As a kid I grew up watching Japanese special effects shows (Tokusatsu). I’ve watched from the beginning to the current era. I grew up remembering the lessons that were taught to me in those shows.
In another post I will create at a later date I will discuss my hatred to the fan named “Neo-Heisei” Era of Kamen Rider. Of which I would call them Super Sentai and would rather not classify them as Riders. (I’m looking at you Fourze)
Anyway, after a few years ago (which oddly enough started around the Neo-Heisei era of Tokustatsu, the quality of both the writing and the fighting has gone below passable. I understand that some tokusatsu are aimed towards children such as Super Sentai but Kamen Rider is meant to appeal to teenagers and young adults more so than children. I will only be discussing the decline of Super Sentai this time around.
Super Sentai, to those who don’t know what it is, is the origin of the Power Rangers. In its early years it was not a copy and paste job. It was its own show with its own story but just used some stock footage from Super Sentai. Its gadgets and suits are the same of course. But after Saban had sold the rights to Disney it became a carbon copy. Even after he bought the rights back it still retells the Japanese story but with a western twist. There’s not much I can say to that except the fighting has no passion and the story can be summed up in one to three sentences.
Super Sentai on the other hand has had numerous great story lines with plot twists, romance, revenge, repentance. You name the genre they’ve done it. What greatly separates Super Sentai to Power Rangers is how they handle their audiences. Power Rangers appeal to children so they make their characters to appeal to them and make the story as plain and comprehensible to a child as much as possible. Super Sentai on the other hand treats their children with more respect. They teach lessons in their shows not just entertain them. It is true that it is a business of selling toys (well more so now than before).
Now with the more recent Go-Busters paying homage to Power Rangers it would seem that TOEI decided to either hire help from a director of Power Rangers or they started to copy their style. What’s wrong with this? Everything. The story becomes one-sided and almost incomprehensible to a point that almost everything that can’t be explained could be explained as “because they are heroes”. One staple of Power Rangers is their panorama fight scene. In which the hero/villain is hit and moves from right to left in a panoramic view while explosions happen in the back of the hero/villain. (Logically this is impossible). This was implemented in every series starting after Shinkeger. In the old Super Sentai this never happened. In fact their fight scenes grounded them more towards reality rather than fictional. Punches hurt both, special attacks destroy/kill (only if weakened), kicks are stronger, and many more. Nowadays its blaster this and blaster that.
With Kyoryuger they had a non-Japanese cast in Super Sentai. Good, they are appealing to more audiences. But the way they executed it was pathetic.
I feel that TOEI had a form of deal with Saban now since TOEI actually defends the slander against Saban. Back then this was not the case. They acted independently before and yet now there seems to be more collaborations. I personally don’t like this. Not because I want each IP to remain the same. But if you replace something good with something bad it wont work.
Then there is the situation of the actors. I understand that they are trying to use actors that appeal to what is currently popular at the moment. But do flamboyant men = strong protagonist work? I don’t think it does. Shiba Takeru of Shinkenger (heck the whole cast of Shinkegner) was good! That is how you cast strong and currently hip actors. It’s believable that they can fight. The cast of Go-busters on the other hand feel like they can’t. New Kamen Rider main actors look ridiculously frail yet throws strong punches. Unbelievable. In the old era’s defense their women actors were strong but feminine, now the women actors are just feminine and cute their strength is very questionable. The old era men actors had bulk and looked like they can put up a fight, not so much has changed to this (except for Kamen Rider). Some may try to argue that it’s a kids show. Yes, it is a kids show but so are cartoons yet we as a fandom argue and discuss its effect in storytelling. Even though its a kids show it should not squander its talents to both entertain and teach.
The idea that including effects and story lines of Power Rangers into Super Sentai is not a great idea. Both work in different cultures and where one was grounded in reality the other was grounded more in fiction. It cannot work. Recently TOEI started to loose their grip in the Tokusatsu genre due to this. They started to loose the Japanese popularity but are winning the popularity of the Western audiences. If TOEI wants to become successful again they need to look back at what they’ve done and create with the old era as a template.