Celebrating Earth Day, Super Sentai Style!
It's time to celebrate Earth Day, Super Sentai style. It's the 40th Anniversary of Super Sentai and we have the Zyuohgers protecting the Earth on Sentai's 40th anniversary. We've also had other Toei heroes such as Kamen Riders, Metal Heroes, Power Rangers and other Tokusatsu shows under them doing their job in their storylines. But I'll focus more on Super Sentai for the 40th anniversary.
The theme of Super Sentai for most of its run is really saving the Earth from destruction from various enemy forces that threaten it. Gaoranger vs. Super Sentai made it clear in the beginning of the crossover movie that Earth has been attacked by various villains. The villains of Super Sentai all appear with one motive after the other which some of them seek to destroy Earth, others seek to dominate it but regardless, it's been the fight for Earth. So let's get started, shall we?
Super Sentai vs. local terrorist organizations
Some Super Sentai seasons featured various terrorist organizations located on Earth, each with ther plans for world domination. These Super Sentai that fought them were Goranger, JAKQ, Battle Fever J, Sun Vulcan, Goggle V, Dynaman, Bioman, Liveman, Megaranger, Timeranger and Go-Busters. These various terrorist organizations had some kind of goal present.
The Gorangers battled the Black Cross Army which seeks to dominate the world. The JAKQ Squadron battled Crime. The Battle Fever J team battled the Egos Cult which planned to plunge the world into chaos with their teachings. The Sun Vulcan team battled the Machine Empire Black Magma an organization of mechanical mutants. The Goggle V team battled Deathtopia which was involved in evil science. The Dynamen battled the Jashinka an evil race of underground humans with tails seeking to conquer the surface world. The Biomen battled New Empire Gear which planned to use Mecha Humans to enslave humanity. The Livemen battled Volt an organization of evil geniuses seeking to enslave the world with their evil science. The Megarangers battled Nezire another organization using evil science. The Timerangers battled Londarz a mafia gang from the future. Go-Busters battled Vaglass an organization of cyborgs run by a computer virus that calls itself Messiah.
What were the motives of these terrorist organizations? Most of them were for world domination in whatever ways possible. Both Black Cross and Egos had a cult structure with blind followers. The others used science for their own selfish ambitions like Black Magma (but science wasn't too much the focus of Sun Vulcan). Deathdark and Jashinka were both trying to dominate the world with their science believing our current science to be inferior to theirs... they have it until the Goggle V team and the Dynamen kick their asses. New Empire Gear, Volt and Nezire also tried to enslave humanity by thinking their superior intelligence gave them that entitlement in science-themed series. The Londarz though were more focused on hoarding wealth than world domination. Vaglass was composed of machines trying to conquer humanity yet again.
When it comes to keeping world peace, the fight went against terrorist organizations based on Earth was priority. This shows that even without space aliens, there's still enough evil on Earth to really throw the world into chaos.
Super Sentai vs. evil space aliens seeking to invade Earth
Evil space aliens became another common fodder for Super Sentai. Super Sentai series that became focused on fighting evil space aliens were Denziman, Changeman, Flashman, Fiveman, Jetman, Ohranger (if it really counts), Carranger, Hurricanger, Abaranger, Dekaranger, Go-onger, Goseiger, Gokaiger and the current Super Sentai series Zyuohger.
The Denzimen battled the Vader Clan which sought to turn the Earth into a wasteland. The Changemen battled Gozma which was taking over planets for its ruler Star King Bazoo. The Flashmen battled Mess which was playing around with life in several planets seeking to make Earth its latest genetic experimental station. The Fivemen battled Zone which had destroyed 999 planets and now Earth will become its 1,000 target. The Jetmen battled the Dimensional Party Vyram. The Carrangers battled the Bowzock Gang who plan to make the Earth explode through really stupid plans. The Hurricangers fought the invading Space Ninja Group Jakanja. The Abarangers battled the Evorians who plan to turn our Earth into a barren desert. The Dekarangers were battling the Alienizers or Alien Criminals which some episodes had criminals who had no affiliation to the main villain Abrella. The Go-ongers battled the Gaiarc which sought to turn the Earth into a pollution paradise. The Goseigers were "angels" who battled space invaders. Gokaiger fought the Zangyack Army which in its continuity launched a huge armada at the beginning. The Zyuohgers are currently fighting the Deathgaliens who play deadly games with other people's lives.
Some of them had combined aliens with Earthlings. Megaranger's Dr. Hinelar works for the alien only known as Javious while he's human. Flashman's Dr. Lee Keflen is a human villain working for the Mess. Timeranger does have space aliens involved but during the 30th century, they were already considered citizens of Earth in a space age.
Super Sentai vs. supernatural villains seeking to waste Earth
The Super Sentai teams that fought supernatural villains were Maskman, Turboranger, Zyuranger, Dairanger, Kakuranger, Gingaman, GoGoFive, Gaoranger, Magiranger, Gekiranger, Shinkenger, Kyoryuger, ToQGer and Ninninger. I felt this was one of the favorite focuses Toei had with Tokusatsu that if it's not aliens or local terrorist groups you've got the supernatural.
The battle of the supernatural here usually ended up in light vs. darkness. Maskman had a series of conflicting forces. Turboranger had the conflict of fairy energies and demon energies. Zyuranger was well typically a love for children vs. a hatred for children. Dairanger took Maskman's conflict to another level with the Dai Tribe and Gorma Tribe in a battle of keeping balance in the cosmos. GoGoFive battled the negative energy with positive energy used from the mecha. Gaoranger was well back to positive and negative forces. Gekiranger also had a similar conflict in Dairanger between the Geki Juken and Rin Juken as positive and negative energies. Shinkenger had the conflict of light and darkness yet again with light and darkness as it explored some possibilities of humans falling into Gedoushu and not falling into Gedoushu. For me, the best of the conflicting forces were in Maskman and Dairanger. Gekiranger and Shinkenger were okay but not that good.
Speaking of conflicting forces, they also felt like they were focused in the martial arts series. Maskman was the start of the martial arts series and it also showed some consequences of the evil use of martial arts. The Tube were using martial arts for evil in some areas like Fumin's rivalry with Haruka. Maskman left a good series but Dairanger had way better exploration with the Daos and Gorma Civilizations. Several heroes and villains in Dairanger were focused on martial arts with both positive and negative. Gekiranger also had the Geki Juken and Rin Juken. Rin Juken appears to be the deadly martial arts long banned for its danger. Both Dairanger and Gekiranger was about the balance of yin and yang considered they were derived from Chinese mythologies.
Sealed enemies that were released in modern day were first attempted in Turboranger. The Bouma tribes were sealed thousands of years ago but human pollution released them. Bandora and her tribe in Zyuranger were sealed off by the Guardian Beasts but two careless astronauts ended up opening the seal. As far as sealed enemies were concerned, I felt like both the Bouma and Bandora's gang had their own charm. The Bouma were quite scary while Bandora serves ham and nightmares in generous amounts. Turboranger though was a season that wasn't doing so well and Zyuranger might be considered so-so by some fans. Gaoranger also repeated that theme with the Orgs since they were also ancient enemies of mankind.
Kakuranger, Shinkenger and Ninninger dealt with demons from Japanese mythology. The Youkai in Kakuranger were strongly based on Japanese mythological creatures but were given "modern versions" for a twist. Shinkenger was what I'd call that long awaited samurai Super Sentai which battled monsters from the Sanzu River. Ninninger tried a repeat of Kakuranger's theme but I really felt like the show didn't do so well for me. I wonder, will we see more Super Sentai fighting more Japanese mythological monsters?
Focusing on science themes in Super Sentai
Last but not the least, let's tackle on the evolution of the science themed Super Sentai seasons. The evolution of the science themed Super Sentai may have begun with Goggle V and Dynaman which started to explore the risks of reckless use of science. Then we ended up Hirohisa Soda's science trilogy with Bioman, Flashman and Liveman. We might want to include Ohranger and Boukenger though they also fought the supernatural (Ashu, Gaja) and local terrorist organizations (Dark Shadow, Jaryuu) in the science theme (or not). Megaranger also attempted to revisit the science themes.
Bioman was all about robotics vs. life. The whole show at first started with the Biomen fighting New Empire Gear which sought to enslave humanity with mechanical machines. The apex of the conflict is Doctor Man himself who was once formerly human. Dr. Hideo Kageyama used a dangerous experiment to turn himself into the world's greatest genius at the cost of aging faster thus he became the cyborg Doctor Man. Doctor Man sought to become more and more robotic as the show went by because he felt being human was something to be ashamed of. Doctor Man's only son Shuichi played a limited but imported role as well as the short-lived Prince who was a robot programmed to think and act like human. Midseason, Silver arrived as the apex of destructive technology in Planet Bio leading to the planet's explosion. Some episodes in Bioman focused on the importance of having a human conscience in one's science.
Liveman tried to focus on robotics and manipulation of life. Another theme that ran across it was all about the dangers of education without conscience. Both Dr. Mazenda and Dr. Kemp represented what you might call science at the wrong direction. Dr. Mazenda sought to end her humanity by becoming more and more mechanical. Dr. Kemp sought to become the perfect being by genetic manipulation. The intense atmosphere of Liveman's really serious nature showed how intelligence without conscience is meaningless. The Livemen had to fight against their own friends who betrayed them in the process. In the end, a lot of suffering was caused by intelligence without conscience.
As for Boukenger, I think it deserves to be in this spot. While it does have different enemy factions but it also focused on technology gone right or wrong. Now it's not as intense as other seasons that I like but the series somehow showed what could go wrong. The conflict between Satoru and Ryuon tries to focus on the proper use vs. improper use of technology. Dark Shadow seeks to use the Precious to dominate the world. Gaja and the Ashu were also after perverting the technology of today's humanity for their selfish purposes. While I don't think the show is that good among shows I like but still, doesn't it deserve to be mentioned with science themes?