I've made 20 posts without talking about Changeman. How the heck did that happen!?! So here I wanted to talk about the episodes that people commonly criticize, because, frankly, I don't understand what people think is so bad about them.
One of the early episodes just trying to establish the players, this episode is about Hayate's promise to a young girl that he'll find her lost kitten, just as the Gozma's latest plan involves capturing strays to turn them into humanoid soldiers in their service. The criticism of this episode is really just based around juvenile jokes about Hayate. It's not the deepest episode, and I do think it's the weakest of the five I'm talking about, but it lets you know that there's more to Hayate, and it gives some creepy and important background to Shiima, helping you get some clues why she's the way she is. It also shows the Changeman fully realizing just how vast the universe is and what they're up against, so I also don't think it should quickly be dismissed as "filler," just a simple establishing episode. My main problem with the episode is how they depicted the dog-humans and cat-humans -- rather cheaply, with masks that look recycled from another production -- but, hey, at least one of them was Yutaka Hirose (pictured above on the right).
Of all of the fanciful and weird things that have been done in tokusatsu, I don't understand why the idea of the team needing Tsurugi's precise targeting (which he displays with his old baseball moves) is just sooooooooooooo "ridiculous." Again, this episode fills in some history for Tsurugi, works in actor Haruki Hamada's past as a champion high-school ball player (it's certainly worked in better than Goseiger worked in Mikiho Niwa's cheerleading past), AND it features an homage to the early Sentai's sports-ball finishing attacks with the Bomball invented by Oozora.
I think this is seriously one of the funniest Sentai episodes out there. Gozma employs a singer whose sound-waves cause destruction -- his one weakness? Oozora's terrible singing. That first scene where the Earth Force is having a karaoke night with Yuuma...it's gold. Shirou Izumi is frickin' hilarious in that scene, as Yuuma first pigs out in the background before dodging his turn at the mic -- he's eventually found and proceeds to let rip a terrible cover of a pop song which happened to be a hit at the time. (I miss when tokusatsu would sometimes use actual songs, and not just the stuff recorded for the show.) Izumi switches gears in an instant from making you laugh to making you feel sorry for him as he gradually is reduced to tears by the other Earth Force members laughing at his performance. Then you have Pegasus fighting the monster of the week -- who's perfectly singing the pop song Yuuma bungled on karaoke night -- by singing the Changeman opening and, later, the Change Robo theme, but it's done in a way that's not super obvious.
I've seen this episode take a lot of flak, and I just don't know why. Maybe you need to be an animal lover, but I think it's really one of the saddest Sentai episodes I've seen. It's tragic how Yuuma saves this horse from being put down and grows attached to the horse to the point where they share Earth Force, the power of the pegasus invigorating the horse Yuuma named Pegasus, and the horse helps save the day and dies in the process. Cripes, Gozma's plot was to basically hit Japan (the world?) with an EMP -- the Change Suits were effected, and Pegasus saved the day by destroying the device. That put to Tatsumi Yano's awesome and urgent and dramatic music, I mean...crikey, how cold-hearted are ya?
The second of two baseball episodes people complain about. Once Ahames takes over Gozma, a lot of her plans are more focused on attacking the Changeman directly, and this one is about getting Tsurugi by summoning ghosts of teenage baseball players who had a beef with him and died before they may have gotten to take him on in a championship game. Maybe it is a little weird that so many people knew of Tsurugi, with his just being an ordinary high-school player, and the way there were so many mysterious teen deaths, but...oh, well. That sort of thing just falls under "Toku Logic" to me. The focus is on just one ball player who leads the team of ghosts Tsurugi eventually challenges to a game in order to send them back to a peaceful grave. The player's surviving younger brother cheers him on in the game and, thanks in no small part to an instrumental of the song "We Can Change," I find the scene does work in an emotional way. I don't know, I don't see why people have such problems with Changeman's two baseball episodes. People have called this episode things like "goofy" and "schizo," but how's this ghostly game of ball any different than Field of Dreams? Is that movie or its source novel "goofy" or "schizo"? No, it's considered a classic and a tearjerker. Plus, this episode's the debut of Ghost Guiluke, which ends up working out nicely with the episode's premise and theme.