Now I’m new to both franchises. New to Super Sentai as I was just introduced to it earlier this year via Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. New to Power Rangers because although I grew up watching the original Mighty Morphin’ and sporadically watched some of the others (I believe I saw a bit of Turbo, SPD, and Ninja Storm) and never followed any of the series closely. I just started getting back into it with Power Rangers Samurai. In fact, I don’t really remember all that much about Power Rangers except for what I’ve watched recently. But there are basic differences between the execution of both franchises that make me prefer the Sentai versions over Power Rangers. While I’m not saying that Power Rangers is bad, and in fact I would really like to rewatch Mighty Morphin’ as well as watch some of the other series that I didn’t see a lot of as well as keep up with Samurai (which I haven’t been able to do since I’ve been in LA…even though there’s a fully functioning TV with cable in the dorm room…I just didn’t realize that it had cable until about a week ago), I tend to prefer Super Sentai.
Now the first thing I saw Super Sentai wise was the first episode of Gokaiger. And when the first thing you see in an episode is 199 sentai all fighting in a war together, you’d think that would be a tough act to follow. Somehow it wasn’t. A war between the Zangyack and 199 sentai was just the starting point for the whole series. Then within the course of 22 minutes you get introduced to a group of space pirates wanted and on the run from the Zangyack traveling to Earth to find the greatest treasure in the universe. You find out the captain of this crew’s name is Marvelous. Luka’s walking around with a bunch of money she got from selling a ring, a curry shop gets destroyed by the Zangyack and that’s just the beginning. Once the fighting begins you realize that these space pirates are not only their own task force, but they can transform into any of the other 199+ rangers that came before them, they transform about 3 times in the course of one fight, once using a move where they’re using a football that can transform into a garbage truck, suck up it’s enemies, and then drive itself away. All during this time, there’s an over the top announcer who announces all the different transformations as well as the “Final Wave” attack. So needless to say I was dumbfounded. As a person who generally values some level of logic, I couldn’t find any here. And thus I learned a lesson that may prove to be very valuable in life…logic just isn’t everything.
There is a level of “we don’t care” in this show that I didn’t think could be rivaled by anything. I was wrong…very, very wrong. There’s scenes in a good amount of the series that I’ve watched so far that can keep me in stitches and/or left wondering “What is this…?!” Now when I say “we don’t care” I don’t mean that these writers and producers are coming up with terrible crap that should never see the light of day. On the contrary…I find the lack of logic 24/7 to be really refreshing. I believe that Super Sentai is something that should just be enjoyed to its fullest without having to worry about what’s going on all the time. Believe me…you’ll never know. Even though the football into a garbage truck thing can be explained away (there’s apparently a play in football called the garbage truck and the attack was a play off of that), it’s still incredibly illogical. And I love it for that. I’m also not saying that Super Sentai is always illogical.
In the long run, despite the insanity that can go on, the series end up being rather logical. Not in a “ah this makes complete and total sense” kind of way but rather in a “Okay, I see how this is all gonna go down” sort of way. Take Mahou Sentai Magiranger for example. The series had two running themes. Courage and the bond between family. And still crazy stuff went down in the show. Houka gets turned into a vampire, Houka and Kai end up having their bodies switched via a creature called Toad who breaks a wart on his body and sprays them with some disgusting chemical (that sounded even more disgusting in writing than it did when I was watching it), Urara is terrified of frogs yet has to kiss one and he ends up being a Heavenly Saint named Sungel…random stuff. At least it’s random to me. That’s besides the point though. You really end up feeling for these characters. The decision to have courage as a tool for gathering strength is a great lesson for children (and adults as well) and having a team that was a family unit is powerful as well. The bond between family is supposed to be an unbreakable one and so many times either parents or children break that bond for a reason that’s either good or ridiculous. Or rather they attempt to break the bond. Really it’s a bond that can’t be broken as much as you would like to try.
What I really like the most about Super Sentai though is that while it’s still a show that children can watch, it doesn’t treat them like they’re unintelligent or try to pander to a crowd by being “cool” or up with the times. For this I’ve got to use Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger and Power Rangers Jungle Fury. I’m dreading watching Jungle Fury only because of what I’ve seen with the henshin sequences. While this is an unfair assessment, when I compare it to Gekiranger you can clearly tell that when they made Jungle Fury they’re pandering to that pre-teen/young teen group by pretending they know what’s cool and what kids like and they changed things accordingly. The henshin device in Gekiranger was a glove like object called GekiChangers. Obviously the objects remain as part of their outfits when transformed so their role in Jungle Fury changed. Instead the “henshin” object in Jungle Fury are…sunglasses. While none of these transformation objects will ever make sense logically, using sunglasses was a clear way of pandering to a younger audience to be “cool”. They weren’t necessary. Really they just needed to use the same “GekiChangers” (although the name would be different) and the show would have the same effect. But then I guess it wouldn’t be “cool” without the sunglasses. Not to mention the grace and poetic feel from the the Gekiranger role call could not be achieved in the Jungle Fury role call. I find that to be a bit of a shame really. It’s more beautiful to describe their abilities via poetic language (AKA: “Infinite power flows in my body…Unbreakable Body! GekiRed”) rather than to dumb it down (AKA: “With the power of a tiger! Jungle Fury Red Ranger!”).
Not to mention that as much as the violence is poorly staged, at least when the characters in sentai series get injured via knives, swords or other sharp objects or just due to lots and lots of trauma to the body, they bleed. And the reality of this standard for shows geared towards kids/pre-teens in American shows hit me when watching Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger and the death of AbareKiller. Tell me if this is something you would’ve seen in Dino Thunder (as the series has been out for a few years this is not a spoiler and if you treat it as such that’s your fault for reading past this point)…In finally understanding his worth as a person as well as the worth of people around him, Mikoto rejects the evil presence within him that’s been protecting his life to this point even in situations that would surely kill a person. The “Dino Guts” that he gains acts as poison to this evil presence and it is driven out of his body. As the other Abarangers are going to greet him, he turns to smile at them. Then you notice the trickle of blood stream down his mouth. You start to see other wounds opening on his body, all the wounds that he gained during this past battle and possibly from earlier ones and as he wears predominately white clothes (aside from his shirt), you just see blood trickling down all his body before he collapses. The other rangers want to help him be Mikoto realizes there’s really no time left. He’s going to die one way or the other because not only is he bleeding to death but his Dino Minder which has been weak throughout the entire series is finally going to explode. Coming to his aid, his Bakuryuu partner (Top Galer/Topugeira) retrieves him and takes him far enough away from people that the explosion of the Dino Minder wouldn’t cause them any harm. The last thing Mikoto ends up saying is that he never really wanted to die and that his situation right now is ironic. And Top Galer accepting his connection to Mikoto tells him that he would never leave him. There’s then a few moments of silence before the Dino Minder explodes, killing both AbareKiller and Top Galer. Over the top? Obviously. But you can clearly say that they would never do something like that even of a lesser magnitude in Power Rangers.
I feel Power Rangers tries to hard to be logical with source material that isn’t the most logical. And it doesn’t work that well. But to it’s credit I do have to say this. For the most part, the way their stories are set up are easier to understand. Most times the story in a sentai series doesn’t come together until the very end and sometimes you can be very let down (I’m looking at you Hyakkujuu Sentai Gaoranger…). You have a hard time following what’s going on or why this random new person just comes out of nowhere (this time looking at you Engine Sentai Go-Onger…where the deuce did the Go-On Wings come from?! Same for you Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger…AbareKiller came out of seemingly nowhere). The presence of and stories behind these new people aren’t explained until a few episodes down the road. Whereas I find the story line in what I’ve seen and/or remember of Power Rangers to be a bit more linear and thus easier to understand (even though Power Rangers can be a little random too). I could be proven wrong in the future, but for now I’m sticking with that sentiment.
This is just a matter of preferences and while I may prefer sentai over the American counterpart, that doesn’t mean that I don’t find Power Rangers to be fun to watch too. While I prefer a show that doesn’t go overboard with the pandering, depending on which season (and which company’s working on the series), they can be equally as fun to watch.
(Sidenote: And while I’ve finished Magiranger and started Mystic Force, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t complete Mystic Force. So that’ll be the first Power Rangers series on my list to complete. I created a comparison of the first episodes of both series a while back and would like to complete a full review/comparison of both shows to one another. Just for kicks.)