Fixing Ninninger

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Fixing Ninninger

Post by takenoko » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:06 am

So this has been a rough year of Sentai. It's been frustrating, because instead of just being straight up bad, it sometimes shows a potential to be good, but then just sends you plummeting in disappointment. What went wrong?

Well, maybe a little bit of everything?

Let's start with the writing. Shimoyama Kento is a fine filler episode comedy writer. He doesn't have the chops to write a year-long story. It's too bad too, because he showed an amazing consistency that allowed for callbacks to various character traits. I admired that attention to character detail. At other times, he got lazy and over-reliant of catchphrases. Yakumo's interesting magic stuff is completely drowned out by his categorization of the world into "easy" and "not easy". Kasumi, Nagi, and Kinji were pretty interesting and fun. But Takaharu was flat (both in acting and writing) and his sister just played a little sister stereotype. Which is strange... since the brother/sister, father, and grandfather story is the core of the main plot. By the way, don't worry about Takaharu, I have big plans for him later on. But to continue...

Let's talk about the relationships. So the Ninningers are supposed to be a family, right? I was thinking about thinking about this a lot and came up with this thought experiment. If you ignore the fact that they're cousins, would it matter in any way? I don't think so, they might as well be strangers living together. We meet Yakumo's mom, but that's it. By comparison, let's look at Magi and Shinken. The familial relation in Magi was great. They'd get on each other's nerves. They'd play around, etc. It's pretty easy to compare this story with Shinken, because lineage and tradition is a big factor in both. In Shinken, we meet Ryuunosuke's dad, Tani's dad, Mako's mom and dad, we see Takeru's dad, and we see Kotoha's sister.

But family in Ninningers? Not really quite a factor. And that's a real mistake, since they should be closer since they are family, not just a bunch of strangers training together. And B, why are Kasumi, Nagi, and Yakumo fighting? We know what happened to Takaharu and Fuuka's dad and Yakumo's mom, but there's still two parents that are left out. Like why is Kasumi the way she is? What are Nagi's parents like? Honestly, I'd rather see stories about this than Jiraiya and Shurikenger stopping by to be useless guests.

Speaking of which, why was the ninja thing handled so badly? NInjas are supposed to be cool, prestigious, sneaky, full of tradition. I've loved ninjas since Ninja Gaiden on the NES. The ninja stuff just wasn't very interesting in Ninningers. I mean, besides using swords, maybe there wasn't that much samurai stuff in Shinkenger, but it felt like a samurai story, damn it.

So when Poochie isn't in the scene, people should stand around and as "Where's Poochie?". Instead of making Takaharu say cool things, do bad ass things, act likable, or deliver his lines with any emotional resonance... they went with the interesting choice of having the characters in the story like him, and having them tell the audience that they should like him too. Yeah, I fucking get it. He's an idiot who's been training all this time, so he's strong. But so what? Honestly, everyone else seems equally as strong when they're not going "This is too tough for us. Let's leave this to Takaharu."

And maybe Takaharu is why this series is so disappointing for everyone. We complain that we don't like the character, and the writer double downs and makes him the chosen one. Yeah, they share the Lion Ha-Oh power-up, but it's obviously just Akaninger armor (I don't really like the power-up anyway). I mean, I love idiot red fireball types. But Takaharu's not really that much of a fireball, if we're going to be honest. He's not enthusiastic and his voice is super grating. He's an idiot, but he's not lovable and he doesn't have the same heart the way MegaRed or DekaRed does.

Whether people like to admit it or not, they like to feel like the world makes sense. That there's meritocracy and people get what they deserve, especially in fiction. Akaninger, he just won the "chosen one" lottery. We're never given any reason to think he's uniquely suited to be the chosen one. And other characters are devalued and lower themselves around him so that he could be raised higher. Like literally. It's how the cockpit of ShurikenJin is constructed. The other members are literally carrying him on their shoulders. It's not just that Ninninger is a bad show, it makes us feel like we're witnesses to some injustice in the world.

Wrap up:
Also the Ariake/Mangetsu thing was creepy and unfunny, Takaharu in his red pepper suit, RPG episode didn't feature any cool fantasy stuff, and the villains were kind of weak after Gabi, the twist of Kyuuemon's identity was weak, and grandfather wasn't crazy in a way that was intriguing. I like a good mentor whose methods are outrageous but turn out to be right in the end, because that hints there's more to the world than is apparent, but grandpa never impressed me. And he was frequently wrong about a lot of things too. I liked dad though.

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by Kogashi » Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:49 pm

Hmm... This is just reminding me that I fell behind on watching Ninninger around episode 30. I tried to defend it for a while as alright, as I think Takaharu annoyed me near the least but yea, I couldn't get myself to watch them running around once a week. I think what kept me watching, along with the chance that Kasumi could turn out to be the strongest of the team/real leader, were the monster of the week designs. It's weird, but that seemed to be where the most effort and creativity went into. I remember that most episodes I'd sit down to watch, I'd fine myself saying 'oh wow, now THAT is an interesting design' or at least 'dear lord that specific one is nightmare fuel.'
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by Catastrophe » Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:49 pm

I have to agree with most of the stuff you said Take. There hasn't really been anything that has drawn me to the show and I've just been watching it just for the sake of it without enjoying it.

I felt this way with Gobusters as well, but Jin and J are what revitalized it for me. There really hasn't been anything like that in this show and it hasn't really upped the endgame like previous series.

It goes to show, because my favourite episode is the one with the Shurikenger cameo and only that bit. The rest of the series is a bit of a bore.

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by midorininger » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:25 pm

-character development would have been a big plus.
-the extra man, kinji had more story than any of the core team.
-a mentor that actually wanted his pupils to succeed and sought out spurt forward their growth.
-a balanced team, in other words even if poor characters at least let them be about on par with each other.
-MOTW that arent ALWAYS defeated within 1 ep.
-too generically ninja, in other words, what exactly was the igasaki style? principals etc?
-did any of them have jobs? sure the younger had friends .... ONCE!
-be less unique! the mech were all over the place! humanoid, machine and animal. no theme really.
-if we must have cameos, make them more than just a power up for the "team" or at least make it worth the while (magiyellow)
-fewer lose ends/inconsistencies (other ninja clans, kyuuemon/shingetsu back story, last ninja as a whole, rivalries, generals infighting etc)
-a green member! (personal taste)
-more serious or darker tones. maybe a member could die or be out of commission?
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by FirenOh » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:29 pm

I'm in this weird state with Ninnin where I can watch 1 or 2 episodes, enjoy them for what they are, and not watch for another 3 months. It's something about the show that I can't seem to get engaged with, even though I love the designs, the action, the music, and the general continuity in the writing and the world. I can honestly say that I'm totally indifferent to watching the ending, and I think it because the Ninningers as characters just don't feel like heroes to me. They're just cheeky ninjas fighting their own personal fight to achieve some hollow title "The Last Ninja." The stakes never feel global to me, the the characters act more like their playing around and practicing than they are defending the world.

I don't know, I'm only on episode 26, so maybe that changes later, but I'm just too disconnected with the cast to care, which is really weird since I actually like all of them (yes, even Takaharu at times).
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by CrazyBlaze » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:02 pm

More focus on the Sealing Shuriken. Like seriously those were introduced as get all of these but the collection of them was dropped really quickly.

It would also have been nice if the character of the week got to drive the new mech instead of giving it to Takaharu.

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by TorchWood » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:24 pm

I wonder if the characterization of the Red leader has anything to do with it. Lets create a thread.

To me, it seems that Sentai works well when it's clear in what it wants to do for the year. Often, it seems that it is classified in two categories: Serious Sentai with comic bits attached, and Comic Sentai with serious bits added. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... the last good Serious Sentai seems to be GoBuster, then after that, it has been all Comic Sentai.

Now, the question becomes... what was your last favorite Super Sentai series? To me, it's a cross between GoKaiger with this nice trip down nostalgia lane even though I haven't seen any of the pre-Zyu series, and the nice serious GoBuster. (Yes, Enter is still my favorite badass).
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by hinomars19 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:29 pm

Honestly, I don't have the strength to say what is wrong with this show.
It's not good Sentai, and it's not even good (kid's) TV. It's soul destroying.

My only slight disagreement with Take is, I loved the Jiraiya episode. I'm old enough for it to mean something to me as nostalgia, but I remember enjoying most of it's plot and writing. There are plenty of empty throw away episodes that could have been replaced with better writing and development! But I did enjoy that one.

Shurikenger cameo was rubbish, and they completely destroyed Ninja Red and Hurricane Red-that plot went against both of their character traits in favour of writing bog standard, Takaharu-centric plot, garbage.

I will now sit in a corner angry. *fumes*

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by hinomars19 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:34 pm

TorchWood wrote:I wonder if the characterization of the Red leader has anything to do with it. Lets create a thread.

To me, it seems that Sentai works well when it's clear in what it wants to do for the year. Often, it seems that it is classified in two categories: Serious Sentai with comic bits attached, and Comic Sentai with serious bits added. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... the last good Serious Sentai seems to be GoBuster, then after that, it has been all Comic Sentai.

Now, the question becomes... what was your last favorite Super Sentai series? To me, it's a cross between GoKaiger with this nice trip down nostalgia lane even though I haven't seen any of the pre-Zyu series, and the nice serious GoBuster. (Yes, Enter is still my favorite badass).
Go-Busters for me too. Everything since has been too loud and colourful in all the wrong ways. I enjoyed Kyoryuger at heart, but on the surface it was too messy and put too much focus on Red, again, in the wrong ways. I can't say I dislike Kyo, but it's not ever going to be a favourite of mine. It had some good moments and characters though.

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by Phoenix512 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:36 pm

It's really bad when the show tries to do anything with the other characters but in the end it goes back to the moron main character. The first final Gabi fight would have been really good if the other characters were the ones who defeated him but they just had to defer to the moron. The message itself was twisted to be about them waiting for him to come back instead of getting stronger when he's not there to save them.

Another thing that bothered me was that no one was willing to call out on Gramps's way of doing things. For the most part, it was mostly handwaved away as he was really meant to teach us something. Let Gramps be yell at for being a stingy old man and don't just make him like "He really knew it was going to be this way" instead of changing as a character.

The Jiraiya cameo was for the most part meant nothing for a bunch of people either because not old enough or didn't even know he existed except in Naruto as a different character. That's something we can't really get the same impact due to have different cultures.
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by Greenstalker » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:49 pm

Overall this was not as enjoyable as it should be especially thinking that ninja is a popular concept and had much potential to visit old sentai's/metal heroes without doing a vs movie but except first visit (and even that one was a little mediocre) there was no substance to guest stars. I think a red usually carries the show in a good or bad direction and Takaharu manage to carry it to bad one.

Until Gabi's first appearance things were looking ok but after Gabi who was supposed to be strongest of Kibaoni army defeated things went downhill (actually I still don't understand Kyuuemon revived Gabi first instead of strategist) Mangetsu was refreshing for show but quickly became plot fodder. Kyuuemon's use of Mangetsu's death to get fear was good but reveal of his identity felt underperformed. There was no real reason to revive Gabi a second time since he is beaten too easily.

Overall the show was focusing on MOTW more than team members which I think was a backstep from Toqgers equally focusing on bad and good guys. Kinji was the first extra for a long time that felt weak compared to rest of the team and quiet honestly why a cowboy theme in a ninja sentai? a demon hunter I would understand which he was but cowboy theme just didn't do justice to character. They could use many things from bushi to shrine priest or another magician (for example someone from Yakumo's school who was a ninja fan) if it really need to be a foreigner it could be a spy.

As someone asked what was the last sentai i enjoyed i would say shinkenger. Yes I enjoyed gokaiger, gobuster, kyouryuuger and even toqger but i can't really put them in same place as shinkenger or gekiranger (or even goonger).

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by hinomars19 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:00 pm

Greenstalker wrote: why a cowboy theme in a ninja sentai?
I'd say it was to reference Ninja Black (another Jiraiya not from Naruto!) of Kakuranger. He was an 'American Ninja'. Don't forget, Ninnin was meant to pepper the whole thing with subtle throwbacks, being an anniversary. I assume this is why.

Btw, Jiraiya was a famous Ninja, hence the name turns up a lot in Ninja fiction. I'm explaining this really badly, but, it pains me to hear people saying the name means nothing if you haven't seen Naruto >__<

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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by mholden020 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:37 pm

I think Ninninger shot itself in the foot three times early in the series with specific character focus episodes:

-Nagi's first focus episode painted him to be really indecisive and a very weak character
-Fuuka had an episode where she went out for a day with Tsumuji, while the rest of the team kept her from fighting
-Yakumo and his lawnmower. I need not say more.

Kasumi was the only one of the core that had a small ray of hope when she was able to communicate with Shinobimaru after building that MacGyver-like box thing. She repeated things like this throughout the series, but Takaharu almost always swung in and knocked her out of the spotlight at the end of the episode. They managed to crush the character at the end of the series when she made a mistake and lost her confidence, something that was rammed home for two straight episodes.
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by Jehal » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:51 pm

To answer Torchwood's question, the most recent sentai I enjoyed the most was Go-Busters. It's right up there with Shinkenger and Dekaranger for me. Kyouryuger was fun, and I think it's a good sentai to not take seriously. Hell, even ToQGer has something to make it worth watching with the villain-centric story. I enjoyed all of these.

As for Ninninger, I haven't seen it. I was waiting for it to end so that I could watch it at my own pace instead of being forced to wait for new episodes. Occasionally I dropped in to see what people were saying, and the last time I saw everyone agree on a series being this bad was Kamen Rider Wizard, which I also skipped.

So thank you everyone, for warning me and saving my time. If the characters and story are as bad as everyone is saying, then I definitely won't enjoy it. I quit Dairanger because I didn't like Kou, it sounds like Takaharu wouldn't be much better.
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Re: Fixing Ninninger

Post by starofjustice » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:00 pm

This may sound harsh but I haven't been excited about any Sentai since Shinkenger. Not even Gokaiger.

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