Saturday, June 22, 2013

Taiyo sentai Sun Vulcan : an unique early sentai




(er; aren't we seeing a trend here?)  XD
Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan (which can be translated as "Solar Task Force Sun Vulcan") was the fifth Super Sentai Series, airing in Japan from February 1981 to January 1982 (it's in fact the sentai that was airing when I was born ;) ) At the time it aired, it was in fact the third sentai series (Gorenger and JAKQ have been included later in the franchise).   At that time, Super Sentai was a franchise that was still building its identity, and Sun Vulcan did bring a lot of new elements in the franchise, and has in itself some unique characteristics:

- Sun Vulcan was the first sentai series with a team of only three members (Vul Eagle (Red), Vul Shark (Blue),  and Vul Panther (Yellow) (and the last without any additional heroes, among official sentai teams)
- It's the first series with animal themed heroes (Eagle, Shark, Panther), with each animal included in the design of the suit  : Red has a Eagle, a bird from the sky, Blue has a shark, a fish from the sea, and Yellow has a Panther (actually a cheetah), a mammal from the ground ; animals are an important theme of the show, with the big shuttle having a jaguar design, and the heroes having an animal (safari) park close to their base
- It's the only team without any female member
- Sun Vulcan introduces the concept of the heroes's big robot made of combining mechas, with the Sun Vulcan Robo being in two parts, by the combination of two mechas , the Cosmo Vulcan, Vul Eagle's flying jet and the Bull Vulcan, Vul Shark and Vul Panther's land vehicle
- It's the only series that can be seen as the direct sequel of its predecessor, Denshi Sentai Denziman, with both having a main villainess in common, Queen Hedorian. However, Sun Vulcan itself works very well as a standalone show, since it isn't needed to have watched Denziman to enjoy Sun Vulcan.

Let's review each element of Sun Vulcan
 1) Heroes
The protagonists of the show belong to a military force under the responsibility of the UN, the Guardians of World Peace (GWP). When Black Magma began to attack, the UN decided to create a special team which would be able to fight them, the Solar Task Force Sun Vulcan
The Sun Vulcan base is built underneath a restaurant, the Snack Safari next to a Safari park acting as a front.
Sun Vulcan is a team of three men, and it's interesting to notice that each of them (except the second Vul Eagle) have their animal totem in their last name

a) Ryusuke Ohwashi/Vul Eagle I  (washi = Japanese for Eagle) : a GWP air force officer who has become a top pilot of the organization. He's the leader of the team during the first half of the show (episodes 1-23). After a few months as Vul Eagle, he had to leave because he has been called by the NASA to help in a space colony project.
Takayuki  Hiba/ Vul Eagle II : Ohwashi's successor as Vul Eagle, he's a fellow air force officer, and also a martial arts expert, notably in Kendo. After Black Magma has been defeated, he went back in his job as an instructor in the air force

b) Kinya Samejima/ Vul Shark (Same = Japanese for Shark : A naval officer at the GWP and an oceanographer. He has lived in Africa for a time with his parents and little brother, but he lost them during a war that was happening there. It's that trauma that motivated him to join the GWP and then, the Sun Vulcan team as Vul Shark, as he hates violence. After Black Magma's defeat, he resumed his work as an oceanographer.

c) Asao Hyou/ Vul Panther (Hyou = Japanese for Panther) : An officer from the Ranger force at the GWP. He's a big eater, especially of curry rice from the Snack Safari, and he has a phobia of dogs (among them, CC). He has also a goofy personality, and is the comic relief of the team, often made fun by the children at the Snack safari and his own teammates. He likes pretty girls, especially Misa Arashiyama, his chief's daughter. He has a father that owns a lot of property and is also a big eater with some goofy tendencies. After Black Magma's defeat, he decided to go back in his town to help his dad.

2) Allies

Daizaburo Arashiyama: the commander of the Sun Vulcan team. A strict officer and an effective leader for the team, he has a major role in the fight against Black Magma, and as such, is seen as an important target by the enemy. He's also the chef of the Snack Safari restaurant, and he has to deal with his idiotic chef apprentice Sukehachi. He has also to deal with the hardships of being the father of a pretty young woman with a lively personality. He is very friendly with children, and likes a lot playing games with them, as he was an expert in a lot of children games when he was younger. He's the one who finally inflict the final blow to Black Magma by destroying their true Leader, the Omnipotent God.

Misa Arashiyama. The commander's daughter, she's the feminine element of the Sun Vulcan team, as an assistant to the team. Despite not being a fighter, she tries to help the Sun Vulcan in every way she can, like assisting them in their investigation and helping civilians caught into Black Magma schemes. She loves her dad and has a fun personality, and is pretty much the heart of the team, with everyone liking her. She has also some fencing skills, that she used once disguising as the Beautiful Swordswoman White Rose Mask.

Yazawa Sukehachi: Appears in episode 23, as a apprentice cook at the Snack Safari : his personality can be sum up in one word: idiot. He's a comic relief character.

CC: a little talking dog, with a sarcastic personality, who likes a lot to make fun of Vul Panther and Sukehachi.

3) Arsenal
The Sun Vulcan change into their suits thanks to their Sun Vulcan Brace. Each Brace has the color and the animal of each team member. The Sun Vulcan's main weapon is the Vulcan Stick. However, each team member uses a lot special moves named after their totem animal in their fights against Black Magma. To destroy a enemy monster (Monger), they use as a final attack the Vulcan Ball, an exploding ball, that is thrown by Vul Eagle, then Vul Panther sends the ball to Vul Shark that sends it back to Vul Eagle, who at last send it at the Monger that is destroyed (before getting big, of course ;)  ). However, the Vulcan Ball was ineffective against  Inazuma  Ginga, so the Sun Vulcan made a new final weapon, the New Vulcan Ball, which was a more powerful weapon, being the combination of three explosive balls sent by the three heroes by the Triple Attack. The three balls combine into a unique ball that is sent by Vul Panther to Vul Shark, who sends it to Vul Eagle, which throws it to the enemy, who's usually destroyed.
The Sun Vulcan also have vehicles :  Eagle has a jeep, the Sand Vulcan, while  Shark and Panther have a motorbike each.
In order to fight the enlarged enemies, the Sun Vulcan use the Sun Vulcan Robo, which is composed of two mechas, the Cosmo Vulcan, a jet piloted by Vul Eagle and the Bull Vulcan, a land vehicle piloted by Vul Shark and Vul Panther. Both mechas are stored into the Jaguar Vulcan, a jaguar looking shuttle.  The Sun Vulcan Robo's final attack is the Aura Plasma Return (Aura Plasma Kaeshi), which is used to finish off the enlarged enemies

 4) Villains

The Machine Empire Black Magma are the enemies of the Sun Vulcan and of humanity, who want to take over the Earth and destroy humans. They target Japan because the countries has many volcanoes, and as such plenty of magma power that Black Magma seeks to get power. They have their headquarters in the North Pole

a) Führer (Sotou) Hell Satan :  the ruler of Black Magma, who is draped in black. He's a ruthless leader that would do anything to conquer Earth and defeat the Sun Vulcan and is enraged by each of Black Magma's failures because of them. However, despite being a cruel and vicious  he has a weakness: he fears the Black Sun God that he worships and respects above everything. He's the one who brought back to life Queen Hedorian from the Vader Clan, to help him in his fights. When Inazuma Ginga came and fought the Sun Vulcan and even withstood the Vulcan Ball, he was impressed by his strength, and wanted to have him as his second in command. However, when Inazuman Ginga, who believed he has been betrayed by him, destroyed his god's icon, he was furious and fought him in a duel to the death, that he lost, and ended up beheaded, which revealed his robotic nature. However, soon afterwards, it was revealed that Hell Satan wasn't the true leader of Black Magma.
The true leader was the Omnipotent God who was a living brain in a capsule and had an immense amount of power. The Omnipotent God brought back Hell Satan to life as a ghost, and then, Hell Satan, under his orders, began to bring terror to Queen Hedorian who was involved in the plot leading to his death, eventually killing her by rusting her artifical heart which eventually stopped working. He  then had revenge against Inazuma Ginga by turning him into a Monger, that was eventually destroyed by the Sun Vulcan. However, at the end, in a last confrontation, the Omnipotent God was destroyed by Chief Arashiyama, and with him, Hell Satan's ghost.

b) The Zero Girls. They are a quartet of female officers, Zero One (clad in red clothes), Zero Two (clad in Black clothes), Zero Three (clad in green clothes), and Zero Four (clad in purple clothes). Zero One was the leader. Despite looking like human women, they're in fact androids. They are Hell Satan's main field officers, and they are the ones leading the attacks against Earth and humanity. They are cruel, ruthless, cold blooded killers, that would kill without any hesitation unarmed civilians, including children. They're also smart, and try to plan their evil schemes in the best way they can, well aware of the trouble that they could have because of the Sun Vulcan. They involved themselves in Black Magma's evil plots in many ways. They often disguise as ordinary women to deceive humans and manipulate them into their schemes. They also attack civilians, often using blackmail to make them cooperate in their evil plots. The Zero Girls are also the ones that lead the Machinemen (Black Magma's mooks) and Mongers (Black Magma's Monsters) in the battles against the Sun Vulcan, and they often fight the Sun Vulcan themselves, Zero One using knives, Two using cards, Three using swords and Four using yo-yos, and have proven to hold their own against them. In episode 22, Zero One was killed in a cave in provoked by Jaguar Vulcan, as she was trying to kill the Sun Vulcan and some unarmed civilians while in a cave. When Amazon Killer came, she replaced Zero One as the Zero Girls leader. Zero Two, Three and Four continued to fight for Black Magma with Amazon killer, first under Hell Satan's authority, then under Queen Hedorian after Hell Satan's death. However, after Queen Hedorian's death, and learning of Hedoran and Amazon Killer's duplicity, the remaining Zero Girls refused Amazon Killer's leadership,being loyal to the Omnipotent God, as true officers of the Machine Empire Black Magma. They finally had a final battle with the Sun Vulcan, fighting them with the King Magma, a big robot created by the Omnipotent God. They piloted the King Magma and fought the Sun Vulcan Robo, taking advantage of a solar eclipse, that was weakening the heroes's robot. However, when the sun came back, and thanks to a boreal aurora, the Sun Vulcan were able use the Aura Plasma Return to destroy the King Magma, killing the three remaining Zero Girls at the same time.

When Hell Satan and the Zero Girls realized how dangerous opponents the Sun Vulcan were, they decided to use as alllies members of the Vader Clan.

a) Queen Hedorian : the former Queen of the Vader Clan, that was encased in ice after her defeat by the Denziman. She was brought back to life by Hell Satan, that gave her an artificial heart. As a result, she couldn't leave Black Magma, but, because of her hatred for humans, and to get revenge for the destruction of the Vader Clan, became her ally and second in command in the attack against Earth and humans. She used a lot her sorcery skills in her schemes against Sun Vulcan, and her powers were well appreciated by Hell Satan. She shows a pretty vain personality, still believing of her power of seduction, and lusting for stuff like diamonds and nice clothes. As such, she brings some comic relief in the villains's side. Her magical powers are weakened by the ESPER powers of descendants of the Denzi planet, which make her suffer a lot. When Inazuma Ginga came, she was afraid of being sidelined by him, and risking being banished by Hell Satan because she would be useless. As a result, she plotted with Amazon Killer to turn Inazuma Ginga and Hell Satan against each other, and played a key role in Hell Satan's demise, and then becoming Black Magma's queen. However, her victory was short lived and she was haunted by Hell Satan's ghost appearances. Hell Satan often appeared before her to terrorize her, and made her artificial heart rust. While her heart could have been replaced, she had become so paranoid that she didn't trust anyone, and refused the operation, instead trying to appease the Black Sun God by sacrificing Misa Arashiyama to him. However, before being able to sacrifice her, she died because her artificial heart stopped functioning.

b) Amazon Killer : Calling herself the Galactic Wanderer, she's a Vader officer that came from space.  She appeared in episode 23. After Zero One's death, she's been called by Queen Hedorian, and came to Earth to join her Queen. At her first encounter with Black Magma, she showed her strength by withstanding an attack from the Machinemen and the Zero Girls. Impressed by her powers, Hell Satan ordered her to destroy the Sun Vulcan base, and she managed to accomplish her mission successfully. She replaced Zero One as the leader of the Zero girls and has shown to be as skilled as her predecessor, as much in spy work, disguising as a normal woman to decieve humans, as in leading plots and battles, as the commander officer of the Zero Girls, Mongers and Machineman, and she also fought the Sun Vulcan using her short sword to create explosions. However, unlike Zero One, she was only loyal to Queen Hedorian, always concerned when she was suffering and ready to do anything to help her. When Inazuma Ginga appears, she knew that he couldn't be trusted; indeed, she had been his partner, and has seen his treachering personality, and they have been shown to betray each other. Losing her role as filed commander because of him, she plotted with the Queen to manipulate Inazuma Ginga and Hell Satan to fight each other. However, after her Queen's death, she realized that noone in Black Magma was loyal to her, and she tried to find the Omnipotent God to kill him and become Queen of the Machine Empire. However, after finding him, she failed at defeating the Black Magma leader, and was forced by him to fight the Sun Vulcan. She battled the Sun Vulcan in a final fight, realizing that noone in Black Magma would help her. She managed to put a good fight against the three heroes, even managing to withstand the New Vulcan Ball. However, she was very weakened, and as a final act of defiance against the Omnipotent God, instead of fighting the Sun Vulcan, she decided to kill herself by stabbing herself with her sword, telling the Sun Vulcan the location of the Omnipotent God. After her death, the heroes paid their respect to a worthy opponent by a last salute.

In Episode 45, a new villain, Inazuma Ginga appears. He's a pirate from outer space that was fleeing the Space police by coming in Earth. He was formerly Amazon Killer's partner in crime, but Inazuman Ginga betrayed Amazon Killer by taking all the loot from a heist they've both done, and Amazon Killer retaliated by amking him fall into a trap set by the Space Police. He quickly managed to escape, and once in Earth, he attacked a military base to get powerful weapons. Then, he fought the Sun Vulcan, who failed to defeat him, even by using the Vulcan Ball. Impressed by his strength, Hell Satan wanted him to work with Black Magma, despite Amazon Killer's protests. Inazuma Ginga did everything to gain the trust of Hell Satan, even accepting being locked in a cell without protesting when he was suspected of betrayal by Queen Hedorian, and refusing Amazon Killer's suggestion of rebellion. Eventually, Hell Satan freed him, allowed him to create his own Monger, Fighter Monger, which he used to fight the Sun Vulcan, and, because of his power, wanted to make him his second in command to replace Queen Hedorian. As a result, Hedorian and Amazon Killer did everything to plant the seeds of distrust between Hell Satan and Inazuma Ginga, and eventually succeeded, Hell Satan sabotaging the damaged Fighter Monger and Inazuma Ginga destroying Black Sun God's icon. As a result, Inazuma Ginga fought Hell Satan to the death, and won. However, he had no loyalty to Queen Hedorian, and decided to get for himself the Sun Vulcan Robo, which power he wouls use to conquer the galaxy. He tried to get the big robot by using Vul Eagle as an hostage, but failed. He then went to the Black Magma base to use the already captured Misa to get the robot, but at that time, the Omnipotent God overpowered him, and Hell Satan turned him into a mindless Monger, Inazuma Monger, that would eventually be destroyed by the Sun Vulcan.

Other than the main villain, Black Magma fought the heroes using expendable underlings

The MOTW: they are lifeforms created using Magma Energy, by the combination of animal elements and machine components ; they're called Mongers, and are very important fighter for the Black Magma empire.

Dark Q : they are andoids created by Black Magma to do inflitration work. They can have the appearance of any human, and in a lot of cases, they've been created using the appearances of people close to their targets, often after having killed the real ones  (people and officers involved with the Guardians of World Peace, or the Japanese governement, or in some very cruel cases, the children of scientists which discoveries would be used for evil). They're efficient spies, often bringing useful information to Black Magma. However, in one case, the Dark Q literaly became the mask, when one disguised as a botanist's dead daughter eventually ended up genuinely seeing the scientist as her father. Once exposed, the Dark Q can be quickly destroyed by the heroes. However, after Zero One's death, the Dark Q were not used anymore.

Machinemen: Black Magma's robotic mooks, which are clad in black and red

When the Machine Empire Black Magma decided to conquer Earth from their base in the North pole, and made their declaration of war to the UN, a special team, the Sun Vulcan, was created to stop them. The show tells the stories of the different plots of Black Magma to conquer Earth, destroy humanity and defeat the Sun Vulcan, always to be stopped by the heroes.
Sun Vulcan is mostly an episodic show. However, it can be separated in four parts, and it's pretty striking to notice how the tone of the show evolves with time.

1) Episode 1-4 : First attacks of Black Magma against humanity, and first counterattacks from Sun Vulcan. During those few episodes, the show has a military/spy theme, with the important use of the Dark Q spies, and Black Magma using terrorist tactics to create chaos and destruction on Earth. At that time, the show has a serious tone, with all the villains being machine themed.  

2) Episodes 5-22 : Episode 5 brings the comeback of Queen Hedorian from Denziman. During that era, the military/ spy theme is still present, notably with the plots using the Dark Q, but with Hedorian's addition, the shows adds a mystical element, with the Queen using her magical powers in some plots. When some very dark plots happen during that era (like Misa's kidnapping (episode 8), a mentor of Vul Shark being killed and replaced by a Dark Q replica who tries to kill his model's family (episode 9), or the plot involving using a scientist's grief over his dead daughter with the help of a Dark Q having said daughter's appearance (episode 11), but some comedic plot appear, notably driven by comic relief characters, like Vul Panther on the heroes's side  or Queen Hedorian on the villains's side. That era stops with Zero One's death in episode 22. After that era, the Dark Q robots aren't used any more.

3) Episodes 23-44 : In episode 23, a lot of changes happens in Sun Vulcan: Amazon Killer is called by Queen Hedorian and becomes the next female chief officer. The Sun Vulcan is destroyed, but quickly, is replaced by a new one. Ohwashi leaves, and is replaced by Hiba.
During that era, the tone is more light hearted, the military/spy theme is less prominent (notably because of the absence of the Dark Q spy), the violence is somewhat toned down compared with previous episodes, and the comedic element is increased by the arrival of the new comic relief character, Sukehachi, and the increased focus on the weirdness of the Mongers. Despite that, the plot is still the same, telling of the different plots of Sun Vulcan to crush humanity, with some pretty threatening plot, like destroying the food supply, or creating a devastatign earthquake. An interesting element is the arc involving siblings being descendants of the Denzi planet people who came to Earth, because that arc makes the link between Sun Vulcan and the universe of Denziman, while giving focus on Queen Hedorian.

4) Episodes 45-50 : the final plot and the destruction of the Black Magma Empire. Interestingly, the evil empire is at least as much, if not more, damaged by internal conflicts as by Sun Vulcan's actions. That final arc is triggered by Inazuma Ginga's arrival. Because of his treacherous personality, he had a key role in destroying the unity between the different members of Black Magma. Because he threatened Hedorian and Amazon Killer's status in Black Magma, the two Vader women decided to take over the empire by having Inazuma Ginga and Hell Satan fight each other, resulting in Hell Satan's death, and Hedorina becoming the leader of Black Magma. However, that victory would be short lived, and Hedorian would be soon killed by the Omnipotent God, who revealed his true role as Black Magma's leader by bringing back Hell Satan to life, and having him kill Queen Hedorian and defeat Inazuma Ginga by turning him into a Monger, which would be eventually be killed by the Sun Vulcan. Before her death, Hedorian has managed to kidnap Misa Arashiyama, and the Omnipotent God used her to bring Chief Arashiyama and the Sun Vulcan to the Black Magma Headquarter for a final showdown. The Sun Vulcan first fought Amazon Killer, who was forced to fight for the evil god, despite having no loyalty for him. The fight was a tough one, Amazon Killer remarkably resisting the heroes's attacks, even when fighting alone, without any help from the Zero Girls or the Machinemen. Eventually, she killed herself, as a final defiant gesture against the Black Magma Leader. The second showdonw involved a robot fight between the heroes in the Sun Vulcan Robo and the Zero Girls in a Black Magma robot, the King Magma. Black Magma used a solar eclipse to have the Sun Vulcan Robo at its weakest, in order to defeat it, but eventually, the heroes managed to destroy the enemy robot and the Zero Girls. Surprised by that defeat, the Omnipotent God did a final challenge to the Sun Vulcan by using Misa to get the Sun Vulcan commander to surrender. However, Arashiyama quickly understood that the God used an illusion to deceive him, and eventually destroyed the living brain. The Sun Vulcan then saved Misa, and left the Black Magma headquarter which was blowing up. And then, peace was at last back on Earth, with the Machine Empire gone once and for all.

My personal feelings about Sun Vulcan
Sun Vulcan is a very interesting series  in the history of Super Sentai. It was the last show with Shouzo Uehara as head writer and Susumu Yoshikawa as producer. As mentioned above, Sun Vulcan introduced a lot of new elements in the sentai franchise. Some of them would have a lasting effect: Sun Vulcan was the first to use animal themed heroes and the first team with three core heroes, which is a trend that would be used later. Liveman for example did an obvious homage to Sun Vulcan, starting with three heroes, the Red one being a bird of prey, the Blue one a marine predator and the Yellow one a Big cat; Hurricanger, by using the same animals as Liveman, also indirectly did an homage to Sun Vulcan. While sentai shows with three heroes are a minority in Super Sentai, at least 5 sentai series (Liveman, Hurricanger, Abaranger, Gekiranger and Go-Busters) started with a core team of three heroes in red, blue and yellow, all having an animal theme, even if, unlike Sun Vulcan, those shows had additional heroes. Last but not least, Sun Vulcan started the Gattai concept, with the robot being the fusion of several individual mechas, a concet that would become a trademark of Super Sentai.

Sun Vulcan is a show that is typical of early 80' sentai show. It's a very episodic series, with very few arcs. Most of the episodes are self contained, and tell a complete story, as typical of that era.

One of the biggest flaws of Sun Vulcan are its heroes. Sun Vulcan almost never focuses on its characters, and as such, both Vul Eagles and Vul Shark feel like completely bland characters.  Vul Shark had one episode focusing on his background, where he is seen to lose his cool because of his past trauma, but it's only used there, and other than that, he only seems to be there, but doesn't show any real personality Both Vul Eagles are even blander, especially Ohwashi who seems only to be there as well, and Hiba, which only real distinctive characteristic is his kendo skills. As the comic relief character, Hyo fares better, and shows much more personality, and he also benefits of having a whole episode where he interacts with his father. However as a whole, the main heroes aren't really impressive.

Chief Arashiyama is a very good commander, and a well done character. He shows several sides, from the serious chief, to the loving father, the chef that has to deal with an idiot cook and a man who still loves playing with kids, and has such, has kept a young heart.
His daughter Misa is less interesting: while she is a nice assistant to the team, and helps them whenever she can, she plays too often  a conventional role of damsel in distress.

CC and Sukehachi are only comic relief characters, without much depth.

The villains are more interesting, but still remain in a lot of way pretty conventional villains of that era of sentai. One striking element of Black Magma is its huge number of female characters. In contrast with its lack of female ranger, Sun Vulcan has probably one of the biggest female villain cast ever in toku, with 5 female characters, all played by actresses, being main villainesses. That trend of a big female villain cast has started with Denziman, and would be used again in the Metal Hero franchise (which is the franchise where Sun Vulcan head writer and producer would be involved after Sun Vulcan), notably in series like Shaider (if one see Poe as a female character despite being played like a man, Shaider has even more female main enemies than Sun Vulcan), Spielban, and Jiban, all having a mostly female villain cast.
Sun Vulcan has two legendary toku villainesses playing actresses, with Machiko Soga as Hedorian, and  Yukie Kagawa as Amazon Killer.
Hell Satan is your classic villain leader, completely evil (given his name, it was expected xD ), and staying in the headquarters, planning evil plots. Hoxever, it's funny to notice how Hell Satan has shown much more badass stuff when he was dead than when he was alive. The Omnipotent God is a classic twist last minute real leader, but he's not very interesting.  The Zero girls are impressive evil officers, ruthless, competent , cruel, but also using very cleverly their good looks when disguised as ordinary women.  They were a true challenge to the Sun Vulcan. Amazon Killer was as impressive as the Zero Girls when fighting the heroes, and as a Black Magma general, but she showed also a more complex side, because of her true loyalty to her Queen. She did an impressive last fight against the heroes, fighting alone against three opponents, and it's remarkable how she showed defiance against a ruler she didn't want to fight for, and used her last forces to give information to the Sun Vulcan to help them destroy the God. Yukie Kagawa did a great job.  Queen Hedorian is back from Denziman, but intead of being the leader, she merely a second in command. Machiko Soga is deliciously over the top as ever, and it's obvious that the real reason Hedorian is back is to allow Machiko Soga to be again the over the top evil queen, with her evil laugh and her over  the top personality. The queen is obviosuly the comic relief of the villain side. Lastly, Inazuma Ginga is your usual treacherous villain, who works for noone but himself. He's the one who triggers the destruction of the Black Magma empire. However, because he appears very late, his storyline seems to be done in a pretty rushed way.

About the story: Sun Vulcan's main story is a classic good vs evil storyline, and it doesn't have much depth. During most the the show, the main plot is completely stagnant, and you have the feeling that they only remembred that they had to conclude their story 6 episodes before the end. As a result, they introduced all the internal fights in the enemy side, and it feels like when the Sun Vulcan eventually come for the final showdown, almost all the work is already done, with a lot of their main enemies already dead. Thar final storyline with the conflicts between villains feel rushed, and the reveal of the true nature of the Black Magma Leader feels almost like it has been introduced as the last moment (I say "almost", because of the mention of the Black Sun God in episode 5)  It's not unlike the previous sentai series, Denziman, where most of the Vader clan is destroyed by internal conflict among the villains.
More interesting is the very diverse kind of individual stories in Sun Vulcan. Some stories are pretty dark, but could be also be touching, especially in early episodes, the best examples being episode 9 and 11 (see above), or episode 19, which shows in a sincere way the suffering of a boy neglected by his father. Other stories show Black Magma having serious plans, but the tone was balanced by the very silly looking monsters of the week, or the focus on comedic characters or a weird monster : some examples involving the episodes with Vul Panther's dad, or the one with the tomboy reporter. Others are completely weird, notably episodes showing Hedorian's weird behaviour, like the treasure hunt by brainwashing a young man into believing he was his pirate ancestor, with Machiko Soga doing a dance, or the ones involving Hedorian's desire for diamonds or nice clothes.

Sun Vulcan tone's evolution is very interesting because it wants to have a serious tone, at least at the beginning,  while at the same time clearly wanting to be appealing to kids.
At the beginning, the tone is serious, with the spy/ military team, and the villains's plot were in a lot of cases very cruel. The Black Magma were villains that had to be taken very seriously, and the Dark Q were pretty creepy villains.
However, since the beginning, the series brought some material appealing to kids, like VulPanther's comic relief status, CC the talking dog, and the animal theme. With Hedorian's introduction, the villain side gained a comic relief character as well, and Machiko Soga was here again to play the evil, but at the same time hilarious witch queen. Besides, a lot of episodes had children as central characters, which kids would relate with. There are alos a lot of children going in the snack safari bar, with  nice scenes of Arashiyama playing with them, or them making fun of the comic relief characters of the series.  Another element that is very kid appealing is the music, which is very upbeat, and the songs are very catchy, especially those sung by Akira Kushida, who already shows he's a legend of toku singers. That upbeat music helps a lot to bring some light heartedness in Sun Vulcan, notably during the giant fights. Lastly, starting with episode 23, the tone became more light hearted, with the nex comic relief character, and the discarding of the Dark Q.

The best element of Sun Vulcan is without a doubt its action. Every episode is packed with action, and the episodes are very well done fight scenes. An interesting element is how, in a lot of fight scenes, the heroes and villains would do very silly things, like weird moves, bizare weapons (like whack a mole stuff) , and some comedy was pretty nicely added in the fight scenes. Because of tthe action, most of the episodes are pretty entertaining.

Sun Vulcan is a worthy entry of the sentai franchise, and it started a lot of new stuff that is used in almost every sentai series. The series is pretty entertaining, because of its fun action, some fun characters, and a lot of standalone stories that were well done.
However, Sun Vulcan has a lot of issues.  The heroes are very bland and their personalities aren't developed at all; it's striking how the change of red ranger has almost changed nothing in the dynamic of the team and interactions between the heroes. The villain are dangerous, but aren't very original.
Lastly, the final storyline seems very rushed, and it's striking how the plot stalls during most of the show, and most of the important stuff in the main storyline is almost entirely told in the last six episodes.
Because of those issues, Sun Vulcan can't be seen as one of the best sentai series. However, it's still an entertaining show, and I give it a score of 7/10

1 comment:

  1. Another fact that is not added if it is important. Sunvulcan Vul Eagle 2 is the 1st to be armed with a Sword as his weapon of choice and also does a.finish slash move which other Reds would do ( Dyna Red, Red 1, Red Flash, Red Mask, Red Falcon,Red Turbo etc.)
    Takayuki Godai would return as Hakenmaru, Tsuruhime's father in Kakurangers.

    Misa Arashiyama is almost a unofficial 4th member of the Sun Vulcan team.
    Though she is both a damsel in distress and the eye candy for the rest of the Vulcan team. She has help the team out of ruts of course.

    Also it is the only Super Sentai outside of Ishimori creation of course that had a continuity with a past Sentai series of Denziman which was the late Machigo Soga's 1st full Sentai series though Battle Fever J was her 1st introduction to the franchise as a monster voice.
    Sunvulcan is the 1st full animal themed based team.
    Liveman of course and the Fan Favorite Go Busters which is the closets and latest as it depicts a three man anti-terrorist task force similar to Sun Vulcan but the animals are completely different with actual super- human powers.
    Sadly it is also the final performance of veteran actor, Shin Kishida who succumbed to cancer. A performer who is not affraid to tackle any roles. This lost also triggered a chain reaction for Vul Panther actor to retire from acting because of the lost of his mentor.

    Sun Vulcan will forever shine in Sentai history!