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Posts Tagged ‘Sentai’

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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