“Oh Ninja Steel”

March 1, 2017

I am not usually a person that judges a season this early. I tend to keep an optimistic view and wait things out until we’re about half way through. But given the utter mess Ninja Steel is showing itself to be after only five episodes, I wanted to express my views.

Let me begin by saying that I realize I am looking at this as a life long adult fan. I am not the target audience, and my opinion does not matter what-so-ever to Saban Brands or anyone working on the show. Furthermore, these are only my opinions. If you find Ninja Steel enjoyable, I’m happy for you. This is simply my way of expressing my displeasure.

Before we go all negative, there are a few aspects of the show I do actually enjoy. The first being the theme song. I like the beat and repetition of it. It does have a way to getting stuck in you head. I feel the Ranger characters do have potential and I enjoy what has been shown of them so far. I like Mick as their Mentor, as Kelson Henderson is always a great addition to a season. Though I don’t feel like he should become a blacksmith making stars. The Ranger’s base itself is decently designed. Nothing special, but still serviceable. The Ninja Master Mode looks good, though the name should be different as they are not “Ninja Masters”.

Now let’s dive right in to all the things wrong.

First off, the monsters are not a threat. Think about this for a moment. What does Galvanax want? Sure he wants the Ninja Power Stars, but why? He wants to keep his title of strongest warrior. He wants to keep his stupid wresting belt! He doesn’t want to take over the Earth or galaxy. He doesn’t want to enslave humanity. He is not going around and conquering planets. All he wants is to keep his title as strongest warrior. Even the monsters that have been sent to Earth thus far do not actually attack the citizens, they focus only on the Rangers in the hopes of getting the stars. If the Rangers would hand over the Ninja Power Stars, Galvanax and his monster show ship would leave Earth and likely never be seen again. Why am I supposed to care about villains that are not at all a threat to the planet, galaxy or peace in general?

Speaking of the Galaxy Warriors ship, the whole idea of the monsters having a television show that airs throughout the galaxy is just nonsensical. Monsters and villains have always been rough and mirky in Power Rangers. This “show” however makes it seem like the monsters are just as advanced, and perhaps more advanced that some Ranger worlds. Remember when Power Rangers would use the planet Onyx to show the black market the monsters hung around and used for dealings? Galaxy Warriors gives the appearance that the monsters have their own fully thriving society in the Power Rangers universe, and could actually go about their own monster lives without fighting forces of good.

Then there is the location of the Ranger’s base. Again, I’m okay with the general design and feel of the base of operations, but the location is just insane. The command location of the Rangers is supposed to be hidden and away from the general populous, and for the most part that is how all Ranger bases have been. But the Ninja Steel Rangers have their base in their school! Trust me, as a person who has worked in public education, you cannot hide something like that in a school. Between curious teenagers who will just go looking around, security cameras and just general school staff, there is no way that the base can remain hidden in a high school. Not to mention if the villains do actually decide to attack the Ranger’s base, that means you are putting all the students & faculty at risk. I joked at the start of the season of Brody’s family barn being the base, but that would have been a better choice. It would have been so easy to explain that Mick used his talents to overhaul the interior of the barn to become a high tech base, and make it “bigger on the inside”.

Next we have the source of the Ranger’s powers, weapons and Zords. The Ninja Nexus Prism is just another Gosei, only it does not speak. The Rangers do absolutely nothing to earn any weapon or Zord. All they have to do is forge a star, throw it into the prism and then catch it when it comes out. There was no reason behind the Rangers getting the Rumble Tusk Zord, or the Mega Morph Cycle. There was no explanation of why these items were needed or earned for the battle. They weren’t even shown perfecting the use of the Element Stars. Instead it all just comes off as blatant toy advertisement. While I realize that Power Rangers is meant to sell toys, there have been so many better seasons that actually gave a reason for the new “toys”, or showed the Rangers training & earning their gear. The Ninja Nexus Prism is just a convenient plot device that exists solely to give the team new toys, without any actual work & effort on the Ranger’s part.

On the subject of flashing toys in kid’s faces, let’s talk about the Ninja Master Blade. I’ve been a fan of the cockpit armor modes in Power Rangers since they were introduced in Samurai. I love the Samurai Mega Blade and I feel the Dino Super Drive Saber was fine. But who thought making a chainsaw blade would fit the ninja theme? Seriously, the Zords all ready are a hodgepodge of random creatures and objects, but they had to try and go further with the utter nonsense of a chainsaw sword. The other two cockpit only weapons pretty well matched the theme of the Megazords and their attack style. But the Ninja Master Blade just screams, “Hey kids, it’s a chainsaw sword! Isn’t that cool!”

Now we have Victor & Monty. I cannot stand to watch these two for even a second. I throw my head back and groan any time they show up. I’m sure the actors that play them are perfectly nice & kind guys, but their characters are childish jerks. Some have said they are just like Bulk & Skull. I strongly disagree. Bulk & Skull were troublemakers, but there was never any malice in what they did. They wanted attention, but when they were shown up or embarrassed they would quietly slunk off, admitting defeat. When Victor and Monty are put in their place, they defy it and try hard to pass on blame or further insult others. It wouldn’t be so bad if there were a balance to them, with one being a jerk and the other having heart. That’s the approach Dino Thunder took with Cassidy & Devin. Cassidy started out as stuck up and self-centered, but through her interactions with others, the Rangers and especially Devin, she grew and became a better person. There is no sign or indication that Victor & Monty are going to grow at all. They exist only for things to get thrown on them, to get embarrassed or to further fart jokes.

Which brings us to the potty humor & overall infantile writing being the worst part of Ninja Steel. This is what drove me to write this and what has made this season nearly unwatchable for me. In “Drive to Survive” they continually went back to a running fart joke gag. Yes the episode was supposed to focus on Calvin and him overcoming his fears, but it was nearly impossible to remember that when the show seemed to care more about shoving the idea that “farts are funny” in our faces. Let me be clear…FARTS AND POTTY HUMOR ARE NOT FUNNY! GROW UP! Power Rangers NEVER resorted to this style of writing & humor before recently, and it worked fine. Heck, even when one episode of Megaforce used farts, at least they had Noah say that it wasn’t funny. At the end of “Drive to Survive” we have our team & mentor laughing at Victor & Monty flying away via leaking fart ballon. Do not try and say, “well it’s a kids show”. NO! The children’s shows I grew up on never resorted to potty humor. There are still other children shows today that don’t resort to that. Sinking to this level of writing is a clear sign that your writing team lacks the imagination & creativity of being able to make humor that is enjoyable for everyone. I can just see some little kid farting in public and when their parents try and reprimand them, the kid saying, “But the Power Rangers think it’s funny.” So way to go Power Rangers, your lessons on team work, standing for what is right and doing good are just background noise, because all you’re really saying is “Farts are Funny”.

Ninja Steel is the 24th season of Power Rangers. I have watched every single season, every episode, every movie, every commercial, every special, and more. Never before have I ever felt like it was a chore to actually sit down and watch a season of Power Rangers…until now. Ninja Steel is not entertaining to me, it is not fun, it is not enjoyable, and after each episode I find myself saying, “well, that’s over for the week.”

This isn’t how Power Rangers should be. No, I’m not some nostalgia glasses person who only wants Mighty Morphin. Power Rangers has had plenty of good seasons (some of which I’ve pointed out in this piece) that while still being flawed, had good characters, interesting villains and clean humor. Jungle Fury is a good season for showing all of these, as well as having a team of Rangers actually earn their weapons, Zords & power ups through growth and actual training. There are many more perfectly fine seasons from both the Saban Entertainment & Disney Eras.

With Ninja Steel being this bad for me after only five episodes, I don’t have much hope for the remainder of the season, let alone it’s “super” season coming next year. Though really I don’t see how you can go any lower than a running fart joke. Again, if you like Ninja Steel I’m happy for you. As for me, I’ll continue to force myself to watch it out of brand loyalty, and hope that as some point in the future things actually change for the better.



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