So how did my Super Sentai fandom start?
Actually, I’m not really sure when I first saw a Sentai show on TV. But I think I was about 6 or 7 years old when first saw some random episodes of a Tagalog-dubbed Hikari Sentai Maskman being broadcast on IBC 13 in the Philippines. Seeing the show’s dynamics made me really curious and gave a few outstanding first impressions:
- Five civilians who become silky-colored suits and weird-looking helmets wearing ‘heroes’ when transformed. “This ought to be cool”; I said to myself back then.
- Monsters becoming giants when they are seemingly killed by the Shot Bomber/Jet Cannon only to become a giant afterwards. How in the world is that possible???
- Giant robots that finish off the giant monsters. As they say, the good always wins over the bad.
- Most of all, Japanese actors speaking tagalog?!? It actually took me a very long time to realize that Filipino voice actors only dubbed the entire show and none of the Japanese actors speak the language. The dubbers even went as to change the Maskmen’s names (Takeru – Michael Joe, Akira – Adrian, etc.) which probably helped reinforce my misconception.
So Maskman was the very first Sentai series I ever watched. It was shortly followed by Bioman, Turboranger, Fiveman and Jetman. Sometime after Jetman concluded, no other series followed as the franchise was replaced by Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in all Philippine TV networks. It made me think that Jetman was the last Sentai series and the franchise folded after it ended.
It was only last year when I realized how wrong I really was.
I really love browsing through Wikipedia articles. That’s why one day, I typed in ‘Maskman’ on the sites’ search bar. When I read the article’s introduction, I found out that Maskman was the ‘eleventh entry of the Super Sentai Series’. This came as a bit of a shock to me as I absolutely thought that Sentai ‘lasted only for a few years before it was totally replaced by Power Rangers’. I then clicked to Super Sentai’s main Wikipedia article and was even more surprised that the franchise has already produced 35 seasons to date! I then went on to check the chronology of the seasons to particularly find out what series came after Jetman, which was a seemingly obscure show called ‘Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger’. I said to myself; “Why haven’t I seen this one before?” Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link to read the show’s article.
What I saw totally blew my mind.
The first one I looked at was who the Zyurangers are. As I read on, I saw entries like ‘Tyranno Ranger, Tricera Ranger, Ptera Ranger and Dragon Ranger. These designations really reminded me a lot of MMPR and I just had to find out more!
Below is an image I found at the Zyurangers Wikipedia page that immediately made me a Super Sentai convert:
After seeing it, I remember viewing and sharing this video on my Facebook. I even referred to the Zyurangers as the ‘Japanese Power Rangers’ back then:
I then continued my Wikipedia browsing. Reading through various related articles made me realize that Power Rangers was really not a purely American-made franchise that was inspired by Super Sentai, but Power Rangers IS Super Sentai. Haim Saban and the other people responsible for PR only borrowed stock footage from Sentai seasons starting from Zyuranger to combine them with scenes from American actors and create a whole new story. Very creative, indeed!
But no matter how clever or copycat-ish (depending on your perspective) the creation of Power Rangers was, it still doesn’t change the fact that all original materials and majority of the concepts come from Super Sentai. Japanese actors also portray their roles a lot better than their American counterparts IMO. Furthermore, Sentai writers are more versatile when it comes to making an effort to connect with their audience (mostly kids and young adults). The only advantage IMO PR has over Sentai is having English-speaking actors. But that’s exactly why TV-Nihon was created.
To date, I have already watched and finished the following series (in order):
- Hikari Sentai Maskman
- Chojin Sentai Jetman
- Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger
- Gosei Sentai Dairanger
- Mirai Sentai Timeranger
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger
- Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (Episode 47 and counting)
Note: I really hope that SOPA won’t stop me (and everybody else for that matter) from watching previously-aired Sentai series. I’m certainly hoping and praying that this matter will be resolved very soon.