After going too far for a gag, can Level E get its mojo back?
What They Say:
A group of 5 fifth graders: Shimizu, Yokota, Akagawa, Momochi, and Mayuzumi. While going home from school as usual, they are abducted by a strange alien. This alien is the Prince of Planet Dogura, and he has come to protect the peace of Earth. Giving special powers to the five boys, he changes them into defenders of the Earth, fighting for justice. They are the chromatic warriors, the Color Rangers! Although these justice rangers don't seem particularly enthused... Anyway, using their powers, the Color Rangers accidentally notice that their teacher, Tachibana, is an alien. However, they also learn that she's a cold-blooded assassin. The curtain rises on the fierce battle of the chromatic warriors, the Color Rangers!! Go! Color Rangers! Fight! Color Rangers!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Level E opened strongly and quickly became one of the quirky favorites for the season over the first three episodes as were introduced to some amusing characters, very good character designs that avoided the cookie cutter approach and a quirky sense of self that gave it its own identity. With the fourth episode, they adapted the next story faithfully from the manga but squandered a lot of their good will from those opening episodes with a story that was essentially one gag that went down too far of a path for it to actually produce anything meaningful. While it has its fans, more people than not really didn't care for it overall, myself included.
The storyline here does start with a good bit of fun as a group of elementary school kids suddenly find themselves abducted by Prince, a very strange alien from their point of view. With his quirky sense of humor and the way he messes with everyone, having him haul some kids up to space to mess with them seems like it'd be him in a heartbeat. When they're thrown back to Earth, they find they each have a bracelet on their wrists that allows them to transform into a sentai team, which they find to be pretty awful since they look so terrible in their costumes. Only one of them is really thrilled by the whole experience and what he has now which totally annoys the rest of what you could call his friends. He's the best though as he gets the red band and goes right with the idea that it makes him the leader.
Having the kids go through the transformations and the way most of them don't want anything to do with it is fun but having one of the teachers being an alien of some sort that's going after them now just lets it run with the humor. With a perfectly threatening voice, it hits all the right notes as they do the sentai parody here. Prince's manipulations of events is a good deal of fun here as he makes his group of Color Rangers to deal with fighting an alien and the kids are really not interested in this and find the whole situation rather insane. When they start getting real training, the back and forth is pretty solid on its own but having the pint sized Prince doing his selling of it is priceless since it's so light and fun with his style of delivery.
Level E hits up a good bit of humor here as it works through its sentai material, even if I generally really dislike sentai teams overall. Having the kids get the costumes from the Prince and the way he deals with them is a lot of fun but there's also a lot of laughs to be had with how the kids cope with the situation. They're actually pretty smart about things and do their best to turn the tables on their situation once they get a better feeling for events. Of course, it changes things with how they can be perceived as heroes, but with only one of the kids actively playing up the role with interest, that's not a surprise. The relationship that the kids strike up with their teacher turned alien assassin is definitely what the show needed after the lackluster fourth episode.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.