Another season of Super Sentai has come and gone and another one is days away from premiering. After the conclusion of Kamen Rider Saber back in August, I decided to rank the seasons I’d watched so far. (Partly because of how negative I felt about Saber, I wanted to very clearly place it at the bottom of any list lol)
And so with Zenkaiger having wrapped up its run and Donbrothers coming up, I decided to do the same with Sentai. I actually did a ranking of Sentai (and Power Rangers) seasons back in 2014. So it’s about time I updated that list and do a complete one this time. So here goes!
(*note* Yasuko Kobayashi GOAT appreciation ahead!)
1. Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters
Amazing. It featured a strong, dramatic, emotional storyline, but didn’t forget to have a little fun to help put things into perspective. It had legitimate and truly surprising twists that kept things exciting. The tweaked formula helped the season feel fresh. It had a large group of likeable characters (human and not) and a deliciously crafty and slick villain. It had a great, talented cast. But maybe, most importantly, Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters started a journey and satisfyingly concluded it. And that conclusion couldn’t have worked without having plenty of heart and emotional connection.
1. Ressha Sentai ToQger
ToQger has many similar qualities. Which is probably why it’s tied for my #1. I absolutely love the idea of childhood friends “growing up” to become superheroes. The ToQgers embarking on a journey to find their home gave the season a sort of nostalgic feel. And that helped me feel connected to the story faster than any other Sentai or PR season ever did. I was immediately invested in the ToQgers regaining their memories and finding their hometown. They are fun and likeable characters. And like other toku seasons, it is a big win if you can balance a generally darker story or undercurrent through the season while still being bright and fun. It has an incredibly charming ensemble cast. The villains have some of the best story and character development I’ve ever seen on any toku show. And the amount of heart that helps make those emotional climaxes effective really resonated with me.
3. Samurai Sentai Shinkenger
My first full Sentai season. And I loved it. There are lots of twists and turns through the 49 episodes, like any genre show, with an intricately woven mythology. We see the relationships between the Shinkengers develop, relationships between the villains, and even get to see some very good backstory on both our heroes and the villains. Shinkenger has a great cast, very likable, and made their characters people you’d want to spend time with. It was very refreshing watching Shinkenger, almost like a reboot of Power Rangers itself for me personally. A little more exciting, a little deeper, a little more action than your typical Power Rangers. Like I credit Wild Force with bringing me back to Power Rangers after so many years, Shinkenger will now always hold a special place in my TV heart as the series that brought me into the world of Super Sentai.
4. Uchu Sentai Kyuranger
For me, the mark of a good season is when it can make a grown man like myself cry like a baby. Kyuranger did that numerous times. The season almost immediately captured my attention and there was never a time during the course of the season that I doubted my early proclamation of love. Maybe some times when I felt like they could’ve done things differently. But the season featured a great cast (both the face actors, the voice actors and the suit actors as well). The story progressed at a steady pace. And the clear endgame allowed for a lot of great character moments. Perhaps not the amount of depth I would have wanted to see, but still great episodes that helped to make each character distinct. And that’s a big accomplishment when this was such a huge cast.
I just really love this season. It is by no means perfect. But it had everything I look for in a toku show, or any show in general. And I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
4. Mashin Sentai Kiramager
I think both ToQger and Kiramager share so many great qualities. (Toei! Give me that crossover!) A charming, totally likeable and talented cast. Full, multi-dimensional characters. (Both the heroes and villains.) An engaging story. Being able to balance both the silly and some heavier, dramatic stories. And the ultimate lesson of friendship, family and bonds. Kiramager really delivered in all aspects that I look for in a season I end up enjoying.
The show was able to give us characters that we could truly care about. In stories that are actually set on solid foundations. And to help compliment that, the season had one of the best musical scores in a long time. That background music would add so much to each scene, especially in the most dramatic moments.
As this was a season produced during the start of COVID, it faced some hurdles. But they were able to successfully and safely complete production. And not only that, but they were still able to deliver one of the most satisfying, complete and enjoyable seasons in years.
A wonderful, positive, fun escape that had so much heart, warmth and sincerity. Mashin Sentai Kiramager was indeed a bright, shining light during that challenging time.
4. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger
Ryusoulger is a fascinating season. It seemed vague at first, but much more obvious as the season progressed. The season was shining an interesting and important light on mental health. There was a direct reference to the infamous Aokigahara in the premiere. And in the first few episodes, one of the supporting characters attempted suicide.
But the Ryusoulgers were positive people and through them, we learned the importance of friends, family and bonds. Being able to reach out to someone when you need help and to reach out when you see someone who might need help. An excellent and surprising theme, but a welcome one to have.
Ryusoulger was fun and enjoyable. When they did goofy stuff, it was fun. When they delved into more serious matters, they hit the marks as well. Certainly some missed potential here and there. But overall an enjoyable season with strong characters, good action and successfully touching on heavier subjects not usually seen on toku shows.
4. Tensou Sentai Goseiger
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. That’s absolutely the case with Goseiger for me. Back then, the response from fans was quite tepid. And for me, it was my #5 ranked season out of the six I had watched at the time. But looking back, I’ve developed a stronger appreciation for the season. Especially since it was the second Sentai season I ever watched. One of the biggest accomplishments of Goseiger is how it handled the balance of its outright slapstick goofiness and the heavier, legitimately more dramatic story turns. The way the season was divided amongst villain factions may have seemed odd at the time. But by the end, everything came together in the most shocking and satisfying way. Goseiger is a completely satisfying and fun experience. A great story, a likeable cast, fun characters, and epic villains. (I even think one of the best villains in all 13 seasons I’ve watched.) Goseiger is secure at this spot on my list.
4. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
Gokaiger is pure fun, but with just enough substance and more than a touch of sentimentality to appeal to anyone from longtime fans to the uninitiated new fan (like myself at the time). Whether it’s the action, the characters, or the nostalgia, you’ll find at least one thing, if not all of ‘em, to keep you entertained for 25 minutes every week. Its great, charismatic cast carried all season. But the writing and story did its part as well. When you can effectively deliver anniversary season antics while allowing the current team to be able to stand on their own even without it, you’ve got a winner.
9. Shuriken Sentai Ninninger
Ninninger is definitely not a favorite amongst the fans. But as I’ve mentioned many times over the years, I don’t care. I don’t form my opinions on things based on what everyone else thinks or what the “cool” viewpoint is to have. If I like something, then I’ll like it. If you don’t, then good for you.
But for me I really enjoyed Ninninger. It might be ranked #9 on my list, but I enjoyed it. And the main reason is that I firmly believe the season’s theme was about family. The Ninningers were family and they served as the contrast to what became of the Kibaonis. When I had doubts about the direction of the main story or while Grandpa was being all sketchy, the familial bond between the cousins (Kinji included and sometimes Father when he was around) helped carry the show through. Many episodes either reinforced that familial bond or used the family ties to deliver some fun adventures. Family is definitely very important to me, so seeing family play out here on Super Sentai was great.
10. Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger
As light and enjoyable as the individual episodes might have been, as likeable as the characters can be, there’s still an unfulfilled feeling for me. The season either relied heavily on filler episodes and side adventures or built up stories and set up foundations to stories that went nowhere in the end. As nice as everything was, I left this season with that sense of being unsatisfied and unfulfilled. So much potential wasted and so many balls (gears?) being dropped.
11. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger
I still haven’t watched all episodes of Kyoryuger. Strange, I know. But I honestly don’t have any urge to do so. I don’t really know why. I don’t hate or even dislike the season. But it’s not really a season I’d go and rewatch again. (Hello, you haven’t even finished it in the first place.) But really, I only care about Kyoryuger mainly because it gave me Power Rangers Dino Force Brave, the special Korean series that I absolutely love.
12. Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger
I honestly feel some sort of apathy to the season itself. I don’t hate it or dislike it, per se. But I found it truly hard to connect with any of the characters. And the biggest reason might be the imbalance in how the show treated the Lups vs the Pats. Then there’s the lack of a truly cohesive and well-developed story and weak foundation for what should’ve been a strong endgame. With LuPat, while there were some good things, even great things, during the course of the season, I arrived at the end of the season feeling apathetic and unsatisfied.
The VS concept is interesting on paper. But if you’re going to do a versus concept, there should be parity between the two teams. And the show didn’t seem interested in doing that. And I think that’s the biggest flaw of the season for me.
The only thing I really actually cared about during the season was Zamigo and Jingi Irie absolutely embodying the character for the fleeting moments we did get of him.
13. Doubustu Sentai Zyuohger
Honestly, I’d have LuPat and Zyuohger tied for last. But Zyuohger is absolutely my least favorite season solely because of the way they wrote the character of Misao. The way they treated him during the season was so horrible and actually quite offensive.
Zyuohger opened with great promise. The visuals looked completely wacky and all over the place, but the story seemed very interesting. The promise of a “fish out of water” story with the Zyumans in the human world opened up lots of possibilities for things they could do during the season. On the villain side, Ginis’ deadly Blood Game definitely reminded me very much of the classic English class short story The Most Dangerous Game. But as the season went along, balls (cubes?) were being dropped left and right. Things that made the season actually charming and fun where tossed aside. And it was the introduction of Misao that really signaled that things were starting to go off the rails.
You can read a more detailed version of my views of the season here. But essentially, the Zyuohgers were assholes and treated Misao like crap. Not only that, the season turned his mental health issues and depression into the butt of jokes. Like, WTF is that?
Anyway, that was all very regrettable. And though the surprising Returns movie went a long way in trying to correct the series’ wrongs and Yamato returned to be a stud of a hero in Super Sentai Saikyo Battle, Zyuohger is firmly my least favorite season.
Super Sentai Strongest Battle
I absolutely loved this four-episode miniseries. I wish we got more! They were able to fill in so much in the miniseries and still have a lot of material left for more potential episodes. The “Oddballs” were an unexpectedly fun, ragtag group of Sentai All-Stars. The miniseries drew upon each of those characters and their respective seasons and created a brand new, special story that ended up being enjoyable and emotional. Really wonderful.
Power Rangers Dino Force Brave
I was looking forward to seeing a Korean Power Rangers series. Having been fully riding the Korean Wave for years now, having a real Korean toku series, especially directly connected to Senai was a fun idea. And then the cast of familiar faces (to me) was announced and I was already sold. In the end it was a nice sequel to Kyoryuger and still was able to stand on its own. The plot and what little we did see of each character in the short 15-minute episode format really showed the potential of what a full series could have been like. Fwhat it was Dino Force Brave was great fun. It was more than just an extra toy commercial for the Korean market. It was a well-done story in a unique format. Lots of creativity, especially with the mecha battles. It was refreshing and very enjoyable.