I Feel That Generation Gap With Super Old School And Super New School Super Sentai!
When it comes to super old school, I ask myself WOULD I EVEN WATCH MY PARENTS' SENTAI?! For a child today who's enjoying Zyuohger, the question is WOULD I EVEN WATCH MY GRANDPARENTS' SENTAI? For an adult Super Sentai fan, they may say that they'd watch Super Sentai with their children but they won't enjoy it as much as their Super Sentai. I always ask myself these questions whenever I go back and forth with watching Super Sentai. That of course, I'll admit that I'm watching Zyuohger right now and I still feel that same old question if I'd watch old school that's so old or new school that's so new!
After watching Battle Fever J and Sun Vulcan for the past few months, I wanted to to even think of all the biases I've had towards them from the start. Sure they were digitally remastered and I can watch them in better definition because it's the digital age. But even if it goes to high definition quality, it can't change the fact that I've become even more of a stranger to them. After I discovered more of pre-Zyuranger Super Sentai last 2001, I really even said, "What?! Goranger has no giant robot!" What do you expect from somebody who grew up with Bioman as his first Super Sentai?!
When I watched Battle Fever J I just felt that I didn't watch it for its overwise super basic storyline. I just watched it for some great choreography from its cast of characters. But the story was overly basic for me in several levels. General Kurama Tetsuzan could slice and dice a lot of foes with his katana but Doggie Kruger in Dekaranger is more developed as a character. Satan Egos may be a frightening Big Bad while some non-intimidating Big Bads like Doukoku and Ackdos Gill had more character development and personality. There was nothing special about it for me except for the fight scenes and dance scenes. But other than that, writing-wise I find it to be pretty plain myself.
The same went for Sun Vulcan when I watched it. I felt first half was a chore to watch until Takayuki Hiba and Amazon Killer came to spice things up. I watched both shows at snail place. It was a nice start but like some stuff during the process of innovation things may age badly sooner or later. The combining Sun Vulcan Robo was so poorly designed for me and the mecha was so uninspired for my standards. Most of the heroes weren't all that interesting. The only reason why I like Takayuki himself is because he brought in the tradition of red rangers fighting with swords. I didn't think those series had that much of an impact compared to later old school Super Sentai. I don't even feel much of an impact with it one way or another.
What's even more self-contradictory for me is that that I'm having fun with the first few episodes of
Part of the reasons why the 80s tends to be closer to me than the 70s is because of my childhood. As a 90s child, I grew up watching Chodenshi Bioman and Hikari Sentai Maskman. When I discovered more series like Dengeki Sentai Changeman and Choshinsei Flashman, I was more interested in watching them than the newer series. I don't feel too much of a need to fill "that void" during my teenage life. When I heard Flashman had the first secondary mecha, I was more interested to see how Flash Titan worked than I wanted to see how Battle Fever Robo worked. I don't even think I'm that interested to see how Daidenzin works compared to how Change Robo works. I may want to watch Denziman but I don't think I'd be that interested with it compared to more of Soda's works. I just feel more of the "need" (but it's just a want) to fill my void with 80s to 90s Super Sentai than to go beyond that.
On the other hand, I could think about the closer gap I have with Super Sentai from Timeranger up to Gokaiger. I could relate to the Timeranger crew because they're just a few years older than I am. I wanted to feel happy for some 90s children who got their dream to come true. That's what I felt about Timeranger up to Gokaiger. It was the time when most of the cast members have a closer age gap to me. It was a pleasant thing.
While I may not personally like the writing style as much as the 80s to 90s but there was its own charm. It could help one see the challenge of making a catchy toy commercial. Gaoranger was pretty much a challenge to how to write in the new toys with a good story. Hurricanger managed to make better versions of Liveman's mecha. Abaranger (and later Kyoryuger) knew how to sell dinosaur toys to the children of their respective decades. Dekaranger tried to do a more child-friendly police oriented Super Sentai with a lot of cool merchandise. Other seasons tried different ways to do multi-gattai. For entertainment purpose, I felt like those were the seasons I feel the closest and at home with. Shinkenger was the last one that made me feel the most at home and the rest didn't give me that much of a feel. Goseiger was just so-so and lacked the charm Shinkenger had with its characters. Though I still agree Shinkenger may be getting too much credit.
Gokaiger should be commended for its effort in getting in a lot of guest stars to reprise their roles because it's an anniversary season. It really was a huge anniversary crossover. It succeeded where Kamen Rider Decade failed. But it was really relying too much on the other Super Sentai series. Unlike Zyuohger which is less dependent on the 39 other seasons (though the crossover movie will feature Doggie, Sha Fu and Torin for obvious reasons), Gokaiger felt like it needed all other Super Sentai seasons to move forward. You couldn't really move forward until this senior came in to give the Greater Power while Zyuohger doesn't need it. Then again, Gokaiger was meant to be a huge crossover so that's why it had that constraint alongside it. I don't want to be in the hype all that much either. While I commend it for its success and hype but I personally don't think too highly of it. I think Zyuohger is better in some way which I will discuss about it later.
I'm also having that generation gap feel with super new school Super Sentai at a very personal level. ToQGer may have won an award for endorsing safety rules and the project was feasible to younger children. On the other hand, I felt that show wasn't really my cup of tea with how it was carried out. If I wanted some Imagination I could watch Akibaranger Season One and Tsuu instead even if I'll just get 26 episodes. The show had the potential to become Akibaranger's official season but getting Yasuko Kobayashi to write it wasn't a good idea. Junko Komura or Naruhisa Arakawa should've handled the show instead.
But it doesn't mean that I won't watch super new school Super Sentai because right now, I'm proud to announce that I like Zyuohger and I like it better than what Kamen Rider Ghost has to offer. I don't care if not so many like Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. I personally like that series and while I can accept what critics say are its flaws but it has its charm for me. But on a business level, I don't think Go-Busters' attempt to return to the darker and edgier feel was all that good for marketing. They could have tried to focus more on multi-gattai than trying to get back to the 90s feel. Gekiranger may have a serious 90s feel but the rest of the show was true to the multi-gattai spirit. If I were to rate the mecha designs, I dare say that Gekiranger really knew how to handle mecha innovation over Go-Busters. So I may like Go-Busters but I don't think highly about it. I think the problem with Go-Busters lower ratings was that it tried to go back to darker and edgier. I enjoyed it but I wanted to also say that darker and edgier Super Sentai isn't that feasible anymore. Gekiranger could have been better off as a kung fu comedy series than the serious series it was to gain more ratings.
I think Zyuohger has done a good job standing on its own plot than relying on previous Super Sentai seasons to move it forward. I don't think Kamen Rider Ghost's appearance was ever needed to be a guest star to move it forward even if it's a good gimmick. It may be based on wild animals but it doesn't try to become Gaoranger 2.0 but tries another approach. Gaoranger was a fun series but I felt the series was more of an experimental season compared to Zyuohger. Zyuohger tries to keep its hype on its own show. I don't even think previous reds such as Vul Eagle II, Red Falcon, Red Hawk, Hurricane Red or Go-on Red need to show up to Zyuoh Eagle so he could get some power activated. Nope. Yamato's pretty much his own bird-themed red ranger and everyone's pretty much their own beast in that series.
Part of the whole process of extending Super Sentai's life span or starting a new era for the franchise is to get new head writers every now and then. That happens when the old school writers inevitably meet their burnout. That's what happened during Kyoryuger, Ninninger and recently Zyuohger. Kyoryuger had Riku Sanjo somebody who I love because he wrote Kamen Rider W and Kamen Rider Drive. Ninninger was well more focused on youngsters but I still want to give Kento Shimoyama another chance to prove himself. Zyuohger has Junko Komura who managed to come up with a writing style that's entertaining for both old schoolers and new schoolers.
What I always keep in mind that the creative crew should be focused on as how to successfully sell Bandai merchandise with its product, price, place and promotion. At a business point of view, I think Kyoryuger and Ninninger have good gimmicks for toy sales. At a personal point of view, the writing doesn't work out for me but both shows may have done a good job with toy sales for children who may have been three to seven years old. Even if I may not have a huge spot for a Super Sentai series personally but I can still commend it for staying true to its target market!
It has never been about whether it's old school or new school that determines the quality of just any show. It's all about production and story telling that makes a Super Sentai season to get better or get worse for this year or next year. Trial and error always occurs in the process of innovation and times come when something new fails the first time and succeeds the later time. You get good results, you get bad results, you get the same results or you get better results as part of the whole struggle to make things better. As of late, Zyuohger manages to show some good results with how it's going. Some old school Super Sentai may have aged well while others aged badly. Super Sentai as of late may be overusing concepts like Kyoryuger and Ninninger is already using a theme for the third time while others manage to carry their own charm for a new generation of children fans.