the season’s tone early on as well. So I didn’t continue on into the season with any kind of high expectations in that regard.
In turn, part of the season’s tone lies solely on the shoulders of the cast and the characters. And this cast has done a great job at bringing these sometimes wacky, always endearing characters to life.
Over the years in my watching of toku, the strength of the characters has often helped carry a season for me. Even if the overall story wasn’t delivering, the cast and characters could easily pick up the slack. For me, probably most important is the ability to actually care about what happens to the characters I’ve been watching for one year. If by the end of the year, I don’t care one bit what happens to the characters (especially title character), then it will likely not be a favorite season for me.
Then of course there’s seasons where I actually dislike the characters (see: the Zyuman4, the Sword of Logos crew) but that’s definitely different.
With the Donbrothers, the characters and its charming and charismatic cast helped to ease whatever shortcomings the season’s story and plot had. I always mention Episode 5. And I think that is really the episode that solidified it for me. As you can see, it was very early on in the season. But the first four episodes were so randomly odd. And all of a sudden, we got this quite emotional Episode 5 that actually brought together all the pieces they had quickly laid out so far in the episodes before it.
Looking back, it is perhaps the best example of the refreshing approach Donbrothers took to the Sentai format this year.
To sum up the season, I would say it was a character-driven slice of life story. The action, to be honest, took a backseat to these slice of life moments and character-focus episodes. Of course, with a tokusatsu show, you still want to have explosive and kickass action. And Donbrothers certainly still had those. But the season really seemed to put a lot more effort in the slice of life vignettes rather than crafting an overarching mission or plot.
There was nothing to collect. Not even a main antagonist to defeat. And yet, the season was still interesting and engaging and at times, very exciting.
Perhaps for others, that feeling might be what ultimately turns them off for the season. But for me, I guess I draw upon my K-drama watching and my love of quieter slice of life stories. The kind of slowburn series that take a while to get going, but in the end, you find yourself really connecting to the characters and wanting to root for their happiness and/or success.
That’s how I felt here with the Donbros. I even mentioned at points throughout the season how some episodes felt like they were a K-drama or, maybe more appropriately, an Asadora or NHK morning drama. A few story threads this season felt like your typical American soap opera or Filipino teleserye plot too. Others felt like some “us against the world” romance story. (*cough*Tarou/Sonoi*cough*)
So maybe that experience helped to draw me into Donbrothers more than I would have otherwise.
That’s not to say this season did not have any actual story progression or character development. Because it certainly did. Though again, the season could’ve easily done a lot more with these stories by going into more depth or adding a lot more to their foundation.
Still, each of the Donbros and later even the Noto3 each got unexpected, but welcome growth through the season. And it must have all worked considering these last couple of episodes have felt satisfying. Even if there are some “What if” or “What could’ve been” feelings that seep into that satisfaction as well.
As much as I might want it, Donbrothers isn’t going to have some grand or twisty climax. And that’s just fine. It became more obvious as the season progressed that it would not end in that way. Would I have wanted it to? Sure. But for what we got, it, again, still felt very satisfying.
At the beginning of the season, I was completely confused about the CGI members of the team. I didn’t know how they would work. I didn’t like what it might portend for the future. But I also knew I would get over it and get used to it after a couple of weeks. Which I did.
The CGI members of the team feels more like simply an aesthetic decision. Just to add something different to the visuals. The CGI Donbros didn’t necessarily add more exciting action sequences. Nor did they even add to the story actually. It just seemed like simply a visual twist to add something different to the show.
My only hope was that at some point in the season, the Donbros would find a way to temporarily make Inu Brother and Kiji Brother normal sized so we could see Tsubasa and Tsuyoshi helmetless in the suit. But oh well.
I do still have criticisms of the season. Like better developing the Donbro-Noto3 relationship. Going more in depth with the characters’ backstories. Things like that. Obviously, more episodes could solve that. And honestly, it feels like Donbrothers could continue for 10 or even 20 episodes and still have lots left to do.
But again, I just circle back to how the season really racked up a lot of KibiMangoez Points that any criticism I might have is negated by the simply fun time I had watching all year.
I’ll post my updated Sentai rankings tomorrow. But while Donbrothers might not displace my top favorites, it has more than earned its spot amongst my next tier of seasons I enjoyed. Recency bias might give the Donbros the edge. But I do sincerely love and enjoy the refreshing energy the Donbros were able to bring to toku this last year.
I will certainly miss the Donbros. It was truly enjoyable to just come in week after week for 30 minutes of wild, wacky shenanigans. The times when the show would do quieter and more emotional moments (which were surprisingly often) were big bonuses. And the cast and characters really helped to bring it all together.
Thank you to the entire Donbrothers team! It’s been a great year! And it is really exciting to be able to feel this way for a toku season!