Rooting for the villains is nothing new to me. I do it all the time when watching shows like Sentai or Power Rangers, and other things as well. But never have I cheered them on with such fervour as I did with Rio. I remember watching the Gekiranger opening for the first time and thinking: "Oh, yeah, this guy looks kickass. I have a good feeling about him."
And from there he just got more and more badass. I loved the fact that not only were the villains as dynamic and evolving as the Rangers (if not more), but the entire story revolved around Rio, his quest for power and the background for it. The Rangers often seemed no more than annoyances who popped up to kill the Rinrinshi, causing Mele to sigh and snap at Bae, but being otherwise powerless in the greater scheme of things (involving Rio and the Kenma).
It took me a longer while to warm to Mele. I didn't like her at first. In her first appearance she was painted as a silly comic relief villain, and I was already writing her off as "oh, fuck, not another Kaze no Shizuka". The fact that she hung around Bae, and that she called herself a "love warrior" in Gratuitious English, didn't help matters. But she grew and became a kickass character. I think the moment where I started liking her was the episode where she killed Braco, after he tried to tempt her into betraying Rio. We learned something of her background, and her love of Rio became less one-dimensional. At this point I was thinking that Mele already had more of a personality than the entire Ranger team put together.
This was also the point where Rio had his first "Pet the Dog" moment. He tells Mele "well done", which most villains would never do. As such, it hardly came as a surprise to anyone that they ended up turning good in the end. As soon as they mentioned resurrecting the Kenma I was thinking: "Ah, so that's the way it is. They'll resurrect these Kenma, and they'll turn on them, and Rio and Mele will have to turn good to fight them in the end." The story turned out to be somewhat more complex than that, but close enough.
Throughout the series, just like how Mele lived for those moments when Rio showed appreciation for her, I lived for those Crowning Moments of Awesome where Rio would show off his badassitude by pummeling the Rangers flat, or beating up a Kensei, or standing up to a Kenma. On a side note, I was disappointed that the Rangers got to destroy Maku. They should have let Rio kill him.
And then at the end... they killed them! I totally cannot get over that. And those few scenes showing them happy in the afterlife are not good enough. Afterlife schmafterlife.
Y'know what? I think I'm just going to block out the last two episodes from my mind. Gekiranger ended after episode 47. Rio and Mele became GekiBlack and GekiGreen, and Sanyo just gave up on his own and took up collecting stamps.
I am looking forward to the Go-Onger vs. Gekiranger team-up next year. I hope it'll be like Dekaranger vs. Abaranger,
Well, that was a long rant. But warranted.