TV REVIEW: The First Episode of “Zyuranger” is Insane

Title: Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger

Episode: The Birth

Directed by: Shohei Tojo

Produced by: Toei Company

Distributed by: Shout! Factory

Original Air Date: February 1992 

If you were a ’90s kid, it was very likely you were a big fan of the Power Rangers. Debuting in 1993, Power Rangers launched the Fox Kids programming block, generated billions of dollars in toy sales, and gave Haim Saban the first of many, MANY private islands. So, how does a brand generate this kind of capital in such a short timespan? The American way, of course, by letting someone else do half the work and doing your part super cheaply! 

In the least surprising factoid that people still may not know, the first Power Rangers is an adaptation from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger from the Super Sentai series, which is a yearly show in the tokusatsu genre–which I believe translates to “Putting Children in Danger;” live explosives, scary monsters, dangerous situations, no child is left behind from the complete madness that ensues in seemingly every episode.

Today we are looking at the very first episode of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, titled “The Birth,” and seeing if this single episode gives any indication what this classic series has in store viewers (and if this show should have been rated “TV-Oh-My-God-This-Was-For-Kids???”).

And in case you are wondering, no, I am not making anything up. Everything I’m about to go over happens. Don’t believe me? It’s all available to stream online for free at shoutfactorytv.com, so you can watch the episode RIGHT HERE.

The show starts with…

Rawr! (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

Jeff Goldblum! What the hell?! Before any theme song, before any exposition, you get hit with a realistic dinosaur face looking for its next meal. This is the exact view a prehistoric mammal had before being swallowed, and this frightening image happens every single episode, complete with horrific dinosaur roar sound cue. Imagine being a parent, letting your kid watch some TV on the weekend, and then all of a sudden a giant reptile sends your kid screaming from the room. Now, you have to explain the fact that the dinosaur was a good guy, which is just a bald-faced lie; one look at that face, and you know it’s going for your soul.

The weird thing is that right after a series of terrifying robot dinosaurs, the show goes straight into the cheesiest theme song possible. I guess it’s trying to be brave and hopeful, mixing in these fantasy elements at the same time, but it just comes off as corny and lame. Barney the Dinosaur wouldn’t use this song as a ringtone. You could ask a performer at a renaissance faire to perform this song, but he would go, “Look, I know I’m wearing tights and playing a lute, but I have some self-respect.” It’s just such a strange choice to go with a song that makes you think, “Wow, I can beat up this entire group of heroes by myself.”

Get the shot, my arms are cramping! (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

The episode begins with a news report that states that Planet Nemesis is in Earth’s orbit for the first time in centuries. Scientists put together a crew of astronauts to investigate, which include…

In space, no one can hear you hope for the best. (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

…two seven-year-olds, for some reason. This seems like one of those situations where really smart people don’t realize what is a bad idea. First, you have to go through an insane amount of testing just to see if you can even make it out of the atmosphere (something tells me these kids couldn’t make it past the first Zero G test). Plus, you’ve got to feed them, and there’s no way an elementary school kid could even handle dehydrated… anything. I should know. I’ve been on vacations as a kid, and I could barely handle a car trip to Disney World. To act like these kids could even stand a months-long expedition to a really ominous planet that doesn’t have a theme park is a writer who doesn’t have kids at all. 

So, the real astronauts start exploring the planet, which is basically nothing but sand and false hope. The first and only thing they find is a strange sewer cover surrounded with spikes and topped with jewels, to which they immediately react like toddlers seeing something shiny. The only person who’s worried about this is a strange old man back on Earth, telling no one in particular to not open the hatch. But how did he hear what’s happening on an entirely different planet?

I’ve heard of cauliflower ear, but this is ridiculous. (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

By growing the ear of what seems to be an entirely different species, of course! Either that, or Spock got obese and diseased,l and they had to cut it off. I know there are sayings about if a guy has big hands or big feet (wink, wink) but that just doesn’t work for big ears. The only saying for that situation is, “If a guy has big ears, can the doctor do anything about it?”

The astronauts immediately pop the top on the sewer cover, which I can honestly understand. When your boss sends you to the completely barren planet with a name that sounds really evil, coming back empty-handed is a lot of resources down the drain. Unfortunately, they immediately released our series’s antagonist…

Express yourself! (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

…the evil witch, Bandora (a.k.a. Rita Repulsa for you Americans). Honestly, it’s kind of a weird reveal. Her personal style is a mixture of a Tusken Raider from Star Wars and early ’90s Madonna, complete with cone bra. To thank the astronauts for freeing her and her cronies, she immediately force pushes them into outer space.

There goes our hazard pay. (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

With the only form of authority now in the vacuum of space, there’s nothing stopping her from taking revenge on planet Earth (let’s face it, it probably deserves it). Bandora flies back to Earth, and using her magic powers, starts wrecking chaos all over Japan. In a crazy display of her power, she takes an entire skyscraper into orbit, and then places it back down, carrying her evil base directly on top of it. 

It’s the Bandora Palace Playset! All figures sold separately! (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

OK, this is less magician, and more deity than anything else. The townsfolk seeing this would just start worshiping her immediately. Here’s a warlock that’s millions of years old, flying around the city, a complete monster crew following her every whim, lifting and moving entire city blocks around like children’s toys. Something tells me diplomacy just isn’t going to work somehow. 

While flying around, Bandora makes contact with our strange old man from earlier in the day. But he is no ordinary strange old man! In one quick turn, he becomes…

Am I wearing a costume, or did I forget one of my pills? (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

… mysterious Sage Barza! He uses the last of his magic powers to–I’m sorry to break away from the story, but… just look at this old man! He looks like he was attacked by the Children’s Television Workshop. It looks like he lost a bet in Elmo’s World. The guy can barely walk as it is. His dramatic turn into this transformation was just him, barely turning 180 degrees. And it’s not like he had a cape to flip around or anything like that. I bet the ad posting for this role said something like, “Looking for older gentlemen to play powerful and wise sage.” And then, you walk into that costume.

Here’s a fun piece of info. We’re only 7 minutes into this episode!

Bandora has captured the children in the shuttle, and sets up an elaborate plan to crush the children within an hour, all of which is done offscreen. For someone with a crazy amount of powers, to have the ego and poor planning skills of a James Bond villain is understood, but still. She only has one magic spell, and it’s explosions. She had no problem pushing people into space, yet when it comes to children, we’re going to go full ticking clock syndrome, just to give them a chance. 

Thankfully, Barza always has a backup plan when 170 million-year-old adversaries come back and start wreaking havoc on his home planet. He heads back into his condo, gets into his secret elevator to…

Wasted away again in Margaritaville! (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

… complete paradise! What rewards program do I have to join to have a private vista in my name? Why would you even visit the surface if you have a place like this? Hell, I’d be drinking Mai Tais all day! Did the dinosaurs have Mai Tais? I hope they had Mai Tais.

Because Barza knew Bandora would come back someday, he locked away five warriors from different tribes to be prepared. Barza unlocks four of the doors with keys that look like they came right out of a Zelda dungeon. We’re lucky that he didn’t lose them somewhere in his townhouse. Hell, I’ll lose my keys in a heartbeat, and I put those in my pocket! The rangers are freed from their General Zod prisms and are suddenly ready to fight.

Kneel before Mammoth Ranger! (Image Credit: Shout! Factory)

Barza goes to unlock the Red Ranger’s door, and the key immediately breaks.

No, it’s not a euphemism! Image: Shout! Factory

Talk about “You got one job!” I know it’s a minor miracle that the keys didn’t turn into rust after 170 million years, but come on! You just did the same thing 4 times in a row, did the door handle surprise you the fifth time? It’s been 170 million years, you can find time to practice unlocking doors. 

Barza sends the four rangers to save the kids while he reflects on the fact he probably should have unlocked the leader of the group first. So the heroic warriors from the era of the dinosaurs bravely enter battle against the forces of evil. 

On super awesome dinosaur-themed motorcycles.

Because Triceratops were naturally Yamaha Blue. Image: Shout! Factory

Yes, this does raise a lot of questions. How do these prehistoric fighters know how to ride a motorcycle? Were motorcycles around in their time? Where were these motorcycles kept? Why are they already shaped like the giant robots we won’t even get to until episode 4? How come they are just given these bikes without a quest? Do these bikes have any sort of superpowers? 

The answer is obvious: Because…super awesome Dino-Bikes!

The four warriors, in a complete lack of planning, strategy, and foresight, charge Bandora’s makeshift castle. This is exactly what happens when a magician picks a volunteer to join him onstage. They have no idea what’s happening, they are made to look like fools, and they immediately get into a fight. At least, that’s what happens when I’m on stage for a magic show. I still don’t know why I’m barred from that casino.

The rangers charge the door, and immediately appear on a beach. Don’t question it, I don’t have answers either.  While the Rangers are suspicious of their surroundings, they immediately encounter…

These guys really need a bikini boot camp. Image: Shout! Factory

… just the cutest little henchmen ever! There’s just something about how clearly these beings are just someone’s hand covered in industrial strength Play-D’oh just makes them more endearing. While these little guys don’t seem to pose too much of an issue, they do have one amazing superpower…

Pow! Right in the kisser! Image: Shout! Factory

… great timing on slapstick comedy! Even bad guys have a sense of humor. Especially when it comes to surprise assaults on our supposed heroes!

Then, in a moment that is designed to break brains, a giant TV comes out of the ocean, while the background turns into a blacklight Van Gogh ripoff, and Bandora attacks everyone.

I wasn’t lying! Image: Shout! Factory

I wish I had answers, people. I really do.

Meanwhile, Old Man Barza is doing everything he can to open the door of the missing ranger, including…

What really killed the dinosaurs? High powered artillery! Image: Shout! Factory

… shooting a fully operational cannon at the door! Apparently, someone has never watched Mythbusters before. Now, this might be just me, but has anyone else noticed that this entire team is, oh, I don’t know, COMPLETELY USELESS? Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s bad luck and first day jitters, but they act like they were a SWAT team back in the day, but they are just stepping on every rake and thumbtack possible.

For example, here they are, the entire team, getting trapped in a cage, being cooked alive by fire, like a rotisserie chicken. 

“Roll the dice, move your mice” took a really weird turn. Image: Shout! Factory

For being the bravest warriors in their villages, apparently planning and strategy was never a topic of conversation. I mean, when you’re getting captured by the equivalent of the board game Mouse Trap, you need to get your hero qualifications renewed.

At this point in time, even the Dino God spirits have had enough of this incompetence. The tyrannosaurus statue shoots lasers out of its eyes, blasting the door opening, freeing the leader who basically warps to his allies, all while hitting the audience with another giant dinosaur face.

LSD Rawr! Image: Shout! Factory

After being saved by an actual hero, we get to the entire point of the show: awesome karate moves. It’s basically every mess of a fight scene you’ve come to know and love. Except, on this watching, I forgot how brutal these rangers are, apparently. The Pink Ranger is a sniper and nails arrow shots in eyes…

Take that, Arrow-to-the-Knee Guy. Image: Shout! Factory

… the Black Ranger is throwing people off of buildings to nothing but complete doom…

Where’s the crash mat? Image: Shout! Factory

… and the Yellow Ranger just pulls out a toy blaster and starts laser blasting everyone! 

Did I fire 6 shots, or only 5? Image: Shout! Factory

I now take back everything I said about beating up these particular Rangers.

After completely dominating all of the bad guys, the Red Ranger sends Pink and Blue to save the children, still stuck on the space shuttle, which they do in the nick of time. However, it brings up a really big question. Namely…

The NASA program had humble beginnings. Image: Shout! Factory

… what the hell is happening with scale?!? Literally every single person, monster, building, and lackey have experienced confusing amounts of size disparity. This is like watching the scene from Alice in Wonderland where Alice shrinks down, but in reverse, 5 times in a row, and your head is turned away for a minute. But at least the kids are saved and everything can go back to-

It’s Punch O’Clock! Image: Shout! Factory

Oh, what fresh hell is this? Not only does this make the team 2 for 2 on being punched by surprise, but they immediately fumble the fun-sized kids meal space shuttle, which is immediately picked up by…

You took it out of the packaging! It’s worthless now! Image: Shout! Factory

King Arthur’s crown! You mean to tell me that Bandora waited until the last minute to unleash her giant nightmare knight, punch any and all rangers in the way, re-kidnap the space shuttle playset, and then immediately disappear, basically ensuring a clean getaway until next week’s episode? Talk about burying the lead. 

You then get hit with probably the worst thing in the entire episode: The show’s end theme. This theme song makes the Wiggles sound like Pantera. Baby Shark heard this and went “I’m out! I can’t get worse than that!” Not only do your ears get assaulted by elevator muzak on quaaludes, you are also shown scenes that attempt to show the characters goofing around, hopefully distracting you enough that you forget the team completely failed to save the two innocent children kidnapped by evil space magicians.

We accomplished nothing! Yeah! Image: Shout! Factory

Wow. What a 20 minute roller coaster of a show. And this franchise, let alone this show, has been keeping up with this insanity since 1975. And while every piece of weirdness may turn off a normal human being, I love every second of it. Give me giant robots, give me strange comic relief, give me horrifying monsters, I want all of it. And to think that someone watched this and would go “You know who would love this? Americans!” But I am all the more grateful for it.

What about you? Did you know how crazy this series got? Let us know on the Boss Rush Discord.


Featured Image: Shout! Factory

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The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast live on Wednesday Nights on Twitch at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT or on Monday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening! You can also get this episode one week early on Patreon.

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