Their trainers are about to attack them, Dai Shi is more powerful than ever, and their enemies are increasing. How can the Jungle Fury Rangers get out of this, and can I hold on to my PG status with potty-mouth alternate Mao voice? It’s time for the finale as Linkara concludes the history of Power Rangers Jungle Fury!
- I never bought the Theo/Lily romance subplot. Sure, it works better than paring Tommy and Kat in Zeo but that’s because the actors had better chemistry and they didn’t throw away another romance for no good reason. (I still say Adam/Tanya was the way they were going.)
- Personally I would have gone with “Kung Fu DANCING” instead of “Kung Fu Fighting.” It has more of a modern fight beat AND was in the first Power Rangers movie.
- Actually, the “higher level” forms used by the masters are the actual animal forms of the masters in Gekiranger. I don’t know if they had human forms but that is the true forms of the “Fist Saints”. The shark is even named, and I am totally serious here, Sharkie Chan. I am totally accepting of this.
- The “final level” glowy ball does not impress.
Power Rangers Jungle Fury may be compared to Ninja Storm with the villain similar to the Mesagog/Anton dynamic of Dino Thunder. Also, the heroes are still training and have a lot to overcome, but unlike the Wind Rangers they didn’t have lives outside of their martial arts training until they were forced to work at the pizzeria to earn a living in the outside world, which secretly doubled as their training center. (And to their credit they weren’t oblivious to the outside world, a often-used cliché in this kind of story.) Shane and Dustin worked at the extreme sports shop and Dustin had a professional dirt biking career while Tori was a surfer girl but still trained as ninjas, usually late for class. Casey, Theo, and Lily only has the Order Of The Claw until they had to work at the pizza shop. They aren’t saved by their failing but still have to overcome them. There are quite a few parallels between the Jungle Fury and Wind Ninja Rangers but I think the Jungle Fury team pull off the idea better.
However, this show is better than both of Disney’s first two attempts, which you would hope as time went on. As I said, it’s the only show even now after Power Rangers (Super) Samurai (which has come the closest) to fully embrace the martial arts as part of the theme of the show, since the Samurai also had personal lives to leave to become Rangers. While martial arts has been part of the franchise since Jason and Zack taught a martial arts class at the juice bar in Angel Grove, the writers could have easily ignored the martial arts and Chinese cultural aspects of GekiRanger. Look what they did with RPM versus Go-onger in the very next series. Instead it feels more like a martial arts show instead of a science fantasy series with some martial arts fighting. As for the characters:
- Casey has a good story arc as he has the most to learn in a short time. He is dedicated to Pai Zhuq and even teaches martial arts on the side to kids for a time. He has a good heart and you really want to see him succeed. His weakness is his lack of confidence but once he overcomes that he becomes a great master and trainer.
- Theo has his own confidence issues. He seems to have a lot to prove, if only to himself, and I think his inability to ask Lily on a date despite knowing her for so long is proof of that. (And boy can I relate to that.) He’s a decent guy but he has some teamwork issues except with Lily.
- Lily is…sadly not memorable this far out. She’s the heart of the team and her reaching out to Camille sets the redemption part of the story in motion but while I remember liking her that’s all I remember about her.
- Jarrod/Dai Shi, as I said, is the most fascinating redemption tale in a while. He starts out as quite a jerk but we see why as we learn more about him. Jarrod was never evil but certain not “good” enough to escape Dai Shi’s control and more and more Jarrod actually learns who he is by becoming evil, or at least controlled by evil in the same way Anton Mercer was by Mesagog. I love a good redemption story and Jarrod lives up to that. I’ve also apparently spelled his name wrong this whole time.
- Camille is also interesting. Infinitely loyal to Dai Shi at first she actually appears to drawn to the elements of Jared, like when he thanks her for her service. Look at her reaction when he says it. I think she grows to like Jarrod’s treatment of her and that begins to change her view on humans. I don’t know if they ever become a romantic couple (although I’d believe it more than Theo and Lily) but I could totally see it.
- Flit is basically useless. They try to fit a story for him later, which in part matches Bae, his Gekiranger counterpart. However, I think he’s only there because of the Sentai because they do nothing with him except for one or two episodes.
- RJ is an interesting mentor. Like Tommy in Dino Thunder he has things to overcome and takes on his own Ranger form to fight. However, part of the character arc for Casey, Theo, and Lily were to complete their training and no longer need masters so that works. While I didn’t like him at first with his hippie attitude he grew on me over time by showing he was actually smart and had his own ways–not better or worse, just different. His training methods are similar to Miyagi in The Karate Kid, using the everyday to train for fighting.
- Fran is just fun. I’m glad she found out about the Rangers and can be what the non-superhero colleague should be, someone who reminds them of why they fight and offer that “armchair quarterback” perspective that can give the team new ideas and remember that they’re still human and need to care for others in both identities. She puts up with a lot but she’s happy to do it. I’m also not sure if her relationship with Dominick is romantic or just platonic but I’ll take it either way. They just work so well together which is why when he invites her to join him I was happy she agreed. I don’t agree with Linkara about the “turning evil out of neglect by the Rangers” idea, though. She had a role in the Rangers’ growth by NOT being a Ranger, just their friend who they feel bad about hurting as a necessity to protect Ocean Bluff. All she really wanted was a place to belong and once she does learn the truth she becomes good friends with the Rangers. I like supporting cast who act as support for the heroes, as longtime readers know.
- Dominick is another character I didn’t like at first due to his pranking. (That may be due more to my personal history.) But when he starting balancing his silly antics with a more serious approach to the situation he became more rounded and a good guy. I still think his morpher is stupid and no, I don’t care for the Dino Charge morpher guns, either. But they still look better than the Rhino Morpher.
- Trying to discuss all the generals and masters individually would eat up way more article time but all of them are great in their individual roles. More masters teaching more techniques give the Rangers a reason to get more weapons and Zords while the villains actually help with Jarrod’s redemption arc and make a great threat for the Rangers.
Power Rangers Jungle Fury would be my favorite of the Disney Ranger shows if not for RPM but it’s still a very close second. It did things previous shows did but did them better. While there may be plotholes the story as a whole was fascinating and really played to the strengths of the Power Rangers franchise. (Except for the morphers. All but RJs were kind of lame.) As soon as Linkara gets to Samurai I’ll get to Power Rangers RPM but he’s already there so give it a watch. There are more shows to come so stay tuned.