Happy 30th Birthday Hikari Sentai Maskman

Since today is Maskman's 30th anniversary, I decided to write a Maskman post for the sake of writing it. Before I saw more Super Sentai whether it's old school or new school, I still can't forget my "love affair" with Maskman through the years and how I didn't immediately click with it and how I clicked with it. While I never consider myself a die hard fan of just anything (and that includes Super Sentai) but Maskman did play an important role to me. True, Jetman is my favorite childhood Super Sentai but Maskman somehow played an important role. In fact, it still rivals Jetman in my head until this very day!

I can't forget watching Maskman before (Tagalog-dubbed) and what it really felt watching it in its own Japanese audio subbed by Grown Ups In Spandex and the joke sub by CSCentrl. Back then, I had no choice or didn't care too much about the quality of the dub. Just like I watched Bioman in the rather odd English dub (and sometimes, both shows were aired back to back) or it was aired on Saturday evenings... I couldn't forget my affair with it. So when IBC-13 momentarily went missing I ended up watching Fiveman and Jetman on ABC-5 for the years to come. But what I hated about IBC-13 was that why didn't they show the ending? That was indeed frustrating to think how that network screwed up airing Tokusatsu in the long run.

Growing up with Maskman 

Back to my childhood I can't forget how I didn't immediately take a liking to the show. Was it too serious never mind I saw Mika Koizumi dubbed as Casey die in Bioman? Was it because of the more complex plot or what? I guess young minds in our day couldn't easily understand Maskman and that it took one to grow up to understand it. But I liked it anyway for the dumb reason that it was a "kiddie show" but not so kiddie isn't it? Who can't forget how Maskman had some blood and occasional alcohol drinking? Oh did I forget Bioman's first episode had those obviously fake gunshot scenes? It's just funny how Maskman never clicked with me immediately.

So what turning points did Maskman do? I couldn't forget how Ryuta Nanbara became my favorite Bioman. But for Maskman it's been the first time I ended up liking a red ranger in Super Sentai. Takeru himself who was called Michael Joe (but I refuse to call him that now) in the dub. I guess it was the whole love story he had with Ial or just how he was that badass. Maskman was also the very first Super Sentai to be red-centric. Takeru's story with Ial was the moving factor especially with his battles with Igam and Kiros. Igam felt like Takeru caused disgrace to the family (but look who's talking) and his rivalry with the stray villain Kiros. The first turning point I ended up liking a show's red ranger.

I can't deny that I really watched Maskman at first for the sake of watching it. Maybe it was because it was a "kiddie show" never mind it's not all that child friendly. There's been a lot of nightmare fuel that the show had to offer. I can't forget how Emperor Zeba intimidated me or maybe the number of times I cried watching it as an eight year old. Some of these scenes were seeing Ru's father die or the episode where Great Five sank. I can't remember feeling sorry for Momoko in that episode where she blamed herself. Oh those were silly memories that aside from hiding under my bed in some scenes (especially I was scared of Emperor Zeba as a child) that I cried over a few scenes. But I did manage to enjoy the show for what it was the more I watched it even if it never clicked with me immediately. For a bit of guilty pleasure I also developed a crush on Momoko making her my dumb reason to pick up the show and watch it but I would see it as a stupid and pitiful reason to watch the show.

Maskman in my later years

Entering teenagehood to adulthood had me discovering more about the Super Sentai series. I can't forget how I discovered more of pre-Zyuranger Super Sentai and more of post-Jetman Super Sentai. I can't forget how it shocked me to learn that Igam was a woman raised to be a man. I wonder why in the world was that plot left out in the Tagalog dub? A lot of stuff do get lost in translation. I can't remember how I was confused with why Igam got mad when her helmet flew off. I also was left baffled to how Igam managed to keep her masquerade fooling everyone but the audience. Sometimes, you just need to screw logic when you're watching any science fiction or fantasy show.

What also wasn't too surprising when I realized (and saw) that Takeru and Ial broke up after the events of the show. One of the events that somewhat didn't surprise me was Igam's decision to become a Buddhist nun to atone for her sins. I can't forget how I was left hanging to how the Igam twins would eventually play their role in Emperor Zeba's downfall. Sidenote, I wasn't too surprised to see Galaxy Robo finish the job instead of Great Five in the final episode. Maybe this didn't shock me too much because I saw Ryu's failure to save Rie in Jetman. Bittersweet endings were to be expected for a reason. I wasn't too surprised by it. Part of me felt bad but part of me wanted it. I tend to ship Takeru and Momoko even if they're not lovey dovey material. Takeru Shiba and Mako would probably work but not Takeru and Momoko.

I got into fan subs with Super Sentai after I got myself an external hard drive. I started watching other post-Timeranger Super Sentai like Boukenger, Dekaranger, Gekiranger, Shinkenger but I can't deny that I still missed Maskman that time. I watched it through Youtube until copyright took it down. Grown Ups In Spandex would later sub Maskman. It was pretty much nice to take nostalgia but at the same time it was a reeducation. Watching the original Japanese with subtitles felt like watching Maskman for the first time even if I saw it dubbed. I couldn't forget what I considered the mediocre Tagalog dub. That Tagalog dub lacked the true spirit of Super Sentai compared to the original Japanese audio. It just never got it and the original script intact was a better thing than what the dub had to offer to me as a child.

Perhaps what may have shocked me (or not) he's that he married a Filipino woman. I always felt that it's not too surprising either. Also, just looking at how the actor Kazunori Inaba now owns Miso Icchi Ramen is a surprise. It's just nice to know that one way or another fans still know something about some members. Hopefully, there will be a Maskman complete team reunion anytime soon.

Closing words

I could still look at Maskman as perhaps one of the most important stepping stones for improvising Super Sentai in the later years. I don't think that a lot of series later on would be what they are like Dairanger and Gekiranger improved the martial arts theme. I think Jetman, Carranger, Timranger and Abaranger improved the love story concept that Maskman started. Jetman and Zyuranger gave us Gai Yuki and Burai based on Maskman's X-1 Mask followed by several attempts to give us different types of sixth rangers. Plus don't forget Maskman also introduced the first five piece combining robot in Great Five which helped define how most succeeding mecha had given separate mecha for everyone.

I don't deny I miss the time that Super Sentai was less kid friendly and more serious or more violent. Gekiranger may be more serious than Boukenger but it's nowhere near as violent as Maskman or Dairanger. Dekaranger is a police series but the violence is considerably low to shows like Winspector, Solbrain and Janperson. Maskman had a lot of what I enjoyed like more serious plots, some blood and a lot of scenes that aren't so kid friendly. But again it doesn't mean I can't enjoy newer Super Sentai or Kamen Rider for being lighter and softer. It's never been a question of darker or lighter but a question of quality and implementation.

I'm seeing more new school Super Sentai now, I'm watching the current series Kyuranger and liking its rather atypical setting. I don't think I can really forget Maskman because I grew up with it and it's a pretty good show for my taste. It's just like how I prefer mostly new school Kamen Rider over old school Kamen Rider of the Showa era but I can't get Kamen Rider Black off my head. There's still a lot of Super Sentai better than Maskman but it can never leave my head. I still feel like telling newer Super Sentai fans to at least give it a shot and tell them what they think. While some could like it but not everyone can easily adjust to what I grew up with. It's probably a generation gap thing or not. But I still question whether or not generation gap is involved because I could still enjoy a lot of new school Kamen Rider and I'm currently enjoying Kyuranger.

In short, Maskman still has a special place even as I'm not growing any younger. Time flies so fast doesn't it? So what are your thoughts if you're a child who grew up on Maskman? 


  1. I got to know more of Maskman through the Supet Sentai Opening 1979-1989 VHS in 1994. For a 8 year old my brother knew what he was looking at and recommended Maskman as a must watch series. Also to add I introduced my friend to the series in the badly dubbed Korean version and he went out to get a sample of the series and he was hooked after seeing the finale arc. Also it just doesn't stop, the late artist and writer Martin King had a copy from me and he and his nephew watched it. They couldn't stop and watched it again and again because that was how good it is!!!! King also had the great honor in seeing how Maskman ends as both Blu-Ray complete release and the internet age did not give us the luxury to see a lot of Sentai as easily as now.

    Just as Black Knight Hyuuga was not included in the Gokai Silver powers or is considered a 6th Warrior, Red Mask was left out of the United theme battle as Ryuranger and Geki Red was the only martial art Reds posing.
    As always Maskman did started the Internal Powered martial art theme team though not completely Chinese Gung-fu the majority of the team did use the fighting art!!!!

    Also it is a bummer to see Ryusuke Kaizo retire from acting as his last Sentai role was in Oh Ranger as Oh Red's former superior in Episode 1. Then again, most actors in the business don't stay in there forever and some of them feel so indefferent with the genre that they would like to forget about it. But that is another story. A lot of these series are reaching a milestone and we are just getting old too!

    1. It's a good thing that old shows can now be released with better quality thanks to Blu-Ray and DVD releases. On the other hand, there's still the quest to create better shows but not without much of a struggle. Sometimes before success there's still the need to fail and learn from one's mistakes.

    2. This is why Super Sentai MAY get axed after so many series. The quality+ratings but thanks to the DVD/Blu-Ray library we can just look at the good series.

      P.S. Did you get any of the SHOUT!Factory release or you are sticking with the flash from Grownups in Spandex?

    3. Now come to think of it, in the 80s-90d and the VHS library release. Jetman was the first of the complete release that came out via VHS then others followed. Of course Laser Disc but those big size DVD could only hold limited amount of episodes and was very pricey!!!!


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