Rambling On Super Sentai As Toei's Longest Running Tokusatsu Genre
This picture by Shogo B'Stard shows how old Super Sentai has become...
Toei may have had the no longer running Metal Hero series, Kamen Rider came first but had a hiatus until Kamen Rider Kuuga appeared for the Heisei era and Power Rangers so last 1993. Goranger started out as the first Sentai series running from April 5, 1975 up to March 26, 1977 and a lot of the kids who watched it may have already hit their 60s. Considering the event that Super Sentai is going to have its upcoming 40th season, I really do feel old considering that a lot of our childhood heroes have already grown old and a new generation of children has entered. This new year, I thought this would be the very first post for the year.
The Susumu Yoshikawa Era
While Tooru Hiriyama was the producer for Goranger, we would have the Susumu Yoshikawa era. Yoshikawa would be a lot more involved with the other Metal Hero and Kamen Rider shows such as Gavan, Sharivan, Shaider, Juspion, Spielban, first half of Metalder, Jiraiya, Jiban, Kamen Rider Black, Kamen Rider Black RX, Machineman and Changerion.
This era started with JAKQ which started out as a four man team that introduced the concept of an additional ranger called Big One. The concept of an additional member was not revisited for a very long time. This was unique for being a four plus one Super Sentai, a lineup that wasn't used again. This had the shortest episode count to date with only 35 episodes. It had a crossover with Goranger but the tradition wasn't repeated until Ohranger had a crossover with Kakuranger.
The first Super Sentai series which later became the fourth Super Sentai series after Goranger's inclusion years later.
Two years later after JAKQ, in the year 1979, the first entry of the Super Sentai era appeared with Battle Fever J. Goranger was not yet part of the Super Sentai lineup until Ohranger's airing in 1995. Timeranger verified that Goranger and JAKQ became part of the history of Super Sentai's lineup but in Turboranger's anniversary clip, Goranger and JAKQ were not yet part of the franchise. This was when some new changes started adding up for the sake of toys like Battle Fever J's Battle Fever Robo which proved to be a success. Various gimmicks would come out through the years with Super Sentai. When I first discovered more about Super Sentai, I soon said, "So Super Sentai didn't always have a giant robot." The show also had not one but two replacement rangers that happened midseason due to real life events involving the main cast. This was the only Super Sentai series that had Marvel's assistance. Take note that Toei also produced its own version of Spiderman with Marvel's permission. Later, this ended up becoming the fourth because both Goranger and JAKQ were later included in the list of Super Sentai.
Denziman is another series that I wish to see with subs. When I first heard that this series' primary robot was a transforming one, I was glad the concept was carried over into the secondary robot when the Gattai robots came in. This was also the first series to feature Soga Machiko as a regular villain instead of a guest villain. I kinda got shocked about its existence too aside from Battle Fever J.
One Sentai that was unique in its lineup and that was never repeated was Sun Vulcan since it's the only Super Sentai that started and ended with only three members. I always thought this was a pretty weird innovation and why this was never repeated is probably due to how it wasn't so well-received. Midseason for some reason, the red ranger ended up getting a replacement of all members. Compared to most Super Sentai that was self-contained, for some reason Queen Hedrian was brought back as a cyborg but no crossover with Denziman was ever done.
The Takeyuki Suzuki era
Perhaps the biggest innovator and the longest running producer for Super Sentai was Takeyuki Suzuki. A lot of his ideas were used even after his era and some of them were copied into Power Rangers. Under his era, we had the Hirohisa Soda era (also responsible for his science trilogy namely Bioman, Flashman and Liveman), Toshiki Inoue as the main writer of Jetman (and was later more focused on Kamen Rider than Super Sentai, I mean he could have written more for Timeranger) and the Noboru Sugimura's era (he was also responsible as the head writer for Solbrain, Winspector and Jiban and he has a very child of the week approach for most of his run). One cannot deny the resemblances of characters that occur a lot from Goggle V up to Kakuranger under this guy and much more happened with him modifying the ideas that Yoshikawa left behind.
This was also the era of different new themes that were gradually introduced during the time Hirohisa Soda was the head writer. Goggle V and Dynaman were supposedly "scientific" shows but the science themes were deeply explored with Bioman, Flashman and Liveman. Other ideas that were introduced during this era were Changeman's "in space" theme, Flashman had the rangers with civilian superpowers because its members grew up in some "lost galaxy", Maskman was the first series to inject a love story together with martial arts, Turboranger had automobiles with the teenagers with attitude theme (later split in Carranger and Megaranger) and Fiveman was the first sibling Super Sentai (to be repeated in GogoV and Magiranger). The downside of this era was that there was no crossover movie for most of its run.
Warning, this section will be so long considering that he's that Super Sentai producer with the longest contribution as of present. I felt like this era is responsible for molding and innovating out many of the concepts used for later Super Sentai series.
Goggle V started the opening of the Suzuki era and Soda's long line of series. I haven't really seen as many episodes of Goggle V to really make a full critique. When I first heard of this old school series, I wasn't all that interested but it looked pretty fun with the heroes using gymnastics. It also served as an introductory to the science theme of Soda but it wasn't all so fully explored. The show also featured the first three piece combining robot and the only show where not everyone piloted the main robot.
Dynaman became the second entry of the Soda era which introduced spandex for the Super Sentai uniforms. Like Kenji Ohba, Junichi Haruta played as two different rangers in two different shows. Ohba played black and blue, Haruta played black and black. When I first read the synopsis, I was shocked to learn that they were the first series to feature underground foes. I'd be happy to see this show from start to end. I mean, I've only seen more of the Dynaman Parody Dub instead of the actual Dynaman series.
Bioman, my childhood Super Sentai...
Bioman as you know it was my first introduction to Super Sentai so I had no idea that this was the first show to feature a female yellow ranger or that the Beastnoid concept was unique for this show. This was actually the first team to have two female rangers, a lineup that has become more common in the years to come. The first yellow ranger Mika Koizumi was featured to be the first rebel ranger but due to some pay issues, the actress Yuki Yajima left abruptly forcing them to get Sumiko Tanaka to replace the former. Fortunately, her concept didn't die with her as it was continued in Carranger. Much of the show was heavily focused on science. In the case of Bioman, it was mostly on robotics vs. life as well as Bio vs. Anti-Bio. Sidenote, what always amazes me is that before I saw this series, I already thought of trying to become the world's greatest genius and becoming the world's ultimate mecha human.
If you want space themed, this is the show to watch
Changeman is the first show to feature a female white ranger while having no yellow ranger. As I'm currently watching it, I can see why some fans consider it to be a series that was also meant to click with an older audience When I saw some episodes and read some synopsis, I can even imagine the serious theme of the show. Based on my current impression from the first few episodes released by Grown Ups In Spandex, the show features some really serious themes. The show also featured villains who had a human side like Shiima was forcibly raised to be evil and Buuba ends up as a noble villain in the long run. It was also the first show to feature a really nasty bitch in Queen Ahames as a game-changer. I can't wait to see more of this series.
So five kids grew up in a lost galaxy and became the Flashmen
Flashman is the second of the science trilogy. When I first read of its synopsis, I couldn't help but think of the theme of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. The story involves five children who were kidnapped by aliens but were one day raised in the Flash Solar System. This in turn grants them civilian superpowers even out of suit but this has a nasty side-effect on their human physiology. The whole show explores the bio theme more. While self-contained from Bioman this show also explores the concept of respect for life. When I read more about it, the more I realized that this show also features the darkness of the human heart with Dr. Lee Keflen who becomes the most evil member of Mess Empire. The whole show also shows the importance of one's origins where several characters discovered they were just products of sinister engineering while the Flashmen's motivation to save the Earth keeps them going.
The very first show with loads and loads of martial arts and aura power
Maskman is the first martial arts oriented show combined with a love story. The main hero Takeru is involved with a difficult love story with Mio, who he doesn't realize (at first) is actually Princess Ial. Much of the story involves a peaceful kingdom corrupted by the mysterious Emperor Zeba who doesn't want his identity to be discovered. The series also featured a lot of really cool martial arts, characters growing up and complicated stories. For instance, Takeru's star-crossed romance with Mio/Ial first got him hatred from Igam and later, he had to face the neutrally aligned Kiros who would be his worst rival. As a child, I thought this show wasn't exactly my type because of it being serious and not to mention features one of the creepiest villain groups ever, the show had its charm that I could enjoy it as a grownup. The show's progressive events seem to summarize that love is the motivation not just that of the main hero Takeru but also of others. Akira has a deep love for his mother, Momoko has a deep love for children like most pink rangers, Kenta has a deep love for his friends (while having a weakness for women) and Haruka has a deep love for the honor of ninjutsu.
I always thought this color scheme wasn't so easy to adjust to at first...
One unique line-up that was added into Suzuki's era was the three plus two formula. Liveman started out with three members then two more were added later with an unusual color coding. Hurricanger tried the same formula (and the first three mecha were Liveman shoutouts) that added the Gouraiger later. I always thought this wasn't so used. Speaking of Liveman, it was the first show to add a female blue ranger in Megumi Misaki. The concept was repeated with Ako Hayasaka (Jetman), Urara Ozu (Magiblue) and will be repeated with Sera (Zyuhohger). The color lineup was reused for Go-onger's core team members. Oh, and Liveman also added up the first animal themed mecha which was refined in Zyuranger. This show tried to explore the risks of science without conscience with its villains. It features the misuse of robotics, biotechnology and how science without conscience ultimately destroys its wielder. The heroes also learn the difference between revenge and justice as they face their rivals who perform those sinister experiments on humankind. What was fun to see was how the show presented the different sides of humanity with not just the heroes but also the villains themselves. This was the last of Soda's science-themed series.
Shift into Turbo... yes there was a Sentai called Turboranger
Hirohisa Soda eventually met his inevitable burnout during Turboranger and Fiveman but I do like these shows. Turboranger introduced the teenagers with attitude and automobile theme. The shows were not well-received during their airing. Turboranger became infamous for writing off three major villains midseason perhaps due to pay issues and the rating issues but it didn't help. Somehow its toy sales kept Super Sentai alive and provide the money to produce another show. It was nice to have a lot of new stuff like teenagers instead of grownups for a Super Sentai team, where one must fight villains and pass their homework. Turboranger removed the mobile fortress mecha while it introduced the first ultimate combination by combining their mecha with the base mecha.
The first sibling Super Sentai team
Fiveman was the last of the Suzuki and Soda era while it began in the 1990s era for a new set of children. During this time, Soda was already running out of ideas so it ends up as a hodge podge of his original ideas while introducing the sibling Super Sentai. I felt like children enjoyed the show but those from the 1980s may have had a different reaction to it. A lot of its episodes ended up jumbling previous ideas. Considering I saw Fiveman first over Changeman and Flashman, I couldn't help but think that Fiveman was full of ideas taken from the previous era. You've got that space empire destroying planets, you've got that astral projection with a deep dark secret hidden from the other villains and you have genetic engineering. It didn't address as much of Soda's era and I felt like this era wasn't a very good exit either. As much as I like the show but it felt like it didn't have that much consistency. One gimmick after the other, it didn't really improve ratings that much. But I guess toy sales kept Super Sentai afloat.
After Inoue wrote this, why wasn't he assigned to another Sentai for headwritng?
Jetman was going to try to mix all those ideas and became one successful Super Sentai so I do find it weird why in the world wasn't Inoue given another headwriting job in the 90s for Super Sentai? I mean, he wrote a very successful Super Sentai series so why was he so assigned to becoming a secondary writer again? He did get involved much with Dairanger so I wonder, why wasn't he given more tasks in that era? Jetman became the closing Super Sentai for the pre-Zyuranger era. The series today tends to be a Super Sentai that gets so overrated. In my case, my favoritism for it is at a very personal level if I dare admit that there's better written Super Sentai. Remember, just because it's my favorite doesn't make it the best Super Sentai of all time. Jetman was also the first show to feature four characters namely Radiguet, Tran, Maria and Gure who compete each other to see who can defeat the Jetmen in a deadly game. The show took the love story to a whole new level to the point you have a complicated love polygon involving Ryu, Gai Yuki, Raita, Kaori, Maria, Radiguet and Gure. The series managed to get so popular it released an Series Encyclopedia. Three years later, a non-canon Jetman Manga was released where Ryu and Kaori both had a daughter instead of a son. More importantly, Toshihide Wakamatsu guest-starred in Gokaiger episode 28 as his iconic character, Gai Yuki.
Mighty Morphin'... no it's Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger!
After Jetman, we enter into the era when Power Rangers butts in. Zyuranger came one year before and a year later, Jurassic Park would show in the scene. So I guess Toei and Saban really timed their money-making scheme so well huh? I would admit that this era was when special effects and action were at their peak for the Suzuki era. What I could flaunt is the fact this era refined the animal theme way back in the 80s or brought concepts that didn't go through in the 80s like the sixth ranger presumably Toei had tons of money to invest for better mecha. Zyuranger managed to improve the idea of a sentient mecha from Bioman while bringing actual talking mecha (but none of them are technically mecha) with Daizyujin, the animal mecha is really a huge improvement from Liveman's, it was time for cooler designs and not to mention the arrival of the sixth ranger. Yes, Burai arrived as the first sixth ranger derived from Maskman's prototype sixth ranger X-1 Mask. Bioman tried the formula but wrote it off. Zyuranger was the perfect time for the sixth ranger and ever since then, we're always expecting a sixth ranger or more for most of Super Sentai's run. It's become a five plus one (or more) for most of its run.
Yup it's Gosei Sentai Dairanger and probably the darkest Super Sentai season ever
Dairanger manages to improve what Zyuranger had introduced. Unlike Zyuranger, this season is a very serious one. Some can even say it's better than Jetman but not popular enough to get a Manga Sequel or TV Encyclopedia. It started as the second martial arts themed series but this time, it was mixed with the use of the supernatural. It dwells on the concept of Chinese mythologies rather than Japanese mythologies. Much of Dairanger focuses on Chinese myths to the point Akibaranger created that "Chinaman" parody. The show also had a lot of complicated politics in the Gorma, a long history that traces 6,000 years ago and brought back again and again in the present. Not to mention, it managed to bring back its own version of Radiguet in the person on Shadam. During this series, I thought a lot of budget really went to the action scenes to the point I'd say, "Too bad, we don't see this in later Super Sentai." What was interesting during this era was the addition of Kou the first (and only) ranger to be below 13 years old. Riki or Kingranger in Ohranger is biologically above 13, Kou is only nine years old and turns ten later in the series. Whether or not he was meant to be a gimmick to increase the younger audience isn't really known but he's been so well-added. While it just felt he was just there to attract younger audiences, he was given a well-written backstory. I would find this funny that this idea was carried into Power Rangers Turbo with Justin Stewart.
Ninjas came in the 90s so why not samurai?
Kakuranger was the first Japanese-themed Super Sentai and it introduced not just one but two combining mecha. Instead of a sixth hero, you ended up having the first Extra Hero in Ninjaman. This was a show that introduced ninjas since they are cultural icon in Japan. This show featured the Youkai as their enemies. This show also featured a lot of ham in its run. Meanwhile, some of the potential wasn't entirely met. One of my bigger complaints is what why was Prince Junior written off midseason as he was easily destroyed by the newly formed Kakure Daishogun. I just felt like that Kenichi Endo had something else to do so that's why he left the set when Daimaou showed up. This was also the first show to feature a female leader instead of a male one, even if the red ranger still had some leadership roles.
Ohranger is the final series of the Suzuki era. In fact, it ended up trying to cram in a lot of Suzuki's previous works from characters to mecha. The original intention of the whole series was trying to explore the risks of reckless science. What became a major inevitable was the retooling because of the Sarin Gas incident that year. The story between Pangaea and Baranoia could have tried to explore a season long Bio vs. Anti-Bio alliance but instead, it ended up winding into almost nowhere. While I do like this show to a certain extent but I see why this show wasn't so well-received by Super Sentai fans. According to some sources, the show itself produced so many toys and was saved by toy sales. Even if the show suffered from issues like inconsistencies, the toy sales may have given enough money for another season. I wonder how Ohranger is today with fans compared to the past? It was also the first show to return the annual non-canon crossover tradition where it had a crossover with both Kakuranger and its succeeding show, Carranger.
Seriously, whose idea was it to lock me up in a time warp?!
The Sugimura and Suzuki era of Super Sentai was also used for the Zordon arc. Zyuranger was used for the first season, Dairanger's footage and costumes were used for Mighty Morphin's second season and Kakuranger for the third. When it comes to Super Sentai getting better or worse, Sugimura's era was not exempt. Dairanger was an improvement from Kakuranger. Ohranger tends to get berated a lot and I mean a lot though I personally prefer it over Power Rangers Zeo, but I can't deny that the show itself has had a fair share of problems. I always felt this era is where I end up flaunting my perceived superiority of Super Sentai over Power Rangers which is just based on my series of personal and it's not even purely factual. I've stated some facts but they're not enough to prove me right for an entire time.
Shigenori Takatera's era
After the end of Suzuki's era, this was the era came Shigenori Takatera. I always found it funny that when this guy entered, Power Rangers started taking ideas from the Suzuki era like he did. Nothing has been purely original and instead, I'll admit I prefer taking ideas and adding my own original touch instead of trying to come up with something too unique. Sidenote, he was also responsible for Kamen Rider Kuuga and the first half of Kamen Rider Hibiki. For three years straight, he was a producer before Toei tried rotating producers back and forth. Whether it's his era or Suzuki's era that was the "golden age" is still left to debate. What I found amazing during this era was how ideas were mixed into several shows or how ideas were split. These are the series done by Takatera for Super Sentai.
For instance, Carranger started off as a comedy series but it wasn't pure nonsense, there were serious moments while it explored the "science of stupid". I don't know why there's some people who say that this show didn't save Super Sentai, Megaranger did. Well I don't know and I still need more sources because TV ratings don't immediately translate into popularity. But enough of that, I always thought this era was trying to become a creative mixture of ideas while having comedy writer Yoshio Urasawa as a one shot head writer. What's my take? Due to the fact Carranger was adapted into Power Rangers Turbo, my only reaction was did the producers have Turboranger in mind? I am left to speculate that they decided to refine Turboranger's concept of automobiles. Instead of teenagers with attitude, you ended up having five people who worked in the Pegasus Garage which for me is more appropriate for an automobile-themed show. Hirohisa Soda became a secondary writer for this show aside from Kakuranger and Ohranger (during Suzuki's era). While the show felt like they were all idiots, the show had Natsumi Shinohara as a season long Mika Koizumi as a snappy and rebellious yellow ranger. The show itself looked like a huge tribute to the Soda era. The show also introduced higher technology weapons. Standard Super Sentai weapons were usually based on weapons of ancient warfare modified for modern use. The Carrangers ended up using high technology weapons, a concept that was later repeated with Boukenger and ToQGer. Action-wise, Carranger still wins in that area.
No, they're not astronauts and space themed, they're computer themed.
Megaranger was another series that well brought back Suzuki's era and restarted the science theme except you had five teenagers with attitude involved. While Power Rangers in Space was pulling ideas from Changeman then Megaranger was pulling ideas from Bioman, Flashman and Turboranger in its science theme and not that space theme. The ideas were like giving the Megarangers their "Electron Brain" abilities but they were designated according to their symbols. Like Megaranger, I get a lot and I mean a lot of Soda vibes. This series became my personal favorite Super Sentai in the Takatera era. This is one show where the next Super Sentai got better than its predecessor. What made this season special was also the writers involved. This was the first era of Junki Takegami as the head writer while we also had Naruhisa Arakawa and Yasuko Kobayashi. For Kobayashi, she might be the most overrated writer for Toei. New writers were modifying old ideas from the Soda era. One good example of this was with how Dr. Hinelar represents the mad scientists of Soda's era like Dr. Man, Dr. Lee Keflen and Great Professor Bias while it had a season long Dr. Shibata vs. Dr. Man conflict with the Megaranger's mentor Dr. Kubota. This also kept the whole "Never reveal to anyone you're a Megaranger." to the point that the villains weren't immediately aware of their identity. But later, this was used by Dr. Hinelar against them using even the worst of humanity. The show was also a summary of ideas from Soda's era while using newer ideas at the same time. Was it Megaranger that saved Super Sentai and not Carranger? If so, maybe Carranger's toy sales were pretty good while Megaranger ended up impressing the audience much better.
Gingaman was the last of Takatera's era as Sentai's producer and first time for Yasuko Kobayashi start out as a head writer. It started mixing the elements of the supernatural with the Galactabeasts (animal mecha) and lineage (Dairanger) into the show together with the use of civilian superpowers for each other based on their elements. Gingaman looks like it's a treehugger series combined with the galaxy elements which I can understand why some PR/Sentai fans prefer Lost Galaxy over this series (They may want to check Flashman out subbed by Grown Ups In Spandex). But again, both series have their strengths and weaknesses. It brought back the concept of having one enemy general replacing a defeated general. Sanbash, Budo, Illiess and Batbas replaced each other in succession when one died, another took place in their quest to revive the Daitanic so they can finally turn Earth into a jewel. The idea was taken way back in Goranger or in some older Kamen Rider seasons. I wasn't all that used to that formula considering Bioman was my first Super Sentai. Another old-school concept brought back into another level was the use of galactic powers from Flashman, the Earth power of Changeman, not having two robots combine with each other while bringing in not just one but three self-operating robots with GingaRhinos, GingaBitus and GingaPhoenix.
Yes Yuuri, when you're gone, we'll have the rotating producer era...
Toei's rotating producers era
Toei would have the rotating producer era but before that, we had the Jun Hikasa era where he produced Gaoranger up to Hurricanger. He would take a leave and Hideaki Tsukada became the producer of Dekaranger, Magiranger and Gekiranger. Hikasa was also involved with Boukenger, Go-onger and the first half of Goseiger. Other producers involved in this era were Gou Wakamatsu (second half of Goseiger), Naomi Takebe and that awful Takahito Oomori. So this rotating producer era was either a new step for innovation or was it going to go for the worst? This was another era that introduced something new for arsenal, mecha and villains.
Jun Hikasa himself stepped in shortly after Gingaman with GoGoV up to Abaranger which I'll dub as the Hikasa line era. Unlike Takeyuki Suzuki, he had a straight line that was broken and then he becomes back every now and then. In between Boukenger and Go-onger was Gekiranger and in between Gekiranger and Goseiger was Shinkenger. This era had me mixed considering Hikasa himself would go from oh that's a lot action era of Super Sentai to what I dub as the "Power Rangers-ized" era of Super Sentai. I know the term sounds kind of weird but I can't resist calling it that due to moderate action, more balanced tones and well not so much budget for greater action scenes.
GoGoFive is the very first of his works. As of right now, I'm still in episode 34 and still waiting for the rest of the fansubs. While Fiveman started out as the first Super Sentai family force, GogoFive became the next family Super Sentai carrying the rescue theme. Before this show, Toei already had a few shows related to the Rescue Police Trilogy namely Winspector, Solbrain and Exceedraft where the shows didn't have a main villain but instead, they all graduated depending on their performance. This show explores the power of family to a whole new level compared to Fiveman (which I think this show is a tribute to it) against the Saima Clan. The show presents itself with a darker and edgier series. The whole theme has the the Tatsumi family battling the Saima Clan before they can take over the Earth. As the series goes, there's much to discover about themselves.
Timeranger entered into the year 2000 as part of the new millennium up to the 21st century Heisei era. I would think the timing was perfect for Super Sentai as the time for the new millennium while Time Force took place during the first year of the 21st century. This whole new season tends to be viewed as what might be Yasuko Kobayashi's magnum opus just as Kamen Rider Agito was the magnum opus of Toshiki Inoue. The show presents itself to be another serious series, perhaps too serious for some to the point that I can understand why some people end up preferring Power Rangers Time Force's more balanced approach. Its approach also tried where the red ranger is the only person who's different considering that Yuuri is the actual leader while Tatsuya is just the field leader. Much of Timeranger ends up very atypical in many ways that it becomes a complex battle against fate itself. While the show itself can be praised for the writing but one can be mixed at a few issues. For instance, Yuuri herself tends to be meaner than Jennifer, some of the events in this show were just plain, I mean plain unreasonable compared to Time Force's lighter approach or somebody in the show turns out be an awful Masato Kusuaka-type backstabber of a character who's been manipulating both heroes and villains. After the series, they had a special clip show featuring all of the Super Sentai series involved before Gaoranger came. Whether or not it was supposed to send the franchise farewell is just my speculation. If it were, instead it became a door opening a new era of Super Sentai for a new generation of youngsters. It was time to say goodbye to an old era to make way for a new era.
GoGoFive and Timeranger were basically where there's loads of action. Meanwhile, Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force is what I'd consider as trying to set the balance and they did. I mean, Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force can be viewed as more serious than the regular Power Rangers but not serious enough to be the Super Sentai of that era which may have set the new era of Super Sentai just after Timeranger. After Timeranger, it was time for some changes in Super Sentai like reduced violence, reduced seriousness and more or less balance. I'd say Power Rangers under Judd Lynn may have had influenced post-Timeranger Super Sentai to the way it is today with more ham and less violence since Super Sentai needed some changes, right? Then that's what happened after Timeranger ended. A lot of action started to be toned down presumably due to stricter censorships, parental complaints or more money was allocated for the sales of toys instead of action scenes.
Gaoranger was the beginning of another era of Super Sentai where the budget for action scenes may have been allocated for gimmicks. This was an era where things got toned down to almost TV-Y7-FV levels. At the same time, this era featured the multiple ways to gattai era. Gaoranger had Junki Takegami as its writer again. The show did a good job with the experimentation of multi-gattai where newer mecha would replace certain parts of the main robot's mecha. There was really much experimentation in this show and it was done pretty well. As an anniversary season, this was a real huge success with quality acting though I wouldn't say it's that good. It had the beast theme going on in it and it was the first show where the when one Big Bad dies, another comes in. This was a cool anniversary shoutout with the Super Sentai seniors making guest appearances.
The next show before Hikasa broke his line then came back in between was Hurricanger. It felt like a hybrid of Liveman and Kakuranger. Liveman in the sense it returned the three plus two formula. The first three main heroes (having more or less the SAME type of mecha) go and battle the enemies then two more join in. I haven't seen much of Hurricanger but I have a feeling that I'd still live Liveman's writing better. There's some cool equipment here, there's some cool martial arts plus Nao Nagasawa is one cool action girl who I consider as JAC Material. Nagasawa's fighting is just impressive in several levels that I think I'd want to meet her someday. Like Goranger and Gingaman, you still had villains taking over the deceased general. Now only if I can see this series to give it a proper critique.
Sidenote, Junichi Miyashita was mostly responsible for the Metal Hero era. He was responsible for being the head writer of some favorites such as B-Fighter, B-Fighter Kabuto or my favorite Metal Hero, Janperson aka the Japanese Robocop. I think this show might actually be a very overrated season in itself. I can understand if some people like it but Liveman wins writing-wise.
Abaranger was the last of the Hikasa streak before Tsukada stepped in where the multi-gattai continued in the form of dinosaurs. This was the era that reexplored the dinosaur theme and Naruhisa Arakawa's time to enter as a head writer. I felt this show can be viewed as a "weird show" while I'm an Abaranger fan. While it may have done well in Japan but maybe not all foreign audiences really liked it as Dino Thunder is a huge fan favorite for Power Rangers. But unlike Dino Thunder, this series is separate from Zyuranger's storline where they only meet in the VS Universe but it's most likely self-contained. I mean, there's really no way to harmonize the events of Zyuranger and Abaranger considering the events that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Unlike Zyuranger, this starts out as a three man team, Asuka is the fourth member and the show featured a season long evil ranger in Mikoto Nakadai or Abare Killer. Yup, Mikoto is my favorite villain in the show as he's that really annoying douchebag of a sadist who makes the Abarangers so miserable more than any other villain on the show. One episode of Abaranger was featured in Power Rangers Dino Thunder which I assume was done to show the cultural differences between the two shows. The show also brought in Jetman elements such as the love story of Asuka and his wife Mahoro which ended up much differently.
After Tsukada was the producer for Dekaranger and Magiranger, Hikasa became an anniversary producer yet again. Boukenger became the first adventuring themed Super Sentai that battled multiple factions hunting for magical items called Precious. It's pretty much an overrated season even if everyone here feels like they're always high on alcohol. This was my first major comeback to Super Sentai, I liked it a lot to the point I hated Operation Overdrive with a lot (and that story I wrote is an Old Shame of mine so don't even ask for a copy of it), I still like it but I don't like it as much as I used to. The only thing that might have made Boukenger better than Operation Overdrive is the acting, other than that I'm just have a lot of preconceived biases that time. On the other hand, Operation Overdrive still had some strengths which I've purposely ignored for some time are like the Corona Aurora Plot, Rose Ortiz is not a miss perfect (or maybe it might be safe to say, Head Bitch in Charge at times) like Sakura Nishihori or that Ronnie Robinson the yellow ranger is way level headed compared to Natsuki. It was a good season for me, it was a very popular season but some seasons that followed it were better than this one. Boukenger is that entertaining for me but I feel like Gekiranger and Shinkenger are better seasons. As the 30th anniversary season, I like it but I think Gaoranger has done a better job. Some fans feel like Gokaiger did it better due to the richer cameo. Sidenote, Sho Aikawa has been either hit or miss while I love Kamen Rider Blade as a Kamen Rider season.
Go-onger has had a pretty mixed fanbase. I keep hearing that it sucks so I almost didn't watch it. Granted, I saw this show first over Carranger and even after I saw the latter, I still like it. I think the environmental message was what Super Sentai needed for an entire season and this season answers it. This was an attempt to redo a comedy Super Sentai but not everyone was so welcome and I'm in the minority who actually likes this show. Their mission was to defeat the Gaiarcs who seek to turn the Earth into a pollution paradise. I always felt like this show was pretty fun in itself but suffered from some inconsistencies. Some episodes met the show's goal to make you fall off your seat but there are times consistency gets dragged down in some levels. Carranger's mood shifts weren't as frequent as this show. There's the tendency to shift moods faster than Carranger ever did but I can't deny I'd watch this show over TOQGer. Still, even I wonder why I still like this show to some extent though I couldn't call it a masterpiece either. I'll just have to be careful not to join the overly defensive fandom for this series.
Considering Hikasa was the producer of the first half of Goseiger, I wasn't surprised to see that instead of rival factions, it was a replacement of actions that happened with Buredoran as the predictable he'll be that final villain. I thought this show is the weakest of Hikasa's works and even a midseason change didn't help it. I thought it was just okay, I wanted to give the Gosei Angels a chance but the more I thought of how toys were flung at full velocity, the more I thought was Japan's spending level getting higher? It might be good for the children but I prefer not to have too much merchandise flung at my face. The three villain factions were all but tools for Buredoran's ultimate plan which the Goseigers must stop at all costs. Either I still have the Shinkenger hangover here or I could say this show is just a weaker season. It was written by the Michiko Yokote trio the same that did Gekiranger so why did this series turn out the way it did?
In between, Hideaki Tsukada came in and became the producer for Dekaranger, Magiranger and Gekiranger. I always felt mixed about how this guy came which I'll explain why.
Dekaranger started off as a unique Super Sentai that took a lot of ideas from the Metal Hero series. Some of the episodes of Dekaranger were more like the Rescue Police of the 90s like Solbrain, Winspector and Exceedraft except that they had to eradicate the criminal of the week (with permission from the courts) since not all of them were connected to the Big Bad, Agent Abrella. The Dekarangers were transported Dekametal from their base like the Space Sheriffs. What made Dekaranger unique was that you didn't have the typical villain organization and its main villain Agent Abrella has Alienizers as clients instead of him deploying them. Talk about the Big Bad becoming the service provider for the monster of the week. Such an idea may have not been so acceptable for Power Rangers SPD that they created the American villain Emperor Grumm (who strangely resembles Vulgar in the Dekaranger movie, played by Kenichi Endo) as the Big Bad instead of Abrella. I felt Abrella's concept was a nice innovation for villainy but may not work so well outside of a police theme.
Magiranger became the third sibling Super Sentai while becoming another proof that Super Sentai doesn't get better all the time. Unlike Dekaranger, this show really is in my low-tier. At first, I thought it was going to be amazing with all that equipment but the more I watched it, the more I felt like, "Is it still worth it?" Unlike Fiveman, I felt this show's characters don't click with me. My concerns were also Kai Ozu tends to be a brat and Houka's just too much of a ditz. I couldn't really speak well of this show after I saw it from start to end. This show just wasn't really worth my time after a long run. Fortunately it was succeeded by Boukenger.
From all of Tsukada's work, Gekiranger's personally my favorite with all the complex drama, martial arts and just almost everything. While Jan may start off as an idiot and yes he is, but I really think this show tries to get that darker and edgier feel from old school Super Sentai while adding something new into the mix. I mean, it's almost like one of a kind that personally, I find this kind of show to be difficult to replicate in its complex plots and everything. A lot of times, the show had also tried to do a realistic approach that whenever the Gekirangers got something new, they had to have some training under the Fist Saints. Whether it starts of with Rio and Mele with the two rival sects. As the series goes on, new skills are learned and the heroes and villains get to learn more about each other. What happens next is that there are several secrets that just get unveiled in the process. What's later revealed is that Long has been responsible for a lot of bad things in the story. Speaking of Long, I always thought that he's a huge throwback to the sadistic madmen of Suzuki's era with all that transpired in Gekiranger from past to present. It's also a real challenge to how this series tried to redo darker and edgier in an era of lighter and softer. Marketing-wise, sticking to the lighter and softer might be more profitable for Toei in the long run.
This one started out with where he was responsible for two beloved Super Sentai seasosn but as said, he was also responsible for ToQGer. I hate to admit it but more ToQGer fans tend to be even more defensive than other Go-onger fans. From his works, the obvious side of favoritism that I have is with Gokaiger and Shinkenger.
So what took so long for a samurai-based Super Sentai season to happen?
Shinkenger might be pretty much a huge tribute to its predecessors, something that may have trained Utsunomiya with how to carry out Gokaiger. This was Yasuko Kobayashi's major comeback but this time, she's writing a lighter and softer series. I don't know why it took some time to get samurais into Sentai, I mean it could have been cool if Kakuranger were immediately succeeded by a samurai Super Sentai then it'd be really darker and edgier but I wonder why didn't Toei do it back then? Did the producers decided to do something else instead of a samurai sentai to the point it reached 2009? Instead, this show exists as mostly a fun season with some hilarious ham like Ryunosuke Ikenami's comedic overreacting, Mako Shiraishi's exaggerated to super cartoony levels of ridiculously bad cooking that knocks you out, Genta Umemori ends up as samurai wannabee who becomes a ranger, Doukoku getting mad or Akumaro doing his evil laugh while they remain threatening at the same time. There's been a good mixture of nightmare fuel and comic relief when it comes to the villain plots which keeps the show to be a lighthearted season. I may be a fan of this series but I'm afraid this series gets liked for shallow and pitiful reasons which I'm guilty of it in several levels. This is also another show that makes me flaunt my perceived superiority of Super Sentai over Power Rangers. No matter how people can put it, I can't help but call this the best of Utsunomiya's work as a producer. I'm still having a hangover here even until today. I may enjoy Super Sentai seasons after this one as long as they are entertaining enough. Sorry but I really feel like most of the shows that followed it just fail to exceed this show's quality as of the moment. I'm afraid this was the last really good work Kobayashi had done for Super Sentai.
Most overrated Super Sentai of all time due to it being a really huge anniversary
Perhaps his most overrated work as a producer is Gokaiger as really gets a lot of praise it deserves while getting excessive praise as well. I don't blame fans for liking this series because it managed to link as much of the 34 seasons into one whole crossover series. Like Super Robot Wars, Gokaiger exists as as an alternate continuity for all the self-contained Super Sentai except it creates a timeline instead of cramming everyone in one in just one year and setting. Gokaiger had a lot and I mean a lot of Super Sentai senior cameo which in turn makes me want to watch more old school Super Sentai that I haven't watched from start to end. This show has been a huge nostalgia trip for different eras whether it's your adult audience or the child audience. All the Gokai Change and senior cast members resuming their roles as older versions of themselves with a lot of generous fanservice was really good. This will probably be considered as the best anniversary by most of the fans of Super Sentai. I don't blame the fans who think that it's the best anniversary even if I don't think it is. What I'm not so surprised either is that Gai Ikari becomes like Genta who are regular fans who become the sixth rangers considering the producer involved. But this was also a show where the villains except for Basco became a weaker side of the show. Later, it had a crossover with Gavan bringing back my childhood once more. The show's entire crossover nature would eventually get it involved in the Super Hero Taisen movies. A great series can always get involved with really trashy shows and movies which I'd say Super Hero Taisen is basically a Patrick Star masterpiece. What a shame really that such a great show ends up getting dragged into such messes later on.
The colorful train ride that I looked forward to brought me to the wrong destination...
At first, I had high hopes for Ressha Sentai ToQGer's rainbow and teddy bears approach. I mean, I did enjoy Kamen Rider Kiva having that kind of horror-comedy approach. I thought it was fun to have a train-themed Super Sentai for the first time but the more I watch it, the more I felt like the show assigned the wrong head writer for it. The show does have potential with how silly the villains are considering I did enjoy Carranger and Go-onger. I'm okay with a show that's full of silly stuff but this show didn't get me that charm. If anybody should have been assigned to be the show's head writer, it should have been Naruhisa Arakawa or Junki Takegami instead of Yasuko Kobayashi or two, they could have chosen another secondary writer to write this series then it might have worked for the better. The show had potential but it ended down the drain for me like the main characters hardly did their own fight scenes compared to previous seasons, then maybe writing them off as children in the body of adults became the next course of action. Emperor Zed hardly did anything useful but just want things that sparkle at the cost of his health. If they wanted horror-comedy, at least give the villains some personality like the Fangires in Kiva! The Shadow Line is just so stupid I think Doukoku alone could defeat those clowns by himself. Fortunately for me, watching Kamen Rider Gaim (but I still couldn't warm up to the crossover it had with ToQGer) helped me cope up with having to deal with one show I didn't like after the other. Whether it's this show, Power Rangers Megaforce, Kyoryuger, Power Rangers Samurai or this show, I'm most likely to say neither to all of them. I still have my fingers crossed that the upcoming film with Ninninger will be better than its crossover with Kyoryuger.
Naomi Takebe seems to be hit or miss type of producer. What is funny is that no matter how much I tend to say, "I don't like her." but I've been a fan of Kamen Rider Kiva and Kamen Rider OOO or in extension, Kamen Rider Gaim (but the success was due to Gen Urobuchi and not to her). I don't know if me admiring her work in those series explains my love for blatant silliness and the like. I think she might be better off staying as a producer for Kamen Rider.
Insert the Power Rangers RPM theme anyone?
Before Takebe became a producer for Super Sentai, she was involved with Kamen Rider. Gobusters might be considered to be in a similar case of Toshiki Inoue with Kamen Rider Faiz. After Shinkenger, Kobayashi ends up writing what might be her most serious work but at the same time (but unlike Power Rangers RPM, you don't have a post-apocalyptic setting where the last safe place is a dome city in Tokyo), it wasn't going to be well-received but I happen to actually like it as a member of the minority. When it came to production, I thought I liked Gobusters' motif, the idea of a virus enemy showing up but the show tends to slow down in terms of plot and execution. In more than one level, this show seems to have Shinichiro Shirakura's (Kamen Rider Faiz's head producer) trademarks over it when it comes to production togeither with marks of Inoue trying hard to burning out at the same time. The story tends to spin around in circles combined with a writer who's already burning out or giving up in trying to write a good story. Enter at first felt like was a cool villain but later, I thought he really wasn't as good as I expected him to be even if he's smart enough to outsmart the Messiah (I think he can also outsmart Venjix in Power Rangers RPM) but I don't think he's all that good. Judd Lynn was fascinated by this series though which was no surprise to me considering he took over Eddie Guzelian as the head writer for Power Rangers RPM. So why was this skipped in favor of Kyoryuger? It was due to the low amount of toy sales that was produced by this show which Kyoryuger had a lot of toy sales to keep Super Sentai going. I might be a fan of this show but some of its fans are just overly defensive with this one. Kobayashi just was really on a burnout or may have decided to quit writing a better story during this time.
Ninnin... Ninninger... not really that good but still entertaining enough to watch for me but Kamen Rider Drive and Kamen Rider Ghost are still better shows
Ninninger on the other hand is where I'd say so bad it's so good if that's ever the right thing to call it. It does have some similarities to Shinkenger and ToQGer in terms of villains gathering negative energy which the heroes must stop at any cost. Takaharu may be really baka and I agree but I couldn't hate him. The show is overly cheesy with all the power-ups but I thought that I still look forward to every new episode. I thought head writer Kento Shimoyama might be just what's needed to help create a new era of writers. On the other hand, I'm still pretty mixed with the show having an overload of toys without focusing too much on the story. But I'd say, I'm still entertained by the show nonetheless in spite of the obvious flaws. Compared to Kyoryuger, this show manages to come out "pretty tame" and unlike ToQGer which tends to be boring, the cast here has better personalities to the point I actually liked its crossover with Kamen Rider Drive. Takaharu may not be as good as Ban or Sosuke in the idiot red category but I give credit for the effort to be a better red ranger. I think that this show for me has signs that it's going to get better next season but it badly needs some do it yourself stunts like its predecessor. I'm somewhat excited to see how the finale will go and I believe that its finale will impress me seeing that their dormant Big Bad has finally returned. What's with the delay that its next broadcast will still be on January 17, 2016? I don't really know the reasons for it. Will the next episode be the finale? Maybe not yet otherwise Kibaoni Gengetsu wouldn't be worth the fight if he was easily defeated.
Yup, it's this guy... and I think I'd take Takebe's production over his any day...
Shogo B'Stard had said that this guy Takahito Oomori thinks that "Girls are weak so there's only one in his terrible, terrible show." which makes me say that this guy has issues. Kyoryuger ends up as a show filled with lively but what might be best called as obnoxious people. It's no secret that I do like Riku Sanjo's job performance as the head writer for Kamen Rider W and Kamen Rider Drive or as the secondary writer for Kamen Rider Fourze - but I couldn't respect his performance as the head writer of Kyoryuger. There's also the problem of Daigo-CENTRICITY (which should also teach me a thing or two on what not to do in writing stories) which ends up with way too much red ranger focus. The whole cast is full of "Samba Samba" which I personally find to be very irritating. Plus, even halfway I felt like giving up and I don't know if I can still proceed forward. I always thought Abaranger and Zyuranger had better execution, Abaranger being better than this show. As of right now, I still have a negative opinion here over this show. Daigo Kiryu hogs the glory a lot even at the finale. which is why I prefer Abaranger over this show. The samba tends to get very annoying, the characters tend to get obnoxious in several levels that Power Rangers Dino Charge's lack of samba, no Tyler-centric stupidity and overly lively characters is much more acceptable than what Shogo calls, "The show that makes dinosaurs glad that they're dead." Part of my learning is that too many characters can end up destroying the potential to write a good story. I know some people like the show but I really think this is where innovation has gone wrong in several levels. The mecha might be theoretically cooler but the story tends to be derailed. Even the movie with Gobusters was not worth the watch. I'm just afraid some of its fans get overly defensive on those who have a low regard for this show but in due fairness, the toy sales may have allowed Toei have budget for the next season.
Final thoughts on Super Sentai's history as of recent
Just remember that the Super Sentai series has its ups and downs. It doesn't get better nor does it get worse every year as life is never always up or always down. One can expect next year to get better or the next year to get worse because innovations may work or not work depending on circumstances. A new style may not immediately click or it may need to be abandoned on a case to case basis. After Gobusters, I'm now more into Kamen Rider than Super Sentai. Hopefully, Zyuohger will become a worthy 40th anniversary for a new generation of Super Sentai fans. So what are your thoughts on the past 39 Super Sentai series and do you think the anniversary will do better than the last?