CASE FILE 01 : THE TIME FUGITIVES

Starting from the top, I'd like to talk about the opening, but maybe this image wasn't the best to start with... Looking just at this, you're probably wondering what Sion is doing. There is a sequence in the OP where everyone is being sucked into spacetime, and this is a screencap of Sion rather actively being sucked in. I love the holy atmosphere of the pipe organ backing up the choral harmony of "Hooo oooOOOO haaaa aaaAAAA♪." The OP song "JIKU" was actually one of the big reasons I decided to seriously rewatch Timeranger as an adult. When I happened to hear this song one day, I remembered how much I loved this character Sion when I was a kid and how I had frequently recalled him throughout my life. It instantly got me interested in the show, and was what led me to watch it from the beginning.

This is Timeranger's scenery of the year 3000. The analog work characteristic of tokusatsu series expresses a future with advanced technology that still has not lost a human touch, giving us a strong impression and understanding of the 30th century that Sion and the others live in. Starting the series off in a distant future that has a retro nostalgic flavor despite its obviously advanced technology, the story starts off with a mysterious atmosphere that continues until its conclusion. In both a good and bad way, it's rather uncanny way to start a Super Sentai series. There are multiples times in the series where the characters from the future discuss their past (which is actually the future in this case...), and this uncanny nuance is felt in all of these scenes set in the 30th century. The overall dreamlike impression created by the daytime's hazy, pale pink sky is really nice!

And here are the members of The Time Protection Bureau. Appearing as a hologram, the commander Ryuya emphasizes the TTPB's principle, "Preserving history is our top priority." I always feel like the TTPB is a rather strange organization. Being an organization with the fate of the earth in its hands, you'd think the new recruits would be people like seasoned police or military veterans, but instead we get what looks like something closer a bunch of sleepy misfits and street punks. Most of the characters we see in the scene, including Ayase and Domon, don't seem to be taking the situation very seriously. Yuuri and a few others seem to be the only ones actually listening. Sion looks into it, but more from the excitement of a new chapter in his life than a sense of responsibility.

I'm not sure if he's a human or if this faux-hawk is supposed to mean he's an alien, but this guy on the right in particular doesn't seem fit for the job. The guy in the middle with the rock-like face also seems to be staring into the distance with his head in the clouds... What's their standard for recruitment?? Do they let anybody in who wants to join? Ayase was allowed to join while having the Osiris Syndrome, an incurable disease, so it seems like maybe their standard for employment is how little attachment one has to survival rather than competence. I'd like to hope that isn't the case, but as we'll see episode 2 only furthers our doubts...

I'm sure that wasn't the intention of the writers, but to adult viewers like me the TTPB looks like an organization that has no problem sacrificing its own members. As a special unit formed by the government, rather than simply a company, with the principle "Preserving history is our top priority," I guess it makes sense that the preservation of history would be more important than the lives of its members. But then the major disasters that will occur and their consequences are a result of the TTPB's imcompetence. The TTPB has only been around for about 10 years since the time machine was completed, so maybe their lack of experience led to insufficient personnel and rushed decisions.

I know there's no point in thinking so much about something that isn't touched upon in the books or other supplementary materials (lol), but no matter how many times I watch, I get the impression that for the TTPB, there's no place for individual human rights before the justice of preserving history, a concept I feel is contrasted with some of the themes explored later in the series. The organization's lack of experience leads it to treat its members in a way that seems unjust, which leads to my above theory about how they choose their members. (This is just my personal opinion, and of course the TTPB is an upstanding organization of the 30th century!)

Considering that cooperation with other planets has deepened by the year 3000, one would expect to see a little more diverse group here, but the new cadets are mostly humanoids. They must have chosen mostly humanoid instant-aliens so as to not shock people from the past who aren't used to alients when they time travel. Surely there are people with different body types and characteristics in other groups! There was someone with hair like Trip from Power Rangers Time Force, but unlike Sion Trip's hair color is natural, so they may be a Xibrian like Trip. There's also a guy with a mineral face behind Sion. He looks pretty serious, so hopefully we can count on him to carry this organization.

Domon starts to get in a fight with Ayase after he made fun of him for failing to pickup Yuuri during the break, but Sion totally ignores that situation and butts between the two of them with a pure expression. Sion is a fan of Domon's from his pro fighter days, and begs for his signature. He must have watched New Century Grappling through some media at the lab, which thankfully means he must have had some degree of freedom in his prior life. I had assumed he didn't have any freedom... But thinking again he did have at the least the freedom to dye his hair as he pleased. He got a rather rushed-looking signature reading "Pro Fighter Domon ★" on his back. Domon apparently doesn't get requests for signatures very often... Adding the mark saves this signature from total mediocrity.

I'd like to focus on Sion's hair color. In the first episode his hair is white. Personally, this is my favorite of Sion's hair colors. It really suits him! When I was a kid I actually thought that this was Sion's (or rather, the actor's) natural hair color. I had never seen someone with this color of hair before, and it was something completely new to me. That an otherwise normal looking kid like Sion could wear this hair color so well left a big impact on me, as he seemed like he must be some kind of special person, and was one of the main reasons I felt drawn to the character. At that time I only had the chance to watch Timeranger every once in a while, so when I next saw Sion a few weeks later and he had normal colored hair, I thought he was a different person. I guess kid-me was really focused on the hair color! Now, adult-me has the blue and white hair that I couldn't understand at that time, which is a result of my horizons being expanded by Sion back then! (Melt from Ryusoulger has light blue hair like Sion. I think his hair color also cool but seems artificial because it too much beautiful. That is obvious the actor was acting while wore a wig, which has its own charm.)

At the same time at the Londer prison, the big notorious criminal Dolnero, planning an escape to the year 2000 using the timing of his incarceration, gathered his family together in the prison and TTPB. One member, Lila, snuck into TTPB disguised as Ryuya, got into the time machine with some randomly chosen members as well as Yuuri, who volunteered, to use the time machine to push the Londer prison where Dolnero was incarcerated into the year 2000. Everyone changes into 20th century clothes and is implanted with the necessary information for life in the 20th century, which they can only keep for one year. Sion didn't get to wear his "Pro Fighter Domon★" signed clothes very long... Hopefully someone took care of it. Yuuri's outfit is pure Amurer! (a term for people who imitated the singer Amuro Namie's fashion. Suits jacket, miniskirt, and long boots are all essential Amurer items. Click here and here for more details.)

Lila made a big mistake taking Yuuri along. She already knew about Dolnero's plan and was acting undercover, and understood that this was part of their plot. If Dolnero wanted to make a perfect escape to the 20th century, this is the guy they should have taken. He probably would have been too busy loafing around in the 20th century to chase the bad guys. The stone faced guy would have been a good second choice, as he probably wouldn't have been of much use either.

It's not clear at what point the Ryuya we see is the fake one but my interpretation is that only the Ryuya appearing as a hologram is the real one, and the one actually present is Lila.. The following is a bit of a spoiler as well as my personal interpretation, but I think that Ryuya already knows everything that's going to happen, including that Dolnero and the other prisoners will escape to the past, that 4 new cadets will be brought along with them, and what influence this will all have on the 30th century. Ryuya has a specific objective in knowing all of this, and allows Lila to disguise herself as him in order that it be acheived.

Yuuri and the Intercity Police Department were aware of the crime before it happened, but it seems like the upper levels of the TTPB did not. Like I said before, it's possible that the police department consider TTPB inept, and don't share the information with them due to lack of trust, but that Ryuya is personally manipulating the flow of information seems like a more likely, if slightly unbelievable explanation. While Lila was disguised as him, Ryuya must be restrained by Lila somewhere and waiting to be found, or maybe he's just turning a blind eye to the situation and doing something elsewhere.

Here the five have crash landed. Yuuri grows increasingly suspicious of Ryuya (Lila) and tried to arrest her, but Lila counterattacks, revealing her true form, binding them up and setting the time machine to self-destruct mode, a situation of mortal danger. In that situation, Sion starts to fix Tac, who had been shot and damaged by Lila, with his hands tied behind his back, without even looking! He must have gotten some really top class education at the lab. In a complete change from his excited expression earlier, here we see the determined look of a technician at work! Until now he must have seemed like just a kid, which must be why Ayase is so suprised here! Tac is revived and is able to save the four in a nick of time. If it weren't for Sion, everyone would have died and this would have been the end of the series. Thanks Sion!

The young man Tatsuya notices the strange situation while jogging and approaches them. According to this person's information, this beach is a place called Tsutsugaura in Chiba Prefecture. Tatsuya lives in Tokyo, so using Tokyo Station as a starting point in Google Maps, it says that it's about 85 km (50 miles) to Tsutsugaura, so that's a pretty serious run. The walking time is estimated at 17 hours 45 minutes (!), but since he was running it probably didn't take that long. Depending on Tatsuya's running abilities, around 10 hours would seem like a reasonable estimate.
So after running approximately the length of an ultramarathon, Tatsuya approaches them to make sure they're okay, but due to him looking so much like Ryuya, is thanked by being attacked. Tatsuya, however, is a karate master, and even after covering such a massive distance impressively has no difficulty deflecting their attacks. Yuuri's been trained as a police and Domon was a pro fighter, so it's expected that they'd have martial arts skills, but I wonder why Ayase is so skilled as well. He's said to have a lot of street fighting experience, but considering that he can fight on the level of these two professionals he must have been taking it pretty seriously as a hobby. So that's a bit of a mystery. With guys like Dolnero running around, the 30th century doesn't seem like a very safe place, so maybe learning martial arts is pretty normal for them.

Sion is the only one who doesn't attack Tatsuya, and instead blinds him with a flashing pen in the face. This is the second time in the episode Sion's helped everyone out with a unique solution! I thought so before as well, but it seems like Sion ignored the announcement that taking anything other than clothes from the 30th century (even microorganisms!) is strictly forbidden.

While Tatsuya, tied up and misunderstood as Ryuya, is being doubted by the four, the Zennits are already wreaking havoc in the 20th century, and Tokyo is plunged into a state of chaos. The 20th century police are no match! On a completely unrelated note, Dolnero doesn't seem to be able to sit down. As you can see on the photo here he seems to be standing on something like a throne, and there are actually no scenes of him sitting down in the show. He even stands during his wine and cheese hour. But now that I think of it, I guess that's the case with most Sentai villains... As many of you probably know, in the adaption Power Rangers Time Force Dolnero becomes a comic relief character. After seeing his badass yet in some way sensitive gangster character in Timeranger, it's something of a shock to see Frax (Dolnero in the English version) being so subservient to Ransik.

Tatsuya is finally able to get the others to trust him, and because the emergency tool Chrono Changer requires five people to work for the first time, his help is requested to save Tokyo. Tatsuya gives in when Yuuri puts his pride on the line, putting on the Chrono Changer. Sion is happy like a kid with a new toy! That Tatsuya starts out the series as a normal person is one of its strengths. It's true that he picks up with the fighting well due to his karate ability, but his being caught up in something that has nothing to do with him puts him in the same situation as we the viewers. Before he's (and maybe we've) really gotten a grasp of what's going on he's suited up, and rushes to Tokyo, where Dolnero is causing trouble, on the Time Flyer. (Regarding the distance discussed above, it seems like it only took them a few minutes to cover it on the Time Flyer! Good thing no one fell off.) This series was aired when the Mat*ix was all the rage, and we get a parody of it here. The scene where Keanu Reeves dodges the bullets was a big hit. When I was a kid I only saw the trailer, but still tried to imitate it, and recall falling on my back on the floor multiple times... Here Tatsuya is the only one who can't dodge the bullets and takes all the hits, but Sion, who doesn't seem to have any fighting experience, is somehow able to dodge them. Just looking at the screenshot would make you wonder what these guys are doing... It seems like wearing the Chrono Suits really raises their abiity, despite looking like simple spandex bodysuits. The 30th century technology includes heat resistant, bullet prood, and shock absorbing layers, as well as the Time Element Booster, which can control the flow of time. On top of that, the triangular belt buckle raises their power by 20, a considerable margin! (info taken from Timeranger Encyclopedia)

The theme song starts playing just as their weapon, the double vector appears. Go over time and space-! They really take their time showing off the weapon. You want to buy it, right? Take your parents to Toys R' Us and make them get it for you! Actually, Timeranger's weapons and robots don't stand out very much, which is actually pretty problematic for a Sentai series. Because these are essentially extended ads for children's toys, toy sales figures are more important than TV viewship or DVD sales (or at this time, VHS). The result is that even though the series continues to be a fan favorite, it held the record for lowest toy sales for 18 years, and it was called a failure as a Sentai series. At first glance, the double vector looks like it's made out of plastic and resin, and one worries about its durability, but that's because we're used to 20th or 21st century technology. In fact, it's made out of a unique 30th century crystalized metal, and bound by chronomite alloys, so it's in fact very powerful! (info taken from Timeranger Encyclopedia)

Yuuri's fighting ability and leadership really stand out in this episode compared to the other four. She's totally badass taking out the enemies! Domon is later depicted as the unofficial leader of the Timerangers, but it's Yuuri who's really leading the pack.

A showdown between Yuuri and Dolnero ensues - the two have a linked past. Yuuri's whole life has been ruled by her determination to arrest him. But Dolnero escapes with... a flatulence-jet?

Lila shoots, screaming "die!" at our heroes. Pretty hardcore material for kids to be watching at 7:30 am. Yuuri attacks with the Vector End Beat 6, and the five of them close in on Dolnero and the gang! I'm sure different people will have different interpretations of Lila's shallot-like hairstyle, but it reminds me of the Yuru-chara of the town I used to live in. Onions are the representative crop there, and we had a cute Yuru-chara with an onion-head like Lila's.

Here they are, Tappy, often seen at local festivals and events. As you can see, Tappy is an onion fairy. The only commonality with Lila is the shape of their heads, as Tappy is peace loving, benevolent creature, and would never do wrong! Please support Tappy in their mission to spread peace and onions!

Dolnero and the others are beaten back by the Timeranger's assault and disappear using the mysterious teleportation device attached to Gien's arm. It doesn't take long, however, for the victorious rangers to start to worry about their own situation. The time machine was damaged in the explosion, and they have no idea when and where the criminals from the 30th century will strike next. How are three untrained cadets and one police officer going to deal with this difficult situation? Will Tatsuya part ways with the group? When will any support from the 30th century arrive?To be continued!

Score:
Chapter 1's fantastic scenes of the 30th century alone are enough to earn it 5 stars! I mentioned the outside scenes above, but the sci-fi interiors such as the TTPB, Londer Prison, and time machine all leave an impressive visual impact. The spaces look both futuristic and retro, and the colors and atmosphere have a quality that is difficult to describe. The episode features a lot of expository information, so there's nothing in particular to comment on there. Sion played a big role, and I love his white hair, so if possible I'd like to add another star! My scale, however, doesn't go up to 6, so that makes this one a definite 5! There was a lot of information so my commentary ran rather long; thanks for reading!