The Heisei Era Is Coming To An End...
It's no secret that the Heisei era is really about to come to an end around next year. So I decided to do a ramble post on what I'd call the "different eras" of the Heisei era which would come to an end by April 30, 2019 and it began on January 8, 1989. 1989 was a bit of a transition for some series. Black RX was caught in between the Showa era and the Heisei era -- making Kamen Rider Black the last true pure Showa era Kamen Rider. Chojuu Sentai Liveman's final episodes were in the Showa era making Hikari Sentai Maskman the last true pure Showa era Super Sentai. Then if we had any "pure Heisei starters" -- they would be Kosoku Sentai Turboranger and Mobile Cop Jiban which were aired after the death of Emperor Hirohito and the ascent of Emperor Akihito who's about to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne.
1989 was somewhat a shaky period for Super Sentai as Hirohisa Soda was now starting to burn out. Personally, I'm a fan of Liveman but I always felt like that the finale had Soda starting to run out of ideas. Then we have the first pure Heisei era Super Sentai in Turboranger which I heard had bad fan reception -- I would even dare agree it's unfairly maligned but I do agree that Soda was starting to burn out. Jiban had the late Noboru Sugimura as its headwriter -- then he would proceed to become Zyuranger's writer. Ironically, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers would be based on Zyuranger while having the Turboranger vibes!
mature approach" such as Tokkei Winspector, Tokkyu Shirei Solbrain, Tokosou Exceedraft and Tokosou Robo Janperson. Fiveman was such a failure that somehow they thought Chojin Sentai Jetman was going to be the last. Fortunately Jetman managed to save Super Sentai and rage it like a phoenix! If it wasn't for Jetman then Super Sentai wouldn't have survived.
While Fiveman was what would be called a failure during its time -- Winspector became so successful that it spawned two more related shows (or four if you want to count Janperson) namely Solbrain and Exceedraft. Exceedraft was somewhat meant to be its own show but the finale later connected it by letting the legendary Captain Masaki appear as a guest star in the finale. Hmmm what's also interesting is that Winspector takes place in the Year 1999 A.D. and not in 1991 -- which Choriki Sentai Ohranger would also take place in said year unless you decide to see Timeranger's clip show as a retroactive continuity of said events! Then we do have KyuKyu Sentai GoGoFive which took place in 1999 during the time when the planetary grand cross actually took place. Plus, it was rumored that the year 2000 would bring a huge disaster too!
The success of Jetman actually brought in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. After Sugimura was involved with Kamen Rider and Metal Hero -- he would be with Super Sentai. Zyuranger was known for its very much child of the week approach -- something not everyone was comfortable with. I admit, i only tend to overrate and like Zyuranger only because I don't like Power Rangers. But as said, I'm better off just enjoying Zyuranger without thinking about Mighty Morphin' -- plus I'd actually still rewatch it over its Americanized version anytime due to the latter's overextension!
the Pot of Gold Year for Toei's bank account. You could imagine the success of Exceedraft brought in Janperson. Zyuranger would soon be succeeded by Gosei Sentai Dairanger which would be Sugimura's second round for Super Sentai. Then it was the year of Jurassic Park and Toei finally found that opportunity to suck in money by having the contract with Haim "Cake Boss" Saban finalized for the production of Mighty Morphin'. It was something that only got popular because of how "new" it was in spite of all the shoddy editing of Zyuranger footage. Toei managed to hit gold with the U.S. market and in the Japanese market that year. Toei then agreed to film 25 more Zyuranger fight footage exclusively for Saban that year.
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger then became Sugimura's second to the last project before Choriki Sentai Ohranger. The footage of Dairanger was later also used for later seasons of Mighty Morphin' which I'd call to be a cheap way to earn money -- though Toei always gets a share of said money or Saban risks losing his contract. Personally, I thought Saban did better with him running Marvel-based cartoons (the X-Men cartoon, the Spiderman cartoon, Marvel Action Hour and the Incredible Hulk) and during the time he also ran the Super Mario Bros. Super Show (which also had DIC involved) -- they deserve more recognition than Power Rangers if you ask me! At least, Saban's crew really put more work without borrowing costumes from Marvel. Power Rangers just feels cheap even if Toei allows Saban to use the costumes and some fight footage to be mixed with their own stunts!
This was also the era of Toei's struggle with the American market on what they wanted to do. One could think about how Saban still has Mashed Rider as his old shame to the point that Power Rangers Time Force made it a "show within a show" -- it's even said that the late Shotaro Ishinomori badly scalded said show with so much well-deserved criticism. Other shows which Saban was given permission to work with were the Showa era Metal Hero shows such as Chojinki Metalder, Jikuu Senshi Spielban and Ucchu Keiji Shaider to make the highly successful (for its first season) VR Trippers. There was also Beetleborgs which mixed both B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto. Unfortunately, these shows somewhat predicted the end of Metal Hero as well!
1996 could be called a "loser year" with Carranger and B-Fighter Kabuto. Then B-Fighter Kabuto got succeeded by even two more shows that inevitably cancelled the Metal Hero franchise namely B-Robo Kabutack and Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack. While Metal Hero declined -- Super Sentai started climbing up again with Megaranger and Seijuu Sentai Gingaman. What's interesting to know also is that Power Rangers nearly got cancelled in the late 90s if it wasn't for Power Rangers in Space which I think was just one huge mess of a finale for the Zordon era. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy would later start the trend of the yearly cast change up until Power Rangers RPM. Hmmm should I mention this was the era when two beloved writers Yasuko Kobayashi and Judd Lynn made their ground?
Then we have the Sci-Fi Revival era with Super Sentai (and to an extent also with Power Rangers). Power Rangers Lost Galaxy was trying to do some spacey theme similar to Choshinsei Flashman -- though most of the events were too focused on the Terra Venture than anything. 1999 also gave us GoGoFive which is what I'd dub as "Fiveman done right" with the Tatsumi family as a rescue force where elements of Rescue Police got incorporated into Super Sentai. There was also the repetitive narration whenever a monster was revived. Both Lost Galaxy and GoGoFive were somewhat focused on sci-fi and fantasy elements. I may not like Power Rangers but I think Trakeena would still be downright troublesome towards the Gingamen and GoGoFive teams if she ever appeared!
The sci-fi thing was somewhat also later re-explored during the year 2000 with Mirai Sentai Timeranger (though Power Rangers managed to extend it up to 2001 with Power Rangers Time Force) though it didn't do much time travel. Both GoGoFive and Timeranger were also attempting to explore on how to be "more mature" to a certain extent -- for better for for worse. The same could be said about Lost Galaxy, Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue and Time Force. Lightspeed Rescue had some moments such as when the bus hostage scene was re-enacted and Dana could've been shot by said thug or when Chad fought a monster out of suit like Ken did in Fiveman. Time Force also talked about the consequences of society's actions to such an extent or how Ransik (as hammy as he gets) is not someone you'd want to mess with!
The Year 2000 was the end of one era and the beginning of another at the same time. Kamen Rider Kuuga was Naruhisa Arakawa's debut as a head writer and the beginning of a new era for Kamen Rider. Yet it was also the end of the 20th century Heisei era for Super Sentai when Timeranger ended. One era ended and another began. Kuuga proved itself successful that an indirect sequel (though somehow it was retconned by Toei later on) was Kamen Rider Agito which would start the seven highly-nightmare fuel filled Kamen Rider seasons! Ironically, Timeranger ended the list of "super serious Super Sentai" and Super Sentai started getting lighter and softer for most of its run -- which may be contributing to why Super Sentai has reached up to 43 seasons and going 44 with the upcoming Kishinryu Sentai Ryuusouger!
So what did Super Sentai start to do since 2001 up to present? It started to totally do away with stop motion combining sequences and started to evolve CGI special effects with some old school techniques. I thought about how GoGoFive started to use a combination of CGI and stop motion then Timeranger used more CGI for combination scenes. Then we've been using more CGI for a lot of mecha scenes. Will Toei soon have a budget to let suit actors who usually play the giant robots do CGI motion capture instead?
The Heisei era after the 1990s is divided into two eras. There's the 2000s (2000-2009) and the 2010s which is also coming to an end. These also had the era of where Kamen Rider was basically trying new stuff. I could even say that I end up liking most Heisei era Kamen Rider more than the 2000s and 2010s Super Sentai series -- but that's just me! It was also that time when Kamen Rider Decade during 2009 -- the final year of the 2000s decade while Kamen Rider W ended up adjusting between 2009 and 2010. Later on, Kamen Rider would also adopt the "lighter and softer" after Kamen Rider Kabuto. Kamen Rider Den-O to be followed by Kamen Rider Kiva are both lighter and softer seasons -- maybe only because Toshiki Inoue himself the man behind Jetman and Agito was already running out of ideas! Hmmm and Kobayashi herself was also starting to do lighter and softer even before she would later burn out!
The 2000s was an era of where some old ideas where evolved while others didn't. Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger is the second ninja series. Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger is the second dinosaur-based Super Sentai of said dinosaur trilogy (and still my favorite over Zyuranger and Kyoryuger). Tokosou Sentai Dekaranger eventually combined elements of Metal Hero to Super Sentai such as the rescue police theme, an overarching only villain in Abrella (there was no central organization) though I think it's not that good whenever I watch the Rescue Police series but still good nonetheless. Mahou Sentai Magiranger (and I still freaking hate it) is the third Super Sentai series. Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger as the second kung fu series (and third martial arts heavy series). Engine Sentai Go-Onger is the second comedy Super Sentai series and the third to use automobiles after Turboranger and Carranger.
If there's any attempt at something new as far as themes go -- it'd be Gougou Sentai Boukenger and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. I think both series are really overrated one way or another. I thought about how I didn't really have a good appreciation of Shinkenger (at first) but only for eye candy though it's pretty good but I wouldn't call it the best of Kobayashi's work. I still think Kobayashi's magnum opus is Timeranger. Boukenger is highly popular yet it also has some people who'd like to berate Sho Aikawa. Heck, I don't even think Boukenger is all that great anymore either! Sure, it was fun but are both these shows really that great? I think they are fun but I'd rather avoid excessively praising them either!
This was also the era when Saban sold the contract to Disney and Toei approved of said deal. Why Toei decided to work with Disney (which is now ruining my childhood in several levels with many bland remakes of childhood classics) is beyond me. Power Rangers Wild Force got sold halfway to Disney then we had the Disney super rushed era starting with Power Rangers Ninja Storm, that rather overrated Power Rangers Dino Thunder (presumably due to Tommy) then the Kalish season entered starting with Power Rangers SPD. SPD was proven popular and it was later dubbed by the main five Dekaranger cast in Japan -- but don't buy the lie from the Power Rangers snobs that the Japanese prefer SPD okay?
After Power Ranger SPD -- we had Power Rangers that only lasted up to 32 episodes. So why are these seasons so rushed that it ruins quality? Power Rangers Operation Overdrive can be considered the worst Disney anniversary due to mostly bad acting and being rushed! Power Rangers RPM did have some interesting potential but it got botched up badly with the rush. Then Saban would later get his contract back -- only to cause Power Rangers to get even worse thanks to Nickelodeon's bad scheduling!
I could think about 2010 didn't have a very impressive start for Super Sentai with Tensou Sentai Goseiger. Sure, it's still million times better than Power Rangers Megafarce/fart/fail (or whatever) while I still find it boring on its own -- I even felt Buredoran wasn't really all as cool as the show wanted him to be. I even feel why did the Michiko Yokote group of writers fail to come up with a better show considering that they were behind Gekiranger? Fortunately, this was easily remedied with the arrival of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. While I do still like the show and I did rewatch it during after Megafarce ended the worst way possible -- I just hate it whenever it gets excessive praise or gets treated as a "cheat sheet" by some fans of said show.
I think Gokaiger itself was a good remedy with all the nostalgia such as guest stars or the first team that wasn't from Earth. I even felt like saying, "Take that Alien Rangers!" whenever I watch the show. Also, the show managed to do better than Kamen Rider Decade. Sure, it wasn't able to bring everyone back but at least they had real effort to do so! Gokaiger had a lot of good stuff going on and I still think that while I hate the bandwagons associated with it -- I currently think it has to be the best anniversary season in terms of nostalgia. I even think Zyuohger doesn't match up to it IMHO!
I couldn't forget how Kamen Rider OOO started introducing more lighter and softer Kamen Riders and followed in Kiva's footsteps. Most of the post-Decade Kamen Riders weren't as serious and somehow more child-friendly yet still appealing to an older audience. I don't care about what some people say bad about Kamen Rider Fourze -- I'd still put it among the list of shows that I like! Kamen Rider Wizard is for me weak and not even the presence of Medusa's cuteness can save it! Fortunately, we've had Gaim and Drive. For me, Ghost can get boring in some areas and I prefer Kiva over it. Kamen Rider EX-AID had potential but it got rushed and cut down to 44 episodes presumably to make room for the new rescheduling of Super Hero Time. Kamen Rider Build for me was pretty good and weird. Kamen Rider Zi-O for me is better than Kamen Rider Decade and I don't know why some people exaggerate it by saying that, "Build's been gone for only a week and it's gotten this bad!" with the current season!
Super Sentai was also struggling with the idea of "What should we do after Gokaiger?" I feel like Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters was a refreshing start. I'm among those people who actually defend it while I don't want to ride the bandwagon. I think Go-Busters itself has been a good series though Kobayashi herself started showing signs of burnout -- it's almost similar to how Inoue was with Kamen Rider Faiz! Go-Busters was said to have really low toy sales -- so why is Hasbro now focusing on localizing Go-Busters? Then again as much as I like Go-Busters but I wouldn't speak too highly of it -- I'd actually still think Kobayashi's magnum opus is still Timeranger!
Then I thought about the next series where I have some weird opinions on. First, there was Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. Now I wouldn't really and totally agree with Shogo B'Stard's rather negative opinion about it -- said show had really good action scenes! Then there's Ressha Sentai ToQGer which I consider to be the lowest point of Kobayashi's writing career. Fortunately, ToQGer didn't suffer like Fiveman and it even had an award on Railroad Day -- though it's also prone to bandwagons like Gokaiger and Go-Busters. I could appreciate ToQGer better now than I did but like I said -- I can respect what fans think about it as long as they don't shove it down other people's throats! Also, at least ToQGer is nowhere near the level of burnout as Lynn writing Ninja Steel!
I think Ninninger and Doubotsu Sentai Zyuohger are actually so-so. While I do love to joke about how Ninninger is "better" because of Fuuka and Kasumi -- but I'd actually hammer Ninja Steel more because of Victor and Monty! Zyuohger itself had some potential then it was ruined with Zyuoh the World. I guess that's why Zyuohger suffered from such terrible ratings.
At the same time, I think the 2010s also brought what I consider to be the era where I can't help but ask, "Is Power Rangers going to die any time soon?" The whole problem is that one Neo-Saban show after the other is just so terrible. Power Rangers snobs even want to now spread an obvious lie that Power Rangers Samurai is "preferred" over Shinkenger -- which again is a lie because Samurai is THAT berated even in its home country! Then we have Megafarce which is now considered the worst anniversary season ever. Oh, should I even mention that Ninja Steel has succeeded in becoming even way worse than Ninninger? Ninja Steel is so berated even by Power Rangers fans! Hmmm but I don't want to talk too much about Power Rangers Dino Charge except that it's already showed signs of Lynn burning out!
Then we have the final two Super Sentai series for the Heisei era under the watch of Motoi Sasaki. While Toei tends to do some theme repetition but at least they aren't riding on too many hypes -- not unlike the Neo-Saban era that's still stuck with Mighty Morphin' in several levels!
Ucchu Sentai Kyuranger may not exactly be perfect but I don't want to give it such a low score. Sure, one could go ahead and accuse Lucky of being a "Gary Stu" or "show stealer" (in my case, I call him Lone Starr in Red Spandex) but I thought he was actually developed with the others as he develops! A good example is how Tsurugi brought out the best of Lucky. Sure, he did get some massive power-ups though I feel like he's actually more tolerable than Daigo of Kyoryuger. The team didn't split up and if you think about it -- he didn't beat the real Don Armage by himself! He and his team were actually together to put an end to said villain! I know it can be that hyper but I don't think the whole "Yosha Lucky!" thing is anything that cringe-worthy either!
Then we have Kaito Sentai Lupinranger vs. Keisatsu Sentai Patranger. I just feel bad that the toy sales were really that low last August 22, 2018. It's really coming to an end any time soon! I would still think about how Lupinranger vs. Patranger will stand in the long history of the Heisei era.
Now it's only a matter of time before a new era of Super Sentai will begin. So what's going to be the next era called?