What happens to sentai teams when the members start to grow up? Do they continue to fight evil and protect humanity, or do they age out their roles and return to ordinary life? Creator Eric Kim explores these questions in his short digital comic, Nitro Battlers, and breathes a relatable humanity into each of his characters.
The story is quite simple: Nitro Red is the only Nitro Battler left defending humanity from invasion by Lord Quasar’s evil forces. Most people expect Red to lose every encounter, but nerdy Ben continues to believe that the Nitro Battlers can prevail. After a disastrous fight, Ben gets the chance to offer Nitro Red a ride home, and the chance encounter changes both their lives irrevocably.
Nitro Red/Kyle and Ben are the primary characters in the thirteen-page story, and I began rooting for Ben from the moment he showed faith in the Battlers despite the odds. He seemed pure of heart and sweet in a way you don’t often see in storytelling anymore, and I wanted his beliefs to be rewarded. Kyle is less sympathetic, but I could relate to his feelings of burn out and despair after years of fighting alone. Despite the short length, I attached readily to the primary characters and hoped for a good ending.
The artwork in Nitro Battlers reminds me of old style manga or classic anime such as Gatchaman (released in the US as Battle of the Planets and G-Force), and while it’s not my favorite art style, it was spot on for a sentai comic. Kim also didn’t rely too heavily on obvious screen tones, which is something I appreciate. I only wish that the sentai uniforms had been a little more detailed.
Overall, Nitro Battlers is a fun read for sentai and non-sentai fans alike. It manages to be slice of life and team monster whomping in one work, and I hope to see more from Kim in the future.
4.5 “And I’ll Form the Heads” out of 5