Super Sentai's Main Cast Members' Action Scenes VS. The Suit Doubles' Action Scenes
This week's Ryusoulger reminds me of where the main cast of heroes would boast of their fighting abilities out-of-suit. Nobody can deny that Super Sentai (and also Metal Hero, Kamen Rider, and Power Rangers) have those kinds of scenes whenever the plot calls for it. However, we can't also deny that stuntmen are necessarily there to perform the more dangerous scenes too!
Here's a behind-the-scenes with Tatsuya Kishida and his suit double Yasuhiro Takeuchi. The most common out-of-suit fight scenes are always rangers vs. foot soldiers but not-so-much on rangers having a prolonged fight with the monsters-of-the-week. The drill paper-wise seems to start the fight out-of-suit then don the suit when stronger enemies appear, right? Though, it's not always every episode that happens because these scenes should only be inserted for the plot.
Super Sentai's violence may have been reduced since the dawn of stricter censorship but it doesn't mean the cast doesn't get bruised in the process. Stuntmen enter for a reason such as doing the more dangerous stunts that the main team can't do. A good example is the scenario is when a ranger-in-suit vs. villain fight happens. Most of them are pretty dangerous. The main cast may have been trained to fight but they don't do the more dangerous parts themselves.
How is stunt work done for the suit actor? Here's what Anime Secrets has to say about suit acting way back in 2014:
The more obvious task of a suit actor is rigorous stunt work. Seen in the currently airing Kamen Rider Gaim, Kazuraba Kouta’s actor Sano Gaku is able to do an array of stunts and tricks on his own. However, for more difficult tricks, and often for scenes involving vehicles, the suit actors are utilized.
There was a time where the main actor did perform their own stunts as much as they safely could. Fujioka Hiroshi, better known as Kamen Rider #1 filled the roles of both actor and suit actor. It was a very dangerous venture at the time, especially during scenes involving the high-risk use of motorcycles, due to the little to non-existent line of sight in the suit. He has been quoted saying that he had to “rely on intuition” when performing these stunts with limited visibility.
In today’s tokusatsu, such a feat is rarely heard of unless the actor in question is also a trained suit actor. With that said, this generation has brought in a plethora of talented suit actors fit for the job. In addition, while suits still provide only limited visibility, there is a marked improvement from earlier incarnations.
It can be seen that while the cast themselves can kick ass on their own. However, suit acting has very LIMITED visibility. Some seasons end up having the cast use their weapons out-of-suit (such as Zyuranger which started said trend) while we can't deny stunt actors are still involved. Knowing martial arts doesn't mean that the person can automatically do suit acting. Some fight scenes are that intense such as ranger vs. villain fight scenes. These risks involve higher altitude jumps and wirework -- something that even the best main cast members weren't probably trained to do in contrast to the suit actors! Wearing the suits must be very tight which makes breathing even more difficult.
Alison MacInnis who was Dana Mitchell in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue also explained the risk involved in stuntwork. She may have done some out-of-suit fight scenes herself (like every Super Sentai or Power Rangers main cast member is required to) while she also mentioned she too got injured. She mentioned that the work of the stuntmen shouldn't be taken lightly. I just cringe when she mentioned a fire stunt gone wrong. Before her, Hiroshi Fujioka injured himself during the time he was in the first Kamen Rider series. Fujioka himself also had a leg injury which proves that you can't take the work of stuntmen for granted! Others like Reina Hazuki (B-Fighter) and Steven Cardenas (MMPR up to Zeo) both had neck injuries too. These incidents show that filming intense action scenes should never be taken lightly!
These dangerous scenes require really good coordination and caution. The stunt doubles should get more recognition for their hard work regardless of what show they're in. If it wasn't for them the dangerous scenes won't be filmed. Let's be thankful for these stunt doubles too for doing their job in doing the more difficult parts for our main cast!