70s Dance Fever Party Anyone?
Considering it's 2016 and Battle Fever J was aired on February 3, 1979 - it's a good thing to see older Super Sentai series getting digitally remastered or I wouldn't watch it. It's a pretty weird show, I don't like the costume designs but it's a pretty fun show at the same time. These guys knew how to create a dancing Super Sentai without being overly hyped. I know it's the late 70s but old doesn't always mean bad or good. It all depends on the production team involved that makes a Super Sentai series good or bad.
Watching the show was like learning about the history of even older telephones, learning how older TV sets, older video game systems and so on. In my case, it's just like how I ended up playing classic NES and Super NES games that I haven't played on later video game systems. The digital age really does wonders in reviving the classic cool to a whole new level. This reminds me of how it was to play the first three Megaman X games on a Playstation 2 way back in 2006 or what it might be for some to play older Playstation games on a Playstation 3 or 4.
There might be spoilers so read at your own risk.
Battle Fever J had the concept of five heroes around the world but they were all Japanese. Each color was based on a certain country. Their codenames were Battle Japan for Den Masao (red), Battle Cossack for Kensaku Shiraishi (orange), Battle France (blue) for Kyousuke Shida, Battle Kenya (black) for Shiro Akebono and Miss America (pink) for Diane Martin. I wonder, did Battle Kenya's black color coding also cause an outrage that it was "racist" like what happened back in Mighty Morphin' with Zack Taylor as the black ranger? I wouldn't really know.
Midseason, they had replacement rangers for Miss America and Battle Cossack. Diane Martin left for America after she was wounded in action and getting replaced by the more badass Maria Nagisa. Kensaku is replaced by the more badass Jin Makoto who took over his place to avenge his fall. The departure of Diane was said that the actress Diane Martin (they named a fictional character after a real person) didn't know much Japanese and was having a modeling career that time so she requested to leave. Int he case of Kensaku, it was said that actor Yukio Itou wanted to spend time with his newly wed so he requested to be written off. The show featured two ways to write off a ranger - either by killing them (Cossack) or letting them depart (America).
We had Doggie Kruger, Hikoma Kusakabe (Jii) and Torin as swordsman mentors. Battle Fever J had the first in General Kurama Tetsuzan. Okay I haven't seen the late actor Chiyonosuke Azuma (passed away last 2000) in other films but reading he's a jigaiki actor makes me think that he's fit for that role. He's not just some organizer of the team but he's really a badass mentor. Even the first episode gives out the idea he's a master swordsman you'd be afraid to cross swords with.
Seeing the first "Megazord" in action is like watching a documentary. Battle Fever Robo was the first samurai robot though for 14 episodes, it used the Cross Fever attack. In episode 15, the Chinese Bamboo Cut was used against the giant monsters without an explanation how the new finishing move came to be. Unlike the other Super Sentai, a giant duplicate of the monster of the week showed up. The same formula was later reused in Go-Busters in the form of Vaglass' giant duplicate robots for their Metaloids.
The secret society the heroes fight against is known as Egos. The ruler is the never explained how he Satan Egos exists whether or not he's a supernatural immortal or just some sorcerer pretending to be the ruler of darkness? Satan Egos rules as the mysterious deity who parthenogenically sires sons called "Egos monsters". Unlike most monsters of the week, these Egos monsters gives orders to Satan Egos' underlings namely High Priest Hedder and the game-changing Salome.
I felt like the structure partly inspired Vaglass in Go-Busters but only on the surface. Their desire is to drive the world to chaos and darkness so they can easily take over it. Hedder was played by two actors. Early on, he was played by Kenji Ushio and later by Masashi Ishibashi (who went on to play General Kar, Professor Rehda and returned to play as Yang in the Gekiranger movie and also played as Iron Claw in JAKQ before this series). Ishibashi's performance was more memorable than Ushio based on expressions. Later on, we'd see Hedder challenge Tetsuzan one-on-one. I felt like the scenes would later inspire Dekaranger's scene of Doggie Kruger defeating the mad swordsman Bisques in a one-on-one duel. Tetsuzan though did it out of suit plus I don't think he needed super spandex that time, Doggie did considering Bisques might defeat Hedder in a split-second or so.
Battle Fever J's possible legacy
The show placed "Super" into Super Sentai but years later, it would become the third Super Sentai series during the 90s. The reason was because Goranger and JAKQ were later retroactively added into the series. The series itself brought "Super" in the sense it brought in the concept of the giant super robot and years later, Shinkenger would use the samurai theme and Shinkenoh's default finishing attack was similar to the cutting technique used starting episode 15 of this series.
A multi-racial group is just impossible for Super Sentai but highly possible (and frequently done) for Power Rangers. Super Sentai is a Japanese show and just how many people can speak Japanese? Diane Martin leaving for language reasons might also be a possibility. Power Rangers' succeeded in creating a multi-racial team in the United States while Super Sentai didn't. Power Rangers succeeded in creating a superhero team respecting cultural diversity and while Super Sentai respects it, it wasn't able to create a multiracial team due to Japan not being much of a racially diverse country. I guess Battle Fever J didn't only influence the rest of Super Sentai but also the rest of Power Rangers as well.
Overall, it was a series that really started a new direction for Super Sentai to have one franchise every year. But lately, I do feel Super Sentai may need a break because of all the fatigue points it's suffering from lately.