FUNNY ANIMALS AND MORE
October 27, 2013 posted by Fred Patten

Super Sentai Shows

WARNING! This week my column is not about animation! However, all the super sentai (aka super-team) programs I discuss here have a “cartoony” aura about them.

When the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization began in May 1977, we did not watch only Japanese TV anime. We also sampled the Japanese TV live-action superhero programs. We found that these were hilariously campy, yet we quickly tired of them. After about a year, the C/FO was exclusively watching anime. What was exciting in anime was just silly in live-action; also, all of the live-action superhero programs were deliberately campy.

There was a predecessor of the live-action superhero TV series – what we learned were called in Japan the super sentai shows; a mixture of the English “super” and the Japanese “sentai” meaning a team or squad – that had been shown on American TV: Ultraman. Most anime fans had seen at least an episode or two of Ultraman, and those who’d liked it had watched it regularly.

ultraman550

Ultraman, 39 episodes, had originally appeared on Japanese TV from July 1966 to April 1967; it appeared on syndicated American TV dubbed by Peter Fernandez, Corinne Orr, and the Speed Racer crew, from approximately 1968 to 1972. It was produced by Tsuburaya Productions, founded in 1963 by Eiji Tsuburaya who had created Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidrah, and similar “men in rubber suit” live-action monster theatrical features for Toho Co., Ltd., the major Japanese theatrical film producer/distributor during the 1950s. Ultraman had a forerunner on Japanese TV, Ultra Q, which did not appear on American TV; so for Americans Ultraman pioneered the live-action “monster of the week who has to be stopped from stomping Tokyo” TV series.

Ultraman was so popular in Japan that as soon as it ended, it was replaced by the first of a series of sequels (in fact, if not in story), all produced by Tsuburaya Productions for the TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System): Ultra Seven, Ultraman Jack, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Taro, and a seemingly unending flow of others. By the time we started the C/FO in 1977, Toei Co., Ltd. (Toei Doga, which produced animation, was a semi-independent subsidiary of the larger Toei Co. which produced and distributed live-action theatrical and TV films) was just starting its rival series of “super sentai” programs, designed by cartoonist Shotaro Ishi(no)mori’s Ishimori Production Co, Ltd., for the NET channel (now TV Asahi), starting with Go Ranger (The Five Rangers).

ultra-men



Go Ranger. Himitsu Sentai Go Ranger (Secret Task Force/Squad Five Rangers). 84 episodes, April 5, 1975-March 26, 1977, plus several movies. This was extremely popular, running on TV for 84 weeks and establishing the super sentai formula of a team of color-coded superheroes, working for a world police force, fighting an evil organization trying to take over Earth. The team always consists of three or four guys and one cute girl. In Go Ranger, it was Red Ranger, Blue Ranger, Yellow Ranger, Green Ranger, and Pink Ranger (guess which was the girl), members of EAGLE (Earth Guard League), fighting the supervillains of the Black Cross Army.

goranger550

Go Ranger was among the first TV programs that the C/FO got in video-trade with fans in Japan, from Japanese TV; in other words, without subtitles. We had to guess what was going on, which was fairly easy because the acting was helpfully broad. Red Ranger was the leader, Blue Ranger was his loyal second-in-command, Green Ranger was the rash/loose cannon of the team, Yellow Ranger was the comedy relief, and Pink Ranger looked pretty. The supervillains were ridiculous. My favorite villain-of-the-week was the one that I called Choo-Choo-Head; he had an old-fashioned steam locomotive with an evil glare for a head. He literally ran about the streets of Tokyo chuffing away, and it was easy to tell that the crowds of pedestrians were real pedestrians who were instructed by the camera crew to pretend that they didn’t notice him or the costumed heroes pursuing him. Some of the crowd were better at keeping straight faces than others. (Today, SuperSentai.com on the internet tells me that this was episode #46, “Black Super Express! Locomotive Mask’s Big Rampage”, and that he was Locomotive Mask.) Yellow Ranger was the only team member to be killed in action, by the evil Can Opener Mask. Go Ranger was so popular that it was rumored, and believed, that the real reason that it ended and was immediately replaced by J.A.K.Q. was that the sponsors felt that the market for Go Ranger merchandise was saturated, and it was time to move on to a new TV superhero series with new costumes, vehicles, and weapons for toys, action figures, etc.



J.A.K.Q. J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai (J.A.K.Q. Blitzkreig). 35 episodes, April 2-December 24, 1977. One of the few super sentai shows that had only four members instead of five, but the Ishimori team was limited by a plot that had its superhero team looking like the Jack (diamond, blue), Ace (spade, red), King (clover, green), and Queen (heart, pink) of a card deck. They worked for ISSIS, the International Science Special Investigation Squad, and took orders from Commander Joker (rainbow). They fought Crime, a global criminal organization led by Iron Claw.



Battle Fever J. 52 episodes, February 3, 1979-January 26, 1980. This had five superheroes with face-concealing costumes inspired by leading nations of the day: Battle Japan (the leader, naturally), Battle France, Battle Cossack (Soviet Union), Battle Kenya, and – ta-dah! – Miss America. They were from the National Defense Ministry, and they opposed the Egos Secret Society led by Satan Egos. This was the first super sentai show to have a giant robot or giant vehicle, the Battle Fever Robo. Miss America is really FBI agent Diane Martin (a Japanese actress), whose father was killed by Egos.



By this time, the anime fans had had enough of the Japanese TV live-action superhero shows. Unlike the anime, they were all identical except for superficialities like the costumes. We stuck with anime, with only a few live-action samples from time to time to make sure that we weren’t missing anything good. When we were offered sample episodes of Japan’s other mega-popular live-action TV superhero franchise, Kamen Rider, we said no, thanks (despite the fact that one of the Little Tokyo shops had a life-sized plaster Kamen Rider statue in front, who we called Potato-Bug Man for his insect-head mask).

For the record, here is a YouTube compilation that some fan made of the first dozen super sentai opening credits chronologically: Go Ranger (1975), J.A.K.Q. (1977), Battle Fever J (1979), Denziman (1980), Sun Vulcan (1981), Goggle-V (1982), Dynaman (1983), Bioman (1984), Changeman (1985), Flashman (1986), Maskman (1987), and Liveman (1988). One live-action sample was of a superhero series that was not a sentai show:

Spider-Man; 41 episodes, May 17, 1978-March 14, 1979. Spider-Man was not made for TV Asahi, but it was a Toei production, at a time when Toei and Marvel Comics were working closely together. Toei Animation produced TV movie adaptations of Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula and The Monster of Frankenstein comic books. The live-action Spider-Man wore the Marvel character’s costume, but otherwise bore no relation to the Marvel story line. The Japanese Spidey is Takuya Yamashiro, a young motorcyclist who gets his powers from an alien with Spider Extract from the Spider Planet. He works with Interpol Secret Intelligence fighting Professor Monster’s Iron Cross Army. He has a Spider Bracelet that contains his costume when he is not wearing it; he drives a flying car called the Spider Machine GP-7; he has a giant robot, Leopardon, that is really the alien’s transforming Marveller spaceship … all of these and more were available as toys, of course. To establish that he is a Good Guy, Interpol helps create a teen hit dance, the “Spider-Man Boogie”. Among the merchandise was an imitation of the John Williams Star Wars symphonic suite LP record; a Spider-Man jazz symphonic suite arrangement of the series’ opening and closing and incidental music by Michiaki Watanabe. I had Melody Records, a little Japanese-community music store, order me the LP from Japan; it was surprisingly good, with a full orchestra. The major difference between this and the super sentai shows was that they were all played for laughs, while Spider-Man was done as dead-serious drama. Unfortunately, it just proved that a serious superhero action drama on a TV budget did not work, not to mention that the obvious toy tie-ins were embarrassing. We watched a couple of episodes, and went back to the American Marvel comic book.


Anime fans were vaguely aware that Japanese TV followed up Battle Fever J with many other super sentai shows, but we didn’t pay much attention until Saban Entertainment licensed the American rights and started bringing them to American TV in August 1993 as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. We watched a few episodes, and returned to the anime. However, thanks to their popularity and fan internet sites, we know that Toei Co., Ltd. has produced 37 of them, from Go Ranger in 1975 to Kyoryuger in 2013. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger; The Strong Dragon Powered Beast Team. There are six heroes now on the Kyoryuger (Strong/Powerful Dragon) Team; Kyoryu Red, Kyoryu Black, Kyoryu Blue, Kyoryu Green, Kyoryu Pink, and Kyoryu Gold. The evil Deboss Army invades Earth, and Wise God Torin sends heroes into the past to fight dragons (dinosaurs) to take their power and become the Kyoryuger to fight the Deboss. The Kyoryu Team appeared in two earlier super sentai series; Zyuranger (1992) and Abaranger (2003). Etc., etc. The information is out there for those who want it, and apparently a lot of adolescent Americans do; but they are not anime fans.

I confess that there is one that I watched a few episodes of:

Tokosou Sentai DekaRanger; The DekaRanger Special Police Team; 50 episodes, February 15, 2004-February 6, 2005. “S.P.D… Special Police DekaRanger. Five detectives who fight cool with burning hearts. Their mission: To combat space criminals who invaded Earth. They will protect the peace and safety of all humanity!” Four young humans in the city of Megalopolis are appointed by the Earth branch of the galactic S.P.D., under the command of Doggie Kruger (a bright blue wolfman alien in a bad fursuit), to fight crime. They are assigned cadet Banban Azaka, an alien teenage hotshot (whose superior is seen in a hologram to be Cthulhu-headed), to join the DekaRangers as Deka Red; but his arrogance turns off Deka Blue, Deka Green, and Deka Yellow. Deka Pink spends most of her time taking bubble baths with her three beloved rubber duckies. They are the DekaRangers because their supersuits, vehicles, and weapons are made of the S.P.D.’s special Deka Metal. I was told about DekaRanger as a fan of anthropomorphized animals, because of Doggie Kruger and a very brief scene in episode #1, “Fireball Newcomer”, where Deka Red, rushing from planet Chanbeena on his way to Earth, crashes through a Christian wedding ceremony of cat people. I watched this first episode (embed above) and the next few, but there were no other animal aliens. I was mildly impressed, though, at how much Toei’s live-action TV special effects had improved since Go Ranger.

19 Comments

  • Great fun on these shows. I remember seeing Ultraman on WTBS (WTCG) Superstation 17 Atlanta back in the late 1970′s. That station also showed “The Space Giants” and “Spectreman” on weekdays. Spectreman was great fun, sort of a Ultraman clone.

    • That is hilarious. As I was reading the story I knew my reply would be that I saw it on Atlanta TV on Channel 17, in the early 70s, long before it was the Super Station. I grew up in Indianapolis, where there only the three network stations and one independent. I didn’t realize we weren’t getting all the shows out there until I visited Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1966 and there were a lot more stations and I saw Speed Racer for the first time. Atlanta also had more stations than Indy when we moved there in 1970. Ultra Man was one of those shows I’d never seen in Indy. It was a lot of fun to get in a certain mental mood and watch a giant Japanese guy do martial arts with strange creatures that could also do martial arts. The greatest thing about the mainly reptile like creatures Ultra Man would fight is the zippers going up their back.

  • Battle Fever J was Toei’s take on Marvel’s Captain America.

    Battle Fever J, Kamen Rider V3 and Kikaida (as well as several other shows) all aired in Hawaii on KIKU-TV with subtitles back in the 70s. Kikaida is so popular in Hawaii that the full run of episodes has been aired several times and there are people who belong to “Generation Kikaida”: http://www.generationkikaida.com/

    If you were lucky, you could also catch the various 3D movies. I remember seeing a Go Ranger, Kikaida, Inazuman triple feature when I was very young.

    Story with photos from the 70s:
    http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/July-2012/Kikaida-Hawaiis-Favorite-Superhero/

    Kamen Rider, Kikaida, Go Ranger (as well as Cyborg 009 and lots of other characters and shows) were all created by Shotaro Ishinomori.

  • Stop. You’re working from a bad point right at the start.

    Ultraman is the exact opposite of the Sentai shows. It was made by Tsuburaya, one of Toei’s primary competitors. It’s part of the subgenre of Giant Hero.
    Toei started doing shows in response to the success of Ultraman and the various Giant Hero shows.

    And Spider-Man was an example of a Henshin hero, more along the lines of Kamen Rider, Kikaider and the like. There’s also Metal Hero, Space Sheriff, and a number of other sub-genres.

    While Shotaro Ishinomori had a lot to do with the various Toei shows, they are not all similar.

    This is more an article about Tokusatsu (Japanese term for Special Effects) shows, than Super Sentai. I would suggest you amend it as such.

  • Fred, I know you’re a great animation historian, but to reinforce what Vinnie Bartilucci said, “sentai” is not the name of the overall Japanese superhero genre. These are just superheroes in the medium known as “tokusatsu” (Japanese term for SPFX), which encompasses many popular live-action fantasy genres, including the daikaiju genre (GODZILLA) and many others. Live-action Japanese superheroes are known collectively as “tokusatsu heroes.”

    “Sentai” (meaning “fighting team” or “squadron,” roughly translated as “task force”) is only used to describe “Super Sentai,” the official name for the series of shows GORANGER started (and from which DYNAMAN and POWER RANGERS originated). The “Ultra Series” is for Ultraman and his brethren, and his many imitators (created by Tsuburaya or otherwise) are called “Kyodai Hero” (“Giant Hero”). Then, you have Ultraman’s famous human-sized rival Kamen Rider (Masked Rider), whose many sequels, of course, is called the “Kamen Rider Series” (or “Rider Series” for short). The many Kamen Rider-like heroes are called “Henshin Heroes” (“henshin” = “transform”), due to the “henshin” theme that made Kamen Rider so popular.

    That said, I’d like to address some claims of yours:

    “What was exciting in anime was just silly in live-action; also, all of the live-action superhero programs were deliberately campy.”

    First of all, tokusatsu has far more appeal than you Americans truly recognize. I know some American anime fans/historians really hate tokusatsu, simply because it’s live-action and not animation (in direct contrast to anime people in Japan, who respect tokusatsu very highly; Hideaki Anno, for one), but your general statement is an insult to the medium. While Americans are so stoked on extreme realism, Japan noticeably has far more *imagination* than what I see in American live-action productions. So what if nothing is “realistic?” These shows were made for kids, or in some cases, the whole family. This brings us to Donald Ritchie’s comparison between Western and Eastern entertainment: Western (American) is “representational,” in that it seeks to be as “realistic” as possible. Eastern (Japanese) entertainment is “presentational,” in that it presents. Whatever is supposed to be visualized, they got the job done. And it has a more theatrical aesthetic than American realism. And some Americans could just as easily pick apart anime for not living up to, say, even the best Disney standards. (“Look at that! The limited movements, and the 2-3 frame mouths don’t even match the dialogue! This is cheesy, crappy animation!” Yes, I’ve heard this!) See what I mean? People have to remember that the Japanese entertainment industry is not union-based: These movies & shows have to be turned out in a tight schedule with a limited budget, and there are no outrageous actors’ fees: actors are paid a small salary, yet most of them work together like a family. Anime and tokusatsu are not so different. Not at all.

    And second, while some shows were “campy,” the first three Ultra Series (ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN, and ULTRA SEVEN) are as great as you could get. ULTRA Q, the most expensive TV series at the time (at 28 episodes), was filmed a whole year in advance before its broadcast on January 2, 1966 (and was planned as far back as 1963, when Tsuburaya Productions officially set up shop). Both ULTRA Q and ULTRAMAN had stories that ranged from very serious to very comical. The reason ULTRAMAN ended with 39 episodes was because TBS wanted more episodes, but Tsuburaya Productions didn’t want the series to run its course, so they ended it out of respect. So after ULTRAMAN ended, TBS ordered for a new TV series, CAPTAIN ULTRA, from Toei, for 26 episodes. By that point, Tsuburaya played around with the Ultraman concept again with the more serious ULTRA SEVEN (hailed as the best of the Ultra Series by Japanese fans), which, BTW, was more of a *remake* (not a sequel) of the original ULTRAMAN. (RETURN OF ULTRAMAN, which I’ll go into in a bit, would retroactively link these three shows together into the present day when each show was made.) SEVEN was also going to be the final Ultra Series, as Tsuburaya wanted to end the series out of respect, and go onto other SPFX shows (including adventure shows like MIGHTY JACK, horror shows like OPERATION: MYSTERY and HORROR THEATER UNBALANCE, and kids shows like CHIBIRA-KUN). But because merchandising for the Ultra Series was overwhelmingly strong (and mind you, merchandising was just on the side; the original sponsor of the original three shows was Takeda Pharmaceutical), Tsuburaya decided to give the series another go in 1969 with a direct sequel to ULTRAMAN, tentatively titled ULTRAMAN CONTINUES (ZOKU URUTORAMAN), but SPFX wizard Eiji Tsuburaya (the founder of Tsuburaya Productions) died in January of 1970 before production could begin, so the series was retooled into RETURN OF ULTRAMAN (Tsuburaya; 1971), which, despite being the best of the 70s Ultra Series, did not stop Tsuburaya from being at the mercy of networks and licensors (Eiji wielded a lot of political power back in the day). So the subsequent Ultra Series (and movies and spinoffs and such) vary in quality.

    The first 13 episodes of KAMEN RIDER (Toei; 1971), perhaps Ishinomori’s most famous creation, was very dark, serious, and gruesome, but the series was very close to getting canceled for low ratings, so when Kamen Rider 2 was introduced in Episode 14 (the actor playing the first Rider had a broken leg while shooting a motorcycle chase scene, but would return for good by the second half of the series), the series became more kid-friendly, and the ratings were the highest they’ve ever gotten for any of the Rider Series! Subsequent shows didn’t come as close. And indeed, the kid-friendly aspect did not stop the show from being very entertaining and action-packed. KAMEN RIDER set the pace for many human-sized superhero adventures to come. KIKAIDER, ARASHI, INAZUMAN, etc. And they had the same kind of formula (young man does a “henshin” pose to transform into a colorful superhero, and wastes dozens of henchmen to have a showdown with the monster of the week). And along came another Ishinomori creation, GORANGER, multiplying those same heroes fivefold (with a female among them), and the Super Sentai Series began.

    All this taken into consideration, there’s a difference; Tsuburaya Productions always stressed quality over quantity. While not all of their work is great (when you take anything after 1970 into account in varying degrees), they still manage to produce some very good work by Japanese TV standards. Toei, on the other hand, had quantity over quality. That said, most of their 70s shows were more conservative in formula and production values. It was by 1976 when Popy (now Bandai) began to push the toyetic aspect into these shows; in that regard, the quality peaked in the 1980s, IMHO. Bandai did have signs of being more pushy when the 90s rolled along, but once POWER RANGERS made it over, that was the straw that snapped the camel in half. It was more giant robots every 10-20 episodes. And the series had massive burnout. But to my surprise, it still has fans. Mostly because of POWER RANGERS.

    But let’s get to the point: I can’t argue with your personal tastes, Fred; I know you don’t have the same fondness for tokusatsu as I do (and I love tokusatsu and anime equally), BUT… I *can* argue with your judgement. Just because you don’t like it does not generally mean it’s bad or worthless. I’ve had to endure decades of Americans deriding Japanese live-action SPFX (partly because of cultural arrogance), and now, I see that a new generation of fans (some of them anime fans and even American animation folk!) taking to it like anime. Mostly, they’re more into the newer stuff, but when I see them enjoying older programs, especially the ones I love, I get choked up with pride. When you look at the Japanese side of the spectrum, you’ll see why these shows are so memorable. I mean, not every single show (many of which are entertaining in their own right), but the ones that are placed on top: the Ultra Series, the Rider Series, the Super Sentai Series, etc. And some of these shows were created by manga masters! (Ishinomori, Go Nagai, etc. Oh, yes, don’t forget Nagai did tokusatsu creations including BATTLE HAWK, AZTEKAISER, and the marionette show X-BOMBER, known in the UK as STAR FLEET!) In the age of the Internet, tokusatsu will never go ignored. Its market in the US is still young, but pretty strong.

    OK, I’m done.

    • I feel I just got schooled by a master here, thanks John!

  • Boy you guys really missed out when you turned down those classic Kamen Rider tapes!

    I think John Paul Cassidy said everything that needed to be said in response to this post on the part of tokusatsu fans on either side of the Pacific, but there are a couple points worth emphasizing.

    The claim that “a lot of adolescent Americans” who like tokusatsu “are not anime fans” is particularly odd, if not flat out erroneous. I have yet to meet an American tokusatsu fan who is not also an anime fan. But I meet a lot of American anime fans who won’t give tokusatsu the time of day for reasons similar to what are being voiced here. There’s is a certain irony to this, of course, in two ways. One is the fact that many of modern day anime fans who turn their nose up at tokusatsu were undoubtedly first exposed to Japanese TV and Japanese aesthetics by encountering tokusatsu either in the 1960s via Ultraman, Space Giants, Specterman, etc… or in the early 1990s via Power Rangers and other Saban localizations.

    I for one know that growing up in the early 90s my first exposure to Japanese pop-culture wasn’t anime but was Power Rangers and Godzilla movies. Ergo I was a fan of tokusatsu before I even knew what anime was. In fact I don’t think it would be taking things too far at all to argue that the entire generation of American kids who made anime into a household word in the early 2000s were first turned onto the very idea that Japanese shows could be cool/good by their exposure to tokusatsu in the early 90s. In fact that argument has been made. Both by Duke University anthropologist Anne Allison in her book “Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination” and by cultural historian Erik Davis in his essay “Half-Japanese” on the phenomena of Power Ranger. What is striking about Davis’ article is that it was originally published in The Village Voice on June 21, 1994 – so well before the big American Anime Boom of the early 2000s. In the closing remarks of his article Davis states that American children who are fans of Power Rangers now “may end up opening up a mass market for more mature and vital Japanese popular arts now restricted to America’s hipster subculture (anime and manga, principally).” Again there is a hint of elitism in Davis’ remarks regarding the false dichotomy of anime vs. tokusatsu but what I find more important is that he was absolutely right in his prediction!

    There other irony here with regards to those who poo-poo tokusatsu in favor of anime is that in Japan the reality is that both “otaku” (geek) culture and the industry that produces these shows consider tokusatsu and anime on par, a fact that is clearly evidenced by your own account of your Japanese tape trading buddies back in the day continually trying to send you episodes of various tokusatsu programs along with anime. Both tokusatsu and anime are often worked on by the exact same people, some of whom John already mentioned but there are many many more including directors like Keita Amemiya, writers such as Gen Urobuchi, Kazuki Nakashima, Kazunori Itō and artists like Tsuyoshi Nonaka and Yutaka Izubuchi.

    But even beyond that is the fact that many many anime creators are fans of tokusatsu and were influenced by it. In fact you would do well to check out Ep. 13 of Sci-Fi Japan’s Tokusatsu Documentary series in which renowned anime director Kazuyoshi Katayama (2nd assistant on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind; head director on Appleseed, Doomed Megalopolis, Giant Robo, Those Who Hunt Elves, The Big O, King of Thorn; storyboard artist on Samurai Champloo, Karas, Tiger & Bunny) sits down and talks about how if it wasn’t for Godzilla, Kamen Rider, Super Robot Red Baron and other tokusatsu series he never would have gotten into anime and worked on/created the shows he did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51efiPMmg5Q

    Point being if you’re an anime fan you are in debt to the tokusatsu genre, and should show it a little respect. And really why not watch a series or two, it’s just as good as anime.

  • Personally I don’t like making a great divide between anime and tokusatsu. I like certain shows, I hate certain shows. Samples from both fall into both genres.

    What I agree with John is that one must really do more research before passing judgment.

  • It looks like I have really oversimplified this topic, and misidentified it by implying that all TV live-action superhero programs are super-sentai shows. All I can say is that the C/FO tried some episodes of the live-action shows from the late 1970s onward, and we were not impressed. Also, I have attended many anime conventions from the 1990s to the present, including the giant Anime Expos before I had my stroke in 2005, and day trips in my wheelchair to Los Angeles’ annual Anime L.A. convention since then, and all of the interest that I have seen has been for the many anime TV series and theatrical features — none for any tokusatsu heroes.

  • I hear Toei’s Frankenstein movie wasn’t actually based on the Marvel comic.

    • So was their (disjointed) Dracula movie.

    • Comes full circle doesn’t it? :-P

    • I thought that Toei’s Dracula movie was based too much on Marvel’s “Tomb of Dracula” comic book. It tried to include every single issue of the comic book, with each issue’s subplot, instead of taking just one or two overviews of the whole series. As a result, it was an overly-chaotic montage of all the subplots flickering past at top speed without enough focus upon any one of them. I didn’t read Marvel’s Frankenstein comic book, so I don’t know how closely Toei’s movie followed it.

  • I recall seeing Ultraman on USA’s “Night Flight” program all joked up. They did a pretty good job of creating funny alternate story lines. I believe they did 5 or 6 of them.

    • I believe it was the Super Sentai show Dynaman that you saw.

  • ” Go Ranger was so popular that it was rumored, and believed, that the real reason that it ended and was immediately replaced by J.A.K.Q. was that the sponsors felt that the market for Go Ranger merchandise was saturated, and it was time to move on to a new TV superhero series with new costumes, vehicles, and weapons for toys, action figures, etc.”

    So that’s why so many shows in Japan do that. Kamen Rider, Pretty Cure, and Digimon all do this as well.
    It’s mostly a Toei thing, but then again Ultraman does it too…

    • Ultraman started doing that since the 70s. But until the late 70s, merchandise was made around the show, not the other way around. (As I mentioned before, the original sponsors of the Big Three Ultra Series – ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN, and ULTRA SEVEN – was not a toy company, but Takeda Pharmaceutical!) So until the Popy years, those toys (made by Marusan and Bullmark) had to resemble the Ultramen and all those crazy-looking untoyetic monsters as well as possible. :)

      Since they had Kamen Rider and Super Sentai from the get-go, Popy (now Bandai) acquired the license to Ultraman and Godzilla in the late 70s, before both licenses ultimately went under the Bandai banner in 1983. At that time, Godzilla was marketed more aggressively, which led to his movie revival in 1984. Although Ultraman was marketed very well through the years since then, it wasn’t until 1996′s ULTRAMAN TIGA where Ultraman finally made a successful domestic comeback. (There were two foreign co-produced series, ULTRAMAN: TOWARDS THE FUTURE in 1990 and ULTRAMAN: THE ULTIMATE HERO in 1993, both of which were failures. U:TTF was, however, a minor success in the US.)

  • ^Thank you Lostinube! It’s obviously been awhile since I saw Dynaman ;) At least I was in the ballpark :)

  • No mention of Gatchaman, the anime that gave birth to sentai?

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