ME! GA! NOSTALGIA! POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE is nostalgia overdooooooose!
“That’s it. We’ve lost him. Completely gone. Now he’s talking about Power Rangers!?”
Despite what you might think, there’s a plan in all the madness. You see, my blog is for the most part my own rambling thoughts about the various things I encounter in life and through my hobbies. I do tend to cherry pick a bit, I’m not about to report on the awesome pizza I had yesterday and if I go “personal” it’s for a good reason. At least what I conceive as a good reason. Though this blog has become very focused on HOGs as of late, these things tend to change and there was a time when I pretty much only talked about tokusatsu.
But what does this have to do with Power Rangers? Except for the obvious one that Power Rangers is just Super Sentai footage with american actors and voices edited in? Well, Power Rangers Megaforce is special to me and, if you’ve read this blog since the beginning, to you as well. Because the very first thing I ever posted on here… was a personal post about JewWario! But the SECOND thing I ever posted was about… Tensou Sentai Goseiger.
If that opening didn’t get you pumped then I don’t know if anything ever will.
Also, if you noticed similarities between that and anything I may or may not have posted in my Goseiger review (or potentially wrote but let’s be honest here, you mostly look at the pretty pictures), there’s a good reason for that. But first some brief Power Rangers history.
First aired in 1993, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers would go on to become a smash hit. Although parents at the time hated the show, kids (including yours truly) went apeshit for it and it didn’t take long for Power Rangers toys of various kinds to become highly sought after. With the brand as strong as that, Saban Entertainment (the original creators of Power Rangers) sought to continue the legacy and continued to produce the show for almost ten years. Disney then purchased the rights to the series and continued to produce the show for another eight years or so before the series was ultimately canceled in 2009.
A sixteen year run spanning 15 series (counting Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as a single series), two movies, a couple of games and a few comics and a whole lot of toys, it was a pretty good run for a children’s show, all things considered.
Pretty impressive for a show that started out with a bunch of adults in spandex fighting crime while pretending to be teenagers. Though, come to think of it, that’s pretty much how it ended as well.
But, as this post might sneakily suggest simply by existing, the powers that be were not satisfied with this ending of Power Rangers. Haim Saban, the creator of the series, reacquired the rights to the franchise in 2010 and immediately set about creating another Power Rangers season. And thus, in 2011, Power Rangers Samurai aired.
And it was garbage.
I shouldn’t judge it too harshly, I only watched a few episodes but there’s a reason for that. It was shit. Well, those episodes were shit. I never stuck around to find out if the rest of the series was as well. Two years down the road, however, and we got this:
When an evil force invades the Earth (again), Gosei must call upon the aid of teenagers with attitude. If they happen to have a color coordinated dress sense and practice martial arts, all the better. If not martial arts, some form of sports. The ones called upon are Troy, Gia, Noah, Emma and Jake and they are to become Power Rangers Megaforce!
Megaforce is one big nostalgia driven party for people who grew up with the very original Power Rangers. It may not be dinosaur themed, you’ll have to wait until Dino Charge for your fix of that, but the colors are the same, the theme song is… well, it’s the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers theme but spiced up, and many of the same ideas as in the very first series emerge here again.
And I kinda like it.
The acting is way above what we got in Samurai, just the few episodes I did see kinda clued me in on that, even if it isn’t exactly future star material. The one I disliked the most was Emma, played by Christina Masterson, but I think she just got saddled with the absolutely worst character of the five.
Troy is the Red Ranger this time and he embodies that archetype completely. He’s confident and capable and, of course, a great human being all around. He also studies martial arts before being recruited which sort of makes him the natural choice for leader here. Noah is the new Billy, he’s geeky and starts out not very competent at the whole fighting but grows in the role and is pretty darn competent at the end. Jake is the sporty dude, very rash and prone to hasty decisions but a protector at heart.
Gia, though, I adore. She’s strong, capable, intelligent and overall a great person. She’s not much of a character but she’s a good reason for girls to tune in and watch. She doesn’t take anything lying down, she’s adventurous and doesn’t need any man to step in and be her knight in shining armor.
Emma, however, I truly and utterly… dislike. She’s every boring, dull Power Rangers stereotype rolled into one and it never stops with her. While the others are kind with good hearts and love the Earth a bit too much at times, they have other traits that weigh them up. Emma, put simply, isn’t a character as much as a walking PSA. She’s entirely about nature, caring so much for animals and plants that she made me want to puke. All while being so overbearingly feminine in a stereotyped way it’s ridiculous. Sure, she’s strong in her own way but she definitely feels like the weakest of the five and compared to Gia she’s just… not all that modern.
One time she saves the day by singing… SINGING! I know that was a plot from Goseiger but that’s Japan, we’re supposed to be better than that. And she photographs butterflies and flowers and… GRAH!
I’m not saying girls can’t do that, or that you have to be a complete badass like Gia, but… I just… I just don’t like her very much. She’s annoying.
Not saying Eri in Goseiger was much better, she was pretty darn saccharine as well but it never bothered me as much as it did here. It’s probably not helped by the fact that Christina Masterson is… well, she’s definitely not a rising star, poor character or not.
A rather big change from Goseiger is the theme of the series. Japanese have no problems playing around with religion so the theme being heaven and angels was never once an issue. For Americans, however, I imagine such a theme being quite controversial and thus all things relating to angels were removed. Gosei, who was God in Goseiger, has been transformed to a giant head on a wall and the backstory, from what I’ve gathered, is that he’s the protege of Zordon, the original Power Rangers’ mentor, and was left to defend Earth.
They never really discuss where he’s been for the last decade or so, since the Earth has been in jeopardy plenty of times since Zordon died.
Another pretty big change is that they removed the family bonds between the Rangers. In Goseiger there were two sibling couples, Alata and Eri were brother and sister as were Agri and Moune. The relationship between Red (Alata) and Pink (Eri) has been removed entirely and Troy and Emma display no deeper relationship than to any other Ranger. They did, however, do something far more interesting with Agri and Moune’s sibling status.
They turned it into a romance between Jake and Gia.
Well, Jake had a thing for Gia since day one and made no big secret out of it. Gia, on the other, was not very impressed by Jake’s antics.
But more than anything, this is so different from the Power Rangers I grew up with where any kind of romance was just… sort of maybe there. The only times I ever remember anything about romance ever being a part is between Tommy and Kimberly and eventually Tommy and Kat. It wasn’t really spoken about that much and God forbid they show them kiss.
I dunno, it’s just one of those things that stood out to me. I can’t really remember the last time Power Rangers did anything with romance, even less so openly. It was handled pretty respectfully without falling into too many cliches. I liked it.
On the flipside, one thing I didn’t like all that much was Robo Knight. Although his origin remains pretty much unchanged, the way his voice sounds annoyed me and the constant machine sounds when he moved just… urgh, it was horrible. His character arc is also a bit too rushed here unlike in Goseiger where his growth was a big part of the series. But here he’s a really boring Robocop with no endearing qualities what so ever.
Something that I REALLY enjoyed, however, was that the actors actually had get physical from time to time. No, not like that, perv, but in the fighting. One thing that’s been annoying me for a few years now, both in Power Rangers and tokusatsu in general, is that the actors rarely display any sort of martial arts. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect them to be high ranked combat experts, but it’s painfully obvious when it’s only stuntmen (and women) doing the fighting while in civilian mode and when the actors get in on the action.
And in Megaranger the actors do actually show off some decent skills. There are some impressive unmorphed fights, mixing the actors with stunt people, and it’s done very smoothly. Super Sentai, and tokusatsu in general, are just as bad with this and it’s entirely different from how it was twenty years ago or so. Sure, the production has changed pretty drastically as well and there are other aspects that I prefer from the old shows but this is probably the thing I wish they’d go back to. Hire people with actual physical skills rather than just going by look (and pay, no doubt), it really helps to sell how competent they are.
But perhaps the most important thing Haim Saban did when he restarted the franchise was to reduce every season to just twenty episodes. It didn’t do much for Samurai since they just split Shinkenger into two seasons but Megaforce is different. Rather than trying to adapt every episode of the original material, Megaforce only adapts roughly half of Goseiger. Super Megaforce, the second season, consists primarily of footage from Gokaiger. Other than just being able to remove all mentions of angels and God, it also means the writers had a lot more freedom. Power Rangers, in my opinion, is at its best when it simply uses the Japanese material to create a basis rather than just adapt it whole, like with Samurai. Some things work in Japan but not in the West so being able to pick and choose what to bring over is hugely important, at least if you ask me.
This change, above all others, is what allows Megaforce to be such a nostalgic overdose the way that it is. They could insert references and rewrite the plot in ways that they couldn’t had they been forced to adapt Goseiger into 40-50 episodes. I, personally, quite enjoyed Megaforce, flaws and all, in much the same way I enjoyed Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. There will always be a debate as to whether a children’s show should be. But I like what Power Rangers does and if it’s still around if I ever have kids, I’ll gladly watch it with them.
But more than anything, it’s interesting to now go back and see how different Power Rangers is from Super Sentai. And I don’t really buy into the whole debate that it has to be one or the other. I don’t enjoy Power Rangers on the same level as Super Sentai but I don’t think one is superior to the other. There have been times when Power Rangers have been better than its Super Sentai counterpart and vice versa as well. But I think it’s very important to remember that it is a kids’ show, no matter what we fans and adults may convince ourselves of.
Me, personally? I’m glad both Power Rangers and Super Sentai exists still. As much a part of my childhood as Power Rangers was, I still see that it has a lot of good to teach kids, not to mention entertain. And that’s what’s important, is it not?
Next up? Super Megaforce… yeah, I hope they don’t do a Super Dino Charge.