Kamen Rider Black, Hikari Sentai Maskman And Chojinki Metalder Are Already Turning 30 Years Old!
Yup, they'll be celebrating their 30th birthday this year!
I really feel ashamed that I didn't put to mind that 2014 was the year Bioman turned 30, 2015 was the year Changeman turned 30 and last year Flashman turned 30! This year we have Kamen Rider Black, Hikari Sentai Maskman and Chojinki Metalder all turning 30 years old! What are my thoughts on this momentous event of Maskman turning 30? It's just like when parents say that their children are growing up so fast it's just like it's yesterday. Maskman may be one of the childhood Super Sentai of many 80s children or some 90s children like myself in some areas of the world. Although Bioman was my first but I grew up liking Maskman and Jetman as my two favorite Super Sentai. Kamen Rider Black was my first exposure to the Kamen Rider franchise.
I agree with Shogo B'Stard where he thinks that 1987 was a champion year for Toei's innovation for Super Sentai, Metal Hero and Kamen Rider. Kamen Rider Black was a reimagined return for Kamen Rider after a six year hiatus when Kamen Rider Super-1 ended. Metalder was pretty much trying to reinvent Kikaider's concept into a darker and edgier story which only lasted for 39 episodes. Maskman was pretty much another turning point for Hirohisa Soda as he wanted to introduce a romance concept into Super Sentai - something that Chojin Sentai Jetman would try to somewhat innovate causing a renewed interest in Super Sentai.
Childhood revisited with Hikari Sentai Maskman and Kamen Rider Black
With the exception of Metalder and no, I don't want to even talk about how VR Troopers really flunked (I blame the TV stations that love to keep favoring the American product over the Japanese product) and have no intention of rewatching it... Maskman and Kamen Rider Black were part of my childhood. I remembered watching the Tagalog dubs on IBC-13 as a child though I hate the station for how they never picked other Tokusatsu shows to broadcast and ended up rewinding Bioman, Maskman, Turboranger and Kamen Rider Black FOR YEARS. It's annoying how I was 11 years old when I watched them in the afternoon and well I reached 17 years old and is that it?! In short what about other seasons? What about diversification?
I senjoyed viewing Super Sentai more than what Power Rangers and I didn't know the term "Super Sentai". I simply called these shows as the "original Power Rangers from Japan". Even when I was still a child I felt that the Super Sentai I've first known from the pre-Zyuranger era were Goggle V, Bioman, Maskman, Turboranger, Fiveman and Jetman. I just felt the more I watched them the more I really didn't give too much of a care about Mighty Morphin' plus discovering bits and pieces of Zyuranger and beyond made me think less of the franchise. I could still name some positives from Power Rangers but I feel like I could name more positives from Super Sentai than Power Rangers.
Maskman and Kamen Rider Black gave me what I'd call the courage to move on. I wasn't doing well in high school and I wanted to quit more than once. I end up thinking of how Takeru talked with his past self about not running away. Kamen Rider Black gave me the inspiration that one day you're going to have to make difficult choices. While IBC-13 sucked for how it didn't show more Super Sentai or Kamen Rider but watching the repetitive broadcasts were better than watching than a whole load of American shows (which soon started to annoy me) or those annoying telebasuras by ABiaS-CBN and GMA-7. But still a lack of diversification is just as bad as too much of it.
Viewing the innovative concepts all three shows brought during 1987
Kamen Rider Black is basically trying to reimagine Kamen Rider. I wish I knew what caused the six year hiatus between Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Super-1. After watching (and I mean PAINFULLY watching) some old school Kamen Rider older than the 80s, it's easy to see why Kamen Rider Black is sort of a "reboot". Hero who got captured by some evil organization? You've got Gorgom as a new kind of organization that while it had no standard foot soldiers but you've got blind followers. The story also added the very first evil Kamen Rider in Shadow Moon. The evil Kamen Rider concept would get improved during the Heisei era. Too bad that Black RX didn't get well-received though I view its sequel as still part of trying new stuff.
Maskman was another of the old school Super Sentai that I'd say wasn't afraid to try anything new. It's the first martial arts series which may have inspired the creation of two more masterpieces namely Dairanger and Gekiranger. It set a standard for most Super Sentai series today where each ranger would have their individual mecha which forms the main robot. It's also the first to introduce a love story that may have inspired Chojin Sentai Jetman's sad love story to a whole new level. The whole series was pretty much another huge groundbreaking Super Sentai. The designs and special effects managed to get ahead of its time.
Metalder may be viewed by some as an improved Kikaider. He's the first fully mechanical Metal Hero and may have partly inspired Janperson's creation. Although it's the shortest Metal Hero series but there's been a lot of new stuff that was introduced. Since I haven't seen all 39 episodes so I don't want to talk more about it.
Maskman and Kamen Rider Black fan subs got me out of my Tokusatsu break
It's no secret that I didn't watch Tokusatsu for a few years because I wanted to "move on" with Taiwanese and Korean shows. I felt I wanted diversification so I ended up watching Taiwanese and Korean shows only for a year. Then there was Japanese drama but absolutely no Tokusatsu in the Japanese sense. The only "Tokusatsu" I ever watched if it could ever be counted as one were the Wuxia series or new school martial arts series that used special effects that were obviously meant to be better than what Japanese Tokusatsu had to offer.
Then there were fan subs. I wanted to look back at my childhood so I viewed the fan subs by CSCentrl. I remembered a lot of them from Youtube and that's where I also viewed from raw Super Sentai after my short break from Tokusatsu. Trying to watch newer stuff from Tokusatsu felt "harder" than watching newer Korean, Japanese or Taiwanese TV drama. But I had to keep an open mind and right now, it's a struggle for me to keep an open mind from my rather inflexible, rigid mindset that wants to be the super traditionalist. Even if Super Sentai doesn't always get better all the time but there's always a lesson to learn on what to do and what not to do. Sometimes, the struggle will be long before progress is eventually achieved.
Fortunately, Grown Ups In Spandex has provided better fan subs than what I originally acquired. Now I can rewatch both shows with good subtitles and the original language at the same time.
Final thoughts on the 30 years of Kamen Rider Black, Maskman and Metalder
Not to mention, I feel that there's always Super Sentai actors who were all 80s babies like myself. My favorite special mention is Tori Matsuzaka over every other 80s baby. Maybe, just maybe he watched Maskman as a kid without dreaming he'd grow up to play a red ranger also named Takeru. Maybe, just maybe Masahiro Inoue (who just got married to a half-American, half-Japanese girl this year) watched Kamen Rider Black without dreaming he'd meet Tetsuo Kurata in the flesh as Kamen Rider Decade. Then we have Super Sentai moving forward and the Gokaiger cast actually met Kazunori Inaba last 2011 though some of them were 90s babies but Ryota Ozawa was born in 1988 the year of Liveman.
Takeru II must be thinking it's been 30 years since Takeru I became a red ranger
I just had a thought what a conversation might be like if Matsuzaka went to Miso Icchi Ramen and met his sempai or senior. Matsuzaka may mention to Inaba that it's been 30 years since Maskman aired and it's only been eight years since Shinkenger aired. Maybe, just maybe Matsuzaka will tell Inaba that it's been some time. They might talk about how it was to be a red ranger and the struggles they had back in their day. They might even have a friendly sparring with each other. They might comment how time flew on them. Hopefully, both Takerus can have the time to meet each other to discuss. Oh, please include Inoue (no, not Toshiki Inoue) and Tetsuo Kurata to have a reunion in Billy the Kid Steakhouse! It may not mean much for a new generation of fans but it may mean a lot for older fans!
When I take a look back, I always feel that I'm growing old and time never waits for anybody. I'm not getting any younger thus my preferences tend to change more often than not. I feel that the Timerangers have run over me a lot. I believe that the the generation gap may just getting bigger and bigger. Parents who used to watch old school Super Sentai with their children may now be grandparents watching new school Super Sentai with their grandchildren. Children who used to watch old school Super Sentai with their parents may now be parents watching new school Super Sentai with their children. How time flies indeed and I'm feeling really old!
What are your thoughts on these three Tokusatsu series as they reach 30 years old this 2017?