Monday, May 8, 2017

Super Sentai What-if -- The Seventh Zyuranger

As much as I like Burai, the last time I re-watched Zyuranger, I started to think his storyline was a little murky. So, he and Geki are brothers, the offspring of the lower Black Knight of the Yamato Kingdom. The Yamato King wants the Black Knight's newborn, Geki, to raise as his own, presumably to take over the kingdom. The Black Knight goes along with this...and then changes his mind? He starts a rebellion, reneging on the arrangement he seemed happy to make, getting his fool ass killed in the process. Little Burai witnesses his dad, the Black Knight, being killed, with the Black Knight screwing the kid up by making him vow to avenge him. OK, that's an understandable motivation for Burai, and he ends up shifting that hatred onto Geki, but what always puzzled me was...Burai declaring himself the Yamato Prince over Geki.

Buuba's the Yamato King...and he stole Icarus' outfit.

Huh, wha, how? How does he figure -- does he just think he should have been the one to have been adopted, instead of Geki? He literally has no claim. It's not like the Yamato King overthrew the Black Knight -- the Black Knight was a nobody. And it's not like anyone in their right mind would have wanted to adopt 8 year old Burai, especially when he was played by Dairanger's Kou! (The casting here is funny all around; the Yamato King is Yoshinori Okamoto, the Black Knight is Toshimichi Takahashi -- two JAC guys who mostly play villains. And then the evil Kiba Ranger as young Burai!) Burai thinking he was owed the title of Yamato Prince is one of the things that makes this story murky...

Death Giller is Burai's pops. No wonder he's an a-hole.

And there's something else. Something bigger. Something that proves Burai was never planned to be in the damn show. In episode 2, Geki gives viewers who missed the first episode a quick rundown of the show's backstory; the way that there was a human civilization in the time of dinosaurs, the way they were divided into kingdoms who worshiped a certain dinosaur. That it was a time of peace...until Bandora launched her war, slaughtering tons of people and dinosaurs. Among the victims, according to Geki? His father, the Yamato King, his mother, and...HIS TEN-YEAR OLD SISTER! While it's something the writers didn't seem to think was important enough to remember, my mind kind of ran off with this idea...

If Geki had a younger sister, she was probably the Yamato King and Queen's actual offspring. I imagine the Yamato King took Geki off of the Black Knight, and shortly after the Yamato Queen got pregnant and it was like "Oops!" But then the Queen gave birth to a girl, and the Yamato King was probably like "Whew! Dodged a bullet there. I want me a boy to inherit my kingdom, so I didn't risk a war with that insane Black Knight for nothin'." So, I thought...what if Geki's sister was still out there? What if she grew up, watching from a distance, shaking her head at Burai's insistence that he was the Yamato Prince, while also kind of disregarding Geki, since he was adopted? She'd have royal blood and more claim to the Yamato Kingdom than either of them. What if she had survived, what if she showed up with her own powers and threw her crown onto the battlefield? Here's where I get a little fan-fic'y...

Zyuranger is incredibly vague with its background details. (For good reason, otherwise they couldn't shoehorn something like Dragon Ranger in there.) The show's not clear on how long the war with Bandora lasted in the old days. Geki's said to be 24 in the show. So, that obviously means that's the age he was put in stasis. Now, I'm assuming Bandora's attack lasted a few years. I kind of picture a big war, with Geki helping to fight, maybe as young as 18 years old. They'd have to have been at war for a while, it wasn't like Bandora showed up, the Shugozyu immediately came to save the day. No...Bandora was a destructive force, and caused a lot of harm and damage to the crazy prehistoric society of Zyuranger. Maybe early in the battle, a few years before Geki was chosen to be put on ice, his family perished in an attack. But maybe his 10 year old sister was just critically wounded, finding herself in the care of another tribe...? Maybe, as she healed, she watched over Geki and the battle with Bandora, knowing Geki and the other Zyuranger were being frozen for if the world ever needed them again. Maybe she spent years training herself and studying and eventually had herself frozen, as well, just in case. (Hey, maybe she knew about Burai and was like "That guy's going to be a pain in the ass. We need a plan B.") This is all my way of saying: if I'm bringing Geki's sister back into the mix, I don't want her to be a tween. I want her to spend some time growing and learning and becoming a Zyuranger. She's watching from the sidelines, the Zyuranger are already frozen. She grows into a young woman before deciding to follow Geki's Encino Man play.

The backstory I picture is basically that she's seriously wounded, taking time to recover. She's found by a lesser known, kind of discredited tribe in the Dinosaur Kingdom. They worship the goddess Chelys Reina, one of the oldest known Shugozyu, who was kind of pushed out once Shugozyu Tyrannosaurus proved his might. She bonds with the tribe, but also with Chelys Reina, and eventually comes to share the Shugozyu's feeling of being overlooked. Unlike Burai, she's not coming from a hateful place, but a place of hurt, feeling undervalued, unappreciated. She's a fighter, so she'll fight, but she's not antagonistic. She shares Chelys Reina's feeling of peace and harmony. At age 23, having trained as a warrior and having developed her own Zyuranger powers derived from Chelys Reina, she enters stasis. In 1992, amidst the new war with Bandora and a game of thrones over the Yamato Kingdom thanks to Burai, she emerges onto the battlefield as...

                           CHELYS RANGER!

I went through a bunch of dinosaurs to find one to base her on. I didn't really like any of the options. I remembered, when MMPR and Jurassic Park were both huge, when kids in school would draw their own Power Rangers based off of dinosaurs not seen in the show, and the popular one (of course) was a raptor. I thought of using that just for that connection, but I didn't like it. (At that time, I drew a Power Ranger based off of the dilophosaurus. Imagine my disappointment when I found out Jurassic Park lied about the poison spit and the neck frill. So, to base a Zyuranger off of a dilophosaurus, it would basically just look like a T. rex with a mohawk. C'mon.) The person who helped me with this project, who drew that design, wanted to go with something really nutty -- a pentaceratops. I liked the crazy look, but basically didn't like the association with triceratops (and therefore Dan).

I wanted something that out T. rex'd a T. rex, man. The popular dinosaur to pit against a T. rex, due to its size and viciousness, is the spinosaurus. While I think it's interesting that the spinosaurus hunted on both land and in water, it basically looks like a giant alligator, so I didn't think it would make that unique of a helmet. And then it hit me -- prehistoric turtles. There's a wide variety of prehistoric turtles, and I liked the look of a few of them, so there's a kind of blending of a few, Chelys Ranger isn't based on just one. (The biggest influence being proganochelys.) I wanted Chelys Ranger to be regal, to really show-off that she's the one true royal. I knew she had to be purple, the color of royalty. I wanted her to stand out alongside Burai, so I wanted her to have some gold-colored, shell-based armor, the way Dragon Ranger has his shield. The illustrator decided to color the tips of the horns of the helmet gold to evoke a crown.

"Chelys" is Latin for tortoise.

I needed a name for the character who becomes Chelys Ranger. I considered a weird mix of names that sounded appropriate to the show -- short little names like Geki, Boi, Mei, etc. -- but I decided on something else instead. Back in the '90s, a fan named Akemi Kishita ran an English Zyuranger fan-site. It was comprehensive, it was one of the few of its kind. So I decided to try to pay tribute to her by rearranging her first name and calling Chelys Ranger Mikea, soldier of honor. And I've cast the role, too! I put too much thought into it. Too many of the people I wanted were in the wrong age group. I wanted someone who was the right age, but would also seem like they'd be a cast member of Zyuranger, like someone Toei would cast at the time. I eventually came up with Yuko Moriyama. She had a big following after Zeiram, I think if she had played a traditional toku hero, it would have blown fanboy minds. She can play stoic, reserved, cool and tough.

From the era of dinosaurs, a new senshi revives! MIKEA, CHELYS RANGER, KOUEI NO SENSHI!


  1. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I do want to know how it would look in the series

  2. 100% of the time I hated when they did flashbacks in Zyuranger. They really didn't have the budget to do anything interesting. I was happier just filling in the holes myself. I really just tuned out whenever the screen went fuzzy/white and the prop dinosaurs popped up. Well, except when Kai was killed. I have that playing on a loop on the TV in my basement. Kaaaiiiiiiii!

    Hmmm. Interesting topic. I have to go back and rewatch that.

    If you go by the "seriously wounded" scenario, maybe it would have been more of a shock if Lamy turned out to be Geki's sister. Surely they could have written her backstory differently if they wanted to go that way. A time sensitive curse by way of scorpion? Who knows. It would explain why she wasn't sealed off with the rest, but it wouldn't explain how the hell she is married to Grifforzer. It would have been a lot better than the "Oh yeah, here is my other minion who was conveniently absent when I was sealed" thread they used to shoehorn her in. It would have also added another layer of fail to Barza's job as a caretaker. Heh

    1. Lamy as Geki's sister is a really interesting alternate take.

  3. Wow, didn't expect a Zyuranger post which delved so deeply into it's lore, concepts, and imagination.~ Really cool and creative ideas Shougo! I actually ended up in a long discussion with Janitor Joker over making up Sentai heroes after we read this post of your's. Such a fun idea!~ =D