IHAO on ... Power Rangers Jungle Fury

Back in 2011, when I had just moved back home and started a brand new life for myself, I had very little in way of friends and outlets.  A lot has changed since then, mind you, but back then I basically only had the friends I made watching wrestling on the forum I used to frequent.  A few of those guys are still good friends, though only one bonded with me over something non-wrestling related.  And what we bonded over, was Power Rangers.

Like most people my age, I watched it as a kid, and eventually grew out of watching it.  I can even pinpoint the season I stopped caring back in the day.  But that year, I decided to catch back up.  I watched every season starting with my favorite at the time, Power Rangers in Space, and the goal was to catch up all the way to where the brand new season was going to be, Power Rangers Samurai.  I ... didn't make it.  Ultimately because I got bored again and because I started doing things other places.  The real world caught up.  But I always wanted to finish.  I'm a rank-er and critic, and a completionist for a lot of things.  So in the back of my head, I've always wanted to come back.  And on a whim last week, I did.  In the future, I'm sure there will be an Arbitrary Numbers ranking all of them, or perhaps just as a shorter article as part of something else.  But let me talk in depth about what I just finished.

Spoiler, there's a Shark Ranger!  :D

Power Rangers Jungle Fury is about a group of students whose dojo/training place is destroyed by the accidentally released evil spirit of the dragon Dai Shi, which possesses a bully.  Dai Shi is a great animal spirit, and wants to kill all humans, returning the world to the animals.  The students, two very skilled and one just beginning, find a new master and learn to harness their animal spirits to fight Dai Shi.  The students all must master their own animal spirit, as well as learn from other masters in their training.  But Dai Shi also looks to train for power.  Eventually, a group of Phantom Beasts are let out to make matters worse as Dai Shi eventually rejects his human host and is able to gather enough fear from humanity to become manifest.  As to be expected, Power Rangers win in the end in a hard fought battle.

The actors are all pretty good, and the characters are all memorable.  I especially like the Red Ranger, Casey, who was not as high ranking as the other two students called upon to stop Dai Shi, but becomes a leader and a hero in his own right.  The bad guys were very cool, too, as Dai Shi possessed the bully kid Jarrod and there was a great episode, all be it a little rushed, where Jarrod was taken through his past to destroy the remaining good in him.  Dai Shi's right hand woman, Camille the Chameleon, was a cool secondary character as well, and both Camille and Jarrod were nicely complicated.  Really, all the characters were, which is great because you could easily just use broad strokes to characterize everyone under the guise of a "kids show" and Power Rangers has done that in the past.

Training and working hard ... and jet powered cat suits with claw fists!

The bad guys all had this cool motif of being animals themselves, with the animal's head as their chest piece.  It created a super cool visual.  And there were lots of turns as "training" was a big theme of this show, so Dai Shi continued to train under the Overlord Spirits, then the Phantom Beasts, before overpowering them all.

There are a whole heap of rangers, which is great.  There's the 3 main ones, then their new master, RJ, becomes the first ever purple ranger, which is cool.  Then they get a 5th main one, the White Rhino, who I really want to like but he didn't get enough character support.  He looks rad, though.  But then you have the three masters that the three rangers all trained under all having their spirits being turned into rangers as well, which was flipping cool.  That's 8 rangers.  I think only SPD had more in one roster, and even then that includes one-offs.  The Jungle Fury 8 are all in multiple episodes.

Shark Ranger is sooooo cool!!  LOOK AT HIM SURF SLASH PEOPLE!

I'm a sucker for animal-powers in almost everything, so this show's mechanics did a lot for me.  The zords were cool, but not too many, and it was mostly three + a power-up, which made it easy to follow, or the enormous stampede, which was all of them and just looked super cool.  The zords were the spirit animals made concrete (well, plastic) which is also cool.  Very reminiscent of Wild Force, which is one of my favorites.

Elephant chain-mace trunk smash zord power, yeehaw!

The fights were awesome.  Like, just great kung fu fights all over the place, almost every episode.  I LOVED that, and it greatly brings up the rewatch value, because the story is very ... not dense.  The plot is dense, with very little filler.  But there is no downtime or character time unless the character time is used to advance the plot.  It is my biggest complaint.  We could have used with some more breather episodes, or the bigger episodes being spread out.  A lot of episodes had a whole b-plot that was introduced and resolved in about three minutes of screentime.  That is way too fast.

That's the biggest complaint.  I wanted more.  Which is technically good, when it delivers.  The biggest problem with this speed was that nothing ever really felt like it challenged the Rangers.  Problem happens, they get more powerful in the same episode, problem stopped.  Even the finale felt like that.  The only time it didn't work that way was a little mini-arch near the end where the Red Ranger's tiger spirit was taken by a tiger villain.  He was underpowered, and basically benched, and the Red Ranger is the leader.  It was cool, but resolved the next episode.  The resolution was a great episode, but it all could have been played out a little longer.

This isn't the ending, it's just cool.  Jet powered cat strike from the sun!

I recommend this season!  It is easily in my top 5 Rangers, and what's better, it is worth watching even if you aren't a power rangers fan.  Good characters, good plots, great action, cool monsters, awesome powers, with pacing being the only problem for me.

So yeah, that's a lot of talk on Power Rangers!  And I plan to do more!  RPM is next, which is considered one of the best by a lot of folks I've talked to.  And then Samurai, then Megaforce, which I just found out rushed my favorite of the Sentai's into their second half ... which makes me sad.  But I'll get there and document it all!

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