By Christopher Dichosa / January 23rd, 2016
Ever since the first episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, I have had an infatuation with transforming super heroes wearing cool looking helmets and colorful spandex. My interest in the Power Rangers declined after Power Rangers Turbo, but my interest in Toei’s Super Sentai Series has grown.
To many of my adult friends this is very confusing. They don’t understand why I would choose to spend time watching Super Sentai and are baffled why I would spend my hard earned money on Super Sentai merchandise. One of the most awkward situations I’ve encountered is when I was wearing a Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger logo t-shirt and I ran into an old school friend shopping with her kids. Her son commented on how I was wearing a Power Rangers Super Megaforce shirt and I just awkwardly smiled while, another peer gave me that “you still like Power Rangers look” I have often experienced.
I’ll save more awkward situations with old high school friends for another time, right now I would like to share why I love Super Sentai.
Remember how pumped you’d get when Jason (or later on Rocky or Tommy) would yell, “Its Morphin’ Time!” You knew that’s when things were about to get real and in Super Sentai it’s even better. By far, my favorite part of every Super Sentai episode is the henshin (transformation) and roll call. Ten times out of ten it will get 29 year old me reciting the lines along with the Sentai. I get pumped up for the fight scene that is about to occur and I know the bad guys are going to pay for whatever scheme they tried to pull this week. There isn’t any other show that gives me this feeling. Sometimes I’ll get a similar feeling while watching One Piece, when Luffy is about to go off, but it’s not close to what I feel when a Sentai Team henshins and roll calls. I encourage all of you reading this editorial to search for a Sentai henshin and roll call video on YouTube and let me know what you think.
Now I like anime, however one of the things I hate the most about anime is how (at least in the anime that I have watched) right when things are about to get good the show ends on a cliff hanger to the next episode. You then watch the next episode and the previous conflict is resolved in the first five minutes and the rest of the episode is designed to build up to the next cliff hanger. Now, there are two-part Super Sentai story arcs from time to time, but for the most part in a 20 minute episode you’ll get a completely self-contained story in which the Sentai will beat the bad guy two times. Currently after a long week of work and school, watching the newest episode of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger helps me unwind and prepare for another long week without me having to wonder how the Ninningers are going to get out of a sticky situation or how AkaNinger is going to save the rest of the Ninningers from a certain bad guy.
Fight scenes are essential for an action genre and there are no better choreographed fight scenes on TV or film than the fight scenes you will see in episodes of Super Sentai. Executing choreographed fights without a helmet on is difficult and perhaps that is why most action movies these days just feature car chases, car crashes, gun fights, and explosions. I have nothing, but respect for the suit actors that put on helmets and spandex to do back flips onto the hard ground in close proximity to fire and explosions. I love how fun it is to watch these fights scenes each week and I admire how much creative thought is put into the choreography to give each transformed hero their own personality and fight style.
Speaking of personality, the characters in a Super Sentai Series are not as well-adjusted as their American counterparts. Some of the Sentai happen to be awful at being super heroes. Don Dogoier of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and Tokatti of Ressha Sentai ToQger are the first examples that to come to my mind. They’re both not good at fighting compared to the rest of their respective teams, but both refuse to give up and work hard to carry their own weight to help their teams. There have also been characters that care more about chasing girls, having fun, or attaining wealth than saving the world. There’s even an entire Sentai Team that only cares about finding the universe’s greatest treasure rather than saving the world, which is something I don’t believe you’d ever see on the American show.
Another thing you won’t see on the American show, is the show making a joke about itself. The Super Sentai Series is not afraid to poke fun at itself. There are episodes where the bad guy will be on the ropes and the team will remember they haven’t done their roll call yet. The team will then stop the fight and proceed to do a roll call before finishing him off. In other episodes, the team will defeat a bad guy in his regular form and then a team member will make a comment about how it’s time to defeat the bad guy in his giant form, or make a comment saying that maybe this time they’ll only have to beat him once. My favorite moment of the show poking fun at itself takes place in Ressha Sentai ToQger vs. Kyoryuger: The Movie. The Sentai Teams do their roll call and after that a villain claims it’s their turn and goes into his own roll call. He waits for the other villains to do a roll call only to be dismissed and ignored by the other villains. I love how the show isn’t afraid to poke fun of itself and tiny jokes like that can make a mediocre formulaic episode memorable.
Lastly, I love the year-long feel trip that these teams send you on. You spend a year getting to know and growing with these characters and then they go away to make room for another team. Another team that at the beginning you will probably hate because they’re nothing like the last team. The time spent watching the team is extremely rewarding and I can pinpoint times in my life that correspond with what Super Sentai Series I was watching at the time. For example, when I was feeling burnt out from taking 19 college units I was watching Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger revolt against the Space Empire Zangyack and when I was exchanging flirty text messages with a girl way out of my league I was watching Tokukemi Sentai Go-Busters.
Thanks for reading and I hope to bring more toku related content to the site. There are many Super Sentai and Kamen Rider series that I have yet to watch backlogged with a lot of other media and when I’m finished I’d like to share my experience and opinion on them with all of you.
Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me (@chrisxcrucial) with your favorite Super Sentai Series and what you love about the show.
EditorialPower RangersSuper SentaiToei CompanyTokusatsu