Thursday, February 07, 2008
East Meets West: Juni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger
I was reading Kenneth's anecdotes of the Chinese New Year and how he was relatively unfamiliar with the Chinese Zodiac (or the Western Zodiac for that matter). Now I'm not a fan of prophecy and fate and fortune telling but I like both Zodiacs because they're a mine for fantastical stories.
Anyway, one of the relatively unfamiliar anime outside of the Philippines is Juni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger. For me, it's East meets West. The Eastern aspect are the main characters, twelve protagonists drawn from the Chinese Zodiac. It's Western because before Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next or Vertigo's Fables was going metafictional on us, the Eto Rangers were doing just that, jumping from one fairy tale to another and saving it from those who would corrupt those stories.
Now the gimmick of the Eto Rangers is aside from being anthropomorphic, they each have one unique special ability and also have the ability to trigger once per episode a transformation sequence where they are temporarily powerful. The dragon for example is ordinarily a mage but when he uses his power, he transforms into an actual dragon possessing tremendous force.
From a storytelling perspective, it's also impressive because you have to ask--how does one juggle twelve protagonists in a 20+ minute show? Well, the short answer is, they don't. In each mission, there's usually a crack team of Eto Rangers, usually three or four, sent in to solve the particular case. Still, by the time you reach the final episode, it's an epic finale and you get to see all twelve heroes on screen.
And the best part of the show? Light Saber-wielding mice.