Sentai Speculation: The Half-Robot Buddha's Possible Meaning in Maskman
Maskman had the symbol of a mechanical Buddha. Sometimes I even wonder why the Maskmen had such an unusual symbol of a Buddha whose other half is a robotic half. I thought there was some possible symbolism behind it. At first, it seemed to represent the Aura Power or the relationship of the Maskmen with their mecha.
The first time the robotic Buddha's meaning may have been first revealed in part was during episodes 2-3. The Maskmen are told that they must unleash the power within their body... which made me think... does the cyborg half of the Buddha represent... INNER POWER? Possibly. It may also represent giving up feelings to a certain extent... having to give up one's personal emotions (cyborg half) while the human half represents a retention of one's humanity in the process. Takeru must avoid letting his feelings for Mio intervene with trying to unlock the Aura Power.
In that episode, while Takeru at first was told to forget about Mio, later Dr. Sugata explained the power of the heart this way. Takeru at first had to put Mio aside, which Dr. Sugata got his pendant from him but later returned it to him. So the meaning was possibly portrayed by Takeru himself. To achieve the Aura Power, he had to put Mio aside fro now but to retain his human half after the mission is accomplished, Mio must return to his heart. What he did not know yet at that point was that Mio is really Princess Ial and that's why Prince(ss) Igam hates him so. The Maskmen struggle with personal feelings as the episodes go through, which they temporarily need to give up and later return to them to retain that human half. It's all about balance as it seems!
Maskman 20 may have also had an explanation of the half-robot Buddha's meaning. Now it sounds stupid but I do feel it with Momoko. Momoko struggles between her duty and her feeling for the kids which leads to a bittersweet ending for now. Momoko's human half is targeted and here, she actually shows some value for humanity. She fights unmorphed to teach the kids the value of honor and she was going to save them. Unfortunately it did not sit so well - her love for children was exploited, way to go Anagbas, only if today's Sentai villains could be THAT RUTHLESS! Kotsuhi may represent one who has lost all humanity while Momoko must struggle with her feelings.
I even think that when Momoko was beaten up to the point she was too weak, the Great Five couldn't do without her. Now a missing member is always bad for piloting a team robot in most seasons of Super Sentai. Momoko seems to be the team heart, she is gentle hearted. Attacking Momoko meant a loss of heart. Without the team heart, the Maskmen are so demotivated. When the Great Five has a missing member, it loses its balance with the machine and man part. The Great Five though it defeated the monster, the Tube was able to launch its plan that sank the Great Five which without it, all their half-brained plans will succeed.
Now what really amazed me was how the Robotic Buddha's meaning was expanded during the Galaxy Robo arc.
During episodes 21-22 we are introduced to the Galaxy Robo, a story that was later copied into Ohranger's Red Puncher (which was for only on episode) both written by Hirohisa Soda. The Galaxy Robo was awakened during the time the Maskmen arrived, it reacted to Aura Power a plot that was carried into the next episode. The cliffhanger was probably done in order to explore Galaxy Robo's origin and everything about the late Dr. Yamagata who died piloting the robot. Well the robot malfunctioned and went uncontrollable BECAUSE it was struck by lightning. It was said to be a robot with "a heart" but while its not sentient... but it did react to the Aura Power of the Maskmen.
Yumi, Professor Yamagata's daughter soon understands the symbol of the robotic Buddha and the Galaxy Robo's heart. This became the keywords of the second episode "heart" and "aura power". At first it seemed that the robotic Buddha represented the Aura Power within the body, later it was expanded with the Galaxy Robo itself.
The Robotic Buddha's symbol was further explored when the Maskmen try to unleash its full power. They go inside the Galaxy Robo, perform the meditation to unleash the Galaxy Robo's Aura Power in the middle of a STORM?! While it seems really stupid at first, but it's one awesome scene as it symbolizes emerging triumphant in the midst of life's storms. The Aura Power within the Galaxy Robo finally reacts and awakens, allowing the Maskmen to use the robot's full potential.