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Go! Go! Loser Ranger!
Episodes 1-3

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Go! Go! Loser Ranger! ?
Community score: 4.1

How would you rate episode 2 of
Go! Go! Loser Ranger! ?
Community score: 4.1

How would you rate episode 3 of
Go! Go! Loser Ranger! ?
Community score: 4.3


Every tokusatsu fan has a different origin for when the mind rot first began to take hold but no matter the differences in the tales, the end of the story is always the same: For the rest of our lives, we are cursed to live with the knowledge that literally every work of art and fiction would be improved if it featured spandex-clad superheroes punching the hell out of rubber-suited monsters and masked goons with the power of friendship, magic, and shiny plastic toys pulled right off the rack of the local Wal-Mart. As I said back when I first covered the premiere episode of Go! Go! Loser Ranger!, this show scratches the primal itch that has existed at the deepest recesses of my consciousness ever since Tiny James first turned on Fox Kids in the mid-90s and discovered Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

The thing that any self-respecting fan of Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, Ultraman, or the like will readily admit is that most of these cherished franchises are fundamentally silly stories that exist to entertain children and sell merchandise (and not necessarily in that order, even). Sure, there have been a lot of great memories and fun times made over the past sixty-odd years but the reason that the toku fandom has thrived for as long as it has is that the vast majority of its biggest hits were, by design, the formulaic, simplistic, candy-colored, Sunday-morning daydreams that would resonate with tykes year after year. This is a good thing, not only because it means that there will always be new generations of fans around to keep the love of cheesy monster battles alive and well, but because such a storied and long-lived culture is rife for loving parody and subversion. Enter Go! Go! Loser Ranger!

While this is far from the first time an anime has made a go of sending up the beloved tropes and cliches of Super Sentai/Power Rangers, it has been a while since we've gotten a show that takes this job so seriously, and then succeeds with such flying colors. For the subjugated Fighter goons that have been spending the last thirteen years under the tyrannical thumb of the beloved Dragon Keepers, their plight is nothing to laugh at, even if said “plight” is just the goons being forced to recreate their goofy battles with the superhero squadron for an audience of cheering children every Sunday. Just because they do not bleed and can (normally) not be killed, it doesn't mean that these Putties don't hurt, you know?

The most immediate and clever angle to G!G!LR!'s premise is that our hero is no hero at all, but merely a lowly and anonymous mob who is sick of having to get mocked and murdered by his nemeses every week for the sake of a big, propagandistic live show. We've seen plenty of comedies about the evil demon generals that lead the Super Sentai-esque baddies, but G!G!LR!'s tiny shift in perspective bears a lot of fruit on account of how hopelessly doomed our guy Fighter D is from the very start. The Dragon Keepers are not merely a fighting force of five young adults with attitude; they're a giant, borderline-fascistic bureaucracy of small Ranger battalions that seemingly have connections to every aspect of public life, from the media to the police force. All fighter D has to work with at first is his ability to shapeshift and the whole “He can't die except through mystical Divine Artifact” thing, which sounds like a lot until we begin to learn that he's effectively trying to take down an entire army of fanatical, laser-gun wielding soldiers. It's a fundamentally awesome premise for just about any action-adventure fan. Folks who are in the know with all of the series' winks and nods to tokusatsu history will have an even better time.

Then, across the first three episodes, G!G!LR!'s other strengths come into focus. For one, it's great that the show looks so excellent most of the time, and that Keiichi Satō and his crew at Yostar Pictures have such directorial flair. The series mixes 2D and 3D animation quite well, and I love how moody and atmospheric the show can get when D is infiltrating the Keeper Base or reflecting on the deaths of his comrade goons. The way the show handles D's regenerative powers is also great, as it leads to some exceptionally cool and creative action beats, like when D uses the momentum of his arm reattaching to fling a giant metal water tank at Red Keeper.

The show is building up a stellar supporting cast. It's very interesting how even seemingly baby-faced go-getters like Hibiki are not only aware of the problems inherent to the Dragon Keepers but are actually in favor of working with monsters like Fighter D to “change the system from within.” Even more compelling are the mysterious double agents like Yumeko Suzukiri, who claims that her efforts to sabotage the Keepers and steal their Divine Artifacts are based on nothing more than being so bored with the usual cliches. What better way to mix things up than to flip the script on the superheroes and let the bad guys win, for once? I'm sure there's more to her than just that, but her casually violent yet playful attitude with Fighter D is utterly infectious, so I can't wait to see more of what she's got in store for our antihero.

“Can't wait to see more” will probably be a running theme of these reviews, because Go! Go! Loser Ranger! has me caught hook, line, and sinker. It takes all of the goofy spectacle I love from my normal tokusatsu entertainment and has injected it with just enough of a novel and twisted perspective to make the old song and dance feel fresh and new. It shows that the only real difference between Tiny James and Respectable Adult James is that the latter is more than happy to say, “Hell yes, Fighter D, you kick those heroes assess! Down with spandex! Long live our monster overlords!”


Go! Go! Loser Ranger! is currently streaming on Hulu in the United States and Disney+ in other regions.

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