3-6: Ninja Quest, Part 3

Ninjor gives the teens ninja powers and Zords!

Last time on Power Rangers: The team traversed the Desert of Despair.

 

Meeting Ninjor and Lt. Stone

Five of the Rangers are in a mysterious garden, with Kimberly and Billy repeatedly calling out for Tommy.  The blond takes point in heading deeper into the garden as the brunette continues shouting her boyfriend’s name.  Rocky mutters worriedly about him.  Adam is still bringing up the rear for some reason.

There’s a pair of massive doors and within the structure, the others find Tommy.  Does that mean that immediately upon finding himself in a weird location, Tommy wandered off to explore?  That seems… short-sighted.  There are barred doors blocking the inner area, but they open for the group so they can enter, closing once they’re all through.

The items within are an odd mix of Western and Eastern influences.  Ninjor calls out for them to leave; the show is clearly going for a Yoda and/or Wizard of Oz vibe, but the voice mostly reminds me of Kermit (even if they don’t actually sound that much alike- I don’t know why my brain made that link).  Billy is able to locate that the voice is coming from a jar.  Kimberly gets snarky about her lack of awe.

Emerging from the jar to be man-sized, Ninjor gets irritable with the teens.  Tommy steps forward to briefly explain but Ninjor remains dismissive.  Adam tries to explain to no avail.  Aisha, Adam, and Kimberly get disillusioned by the blue being.  The brunette expresses her worry about the world.  Tommy points out that they still have their faith in righteousness.  Billy concurs that they have to do whatever they can still do in order to protect the Earth.

This convinces Ninjor that the teens don’t want power out of greed.

Over in the moon fortress, Lord Zedd gives orders to Rito about attacking Angel Grove.

Within the Angel Grove police department, there are posters for the Neighborhood Putty Patrol as well as wanted posters for Rita Repulsa.  What, none for Zedd?  Huh.  Have any of the civilians actually seen Lord Zedd yet?  Rita has shown up on Earth a few times on-screen and there’s the implication that at an early point she must have done some sort of declaration for the TV news to know that the monsters come from her.  It’s entirely possible that the civilians don’t know about Lord Zedd yet…

Skull and Bulk are idly doing paperwork when a prickly Lieutenant Stone shows up to be their “tour guide”.  The scrawny teen tries to be hopeful but Bulk is silently grumpy, in an odd role reversal from last time.  They struggle to get up from their chairs to follow him.  There are more jogging cadets seen- this time I spotted more girls and boys in the group, further highlighting the duo’s sexism from the previous episode.

Stone leads the duo into a mini-barber shop, claiming it’s time to make them “more beautiful”.  This is code for the duo to get haircuts that are in line with regulations.  Skull freaks out while Bulk is stoic; Stone is just amused.  There’s a brief montage of the haircuts; afterwards, neither likes the shorter hairstyle.  For some reason, Bulk goes from shoulder-length to practically buzz-cut, while Skull truly got more of a trim.  I’m not sure what’s up with that.  I’d protest about non-consensual haircuts, but I suspect that the duo absently-mindedly signing the slip agreeing to the haircut.

In fact, the bit that runs alongside the credits is from this scene, where Jason Narvy (Skull) accidentally breaks his hand mirror when he bumps it too hard against his knee.

New Powers

The Tengas are cawing and flapping their arm-wings at the temple’s front entrance.  For whatever reason, the massive doors are seen opening again.  I think it’s an establishing shot opposed to an actual occurrence.  In the temple sanctum, Ninjor gives the group instructions on what to do prior to a rather metaphorical speech.  The teens’ clothes magically transform into color-coded ninja uniforms.  Afterwards, Tommy asks, “Now what?”

6InTheGarden

Ninjor speaks of them having “new gifts” and the group heads out into the garden to see the Ninjazords.  Smug about these Zords’ abilities, Ninjor also claims that these new powers are more advanced.  Well, considering that it had to be centuries ago that the original Power Coins were made, Ninjor’s skills should have improved or at least not worsened.  There’s an emphasis on teamwork and that the Ninja Mega Falconzord can be made by combining them.  Tommy is pleased and Ninjor praises the team.

Rocky is up first, having “the mighty Red Ape Ninjazord” and told to learn from its “wisdom and strength”.

Aisha has “the fierce Bear Ninjazord”, whose “might and cunning” are already part of her.

Billy gets “the silent Wolf Ninjazord”, Ninjor telling him “your stealth and accuracy will be an unbeatable combination”.

Kimberly has “the shining Crane Ninjazord”, Ninjor commenting “may the beauty, grace, and speed it possesses shine forth into your own being”.

Adam has “the wise Frog Ninjazord” and is told to “learn from its silent courage”.  Huh, I wonder have thought that Adam would need to learn to speak up, given how he’s already quiet.  Then again, this is an improvement on the movie’s comparison to him being from the fairy tale opposed to any heroic virtues.

Tommy is last, getting “the mighty Falcon Ninjazord” and told to “immerse yourself completely in its quest for justice and strength”.

It’s definitely interesting that Rocky, Adam, and Tommy are strongly hinted to learn from their Zords while Aisha, Billy, and Kimberly are implied to already be in ‘harmony’ with their new Zords’ traits.

When Tommy asks how they can call on the Zords, Ninjor sidesteps the query to alert them about Zedd’s attack on Angel Grove before sidestepping that revelation by informing them about how the Tengas are trying to invade the temple.  Worried, Billy and Kimberly try to ask more questions but it’s time to do catchphrases instead.

“I am the Ape.  Mighty and strong, we are one.”

“I am the Bear, cunning and fierce.”

“I am the Wolf, silent and sure.”

“I am the Crane, agile and graceful.”

“I’m the Frog, courageous in spirit.”

“I am the Falcon, just and able.”

Why Adam was the only one to use a contraction, I don’t know.  Maybe if I counted syllables for all six catchphrases I could get an answer… except Adam using “I’m” over “I am” seems also more like something that’d stick out over an extra syllable.  Magic lights emit from their chest emblems.  Ninjor gives them kudos and it’s time for the team to go.

Bulk and Skull are now amongst the cadets jogging and exercising.  The supervising Stone quickly grows aggravated by the duo.

Ninja Attack

The Tengas are getting impatient at the entrance when the teens show up.  They now have masks over the lower half of their faces.  One of the Tengas is either actually scared or just sarcastically claiming to be; the minions’ accent (for lack of a better term) makes it hard for me to tell.

A rock song plays as the Rangers fight the Tenga warriors.  An outnumbered Tommy manages to use trickery and a second uniform to rescue himself (where he got that, I don’t know).  Kimberly now has super speed, apparently.  I doubt it’ll come up again, though.  That’s the highlights of the battle for me.

Zordon is supervising as Alpha repairs the viewing globe.  The robot frets over the Rangers; his initial pleasure at seeing they got new powers is quickly dampened by realizing they’re fighting Tengas.  The alarms then blare, Alpha realizing that Rito has shown up.  Zordon claims he knew it was only a matter of time before the siblings teamed up… so why didn’t he ever mention that Rita had a brother to the Rangers?  Did he not want to jinx things (a valid and genre savvy concern)?  Did he not want to over-stress the teens?

Aisha and Adam are thrilled about their new powers before resuming the fight.  Rocky wants to finish off the minions but the Tengas fly away.  Kimberly is glad that they have their powers back.  Adam puts a hand on her shoulder.  Okay, when did Kim and Adam bond, because he’s been oddly touchy-feely with her these past two episodes.  You’d think the show would prefer to do subtle reminders about the Kim/Tommy ship- I know the franchise is capable of them, given how it’s been handling Jen/Wes in Time Force.  Well, maybe the franchise isn’t yet capable of that.

Ninjor shows up to do a final speech which is mostly reassuring.  The new morphing call is for each Ranger to go “[Color] Ranger Power” as it’s time for the team to return to Angel Grove to fight Rito.  After Ninjor teleports away, the camera goes down to focus on the egg as it starts to hatch.

Conclusion

Ninjor was… less than impressive, particularly in comparison to Dulcea from the film.  Almost no backstory was given, and he just wasn’t nuanced.  The only ‘improvement’ is that Ninjor deliberately matched up the Rangers to the Ninjazords… albeit that meant they kept their preexisting colors.  However, that’s more Doylist reasoning than Watsonian.  Let’s compare the traits given in the movie to the ones given here.  I did appreciate how the Rangers got their powers because they planned to do whatever they could, even without powers, to stop Zedd- similar to what the Mystic Force quintet would do in the “Dark Wish” trilogy.

Aisha is “fierce and unstoppable” in the movie.  The former is kept for this episode, but instead of the latter she gets to be cunning and have might.  Rocky’s movie traits are to be “powerful, smart” and therefore gets “the mighty ape”.  The same adjective gets used for his Zord here, and honestly “wisdom and strength” might be synonyms for the movie’s traits.

In the movie, Billy is “cunning and swift” opposed to silent, stealthy, and accurate.  Both scenes highlight his intelligence and improved combat capabilities.  I half-suspect that in Tommy’s absence, Billy takes point as team leader opposed to Rocky.  Certainly, that was the case here- maybe it’s because Billy is the most experienced Ranger?  Well, alongside Kimberly, but the franchise is a little too sexist for that (still, having at least two female characters in each season still puts this franchise ahead of most).

“Agile Kimberly, light as a feather, you are the crane.”  That puts the most emphasis on her petite stature, though I will concede that ‘agile’ counts as a physical trait unrelated to appearance.  Her agility is still highlighted in the episode, and grace might be an extension of that, but beauty?  Yeah, yeah, “beauty equals goodness” tends to be a thing in this franchise, but not to this extent.  I mean, not that the show is wrong- Kimberly is lovely- but she’s a lot more than a pretty face and a petite body.  *mutters grumpily to self*

Admittedly, Dulcea was trying to cheer up Adam with the fairy tale comparison, but that still means he got no heroic traits listed in the film.  Here, he’s claimed to be wise already, but needs to learn “silent courage”.  Given how noisy frogs can be, that makes no sense Doylist-ly and as previously stated, makes no Watsonian sense either.

Tommy is the falcon, “winged lord of the skies” in the film.  I suppose that makes sense, given how Tommy is the team leader.  The episode does emphasis that the Falcon is “mighty” like the Ape, but also highlights being just and strong.

Bulk and Skull now have a ‘straight man’ for their subplots in Lieutenant Stone.  Going back to double-check, the police officer spoken to in Part 2 wasn’t him.  I just had a thought- it would have been really interesting to see how the duo would have handled a female police officer instructing them.  The cadet groups were already co-ed, after all.  Ah well, back in the 90s that would have been handled in a way that’d be cringe-worthy by today’s standards, particularly here (see: the crew’s reaction to David Yost’s sexuality and for that matter, how the scripts put the emphasis on Kimberly’s physical attributes).

I won’t discuss whether or not the usage of the term ninja is cultural appropriation or not, partially because I doubt I can handle the subject very well in what’s supposed to be a relatively light-hearted review, and partially since Power Rangers comes from the Japanese Super Sentei, which complicates things.

… Also, in both the movie and the episode, Billy and Kimberly’s bits were side-by-side.  I’m reasonably sure it’s largely accidental, but the emphasis on their close friendship continues to be both endearing and frustrating (I really am trying to not ship them, but really- Rocky, Aisha, and Adam hang out a lot, Aisha and Kim are friends, Kim and Tommy are dating, and Billy is friendly to the others but is clearly closest to Kim).

 

Next time on Power Rangers: The team takes out the Vampirus monster.

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