Watching Hikounin Sentai Akibranger made me think about my own otaku-ness. I’m a 25 year old fan of Power Rangers. Some people would think one would be embarrassed to admit that, but I’m not. Like any other work of fiction that’d be easily featured at a Comic-con or Wondercon convention, Power Rangers is something that attracts fans of all ages. For many, like myself, they grew up with the series, but never grew out of it.
But that actually wasn’t always the case for me.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered in 1993. I was six years old then, the perfect age to get sucked into the world of bright colored superheroes wearing spandex. I was right in the middle of the show’s target audience and I was part of that huge cultural phenomenon that saw million of children begging their parents for Power Rangers toys and crowds clamoring for pictures with actors in Power Rangers suits.
I distinctly remember begging my parents to buy me the $60+ Megazord. And I remember finally getting one and bringing it home and having to tediously stick on all the decals and stickers onto the thing. I remember being so excited to head to our locals Toys-R-Us where the “Power Rangers” were supposed to make an appearance. The entire parking lot was full of people; full families, children sitting on their father’s shoulders.
I remember having to wait an hour in the blazing sun with no sign of any red, yellow, blue, black or pink-suited people, nor any sign of Jason, Trini, Billy, Zac, or Kimberly. I remember waiting a couple more minutes to finally see… well, someone, whoever, in Halloween-costume quality Ranger suits come out of the store and wave to the crowd. And walk back in the store.
I may have only been six or seven years old, but even then, I knew those weren’t the real Power Rangers. And yet, I was still a fan.
But then that’s where my memory gets fuzzy. I remember going to the theatre with my parents to watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie on its opening weekend. But after that, it seems I dropped the show. Maybe I grew up?
Over the years, I’d stumble upon the show again and I’d say to myself “Woah, Power Rangers is still on the air?” I remember seeing the first airing of In Space‘s “Countdown to Destruction.” I remember seeing various episodes of Lost Galaxy. And I distinctly remember watching an episode of Time Force that had Wes riding in Eric’s jeep.
For those eight years, I wasn’t a Power Rangers fan. I didn’t regularly watch the show, if at all. I didn’t even know Zeo or Turbo existed. I had no idea there was a little kid named Justin who was “the new Blue Ranger!!!” But it was 2002 when that would change.
Once again, I stumbled upon an episode and was amazed Power Rangers still had a life on television. This time it was Wild Force’s “The Master’s Last Stand.” Coincidentally, it was the final episode to air on Fox Kids before the franchise entered the Disney family.
I was 15 then. Maybe a few years out of the Power Rangers target audience. Yet, I was intrigued by the episode. This villain has who I assumed was the Red Ranger chained up in a warehouse and gloating about murdering his parents. WTF!? This is Power Rangers!?
I immediately began looking up more info on the internets about this so-called Wild Force and how in the world Power Rangers managed to survive for ten years. I caught up on Wild Force thanks to the incessant airings on Fox Family Channel (before becoming ABC Family) before the series resumed with new episodes on its new home on ABC Kids.
I was hooked. I once again called myself a Power Rangers fan. Though many in the fandom don’t much care for Wild Force as a season, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart as the season that brought me back into the fold.
Since Wild Force, I haven’t missed a single episode of Power Rangers (except for the 2nd half of SPD… that’s a whole other
essay post right there). During that time, I was able to discover the pre-Wild Force seasons as well, watching Lost Galaxy and Time Force all the way through and possibly seeing the entire seasons of In Space and Lightspeed Rescue, though out of order and at various times over those few years.
Looking back it’s interesting to me that most of my Power Rangers experience was related to the Disney Era of the franchise. The seasons from Ninja Storm to RPM were the ones I looked forward to seeing week after week. Being excited about seeing a new episode every Saturday morning.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m in the minority of fans who actually liked the Disney Era seasons. Before RPM, DinoThunder was my all-time favorite season. While that’s not an uncommon opinion, my actual liking of Mystic Force and Operation Overdrive is. And this isn’t a “Hindsight is 20/20” type of deal. I legitimately enjoyed the seasons when they first aired. Of course, everyone has their own opinion and I know some of those opinions have changed since Samurai began gracing our televisions.
But it were those Disney seasons that kept me a part of the Power Rangers fandom. Those Disney seasons got me interested in the franchise again, making me want to go back and watch all the Saban Era seasons too.
Twenty years after Power Rangers first premiered, I find myself a fan. I may have grown out of Power Rangers back in the mid 90s, but I grew to love the Power Rangers again in the 2000s. Maybe it was part nostalgia. Maybe it was enjoying some light fluff or in some cases, genuinely intriguing television [/RPMsnob]. And it’s also thanks to Power Rangers that I’ve become a big fan of Japanese tokusatsu these last two years.
And just like the three otakus of Akibaranger, I’m one of I’m sure thousands or millions of fans around the world who are fans of Power Rangers, no matter what age, no matter their level of comfort in shouting it to the world or keeping it a guilty pleasure.