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Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger

You may have heard me mention it before, but I grew up loving the Power Rangers, and while I tried to get back into it for this Rewatch series, I couldn’t get through anything but the 1995 movie. I think I’ve just aged out of it. Fortunately, I was introduced to Super Sentai and its stark differences. It turns out that removing all but the action sequences from the original series results in a choppy uneven experience. Earlier, I watched Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (read the Rewatch review), the Super Sentai counterpart to Power Rangers Wild Force. It was the last Power Rangers series I saw (and gave up on), so it made sense to start there. Now I’ve seen Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, the Super Sentai counterpart to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the series I remember the most.

Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger translates as “Dinosaur Squadron Beast Ranger” and follows our heroes as they awaken from a 170-million year hibernation to defeat the recently awoken witch Bandora, played by Machiko Soga.

Fighting Bandora with various weapons and mecha, our heroes are from five ancient tribes that lived alongside the dinosaurs, not “teenagers with attitude” thank goodness. Yamato Tribe Prince Geki (Red), played by Yūta Mochizuki and suit actor Hiroshi Maeda, leads the team. Sharma Tribe Knight Goushi (Black), played by Seiju Umon and suit actors Naoki Ofuji and Yasuhiko Imai, is the conscience of the team. Etoffe Tribe Knight Dan (Blue), played by Hideki Fujiwara and suit actor Shoji Hachisuka, is the reckless member of the team. Dime Tribe Knight Boi (Yellow), played by Takumi Hashimoto and suit actor Hirofumi Ishigaki, is the youngest of the team. Lithia Tribe Princess Mei (Pink), played by Reiko Chiba and suit actor Kiyohito Nakagawa, is the heart of the team. And later, Yamato Tribe Knight Burai (Green), played by Shiro Izumi and suit actors Seiji Takaiwa, Yasuhiro Takeuchi, and Hideaki Kusaka, joins as the team’s last-minute savior for a while after being a misguided villain. They follow the guidance of the mysterious sage Barza, played by Jun Tatara, in their quest to stop Bandora.

In comparison to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, everything is better. The story flows far better, because we aren’t dealing with just disconnected action footage. The music is by far better, because we aren’t dealing with an electric guitar that seems incapable of stopping. The fights are better, because they seamlessly move from fights with the main actors to fights with the transformed suit actors. The cast is excellent too, but if I had to pick one standout, it would be Shiro Izumi as Burai. His story is intense and dramatic. Is this a great show? No. Is it entertaining? Absolutely!

Whereas Gaoranger felt like a live action anime, Zyuranger feels much more like classic martial arts films. There’s a warmth to it that’s not as bright as Gaoranger, but the story is just as intense. There are some very goofy moments, it doesn’t strike as good of a balance between humor and drama as Gaoranger did, but this is a show for children, and it’s nowhere near as goofy as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Oh yes, and Bandora likes to sing about herself … a lot. It’s odd, but I’ll allow it.

I recommend starting at the beginning, but if you want a smaller set of episodes to try out, I recommend Burai’s arc, which starts on episode 17. It’s a particularly goofy episode, but gets quite intense in the last few minutes, and you should be hooked for the remaining arc.

You can stream all of Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger for free on ShoutFactoryTV. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and while you’re there, check out the other Super Sentai counterparts to the Power Rangers shows that you grew up with!

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Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger

I grew up loving the Power Rangers, and if you recall I recently tracked down some Power Rangers fan productions, so I was absolutely sure I’d be doing a Rewatch post on a Power Rangers series. Well, I tried, and I just couldn’t get through anything but the 1995 movie, which was still not great, but also not as bad as the TV franchise has aged for me. This lead me to digging into the world of Super Sentai, the franchise that Power Rangers attempted to use footage from while cutting in their own stuff, and I discovered that Super Sentai was far superior. Which brings me to today’s review, Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, the Super Sentai counterpart to Power Rangers Wild Force.

Wild Force was the last Power Rangers series I watched, and I couldn’t even make it through. Either it was just that bad, or I was growing out of it. So, I thought I’d start my Super Sentai experience off with Gaorangers, the series that Wild Force used for roughly half of its footage, and I was not disappointed. Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger is loosely translated as “Hundred-beasts Squadron Gaoranger,” though if you go by the subtitles during the title song, it could also be “Hundred-beasts Squadron Growl Ranger.”

The series follows our chosen heroes: GaoRed, played by Noboru Kaneko and suit actor Hirofumi Fukuzawa, the leader and newest member of the team. GaoYellow, played by Kei Horie and suit actor Yasuhiro Takeuchi, the longest serving Gaoranger in this era and the team’s resident hothead. GaoBlue, played by Takeru Shibaki and suit actor Yasuhiko Imai, the youngest of the team. GaoBlack, played by Kazuyoshi Sakai and suit actor Hideaki Kusaka, the team’s courage. GaoWhite, played by Mio Takeuchi, and suit actors Motokuni Nakagawa, Naoko Kamio, and Yuichi Hachisuka, the team’s heart. Tetomu, played by Takemi, the team’s priestess and source of advice. And, later in the series, GaoSilver, played by Tetsuji Tamayama and suit actor Naoki Ofuji, often the team’s last-minute savior.

Using their abilities, weapons, Power Animals, and Mecha, they battle the evil Org Tribe. The Orgs are generally led by Yabaiba, voiced by Kōichi Sakaguchi with suit actor Motokuni Nakagawa, TsueTsue, played by Rei Saito, and whatever higher power Org they can dig up for each arc. Yabaiba and TsueTsue are also the comic relief of the series, but unlike comic relief characters in Power Rangers, they prove themselves to be quite capable quite often.

The ensemble cast is amazing, their chemistry from the start is perfect, and you really get a sense that they all care of each other a great deal (even Yabaiba and TsueTsue). There are two stand-outs not in the main cast that I’d like to mention. Futaro, played by Daiki Arioka, is basically the child form of the team’s god. This kid can really act, he’s great. And finally, Rouki, voiced by Eiji Takemoto with suit actor Shoma Kai. Rouki is one of the “monsters” of the series, but he actually has a back story, character development, and an entire arc. As someone coming to this direct from years of Power Rangers, that is absolutely unheard of. Also, his design is impressive and it allows him to be one of most physical opponents in the series, often battling the Gaorangers directly on the ground.

So, you’ve seen these clips now, and you’re thinking, “That doesn’t look much better than Power Rangers,” and yeah you’re kind of right. Sadly, there just aren’t many clips of this pre-digital era Japanese series with English subtitles, but I assure you this series far exceeds its Power Rangers counterpart. The music is far better (like the music in that last clip), there is actual narrative cohesion when you don’t have to edit out every single minute that looks Japanese, and this series is incredibly dramatic. To give just one example, plenty of people actually die in this series. Early on, most of the Gaorangers are killed in battle (they come back later via a mystical side-quest), but this isn’t some sort of CGI-filled off-screen death. They are brutally killed on-screen. And because that’s not enough, the villains even kill a child on screen. Have you seen any of that on Power Rangers? Nope.

There’s a certain quality to this series too that I can’t quite describe. It’s like a live-action anime. And I know you’re thinking, “Yeah, it’s made in Japan,” but I’ve seen plenty of live action Japanese shows, I even checked out a few other Super Sentai shows too, and they just aren’t like this. Anime tropes shine through constantly, and the show manages a perfect balance of goofy episodes and incredibly serious episodes (sometimes both in the same episode, like that last clip again), kind of like Dragon Ball Z and other anime from that era. But it’s not over-stylized, like live action anime adaptions should be, it’s just anime tropes in a real-world setting, and it’s great.

If you don’t want to dive into all 51 episodes, I recommend at least checking out the Rouki arc, which runs for 10 episodes starting on Episode 15 through 24. If you’d rather watch just one episode to see if you like it, check out Episode 29. I’m pretty sure that either will hook you for the rest of the series. 😉

You can stream all of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger for free on ShoutFactoryTV. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little experiment with the Rewatch series and Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger as much as I did, and I hope you check out a few more Super Sentai counterparts to Power Rangers shows you may have watched growing up!

Edit: Speaking of that, don’t miss the Rewatch review of Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, the Super Sentai counterpart to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

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Nostalgia Video

Power Rangers vs Super Sentai

AKA, what we missed out on in the United States.

I grew up loving the Power Rangers, but I had no clue what I was missing out on back then. I tried to rewatch some for my Rewatch series, but I just couldn’t get engaged anymore, so imagine my surprise when I found multiple Super Sentai series on ShoutFactoryTV (a free ad-supported streaming service and app). Upon consuming several episodes, I became painfully aware of what we missed out on in the United States, and I’m hooked.

In short, Power Rangers takes the fight footage from Super Sentai and remixes it with overdubbed English dialogue and newly shot scenes featuring the English-speaking actors, often changing the plot dramatically. Rather than just getting a dubbed version of a great Japanese show, we got something very half-baked.

While scouring YouTube for some clips that I could use to make a comparison video, I was surprised to find exactly what I wanted, so let’s give them the ad revenue they deserve.

This clip shows a pivotal fight from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers between the Red Ranger and Green Ranger, followed at 4:08 by the Re-version of the fight featured obnoxious added visual effects (yes, this is official, and yes you should skip it for your sanity), followed at 8:30 by the same pivotal fight from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger between the TyrannoRanger and DragonRanger.

I want you to notice a few things. First, the unrelenting electric guitar. It’s cool at first, but I won’t blame you if you find it obnoxious by the end. And second, how choppy and uneven the action is.

Let me give an example on that last point. In all three John Wick films, there is one scene involving gunfire in The Continental Hotel. If you took those three scenes and lined them up back to back, you’d be forgiven for accepting a thin narrative that they all take place around the same time, but something would feel very off. That’s what’s happening here in Power Rangers. To compensate for footage lost due to visible actors from the Super Sentai shots, and recognizable Japanese locations, the American produces have chopped in scenes from other fights. To make matters worse, some action has been cut entirely to keep the episode under time. All of that results in an unevenly paced, and sometimes confusing, fight sequence.

Compare that the Super Sentai scene, and you’ve got something very different. First, the music is great. And second, without any footage being removed or added, the fight sequence is evenly paced and far more intense.

I hope this brief comparison got you hooked on Super Sentai too. If it did, you can stream several Super Sentai series for free on ShoutFactoryTV, so find the Super Sentai counterpart to a Power Rangers series you used to love and start watching it today!

Update: For more on this subject, see Rewatch: Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger.