Top Five Possible Mistakes That Toei May Have Made With Super Sentai
After writing on the seven possible factors that affect Super Sentai's performance and reception among audiences, let's try to take at some possible management mistakes that need to be resolved every now and then. This would at least help improve performance as some shows have that potential but were ruined by some management blunders. It's very important to check them out and resolve them as soon as possible. These management blunders don't really disappear but they can be minimized when corrective actions are taken. They happen every now and then. Some of them tend to get resolved and others tend to be repeated.
Overworking head writers is not a good idea
It's no secret that head writers will eventually hit straight for Burnout Ville. While producers can go ahead and come up with really cool mecha and concepts but all those can go down the drain when the writer assigned for that particular season is already overworked. Signs of burning out should be noticed immediately. Examples of writers who have burned out after some time where Hirohisa Soda, Toshiki Inoue and Yasuko Kobayashi. Soda started burning out during Turboranger to Fiveman. Inoue started to burn out during Kamen Rider Faiz and not so many fans liked Kamen Rider Kiva that much. IMO, even if I like Kiva over Faiz but I guess I'm in that minority. Kobayashi started to burn out during Go-Busters and eventually collapsed during ToQGer.
Toei should try to notice if the writers are really burning out. One way to help solve the problem is to probably get more writers to help the head writer out then give the writer a break when the writer can't take it anymore. If they noticed that Soda was overworked during Turboranger, they could have assigned a different writer for Fiveman. By assigning Inoue to write Jetman, they managed to save Super Sentai from possible cancellation. Yet some executives have repeated the same mistake by overworking Inoue. Kobayashi herself was responsible for fan favorites like Gingaman, Timeranger and Shinkenger. But overworking her (as she had other stuff than Tokusatsu to take care of) failed to let Go-Busters and ToQGer meet their full potential as intended. An award for bringing awareness of railways is good but it doesn't change the fact that a tired writer is a tired writer. Would have the series had Kobayashi in top condition, it could have been better.
Allow me to give a few examples of what I believe could have been done with assigning the head writers for certain seasons of Super Sentai. After Turboranger, they could have assigned Fiveman to another head writer since Soda was no longer in top condition. Maybe the late Noboru Sugimura or Junki Takegami could have been better for those two shows. Another alternative could have been Kunio Fuji or any other assistant writer that Soda worked with. Go-Busters needed more major contributors as Kobayashi was stuck with most of its work. They could have assigned Kento Shimoyama more episodes before he was Ninninger's head writer or let other writers do more to help them grow. For ToQGer, since they wanted an imagination themed Super Sentai then the could have assigned Naruhisa Arakawa or Junko Komura as its head writer.
It was actually a good move to allow Riku Sanjo and Kento Shimoyama give their shots as head writers in seeking new ways to write Super Sentai. What I found to be another problem was not giving enough help for them. Sanjo ended up working with everything in Kyoryuger and Shimoyama had very little help. In short, they could have been overworked during that time. I think Toei could have give them more help. If not, quality can go down when the writer is forced to write even when they're stressed.
How producers are handled as of late
I guess another factor Toei could stop doing is rotating producers all too often. Back then, we had straight years when Takeyuki Suzuki as the head producer from Goggle V up to Ohranger. Then we had Shigenori Takatera for three years straight from Carranger up to Gingaman then he proceeded to be Kamen Rider Kuuga's producer. The problem today is that assigning producers have been quite a stress instead of giving the newer ones a chance to grow. My favorite example is Takaaki Utsunomiya. It could have been better if he were also assigned as the head producer of Goseiger. After Gokaiger, I think he could have also been allowed to be the producer of Go-Busters. The problem right now is the rotation happens too fast. I felt like the idea of letting a producer do a job as head producer for a set number of years for a certain genre may do better. Then if they start showing signs of burning out then it's time to give them a break from tedious work.
I think the best key take-off is to slow down the rotation cycle. You may go ahead and let a producer take charge as head producer for say at least five years. Then after five years, you can go ahead and have another producer for five years then replace them immediately if they do a very terrible job. It's also important to fire producers who don't do their job right. That's just a few alternatives that could be done to help maintain the quality of a long-running franchise.
Another issue we can raise is not knowing the right producers for the job. One example for me is Naomi Takebe. Okay, I'm expecting torches and pitchforks right now as I'm mentioning her name. She may have been responsible for Kamen Rider Kiva, Kamen Rider OOO, Go-Busters Kamen Rider Gaim but she was also responsible for Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. For Go-Busters, fans tend to blame her for the show's weaker points. I think she didn't do such a good job with Ninninger either. I even think it's really that terrible in my point of view.
The key take-off for right producers for the job would be to examine their strengths and weaknesses of every producer. I mentioned about Takebe with how I enjoyed her job with Kamen Rider but I really felt she didn't do a good job with Ninninger. I think maybe, just maybe they should have let Utsunomiya or any other producer who did Super Sentai better be Ninninger's producer. I feel like Takebe's just not cut out for Super Sentai compared to Kamen Rider. But again, I haven't thought of her to be outstanding either.
Trying to go back to darker and edgier when the trend is now lighter and softer
As much as I'm a fan of Gekiranger (my favorite season last decade) and Go-Busters but I don't think darker and edgier is as feasible as lighter and softer. After Timeranger ended, Super Sentai seasons started to become less serious. Gaoranger started a whole new trend of lighter and softer though it was still a little more serious than the current Zyuohger. But at least 15 years took place before Zyuohger took place! The new trend of Super Sentai has been focused on lighter and softer stuff.
I guess they wanted to attempt darker and edgier again. I think the move is just too risky. I think something a little more serious could work like Hurricanger or Shinkenger which are both well-balanced. As much as Gekiranger offered new ways to do multi-gattai mecha but the story felt like it was more enjoyable for older audiences than the primary audience. I think Gekiranger could have worked better with the primary audience as a kung fu comedy instead of giving it the old school feel of the 1980s to early 1990s. Boukenger was a fun season and Gekiranger as a darker and edgier season may have dropped the ball. I'd compare the situation to sudden temperature drops aren't good for just about anything.
While Gekiranger did take several steps forward, I think Go-Busters may have taken more steps backward. Not only did the show try to go back to darker and edgier after the adventure season with Gokaiger, I want to also point out that multi-gattai is the current trend. Go-Busters ended up catering to older audiences instead of the primary market. Toy sales were really very low. It's a good thing that Kyoryuger had a lot of toys to offer for children. I may not like Kyoryuger due to its writing and execution but I still praise it for making good merchandise and collectibles. Having the children join in to dance was also a good marketing strategy.
What I think Go-Busters could have done was to less serious than to be that serious with how it went. A lot of fans just had a lot of fun with Gokaiger's hype so why suddenly bring in a darker and edgier season to fans out of the blue? Just because a lot of darker and edgier seasons worked in the past doesn't mean that darker and edgier will immediately work in the present. Shows like Liveman, Jetman, Dairanger and Timeranger may have worked during their time but today, they're better left for older Super Sentai fans. I don't think today's children audience for Super Sentai would easily accept those shows or anything darker and edgier unlike the 80s or 90s. From Gaoranger up to the present, it's better to focus on more well-balanced themes than trying to go back to darker and edgier. I think it's better to shelve the concept of darker and edgier Super Sentai for now or maybe even for good.
Too many or too little gimmicks is a bad marketing strategy
While it's true that Super Sentai should focus on sales of Bandai merchandise but too much focus on quantity can ruin quality. Modern manufacturing methods can mass produce quality products at higher quantities without compromising the quality than super traditional methods of yesterday. An example is that Japanese katanas can be mass-produced to be even better than the traditional way of producing them. But even with modern manufacturing methods, take note that there's always a limit to how much can be produced to retain the quality that customers love. The same can happen to just about anything.
Ohranger and Carranger had a lot of good toy sales. Mecha, new weapons and other ideas for toys are all part of keeping Super Sentai alive. While having new ways to sell more toys is part of the whole process but one can't deny how it can also derail the quality of toys sold. Children do love gimmicks but if the toys made are of bad quality then it can hurt toy sales in the process. As a general example, don't produce too much when you can't be too sure of the quality. It's nice to innovate but sometimes newer ideas may need to take a backseat before they can become better. A new idea may need to be weighed first before you release it. It's nice to have gimmicky gadgets and stuff but there are times it can really fall apart.
With Super Sentai releasing one season per year since Battle Fever J, it can be observed how planned gimmicks tend to take a backseat before they take the front seat. Bioman and Maskman experimented on how they'd want to have a sixth ranger in later seasons. The idea wasn't fully integrated until Zyuranger. The result was that Burai really came out pretty good and Toei managed to work with how to write an extra ranger for most of Super Sentai's run. Why Toei didn't immediately launch a secondary robot until Flashman or do multi-gattai until Gaoranger was probably part of the quality checking process.When premature ideas for innovation get launched then it can also hurt the whole process of making a good gimmick. It's really important to have gimmicks but not everything should be thrown on the faces of everyone at once just for the sake of toy sales.
Having too many gimmicks in on setting may affect proper pacing. I felt that Kyoryuger and Ninninger introduced their sixth rangers too early just for the sake of selling toys. They could have made both Kyoryu Gold and Starninger appear during the 17th episode or a little later. No, I also don't suggest repeating Timeranger's mistake of introducing Time Fire a little later either because people now look forward to sixth rangers more than ever. What could have been done is they could have tried to refine the concepts a little more before making the sixth rangers make their debut. Fortunately, we didn't have this problem with the arrival of Zyuoh The World. This also means not introducing too many stuff at once or you'll end up with not so good looking toys. The keyword is all about balance between quality and quantity. You wouldn't want to immediately replace your brand new smartphone with the latest model all too quick like let's say in a month or a year would you?
We also need to remember that having too few gimmicks can also be a very terrible idea. Aside from trying to go back to darker and edgier, Go-Busters' other weakness can be attributed to a lack of gimmicks. It would have been best to remember from Carranger up to present that having a healthy amount of gimmicks keeps Super Sentai alive for a next generation of children. Having too few merchandise to sell can also be a real problem. It would be a huge disappointment with how the last show had a good amount of gimmicks to offer then the next show has too little of it. But I haven't emphasized much on this one since the more common problem that occurs is too many gimmicks.
Gimmicks are just like adding spices to one's food. The right amount of spices will give you the right flavor. Too much or too little will kill the flavor. As of late, I thought Go-Busters may be on the bland side when it comes to gimmicks for the main audience. Later shows like Kyoryuger, ToQGer and Ninninger may be adding too many spices making the dish too spicy. Then again, didn't both shows have good toy sales? A right balance is always necessary as to generate enough toy sales while maintaining quality is also very important. The wrong blend can make a terrible season.
Theme and concept overuse may end up creating lesser quality shows
While it's nice to explore other potentials to a certain theme like how Carranger managed to succeed where Turboranger failed or how Abaranger does dinosaurs better than Zyuranger, one must consider that an overuse of a concept can be bad for innovation. One may argue that 10 years took place between Abaranger and Kyoryuger but it doesn't change the fact that a theme overuse can be that disastrous. Themes that I felt were overused as of late are dinosaurs and ninjas. You may say that I do love Gekiranger which is technically the third martial arts based series but it's the second kung fu series though.
It's good to have Kyoryuger's idea of bringing back the dance party. On the other hand, it's already reusing the dinosaur theme all over again. I felt like the mecha of that show weren't all a step up from Abaranger. They could have tried another theme for a dance party instead of dinosaurs. Ninninger is where ninjas are getting squeezed to the point of no return. The show could have stood on its own but instead, it ended up bringing visitors from older school Super Sentai or even the really old school Metal Hero Jiraya which could have been done to boost up ratings. I can't be too sure why it happened or if it was really intended to be like that since the beginning. My only wild guess was that the show wasn't doing so well based on TV ratings.
They could have tried other themes aside from ninjas and dinosaurs. They could have thought of making another space-themed Super Sentai. When I heard of all the names Changeman could have been named, I think the name Cosmoman, Cosmoranger or Cosmoger could be used as the next Super Sentai season for a new generatin. We could have a space themed Super Sentai with all the modern technology to make it better. Changeman was stuck with old hat special effects. With this age of digital technology, a space themed Super Sentai would really do wonders now than it did way back in the 80s or 90s. Did Toei forget that they have managed to do battles in space look better now since Kamen Rider Fourze's run so why not make another space themed Super Sentai season? I think they should try and pursue the Cosmoman idea for Super Sentai as a space exploration fun season. They had it with Kamen Rider so why not Super Sentai?
While I'm considering this as part of my list, I also gave thought that children don't need to watch Abaranger and Zyuranger to understand Kyoryuger or Jiraiya, Kakuranger and Hurricanger to understand Ninninger. Kyoryuger and Abaranger are ten years apart so seven year olds watching Abaranger back then were 17 years old that time. Zyuranger and Kyoryuger are 20 years apart so seven years old watching Zyuranger were 27 years old that time. Hurricanger and Ninninger are 13 years apart so seven year olds watching Hurricanger back then were 20 years old that time. Kakuranger and Ninninger are 21 years apart so seven year olds watching Kakuranger were 28 years old that time. Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraya and Ninninger are 27 years apart so a lot of seven year olds watch it are were 34 years old that time! In short, their appearances in Ninninger won't matter much to the new generation compared the older generation.
I don't know if this should even be here but IMO, overusing a theme can lead to the creation of lesser quality shows. It's still important to remember Super Sentai's primary target market aren't teenagers and adults. You may have adults enjoying super new school all the while the franchise' focuses on children as the primary target market based on age groups. But it's important to focus more on keeping the target market occupied and entertained than the secondary and tertiary markets.
While mistakes cannot be avoided but one can learn from them to make things better after things get worse. To think that everything Toei makes is perfect is an overstatement since mistakes hit everyone every now and then. Super Sentai has also managed to survive for some time due to correcting whatever mistakes were made in the past. Yet it also has nearly met cancellations in the past due to crucial mistakes that Toei needs to learn from. It's also very important to do quality check to keep an ongoing product line feasible.
Innovations and quality check go hand in hand and can't do without the other. Innovations can have good concepts but if the execution isn't done well then it may go down the drain until it's done properly. It's like my experience with video games, food items and just about everything. Last year was good, next year gets better and next next year may go down the drain depending on how things go. It's never been about age but about proper execution that makes good Super Sentai.