Kitagawa Keiko: From Sailor Mars to Stardom
Previous Super Sentai Over the Years: A 40th Anniversary Special – Part 2: 1986-1995
Revival/The Silver Age (1996 – 2005)
Last week, we saw how the Super Sentai series faced cancellation after a period of decline, and the wishy-washy treatment of Chouriki Sentai Ohranger in the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake and the sarin gas terror attacks in Tokyo.
However, toy sales for the 20th anniversary series were decent enough, which possibly convinced Toei enough to carry on with the franchise.
While Gekisou Sentai Carranger was enjoyable enough for most audiences, what followed it were four excellent series back-to-back that one could consider a Silver Age for the franchise. In a similar way that the five series run from Bioman-Liveman defined the 80’s for the Super Sentai franchise, Megaranger-Timeranger did for the 90’s (Timeranger technically debuted in the year 2000, but production commenced from 1999 onwards). The four series were also complemented by fantastic entries from their American Power Rangers counterparts, before the license was sold off to Disney in 2001.
Later, Toei began to tweak their merchandising approach, with the first auxiliary mechas arriving in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, followed by the various Karakuri Balls in Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger, which mirrored a similar approach taking shape in Toei’s other franchise Kamen Rider, which was revived in the year 2000 with Kamen Rider Kuuga, who had 11 forms. Heading into the mid 2000’s, the era of merchandising gimmicks had well and truly begun…
20. Gekisou Sentai Carranger (1996)
Original broadcast run: Mar 1, 1996 – Feb 7, 1997 (48 episodes)
“GEKISOU! ACCEL CHANGER!”
A group of misfits working at the Pegasus Auto Garage are thrown into the battle against the space motorcycle gang Bowzock, who plan to wreck havoc on Earth. Using the ‘Kurumagic’ power bestowed upon them by Dappu, a survivor of the planet Hazard, which was destroyed by the Bowzock, the five become the traffic safety heroes, Gekisou Sentai Carranger!
A comedic Super Sentai series which ironically saved the franchise from cancellation. Carranger had a very simple storyline, but what made it shine most was its entertaining characters in both the heroes and villains. The villains weren’t inherently evil either (except for the big bad Exhaus and a few others), and were more a misguided bunch that needed some direction. As for our heroes, they are the last people you’d imagine to be heroes, but each of them had a hilarious and unique personality that would win over even the most cynical viewer eventually.
Written by Basil Yeo
Sentai Claim to Fame – First team to have mecha with interchangeable limbs – RV Robo can combine with VRV Machines to become the Scramble Kousa Robo. – First series to have a non-Sentai hero which possessed his own mecha (Signal Man & Sirender) – First Super Sentai series to have a change of theme song midway through the series. However, it was not an outright change and rather a remix of music with the original tune and lyrics intact. – Power Rangers Turbo, the series’ American adaptation, was the first Power Rangers series to have a prequel movie tied to its continuity, as well as the first Power Rangers series to have a kid Ranger, and change four rangers halfway.
21. Denji Sentai Megaranger (1997)
Original broadcast run: Feb 14, 1997 – Feb 15, 1998 (51 episodes)
Five high school students caught in the wrong place at the wrong time are entrusted with Digital Suits to become the Denji Sentai Megaranger – Heroes that stand in the way of the evil & twisted Nejirejia, who have come from another dimension to conquer our own.
An absolutely fun and entertaining series to watch, Megaranger was extremely well-balanced, mixing serious and light-hearted stories that fed on the youthful idealism and vigour of its main heroes, and their struggle to balance school life with their duties as heroes. The consequences of the students’ participation in the Nejirejia war eventually result in the exposure secret identities leading up to one of the greatest and most heartwarming ever finales in the franchise’s history. Definitely not one to be missed.
Written by Basil Yeo
Sentai Claim to Fame – Second Sentai team to use the high school students premise, after Kousoku Sentai Turboranger. – First team whose individual weapons are able to combine with the primary sidearm to form a customised rifle. – First team to have a base which transformed into their primary robot. – First team where their first two robots were non-combining. – One of the Megaranger’s classmates, Iwamoto Jirou, is played by a Sentai alumni in Hashimoto Takumi, who was Boi/Tiger Ranger in Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger. – Kanai Shigeru, who plays Hayakawa Yuusaku/Mega Silver, also had a stint as a primary hero, as G-Stag in Juukou B-Fighter. – Mega Silver is the first Sentai hero to have a cellphone as a henshin device. – The Megarangers had the Mega Tector, a team armour granted by magic. Used only in the Carranger teamup special. – Power Rangers in Space, the series’ American adaptation, is the final series of the Zordon era.
22. Seijuu Sentai Gingaman (1998)
Original broadcast run: Feb 22, 1998 – Feb 14, 1999 (50 episodes)
The Balban space pirates were sealed away at the bottom of the ocean by the ancient warriors from the legendary Ginga Forest. As the 133rd generation of warriors prepare to inherit the mantle of the ancient warriors, they are attacked by the revived Balban, which leads to Hyuuga, one of the warriors, falling into a crevice, but not before handing his Seijuuken to his younger brother Ryouma. Ryouma and the remaining four must become the Seijuu Sentai Gingaman to stop the Balban once and for all!
Often neglected due to the garish costumes of the characters and their less-than-stellar suit design, Gingaman (actually popular writer Kobayashi Yasuko’s Sentai head writing debut) is criminally underrated. It is actually one of the better entries of the 1990’s, once again balancing the tone of the series between light and serious as Megaranger did successfully the year before. The villains were handled differently here as well, similar to the Showa-era Kamen Rider villain groups where different lieutenants led individual factions – all vying for the bounty promised with the revival of the Daitanix.
Written by Basil Yeo
Sentai Claim to Fame – Gingaman is to date the final series in the franchise to use the ‘man’ suffix. – Hyuuga is played by Ogawa Teruki, who was also Sasuke/Ninja Red in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. Ogawa is one of the few actors to reprise both his roles in future series, as Hyuuga in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, and Sasuke in Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. – The Gingaman team are the first Sentai team to possess three sets of five-piece combining mecha. However, they almost never exclusively use Giga Rhinos and Giga Phoenix.
23. Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoV (1999)
Original broadcast run: Feb 21, 1999 – Feb 6, 2000 (50 episodes)
Ten years ago, Professor Tatsumi Mondo faked his death, leaving his five children to fend for themselves, to secretly develop a means to save the world from the Saima Clan, also a group of siblings, who wish to use the Grand Cross alignment of planets to resurrect their mother/ruler, Grandienne. The Professor reappears in 1999 and gives the GoGo Braces to his children, turning them into the Rescue soldiers, Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoV!
The second sibling team created in the history of Super Sentai, GoGoV was also renowned for its rescue motif, where each sibling was based in a different rescue department. Their arsenal and mecha were also utilised more for rescue purposes rather than actual combat. One thing that makes GoGoV stands out is that the story actually revolves around a conflict between two families, and the sacrifices they would make for one another, to ensure the survival of their kind.
Written by Jaclyn Ngan. Additional writing by Basil Yeo.
Sentai Claim to Fame – GoGoV is the last Super Sentai series of the 20th century, and the last to not have any additional members join midway through the series. – The number 9 (kyu) and 5 (go) puns exist all over the series. – First team where their helmets were shown to have actual sophisticated breathing apparatus, and could be seen on certain occasions when the visors became translucent. – The first team to have a five-piece combining mecha which also doubled up as a a carrier mecha (GoLiner). – Jeek, the Beast-Demon Hunter from the GoGoV movie, is played by Wada Keiichi, who also played Tenkasei Ryou/Ryuuranger in Gosei Sentai Dairanger.
24. Mirai Sentai Timeranger (2000)
Original broadcast run: Feb 13, 2000 – Feb 11, 2001 (51 episodes)
In the Year 3000, time travel has been invented, but deemed illegal by the Time Protection Bureau, a law enforcement division set up to monitor and preserve history. When the mafia boss Don Dolnero and the Londarz Family gang trick four cadets into helping them go back in time to the Year 2000 to run amok when the Bureau has yet to be set up, the four time travellers, with the help of a young man from the present day, must use the Chrono Changers to become the Mirai Sentai Timeranger!
Timeranger was an excellent entry into the Super Sentai franchise, and the second series headed by Kobayashi, though completely different in setting and tone. The overarching concept of choosing your own destiny fit very well with the conflicting ‘preservation of history’ mission of the Time Protection Bureau, and lead to some very interesting characterisation with ideals constantly being challenged and ethics being redefined. Along with a plot containing enough twists and turns to easily rival the series of the late 80’s, it remains to date one of the best Super Sentai series of the Heisei era.
Written by Basil Yeo
Sentai Claim to Fame – Although Timeranger is technically the 25th anniversary of the franchise in terms of calendar years, Toei chose to celebrate the 25th anniversary with Gaoranger, the 25th series, instead. – First team to have coloured visors, and wear their henshin braces on their wrists even in suit. – First series where the sixth warrior shares the same basic colour as one of the core team. – Yuri/Time Pink is the second female leader in Super Sentai history. – Time Robo is the first main robot in Sentai history to have three modes. –Timeranger is the only Super Sentai series to have a female singer performing solo for its theme song. – The four time travelling Timerangers are still the youngest Super Sentai warriors. As of present day, they have yet to be born.
26. Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (2001)
Original broadcast run: Feb 18, 2001 – Feb 10, 2002 (51 episodes)
1000 years ago, the humans and the demonic Org race waged war. The ancient Gao Warriors defeated Hyakkimaru, the leader of the Orgs, and seal them away with the help of the Power Animals. The Orgs have revived in present day, and five warriors chosen by the Power Animals must give up their normal life to become the Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger!
The Gaorangers fought an incredibly tough battle against several Highness Orgs across the show’s story arcs, and finally the King of Orgs along with the combination of the other three. It was a decent series with some simple character and plot development, which slowed down after the first half of the series, with the various Power Animal storylines starting to take precedence due to merchandise sales. Even the addition of Gao Silver did little to add to the show.
Written by Muhd Nur Hidayat. Additional writing by Basil Yeo.
Sentai Claim to Fame – First series to use the Red/Black/Blue/Yellow/White colour scheme. – First five-member series to drop the Pink member since Choujin Sentai Jetman. – First series to introduce auxiliary mecha, and robots which can interchange its limbs for different purposes. – Gaoranger was tagged as the 25th Anniversary Super Sentai series. It was the first series in a while to not have a team-up with its predecessor, but a special Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger VS Super Sentai movie, which brought back several characters from yesteryear to help the Gaorangers overcome a powerful villain, including Big One, Red Falcon, Mega Pink, Ginga Blue and Go Yellow, as well as all the previous Red members.
27. Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger (2002)
Original broadcast run: Feb 17, 2002 – Feb 9, 2003 (51 episodes)
“NINPUU, SHINOBI CHANGE!”
On the graduation day of Hayate Way’s Ninja Academy, evil space ninjas known as Jakanja infiltrate the school, killing most of the students. Three students who were undergoing remedial training elsewhere survived, and in a desperate bid, they were taken to a secret base by the school’s sensei to become the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger! The three are not alone, as they are later joined by the Denko Sekka Gouraigers from a rival school and the mysterious, enigmatic Shurikenger.
The series had one of the darker plots amongst the Super Sentai series, with one of the better character development amongst the characters, especially the Gouraigers’ background. Hurricanger also focused more on ninja stealth and techniques for their fight scenes. One of the nicer touch to the series is where Shurikenger, a faceless warrior, takes on the form of a different person (always a previous Sentai actor) every time he appears.
Written by Muhd Nur Hidayat
Sentai Claim to Fame – First Heisei-era Sentai team to start out with a main team of three. The last team to do so was Choujuu Sentai Liveman in 1988. – Nao Nagasawa (Nono Nanami/Hurricane Blue) actually did most of her stunts herself in suit – Shurikenger portrayed by the many different previous Sentai actors and actresses, who transformed into Shurikenger with their original Sentai poses (except for Ooba Kenji, who transformed with his Gavan pose instead of Battle Kenya or Denji Blue) – In the team-up with Gaoranger, Senpuujin became the first robot in Sentai history to combine with mecha from the previous series. – The entire cast reprised their roles a decade later in a special movie titled Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger: Ten Years After.
28. Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger (2003)
Original broadcast run: Feb 16, 2003 – Feb 8, 2004 (50 episodes)
The meteorite which crashed on Earth 65 million years ago was thought to be the cause of the dinosaurs’ extinction. However, it merely caused the Earth to split into two parallel universes. Asuka, a warrior from Dino Earth, arrives in our world with the Evolian, an alien race which came from the meteorite following closely behind. As the Evolian wreck havoc with three rampaging Bakuryuu, it is up to Asuka to find three people with Dino Guts to become the Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger!
Abaranger had an interesting premise, yet failed to live up to it. Character development was quite lacking, and repetitive. One of the interesting take on the series was that Abare Killer was mainly a villain throughout his life in the series, and only turned good in the end after finding out he was being played himself. Overall, Abaranger had a more comical feel as compared to its predecessor series, with the heroes even having talking henshin braces which allowed them to communicate with their individual Bakuryuu.
Written by Muhd Nur Hidayato
Sentai Claim to Fame – First series with the Yellow member being the sole female. This is not repeated until Juuken Sentai Gekiranger. – First series since JAKQ Dengekitai with the core team being four members (with Abare Black getting his powers a few episode down), and to be joined by the fifth ranger later on (AbareKiller) – First series with sentient mecha that can converse in Japanese. – Third series in a row to not have a Pink member. Emiri’s ‘Abare Pink’ costume does not count, as it is not a powered suit. – Only Sentai series with a member gaining a power-up which changes his designation entirely, as Aba Red becomes Abare Max.
29. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger (2004)
Original broadcast run: Feb 15, 2004 – Feb 6, 2005 (51 episodes)
Akaza Banban, a hot-headed young officer is transferred to the Earth department of the intergalactic Space Police. During this time, the rogue arms dealer Agent Aburera starts supplying alien criminals operating on Earth with advanced weaponry. With increased Alienizer activity, Ban and his new colleagues are the only ones who can stop them as the Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger!
Dekaranger was the second police team in Sentai history. In contrast with the traditional Super Sentai story of Timeranger, Dekaranger went in a different direction altogether and tried something new, with episodic plots preferred over story arcs that spanned the series (like how any typical cop drama would be). Some episodes even excluded the traditional robot battle entirely. With fantastic and likeable characters, Dekaranger could possibly claim to have one of the best Super Sentai casts ever.
Written by Gale Gan. Additional writing by Basil Yeo.
Sentai Claim to Fame – Dekaranger is the first Sentai to operate without a central villain organisation (the Alienizers were a generic name given to alien criminals), instead having only one central villain in Agent Aburera, and even his identity is not known to the team until midway through the series. – The Dekarangers’ nicknames are all types of Japanese tea. – The first series with an Extra Ranger (Deka Master), and to have more than one Extra Ranger by the end of the show. – The first series to have its actual Sixth Ranger (Deka Break) appear after the appearance of an Extra Ranger (Deka Master). – The first Super Sentai to be part of an intergalactic peacekeeping organisation. – Dekaranger is the first Sentai to use a weapon that was originally on Power Rangers. The S.P.D. Battlizer was used as Ban’s Fire Squad power-up in the Magiranger vs Dekaranger team-up.
30. Mahou Sentai Magiranger (2005)
Original broadcast run: Feb 13, 2005 – Feb 12, 2006 (49 episodes)
“MAHOU HENSHIN, MAGI-MAGI-MAGIRO!”
Fifteen years ago, the Infershia were imprisoned in the depths of the Earth by the Heavenly Saints from Magitopia after an attack on the surface world. When they break free in present day to take their revenge, five siblings who are half-human/half-Saint are given MagiPhones by their mother in order to fulfil their destiny to defend the world as the Mahou Sentai Magiranger!
The third sibling team in the Super Sentai franchise, Magiranger took the familial concept one step further than Fiveman and GoGoV, with the Ozu family being actively involved in the war of realms by way of birth, and not by choice. Light-hearted in the beginning with the overarching theme of ‘courage equates new magic’, Magiranger turned things up one notch midway through the season, with the siblings having to deal with the resurrected N Ma, and a shocking revelation that would challenge their resolve.
Written by Basil Yeo
Sentai Claim to Fame – First Sentai series to be partially filmed in New Zealand. – The first syllable of the Magirangers’ names spell out MA-HO-U-TSU-KAI, in the order of their birth. – Soga Machiko returns in her final Super Sentai role before her death, as Magiel, the leader and most powerful Heavenly Saint. – Magiranger was the first Sentai series to have a magic motif. – Ozu Urara/Magi Blue and Hikaru/Magi Shine, are the first Sentai characters to get married during their tenure as heroes (The Jetman wedding took place after they had resumed normal lives) – The 30th year series of the franchise (not the 30th series), Magiranger paid tribute to Gorenger with the same colour scheme and the addition of capes to their costumes.
NEXT WEEK: Part 4 – 2006 – 2015: Present Day/Era of Gimmicks…