So Really, What Took It So Long For Toei To Make A Samurai Themed Super Sentai Season?
I just had a thought on making a series of what ifs for Super Sentai themes that were done once AND done after Timeranger. Gaoranger has an animal theme attached to it and animal mechas were so introduced last Dairanger (which was also kung-fu oriented), Hurricanger was sort of a ninja-ized version of Liveman, Abaranger and Kyoryuger are both dinosaur comedy series but some series were one-shot themed. Dekaranger itself is not Toei's first police-oriented show but it's the first police-oriented Super Sentai. Magiranger has a magical theme while having the siblings theme. I might as well focus on Shinkenger all because of this statement from Shogo B'Stard:
Well, Shinkenger didn't end up being the samurai Sentai I always imagined -- it needed to go more hogwild with its premise -- but I enjoyed the show when it started. And then it happened -- the infamous lull from the early teens. Just a bunch of nothing episodes, and then...the godawful Genta joined the show. He was obnoxious and his intro episodes were brutal, but to cut a long story short, the show kept starting and stalling until about the early 30s, and I thought it was mostly solid from then to the finale. Shinkenger was frustrating to watch as it aired, but once it ended, and I could look over the series, I appreciated it more knowing what parts were stronger than others and that it made a nicer show when you whittled it down to the essentials.
It wasn't the samurai Sentai I wanted, and it wasn't consistently strong, but I felt like it was closer in tone to where Sentai should be than a lot of the newer shows have been. And I credited that to chief producer Takaaki Utsunomiya -- Shinkenger was the first series he was main producer of. I think it's a mistake how Toei likes to rotate producers each year, so Utsunomiya didn't work on Goseiger. And, honestly, even though I've softened on Goseiger, when that show was on the air, it made me appreciate Shinkenger all the more. I felt like Shinkenger was making progress, and Goseiger was a big step back.
If you know this, Sun Vulcan's second red ranger Takayuki Hiba was a master of kendo, he used a samurai sword in battle and so really, what took them so long to really bring a samurai Super Sentai? They even had to wait for the 90s before Kakuranger for the first ninja-based Super Sentai, So I just had a thought of the possibility of Shinkenger of what if it happened during the late 80s or early 90s.
I thought about how a late 80s show might have been in the hands of Hirohisa Soda. In the process, maybe Maskman, Jetman Zyuranger or Dairanger will never exist because I just reimagined them using some of the possible cast members. But if it were in the 90s, it might have ended up happening with either Toshiki Inoue or Yasuko Kobayashi both in their prime back then. The late Noboru Sugimura could've also helped.
Now for the possible candidates for each character:
I. The Shinkengers and their allies
Here's my imaginary recast though I really couldn't think of anyone to be Genta. I think it might become a five man team with no additional rangers yet that time.
I thought of Kazunori Inaba played a samurai, it could have gotten pretty badass especially if we'll have Kazunori Inaba doing some of the sword stunts! As Red Mask, Inaba had shown a real, strong, passionate performance as Red Mask. Chances are, it would have been more memorable than Tori Matsuzaka. Seriously, why do I feel weird Matsuzaka and not Inaba got more spotlight post-Super Sentai? The mind boggles.
Kotaro Tanaka may not be that good with acting but I thought his out-of-suit fighting has been better. Acting-wise, both he and Matsuzaka aren't the best to play my favorite reds. Both played my favorite reds okay but they simply lack the it factor that Inaba had.
Yuuta Mochizuki is a great actor, no questions asked. If he were a samurai red ranger, I think it would have worked for him to wield a samurai. Well, Zyuranger wouldn't exist if he were Shinken Red.
Perhaps the best candidate is Keiichi Wada. If he were Shinken Red, Dairanger wouldn't exist. I could imagine this guy wielding a samurai and going all nasty against a group of bad guys. Instead, he became iconized for another badass red. On the other hand, Takeru Shiba would end up as a fanservice character as well.
Kouichi Kusakari could play as Kenta who's kind of a hammy guy. I guess he could also deliver a kabuki actor's performance.
Though if you want Ryunosuke to be a playboy character with hammy tendencies, I think Toshihide Wakamatsu would still pull that out. The guy is pretty amazing himself. He may be only my second favorite Jetman but acting-wise, Wakamatsu really stands out against the other Jetmen.
The first possible choice would be Kanako Maeda. I mean, she's done a very good job as Momoko/Pink Mask and I think she would have made a stronger Mako. I felt like that she might have done a samurai job so well.
The better alternative might be Natsuki Takahashi. Momoko's a great martial artist though I was more wowed by Takahashi. She's really done a pretty strong performance as Rin in Dairanger. If she were Mako, I think you'd probably be afraid to mess with her. She might be an archer instead.
He's my only alternative for Chiaki Tani. Issei Hirota was able to play a slacker kid so well. Acting-wise, he and Shogo Suzuki are more or less at the same level. Chances are, this version might be holding an axe or tonfas.
If you want cute and badass, Sayuri Uchida as Kotoha would be able to do the job. I could imagine an episode where Kotoha goes momentarily blind and wins in spite of that handicap. Ako has shown several moments where she may seem harmless but she's beaten a lot of monsters left and right.
Though call me crazy but I think Reiko Chiba may have done better for the role of Kotoha. Both Mei and Kotoha are very moe. She's more on the cute side, in fact more moe than Uchida. Though I'd probably prefer Uchida over her performance any day. Chances are, she wouldn't be holding a bow and instead, they might assign her a hammer to make her a cute bruiser.
The team mentor
Hayato Tani was a good Sanjoru Sugata. But what if Director Sugata were a director for kendo instead of martial arts? He's done a lot of martial arts in the past already.
I would actually want to imagine Goro Ibuki in his 40s being a team mentor instead of becoming "grandpa". I know Ibuki is a badass grandpa but it could have been interesting to see him to "baka" to a group of newbie samurai who think the bad guys are just that easy. I think he could have done just as good a performance as Tani would have done it.
The late martial artist Koji Naka could have made a badass "last samurai" or two, gathers the five descendants of the samurai together. I think he could have made a good samurai mentor. I really was impressed by a lot of his fisticuffs so why can't he handle a sword, too?
If it were the 80s, we might have imagined the five vehicles of Great Five to form a samurai-based version of the said robot. I mean, just think of a Great Five with a samurai theme and a badass samurai sword. Galaxy Robo might end up having a repeat of the Cross Fever finishing move instead of the Aura Iron fist finisher. No combining sequences while we have a well-written introductionb y Hirohisa Soda instead.
If it were in the 90s, maybe we might get Dairenou to be a samurai robot instead. Chances are, Kou might become a samurai kid ranger instead.
We may get the same animals but we might get better designs. Shinkenger is a nice show but I thought the primary mecha were pretty blocky considering they were origami-designed.
III. The bad guys
I guess we'd have a lot of possibilities for a more nightmarish Gedoushu. You might end up mixing Vyram with Tube or what. These are just a few possibilities that might have happened back then.
I guess the human-faced Zeba would have been pushed through with either Takeo Shinkai, maybe Daisuke Tachi (who played Radiguet) or Rintaro Nishi (who played Shadam) would have been Emperor Zeba. I guess they'd start rewriting Emperor Zeba as a merciless emperor of the Underground Kingdom. We might actually have Tube rewritten as a place where it was once a peaceful underground kingdom long ago until the Sanzu River flooded it. Zeba not satisfied with just his takeover of Tube wants to rule the whole world as well. Behind the fearsome samurai feudal lord hides a dangerous secret that he isn't secretly human. He's determined nobody finds out for it may lead to his weakness. But Zeba may not be named as Zeba but maybe he'd be named as Doukoku instead.
If Daisuke Tachi plays the main villain, maybe Radiguet would have been a merciless bloody samurai. I mean, that guy really handled the Bloodygade Sword with much gusto. If Zeba doesn't become the Big Bad, Radiguet would have probably taken that pleasure. Radiguet is too French a name so I guess they might really use any Japanese-sounding name that strikes fear and terror to the hearts of many. I guess a humanoid Doukoku played by Daisuke Tachi, commanding fear and terror towards everyone would have been a real nightmare fuel. This version of Doukoku I'm imagining might scare a lot of children to hide under their beds.
Reiminaging Baraba as a samurai is easy. I felt like Keijiro Shiga would have made a strong brute force samurai. I mean, I did enjoy seeing Monster wielding that samurai sword in his attempt to make shish kebab out of Shiro Go in Bioman. I could imagine Shiga himself wield that samurai against the good guys either as Baraba or a samurai version of Griforther. Oyobur as a samurai could still work but what if the underground kingdom also had ninjas involved?
If "Prince" Igam were reimagined as a samurai warrior raised to be a man, I could imagine the mayhem that might have caused. I mean, just imagine if Takeru had to face a crazed samurai-wielding villain. If the character won't be played by Mina Asami, other possible candidates would have been Maho Maruyama (Maria in Jetman) or Ami Kawaii (Lami in Zyuranger). I could feel the intensity of a samurai-themed Igam would bring.
Fuumin as a samurai could be worked in as well. She might end up having a rivalry with the pink ranger instead of the yellow ranger though.
Kiros would have probably become a darker and edgier version of Juzo. Juzo had the potential to be a really bloody villain but Shinkenger's nature of being lighter and softer and not darker and edgier would have prevented it. I could imagine how this version of Juzo would be a real bloody troll. Just imagine if he'd kill anyone so he can have Princess Ial. You might even have Yutaka Hirose playing the part instead.
I guess these guys would have made an earlier debut or we might actually get samurai versions of the Cotporos soldiers or the Ungler soldiers.
These are just a few ideas that may have happened if Shinkenger happened in their the 80s or 90s.