Being a really big Super Sentai fan really gives someone a tendency to repeatedly bash the Power Rangers franchise. I’m not gonna lie when I say that scrutinize PR pretty much every time I get the chance. I have a lot of reasons for doing this (most of them will be discussed in future posts) and I know that PR fans out there will most likely do what is expected of them: bash Super Sentai.
But this post has nothing to do about bashing Power Rangers (though I kind of already did >:-D ). I will instead be talking about some personal insights I have about PR based on all the facts I have gathered over the last several months since becoming a Sentai convert. Without further delay, here they are:
1. I absolutely thought that Power Rangers was an original American series that was only inspired by the Super Sentai Franchise.
When I first saw MMPR on TV as a kid, I honestly got hooked almost instantly. Not only did it remind me of my childhood Sentai favorites like Maskman and Jetman, but it was good to see English-speaking characters for a change since most of the Sentai shows I watched back then were dubbed in Tagalog. It was also really nice to see a really cool concept for ‘Zords’ that I have never seen before at that time. Seeing five/six/seven giant robot/animal hybrids combine to become one powerful Megazord was a really awesome way to get every child’s eye become glued to the TV. To put it shortly, I was a huge Power Rangers fan as a kid.
But as I said in my previous post, doing some research about Power Rangers years later really made me think otherwise about the franchise. The main reason was finding out that they were using stock footage and concepts from various Super Sentai series all this time. This, IMO, is probably the worst thing a clueless PR fan will know. No wonder the video quality and resolution of the scenes with the rangers in civilian form was very different from the ones involving the fight scenes and Zord battles.
Notice how the video quality suddenly changes once Jason, Zack, Billy, Trini and Kimberly are teleported to ‘Angel Grove’ in their ranger forms.
By carefully reading her lips, do you seriously think that’s exactly what Rita said? :p
No wonder there were a few times that Rita Repulsa’s words do not match the actual movement of her mouth (Machiko Soga, the Japanese actress who played Rita, was only a face character and did zero work for Power Rangers in the US). No wonder Trini, the first yellow ranger, did not wear a skirt but Kimberly, the first pink ranger, was wearing one (more on this later) when transformed. No wonder Billy, the blue ranger, fights really well in his ranger form but his civilian form can barely throw a proper punch.
This is probably the main reason why Power Rangers’ target market are children.
Side note: The act of combining stock footage with originally shot sequences reminds me a lot of The Game of Death, a film starring Bruce Lee that was already 1/3 complete when he abruptly died. 😦
2. Haim Saban and the team behind Power Rangers are/were very creative geniuses.
A knowledgeable Sentai/PR fan would know that MMPR seasons 1-3 were based off 3 different Super Sentai Seasons. Season 1 used materials from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, Season 2 from Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Season 3 from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. These 3 are very different Sentai seasons with 3 different sets of stories, costumes, mecha, villains and many more. It practically meant that getting some continuity to materialize using footage from the 3 series would be a very tall order, to say the least.
Yet Saban somehow made it work. After exhausting all the footage he had from Zyuranger and Zyu2, he was in need of a lot more Sentai footage given the overnight success MMPR had. So he obtained the rights to using the Dairanger and Kakuranger footage from Toei to keep the franchise going. But instead of relying heavily on the stock footage, he used a lot more original US-made action scenes (while still using the Zyuranger costumes) and only used the stock footage he had during the Megazord sequences. They would continue using the Zyuranger costumes until the end of season 3 (though they would adapt KibaRanger’s costume and footage from Dairanger and turn it into Tommy’s white ranger form in season 2 and 3). Then finally, Saban realized that PR needed a fresh start after TV ratings eventually started going down.
In seasons 2 and 3 of MMPR, fans got a taste of what it’s like to have action footage not taken from Super Sentai. And I have to say that they were pretty good at times. This brings me to my next insight..
3. If they were capable of producing good fight scenes on their own, I really don’t know why the creators Power Rangers didn’t create their all-original series in the first place.
There were probably a lot of hindrances that prevented Saban and co. from not relying on Sentai footage (lack of budget, inability to conceptualize as well as their Sentai counterparts, among others) but anyone with knowledge to the situation couldn’t help but wonder of what could have been. All I can do for now is speculate – nothing more.
4. Saban thinks that the thought of guys wearing yellow is too girly for American fans.
Power Rangers has a common habit of making a yellow ranger designated exclusively for female characters (except for Alien Rangers, Ninja Stom and Mystic Force). As I pointed out earlier, it’s a bit odd that some PR yellow rangers do not wear skirts but almost all pink rangers do. The reason for this is that all skirt-less yellow rangers in PR were portrayed by male actors in Super Sentai. That is why when looking at the yellow ranger’s costume in the photo above, it looks way more similar to the male rangers than the cheerleader-like pink ranger outfit.
Below is a list of PR seasons with female yellow rangers that had male Super Sentai counterparts:
- Lost Galaxy
- Lightspeed Rescue
- Time Force
- Wild Force
Saban probably had his good reasons for doing this. Nonetheless, Super Sentai has proven time and again that tough guys (like the one pictured above) wear yellow.
5. Saban unintentionally did Toei a very huge favor by adapting Super Sentai into Powers Rangers in the US.
This is purely based on my opinion. But given how Super Sentai has gained a worldwide fanbase over the years (especially during post-Zyuranger seasons), it’s a possibility worth considering. Though Saban’s main purpose was probably to make a ton of money (which he really did) by creating a whole new viewing experience for children in the US, long term effects had a lot left to be desired. As PR’s popularity continued to grow, so did the curiosity of several fans. Most of them probably asked themselves; “From what foreign series does all these footage come from?” The curiosity might have reached a point where ‘they really had to watch the series where each PR season got based off’ just to compare what the story was really meant to be like in the original Japanese source. So fans from the US (arguably the world’s biggest market) started watching English-subbed Super Sentai series online. Eventually, TV-Nihon was born which made sure that all 21st century Sentai (starting from Dekaranger) would get subbed in English. These events might have hurt PR’s popularity that the Disney-era PR had to be cancelled at the end of 2009. In other words, the adaptation of Sentai to PR only made them more popular. The fact that Sentai’s target audience is not limited to kids (which appears to be PR’s ONLY market) only helped increase its popularity. Additionally, Sentai already had an established fanbase in France, Brazil, South Korea, Hong Kong, Span, Italy and The Philippines even before PR began. Fortunately, Saban bought back the PR franchise and is currently attempting (with so-so results) to revive the good times it had during the 90s.
Overall, I still wish Saban and the rest of the people behind Power Rangers all the best. There’s still a part deep inside of me hoping that PR recaptures the magic that captivated fans worldwide almost 20 years ago.