Sentai Rambling: Why Writing Quality Still Matters!
It's nice to have cool special effects, fight scenes, new bunch of toys and they definitely are part of the innovative mix. What some may forget is that good story writing still matters for Super Sentai. It doesn't matter if it's a comedy, a well-balanced show or darker and edgier when you've got good writing. It's not about whether or not this Super Sentai season is old school or new school. It's also all about having a good writer to back up the series' concepts. I'm just writing this since there's no Super Hero Time this week. At the same time, I acknowledge that story writing is no easy walk in the park as I thought it was.
The very Tokusatsu head writer I consider to be top of the line in innovative writing back in the pre-Zyuranger era would be Hirohisa Soda himself. He practically broke the mold that Sun Vulcan left behind and I feel most of his works were pretty interesting. While it's no secret that both Turboranger and Fiveman didn't so so well due to his burnout but he had a lot of important contributions to Super Sentai's writing styles. I don't think Super Sentai could have gone that far without his influence towards both old school writers and new school writers. Other head writers that may have learned from him are Toshiki Inoue (who was the one-time head writer with Jetman), Junki Takegami, Naruhisa Arakawa and Yasuko Kobayashi.
In my own humble opinion, I think majority of the seasons from Goggle V up to Timeranger had writers devoted to writing a good story while selling Bandai merchandise. Bandai merchandise didn't just pop out too much without a plot except for Ohranger due to the series of unfortunate events that year. I'm not saying nothing good came after Timeranger but I feel like that even big hits like Gaoranger, Hurricanger, Abaranger, Dekaranger, Magiranger, Boukenger, Shinkenger and Gokaiger don't have that much impact for me. It's probably due to a generation gap or maybe it's because quality outweighs quantity. Having too many gimmicks is just as bad as having no gimmick at all. Both of them tend to destroy the motive of the writer to get more creative with how to write more stories.
What made most of the seasons from Goggle V to to Timeranger more "unique" for me? I would probably name that there's been more focus on character development and more plot than mecha. Aside from heavier amounts of action scenes, I could also name how heroes and villains are written. It's not that heroes after Timeranger didn't have their plus points. It's just that I felt that there was more charm and weren't overrated. As much as I like certain characters but I feel like not so many fans today would have known how rangers had more charm back then. My favorite example is how Takeru/Red Mask isn't as recognized as Takeru/Shinken Red even if the former has had more badass moments. Not so many Super Sentai villains today are that scary or complex as the Goggle V to Timeranger timeline. You have extremely sadistic villains like Radiguet or some atypical villains like Igam. You have wacky villains who are well-written like the Bowzock in Carranger or the Bandora Gang in Zyuranger.
I could also talk about how newer Bandai merchandise gets introduced every now and then. While Gaoranger did a good job but I feel that there's always the time when the newer mecha is just written for the sake of selling a new toy. Back then, when the secondary robot gimmick was added, one could think of how Flashman and Maskman wrote their secondary robots. While I prefer Abaranger over Zyuranger but I can't deny how the latter still had a better way of introducing new mecha. I guess part of the blame could go to Ohranger's weakness of just popping in more mecha for toy sales after a series of unfortunate events. When you get too much focus on Bandai merchandise then it's only natural that the show could end up suffering in the other departments.
Think of the number of times how writing quality may affect the franchise' ratings. Toshiki Inoue's good writing of Jetman allowed Super Sentai to continue as a franchise when Fiveman nearly ended the franchise. The decent writing staff of Megaranger (Takegami, Kobayashi, Arakawa as the major writers) brought Super Sentai's ratings back to normal. Gingaman, Timeranger and Shinkenger may be considered (and may be argued upon) to which is Kobayashi's magnum opus. Gokaiger is still remembered as a huge anniversary season because of Arakawa's good writing made it memorable. On the other hand, shoddy writing can be that bad. Right now, I think one of the reasons that newer Super Sentai has lower ratings may also be due to all the bad writing involved.
What are your thoughts on Super Sentai's writing quality right now?