Ken faces his doppelganger and sets the record straight in The Grief-Stricken Sister and a Pair of Kens
Episode 17 makes me feel foolish. See, here we are at the second episode in a two-part story, and the first episode of the last half of the show. I figured, since 16 got all of the standard Zubat tropes out of the way, that maybe 17 wouldn’t have any and we could get a fully realized episode free from the obligations of what we’ve seen before. Boy, was I wrong.
This episode is just another standard Zubat affair, just with some left over plot from the last one. There’s still the smooth entrance, the skills test, the meeting with Dakkar, and the flashback to Asuka’s death. Some of them either have superficial differences or are moved from their usual place in the episode’s timeline, but the illusion of variety is no substitute for the real thing.
The idea of a Faux-Ken rampaging through town had a lot of potential, even if that particular plot device is familiar territory these days. That potential went up in smoke when it was revealed that Faux-Ken was really the Mayor, who was also Nazi Jaguar. My suspension of disbelief was then scared away by Scooby-Doo flashbacks. Honestly, if only two of those people turned out to be the same person, I could handle it. But having all three be the same dude feels like a cop-out. Nazi Jaguar’s identity was never a dangling plot thread. I was perfectly happy with him just being another zany Dakkar boss, but sometimes fleshing a character out just stretches them thin.
This episode also reinforces the idea that the Zubat persona is unnecessary and clashes with the show’s tone. If the villain doesn’t know that Hayakawa is Zubat, but spends all of his time trying to kill the former, then we have a problem. The problem is that Hayakwa does the exact same thing Zubat does, beat up Dakkar’s goons. Bruce Wayne runs a company and Clark Kent is a reporter, but Hayakawa Ken fights bad guys just like Zubat. If Dakkar’s leader can’t figure out that the main two dudes who keep foiling his plans just may be related, then he needs to find a new job.
Every single time this show looks like it might try something new or better, it settles right back down into formula. I may be being too harsh, since this is still from an earlier time in the genre’s history. Maybe the crazy bodyguards and nutty bosses are all we can expect when it comes to variety. We’ve just started the second half, and there’s still time for the plot to pick up steam. There’s a little evidence from earlier episodes that Zubat can still surprise us, but I’m getting tired of waiting.
Every Wednesday The Tokusatsu Network staff members review every episode of a tokusatsu series. To see previous episode reviews, visit our Reviews page.