Millions and millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the Deboth Legion arrived on Earth with the sole intention of wiping out all life on the planet. Fortunately, the divine birdman Torin grants a group of dinosaurs supernatural power to fight off their enemies and seal them away in the polar icecaps, and after the battle is done, he seals the spirits of those dinosaurs within special, and coincidentally battery shaped, capsules so that if the Deboth Legion ever rises again, those powers will be available to new heroes. Thus, in the modern era of humanity, when the Deboth Legion awakens and resumes their work, Torin recruits a band of humans and pits them against the power of the dinosaurs so that they can become the Kyoryugers!
( Some spoilers inside )
When the Black Magma Machine Empire emerges in the North Pole and targets Japan for it's rich geothermal power, the Guardians of World Peace assembled a three-man team to be equipped with the most advanced technologies of the day to face this threat. Together, the members of that team are known as the Solar Squadron, Sun Vulcan!
Airing in 1981, Sun Vulcan is the fifth entry in the Super Sentai franchise, and being such an early-on entry, they were still figuring things out, still trying out new things. That's the only explanation I can come up with as to why the team is comprised of three men, no women at all. This is not to say that there is no female presence on the show, but I'll discuss that in depth down below. The other big experimental feature of this show is that it is a follow-up to the previous year's sentai, Denshi Sentai Denziman!...At least, nominally it is a follow-up; while one of the main villains is the Big Bad of Denziman, Queen Hedorian played by the eternally brilliant Machiko Soga, outside of one brilliant two-parter the show doesn't really use this fact, and furthermore never even brings back the Denziman team. It just strikes me as very odd.
( So, how does the no-women team work? )
The year is 2012 of the Anno Novi calendar, and modern life is supported by a new, clean energy known as Enetron. However, in the parallel universe of Hyperspace, the terrorist organization Vagras seeks to steal as much Enetron as it can to fuel its campaign of conquest and subjugation of humanity. 13 years ago the computer virus Messiah, the leader of Vagras, attempted to take over the Transport Labs and use its resources to consume the Earth; in desperation, the researchers inject their children with a vaccine program to empower and protect them, and transport them out of the lab before the entire facility was transported into Hyperspace to prevent Messiah’s victory. Now, in the present, those three children have grown up, and together must battle against the sinister Enter, agent and executer of Messiah’s will.
From the very start, Go-Busters presents itself as a very different show from its predecessors; the heroes are government agents in the mold of super-spies with cameras and binoculars that double as guns and knives, their suits are made of a pleather material rather than spandex, the giant robot battles are conducted with far more intensity and effort than has been seen in a long time, and the villainous cast is extremely small, most of the series being comprised only of the CGI-and-voice Messiah and face-actor Enter, and there is the later addition of Escape, herself also a face-actor as opposed to a rubber-suit as has been the norm. Combined with an overall more grounded tone and approach, this was a show that I was very excited for and intrigued by.
( Reality ensued, some spoilers regarding the ending. )
The Super Sentai for 1992, The evil Witch Bandora and her cronies are accidentally set free after being sealed away for 170 million years. Bandora wastes no time in setting about on getting her revenge upon the Earth in general and on children in particular. Fortunately, the ancient tribes that had sealed her away in the first place took precautions, and thus five of their greatest warriors revive to defend the Earth from Bandora's attack.
Zyuranger represented a significant change in how Sentai was done; before Zyuranger, every Super Sentai was a soft sci-fi show with a heavy military emphasis, even in those shows where our heroes do not work for the military or other government agency. There were mystical aspects here and there, but Zyuranger was the first show to fully embrace the factastic and mystical, drawing heavily upon folklore, mythology, and fairy tales to inspire and inform its episodes. This direction even extends to the giant robot of the series, DaiZyuJin, which is no mere robot but is in fact the Patron God of the Zyurangers and the source of all their powers.
Oh, and Zyuranger was also used as the source footage for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Just wanted to get that out of the way.
( How does the Dinosaur Fantasy fare? )
The Super Sentai for 1986, the Reconstructive Empire Mess has set its sights on Earth, intent on using our world as a weapons lab to create the ultimate life-form with which to conquer the entire universe. All that stands in there path is the Flashman team, five young adults who as children were abducted from Earth and were rescued by the aliens of the Flash system; raised and trained on strange worlds, they possess the powers and technologies needed to defend the Earth.
( Read more... )
Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is an "unoffical" super sentai, a thirteen episode series that parody's and lampoons just about every aspect of the Super Sentai franchise, skewering cliches and riffing on all the myriad conceits of these shows. It is a show that is directed at the older fans, teenagers and adults who continue to watch a children's show about spandex super heroes fighting rubber-suit monsters who stomp about in a cheap Tokyo set, and so each episode carries a warning that "Good little boys and girls don't watch this show", partly because of risque content, but mostly for breaking the illusion of Super Sentai's reality.
I really can't go into this show in much detail, because it's the kind of show that you have to experience for yourself, but as someone who's become a big fan of Super Sentai, who has been involved in the fandom and all it's myriad works, I can safely say that this show nails everything perfectly, it gets everything about Super Sentai and the people who continue to watch it well into their teens and twenties absolutely perfectly. It's just...it is unbelievable where this show goes and what it says, and it actually does have real commentary to make. It is just really good, go watch this show, preferably after you've familiarized yourself with Super Sentai if you haven't already, but seriously, watch it.
The post itself is too long to be brought over to livejournal, so here's the dreamwidth link.
( 20. Engine Sentai Go-onger )
( 19. Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger )
( 18. Tensou Sentai Goseiger )
( 17. Choudenshi Bioman )
( 16. Hikari Sentai Maskman )
( 15. Choujin Sentai Jetman )
( 14. Gogo Sentai Boukenger )
( 13. Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger )
( 12. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger )
( 11. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger )
( 10. Gosei Sentai Dairanger )
( 9. Samurai Sentai Shinkenger )
( 8. Mirai Sentai Timeranger )
( 7. Chojuu Sentai Liveman )
( 6. Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger )
( 5. Kyukyu Sentai GogoV )
( 4. Seijuu Sentai Gingaman )
( 3. Juken Sentai Gekiranger )
( 2. Dengeki Sentai Changeman )
( 1. Mahou Sentai Magiranger )
Seiju Sentai Gingaman was the Super Sentai series for 1998; 3000 years ago, the Baluban space pirates showed up on Earth, intent on ravaging, pillaging, and eventually destroying it to turn it into a highly valuable gemstone. Fortunately, they were defeated and sealed away by the Gingaman team, a group of warriors from the Ginga Forest able to channel the power of the Earth through their bodies, along with the Star Beasts. But in the present day, as the 133rd warriors are being named, an earthquake breaks the seal on the Baluban pirates, releasing them but not their Demon Beast Daitanix, the creature that carries them from world to world and destroys them as they leave. Our heroes are soon forced to leave behind the Ginga forest and enter the outside world to defend it from the evil Captain Zahab and his motley crew.
Oh, and only the first 27 episodes have been subbed and there are no episode summaries for anything after that.
( Thoughts on the inside. )
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is the 35th anniversary series for the Super Sentai franchise, and Toei decided to go for broke on this one; the opening minutes of the first episode are about The Legendary War, a huge battle in which the preceding 34 Super Sentai band together to fight off the Zangyack Space Empire, ultimately sacrificing their powers to destroy the entire invading fleet. An indeterminate time later, the Zangyack return, led by Walz Gil, the idiot son of the emperor in what should be an easy mop-up operation. What they didn't know was that the Gokaigers, a band of space pirates who've been the greatest thorn in their side for some time, have also arrived on Earth in search of the Greatest Treasure in the Universe, said to be as valuable as the whole rest of the universe put together. And the Gokaigers are armed with the Ranger Keys, the embodiment of all the myriad super sentai powers, with which they can turn into any Super Sentai hero at any time they want.
This was also the first Super Sentai that I was able to watch from the very beginning, following each episode as it was broadcast, participating in the fandom, discussing episodes, and have my own feelings on the show develop and change over a year long period of time. Therefore, my review for this series is going to be a bit more in depth than has usually been the case.
( Read more... )
Burning rescue Spirits!
Rescue Squadron GoGoV!
The year is 1999, and the celestial grand cross, the positioning of the planets in the solar system such that they form a giant cross with the Earth at the center, is imminent. The Saima demon clan, the children of the Grand Witch Grandienne, awakens and wreaks havoc upon the Earth in preparation for the resurrection of their beloved mother. In turn, the Tatsumi siblings are summoned by their long lost father to fight the demons, arming them with the technology and weapons that he'd spent ten years creating and developing in secret for them, turning them into the Rescue Squadron GoGoV!
Unfortunately, it is the case that only nine episodes of this series has been subbed, and while there are detailed episode summaries available, it just isn't the same.
( Fortunately, the awesome shines even without subs. )
This is the opening narration to every episode of Chojuu Sentai Liveman, the Super Sentai series for 1988. At Academy Island, established by the U.N. to gather the best and brightest to develop new technologies for space exploration, three decide that the masses are unworthy of their genius, and so defect to the evil Great Professor Bias's (pronounced bi-ah-su) Brain Army Volt. In the process, they kill two of their fellow students who tried to stop them, the mutual friends of our three heroes. Years later, as the fruits of Academy Island's ambitions are about to bloom, the three traitors return to destroy everything, having cast away their humanity long ago. Our heroes have also been preparing for this day, and so have developed the technologies and weapons necessary to fight for all life on Earth, becoming the Megabeast Squadron Liveman!
( Intrigued? Read on. )
The 25th Super Sentai, Hyakuju Sentai Gaoranger is a very heavily merchandise driven series; Hyakuju in fact means "One Hundred Beasts", so the fact that only 24 or so Power Animals are actually used in the show could be considered a sign of restraint on the part of the toymakers. Another way the merchandising manifests is that for the most part the Gaorangers do not address each other by their civilian names, but by their colors, much the way a small child who's not paying all that much attention to the character bits would probably do so anyway.
( More thoughts behind the cut. )
You know that asteroid that hit the Earth sixty-five million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs? Well, suppose that instead the impact caused a dimensional rift creating two copies of Earth; Dino-Earth, where the dinosaurs survived and evolved into Burstosaurs alongside humans known as the Dragon People, and Another-Earth, our world. Unfortunately, Dino-Earth has since been conquered by the Evoliens and reduced to a barren desert wasteland, and now the Evoliens turn their sights on Another Earth. A lone Dragon-Man warrior makes his way to our world and recruits three young people with the sufficient quantity of Dino Guts to become the Abarangers!
( Thoughts inside )
Ultimately, Abaranger is a series that strives to be very different and works because of that.
Gosei Sentai Dairanger is a heavily Chinese martial arts themed series with each character practicing a distinct martial art, the uniforms looking like martial arts uniforms, the red ranger's dragon mech is able to transform into a very light and agile staff fighter while the combination mech is patterned after a Chinese warrior and so on and so forth. Also, the main three villains wear leather bondage gear. Interesting.
Gosei Sentai Dairanger has also not been completely subbed so for the last fifteen episodes I can only glean the more obvious plot points.
( It is still very worth it. )
In summation it's a very good show, and I just wish that the whole series were subbed so that I could enjoy it even more.
The Earth is under invasion by the barbaric Gaiark Machine Clan, a group of robots from another dimension led by the Earth Pollution Minister Yogostein (Yogos meaning pollute), Air Pollution Minister Kitaneidas (Kitanai meaning foul), and Water Pollution Minister Kegareshia (Kegare meaning impure). They thrive on pollution and have decided to wreck our world to make it better suited for them, but fortunately for us, Engines from the Machine world followed them to our world in hot pursuit, a bird-car named Speedor, a lion-bus named Bus-on, and a Bear RV named...BearRV. Upon arrival they teamed up with an idiot race-car driver named Sosuke, a fussy mother-hen bus driver named Renn, and a cheery concession girl named Saki to defend our world. Oh, and the Engines can only stay in their giant forms for up to ten minutes in our world; the rest of the time they are divided into Engine Casts, which are conveniently the size of toys, and Engine Souls, which can be plugged into a variety of items for different effects. Also, the Gaiark ministers forget to formally declare their invasion until the third episode.
As you might have gathered from the above, Engine Sentai Go-onger is a very silly, very merchandise driven series. But is it good?
( Thoughts inside. )
In summation, there is a moment where one of the villains exclaims "You mean the Red One's three times faster than me!?" If that does not strike you as hilarious or at least amusing, this is not the series for you.
Five hundred years ago the Bio Robo arrived on Earth and showered five young people with Bio Particles, that they might one day save the Earth from the fate which had befallen the Bio Star. Now, the year is 1984 and the evil Dr. Man, ruler of the Neo Empire Gear, has begun his campaign of conquest. In response, the Bio Robo and its caretaker Peebo awaken and gather the five descendents of those who'd originally received the Bio Particles and charge them with becoming Biomen to save the Earth!
Note that the version I watched was the English dub that was broadcast in the Philippines, which in addition to changing many of the names was also hilariously awkward for the first several episodes. However it is not a deal-breaker and certainly could have been far worse.
( Thoughts inside. )
Unknown to the world,
Striking at evil from the midst of shadows!"
Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger!
The super sentai for 2002, Hurricaneger does not boast the most impressive or enticing of premises; three young people are at the bottom rung of the Hayate Ninja School, but when the evil Jakanja Space Ninjas arrive and kill all the other students, their mentors have no choice but to make them into the legendary Hurricanegers so that someone can defend the Earth. However, the devil is in the details, so how do those details add up this time around?
( Very well, as it so happens. )
So on the whole, its a very good show, one that should not be overlooked and overshadowed.