TENSHIN DAA! KIRYOKU TENSHIN AURA CHANGER!
So, I did something I swore I would never do. In fact, I’ve made fun of those who do it. Still, here I am: watching the source material for a Power Rangers series. Through a whole series of events, including a discussion with @suribot about Kamen Rider, I found myself with a LOT of sentai (“task force”) shows at my disposal. This led to me binge watching a 50-episode series over the past three days. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive post, as there are many folks out there who could do a better job summing it up. I just wanted to share a few observations that I had as a newcomer to the genre. The show I started with is called Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which basically means “5-Star Task Force Dairanger”. For you Americans, it’s where most of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season 2 footage came from (Thunderzords, bombs make monsters grow, White Ranger suit, etc).
-Children are about to be executed in the first episode. In the second episode, a monster is stealing the souls of children and putting them in stuffed animals (with special appearance by My Pet Monster). In fact, the subtitle of the series should just be “Kids Ain’t Shit, as they’re either canon fodder or assholes in this show.
-Cursing is allowed! Most monsters utter “Damn you!” right before detonating the bomb that makes them grow, Pink Ranger was called “bitch” a few times, and “That’s fucked up!” was uttered near the end of the series.
-They don’t even find all the KiDen Beasts (zords) until episode 7. They don’t form a Megazord until about episode 10. Great way to build suspense, but that’s no way to sell toys! Also, zord battles are actually less exciting than in America. Many of them take place over a silent background, so there’s no awesome music to get you jazzed up. They also end rather quickly.
-Saban had to come up with some crazy excuses in order to use some of the monster footage (why the Hell would Rocky be addicted to Pachinko?!). It’s even more odd to see how these monsters were originally presented. One villain is a Japanese preacher (he’s shown carrying a bible), who just says “sex sex sex sex sex!” while branding people either positive or negative with his Degauss staff. He then turns into a magnet monster. Another monster is named General Kamikaze, who rides a motorcycle with a swastika on the back. And, not only was there a monster made of tofu, but it also enjoyed EATING tofu. This same monster’s power was to make everyone crazy drunk. He challenged the Blue Ranger to a sake drinking contest and LOST! Another monster is a cactus disguised as a child molesting gas station attendant who turns kidnapped little girls into dolls. Double. You. Tee. Eff.
-It always seemed dumb that the Rangers ONLY wore clothes the same color as their ranger color. Turns out that’s done in Japan, too. In fact, a few of them only seem to have one outfit. Another thing I never understood was “Where do the morphers come from?” Well, apparently, this is a trope of sentai shows. You’re just supposed to suspend disbelief, and understand that they appear when needed.
-Saban always stressed the power of friendship and teamwork, but that’s no so prevalent here. They don’t miraculously work well as a team. In fact, most early adventures get worse because one member or another is late to a fight ’cause he had his own shit to do.
-the whole Kibaranger (White Ranger) situation is a mindfuck. A random 9 yr old boy starts hearing voices, that tell him to break into the Pink Ranger’s apartment. To do so, he meets her, grabs her tit, and then steals her keys. Once inside, he steals the Kiba Changer and goes to “King Arthur” Byakko (Saba, to us), which not only gives him powers but also makes him grow to adult size. Then, he proceeds to just move his shit into her apartment, without telling her he’s the Kibaranger. Did I mention his mom is missing? Well, in order to get him to move out, Lin (Pink) tells him that his mother is waiting for him at Tokyo station. COLD. Of course she’s not there, and he comes back crying. For some odd reason, Lin lets him move into her attic. Where’s CPS in Japan?! For his special attack, he summons a heavy metal band whose sound is destructive to monsters. HONEST. Then an evil 9 yr old, Akomoru, appears and becomes Kibaranger’s nemesis. This becomes very important later.
In the end, I was amazed by how much I came to love this series. The suits grow on you, and I wish that Saban had found some way to use them – I mean, he used the horrible Kakuranger suits for the Alien Rangers, so he could’ve done something here. All of the characters (with the exception of Kazu/Yellow) are extremely likable, and you genuinely root for them. In Power Rangers, I think we all had a favorite, be it Red or Green (seriously, were there others?), but here you root for them as a unit. While they don’t start out as a great team, they evolve into a family. It doesn’t follow the 3-Act monster of the day format, which furthers the ongoing story. Some episodes don’t have a full team morph. Some don’t have zords. But taken as a 50-part whole, it’s an amazing saga. I can’t get the theme song out of my head, and I keep cracking up at saying “Tenpou Rai Rai Balls”. I was TRULY sad to see it end. In recent years, Power Rangers has tried to adopt the annual reboot tradition, but those series have never come close to having as much heart as found in these 50 episodes of Dairanger. I’ve heard that this series marked a turning point in how Super Sentai shows were plotted, so I’d be curious to watch a few that preceded it (ZyuRanger, the source material for 1st season MMPR) as well as some immediately after it, like Kakuranger (MMPR season 3) or Ohranger (ZEO). Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have seen enough to be able to tackle an anniversary season, like Gokaiger! Long story made even longer, I’m hooked! I gotta see more. But there’s no way in Hell I’m doing it over the course of three days again!