Sentai Rambling: Seijuu Sentai Gingaman and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy as Popular Series!
I felt like rambling about two popular shows. While the Lost Galaxy rumor in Japan is just a complete rumor or a myth at best, but I cannot deny how Lost Galaxy and Gingaman are series that got popular to their respective audiences. I could actually to ramble on the popularity of Gingaman and Lost Galaxy!
Each show has their similarities and differences. So I was thinking about the popularity of both sides. Remember I am biased on this one considering that I prefer Super Sentai over Power Rangers for most of its run. However Lost Galaxy itself is also a good season for many fans. Moving on, it's time to compare both beloved seasons. Remember there might somecultural differencesthat actually influenced both writing style and production of both series.
Remember that there will be spoilers so read at your own risk!
Seijuu Sentai Gingaman
After the success of Carranger and Megaranger we have Gingaman as another popular Super Sentai season. The whole series presented the powers from some distant galaxy that had ascended down to Earth to battle a group of space pirates who have been destroying one planet after the other but they were halted on planet Earth. The original Gingaman defeated Captain Zahab and his army, sealed them off and the Earth was saved. However the tradition of the Gingaman ceremony was passed from one generation to another. In the 133rd generation, the seal was broken... and yup Captain Zahab had been unleashed with his four generals (Sanbash, Budo, Illiess and Batbass), his steerwoman Shelinda and the scholar Pucrates. Something similar happened in Shinkenger but I think Gingaman had done it better.
If you know this, the word Ginga means Galaxy so you might want to translate Gingaman as Galaxyman even if English speaking fans know it better by its official title. The powers of the Gingamen are derived from the five Starbeasts from another galaxy to assist them in their battle against Captain Zahab. Captain Zahab awakened in modern day seeking to revive the Daitanix so he can finally plunder and destroy the Earth next. In the process, he systematically sends his generals one at a time until their turns are up. It was because in the past, the generals just keep sabotaging each other so Captain Zahab always came up with a plan of his own. The Gingamen lose their home the forest before the Balban can use all that energy to revive Daitanix forcing them to adjust to a whole new society.
When you think of nostalgia value of Gingaman, the whole series tries to try new stuff while it tries to bring back some old stuff in the protagonists. The Gingamen like the Zyurangers, Dairangers and Kakurangers were lineage based. Like the Zyurangers, the Gingamen were usually wearing their warrior attire and they were based on tribes, plus the red ranger Ryouma had an older brother in Hyuga. They had extraterrestrial powers similar to that of the Flashmen and even out of suit, they had elemental powers at their command. On the other hand, it had its own version of "Zordon" in Moak while the fairy Bokku might be more of a shoutout to Seelon in Turboranger.
The villains felt like a mix of old elements from previous series together with new elements that were tried out. The idea of a living starship came from Fiveman's Vulgyre except here, the captain is the big bad. Captain Zahab like Vulgyre destroys planets seeking to attain ultimate power. Shelinda is your mean bitch like Ahames (in some way) in Changeman or Gara in Dairanger. Pucrates is like your traditional Soda creature-like villain similar to Maskman's Anagbas (both are researchers) or Dongoros (when it comes to comic relief). The way the generals are dispatched are similar to Goranger where the new general takes over only when the previous one got disposed of in battle. Each general is also in charge of a different type of monster unit.
When it came to the show's mecha, I always thought that Gingaman had a unique blend of old school and new school. Their main robot Gingaioh didn't combine with any other mecha but only got an upgrade attack later. We later had the Ginga Bitus which housed two self-operating mecha namely the Ginga Rhinos and Ginga Phoenix. I just thought that maybe by the time the footage (and later the costumes) were slipped into Lost Galaxy for both licensed use of stock footage and later self-filmed footage, there was really a positive reception of how cool the mecha later translated as zords were for the show and toy sales.
Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
While the that Lost Galaxy rumor was more popular in Japan is plain garbage and everything about that rumor may best be viewed as a made-up urban legend but I felt this show deserves its own credit. Now I know Kai Chen can get annoying (at the beginning, Gouki is so much better) and as a Super Sentai fan, I have my personal biases on Power Rangers even if I don't hate the franchise. Now I might have missed a lot considering I've played the neutral card but I can still think of stuff that the show tried to do. Lost Galaxy actually tries to get more serious than its predecessors especially with head writer Judd Lynn, you can expect some pretty serious stuff.
The series itself tries to differentiate itself from Seijuu Sentai Gingaman by actually taking place in some Lost Galaxy hence the title. Pretty much, in Gingaman, the powers from a lost galaxy arrive on Earth to defend it. In Lost Galaxy, people from Earth defend a Lost Galaxy from evil which is a reverse of the modus operandi of writing Tokusatsu in general. I thought having that thin line drawn would make it easier to appreciate both the original and the adaptation according to their own merits and demerits. Lost Galaxy for me can be credited for actually daring to be more serious than your average Power Rangers season combined with lots of original footage.
If anything differentiates the Lost Galaxy team from the Gingamen is that they didn't inherit it by lineage. I am sort of thinking of Changeman and Flashman here. Like Changeman, we have a military theme going on. Like Flashman, they get their powers from an alien source. The Lost Galaxy team pulls the Quasar Sabers and they are stuck with fighting the bad guys. I always thought that their situation was kind of a Changeman/Flashman scenario. They get their powers in times of danger and like Flashman, they use extraterrestrial power. What also put the Lost Galaxy team apart was that they DID NOT possess the ability to use their elements except if they were morphed... which I am mixed on that.
Lost Galaxy's villains also deviated from Gingaman's villains. That is, Captain Zahab's counterpart is just demoted to extra, instead they focus on an insect-like army trying to invade the Earth. Trakeena herself is not your average Power Rangers villain. She's one mean bitch and if she were in Power Rangers in Space, she might even try to sacrifice Astronema to destroy the Space Rangers or manipulate the villains to their deaths just to get what she wants. She's very cold, ruthless, manipulative and she will do almost anything to acquire power like when she absorbed Deviot into herself just to gain power. Trakeena is an original villain for Lost Galaxy. I wonder if she was an unused concept that was rejected by Toei but was later paid for by Saban. I can't really tell but I have a feeling her design might have been originally for Queen Pandora of Spielban. I think she can even prove herself to be a deadly opponent to the Seijuu Sentai Gingaman and maybe Captain Zahab wouldn't underestimate her as well.
Pointing out more differences in writing style and production...
Knowing that Judd Lynn likes Tokumei Sentai Gobusters, I was wondering if he also praised Gingaman, Timeranger and Shinkenger himself. After all, he was the one in charge with Lost Galaxy and Time Force, both based on Yasuko Kobayashi's works as a headwriter. I always thought on how the writing was done. I would think that Judd Lynn himself is one of the beloved writers of Power Rangers. Oh, I think Yasuko Kobayashi is still a beloved writer too herself.
Aesthetics somewhat played a bit of a role when it came to the red ranger. In Japan, I have noticed that they didn't care too much about characters and muscles. In America, however it seems to be that the norm has the call for buff superheroes. Now I prefer Ryoma over Leo anytime (and funny Leo uses a lionzord huh). Based on Shogo's post about red rangers he also pointed that there was some initial criticism about Ryoma being young and wimpy looking. Meanwhile, Leo is almost a result of the modus operandi that Power Rangers usually have buff and muscular red rangers (which was parodied in the Akibaranger episode on the Powerful Rangers). But in terms of content, I think Ryoma was a more interesting fellow. But I'll admit both are my favorites in their respective shows, except that I'm just having personal biases at times. In Gingaman, our buff and muscular hero is none other than Gouki himself.
Comic relief in both series were executed pretty different. We had the father/son team of Harukiko (who was rarely seen) and his more frequently seen son Yuuta. This sort of felt like the father/son ally team in Carranger. What I like about Super Sentai humor is that usually, the comic relief characters are really plot-relevant unlike in Power Rangers, most of them are just there to be there. For example, Bulk and Professor Phenomenus hardly did anything useful. I mean Harukiko was the chronicler of the Gingamen... so why can't we have Professor Phenomenus recording the exploits of the Lost Galaxy Rangers instead of a character who's played as just a loon who does nothing useful at all? Fortunately Calamitous and Bulk weren't really there all the time because they hardly did anything useful.
If we are to talk about it, the Gingamen team had a couple of comic relief among them namely Gouki and Hikaru. Gouki is the gentle giant who is prone to butt monkey situations and he is in love with the school teacher named Suzuko sensei who I assume he dated at the end of the series. The other comic relief was Hikaru who was the group prankster. I always prefer the comic relief to be within the Super Sentai team than have a useless character like Professor Phenomenus just be there for the sake of "Let's do a funny scene!" then it becomes epic fail. Fortunately Professor Phenomenus isn't in Gingaman or he might actually try to exploit Moak's secret or dig through the Gingamen's pasts.
When it comes to writing jerks, both Kobayashi and Lynn have a habit of writing them into their scripts in one way or another. In Kobayashi's case with Gingaman she had the first Bullblack and Hikaru. Lynn ended up making Magna Defender no different than Bullblack as a vengeance crazed anti-hero. However looking at the recurring jerks of the shows, I'd like to compare them as well. Hikaru himself is a carefree, prankster wild guy who tried to use Earth magic for his own benefit and had a dislike for Hayate for being so preachy. Kai Chen himself was the overachiever and sort of THE control freak (and Hayate wasn't even like that) in some way who later learned that some rules are meant to be broken for the better. I always wondered if Lynn actually has Archie Kao as his favorite castmember of Lost Galaxy?
I also felt there were some differences between Mike Corbett and Hyuga to the point they are so easy to differentiate from each other. So both of them inherited the mantles of anti-heroes... Hyuga became the new Bullblack and Mike became the new Magna Defender. I just thought about how both of them sacrificed their powers to find some way to defeat the enemy. Hyuga purposely sacrificed his Earth Power and had an alliance with Pucrates so he could perform that might spell the end of Captain Zahab then later rejoined the others for the finale battle. Mike sacrificed his powers so the others could escape. Both of them had their own near death encounters.
You could take a note that Shelinda wasn't used in Seijuu Sentai Gingaman neither by footage nor by actress. The reason was presumably due to her costume being too provocative for TV-Y7-FV standards (which is ironic considering we had cartoon girls in two piece) and maybe that's why we never see Ashley in a two piece in Power Rangers in Space compared to Chisato in Megaranger. In short, Shelinda really had no counterpart whatsoever in Lost Galaxy. I always felt like both bitches were really frightening in intimidating. Also, Captain Zahab's counterpart Captain Mutiny only came in late in the series and was more or less a secondary antagonist instead of the main villain. Trakeena became the main villain later in the series (after her father Scorpius died) while Shelinda remained as Captain Zahab's fiercely loyal steerwoman.
When I think of Captain Zahab vs. Trakeena, I don't think Trakeena would easily get rid of Captain Zahab like she did with Captain Mutiny and vice-versa. Now for some comparison with how the two were as the show's main antagonists. Captain Zahab's aim was destroying planets (so he could acquire more power and immortality) and he wouldn't hesitate to execute anyone who failed him miserably. Trakeena was a treacherous schemer as she double-crossed Treacheron (Budo's counterpart) just to get what she wants and later absorbed Deviot to become more powerful. Both of them were really too hideously cruel in their own way. Both also had a caring side even in the midst of their cruelty - Captain Zahab though he seemed not to care about his subordinates did feel bad about Shelinda's death and Trakeena actually cared for her father Scorpius. Watch out as both of them would attack innocent civilians indiscriminately, they hardly have any honor and they would do anything to get what they want. Regardless who wins between them, we are at the losing side right?
Would Trakeena live up to Super Sentai villain standards? I think she would with all the examples I have previously given. In fact, Trakeena fits the trope of "save us from the queen" because when she succeeds her father Scorpius, she becomes the big bad and it's really bad news. If she were to fight against the Gingamen, she might actually use one whatever treachery there may be or she may even want to double-cross Budo and try to get the Lights of Ginga for herself so she can get rid of Captain Zahab and conquer the Earth. I could imagine that even if I think Captain Zahab would win against Trakeena, however I doubt it the fight is easily won. I mean, Trakeena is a really treacherous vixen so she and Captain Zahab might end up double crossing each other before one of them eventually gets destroyed.
When it comes to wrap-up, I always thought Trakeena's wrap-up wasn't so well done compared to Captain Zahab's ultimate end even if she put on quite an impressive show. In short, Lynn for me sucks at finales. Now I'm not saying Kobayashi's finales are all that good either considering her later works tend to have weird finales. I thought Captain Zahab's final moments were far more satisfying with all the Gingamen destroying him once and for all. In Trakeena's case she goes insane and starts rampaging... then Leo does a brave attempt to try and destroy her. Now it was a heroic move but has Lynn ignored that Power Rangers is based on team effort? I thought that Trakeena's defeat in Lost Galaxy's finale should have been at the hands of the whole Lost Galaxy team instead.
Both series featured a lot of character deaths and some of them were resurrected while most didn't. In Gingaman we both see the Ginga Forest petrify and in Lost Galaxy, well Mirinoi becomes a dead planet. The Gingamen lose their home and stay in a ranch while the Lost Galaxy team stays on a space station. Now for the deaths of characters... Bullblack dies in Gingaman and Magna Defender dies in Lost Galaxy with both characters passing their powers to another person. Hyuga becomes the new Bullblack and Mike becomes the new Magna Defender.
What I thought was amazing was how death and resurrection took place in both series. Moak absorbs all the toxic in a rather useless effort to prevent the Earth Beast from growing full size but left a seed behind (which I think was written in last minute). Both series had someone important coming back to life. In Gingaman, Hayate lost his fiance Miharu during the second episode. In Lost Galaxy, the team lost Kendrix and she was substituted by Karone - this was caused by the fact the actress had leukemia and needed treatment for her disease. In the finale, both Miharu and Morgan are brought back to life along with several other unidentified people. One was a forest, the other was a planetary scale.
Possible fan reaction to both series
Both series also differed in so many ways so it's almost like choosing an apple from an orange. You might think of it... Gingaman is on the supernatural while Lost Galaxy is more heavy on space science fiction than the supernatural. In short, it's to each to his own when it comes to one's own individual preferences of either which show. Some may think Lost Galaxy is better, others think Gingaman is better or both are just as good while liking both series. I even think Super Sentai/Power Rangers fans might have no real clear answer at the end of the day. For a Sentai fan like me, I usually pick the Super Sentai version even if I can enjoy a decent Power Rangers season. I may not really like Power Rangers but still, I can give credit where credit is due.
I personally thought while Lost Galaxy had creative ideas that can be used into future seasons of Super Sentai (ex. going into space) but the main cast of Gingaman is better than the cast of Lost Galaxy. Again, it's your choice right? So be free to like which one you like, it's your choice but I like Gingaman better and it's my opinion. On the other hand, I would want to rewatch Lost Galaxy considering it's been some time since I saw it so my memory of it is already fuzzy.