Friday, August 2, 2013

My meaningful toku series

I've been watching toku series since I was a little kid, but only a couple of them turned out to be of a great importance to me. I'm gonna list them and say why. This post is meant to recount my experience with tokusatsu in order to encourage others to share which series have an special place in your heart and why.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:

As a 90's kid, and most important thing: an Argentinian girl, I grew up with them. Why did I say "Argentinian girl was important"? Because according to my memory, I watched the first season only. I don't remember if the tv channel responsible of broadcasting aired all the eps. I do remember the shock and confusion when I went to the cinema and saw 3 different people as Yellow, Black and Red. I have to admit that during the entire movie and for many years, I hated those 3. In 2006, I was surfing the net and arrived to one of the many power rangers fansite called Power Rangers Unlimited. At that time and thru that website, I got the opportunity to catch up with the franchise. When I watched how and why the movie only had 3 original characters (Tommy *yes, I consider him as part of the original rangers*, Kimberly and Billy) and 3 imposters (Rocky, Aisha and Adam), I finally reconciled with them and came up to accept them. The same happened with Kat (I found out about her because I bought a magazine with the last couple of episodes from MMPR season 3) and Tanya (I found about her when I watched Zeo on cable). Now you must be wondering why this series was important to me. Well, the answer are 1) I wanted to learn English as soon as I watched a couple of the first episodes. Something I achieved in 2002 (once I graduated from high school). And 2) This was my first toku experience. Prior to the arrival of Mighty Morphin', I had no idea what toku was. Not because of my age (liveman aired when I was 4 and very well we could have Sun Vulcan, Changeman or even Flashman) but because none of the tv channels were interested. Other parts of South America got lucky and experienced what Super Sentai was.

Choujin Sentai Jetman:

Choujin Sentai Jetman was my first Super Sentai Series ever. I met them back in 2007 when I was curious about a Power Rangers series and Super Sentai series crossover in the world of fanfic (knowing the worlds would never make a team up). Googling it as Power Rangers fanfics, I arrived to a website where I saw a couple of fanfics and opened the one called "Little Lost Ranger". I was awed by the descriptions of the characters (mainly Ako). After reading the story, I redirected to the page which had a lot of more info about the series. I also read the sequels of the fics which directly describes the first two seasons of Mighty Morphin'. Sadly, the fics by this author stopped before Kakuranger. I really wanted to know those characters unknown to me at that time! After I read my first glance on Radiguet & Cia. I went to see the episodes for myself. My first copy was a raw, bad quality (video talking), incomplete version. But it was enough to have a good taste of each character. I got impressed by an actor who came in later in the series as Tranza. I really sympathized with him and started liking his character and was sad when he was the first one to leave the series (I even suffered when Radiguet tortured him :p). I was shocked when I saw for the first time a ranger's death. I thought Super Sentai didn't do that unless it was necessary (read Burai). With all of these, I decided to try and see more of the original material. I had to wait for 2 years for me to actually be able to go for my second and third sentai series *which happened at the same time*.

Gosei Sentai Dairanger:

This is the second series I got. I mainly got it because Hirose Yutaka was in it (remember what I wrote above? Well, with this series, I really love him *I mean, his way of acting and the splendid ways of appearing in the scene (especially when it seems he's flying)*). I really liked his story, shared with Ryou and Zaidos. But I also found Tommy's counterpart (I saw a video in youtube) and really loved Kou's story. The whole plot is so different from Mighty Morphin'! I didn't know a father would behave like Shaddam or Ryou's dad. Bit by bit, I started caring for some characters and I hoped they would end up differently. My heart hurts a lot when my fave character was shotgun down (to this day, I close my eyes and cover my ears when Jin jumps in the air *though I have no problems with the same scene in a total different franchise and with another actor*). Dairanger is also special because I finally could understand why 1) The White Ranger suit looked different to the 'original' core team when it was adapted. 2) Saban chose exactly that suit over the rest (it could very well have chosen the one from the Shishiranger). FYI, I think Saban chose Kibaranger's suit because it looked similar to the Dragon Ranger suit imo. I also discovered that depending on the series and who the character is teamed up, it becomes my fave character. I.E. I really like Kirinranger (his kenpo pose *seen above* drives me crazy, the fact he's always wearing a suit makes him outstand over the rest who merely use informal clothes.) And I love Ryou because 1) He's a badass fighter 2) He's paired with Hirose-san's character 3) He's stubborn and determined about his goals. Right before this series, I always liked one character only. I.E. Tommy from Power Rangers and Rita (for the villains) or Ako from Jetman team as well as Tranza (for the villains).

Choujuu Sentai Liveman:

Liveman was my third series. I got it in an impass from Dairanger. I was surprised to see Gara's actress (from Dairanger) here. Just like Dairanger, I got it because Yutaka Hirose was in it. I really love this series because of the nature of the plot and the characters. I sympathized with each one of the characters (minus Arashi/Dr. Ashura who I found too annoying). I have to admit that I mainly was interested in the episode where Green Rhino got pregnant but the story overshadowed that reason. The plot, characters and world were well written that the series from the very first 10 minutes of the premiere episode takes you to its world and makes you alienate with one side. I alienated with Volt (because Bias was too intriguing as a character it got my attention picked :P). But there were times where I was cheering for the heroes. I even was left with my mouth open in a couple of ocassions (mainly because either the heroes' or the villains' actions). This series also brings the problem (at least to me) of choosing a fave ranger. For moments, I like Megumi's way of doing things. Another time, Yusuke's focus episodes are really impressive and finally Joh's determination and cheerful behavior are fun to watch. Tetsuya/Black Bison and Junichi/Green Rhino have so little focus episodes and by the time they show up, you're already bonded with the main 3 which turn them into being there and nothing more. Overall, Liveman opened my mind to a way of doing things that are not what we see nowadays such as the inner conflicts both groups (the Livemen and Volt) have.

Power Rangers Dino Thunder:

This incarnation is very especial to me for various reasons. 1) It brought me back to the franchise (I stopped watching with Turbo movie because I didn't have cable anymore and the aerial tv channels weren't broadcasting the franchise anymore). In 2006, I got cable again and one day, doing zapping, I came to one scene with Tommy. After I watched the rest of the episode, I went to the internet to find out everything about this new series. I learned it had 2 years old (at that time) and JDF was on the show again. I started watching it *Tommy was my crush when I was 8/9 years old* and by doing it, I realized it had a lot of MMPR nostalgia. Not only because Tommy was in it, but because of the episodes plot and characters. 2) Because of the infamous episode "Lost & Found in Translation." This was my first episode watching super sentai. I didn't mind the fact Disney parodied Abaranger. I took it for what it was: a recognition of the source material and a way to see the differences in the approach of the footage and plot. Truth be told, the essence of Abaranger was not completely there (resulting from choosing one of the silliest episodes the series had) but I was able to have a taste of the main characters. I had some opinions on the episode (things I didn't like as most of you) but those things didn't made my experience of enjoying watching the episode a bad one. 3) the plot. This is my first series which reused an already in existence theme and gave a twist to it. And I really think it worked out well taking in consideration what the Jurassic Park movies stated.

Hikari Sentai Maskman:

Maskman made my dream true. In 2012, for 5 months and because of certain circumstances, I decided to try to time a serie. I've been using as a guinea pig a serie (not related to toku). One day, when I felt 'confident about my work', I started saying to the fansub groups I knew how to time. Oh boy! None of them asked me to join and I really didn't feel bad for it. I mean, after all, it was only 1 month since I started timing when I went to say "I know how to time". Until one day, I got in real trouble. Shir, one of the translators for Guis, took it seriously and asked me to join G.U.I.S. At first, I was surprised by the invitation (because I reproached the group of some decisions they made to Liveman which I considered where misplaced.) But I said, heck! This is my opportunity to stop the fantasy (read the guinea pig) and be in the real deal. I accepted and you can't imagine my joy when I received my first script (it was episode 17). I helped in most of the series. I cried when I delivered my last episode...I couldn't believe it meant already done! I also embarrassed myself when they found out I was doing it wrong! I didn't know where to hide! Luckily, virus, Shir and Fort helped me. They gave me a quick intense lesson and I was back in action. Another thing is that I didn't touched the cards (monster's name or the title of the episode or the to be continued). Gladly, by practicing a lot, I started touching them...this is a Bioman success, *considering I was delivered at the same time scripts for both shows, I thought of talking a bit about it here*. I'm so happy to be part of Guis because ever since I started the adventure of timing a script, a lot of things happened. 1) I met wonderful people and 2) Now, I can really understand very well what it means when each fansub group says "It'd be out when it's done." All the work behind is really impressive (and not because of a flashy karaoke or being the first to take an episode out). It's: translation, translation check, timing, timing check, quality check (this is to see if the translation flows naturally or doesn't use too complicated words that everyone can understand), encoding and finally, after all this is done, it goes out for you to watch. To talk a bit about the series itself, I had fun watching Takeru/Red Mask and my fave ranger was Akira/Blue Mask. I loved Oyobu and hate Kiros. My fave character to time was Anagmas (because he had long speeches :D) My fave episode was the two parter arc: "Akira loses his eyesight! The mysterious spell" aka episode 43 and "Transform! Underground Empire Swordsman Akira" aka episode 44 because I love brainwashed characters. The overall plot is great and reminds me of Changerion with its romantic side. *Though technically Changerion used that aspect chronologically speaking*.

Samurai Sentai Shinkenger:

Shinkenger is in here because it got me interested in the culture of the country. They also are responsible of me surfing the net trying to find websites which teaches for free the language. Out of the kanjis I first got to imitate is the Tsuchi (土), Kotoha's symbol. After practicing a lot, I'm able to do Ki (木 )and Hi (火), Chiaki's and Takeru's respectively. I really like all the characters (villains, heroes and allies). They're so much fun to watch. I have a couple of fave episodes. What I really love of this series is the fact that is too Japanese. I can take a taste of what the bushido, samurai, lord, retainers and other things like that were like. The balance between comedy and drama is well done. I also love the fact that the summer movie is canon, something only done one time before. I think I can say the same thing for the Goseiger vs Shinkenger movie and the Shinkenger Returns. I love the plot and how the team is first shaken up when Shinken Gold first arrives but later, they depend on his abilities with Mojikara to keep going...and how the Shinkengers developed their personalities through the duration of the series.

Choukou Senshi Changerion:

 Changerion only existed because Yutaka Hirose was in there. That was the only reason why I got a (almost complete) copy of the show. At first, I only watched the show for that reason. I even didn't like it at first because it felt too awkward in the dialogues, places, characters. It was not Super Sentai! It was not Kamen Rider either!  The pace was slow which contributed to the feeling of awkwardness.  There were only a couple of episodes which I liked that one hand was enough to count them. I didn't know the rest of the cast. I liked the finisher move but that was about it. The comedy was ok. The romance was one of the best parts. I didn't (and still need to) understand the final episode. Last year, I gave it a second try. After I watched it, I completely changed my mind. I take it for what it was: another way of doing toku. Honestly, I only watched 3 actors in other works. One of the bad guys was in Kiva and Agito--not Mr. Hirose lol. The ally and hero (the guy with an insignia in the pic above) was in 3 Kamen Rider Blade eps. His character was an Undead who was all peace and helpful. I really like him more in Changerion (physically speaking---that hairstyle looked awesome on him but I think he cut it because of being older in 2004 *Changerion was made in 1996*). The one above the Undead is Asakura/Kamen Rider Ohja in Kamen Rider Ryuki. Akira--not Asakura's brother lmao--is the completely opposite to Asakura. He's the cheerful, easy-going character. I'm really sad when I find out that only a minimal group of people watched this series, and even more when there's no group picking it up to be subbed. Truth be told, it's not an easy series to watch *most of the episodes has comedy in it and you really need to get past the impression of awkwardness it has for the duration of the entire series*. But it's not impossible either! You only need to don't compare it with the 3 main franchises (Rider, Sentai and Ultraman). Take it for what it is: another hero. I try my best to give the series publicity each time I can, especially because it's not a long series. It's only 4 episodes longer than Jakq Dengekitai.
Well, this is my toku history/experience. Thanks for reading.

Little Lost Ranger:
List of Sentai and Kamen Rider Sites available by this fan:
Power Rangers Unlimited: (now discontinued but u can see some contents such as the Jason Faunt interview or episodes transcripts or galleries of the characters)

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