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Posts Tagged ‘Power Rangers’

(Left to Right): Mia, Mike, Jayden, Kevin, Emily

As I started to get more into Super Sentai, it was inevitable that I would want to try watching Power Rangers again.  And as luck would have it, around the same time my interest in the sentai series started to grow, there was a new Power Rangers series coming out in the US: Power Rangers Samurai.  So needless to say I did check it out.  I hadn’t watched Power Rangers for years before this but even so I felt that the show really didn’t change much (well aside from better filming equipment) from when I was little.  Same corny action sequences, same cheesy dialogue and terrible voice over work, and same cheesy acting.  But otherwise it’s still a fun and enjoyable show.  And of course, it got me interested in it’s sentai counterpart, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger.  It wasn’t until this week that I took a peek at Shinkenger (mostly due to watching other sentai series).  The curiosity was further sparked when I read a review of Power Rangers Samurai that said its first episode was derived from the third episode of Shinkenger.  To me, that doesn’t make sense.  That’s two missed episodes that could’ve given back story for each of the characters, shown how they came together, shown the dynamic of the team, and so on and so forth.  So without anymore hesitation, let’s do a bit of compare and contrast on these series.

 

(Left to Right): Mako Shiraishi, Chiaki Tani, Takeru Shiba, Ryunosuke Ikenami, Kotoha Hanaori

First up, Shinkenger.  The series starts off with the lord of the Shiba clan, Takeru as he fights off a few demonic creatures.  His guardian, Hikoma Kusakabe (usually called “Jii” by the Shinkengers) senses that the seal the past samurai put on the Gedoushuu will be broken soon and warns Takeru that they should start searching for the other 4 samurai.  Not wanting to rely on the help of others, Takeru refuses but eventually agrees.  Hikoma fires an arrow that acts as a beacon and relays a message to Takeru’s 4 vassals that the time has come to gather.

 

The first two episodes take time to establish each character, their personalities, and how they work together.  Anything after these two episodes just gets into specifics about the characters, though technically episode 2 is specific to Kotoha (we learn why it is she’s fighting and what she hopes to gain).  Episode 3 is specific about Chiaki.  Episode 4 is specifically about Mako and Ryunosuke.  And episode 5 is specific to Takeru.  For this, I’m going to stick to episodes 1-3 of Shinkenger.

 

Here’s the basic breakdown.  Episode 1 dealt with the awakening of the Gedoushuu and the gathering of Takeru’s vassals.  We’re shown why they had to come together, why it is they come together, and how they work together in battle.  It’s a basic introduction.  Episode 2 gets more into the team dynamic.  Everyone works hard to improve their skills as a Shinkenger, except Chiaki who continuously has trouble.  And we also learn Kotoha’s reasons for being Takeru’s vassal.  Episode 3 deals with Chiaki’s skills as a samurai.  He’s tired of being the weak link on the team so he leaves for a while in order to hang out with his friends.  Unfortunately doing this results in his friends being injured by a Gedoushuu and he finally realizes the price he has to pay in order to fight these creatures.

 

And episode 3 is where Power Rangers Samurai starts off.  Even watching this episode the first time, I realized it was an awkward way to start a series.  The rangers are all together training and Mike just leaves because he feels like he doesn’t measure up to the rest of them.  He goes to the arcade to meet up with his friends and talk things over with them (without mentioning that he’s a Samurai ranger) when a Nighlok attacks.  The friends try to run away and get Mike to go with them but he runs towards the Nighlok.  Looking like they’re going to go after him, the friends take a step forward but are thrown back by the Nighlok’s attack.  Thus allowing for Mike to transform without his friends seeing him (even though he didn’t know they were injured).  The Nighlok overpowers Mike and even overpowers the other rangers when they show up, but has to leave in mid-battle because he’s been away from the Sanzu River for too long and his body’s running out of water.  Mike is taken back and has his injuries treated.  The rest of the rangers tell him it was brave of him to attempt to battle the creature by himself but he has to stay away from his friends and family unless they’ll get involved with the battle.  Now understanding the ramifications of his actions, Mike works hard to create a plan to defeat the Nighlok.

 

I really didn’t expect the Power Rangers version to be a near shot for shot remake of the original episode, but it was.  But the key word is “near” because there are plenty of story differences that make the Shinkenger version of this episode a stronger story.  Let’s forget that you know what you know about the characters from episodes 1 and 2.  Just starting with episode 3, you can see that Takeru is some sort of important figure.  The leader of this group.  And the rest are his subordinates as well as teammates.  We understand that Chiaki never asked to be thrust into this position and tends to be rebellious as well as the weakest link on the Shinkengers.  Upon being scolded and treated worse than the rest of the team, he immediately shirks his duties for the calmer environment of hanging out with his friends at an arcade (mostly to have a way to vent his feelings about Takeru).  Chiaki’s character leaves a much better impression than Mike.  You feel for him.  He’s the odd man out on a team where everyone seems to accept this drastic change in their life so quickly.  He isn’t okay with it.  Mike on the other hand is surrounded by people who completely support and try to help him.  Instead he just runs away from that.  No one’s making fun of him or humiliating him.  No one’s ordering him around.  Jayden isn’t the cold and strict type like Takeru is.  Mike just ran away because he was embarrassed when he was given no reason to feel that way.  He ran away because they needed him to run away to keep the story rolling.

 

Skip ahead a little further in the episode and we get the scene where Chikai/Mike is hanging out with his friends and they’re attacked by a Gedoushuu/Nighlok.  The scenes themselves are nearly identical, but as similar as these two scenes are, the one that leaves a stronger impact is still the Shinkenger version.  While talking through his problems, a Gedoushuu begins attacking the area.  Chiaki’s friends want to run, but Chiaki wants to prove that he’s still worthy of being a Shinkenger.  His friends try to stop him when they see him transform in to ShinkenGreen and are shocked.  They keep watching on but only see their friend keep getting more and more injured.  In order to try to see if he’s okay, they make themselves known to the Gedoushuu (accidentally) and open themselves up for attack.  We find out later that they were injured so badly that they’ll be in the hospital for 2-3 weeks.  Similarly in Power Rangers Samurai, a Nighlok attacks while Mike is talking with his friends.  The friends want to run away but Mike goes into battle the Nighlok.  The Nighlok attacks right as Mike’s friends try to stop him so they don’t see him change into the Green Samurai ranger.  They get injured as well but instead of staying in the hospital, they’re back playing video games that same day.

 

Here’s why the Shinken version is much stronger.  This moment where the friends are put in danger is suppose to be the moment where the audience realizes that it’s absolutely necessary that these rangers don’t hang around their loved ones anymore because they can’t risk putting them in danger.  Chiaki’s friends are injured enough that they’re hospitalized for a few weeks.  He’s even scolded by the rest of the Shinkengers for his actions.  This is his fault that they’re in the hospital.  He knows it’s his fault.  Seeing the cost they had to pay for him being around them, Chiaki realizes that he has to stay away from them for the time being because he doesn’t want it happening again.  Chiaki acted selfishly and the people he cared for paid a price for it.  We see that.  We feel that.  And we sympathize with him because of that.  In Power Rangers Samurai, this issue is just whisked over rather nicely.  The rest of the team call Mike “brave”.  They try to cheer him up like there was nothing he could’ve done in this situation.  Clearly he knew the ramifications beforehand because when Jayden tells him not to see his friends or family again because they could be in danger, Mike says he knows that.  Which means he knew that this situation was his fault.  And to top it all off, his friends (though still injured and bandaged up) are back at the arcade smiling and playing games like nothing ever happened.  Am I supposed to believe that his friends were really in that much danger?  They clearly weren’t phased by the incident.  Aside from some scraps and scratches (and maybe an injured arm since one of them had a sling), they’re back to their regular selves.  And if they can recover so quickly from a traumatizing incident like that, then what danger are they really in if they know their friend is a samurai ranger?

 

Now let’s touch base on the team dynamic a little bit.  In Shinkenger it’s set up with Takeru as the leader and the rest of them are his subordinates.  Sure they can be friendly with him, but for the most part he’s always addressed as “lord” and even when they do their roll call, the others do not address themselves as “Shinken”.  Rather they say “The same” plus their color and their name (unless Takeru isn’t there when they do their respective roll calls).  When in his presence, they must kneel before him and not place themselves higher than him.  Is it a written rule that they do so?  Not really, but they respect him and so they show their respect for him by doing this.  In Power Rangers, the team dynamic is less clear.  The fact that we don’t know their back story creates this lack of clarity.  Are they friends?  Did they know each other before having to fight together?  What were the circumstances when they first met?  Is Jayden a “lord” like Takeru?  All we can see from their team is that they’re friends or at the least they’re friendly with each other.  I understand the desire to make a team behave as a cohesive group, but even groups suffer from problems.  They’re not perfect right off the bat.

 

Before I get into nitpicking details, I have one last bit to address when it comes to story and what makes it stronger.  This comes from Shinkenger episode 4 and Power Rangers Samurai episode 2.  In these episodes, we have a scenario where a Gedoushuu/Nighlok makes a deal with a child.  If the child gives up his dream of playing baseball, he’ll bring the child’s loved on back to life.  With the Nighlok, the child was just told to give up the dream so he just threw his baseball equipment away and when he finds out he’s been lied to, it’s too late because the garbage truck takes it away.  While it’s sad to see a child cry because he thought he was going to get back something that’s been lost, he could’ve easily asked his mother to buy him new equipment or gone to his game and borrowed something from the coach.  Throwing away a bat and mitt isn’t exactly giving up a dream.  In Shinkenger however, the child throws away his bat and mitt and begins climbing high on scaffolding.  He won’t tell the Shinkengers why he’s doing it but the Gedoushuu promised that he would bring his grandfather back if he made it so he couldn’t play baseball in their game.  So the child jumps.  Deliberately jumps from high up on scaffolding down to the rough ground where he injures his legs.  Once he finds out he’s been lied to, that makes this scene much more depressing.  He sacrificed his safety just to see his grandfather one more time.  Not only is that not coming true, but there’s no possibility of him playing baseball for quite some time.  He literally was willing to give up his dream in order to see his grandfather again.

 

And as much as I promised myself that I wouldn’t nitpick details, there’s just some concepts that can’t be overlooked.  For example, the usage of kanji by everyday high school students.  Americans knowing Japanese isn’t a far fetched concept.  I know a little myself.  But when I say a little, I do mean a little.  Whatever I’ve learned in two semesters of Japanese classes and taught myself is what I know.  It’s not a common occurrence to just find kids that know Japanese.  So not only is it awkward to see this “symbol power” be used in the series, it’s made even more awkward that it’s rarely explained what these “symbols” mean.  In Shinkenger that’s understandable.  The show was made for a Japanese audience so of course they know the language.  What American child watching Power Rangers Samurai knows that the helmet designs are the specific characters that they write when they transform?  That Jayden’s is “fire”?  Or Kevin’s is “water”?  Of course we understand their abilities and we can figure out what it is they write by what happens afterward.  But what about when Jayden used his power to show the kid playing baseball a memory of his father?  Without that explanation, we would’ve never known that was a memory.  As an audience, I suppose we’re supposed to pick up on what the symbols mean based on what’s going on in the series but I know that being the curious person that I am, I just sit there wondering what the symbols mean.  Until I started watching a subtitled version of Shinkenger, I was left to guess what they mean.  They don’t have to work it into the episodes.  But perhaps they could do a little lesson after the episode where a new kanji is taught each time.

 

So which series is stronger?  Shinkenger.  Putting aside all the nitpicking, Shinkenger’s story’s just better developed, the character’s personalities and back stories are better developed, and the team dynamic is more realistic.  Granted Shinkenger had two episodes that built up back story while Power Rangers Samurai plunged head first into the issues.  But those two beginning episodes were key in learning about the characters and getting familiar and attached to them.  Regardless, I still like Power Rangers Samurai.  You could say it’s one of my many guilty pleasure series.  But put it up against it’s sentai counterpart and it’s no contest.  Shinkenger is the stronger series.

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Okay, admittedly I’ve only finished 5 series and am slightly introduced to a few others through the crossover specials or watching a few episodes of it (Boukenger, Dekaranger, Shinkenger, and Goseiger).  So I’ve just barely skimmed the surface of the sentai universe.  Still I have my favorites of what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard and their roll call phrases are no exception. These are just my favorite ones not one that I think are the best or anything along those lines.  So just take them as my honest opinion.

 

In all honesty…these are all coming from either Gekiranger or Go-Onger.  Those two shows had some of my favorite introductory/roll call phrases to date.

 

Rinjuu Chameleon-ken, Mele

5. Rio sama no ai no tame ni iki…Rio sama no ai no tame ni tatakau rabu woriaa.

“For Lord Rio’s love I live…For Lord Rio’s love I fight as his love warrior…”

 

Seriously, Mele’s phrase is just sort of funny.  You know why she’s doing what she’s doing.  You know what she expects down the road as a reward for her hard work.  Does she ever get Rio sama’s love?  It’s unclear at times but it’s hinted that she does in the Gekiranger/Go-Onger crossover (the crossovers don’t seem to be canon so I’d take that with a grain of salt).  It’s a bit unfair that I’m adding this on the list seeing as Mele really isn’t a sentai but in a way she kind of is since she and Rio switched sides at the end of the series.  All in all, it’s a cute, fitting phrase for this “warrior of love”.

 

Go-On Green

4. Doki Doki Yukai!

“Heart Pounding Delight!”

 

Personally I like it ’cause the phrase itself is adorable plus the character (Hanto/Go-On Green) makes it more adorable.  It’s cheery, describes Hanto’s role on the team perfectly, and it’s really fun to say.  Plus it just makes me smile.

 

GekiBlue

3. Waza ga irodoru tairin no hana…Fantasutikku Tekunikku!

“The great blossom colored with technique…Fantastic Technique!”

 

The Gekiranger phrases are just some of my favorite.  Purely for how poetic they are and GekiBlue’s phrase is probably the most poetic of all of them.  It’s reference to his technical abilities and skills as a fighter as well as his technical abilities as an artist.  It sounds delicate and beautiful but most of all…you can’t say that “fantastic technique” isn’t really fun to say.

 

GekiRed

2. Karada ni minagiru mugen no chikara…Anbureikaburu Bodi!”

“Infinite power flows in my body…Unbreakable Body!”

 

While GekiBlue’s phrase is very poetic, GekiRed’s phrase is very powerful and inspiring in another way.  It’s very literal.  For Jan, he has infinite power in his body and usually in the series they’re speaking about physically (especially due to ending it with “unbreakable body”).  But this “power” can be taken in many other ways as well.  Physical, mental/emotional, spiritual…everyone has power flowing in their body and the ability for it to become limitless is there if we allow it to be.  Perhaps the physical strength isn’t limitless but psychological strength is.  I’m sure that’s why this quote tends to stick with me a bit.  And if I listened to myself and took my own advice more, I’d probably be saying this quote more just to remind myself that it’s true.

 

Go-On Gold

1. Break Genkai…

“Break the limit…”

 

It’s short.  It’s sweet.  And it’s to the point.  It’s another one of those phrases that’s just going to stick with me because it’s like a mantra that you could take into real life as well.  Just try to surpass your limitations.  There’s really nothing more to be said about that.

 

So that’s it for my favorite phrases.  What are some of yours?

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One of my favorite components of the sentai series are their costumes.  The costumes of the villains as well as the costumes for our heroes.  Sure they’re just adults fighting in spandex outfits but who cares?  Some of them can be downright amazing.  Most of these are going to be from series that I’ve seen already but a few of these are from series that I’ve never watched.  I’m not judging the sentai for their abilities, but rather solely on the design of their costume (both the helmet and the actual spandex suit).  Which is why I’m adding in characters from series that I’ve yet to watch.  Also, there’s going to be a few multiples from the same series.  I’m not judging the group’s costume design as a whole, but rather just individuals based upon color combination and helmet design.

 

Blue Swallow from Choujin Sentai Jetman

10. Blue Swallow (Jetman)

 

This is a series I haven’t seen, however one look at the outfit and I did fall in love with it.  Perhaps it’s because blue is one of my favorite colors but it’s not fair to say that’s the reason.  What I do know about Jetman is the bird motif their costumes are supposed to reflect.  While each of the costumes has a similar design patter, their color combinations and/or cut of the outfit don’t look right.  The male costumes look a little awkward and the colors for White Swan look a tad bit awkward (with the pink leggings instead of white like the rest of the team).

 

Blue Swallow’s blue, white, and yellow combination is beautiful and her helmet wonderfully reflects her animal, the Swallow.

 

HououRanger from Gosei Sentai Dairanger

9. HououRanger (Dairanger)

 

Pink is not one of my favorite colors, but goodness!  Is her costume not gorgeous?  The helmet detail is a bit small to make out on the image there but you can see it better here.  Lovely gold and black detail.  I feel like the skirt aspect of the female sentai outfits give their costumes a little more to look at than the male costumes.  The only thing that sets her costume a part from the other members of her team are 1) color combination (and the pink, gold, and white is beautiful), and her helmet design (which reflects a phoenix) which is sleek, detailed but not so much that it looks cluttered, and beautiful.

 

AbareMax from Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger

8. AbareMax (Abaranger)

 

Now I said that generally I prefer the female costumes over the male ones but that isn’t always the case.  AbareMax is pretty much a secondary variation of AbareRed.  The Abaranger costumes alone are fairly dull.  Really it’s just their respective color plus white (or for AbareBlack, his color plus gold).  But AbareMax’s suit is just fun.  AbareRed (Ryouga) can change into AbareMax when he’s given enough “Dino Guts”, which he usually get’s from AbareYellow and AbareBlue so the colors change from red and white to red, gold/yellow, and blue.  While I’m not sure how mixing the Dino Guts of a Tyrannosaurus, Pterosaur, and Triceratops creates a Styracosaurus, it doesn’t matter.  This suit is just awesome.

 

AbareKiller from Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger

7. AbareKiller (Abaranger)

 

Yet another Abaranger suit and while I’m generally a sucker to detail and colors, AbareKiller’s outfit is just a simple black and white with gold trim.  It’s sharp, clean and sleek.  As for the helmet, it’s simple, has a small motif that reflects his Bakuyuu (a Tupuxuara named Top Galer), and the design of the section that allows for visibility feels sinister.  Having red be there instead of the black sunglasses look the other helmets have could be the reason why.  If there’s any outfit that perfectly matches the personality of the person that it goes with, it has to be AbareKiller’s…well it matches his personality well before he decided to be good anyways.  Either way, it’s an epic suit.

 

Legend MagiBlue from Mahou Sentai Magiranger

6. Legend MagiBlue (Magiranger)

 

Tough choice between her legend form and her regular form but the sucker for detail that I am, I had to go for legend form for a few reasons.  Firstly, no cape.  The capes themselves are nice and flowing but they don’t need to be there.  Secondly, the boots, the gloves, and the chest/shoulder armor.  While I don’t really care for them on the other suits, somehow it works with MagiBlue.  Something about the blue and gold combination…I like it.  And thirdly, the helmet itself.  I was already a sucker for the mermaid fin design it has.  But I find myself really liking the dorsal fin at the top.  The only part of the legend helmet design that I don’t like is the back of it.  That aside, it’s still a gorgeous suit (though if I were to ever attempt cosplaying her, I’m sure I would just go for regular MagiBlue…capes are useless but they’re also fun and flowing).

 

Gokai Silver from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger

5. Gokai Silver (Gokaiger)

 

I generally like the 6th ranger costumes and his is no exception.  Love the anchor design on the helmet.  The yellow as the section for visibility just looks awesome.  Not to mention it looks like one of the world’s coolest pairs of goggles for some reason.  While I might not be a fan of gold accented with a little bit of silver, I am a fan of silver accented with a little bit of gold.  Plus a silver and black color combination is just something that I love (as it will show up a bit later on in this countdown).  Aside from his helmet, the actual cut of his suit is no different than the rest of the Gokaigers  So when it comes down to which Gokaiger suits I like best, the only factors I can judge are helmets and colors.  Speaking of which…

 

Gokai Pink from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger

4. Gokai Pink (Gokaiger)

 

Like I said earlier, pink is not one of my favorite colors, but I just absolutely love Gokai Pink’s suit.  And like with Gokai Silver, this really comes down to the helmet design.  The helmet’s just adorable with that heart design on the front.  And the pink with that bit of a pirate hat design is just too adorable for words.  When you think pirates, I’m sure the color pink is the furthest thing on your mind but in Gokaiger they make it work.  It’s sweet and feminine, just like the character behind the suit (Ahim) and somehow I fell in love with it just for that.  In fact I’d have to say that it’s this suit alone that makes me like the color pink more that I did before.

 

Shinken Gold from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger

3. ShinkenGold (Shinkenger)

 

It’s interesting…I was introduced to this character not though watching Shinkenger but from watching Power Rangers Samurai.  As soon as he entered the series, not only did I fall in love with his character, but his suit as well.  Never did I think that I’d like the combination of gold and navy blue but then again I do think that gold and blue is a beautiful color combination.  I must admit thought that mostly this outfit appeals to my love of all things shiny (seriously…do you see how amazingly shiny that fabric and the helmet is?), but really I do love the colors and I love the helmet design.  Great suit for a great character.

 

GekiViolet from Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger

2. GekiViolet (Gekiranger)

 

Out of all the series that I’ve watched so far, my least favorite suits have to come from Gekiranger.  They’re just bland.  Nothing special to them until they go into super geki mode.  But still they feel bland.  And then Gou was introduced.  And once he was able to transform (well into a sentai and not a werewolf…that was cool too though), we see this.  And my first thought was “It looks like a hockey uniform but who cares it’s awesome!” or something like that.  It’s a great change of pace from the dull two toned suits the other 3 rangers had.  While his helmet looks more feline than wolf-like, it’s still a very awesome design.

 

Go-On Silver from Engine Sentai Go-Onger

1. Go-On Silver (Go-Onger)

 

Again, this is another one where it came down to color and helmet design.  Like her brother (Hiroto/Go-On Gold), they both have a similar suit design save the helmets themselves.  But the silver and black design is more aesthetically pleasing to me.  And as for the helmet, I much prefer the design of Miu’s over the cross one for Hiroto.  This is pretty much that appeals to me on all levels.  It appeals to my love of all things shiny, it’s clean, sleek, has beautiful colors, is simple yet detailed, and easily reflects the pilot theme that the Go-On Wings needed to have.

 

And thus concludes my list of my personal favorite sentai outfits.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Is there anything that you would’ve wished to see on the list?  Or what are your favorite sentai/Power Rangers suits?

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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.)

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When I was little apparently I really liked Power Rangers.  I honestly don’t remember liking it all that much.  I remembered the cheesy dialogue and the over the top action sequences.  Particularly the characters being kicked or slashed and sparks flying from their clothing.  And I remembered believing that that was ridiculous and stupid.  Every now and then when a new Power Rangers series would come out, I might take a peak at an episode or two but it wasn’t something that was on the top of my list of series to watch.  And over time I learned Power Rangers was derived from a series in Japan, but I never bothered to take a look at it because I thought it wouldn’t interest me either…until now.

 

While anime is what we primarily watch at my college’s anime club, there’s a good number of members that are avid fans of tokusatsu series.  Primarily Kamen Rider and Super Sentai.  The vice president happens to be one of them.  So when the series, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger came out, he was first to announce it to club.  And when he’d downloaded the first episode, he made it a priority to show it to us (after watching a Ranma 1/2 movie).  Having the first thing I saw be a massive war between the Zangyack and all 199 Sentai was…amazing.  Well that might be an understatement as I was unaware that that’s how many warriors there were.  The only group that I was completely aware of were “Mighty Morphin'”, which would be Zyuranger.  And I was only mildly familiar with others.  But that wasn’t what hooked me.  No, no…there were two other components of the episode that caught my attention far more than that massive war.  First was the ranger concept itself.  Not only do the Gokaiger team transform into their pirate-esque ranger outfits, but they have the ability to change into and use the abilities of any of the other 34 sentai teams.  Not to mention that I fell in love with the Gokaiger costume design.  And second…if there was anything in the world that could illicit a simultaneous response of confusion, shock and awe from everyone in the club (in the form of shouting out “What?!”) it was a football turning into a garbage truck.  Even 2-3 months later, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one.

 

As for Kamen Rider, I’d attempted to watch the Masked Rider series that America had.  I forgot which one it was but I know it wasn’t on the air for too long.  It just didn’t strike my fancy.  I was only aware of Kamen Rider due to the avid fans our club had, but I never sought out to watch any of the series myself.  Well not too long after watching Gokaiger, the same person who introduced me to that showed me the newest Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider OOO.  Not so much showed me an entire episode but rather the more interesting parts of the first episode.  Such as a fight sequence to a slowed down (rather creepy) version of “Happy Birthday” and Eiji’s henshin and fight with a Praying Mantis yummy.  Also the theme song.  I’d heard it a few times before that.  “Anything Goes” by Maki Oguro is probably one of my favorite songs now.  It struck my fancy enough that I eventually decided to watch it on my own.  And I suppose the two things (other than the song) that kept my interest were the henshin sequences and the different combinations and abilities Eiji has depending on what medals he uses, and the character Ankh.  I’m very intrigued by his character and need to see how his character develops over the series.

 

While I haven’t moved on to watching other Kamen Rider series just yet, I have gotten around to viewing other Sentai series.  Hyakkujuu Sentai Gaoranger, Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger…I’ve finished both of those.  And am watching Engine Sentai Go-Onger, Mahou Sentai Magiranger, and Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger off and on when I can.  Heck, I’ve even started watching Power Rangers again.  I still find it just as corny as ever and since blood is never shown, the violence is just laughable, but (depending on the series) it can still be enjoyable.

 

So how did I, at 22, just get into these series?  For a few reasons.  Firstly, the costuming.  Though I rarely think of myself or call myself an artist, I’m easily fascinated by artistic things.  And Super Sentai and Kamen Rider have very elaborate costumes.  Sometimes beautiful.  Sometimes hideous.  Always intriguing.  It awakens that inner sewer/costumer/cosplayer in me.  And I just wonder how it is they make them.  Secondly, the characters.  They tend to be developed in such a way that I become emotionally invested in them.  Even if I previously didn’t like them.  And thirdly, it’s just fun.  For the first time since going to an art school, I can really just look at a series and the story, sit back and say “You know what…none of this makes sense and I don’t care.  I just don’t care ’cause it’s awesome”.  I get this strange feeling that the creators of these series put in the proper amount of care and not giving a darn.  Because at certain points in any of these series I feel like there’s so much insanity going on that clearly no one cared about logic (or gravity really).  But the insanity is so amusing that I don’t even care that the logic fails at times.

 

And thus I’m successfully changed into a fan Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.  As a newbie to the series and the genre of tokusatsu, I’m hoping to explore this fandom more.  I just wonder how my anime club is going to deal with our new found love of Gokaiger at the start of the new semester…

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AKA: The “Old news is old” post.

 

I’m sure someone somewhere took this title the wrong way.  And I’m sure that same someone would comment claiming that I’m being racist without reviewing the content of this post.

 

The first time someone pointed out the “racism” of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers I must have been in fifth or sixth grade.  I don’t quite remember but the grade I was in shouldn’t matter.  I don’t know how the conversation started but a classmate of mine chimed in about how the Black Ranger in Mighty Morphin’ was black and the Yellow Ranger was Asian.  As a child, I’d never made that connection before, but this classmate pointed this out I was laughing and a bit shocked that I hadn’t made that connection earlier.  Being raised with a father who’s always pointing out racial connections in society (even when they don’t exist), I’m surprised I didn’t catch on to the Black Ranger conspiracy at least.  The connection between the color yellow and Asians was something I was taught much later in life and to this day I still don’t understand it.

 

I’d learned that Power Rangers was based off of a Japanese series around the same time but since I didn’t have any interest in the Power Rangers franchise at that time, I didn’t watch the Super Sentai series or think about them until…well now.  And so this (rather silly) realization hit me recently…”In Japan…the Yellow Ranger’s always Asian”.  Depending on what sort of person you are, you’ll either find this incredibly offensive or absolutely hilarious (or neither).  But before you decide you’re going to hunt me down with pitchforks and torches, hear me out.

 

Was it really a racist decision that an Asian played the Yellow Ranger?  Or that a black person played the Black Ranger?  Do you know for sure that the people making casting decisions sat around a table and turned down people of other races just because they wanted to put an Asian in the place of the Yellow Ranger and a black guy in place of the Black Ranger?  Had no ordinary people decided to complain about this supposed racist connection, the actors would have stayed the same, no one would have noticed, and the Power Rangers could be left to save the world from evil.  Which brings up another question…what exactly was racist about the decision?  Colors are just colors.  They have no power.  But if you want to give a color the power to be “racist” then far be it from me to stop you.

 

If colors are the driving force of power behind this racist claim, why has no one called sexism since girls always play the Pink Ranger or because a girl has never been the Red Ranger (even though Power Ranger’s Samurai should have a female Red Ranger since Samurai Sentai Shinkenger’s leader was a female)?  Stop reading a message that a show isn’t presenting.  It seems to me that this is just another way people look to the media for something to complain about.

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(Stop here if you don’t want anything to be spoiled!  Because these series have been out for years now, I will write up full descriptions on both episodes and compare and contrast them.  If you dislike/hate spoilers, I recommend that you stop here.)

 

Mahou Sentai Magiranger Episode 1 Description:

 

The episode opens up with a little girl with her mother buying a balloon.  As they leave the shop and begin walking down the street, the girl bumps into a man and her balloon goes flying up into the air.  The man apologizes to the girl and tries to figure out what he can do to get her balloon back.  In the meantime, humans are being spied upon by strange creatures that are living in a hellish underground land.  These creatures are plotting to take control of/destroy the earth (as most evil creatures do).

 

Cut to a scene of a family at home.  Two brothers, two sisters and their mother.  They have a third brother, but he had said that he was leaving early for soccer practice.  They’re all sitting around eating and chatting when one of the sisters (Houka) asks her mother (Miyuki) if she believes in magic.  Miyuki smiles and denies believing in “such childish things”.  Houka then asks her sister (Urara) if she can turn on the TV.  A newscast is on and the journalist is frantically reporting about how there is a man climbing high up on a flagpole.  The family scoff at this man before they realize that this man is their brother (Kai).  It turns out he’s just trying to get the balloon back for the little girl.  After a short brush with danger, Kai’s two older brothers (Tsubasa and Makito) drag him away from the cameras for him to be scolded about how reckless he was being.
While the family walks home a strange light circle (think a more detailed version of the transmutation circles in FullMetal Alchemist) opens up on the ground and a large beast appears from it.  The siblings are clearly shocked while the mother utters a soft “Well I knew this day would come…”.  They all run for it, except Miyuki who faces the beast head on.  She takes out a device (the MagiPhone) and says an incantation and transforms into a magical warrior.  With the power of ice/snow, she defeats this beast while her children watch on, eyes wide and mouth agape.

 

Well when they get back to their home, she tells her children that she’s a magician and she was bestowed with powers from the Heavenly Saints.  Her children have magic abilities as well and to aid her in this war against evil, she bestows four of her five children with different outfits (matching their respective elements) and MagiPhones to give them the power to transform into the Mahou Sentai (Magic Task Force/Squadron) Magiranger.  They’re sent out on their first mission when Miyuki feels a dark presence nearby.  The four who have been given magical abilities go off on their mission while the fifth, Kai, argues with his mother about why he did not recieve a MagiPhone.  She recalls his recklessness earlier in the day and says that he did not display the maturity enough to be a Magiranger just yet.  Once he learns the difference between recklessness and courage, then he will receive magic.  Angered, Kai storms out the door.

 

Cut again to the four other siblings in the forest facing down with a group of evil creatures.  Knowing what they have to do, the repeat the same incantation that they hear their mother using earlier in the day and transform in to the Magirangers.  They fight the creatures and defeat them in large groups using their respective abilities.  Meanwhile, Kai is watching on from behind a tree, in awe of the abilities that his brothers and sisters have been given.  But in front of him a stronger power emerges.  Dark Magic Knight Wolzard appears in front of him, stares him down for a few seconds (sending fear through Kai’s heart) then heading towards the Magirangers.  Wolzard attacks them and injures them.  Kai wants to save them but is too frightened to move.  As Wolzard begins to strike his sword at the Magirangers, Kai gains the courage to intercept the attack by kicking a can at him to distract him.  Kai then runs in front of the Magirangers and tries to protect him.  This redirects Wolzard’s rage at him and Wolzard strikes his sword down at Kai.  Before the sword can make contact, a bright light and object appear in front of the sword’s path and protects Kai from it.  It’s a MagiPhone and Kai uses it to transform into MagiRed.  With the power of fire, he’s able to defeat the drones that Wolzard summons.  With the drones defeated, Wolzard summons his dark horse Barikion and transforms into WolKentarous, a giant centaur creature.  The Magirangers stare upwards at WolKentaurous, wondering how to defeat it.

 

Power Rangers Mystic Force Episode 1 Description:

 

The episode opens with a view of a dark battlefield and a narrator relaying the story of the past to the audience.  A story of a war between good and evil and the battle so save the earth from this evil influence that was trying to enter the earth.  The warriors of the past, the Power Rangers Mystic Force, sacrificed themselves to seal off the evil influence underground.  And thus, the earth was saved, but humanity never knew of this close brush with danger that they almost had, nor do they know of the danger which is to come…

 

In the present day, a boy on a motorcycle almost arrives at the town he’s supposed to go to.  He’s staring off in the distance and grins and continues on his way.  Cut to a couple of teens working together at some sort of shop.  Having fun, and cleaning up the shop when all of a sudden an earthquake hits.  Each person goes for shelter and cover from falling items.  In a short matter of time the earthquake is over with, but it seems this earthquake has some sort of effect on the magical barrier that keeps evil sealed off from the rest of the world.  It causes a crack that releases evil back into the universe.  One creature is seen spying on the human race and reports that the human world is everything they imagined and more.

 

After the earthquake, all the teens continue doing what they want to do.  Either eating, listening to music or goofing off, when they see an old man asking for help.  He claims that his friend has been taken by a creature into the woods.  None of the people in the town want to help him.  They all look at him with cold expressions when finally one person chimes in that he’ll help.  It’s the boy who was on the motorcycle (Nick).  As he’s new to the town, they assume that he doesn’t know about all the rumors about the forest, but he does.  He just doesn’t believe in them like the other people do.  He just sees that there’s an old man who needs help finding his friend and wants to offer his help.  Eventually one girl (Vida) offers her help and another boy (Charlie) enthusiastically offers his help.  They’re about to enter the forest when a car drives up.  In the car are Vida’s sister, Madison, and another boy (Xander).  They decide they’re going to go with them as well.  So the five of them enter the forest and pass through some sort of barrier.  Only one of them seems to notice it.  The old man that was with them mutters “So now there’s five…” and his body is enveloped in this white light.

 

The five teens keep walking only to realize that they’ve lost the old man.  Instead they run into a person that’s cloaked in black and seems menacing.  They flee from this person only to be attacked by some other creatures.  The person in black saves them from the creatures by conjuring brooms that fly them away from danger.  The brooms drop them near a large tree and the person in black appears before them again.  This time they duck inside the mouth of a dragon-looking root and the mouth closes.  They turn around to realize they’re inside some sort of secret base.  The person in black finally takes off their cloak to show that she’s a beautiful woman clad in white.  She explains that this is some sort of alternate dimension to the human world and they were brought there because they were chose to be the Power Rangers Mystic Force.  The Mystic Force is needed to battle an ancient evil that was unsealed via the earthquake in the human world.  The only one who believes her is Charlie, who’s into magical things.

 

The woman who introduces herself as Udonna gives the teens magic wands and tells them to keep them on them at all times.  Then a sorcerer in training, Claire, walks in and she’s a bit of a klutz.  Her spells fail and she trips over herself and is bumbling, but she happily greets the teens as a new evil appears in the land.  Udonna tells the teens not to leave there until she gets back.  Of course they don’t listen to her.  Not only do they leave, but they leave the wands inside the base.  Udonna figured that they would leave, and when they leave they see that a village is destroyed.  A group of weaker evil monsters appear before them.  Udonna tells them to take out their wands, but they tell her that they left them in the base.  Udonna has no choice but to transform to into her ranger form and fight off the stronger of the beasts.  She tells the others that they still have magic within them.  They just have to believe that magic is real.  Charlie is gung ho for this and completely believes magic is real.  In this instant, electricity appears and defeats the creatures in front of him.  He excitedly relays to his friends that all they have to do is believe in magic and they’ll have the power to defeat the creatures.  Each of them believe and they use their respective elemental abilities to defeat the creatures.  Nick however tries to believe in magic, but it just doesn’t work for him.

 

Udonna defeats the last and strongest of the creatures and commends the teens for their help.  Charlie, Xander, Vida and Madison all agree to be Power Rangers, but Nick refuses.  Sad to see him refuse, Udonna has no choice but to let him leave.  She calls Claire (who’s turned herself into a ewe via a spell gone wrong) to show him back through the forest.  As their backs are turned, watching Nick leave with Claire, Udonna and the rest of the teens are attacked from behind by Koragg the Knight Wolf and this is where the episode cuts off.

 

Compare and Contrast:

 

The first thing I noticed…the one thing I could actually look past was the fact that Mystic Force caters heavily towards those who are into the stereotypes of witchcraft/magic.  The brooms, magic wands, and mystical lands.  There is a strong distinction between what is real worldly and what is from this mystical land.  While that distinction exists in Magiranger (the MagiPhones are from the Heavenly Saints), the gap is a lot smaller.  Looking at a preview for a future episode, I did notice the phones in Mystic Force as well, so via my usual curiosity I sought out information on the phones in relation to Mystic Force and learned that the wands are later transformed into phones.  Which is interesting.

 

In terms of Magiranger, the series seems more down to earth.  It’s family centered.  Where the mother is passing down her power from herself to her children.  And there is a family bond there.  The characters in Mystic Force are predominantly either unknown to one another or they’re just friends.  The only family element comes from the sisters Madison and Vida.

 

Magic is also used differently between the series.  In Magiranger, courage is the fuel that makes magic work and Kai cannot use magic because he does not fight with courage initially.  Rather he fights with recklessness that he mistakes for courage.  Once he learns what true courage is, his abilities are fueled and he is able to transform into MagiRed.  Whereas in Mystic Force, magic can only be used once the user fully believes in magic.  Nick claims he believes in magic, though his inability to use magic proves that he does not believe in magic.  I can only assume that eventually he believes in magic wholeheartedly and is able to help defend the other teens.

 

But the main thing that sticks out to me between the two series is the pacing of the episodes.  Magiranger gets right in there and hastily explains the back story a little bit.  It goes from the family being a regular family to all of a sudden being attacked by a creature and Miyuki revealing that she has been bestowed with powers from the Heavenly Saints and her children have magical abilities as well.  And the children all mystically know how to use these abilities before being taught anything.  In Mystic Force, we are introduced to the past battle and are told that this evil power existed in the past and previous tried to take over earth.  But were sealed away.  This gives the audience a basic idea of where the series is going an allows for a steadier pacing.

 

So which series comes out on top so far?  Surprisingly Mystic Force.  While the dialogue in Magiranger was ten times more manageable, I can’t over look the fact that I was hit over the head so quickly with all this information.  Some easily digestible, some not so much.  The characters in Mystic Force might be over the top and a bit cheesy as is the dialogue, but the pacing of the episode was steady and even.  I wasn’t hit quickly with too much information in a short period of time.  Plus the narrated introduction did wonders for setting up the story.  So far, story wise Power Rangers Mystic Force comes out on top.

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