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Just a bit about me: I actually got into PR from "Day of the Dumpster" due to being a Fox Kids watcher at the time and was hooked. I sort of knew a bit about the Sentai origins of the franchise early on (dad once got me a Japanese Zyuranger set of the original five which I have somewhere; didn't have DragonRanger sad to say) but not really enough to care. Originally during the PR period, I saw the original three seasons and Zeo; dropped out when I didn't see the Turbo movie (since that was required), stayed out until someone convinced me to see Time Force, loved Time Force, barely got into Wild Force (but did see "Forever Red" and "The End of the Power Rangers" when they aired, great stuff) Heard bits and pieces of PR and SS after that time but really nothing struck me.
First attempt to get into Sentai was about the point PR went off with the end of RPM; I started watching Jetman...but never finished it. I got up to the episode Tran changed into Tranza but the episode...well I both forgot and it wasn't really a very good episode. (poor defenseless cows eaten by humans)
Tried again when Gokaiger hype started up and I saw clips of the Legend War. This time I started with Dekaranger (mostly cause it won the Seiun Award; the equivalent of the Saturn in the US)...and I've been hooked since. While I do want to try and get back into PR (well mostly want the Time-Life set to see everything I missed from the Saban era and the good Disney seasons), I'm mostly working the Sentai side of things.
Favorite Sentai (in airing order, limited spoilers)
- Sentai Watched: 12 of 37
- Currently Watching: Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, Juken Sentai Gekiranger
- Set to Watch:
- 2014: Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, Kagaku Sentai Dynaman, Hikari Sentai Maskman, Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive, Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, Tensou Sentai Goseiger, Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger (if possible)
- 2015 (tentative): Kousoku Sentai Turboranger, Choudenshi Bioman, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters
- If Possible: Denshi Sentai Denziman, Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan
- Potential Others: Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman, Choujin Sentai Jetman, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Mirai Sentai Timeranger, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, Engine Sentai Go-Onger
- Definitely Not: Chouriki Sentai Ohranger, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger
Highly Recommended (very few problems, just plain good)
- Dai Sentai Goggle V: Pure and simple: Hirohisa Soda takes over the franchise, cuts out all the clutter and nonsense from Uehara's era, brings back the girl Ranger big time with one of the most memorable and a lot of really cool teamwork and moves (and oh yeah, the crazy rhythmic gymnastics stuff), streamlines it with a lot of Rider and other toku stuff and with a story about the responsibilities of technology, protecting those who will use it responsibly for the future, and essentially a villain creating weird genetic beings to continue to prove its existence and win an arms race with humanity. A vastly underrated season; not really for those used to more modern story-driven Sentai, though, and my only nitpick being that one villain in particular probably deserved a more epic ending but their end was still decent.
- Dengeki Sentai Changeman: The first 80s Sentai I completed and a very meaty one that typically seems to be ignored, doing a great job in creating a mythos and developing an entire universe of memorable characters, including interesting heroes and villains that range from sympathetic to downright cruel. There's a great universality of these heroes and villains showing how similar we are even with our differences, showing that war may not be the answer or the be-all of our interaction with others, whether throughout our world or beyond it. Some strange things happen in the endgame, particularly with two villains in particular and there are more questions than answers that occur with a final revelation, but it's good altogether.
- Choushinsei Flashman: A series that knows exactly how it is set up and how it will end...but getting between the two can be a problem. The opening episodes are marvelous, with one of the best Ranger casts and villain groups in franchise history. An early arc further improves with an amazing side-villain who remains relevant to the end, but with an episode and a half of weird things between the relevant parts, foreshadowing the problems. The middle has good episodes but an extremely pointless mid-point arc that seems to try and increase problems almost artificially and the stupidest upgrade story in Sentai history. The final eight to ten episodes are all golden, though, with one of the most saddening and emotional end-games in the franchise, making all the grief getting to it worthwhile. Even with the dumb mid-point arc, it's still a great season.
- Gekisou Sentai Carranger: This season was a hoot, from the very comedic characters and scenarios to extremely sympathetic villains connected to an utterly heartless one who appears rather late but leaves such an impression as his importance grows that he ultimately brings everyone together to face down the biggest threat to the universe. The season has a lot of great story about the connection between kids and adults and between family that is similar to Changeman but so weird in some respects that it's a different approach. There are some really weird moments that make you wonder what they were thinking (Super-GPS...that's all I'm saying), but this has to be one of my favorite seasons regardless.
- Denji Sentai Megaranger: This season feels to me like a prototype for the return of Kamen Rider, using concepts of the high school team that people always talk about with an advance science agency with it's own dark secrets, very much like a prototype for the Heisei-Riders when they finally emerged. The early part of the season is a lot of fun, but the middle starts dragging when a certain villain arrives that makes an impressionable introduction...but drags on and on as you realize how pointless they are. Softening the blow is the arrival of one of my favorite 6ths, who is just weird but really balances out the high school and science corp sides. After the middle is finally over, the series speeds up to awesome again, then to epic when an evil team takes command and barrels this season and its heroes and villains to a heartbreaking, powerful endgame. Honestly if it weren't for that troublesome middle, this could have been the greatest of all my seen Sentai.
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: This was the first Sentai I had seen completely, but it remains one of the best of all of them. On the surface it is a throw-back to 80s Sentai with some modern twists, but this has to be one of the best put together series in the franchise. The cast is a lot of fun and work off each other amazingly, the stories homage Sentai and various styles of storytelling to the point you want to see how they homage certain story styles, the main villain isn't quite as intrusive but has an ambiance that works for the whole season...this season feels less like Sentai and more like an amazing sci-fi cop show that happens to use Sentai's cliches and concepts. And that has to stand for something to make one think it isn't Sentai when it is.
Recommended (flawed but still has great things)
- Gosei Sentai Dairanger: This is a season that tried to experiment with a lot of things, from a "culturally based team" to various styles of storytelling. As a positive, many things work in making it come alive: the usage of Chinese martial arts and culture is fun, while some of the personal stories are really good, particularly two sets of them. Even in two other major ones, there are problems but something or another does actually redeem them. Unfortunately, one in particular really stinks up everything and the problems that do emerge in others are evident; while the main actual story ultimately turns into a huge infodump in the first six and final six episodes that really make it feel like it stuffs a lot into you at the start and then stuffs a bit more at the end just to get you to the end, particularly with an extremely weird climax caused by an up-to-then compitent villain whose final revelations are completely ridiculous.
- Mahou Sentai Magiranger: This season is beloved by many...but I sort of had a torturous time getting through it. It's a season that really tries to throw the concept of "family" at you over and over while creating a massive world with a lot of weird rules and regulations, yet it seems to have problems in doing both. Mind you there are positives: the main saga about the team coping and then searching for their mother is emotional and is the driving force of the season, one of the most important villains really gets interesting once his secret starts coming to light, and the mid-point boss is one of the best in franchise history as is his rivalry with this season's 6th. But the first third is tough for me to get through and the final third is mostly a disaster outside a sweet resolution to the real ending...only to lead to several more episodes before one of the worst endings in all Sentai. But the cast has heart and it does try so it isn't unwatchable...just tough to get through.
- GoGo Sentai Boukenger: On paper, the concept is just incredible: a team of adventurers traveling the world using vehicles (that also happen to be their mechs) collecting dangerous artifacts that can cause chaos if they fall in evil hands, which include multiple factions trying to work for themselves but allying with each other for their own purposes. And ultimately that is where Boukenger succeeds: the one-shots are pretty much the most fun in the entire franchise and the villains are a unique system that just allow for a lot of different storytelling potentials. Unfortunately...they decided to have recurring stories this season...and that's where the weaknesses emerge. One saga becomes rather anti-climactic and ultimately really just lead to one character being trapped in a dumb climax, another created unneeded and stupid angst for another and a third de-evolved into boring monotony which, if it weren't for a nice twist that salvaged the last arc, would have felt wasted for this season's 6th. The season's concept was really enough for success...too bad they had to make drama.
- Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: This really is a season I want to hate: it's dull, trapped in a lot of formalities, way too much angst and being driven more by shocking twists and moments than anything. Most of the characters are just very dull and a lot of the conflicts do get tedious with the creation of angst that doesn't have to be there. Yet I can't just not recommend this season because there are great things going on regardless of it's problems. The team can act when needed, the 6th is one of the most hilarious characters to ever be a Sentai hero (maybe possibly a second member as well), the battles are creative both in hero and mech forms and the shock moments really are just that good, particularly the main villain finally letting loose and the revelation of this season's ultimate twist. It is tough to bare through but there is good out of the season regardless.
Don't Recommended (there are still a couple things that are good but...)
- J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai: It's hard to follow up essentially the series that made live-action team shows a reality and while Shotaro Ishinomori does try, the series seems to have problems even from the get-go. The early third have a great maturity doing things you'd never expect from Sentai anymore with a quartet of tragic heroes who have become living weapons to fight a merciless enemy. But the early arcs are bogged down by a lot of tragedy with the team feeling like they just get hit with everyone they know getting massacred left and right. The middle third lightens things up a bit, which gets positive but sometimes gets a bit silly (a talking hamster...nuff said) and feels like a completely different show. But then the final third comes along...and it is a different show. The villains go bigger, things go all over the place, and a fun new leader who does really try to save everything but somehow feels bigger than life...too big at times. (then again he was called in from another show after it had ended) The final two episodes feel like the whole show in a nutshell, with it starting with a really dark episode before giving us a very WTF ending. There are good things about the season, like two awesome members (and maybe a third after he lightens up) and it is fun seeing Big One in action, but the show is such a mess that you just have patience or else you'll go nuts.
- Battle Fever J: This series really doesn't realize at first that it is the revival of Sentai after its J.A.K.Q. cancellation due to it's intention: a team inspired by Marvel superhero Captain America fighting against an organization influencing the world secretly. Because of which, the first half of the season (after an incredibly continuous opening arc introducing the franchise's first giant robot) feels really hard getting through; there are fun episodes but too many just feel like they were throwing things at a wall and seeing what works and it doesn't help that the writers at time don't know who these characters are. But somehow...it gets better: the improvements start when a weird idea was dropped for a real heroine and a future main writer joins the staff and while there are still problems (mainly a great character ending up in the worst departure ever; even if his replacement does work well with the new team), the show is much better in the second half. Aside the replacements, there is a breakout star and the mentor is amazing (even if he's tied to a really weird endgame); but this is a season you have to be patient with, mining for the good amidst a lot of junk in the "not Sentai" that becomes the last true 70s Sentai before the 80s and the franchise's evolution begins.
- Choujuu Sentai Liveman: While I'm generally positive with Hirohisa Soda with the seasons I've seen, this is probably the season with him at his worst. There is nothing wrong with the concept, involving the betrayal of friends and the fight to either defeat or redeem those who ran off to work for one who can help them achieve intellectual superiority. But the problem is that with this being the team of "life", we see the writing at its preachiest, with everything being alive and essentially every episode feeling like a guilt complex that makes you feel like you can't do anything that harms "life". It doesn't help that the heroes are essentially the epitome of the 80s and that there are some really bizarre and weird twists going on. But the season does have some interesting ideas even amidst the junk: they have reason to expand to two further members, there's a fun biting satire at the horrible effects of the Japanese education system of its time, and the end-game (up until the last episode and a half where it just gets terrible) is really captivating seeing the villains fall apart due to the mechanisms of the mastermind for his ultimate goal. (oh and there's an adorable robot girl...) There is redemption for both the villains and this season...you just have to bare with a lot of turmoil to get to them.