The Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters entry in the "Returns" series of post-season Super Sentai V-cinemas. Unlike other Returns movies, this one takes place during its corresponding series (specifically between episodes 44 and 45).
The Go-Busters are enjoying a peaceful New Year when a new enemy appears and subsequently kills our heroes. However, Cheeda Nick wakes up in heaven and is granted a wish by God to save his friends by making it so the Messiah Incident never happened.
Nick wakes up in a parallel world where Hiromu's parents are alive and well, and Hiromu himself is preparing for his first day as a student teacher at the Energy Management Centre's Agricultural High School. Yet it does not take long before an invasion by the evil Machine Empire forces Hiromu and a host of very familiar faces to be strong-armed into the Animal Sentai Go-Busters, a secret team of superheroes dedicated to protecting animals around the world from extinction!
The V-Cinema is ultimately a parody and rebuttal to the common criticism of Go-Busters being "not a real Sentai". As a result, it's a deliberate Cliché Storm of Super Sentai tropes that Flanderizes the entire cast and gets rid of any semblance of realism or originality the show attempted to introduce. Silly catchphrases, wacky commanders and stock plots abound as the V-Cinema races through a hypothetical 50-episode season of Go-Busters where creativity was put out to pasture.
This movie contains examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: The Doubutsu Sentai universe is this to both the original Go-busters series and the Sentai franchise as a whole, as it takes just about every standard sentai trope in existence and hams it up to eleven.
- Alliance of Alternates: The final battle has the alternate Go-Busters team up with the regular ones.
- Alternate Universe: The movie is all about exploring an alternate reality where Messiah never came to be. A team of Go-Busters still end up being assembled, but they're quite different than the main universe's.
- Attack Its Weak Point: In the end, Red Buster and Red Cheetah discover that Azazel's scythe is the source of his powers and destroy it, allowing him to be destroyed for the first time.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Azazel initially manages to accomplish what the Vagless had been trying from the start: destroy the Go-Busters. He even manages to do it twice. It's only through the combined forces of both versions is he defeated.
- Big Bad: Great Demon Lord Azazel. He only makes three appearances, but him killing the Go-Busters kicks off the story, and only his defeat can resolve it.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Dobutsu Verse mecha are shown to only be able to use its full power with six Busters in the cockpit (which is why Black Puma needs to join the team after Atsushi dies). When all nine Busters pilot it in the Final Battle with Azazel, it's capable of defeating Azazel when neither it nor Go-Buster King (it's alternate counterpart) could so much as phase him with the teams piloting it solo.
- Cliché Storm: Invoked to hell and back. The Dobutsu Verse is filled with every single cliche in Super Sentai possible, as opposed to the original darker tone.
- Continuity Nod: The "Laboroid" versions of the Buddyroids in the Dobutsu timeline refer back to Go-Busters vs. Gokaiger's factory reset versions of them.
- Cross Counter: Hiromu's and Ryuuji's argument in episode 5 is capped off by this.
- Curbstomp Battle: Both versions of the Go-Busters' fights with Azazel end this way. They return the favor later on.
- Demoted to Extra: Both Enter and Escape's actors, Syo Jinnai and Ayame Misaki. Given the timeline placement of the main story, it's accepted that neither Enter nor Escape would appear (Escape had just been destroyed and Enter is 'believed' to have destroyed) but they're both recast. Jinnai as God and Misaki as Machine Empress Trange Star. The pair never appear together and are limited to a few short scenes each.
- Diabolus ex Nihilo:
- Azazel. It's implied that he's related to the Mayan Doomsday, and supplementary materials call him a "Demon Lord". But beyond that, nothing about who he is, where he came from, or why he wanted to destroy the earth is ever explicitly revealed.
- The Machine Empire Mechalius comes out of nowhere as well, but possibly justified in that we only see bits and pieces of the Dobutsu timeline rather than the full story.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The two sets of Go-Busters manage to destroy Great Demon Lord Azazel, who is implied the supernatural bringer of the Mayan Doomsday.
- Editorial Synaesthesia: Whenever groundskeeper Jin enters the scene, his overwhelming stench causes the screen to turn a murky greenish-brown color.
- Eureka Moment: Nick gets the idea to team up the two universes' teams when J wants to wish for twice as much Enetron.
- Fast-Forward Gag: In the later "episodes" of Dobutsu Sentai Go-Busters, the the title card readings are humorously sped up.
- Fish out of Water: Nick is routinely baffled by how different the Dobutsu Sentai universe is. J, on the other hand, is in his element from start to finish.
- Five-Man Band: The Dobutsu Sentai's lineup has some variations from the Tokumei Sentai.
- For Want of a Nail: Shows what would have happened if the Messiah incident had never occurred.
- Funny Background Event: J pulls off tons of these whenever he's not the focus of the shot, wandering around and picking up random things. For example, when the other members of the Dobutsu Sentai huddle together during a harrowing mecha battle, J quietly joins them while cradling one of the cockpit's decorative plastic flamingos.
- Genre Throwback: The Doubutsu Sentai team use color and animal-based codenames similar to the rangers in Liveman and Jetman.
- In Spite of a Nail: Even in a world without the Messiah incident, a group of enemies cause a different version of the Go-Busters to be formed, and the same thing happens on the New Year that happened in the main timeline.
- Interquel: The story is set between episodes 44 and 45 (after Escape and the revived Messiah are killed, but before Enter reappears).
- In a Single Bound: Parodied, naturally. In many series, rangers often use this technique to board their mecha, but Dobutsu!Kuroki and Gold Beetle learn the hard way that it's not terribly easy to do, especially when you're older. At different times they attempt to pull this off, only to leap barely a foot into the air and strain their backs.
- Instant Expert: Hiromu, Ryuji, and Yoko of the Tokumei Sentai had been training since their childhoods to prepare for both fighting as Busters and piloting the Buster Machines. Hiromu, Ryuji, and Yoko of the Dobutsu Sentai, on the other hand, are recruited by Kuroki with no prior training and are then sent to fight monsters and pilot their mech that same day. They win.
- In the Name of the Moon: While the Tokumei Sentai had a pretty simple roll call, the The Doubutsu Sentai's is more elaborate:Hiromu: Savannah Hunter! Red Cheetah!Ryuji: Jungle Warrior! Blue Gorilla!Yoko: Field Jumper! Yellow Rabbit!Jin: Arboreal Leader! Gold Beetle!J: Juice Drinker! Silver Stag!Hiromu: Dobutsu Sentai...All: Go-Busters!
Atsushi: Wetland Swimmer! Green Hippopotamus!Kuroki: Midnight Walker! Black Puuuuuumaaaaaa!
- And later:
- Lighter and Softer: The Dobutsu Sentai universe, as compared to the Tokumei Sentai universe.
- Make My Monster Grow:
- Unlike the regular universe, Mechalius uses this trope to start its giant fights, so rather than fighting separate Megazords, the Dobutsu Sentai just fight giant versions of the monster they just fought.
- Azazel starts out at giant size then shrinks down to fight the Go-Busters when he's defeated their mecha. After the combined might of both sets of Go-Busters destroys him in the first onfoot fight, he returns to giant size for one last fight.
- Mayan Doomsday: Gorisaki mentions this at the start of the movie. It's heavily implied that Azazel is the bringer of said doomsday.
- Motion Capture Mecha: The Dobutsu Sentai's mechs. Their control system is the ambiguous kind that responds to the Busters' body movements, but also appears to accept input from a "console" made of what looks like a small tree trunk. This is, of course, in stark contrast to the Tokumei Sentai's mechs, which have much more realistic (or rather, plausibly complicated)-looking cockpits and controls. Naturally when the two teams team up in the end, the Tokumei Go-Busters are understandably confused until the Dobutsu Sentai ones show them how it works.
- Mythology Gag: Loads of them, often to other classic and/or lighthearted Sentai.
- A green Sixth Ranger that later dies in the red's arms. Hmm...
- In the final battle with Azazel, the Dobutsu Sentai summon their Humongous Mecha by saying its name, followed by "Kourin!"* . This is the same incantation used by the Goseigers during their mecha summonings/combinations.
- The Dobutsu Sentai's "Go-Buster Ball" attack is a direct reference to the "Goranger Storm" attack from Himitsu Sentai Goranger, and is executed in the exact same way.
- This isn't the first time that a "Returns" special has featured an animal-themed alternate version of a Sentai team- it happened to the Shinkengers as well in their special (specifically, Ryuunosuke's illusion).
- Oh, Crap!: Azazel has one when Go-Buster Perfect Animal (the Dobutsu Sentai's version of Go-Buster King) powered up by having all nine Go-Busters in the cockpit at once No Sells his attack. He has another one when it's preparing the Go-Buster Miracle Flash that destroys him.
- Outside-Context Problem: Azazel is not affiliated with the Vaglass, and his title of "Great Demon Lord" indicates that he's a supernatural entity, something that the Go-busters never faced at any other point in their series.
- Palette Swap: The Green Hippopotamus and Black Puma suits are repaints of Blue Gorilla's and Red Cheetah's suits respectively.
- Romantic Plot Tumor: Implied to be the case in the Dobutsu Sentai Go-busters "series" as part of the parody. Episode 15 kicks off a Love Triangle, and it remains a plot point all the way until Episode 37 (The only episode shown inbetween those two (28) even has Red Cheetah and Pink Cat discussing it).
- Self-Parody: Showa-era Super Sentai tropes are exaggerated and lampshaded to such a tremendous degree that even the Akibarangers would be proud. Dobutsu-Hiromu even looks a little like Nobuo in that red jacket.
- Sixth Ranger: Green Hippopotamus is introduced as one of these, even sharing a color with the original sixth ranger.
- Super Multi-Purpose Room: The entrance to Kuroki's secret base is a staff room in the school that becomes an elevator leading to the base.
- "Super Sentai" Stance: While the regular Go-Busters had more subdued posing sequences, The Dobutsu Sentai take it the whole nine yards. Funnily enough, J's posing is perfectly in sync with the rest of the Dobutsu Sentai despite never having done it before, leaving Nick wondering how he even knows what to do.
- Take That!: Many people believe this movie was created in response to the people who criticized Go-Busters for being different than the standard Super Sentai series. Strangely, despite this, the Dobutsu Sentai Gobusters are still treated somewhat respectfully in the Final Battle, kicking just as much tail as their more serious counterparts.
- Tempting Fate: Gorisaki notes that a lot of crazy stuff had happened that year, and he hopes that they can see the year off without any more trouble. Nick immediately yells at him to not jinx it.
- There Are No Police: Lampshaded. Just before the Dobutsu Sentai's first Humongous Mecha battle, J notes that the authorities don't respond any quicker in this world.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Some of the lyrics to the Dobutsu Sentai's theme song are nonsensical, such as "Unflying dove! Friendless cabbage!". (This one is a Woolseyism on the part of a fansub group, but the Japanese equivalent lyrics are much the same.)
- World of Ham: So, so much. In keeping with the Showa-era parody theme, the Dobutsu Sentai (especially Hiromu, Ryuuji, and Kuroki) gloriously over-act at just about every opportunity.