Let’s rewind back to when the news first broke that Saban Brands would be adapting Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger instead of Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters as the Power Rangers season following the huge, epic amazing anniversary season that was Super Megaforce.
There was no shortage of fan discussion (and the Power Rangers fandom is certainly one with MANY opinions) about the reasoning behind it. The powers that be at Toei, Bandai and Saban Brands even helped fan the flames of theories (whether through second-hand information, bad translations or just plain made up #FakeNews before it was in style).
The fact, though, was that for the first time since the franchise’s infancy, Power Rangers would skip over a Sentai season. Power Rangers of course is able to still exist today partly because repurposing already filmed Japanese footage and using already made costumes eases budgetary concerns for a Saturday noontime children’s program/toy commercial.
But the idea that a Sentai season wouldn’t be brought over to the States and adapted into a Power Rangers season was a very foreign idea. A surprising development that was surprising maybe for the mere fact that was different and a disruption of the norm.
The theorizing and excuses and debates over the merits of Go-Busters as a season would continue until it all transferred to Ressha Sentai ToQger two years later as it too was skipped over for ninjas.
Now, the game has changed. Or really, the official manufacturer of Power Rangers toys has changed. A bigger change than skipping over a Sentai season even. Moving on from Bandai of America to Hasbro has turned out not only a simple matter of who gets to make toys. But it appears that this may be the beginning of the next era of the (miraculously?) still surviving franchise that is Power Rangers.
Taking a step back, the facts are these: [/PushingDaisies]
-Nickelodeon renewed Power Rangers through 2021. A curious move considering the current two-year/Super-format. The next team of Rangers would be introduced in 2019. One would assume that team extends into its Super half in 2020. And one would then reasonably assume the next team is introduced in 2021, but with no guarantee of its Super half in 2022.
-Hasbro now has the master toy license for Power Rangers for most of the world. But maybe the most interesting tidbit of info hidden in the announcement press release was that Hasbro will have an opportunity to purchase Power Rangers outright.
-Saban announces the next season is Power Rangers Beast Morphers with a description that sounded nothing like an adaptation of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger or Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, the two Sentai seasons perceived to be the choices for PR2019.
These three big events/decisions are poised to be more consequential to the franchise than whether or not there’s a 2nd movie.
Though there’s many more questions than answers at this point. There are certainly many possibilities that are exciting to consider. Will Nickelodeon now allow more than 20 episodes and 2 holiday specials a year? Would that mean we’re back to one team/season a year? Does Hasbro and its eventual (let’s face it) takeover of the franchise mean an increased flow of money and effort into the actual series content? And will we actually get to see once-impossible adaptations of ToQger and Zyuohger and eventually the Bandai of America-influenced Kyuranger?
The future of Power Rangers has certainly perked up more in this last week than it did after the movie last year.
I’m cautiously optimistic.
So I’ve expressed my absolute love and adoration for Go-Busters before. It is tied with ToQger as my favorite Sentai season of all-time. (I only started watching Sentai with Samurai Sentai Shinkenger.
When Dino Charge was first announced, I felt both happy and sad. I was sad because skipping over Go-Busters felt like it was being made into the unwanted stepchild. Like there was something so wrong with it, so bad and horrible that it prompted Saban Brands and Bandai of America to skip adapting a Sentai season for the first time in 20 years. And many fans certainly agreed with that perceived sentiment towards Go-Busters. (The Nickelodeon schedule doesn’t help either of course.)
At the same time, I was happy.
For anyone not familiar, there’s the concept of being a snob when it relates to Power Rangers and Super Sentai. Back in the day when YouTube did not exist and one couldn’t easily watch television shows from halfway around the world, I thought Sentai was the most absurd thing ever. And Power Rangers was the saving grace that took the cheesy, horrible Super Sentai and turned it respectable and good and watchable. I was a Power Rangers Snob. When it came to Power Rangers vs Super Sentai, Power Rangers could do nothing wrong and Super Sentai was just an embarrassing Asian TV show. (And believe me, I grew up watching Filipino soap operas, so I know embarrassing Asian TV. lol)
But when Disney finally gave up on Power Rangers after RPM and the franchise was on its final breaths, I decided to finally check out this Sentai-thing. My only previous experience with it was DinoThunder‘s “Lost and Found in Translation”. And that certainly did not change my preconceived notions about the Japanese source material at the time.
If it had been a few years before, I probably would’ve been content to put Power Rangers in the past and not make any effort to watch Super Sentai and continue to get my spandex-wearing hero fix. I don’t understand or speak Japanese. And I definitely had no interest in having to put effort into reading subtitles while watching a TV show. Like, what kind of insanity is that?! If I wanted to read, I’d pick up a book, not turn on the TV. Amirite?
Anyway… I’d gotten deep into watching Korean dramas in the years prior and found that subtitles aren’t so bad. Especially if you actually enjoy what you’re watching.
So I decided to give it a try. I found Shinkenger with English subtitles and started watching. And…
I loved it! It was amazing. It was nothing like my unfair misconceptions about Sentai. It was actually good. No, great! It was a great show and I enjoyed bingeing on the episodes and speeding through the season.
Since then, I haven’t missed a single episode of Super Sentai (except for the last 1/3 of Kyoryuger).
At the same time as all this was happening, Saban regained ownership of Power Rangers and Saban Brands churned out Samurai, Super Samurai, Megaforce and Super Megaforce. And…
No. Just no. A mess. Just… even to this day, I don’t know how to comprehend what happened with those seasons.
But what I do know is that those seasons basically turned me into a Sentai Snob. Though this time, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that yes, Sentai was better than what Power Rangers was churning out at the time. (Even up to today, tbh.)
Long story short, my accepting of turning into a Sentai Snob made me happy Go-Busters (and ToQger later) wasn’t going to be adapted to Power Rangers.
I’m also the kind of fan that believes (unreasonably or not) a bad Power Rangers adaptation somehow affects the original Sentai season. I definitely understand the counterpoint that the original Sentai will still be there to enjoy regardless of whatever Power Rangers does with it. But there’s just something about feeling like the original is disrespected in some way with a hack job of the original. Butchering the original story (as Samurai did) or wasting great footage and costumes (as Megaforce did) just feels off and sad.
Like, how dare you sully the good suits and footage and story of a Sentai season?
It can certainly be disappointing. I find being disappointed in wasted potential often on toku shows. But especially when it comes to a season I love like Go-Busters, I ended up being relieved that there would be no chance for Power Rangers to “sully” Go-Busters‘ good name with a poor adaptation.
Now that the impossible is possible, I’m cautiously optimistic. Maybe with everything that’s happened in the last week, it’s a signal of a change for Power Rangers. The new logo is certainly the most visual example of that.
My only hope right now is that Power Rangers Beast Morphers is a good season. We can get to comparing it to Go-Busters later. But first and foremost, it has to be good on its own. And better than what we’ve gotten recently. Relatively speaking to the last seven and a half years under Saban Brands, that might be an easy task. Or difficult, considering the same team would presumably still be in place for next year.
But this is definitely an opportunity for endless possibilities to truly bring Power Rangers into the future. Saban Brands has worked to almost bring the franchise back to the 90s. And that’s certainly not a good long-term strategy at all.
Anyway, as the excitement of the last week subsides, the hope for the future will remain. And right now, there’s at least three more years of Power Rangers fun to be had. And most certainly, three more years of furious debate and discussion amongst fans. Either way, things will be very interesting.