Super Sentai Writing: Self-Contained Continuities vs. The Use of an Existing Timeline
I never thought I'd touch on the Super Sentai "timeline" again. I remembered a comment Fantasy Leader wrote SO LONG AGO from a now deleted post:
Toei said it themselves, that every sentai season are their own continuity, and that the team ups are considered non-canon.
However, after reading this post, now I'm starting to question, "Does Toei actually know this themselves?"
Ugh. My head hurts. I didn't know this was such a big matter of debate among fans.
So I want to think about how Super Sentai itself has actually operated efficiently with a self-contained continuity and the team-ups (more like what if team up) were non canon. So let me discuss my thoughts.
Most of Super Sentai usually existed self-contained and crossovers weren't very much existent. Maybe Goranger and JAKQ belonged to the same continuity but the rest, nah.
One can consider the events of Bioman. It wouldn't make sense of Bio Robo didn't awaken if other enemies like for example, why didn't Bio Robo awaken when Black Cross Army attacked? Simple... it's because Bioman was completely independent from its predecessors. The advantage behind a self-contained continuity is that you can always IGNORE the events of the previous series and start your very own series.
Another would be the events of Changeman. In Changeman, it was acknowledged that Earth Force would only appear when the Earth was in danger. Yet why did it only react during the Gozma Invasion? It's simple to understand that Gozma has no competitors as far as Changeman's continuity is concerned. So later in Fiveman, Zone is Earth's first major threat. And so on... you can always recycle a plot without having to worry about Earth getting destroyed. Or you can choose to do an RPM style writing if you wanted to.
Another might be if you consider same motif, different stories. Zyuranger and Abaranger for example cannot fit in the same continuity. In Zyuranger, Bandora led the dinosaur extinction. In Abaranger, you have the meteorite story which led to the creation of "Dino Earth". Both events are very impossible to reconcile. So you can create another motif AND ignore the previous one with a similar motif. Non-dinosaur Sentai also have their explanations. Boukenger had Hyde Gene being responsible for dinosaur extinction. In Go-onger it was the fault of Horonderthal.
Ohranger was aired on 1995 but the time setting is the year 1999. So again, you can't have them siding side by side with GogoV can you? On the other hand, Timeranger REALLY happened in the year 2000 while Jetman only happened in 199X which means any period within the 90s. Also it means every Sentai source for the Zordon arc are not canon to each other. Zyuranger, Dairanger, Kakuranger, Ohranger, Carranger and Megaranger are independent from each other. On the other hand, I am tempted to believe that Timeranger's special actualy retconned a few stuff that Ohranger ended happening in 1995 and Jetman in 1991 while keeping them self-contained.
Actually the beauty of having a self-contained timeline can be here. Unlike the Zordon Arc, Zyuranger up to Megaranger are one series that's totally different to another. It means it gives room for BETTER imagination most of the time. Making all the series canon to each other has the potential to kill room for better stories.
On the other hand, Power Rangers Megaforce will have to do some explanation. It says Gosei awakened because aliens attacked the Earth and he was Zordon's student. Come on, one alien invasion after the other has occurred and... well there's lot of explaining to do!
Possibility of Some Series Being in Continuity to Each Other?
Goranger and JAKQ may be in the same continuity to each other. But remember this was during the time they were still under Shotaro Ishinomori.
Denziman and Sun Vulcan were apparently linked to each other. Queen Hedrian was recovered by Black Magma. She was made into a cyborg. So I guess some series are canon to each other. Then again, it might have just been limited there. I guess producers wanted to keep every series apart from each other to give more room for creativity.
Crossovers As What If Scenarios vs. In Continuity To Each Other
Here's where writers may want to tell us the Sentai crossovers are what if events and not canon:
- In Ohranger vs. Kakuranger we see this. Bacchushund and Prince Buldont are around YET every mecha post-Bacchushund IS around. Also the Kakurangers can no longer use their powers considering they sacrificed their powers in the finale.
- In Abaranger vs. Hurricanger, Rije is still a child yet MaxRyuOh appears.
- Magiranger vs. Dekaranger also has Nije and Mare using Wolzaphones yet Wolzard can use magic, contradictory to Magiranger.
- Go-onger vs. Gekiranger has events unfold differently. So canonically, Long never got retooled. It's just "What if Long got retooled."
- In short, Dino Curry can exist in non-canon crossovers as different versions of Dino Curry.
Now for some shows that COULD be canon to each other but most likely just a list of what if events:
- Gekiranger could be indirectly canon to Boukenger. Boukenger's finale was carried over to the Gekiranger vs. Boukenger special. Again, it could be just a what if.
- Go-onger's finale was carried into Shinkenger vs. Go-onger. The Goseigers were introduced into that crossover.
- Shinkenger's finale was carried into Goseiger vs. Shinkenger. The Gokaigers were introduced into that crossover which again, Goseiger vs. Shinkenger would be non-canon as well.
- Again, what if Gekiranger up to Gokaiger all exists within the VS. Continuity?
I thought since the Super Sentai series aren't canon to each other, so they can be treated like Super Robot Wars right? If you aren't familiar with the Super Robot Wars series, it's a huge WHAT IF game. A lot of events in Super Robot Wars contradict the canon events of the Super Robot Shows that are involved in the massive crossover. So the VS. Movies can be called the VS. Continuity in itself.
What About Gokaiger?
Yet I can also name this, Gokaiger is a year-long VS. Series otherwise it's like Gokaiger vs. Super Sentai. The events in Gokaiger can contradict the following. For example, it's doubtful that the Flashmen can return for the Legend War. Kakurangers and Timerangers have long disbanded. So that means, the Legend War, everything in Gokaiger is what if all 35 Sentai existed together in one big Universe? Then we get Gokaiger. Other than that, the Legend War ONLY happened in Gokaiger and nowhere else. In short, Gokaiger may belong to the VS. Continuity.
So where's what I thought. If every Super Sentai series had to be connected, it would create the need for all the explanations. Like I mentioned earlier, Bio Robo should have awakened even before Gear began its attack or Earth Force should have already shown way before Gozma. Instead, because the shows aren't connected to each other, you can see there's really no need for explanation. Gokaiger is better called as a huge "What if all 35 Sentai belonged to one continuity." I would choose to call this series as the Super Sentai version of Super Robot Wars.
What About Crossovers with Non-Sentai Shows?
The first official Super Sentai/Kamen Rider crossover for television was in Kamen Rider Decade. Kamen Rider Decade has made it clear that Shinkenger's world was a "World Without Riders". Unlike "A Friend in Need" with MMPR where Masked Rider exists in the same universe with Power Rangers, remember the two DO NOT belong to the same continuity. So we can see that Kamen Rider is still independent from Super Sentai.
Gobusters had two episodes where it was matched up with Gavan. So Gavan had a crossover with Gokaiger but it can be considered non-canon. For Gobusters, it may or may not be part of the Space Sheriff Trilogy. For Metal Heroes, apparently Spielban operates in a different continuity from the Space Sheriff Trilogy. You may also consider that B-Fighter, B-Fighter Kabuto, Blue SWAT and Janperson may be connected but they are independent from most Metal Hero series. It doesn't take a rocket genius to figure that one out!
Also the Super Hero Taisen DISASTERS should just be ignored. Yes, these movies are NOT part of your mainline continuities especially they were written by Shoji "Patrick Star" Yonemura. Super Hero Taisen is nothing more than Patrick Star's suggestion above.
In writing them, it's more of a series of what if scenarios. You can choose to enjoy or ignore the crossovers. Remember, when watching a crossover the higher chances are they aren't part of continuity to the series involved in the crossover. Also common sense will tell us if Japan kept having monster attacks every year, it would have been destroyed by now.