Sharing My Thoughts On Why A More Serious Or Less Serious Super Sentai Season Isn't Always Better!

Looking back at my personal biases, I always thought about the fact that I used to think that serious would mean good. I can discuss with just Super Sentai and in extension, Power Rangers, to stress a point that a more serious Super Sentai season doesn't mean it's better. I can discuss some eras based on my rather limited knowledge on Super Sentai series I watched from start to end.

Hirohisa Soda's era and Toshiki Inoue as Jetman's headwriter

I haven't seen much of Hirohisa Soda's era but I am very familiar with Bioman, Maskman, Liveman, Turboranger and Fiveman from start to end on how they went. So if anybody can really share more about the rest of Soda, I would be happy but I can actually talk a bit of how my opinions were molded by Soda's era plus Jetman to at least discuss my thoughts on more serious and less serious Super Sentai seasons.

I can start by talking about the Soda era. As a writer, Soda started off with some less serious seasons like Goggle V, Dynaman and Bioman. Bioman was followed by more serious seasons such as Changeman, Flashman, Maskman and Liveman only to end with two less serious seasons namely Turboranger and Fiveman. Turboranger and Fiveman were viewed as the "burned out" era of Soda where he practically ran out of ideas. If Turboranger and Fiveman weren't as good as the previous, it's not a question of seriousness but a question of the writing and production quality. But at the same time, he may have provided ideas that could still be refined for future writers and producers to be. I think that without him, I don't think there would be inspiration for future Super Sentai seasons. In extension, I think that later seasons of Power Rangers would also got partly inspired by his era too.

When Jetman entered, it may be my personal favorite but it's also pretty much overrated by the fandom. It was a show that is considered more serious than its predecessors though IMO, I think Liveman has been more serious. True that Jetman had serious moments like Ryu losing his girlfriend Rie, you have Radiguet who is viewed by a lot of fans as the best Super Sentai villain ever (though Grandienne, Long and Shadam may be among a few to challenge for that title) and later, the show got a non-canon Manga sequel (three years later) and a TV special in the form of an "encyclopedia" where Ryu and Kaori are featured as a married couple who named their son after their fallen friend, Gai Yuki.

Post-Jetman era, 90s Super Sentai and Power Rangers era up to Time Force

Here's where I confess I had some very shallow reasons for preferring Super Sentai over Power Rangers namely, "Because it's more serious." and as of late, I really can't forget I said that. Granted, I saw Carranger from start to end some months ago and I didn't see Super Sentai by its chronological order so expect my views to change so much in so little time. Now I could discuss about Zyuranger vs. Mighty Morphin' to at least stress a point as well as a few series that I am familiar with.

While Zyuranger may be considered to be pretty "lighter and softer" by Super Sentai standards but it's pretty much serious for American standards. The first time I read some Zyuranger synopsis and later, saw it from start to end, I realized that aside from my 99% error guess rate. Mighty Morphin' itself is a very lighthearted show while Zyuranger itself is a more serious show followed up by the even more serious Dairanger.

Both Zyuranger and Dairanger had a lot of scenes you can't have in a show that's rated TV-Y7-FV. Zyuranger itself may have the kid of the week but a lot of scenes are downright scary. While Mighty Morphin' had managed to tone down the scenes, Zyuranger had a lot of scenes that I thought would scare you more like Bandora's plan to turn children into juicy red apples to eat them, Mei getting a nightmare that she almost died in and children getting kidnapped by supernatural means to name a few. Dairanger also had some date with serious especially when you think of how the show features tragic love (Daigo and Kujaku), some internal rivalry or Shadam is the show's version of Radiguet. I guess these were the reasons why Saban Entertainment and Toei Ltd. decided to let Power Rangers exist.

What might be considered as another proof of more serious does not equal good might be Carranger. Having watched the series from start to end first prior to Ohranger (which managed to stay serious for most of its run but had to tone down due to the sarin gas incident), I would say the former is a better-written series than the latter. Carranger starts off as a lighthearted comedy but it also had really badass moments. Unlike Ohranger, Carranger was more focused on plot and there was no unnecessary power-up here and there so there's more plot focus. Megaranger is also another fun season and it's definitely a masterpiece to watch.

A harder to pick which is better (for fans of both franchise) might be the Timeranger vs. Time Force scenario. I think it's getting harder to pick which show is better without my Great Professor Biases on the way. Timeranger itself is a more serious show. Time Force tries to moderate some stuff like not getting too intense with action or there's minimal bleeding to the point that it somehow defined a more balanced show. I felt like that both shows are enjoyable in their own merits. Timeranger can get bashed for being too serious and Time Force can be bashed for its hammy moments. You just can't please all the people in the fandom!

Using seriousness to judge quality may end up falling to really shallow judgement. My favorite example would be deciding between Gingaman and Lost Galaxy. While Lost Galaxy didn't have as much stunts as Gingaman but I cannot deny that the story is pretty much Sentai-worthy. If one has to say which show is better than the other, one must really look at other stuff like characterization. For instance, I think Gingaman is better because most of the characters have been better written in my own point of view. Some may think Lost Galaxy is better with their own point of view.

Post-Timeranger era, pre-Gekiranger era

After Timeranger, Super Sentai might be considered as more or less "balanced" in terms of writing and action scenes. While Judd Lynn's era of Power Rangers started to get more serious (in a way) but it had just enough action. Sometimes, I feel like saying that Super Sentai has too much action at times and needed to tone down on violence and seriousness at the same time. So here comes what might be called as the era where Super Sentai managed to learn something from Power Rangers. This might be the era that I would call as the "Power Rangers-ized era of Super Sentai" since both sides tend to be more balanced than they were.

Looking at why I usually prefer the old school seasons (80s-90s) over the newer ones, it would be stupid for me to say, "The older seasons are better because it's usually more serious." When I think of why I enjoy the older seasons, I might go ahead and blame my age but I do have other reasons. Back then, I can say that older seasons were more focused on story, character development and plots. Even the more lighthearted seasons like Carranger was more focused on plot than it was on merchandise. Ohranger was a serious season but it had a merchandise overload presumably to gain more money from toy sales due to ratings.

While I'm currently watching GogoFive while remembering Fiveman and remembering Magiranger, I thought of why GogoFive and Fiveman are better seasons for me. My justification to why Fiveman and GogoFive are better than Magiranger lies with production and writing styles. I felt like for the three sibling forces, Magiranger's production and writing wasn't as good. Fiveman and GogoFive all try to have better characters and better writing. Fiveman may be lighthearted but it had better serious moments than Magiranger.

A less serious show can also be better than a more serious show. I think Dekaranger a less serious series is better than Ohranger or some fans think Abaranger is better than Zyuranger. To why I think Dekaranger is better than Ohranger, the former has really shown better writing and not too much in your face power-ups which the former was forced to do. In the case of Abaranger and Zyuranger, there are times I think the former has had better characterization than the latter. What I also learned is that it comes to the quality between Super Sentai and Power Rangers in this era, what matters more in one's defense of which counterpart is better is with the characterization and writing styles.

Gekiranger's attempting to return to serious writing

For last decade Super Sentai, Gekiranger is my favorite season. While its action scenes may not be as good as Maskman or Dairanger but I was happy to at least watch a serious season but it was a show met with mixed reaction. Unlike the 80s to 90s, post-Timeranger Super Sentai has been much less serious while Gekiranger becomes a more serious show.

The show featured what I liked about the more serious seasons in the 80s to 90s. I thought about how the events were moved by Long himself or how the rivalry of two schools of martial arts made me like the show. Sure, the show had a lot of innovative fun but at the same time, it brought back what I wanted to see in Super Sentai seasons. Dekaranger is a police series but lacks old school drama except for that episode Hoji deleted his ex-girlfriend Teresa's brother. Hurricanger had Liveman elements but I felt like the latter is better-written, but again I'd still want to see more of the former. This show gave me the best of what old and new had to offer.

For the mixed reaction, I felt like aside from it being "unusual" and I'll confess that I didn't like this show immediately. I assume that because the show decided to go back to being more serious while it had a lot of lighter seasons, the show itself was pretty much more serious than usual. My basic assumption was that because Gekiranger was more serious than usual, the show didn't immediately click with children but it did click with an older audience. My reason for liking this show above the other last decade Sentai is again with the writing with how well I thought character development was done here. But again, it doesn't mean I didn't enjoy its much lighter and softer predecessors.

Jungle Fury on the other hand is a lighter version of Gekiranger. Mr. Smith considers the cast to be good and unlike Gekiranger, the show itself is less serious though I haven't seen much of it to judge the show's overall performance. I just thought giving Jarrod and Camille a second chance was is also good writing. Sometimes, it's very easy to abuse the whole ranger death scene like Time Fire's death or the heroic deaths of Rio and Mele. Sometimes, it's nice to have happier endings which Jungle Fury can be credited for that!


Go-onger's going wacky for a second time around isn't it?

Like Carranger, Go-onger tried to go wacky and personally, I am a fan of the show. Before that, I kept hearing that it sucks from other people so I didn't want to check it out but I'm glad I did. I had a good laugh with Go-onger but it being a comedic season is not why I like it lesser than Gekiranger. Even if I love having a good laugh or falling off my seat (Carranger didn't do that to me) but at times, the show tends to rely too much on blatant silliness and sudden change in moods.

This was also where Power Rangers took a huge turn with Power Rangers RPM. While Go-onger exists as a comedic season, RPM existed as a season that dared to be different. RPM takes place on Earth where the Venjix virus dominates the rest of the world and Corinth is the only safe place. I can understand why people like RPM due to its unique twist. I just felt though that some people committed my mistake of thinking that a more serious show is better.

I thought at times, I prefer a funny season and I felt like RPM wasn't that well-written due to the crammed in 32 only episodes. Go-onger on the other hand offered some space for development in the midst of comic relief. But just a note, this is just my personal favoritism that generated that statement. I do understand why RPM has its own set of fans but I'll stick to Go-onger.


Shinkenger to Gokaiger is where we get three more or less balanced seasons yet again

After Go-onger, we had three shows that were in the lighter and softer category. I used to consider Shinkenger as "dark" but far from it, the show is a lighthearted show followed by two more lighthearted shows namely Goseiger and Gokaiger. Though the shows had their serious moments (even Carranger and Go-onger had them) but I cannot deny how they are balanced seasons.

If Shinkenger happened in the 80s or 90s, I don't think the show would have been in a darker and edgier category. Gekiranger may have been a serious season but the level of seriousness is not as high as the serious shows of the 80s or 90s. Considering it's one of my favorite seasons, I thought Shinkenger really was a fun show. There wasn't so much seriousness compared to Yasuko Kobayashi's other headwriting works such as Gingaman and Timeranger. For a good amount of it, I tend to have a good laugh with its main cast of characters - even the serious Takeru Shiba tends to give me some laughs too like when he panics over Mako's cooking or Mako's most "I have to be blunt" moments tends to be funny for me.

If I can say why Shinkenger is better than Goseiger, I'd credit the writing. I don't see Shinkenger as a show more serious than Goseiger. I think I'm just having the Shinkenger hype to why I can't really appreciate Goseiger that much. My other problems with Goseiger were that I didn't find the characters as interesting. I think I really just need to rewatch Goseiger (from start to end) to see whether or not I am just suffering from a hangover with Shinkenger or is the show really not my type.

Gokaiger itself is also another lighthearted season though I still prefer Shinkenger over it. During its run, it tries to cram in all 34 Super Sentai seasons in one continuity when there's none. Even if you saw the 34 Super Sentai teams temporarily lose their powers (which doesn't happen in their respective continuities), the Zangyack weren't really all that cruel compared to Basco. Even if the Zangyacks were viewed as the biggest empire ever, they weren't really scary compared to other villain organizations from older school Super Sentai. True the Gokaigers lost their homes or what but most of the show ends up has a lighthearted anniversary season.

Go-Busters, is it trying to make an RPM sequel anyone?

After Gokaiger ended, I felt like Go-Busters might be a breath of fresh air returning to the more serious roots of the franchise. I also felt like that this show was sort of an "RPM sequel" though continuity-wise, that's just plain impossible. The series featured three starting rangers who had civilian superpowers (similar to Flashman, Dino Thunder, SPD and Operation Overdrive) but they had some limits to them. This is one show that I have been a longtime closet fan because a lot of people didn't like it. Judd Lynn happens to be a fan of the series too which isn't a bit surprising considering he was the head writer of seasons based on Kobayashi's works.

I think this show is an okay series but the show tends to reminds me of some reasons why I think Kamen Rider Faiz is one of Toshiki Inoue's lackluster works. The whole scene tends to play around in circles like steal Enetron, later the Messiah cards kick in and I think that the show may be spinning around as much as Faiz does with the Rider Belt game. Even if I thought that the show had interesting elements but the characters aren't as good as Kobayashi's previous characterizations. If I felt like Timeranger is Kobayashi's Agito (her magnum opus) then I felt like Gobusters is Kobayashi's Faiz. Some fans even think Naomi Takebe is at fault to Gobusters' problems while still defending Kobayashi as a writer. The way it looks like, like Inoue, she just gave up writing a better story.

For Super Sentai shows after this season, I think most of them make this show look much better. I guess the closet Gobusters fans like myself are already coming out huh? I would really appreciate to meet more of them coming out soon. So why did Toei and Saban decide to skip it? I would blame the toy sales and both sides may have had some problems with losses. I think going straight for Kyoryuger to be adapted as Power Rangers Dino Charge was a better decision.


Doing some fun... after Go-Busters

I noticed some people complained Gobusters was boring but I can't call it Go-Sleepsters (a term Shogo made). While I disagree with Shogo's opinions on Boukenger and Gobusters, but I definitely agree with what he personally thought about Kyoryuger. I even think that Daigo Kiryu is obnoxious or that the whole show is too lively. If I can name any reason why I think Dino Charge is more watch-worthy (at least to my eyes) it's because the adaptation lacks that annoying samba and Tyler is no Daigo Kiryu "hey I'm the king" type of moments. This is one show I think makes dinosaurs glad that they have died. Side comment, I do enjoy Riku Sanjo's headwriting projects but Kyoryuger is not one of them. Kamen Rider W and Kamen Rider Drive are a much better watch!

If Kyoryuger wasn't enough, ToQGer was next and no offense to its fans, I really can't warm up to the show not because I am against innovation but because the show itself was really flat for me. I couldn't find any good reason to praise it except for getting an award for promoting safety rules. If I'm to talk, I think GogoFive, Lightspeed Rescue and other rescue-oriented Tokusatsu series deserve the safety rule awards better during their run. True that a train-based, imagination based Super Sentai is an interesting concept but I felt like the executives assigned the wrong writer. I like Kobayashi as a writer but I think she really fell down BIG TIME with ToQGer. So really, I hope Toei and Saban decides to skip that season too.

Ninninger having Kento Shimoyama to serve as the head writer the series, I feel like he does write some interesting stuff. I know I might be complaining about the weirdness of the show but I think the series itself has a lot of fun factors. I know Takaharu is really "Bakaharu" but I couldn't really hate him. The cast has some interesting jokes, a senile grandpa or their incompetent dad but they are fun to watch. True it's not really that good but I am still entertained enough to watch it.

So what are your thoughts on more serious Super Sentai seasons and less serious ones? As for me, this might be part of my whole learning experience as a writer.

Comments

  1. You need to go back to the 70s for that political analysis. Before the Saburo Yatsude era or SUPER Sentai era. Shotaro Ishimori started it all in 1975 and Gorangers was blatantly cheesy and goofy a as the 1966 Batman! Then JAKQ aired and we got one of the greatest dark serialised drama ever as it is a combination of Mission: Impossible and the Mod Squad. Sadly because of the alternative drama, the show only lasted a mare 35 episode and that is considered the lowest number of episodes in a Super Sentai series. Right there we learn something important. What matters is the right now and ratings is important, children are the majority and viewing is based on moods. If the show is too dark and serious then its a flop but if it is whimsical and cheesy then it is a hit. BUT it all pays off as the show that had a weak ratings but dark drama then it will have a big cult following in the the future and vice versa for the other theme.

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  2. me myself i do not really care of its light or dark i am fine both ways but i think why most people love jetman and what i am seeing its not the plot so much as the really well done rangers in maskman it felt unbalnced and zeba was not really a big deal til the last two eps both show are called dark but in jetman there are funny bits i feel so its a mix of both in maskman i do not think i laughed as much so i feel based on that maskman is darker

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  3. Well, I have a mixture of opinions on the subject. It's fine tome either way if it's a light-hearted series, or a more serious series. However, it ticks me off when people complain about a(Super Sentai, Power Rangers, or otherwise) being to "childish". Then when other people tell them that "it's a kids' show", they fuss that even though it's a kids' show it doesn't have to be "childish". You put out there the point that just because it can be more dark and serious, doesn't mean it's a good thing and that's not why you should like a series more or less, you should like (or dislike) a series for more substantial reasons.

    On a sidenote, I think the writers of Abaranger must have watched a certain terrible video game movie(Super Mario Bros.) when they came up with the premise, because the way the Burstasaurus world was created the same way the Mushroom Kingdom was in the movie.

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  4. While I generally agree with the whole article for Toqger I disagree. The whole reason this show is loved (including me) was the childhood nostalgia it gave to people Kyoryuger also had genious plot in the episodes and awesome well written characters.

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