31 July 2018 | striderxanthos
Good ideas, little execution, and sloppily written disappointment.
What's this, a show about the son of a ninja kidnapped by the champion of the intergalactic game show who killed his father escapes the ship? Then after 10 years of captivity he escapes with his alien friend and humanoid robot, becoming super-powered ninjas with the help of a magician, mechanic & his girlfriend, scientist, and later a cowboy to combat the staff of the game show? It sounds crazy enough to work, but the show doesn't allow it too. The plot appears to have a mix of ninjas, game shows, and space. However, Ninja Steel combines those ideas with high school filler plots and comic relief, so the plot disappears for half of the season in favor of not telling the story it should. As a result, this season ends up with underdeveloped characters, villains we learn nothing about or care about, and a heavy focus on side characters that distract from the narrative with divisive jokes and fart humor.
Characters: The characters have so much potential but don't have the time to grow.
-The Red Ranger, Brody Romero (William Shewfelt) has a sad and tragic backstory, being kidnapped on an alien spaceship for years before finally escaping. But a few episodes after he returns to Earth, he does nothing except shouting "EPIC" and has no focus episodes until the second season, ultimately ending up forgettable and bland in his own show. His actor is very low energy and almost chance for him to grow as a professional with his character is lost.
-The Blue Ranger, Preston Tien (Peter Sudarso) is a magician with father issues, is quiet, and kind to his friends. His gimmick relies around that magic and Peter delivers a good performance but is harmed by episodes that dumb down his character and fails to establish an arc.
-The Yellow and White Rangers, Calvin Maxwell (Nico Greetham) and Hayley Foster (Zoe Robbins) are the first rangers who are dating. That opens a stormy of possibilities, and their relationship is noticeable, with the delivery of the actors having strong chemistry. That being said, their individuals don't have much growth or layers to them. Calvin's lackadaisical nature, mechanical prowess and Hayley's love for nature aren't used much in the plot outside of a fun high school episode and a generic face your fears episode. Hayley's episode in particular tend to share focus with another character and receives the least impact in the majority.
-The Pink Ranger, Sarah Thompson (Chrysti Ane) delivers her lines and character with enthusiasm and character. There are three flaws to Sarah: her benefits to the story are used to attack her character for the sake of forced drama, she can be too perfect at times, and her characters.
The side characters are a mixed bag. Mick Kanic (Kelson Henderson), the mentor is a good character and without getting into spoilers, fans of the series and newcomers will enjoy him although his messages are questionable. Redbot on the other hand has no purpose in the show. His two episodes are decent to terrible and serves little purpose in the show. As for Victor/Monty, they aren't terrible, but because their antics create their own mini show in a show about Power Rangers. You can make good to decent side characters without having them overshadow the people of a show you should be watching.
The villains are ultimately one-note. The main villain and host, Galvanax is one note with a generic gravelly villain voice despite starting the plot and being the host for a game show, and his relationship with Brody is hardly explored, with his death just serving as anti-climatic.
His second-in-command, Madame Odius fares better being manipulative and intriguing but only has a big impact in the first half of the story with plot holes and even as the main villain in season 2, the writing makes her plans feel sloppily put together.
Ripcon is the generic muscle for the villains and a supposed rival to the red ranger but the show never takes him seriously, and his voice makes him more annoying then menacing. He dies in 12 episodes with little fanfare.
Finally there's the side villain and announcer Cosmo Royale: he's a fun character that doesn't do much, but is somehow more memorable than the main villains we're supposed to be following.
Morals of the Day: Some kids shows either spread morals to kids, or teach them ideals about life, help them grow, etc. while telling a story. Ninja Steel for some reason adds this and it hurts the show. Outside of not being subtle, alot of these morals exist for a character to act stupid and then learn a lesson PBS Kids style except not as well done. In fact, most of the morals are bad messages to children:
technology is bad,
magicians are bad for entertaining people,
trusting strangers is okay,
doing every activity with your friends is important even if you don't want too (imagine that but with drugs to see the implications),
video games are evil,
and watching people nearly die from being thrown into the stratosphere is funny. Oh and getting an orphan off the streets only takes around 11 minutes.
Reception: Ninja Steel and to a lesser extent Super Ninja Steel have garnered mixed reception, heavily learning towards negative. Children of different ages have admitted to either dislike the show, or finding problems such as in the writing, acting, and story. Older critics and reviews have praised the ideas presented and actors, but have questioned the writing and progression of the narrative, morals presented, and the lack of build up for their plots The characters of Victor and Monty are constantly viewed as unnecessary to the show but the discussion of whether or not their characters are good depends on the viewer.
Overall Thoughts: Ninja Steel and Super Ninja's Steel first half isn't very good. The ideas are there but the writing ultimately falls flat. What should be a show about teens growing up and learning ninjutsu is dampened by boring characters, underdeveloped villains, comic relief caricatures, and a story that doesn't give itself any time to shine. There are some good moments and a few surprises, but overall, skip it or watch to see the wasted potential.