Tokusatsu and me: Part 1

Last year… was HELLISH. You probably read my break down of how I clung onto my own sanity though not sure how much I have left. But during the 3 months of lockdown in the spring last year I mentioned in the later half friends gave me access to Kamen Rider and how watching that again saved me in those last few months. But to understand where I come from with that franchise we have to go back, back to where it all began over here back to the early 90s when a big head in a tube asked a robot for 5 teenagers with attitude.

Yes the early 90s, the console wars had heated up, Transformers was in the dark days of Gen 2 with Beast Wars still several years away and Saturday mornings were filled with cartoons that hadn’t yet evolved into “extreme” teens who were these uncaring boring arses that people thought were cool (that wasn’t far off though).

Yes I was there at the start of it all (as if my articles about Transformers didn’t give that all away). Till this point I had been enjoying the great cartoons on Nickelodeon at the time like Rugrats and aaah Real Monsters plus some other famous cartoons you may remember like repeats of Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja… oh sorry, Hero (yes over here they changed it from Ninja to Hero) Turtles. Live action shows never really interested me as… they were basically all boring. But one morning on one of the kids shows something odd came on. It had a bunch of people in bright coloured outfits fighting a monster sent by an evil witch. Ok it was different live action shows especially ones for kids didn’t have early this energy but not like it… OH … the monster suddenly got huge and the heroes summoned forth big robot dinosaurs… and then they combined into a big robot to take the monster down (did I mention my favourite Transformers were the Dinobots at the time, so this was like seeing that in live action).

This was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and while still popular back then the closest comparison to its boom in popularity was when Star Wars came out. Sure I loved it more for the Zords and Megazord stuff (robots that can combine to form bigger robots are cool it’s a proven fact). Yeah you watch it now and it’s unbelievably cheesy and you really start to notice a key element we will get into later, but you can’t help but look back and see just how huge this was? When the Green With Evil 5 parter got going you could see this was something that was going to last and heck Tommy (the Green Ranger) ended up becoming an icon for the entire franchise usually popping up in anniversary events, but that’s skipping ahead.

By season 2, I myself had noticed something, the new Megazord design and some of the monsters felt odd. Yes the replacement as the new big bad Lord Zedd was (profanity) awesome and had a kick ass theme music (look it up). But yeah something seemed off, perhaps it was from watching Ninja/Hero Turtles earlier but I was noticing they seemed rather… not from where they claim they were. I didn’t exactly know where at the time but it was nibbling at the back of my head.

Of course whenever there is something hugely successful there are others desperate to try and get that money. Earlier on another show that had a similar feel of big monsters had also appeared on our TV with odd origins. Something called Ultraman, but it quietly vanished after a few episodes and till recently that felt like a weird memory even when I knew what Ultraman was, the one I saw seemed to be almost a mirage.

You see Ultraman Like Power Rangers were shows whose primary footage came from shows in Japan. In the case of Power Rangers it was Super Sentai and with Power Rangers being such an ungodly success you started to see other shows now trying to do what Power Rangers did. Some like Big Bad Beetleborgs were rather fun and enjoyable. Others like … and I dread to say this..  Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills… were things that should be set on fire and buried so deep you hit molten rock that melts it never to be seen again.

So where am I going with this? Well between season 2 and 3 of Power Rangers, was a 3 part story that served as a back door pilot for Saban bringing over another Tokusatsu series. It had the Rangers teleport to a far off planet where they were much weaker (usually a sign when they don’t have Sentai footage) to try and meet Alpha 5 (the robot) ‘s maker, only to find the world under an attack from a different alien emperor (Zedd apparently not liking him). Only to be saved by the motorcycle riding bug themed hero Masked Rider. Now no one tuned into a show for 3 weeks to see their heroes having to be saved by someone else so this 3 parter was boring as all hell but I was intrigued a little by this Masked Rider and somewhat happy to hear he was getting his own series…. then it was on and hated it. It had a painful TV family with even a cute little mascot plus no giant robots (I was young, really liked the Zords remember). Years later I would get over my giant robot obsession (well… kind of, still love theTtransformers) and find new reasons to absolutely despise Masked Rider.

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