When This Year's Heisei Era Super Sentai Is In Stark Contrast With This Year's Heisei Era Kamen Rider


While doing some rewatching of pre-Decade Heisei era Kamen Riders, I noticed that there was a time when there's been some differences in tone between Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. Back then, Super Sentai was usually darker, edgier, more intense in the action scenes department and "more mature" though it was also rivaled by Metal Hero. Eventually, Metal Hero jumped into the lighter and softer with B-Fighter Kabuto, Robotack and Kabutack leading to its eventual cancellation of the franchise. Super Sentai started to get less serious (again) with Carranger since some pre-Zyuranger era series like Dynaman and Goggle V were on the lighter side but more action anyway.

During the year 2000, it was the year of the return of the Kamen Rider. Yasuko Kobayashi had fired her magnum opus with Mirai Sentai Timeranger. Kamen Rider Kuuga appeared as that year's Kamen Rider and the very first one for the Heisei era. Kuuga had a lot of trademarks of earlier riders like intense action, graphic violence and darker plots but it was written by Naruhisa Arakawa. I'd dare say that Kuuga might have been Arakawa's magnum opus. Both shows were pretty much complementary on the more serious stuff. Super Sentai temporarily went lighter and softer with Carranger and Megaranger while trying to get more serious with Gingaman (but it wasn't that serious) and GoGoFive. Next year was the start of one show was lighter and the other was darker.

Hyajakuu Sentai Gaoranger vs. Kamen Rider Agito

Gaoranger restarted the trend of lighter and softer Super Sentai and most post-Timeranger Super Sentai were not only lighter and softer, they really lacked those intense action scenes found back in pre-Gaoranger lighter and softer Super Sentai seasons. You may consider that civilian out-of-suit scenes from Carranger up to present aren't all that intense as they were prior to Ohranger. Gaoranger was more or less pretty much on the "well-balanced" side of the tones of the show with lighter and softer stuff. But that year's Kamen Rider was just the opposite.

Agito isn't lighter and softer. The whole show centers around the conflict of two Lords who were in charge of mankind's creation. You had Light and Darkness fighting over mankind's evolution. You had a series of murders and why in the world are the murders happening. You had a lot of blood that Kuuga had along with every murder case. There was huge amounts of suspense. You had the police department in utter conflict with itself. A lot of stuff in Agito were a huge contrast to the happy and light Gaoranger.

Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger vs. Kamen Rider Ryuki

Yet another contrast. Hurricanger may be considered Liveman x Kakuranger yet it's far from it. The premiere episode lacks the seriousness of Volt's attack on Academia. You've got no ninjas betraying the Hurricangers to join Jakanja. Most of the show is more on the lighter and softer with a few serious moments. Unlike Liveman, none of the rivalries are all that personal. After seeing Liveman, am I still willing to see this show from start to end? Yes but I don't think I'd be THAT satisfied when it's over.

Kamen Rider Ryuki tried to aim to be the most serious Kamen Rider ever. Deaths, Rider Wars, lots of deaths and several douchebags fighting for that "One Wish". Shinji's/Ryuki's annoying, Renn's/Knight's annoying, Shuichi's/Zolda's) annoying... and there's a whole lot of people who are either great villains (Takeshi/Ouja) or just there to annoy (Jun/Gai). The show itself had a lot of issues with deaths and blood. Then executives came in and meddled consistently. I don't even think the whole annoying Megumi plot was Inoue's idea either. With how it ended with executives getting rid of everything tragic in the push of a button was so uncalled for.

Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger vs. Kamen Rider Faiz

If I'm not wrong, Dino Thunder aired on ABiaS-CBN while GMA aired Faiz in the Philippines. But again, my memories could be blur because it was a couple of years ago. Now back to topic.

Abaranger shows that you don't need to be that serious to be a better season. Zyuranger may be considered serious today in spite of its attempt to be more child friendly but Abaranger had less scary enemies. Some of the enemies were more on comic relief with Jannu and the unseen Evorian God as scarier enemies to balance things out. Then we had Mikoto's arrival as an evil sixth ranger for most of the season. The dinosaur theme was done better while having much less nightmare fuel than Zyuranger. This was also Naruhisa Arakawa's big debut as a head writer for Super Sentai.

Kamen Rider Faiz might be Toshiki Inoue's darknest work. Inoue was trying his best to do what might be his favorite work. Heck, he even made a cameo as a nameless character at the end of the finale. The concept of Faiz is taking the themes of X-Men to a darker level for live media. While Time Force did address some issues of racism in the mutant/human war, the villains in Faiz are more nightmare fuel oriented. The series did suffer some problems like spinning around the Rider Belts or that Masato Kusaka as a secondary villain doesn't serve too much of a purpose but to annoy. I felt like that Inoue was trying hard here but failing.

For the two shows, we're seeing a contrast between how Arakawa would later do his works. Kamen Rider Kuuga started out as a very serious series. When Arakawa wrote Abaranger, it was a complete contrast to Inoue. The contrast was seen in some Jetman episodes when Arakawa wrote less serious ones while Inoue wrote more serious ones. At the same time, it was also the rise of Arakawa in Super Sentai with Inoue declining with Kamen Rider.

Tokosou Sentai Dekaranger vs. Kamen Rider Blade

Dekaranger happens to be the second time round Naruhisa Arakawa gets to show his rise into the world of Super Sentai. The show took some elements from the Metal Hero series namely from the Space Sheriff Trilogy, Rescue Police Trilogy. Some episodes of Dekaranger had no connection to the recurring villain Abrella. The show almost had no main villain if not none at all except Abrella putting it closer to the Rescue Police Trilogy. The show's suits were beamed down like they were in the Space Sheriff Trilogy. But unlike those shows I mentioned, this show as less serious. I always liked comparing most post-Gaoranger series to Judd Lynn's later series of Power Rangers' series in terms of civilian action scenes and writing styles. That is meeting the equilibrium between serious and fun tones.

Kamen Rider Blade is a very serious and dark series. It's hard for me to accept it that it was Sho Aikawa who wrote Boukenger was one of its major writers. It was also hard for me to accept that Toshiki Inoue wrote those cooking battle episodes. But the show has a serious theme with the threat of the Undead towards humanity. The show featured some of the darkness of human hearts and how the Undead can only be sealed back but never truly destroyed. It's a game of deadly cards that caught my attention more than ever. Problem is the show had weaker acting than its predecessors. Speaking of Aikawa, I still can't forget how he didn't handle my favorite villain Mikoto Nakadai that well in Abaranger's finale arc.

Gogo Sentai Boukenger vs. Kamen Rider Kabuto

Until now, I still can't believe that Sho Aikawa was also involved with Kamen Rider Blade. Maybe I do still like the writer considering that I still like Boukenger but not as much as I used to though. The themes of Boukenger were focused on fun, adventure and some wacky stuff. I always made fun of how the Boukengers were always acting like they were a group of drunks. The series tends to be very imbalanced in some areas like Natsuki tends to be weak in one episode and can fight in the next. Sakura is a Mary Sue and a not so good version of Yuuri in Timeranger. Masumi can be a rougher version of Gai Yuki. I like the series but I still nitpick on its weaknesses. I felt like Satoru's always acting like he's high and so are the rest. Did the show keep giving them liquor to drink while they weren't on duty?!

Kamen Rider Kabuto is pretty much a nightmare fest for me. The idea of the Worms invading and infiltrating humanity, the idea that the world could get into an apocalyptic setting and not even the cooking fest could help get rid of the scary part. While we don't have Worms bursting out in chestbursters like they do in Aliens but it's still a nightmare fest. Maybe not as scary as the series I mentioned above but I think it still deserves a mention. So after a fun ride with the Boukengers comes a scary ride with Fourze. Sad to say but Shoji Yonemura is like Bruce Kalish with Disney: both came up with one shot wonders but end up falling apart in later works but can still come up with something decent at times.

Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger vs. Kamen Rider Den-O

While Go-onger and Kamen Rider Kiva were both happy go lucky seasons, this is were the reverse happens. We have a serious Super Sentai series and a fun Kamen Rider series after that.

Gekiranger was a series that went back to some of its roots all the while staying modern. The series was like Dairanger x Gaoranger. It has Dairanger elements since it was focused on mastering martial arts, you have the Fist Saints and the use of Chinese themes. For the Gaoranger elements we've got wild animals in the mix. The whole show was focused on a lot of Wuxia style conflicts with Gen Juken and Rin Juken. Then you have a lot of stuff falling into place revealing a dark ancient menace has been the puppet master of all time. The story sort of innovates Dairanger in some way or follows some Manhua comics from Hong Kong. Though I don't think it's that good but it's been my favorite from Gaoranger up to Gokaiger.

Kamen Rider Den-O on the other hand is one series I'm mixed about. At first, I enjoyed the wacky action but much, much later the whole show ends up as a mess. But it was popular with the younger audience and actor Takeru Sato's ability was tested whenever he had to play as the Imagin-possessed main character. But the show tends to take time travel into a series of tangles. This is also the moment where I'd say that Power Rangers Time Force is a more welcome treat than this show. Timeranger and Time Force don't confuse me as much as Den-O will. I don't think I'd ever pick it up again. EVER!

Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters vs. Kamen Rider Fourze

Go-Busters happens to be that era that Yasuko Kobayashi was already burning out while trying her best. It's like Toshiki Inoue's take on Kamen Rider Faiz but not as good. I'll admit that I do like Go-Busters and Judd Lynn is also fascinated by it. It's maybe because of the Power Rangers RPM references. The show is where the writer wanted to go back to writing more serious themes after the much less serious Shinkenger.

Kamen Rider Fourze ends up as a happy go lucky Kamen Rider like Den-O up to OOO. The show becomes a typical teenybopper show rather than a typical Kamen Rider show. I saw it as  a freaking sequel to either Planet Sheen or Jimmy Neutron. As much as I like the show's comedy feel and fun stuff but I still prefer to watch the more serious Kamen Riders whenever I feel like it. I guess it was nice to have a fun ride with Fourze if Gobusters can be pretty depressing. That time, I preferred Kamen Rider Fourze.

Closing words

I guess the reason why these contrasts happen every now and then was to meet balance. During Kuuga and Timeranger, both shows were too serious. Then we may have met balance when there's the fun and adventure with Gaoranger and the seriousness of Agito. During the time we have Hibiki and Magiranger as well as Kiva and Den-O, both seasons had fanbases pretty divided on what to think about them. As of late, we have less and less serious series. After Go-Busters, the much less serious Kyoryuger back to back with Kamen Rider Wizard. We have ToQGer and Kamen Rider Gaim which is much less serious (but better written) than Ryuki. Kamen Rider Drive and Ninninger are both meant to be fun series except that the former is a little more serious. Zyuohger and Kamen Rider Ghost are well both more on the fun side.

As of late, I'm back to liking Super Sentai over Kamen Rider again. I felt it in more than one level that after Go-Busters, the Super Sentai shows were on a huge downward slump for three seasons. Kyoryuger, ToQGer and Ninninger really had a lot of issues with production and writing. Meanwhile, Gaim and Drive have been very entertaining that I could't wait for the next episode. But then came in Ghost which isn't as good. Zyuohger ends up as a more interesting show to watch than Ghost. As said, it's always about who does production and writing better.

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