CASE FILE 02 : THE UNSEEN FUTURE

While he and his family are hiding in the Londerz prison they used to escape from the 30th century, Dolnero complains that the 20th century's economy isn't as good as he had hoped. The 30th century they had lived in is made up of the remaining 1/3 of the earth that was left after a massive disaster eliminated 2/3 in the 21st century. Someone who had lived in a 30th century with that historical background must have imagined that the world before that disaster would have been more prosperous. The year 2000 was right in the middle of the Heisei recession, and Dolnero's comment can be taken as meta-commentary on the era in which the show aired. A lot of songs were released around this time about cheering up amidst difficult economic circumstances, with Morning Musume's LOVE Machine and Happatai's YATTA! being popular examples. Both feature a lot of people unashamedly acting like fools in a surreal setting, and are totally insane. Mainstream Japanese entertainment in the late 90s and early 00s, for better or worse, brought a level of tackiness that had always been present front and center, as if reveling in it would wash away the downer mood pervading through the 90s. You could see this as a manifestation of the rapid economic development from the postwar to 80s "bubble" period losing momentum, and of various societal troubles casting a shadow over people's lives. While a lot of works from the 90s went on to acheive global popularity, it was a dark time for Japanese people. For the last 20 years, people have gotten addicted to a natural high from upper entertainment, but the effect is wearing off and we've become like junkies, and the societal atmosphere is starting to resemble that of the 90s again. Dolnero's no fool, so he's easily able to get a sense of the state of society (maybe).

Getting back on topic, Gien suggests using the freeze-compressed prisoners to commit crimes, and immediately defrosts the notorious criminal and bomber Jekkar, serving a 120 year sentence. That such a monstrous villain is the first he chooses to defrost shows Gien's ruthlessness from an early stage. (This is a spoiler, but Jekkar is actually an extremely strong enemy for a first battle, and originally the Timerangers were not able to resist him and lost the fight. However, the events in the second half of the episode greatly change history, and this battle with Jekkar turns out to be a pivotal event in determining the fate of the earth as well as the Timerangers.) Dolnero newly bestows the name "Londerz" on his family, which seems to really make the Zennits happy. These guys really are the most realistic and small-scale enemies in Sentai history.
Mr. T suddenly appears doing the YATTA pose! The reason being, it seems like Dolnero's fashion sense may have been influenced by Mr. T's. The main point can be found in the decorations around the neck area, collecting all of your gold accessories there may seem like an easy makeover tip to look like a fabulous bad boy like Mr. T or Dolnero, but it's thanks to their extremely strong necks and shoulders that they can pull this off, and it's in fact a very high level technique that only few will be able to imitate. By the way, I wonder how many people even remember Mr. T these days...

The 5 who let Dolnero get away are in what looks like some kind of abandoned area. Even though Tatsuya already has experienced something pretty strange up to this point, he still has a hard time accepting that these 4 are from the 30th century. It seems like all 5 were only needed for the Chrono Changers to work the first time, and Yuuri takes the Chrono Changer back from him as if asking him to get right back to his ultra marathon... Everything that happened since activating the Chrono Changer was way out of the ordinary, and there's no way that a 20th century human like Tatsuya would be able to comprehend it all so fast. Sion fills a cup with water and brings it to Tatsuya in that situation, and anxiously watches him drink it... could that be because what he brought isn't drinking water but some dirty water he found somewhere?! Sion is kind and pure-hearted, but lacks common sense, so it does seem like something he would do unintentionally... He lets out a smile when Tatsuya says "Thanks," though. He must be glad it tasted okay. Getting back on topic, Tatsuya finally seems to calm down and accept that they are indeed from the 30th century. He realized that from the 30th century, what is the unknown future to him is already the past. The rest of his life that he has yet to experience is part of the future leading up to the 30th century, and to them is something already set in stone. (Which is certainly a strange thought.) It seems like it's this realization, moreso than the strange experience he had or that these people claim to have come from the 30th century, that makes him feel the vast gap of 1000 years. Because Tatsuya is troubled with the fact that he's lived his life up to this point obeying others, he must have imagined a future in which he spent his whole being pushed about in that way. Tac responds curtly that "it won't go off the rails." His attitude makes sense in the situation, but one wouldn't expect such cool severity from such a cute appearance! He must be more experienced than these 5. After Tatsuya leaves saying, "Sorry, but I want to change the future." Domon and Ayase get into another disagreement, which Sion breaks up. These two are still taking advantage of the situation to let off steam.

Tatsuya finally gets back home. It would have been a hard day even if all he did was run the 80 km (50 miles). It's not clear how long it took him to get home, but it's already dark. The Asami's are rich, but compared to Time Force's Wes's house it still seems realistic. The image on the left is Wes with his house. The houses of rich Americans are on whole different scale! Someone like me has never even met someone who lives in a house like this... On the other hand, considering the extremely high cost of land in Tokyo, the Asami's house may actually have more value than Wes's. When Tatsuya gets back home, his father talks about how he's decided Tatsuya's employment future (at the company he runs), which, after everything Tatsuya has experienced today, is hardly a topic of interest. In the past Tatsuya made a bet with his father that if he won the national karate championship he would choose his own path, and if he lost he would go to a college of his father's choice, and ended up losing. That's just one example of how he's followed the lead of others. Tatsuya says that since he's already graduated he doesn't need to keep obeying his father, who in turn insists "You are going to inherit my companies!" There are many types of parent-child relationships in the world, but this doesn't seem to be a very good one. it seems like Tatsuya would be more open to accepting his father's way of thinking. It doesn't seem like Tatsuya's aversion is to taking over the company itself, but rather to the fact that his autonomy isn't recognized, his freedom restricted, life controlled, and role predetermined. Actually, it seems like he has respect for his father.

The next day, buildings in the city are set to explode like dominos from bombs Jekkar has planted through the night. (According to the Case File, Episode 2 takes place on Feb. 15, so considering that Episode 1 was Feb. 13, this must be Feb. 14.) A threat has been sent to the Asami Group, and Jekkar appears in a hologram demanding 100 million yen if they want to avoid being blown up. The Asami Group is a massive organization, so paying 100 million yen to avoid such a disaster shouldn't be a big deal for them. But more importantly, the Londerz Family certainly made themselves known to the people of the 20th century in dramatic fashion in just half a day! The people of the 20th century are suprisingly calm considering not only the scale of the crimes, but that nonhuman entities have suddenly shown up threatening their safety. Tokyoites must really be tough. Every year some new evil organization shows up and destroys the city, and every year around the end of January the destruction of the planet itself is threatened, so the Londerz must seem like small fries to them! The Asami Group CEO doesn't shrink from shelling out the cash, taking it personally in a suitcase to the designated location from his own home, and Wataru Asami doesn't even need any security!

Just as he's stepping into his car, Tatsuya gets in his way with another bet, the condition being that if he can prevent the explosion without having to give any money to the criminal, his father won't have any say in his future again.

Here, we get some insight into Wataru Asami's character. He takes Tatsuya's bet seriously, and hands the money over to Tatsuya, adding the condition that he come back within one hour (which seems like a totally unrealistic timelimit...) 100 million yen is a lot of money even for the CEO of the Asami Group; if the plan doesn't go well, his company's building will be destroyed, and his son's life is also on the line. He respect's Tatsuya's will understanding all of that risk. His decision to trust Tatsuya could be called dangerous or short sighted, but it does show that he's willing to listen. In fact, the father and son think rather alike. He too was once faced with the prospect of becoming CEO, and lived his life until now fulfilling that responsibility. He seems simply like someone who successfully was able to face the reality set in front of him, but you could also think of him as having made many compromises to accept his destiny and responsibility. Even if he has accepted this path for his own life, he still can have hope for a different future for the young, who's future is not yet set in stone. His accepting Tatsuya's bet seems like having a sense of hope towards destiny.

Tatsuya, realizing that the monster who planted the bombs must have something to do with the 4 from yesterday, and that it would be best for everyone if they transformed and fought together, takes the 100 million yen he got from his father to them. Tatsuya must have at least used public transit to get there today, but when he arrives he finds them in serious conversation. Tac succeeded in contacting the 30th century, and explains the TTPB's decision. Londerz and the 4 being in the same era has somehow (?!) maintained the balance of history, and because additional forces would disrupt that balance, reinforcements can't be sent. In other words, there's no way for these 4 to return to their own era until they've arrested all of the Londerz on their own. Like I mentioned in the Chapter 1 review, this is why I don't trust the TTPB! How can they justify this!? They have no way of knowing how many prisoners escaped, and if the 4 return without arresting all of them the balance of history will be disrupted and the earth itself could be destroyed. On top of that, the 20th century knowledge that they received earlier is only valid for one year, and if they go over the limit, apparently something bad will happen. (according to the official site) Arresting all of the Londerz with just the 4 of them is virtually impossible, so the TTPB cutting off all support is basically sentencing them to die in the 20th or 21st century.

In the photo to the right we see the TTPB leadership who made this decision. Even if maintaining this delicate balance is the only way to preserve history, eventually it's bound to go wrong. The 4 cadets weren't even able to arrest Dolnero and the others yesterday. Does the TTPB have some kind of other strategy and throwing these 4 away like this? If not, then their decision is allowing the criminals to remain in the 20th century while 4 of their cadets die, which seems like a pretty terrible decision... Even considering that we need these 4 to stay in the 20th century for the sake of the story, the scenario seems even crueler than the writers probably intended it to be.

It's a helpless situation for everyone, but Sion stays positive, saying "I'm fine as long as I'm with you all." Even when Domon and Ayase start fighting, Sion breaks it up again, saying "Let's capture Dolnero and his gang." Maybe Sion can be so positive since he has nothing left behind in the 30th century. We can guess that whatever happened in the lab and his clinical interactions with the staff there is what's formed his identity up until now. If he had some attachment to that, he wouldn't have choosen to leave the lab, which was all he knew, in the first place. To the contrary, he chose to join the TTPB to run away from that situation, and is in the 20th century with nothing to lose in the 30th century, so has no reason to want to return. Throughout the series, unlike the others, he never mentions his life in the 30th century, and in fact, it's likely that in the 20th century, the planet Hubbard still exists.

Tatsuya, who had secretly been listening in, appears before the 4 in this desparate situation and announces himself as their ally. All five of them have had their personal freedom restricted and been forced to obey, denying their own wills. "You can't change the future, but you can still change your tomorrow. The one who decides what you'll do in the moment is you." A powerful expression that one holds power over one's own life. This phrase, which becomes a keyword in the series, moves the 4 to action, shaking Domon out of his stubborn pessimism, softening Yuuri's, who had been struggling to remain strong, expression, and offering a message of hope for Ayase's life itself. For Sion, it means having friends for the first time. Tatsuya is acknowledged as a member and officially given his own Chrono Changer. What had seemed like a rut seems like the movement of destiny and a call to action.

Jekkar, who looks suspiciously similar to the Pokemon Chesnaught, waits in the designated collection spot, the same port that always seems to show up in Sentai series, already having received five billion (!!) yen, definitely a considerable sum. These shipping containers famously served as the backdrop for many Sentai battles up to the 00s. The police assemble at the port, and the forcefully dramatic performance of the defective is one of the highlights of the episode, so be sure not to miss it. Jekkar lives up to his reputation as a bomber, pelleting the police with bombs and turning the port into an inferno...! It's at that moment that Tatsuya appears, handing over the suitcase with 100 million yen, which should mean that the building doesn't need to be blown up. However, Jekkar breaks his promises and detonates the bombs...! However!! In fact, Tac used the criminal database to identify Jekkar's method, and Tatsuya and the others have already collected all the bombs in the very suitcase that they just handed to Jekkar!

Responding to Yuuri's "Ready?," the 4 eagerly reply with "Yeah!" The rangers always throw their clothes off when they transform, but in the next moment they've always disappeared... Let's assume that when they transform into Timerangers their clothes get sucked up into spacetime. And we get some more Mat*ix-like effects too. In this transformation space, everyone changes into fighting stance and gets really buff and into taut shape. Looking at this article on the official site through the Wayback Machine, combining live action footage shot with 3 cameras and 3D animation. Something that now could easily be done through software at the time involved the effort and creativity of many people, and this seconds long sequence evokes nostalgia for that era. The 5 are having a hard time taking down Jekkar. Here in Chapter 2 we encounter the phenomenon of the enemies becoming huge, apparently a side effect of compression freezing, which is called "rebound." One tends to think that compression freezing should be avoided with such a side effect, but maybe the incarceration methods we know just aren't feasible with so many alien prisoners with special powers. Jekkar's not only massive, but floating...! He's a really strong enemy for their first monster battle. I briefly mentioned it at the beginning, but there's actually a reason for this. Of course, they don't stand a chance against giant-Jekkar, and Tokyo itself is on the verge of destruction! Tac makes a futile attempt to contact the TTPB's provider base and activate the emergency system, but of course gets no response. The TTPB has given up on them. It seems like a death sentence... until somehow, someone activates the emergency system. This is a moment that changed history!! This means there's someone who made the decision to send the Time Jet at the risk of changing history, but TTPB as an organization wouldn't make that decision, right? It means that history leading up to the 30th century in which this person is living will gradually start to change. It's not clear who it is, but there's no guarantee that it isn't this instant alien from Chapter 1.

It's Providus time! Extending their arm and rapidly spinning, they sends the 5 Time Jets into the 20th century by smacking their butts. For some reason, they pass the era of the dinosaurs and prehistoric humans, before finally arriving through an interdimensional tunnel in the Odaiba Pallet Town Ferris Wheel. I read an explanation of this somewhere that claimed that the balance of history is better maintained if the Time Jet is known from the past, so it's necessary for the Time Jet to pass through ancient history. That explains why it passes through history, but if that's possible why not load some reinforcements? When the 5 ride on the Time Jets that have arrived in the 20th century, they begin to transform and fuse into the 3d Formation Time Robo Beta. The orchestral version of the opening theme starts playing, which means that victory is as good as guaranteed. (a common trope!) My personal opinion is that Timeranger's robot transformation sequences are rather subdued. For better or worse, they aren't very childish.

The action scenes are so fast that I wasn't able to take any good screenshots, so please enjoy these weird images. The silhouette of Time Robo Beta's head post-transformation looks like an onigiri, or according to Brock, jelly filled donuts. (It's a really arbitrary translation, and I can't imagine that English speaking kids at the time actually thought these were donuts. The Pokemon characters eat these "jelly donuts" again and again, so I guess in the end they were left with no choice but to accept it?) Super Sentai series that sold well tend to have robot designs with easy to understand motifs, with vehicles and animals being the most common. Timeranger's robots, on the other hand, lack such motifs, and rather go for a stylish simplicity, which may not have resonated well with kids. The Grand Liner from Go Go Five was originally supposed to appear in Timeranger, in which case the series may have had better toy sales. Beta's specialty is aerial battles, and so is able to hold back the floating Jekkar. It has a technique called "Virtual Turn," in which it creates a virtual net in the air off of which it can bounce. Time Robo Beta looks really cool making a shooting approach, which again seems to me a Ma*rix homage. They can't get enough of these! But for the time these are really top grade effects - it's a three dimensional rather than flat image. It's mentioned on the Episode 4 commentary that they were conscious of trying to emulate the Matr*x without getting too close to Dig*mon, going beyond the standard special effects techology! Now that I mention it, D*gimon was broadcast around the same time as Timeranger on Sunday morning.

Next the Time Robo transform into Alpha mode, which specializes in land battles, and whose head looks like a ten-musu style Jelly Filled Donut. Jekkar ups his destructive power as well. His expression in the photo paired with the subtitle makes him look like an idiot, but this is the guy bathing Tokyo in a sea of fire. Time Robo won't let him win though, and dodges a building thrown by Jekkar with its Chrono Shield, which then explodes! Hopefully no one was inside. It would really suck if it were one of the buildings that had paid 100 million yen. And here it is, the Jikuken! Time Robo's movements synchrize with Tatsuya's as he wields the Jikuken.
Hurry, freeze compress! Press Blizzard!! Everything falls silent, and everything except Time Robo is frozen in time! I love this sequence depicting the hands of the clock, but it stops appearing around the time Time Shadow is introduced. It seems like Jekkar was safely freeze compressed despite being blown up. Congratulations for your first successful freeze compress! As long as the emergency system can be activated, the Timerangers can handle even strong enemies like this! The events of this episode will lead to history changing, but the Time Jets leave the Timerangers behind rather coldly for the 30th century, so things seem okay for now. One can't help but wonder why they can't just ride on these back to the 30th century. If they did, I guess the 20th century's balance would be thrown off. Not returning is the correct decision to protect history according to the TTPB anyway (I guess we won't question it further lol).

Next we find ourselves back at the Asami's. The suitcase with 100 million yen is nonchalantly placed on the side of the road in front of Mr. Asami. These guys are all careless with their money. A piece of paper with "I won" written on it is on the suitcase. Tatsuya declares victory. The scene changes again, and the 4 from the future have been brought to a place Tatsuya is renting, which he calls "the place for when I'd be living by myself someday." He decided to let everyone here, as they had nowhere else to go. Having won the bet with his father, he seems happy now to do what he wants to do and make his dreams a reality. Tac doesn't seem too keen on living here, and the 3 other than Sion are also suspicious, but this should be a lot safer than staying in the ruins where they were before. Or are they just dissatisfied with the low-tech 20th century home? They have no choice but to stay in the 20th century, so can't complain about staying in this 20th century home with their recently met comrade. Sion is the only one who is excited about living here with everyone. This will be his first home where he isn't under constant surveillace, so it makes sense that he'd be glad. Tac directly addresses the audience here, wondering who activated the emergency system, boldly breaking the fourth wall, which I guess isn't that big a deal for someone who can also break through spacetime. I had intended to also go into the ED this time, but the commentary section is already long enough as it is, so we'll go into that next time!

Score:
Like last time, this Chapter gets the scale's top rating of 5 stars! With the 4 from the future thrust in a seemingly life-ending despair, Tatsuya arriving to help them realize the importance of living one's own life is one of the best scenes in the whole series. This scene alone brings the episode up to about 3 stars. On top of that, Jekkar is extremely strong opponent for the first monster battle, and the chaotic explosion scenes are visually stunning, while the 3D special effects show the passionate creativity of the creators. The way in which the fierce battle with the violent bomber plays side by side with the realistically human battle of wills between Tatsuya and his father is another one of the episode's strong points. Sion plays a role here and there, but is mostly in the background in this episode. This is a Sion and Timegreen fansite, and ratings will depend on how much of a role he plays, but this episode is so good that it still gets 5 stars!