Categories
Comics Film Television Various Media

To Make a Ranger: So You Wanna Make a Sentai Story, Huh?

Power Rangers as a franchise has existed for almost 30 years now, and has been adapted into a variety of formats, including comics.  With the Boom Studios comics adaptation of the series having recently relaunched with two new #1s and my own impromptu revisit-for-nostalgia-turned-series-rewatch, I must ask: what’s the secret sauce to making a season of Power Rangers?  What common themes and episode archetypes do each new season have?  With comics taking a recent bent into tokusatsu subgenres (Ultramega with kyodai, Radiant Black with henshin), what should someone looking to make their own sentai analogue look out for?

A Brief History of Super Sentai and Power Rangers

You can’t talk about the history of Power Rangers without talking about the history of Super Sentai first.  Sentai (Japanese for “Squadron”) is a subgenre of the Japanese tokusatsu (“Special Filming”) genre.  With origins in Japanese kabuki theatre, the first real progenitor of the genre was in 1957’s Super Giant, which brought forth a boom in interest in masked hero stories to Japan.  This reached the next step in its evolution with 1971’s Kamen Rider, created by the late Shotaro Ishinomori.  It was the first show to use the term Henshin (Japanese for “Transform/Transformation”), something that the eponymous Rider would shout before transforming into a masked hero. 

A few years later, Ishinomori would go on to create what is now known as the first two Super Sentai shows, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger and J.A.K.Q Dengekitai.  The shows featured a team of five heroes who would transform into masked heroes to fight crime around the world.  The latter of the two shows ended up being a commercial failure, which led to Ishinomori dropping the project altogether after J.A.K.Q ended.  The shows weren’t actually considered a part of the Super Sentai line until 1994 when Toei retroactively included the shows to their roster.

But the story of the Power Rangers actually starts with Spider-man, just not the Spider-man you might initially think of.  From 1978 to 1979, Toei and Marvel worked together to produce a Japanese tokusatsu Spider-man television series.  The show lasted 41 episodes, with the final episode airing March 14th, 1979, a month after the first episode of Battle Fever J.  It’s an interesting thing to note, because, while BFJ can categorically be considered the third Sentai show, it was the first to use the Super Sentai moniker.  But going back to Supaidāman, it was a monumental milestone for the tokusatsu genre thanks to the inclusion of Leopardon, the giant robot that Spider-man’s spacecraft The Marveller would transform into.  Leopardon was groundbreaking because it was the first example of a transforming mech in the tokusatsu genre, something that would be riffed on in Battle Fever J, the first Super Sentai season to regularly feature a piloted transforming mech.  So it’s no surprise that Battle Fever J was also a joint venture between Toei and Marvel (with the last collaboration between the two being Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan in 1981).  Marvel would then (unsuccessfully) try to create an American adaptation of Super Sentai in 1985.

In the mid-80s, during a business trip to Japan, producer Haim Saban found himself in a hotel room watching Super Sentai.  It inspired him to bring the show over to American audiences, with him pitching the show as Bio-Man in 1986 (adapting Choudenshi Sentai Bioman).  His pitch was finally accepted in the early 90s by Margaret Loesch, CEO of Fox Kids (and former President of Marvel’s TV and film subsidiary).  But as Super Sentai had moved on since Saban’s first pitch, the most recent series at the time, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, was chosen to be adapted into Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted in August of 1993, and was a monumental success, to say the very least.  The first three seasons adapted the aforementioned Zyuranger, as well as parts of Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Ninja Sentai Kakuranger.  Subsequent seasons of Power Rangers would adapt each new season (and by extension, team) from the Super Sentai series year by year.  The franchise was sold to Disney in 2001, then back to Saban in 2010, then to Hasbro in 2018, which currently releases the show through Nickelodeon.  Since the show’s reacquisition by Saban in 2010, the show has opted for a two-season structure for each series, leading to the show falling behind on adapting recent Super Sentai seasons (This is a gripe for a whole other article, I swear). The latest iteration in the series, 2021’s Power Rangers Dino Fury, is set to adapt 2019’s Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger.

The Basics

Every Ranger team has three to five core members, each dressed in their own specific colour, all of which morph into Power Rangers through the use of a morpher. The specific colours vary, but there’s always a Red and Blue ranger at the very least. Members also tend to dress up in their respective colour when not morphed. Red Ranger? Red plainclothes shirt. Morphers vary in format (the two most common types being wrist devices and cell phones) and are accompanied by a morphing call and action (“It’s Morphin’ Time!”).  There’s always one Big Bad who ends up being the season’s final villain, who’s responsible for sending each episode’s Monster of the Week (MOTW, as I’ll be referring to them for the rest of this piece).  The Big Bad also has an army of indistinguishable mooks to be used as cannon fodder against the rangers.  After defeating the MOTW, it grows to kaiju-sized proportions, forcing the Power Rangers to get into their respectively-coloured mechanical Zords, which subsequently combine to form the team’s Megazord, a mech they use to fight the monster.  

The team might have a mentor figure to help guide them on their journey (Zordon, Dimitria, Gosei, etc.), with some even becoming rangers themselves later on in the season (Doggie Cruger, RJ, Kendall Morgan, etc.).  Each season will also have extra rangers join the team midway through the season, with the circumstances for joining varying from season to season.  Each season has its own theme to unify the team’s costume design, arsenal, and zords.  While it varies from season to season, common themes have been dinosaurs (4), ninjas (3), cars (2), and animals (2). Though not always the case, episodes have a moral or lesson that’s taught through the story, more on this later.

What Not to Do

Whatever the fuck Power Rangers Megaforce and Power Rangers Super Megaforce did.

Okay, but Really Though

Power Rangers Megaforce and Power Rangers Super Megaforce are widely considered to be the worst seasons of the series, the latter being the worst of the two.  There are a variety of reasons why, including a less-than-stellar cast led by a wooden Red Ranger, and completely botching the process of adapting Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger for Super Megaforce, but that’s a topic for another article.  Long story short, these two shows are textbook examples of what not to do with your show.

Other than that though, 

  • Try not to opt for a car theme when choosing your team’s overarching theme.  
    • Both times that Power Rangers did a car theme (Turbo, RPM), viewership and toy sales TANKED hard.  Kids apparently didn’t like cars that transformed into robots (unless they were that other franchise with transforming cars).
  • Don’t put too much focus on one ranger over the others.
    • The term “Tommywank” was established to refer to Power Rangers’ seeming obsession with Tommy Oliver, better known as the Green Ranger from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  The character went from being a bad guy-turned hero to leader of the team, to the leader of the team (again), to the leader of the team (again), to “the greatest ranger ever” (as per the 10th anniversary special), to mentor, to “the greatest ranger ever” (again).  While the overexposure of Tommy (no thanks in part to audiences loving the character) is a great paycheck for actor Jason David Frank, it came as an impediment to future ranger teams as they were forced to live in his shadow.  Tommy Oliver isn’t the only character that’s guilty of this either, as some other seasons also tended to focus on one ranger over the others (looking at you, Mystic Force).  There may be an I in Super Sentai, but there definitely isn’t one in Power Rangers.
  • If you’re going to adapt a season that’s deeply established in Japanese culture and heritage, don’t make your main characters white, then keep the Japanese surname.
    • This isn’t a joke; when Saban adapted Samurai Sentai Shinkenger into Power Rangers Samurai, they adapted it almost to a T, even going as far as adapting Shinkenger writer Yasuko Kobayashi’s scripts for Samurai.  There’s just one problem with that.  Shinkenger dealt heavily with Japanese Samurai culture, and when protagonists Takeru and Kaoru Shiba were adapted, their race changed….but not their last name or history.  Enter Jayden and Lauren Shiba, two blond-haired, blue-eyed Red Rangers who we’re told to believe are Japanese.  So yeah, maybe don’t do that?

But Let’s Talk Specifics

So you’ve got your rangers, you’ve got your theme, and you’ve got your zords.  Now, all you need is a story.  Don’t worry though, it’s a lot easier than you’d think.  After having watched almost every single episode of the series over the course of two months, the recurring themes in episodes really begin to stick out.  This isn’t exactly a bad thing; in fact, it’s probably a boon if you’re not looking to fix what (apparently) isn’t broken.  Let’s go through and take a look at some of the recurring episode themes in the Power Rangers franchise.

Sleepy Time

In this episode, one or more of the rangers are put to sleep by the MOTW and must either fight their way out of a twisted dream or destroy the MOTW in the real world to break the spell.  The hand-to-hand combat occurs in the dream, and the Megazord battle occurs outside of the dream.

Examples:

  • Rock-a-Bye Power Rangers, Zeo
  • Silent Sleep, Lost Galaxy
  • Dream Battle, Lost Galaxy
  • In Your Dreams, Dino Thunder
  • The Dome Dolls, RPM
  • Broken Dreams, Samurai
  • Dream Snatcher, Megaforce
  • Nightmare in Amber Beach, Dino Charge

Bully for You

Bullies sure do suck, right?  In this episode, the rangers must help a child (or in the case of Bully for Ethan and Alarmed and Dangerous, one of the rangers themselves) deal with a bully, all while dealing with a mean MOTW themselves.  At the end of the day, the child is able to stand up to the bully, or in rare cases, even become friends with the former bullies.

Examples:

  • Alarmed and Dangerous, Turbo
  • Bully for Ethan, Dino Thunder
  • Tigers Fall, Lions Rise, Jungle Fury
  • Who’s Crying Now?, Megaforce
  • Tuba Triumph, Beast Morphers

Catfight

An episode theme that was weirdly prevalent in the late 90s, and died off until rearing its ugly head again in 2013, this episode pits the two female rangers on the team against each other, because uh….they’re women?  They get back together at the end of the episode, and their strife is brushed away without any further mention.  Maybe this episode is best left in the 90s after all.

Examples:

  • Bloom of Doom, Mighty Morphin
  • The Rival Rangers, Turbo
  • A Rift in the Rangers, In Space
  • Orion Rising, Lost Galaxy
  • In the Limelight, Lightspeed Rescue
  • United We Stand, Megaforce

I Quit

Being a ranger is hard, and sometimes a ranger needs to leave the team to forge their own path- oh what’s that?  They go back to being a ranger by the end of the episode?  They learn how important being a ranger is, and that convinces them to return to the team, all within the span of one twenty-two-minute episode? Alright.

Examples:

  • Always a Chance, In Space
  • Fight Against Fate, Time Force
  • Wave Goodbye, Dino Thunder
  • One Gets Away, Operation Overdrive
  • Forest for the Trees, Samurai

Freaky Friday

A classic MOTW tactic: switching bodies with one of the rangers, or switching two rangers’ bodies.  In the former’s case, the MOTW tries to infiltrate the team and learn their secrets but ultimately fails, exposing themselves.  In the latter’s case, two rangers with diametrically opposed personalities are put into the other’s shoes and forced to walk a mile in them.  Real sappy stuff, but they both learn to appreciate their fellow ranger a bit more.  Oh, and there’s a MOTW that they have to deal with.

Examples:

  • Switching Places, Mighty Morphin
  • Invasion of the Body Switcher, In Space
  • Sensei Switcheroo, Ninja Storm
  • Recognition, SPD
  • Trading Places, Samurai
  • The Grass is Always Greener… or Bluer, Megaforce
  • Monster Mix-up, Ninja Steel
  • The Silva Switch, Beast Morphers

Bad Best Friend

This one isn’t really a common episode, but an interesting one worth noting nonetheless.  One of the rangers has an old friend come back into their lives, which throws their dedication to being a Power Ranger for a loop.  Ultimately, we learn that their friend is secretly a MOTW working for the Big Bad, and the rangers need to defeat it to save the day.  The now-friendless ranger learns that they still have friends amongst their fellow rangers, and end the day having strengthened their bond.

Examples:

  • Memories of Mirinoi, Lost Galaxy
  • Idol, SPD

A Face from the Past

The specifics of this episode tend to vary wildly, but the basic gist of it is that one of the rangers has someone from their past, be it a former mentor or family member, return into their lives (except this time around, they’re not evil).  They either need to prove to this person that they’re not a complete failure and are doing good through their role as a Power Ranger, or get help from this person to solve a problem that they’re currently stumped with.

Examples:

  • Inner Spirit, Zeo
  • The Chosen Path, Lightspeed Rescue
  • The Tornado Spin, Wild Force
  • A Father’s Footsteps, Wild Force
  • Eye of the Storm, Ninja Storm
  • Boom, SPD
  • Dismissed, SPD
  • One Master Too Many, Jungle Fury
  • Blue Ranger, Twin Danger, Jungle Fury
  • Ranger Yellow, RPM
  • He Ain’t Heavy Metal, He’s My Brother, Samurai
  • Breaking Black, Dino Charge
  • Golden Opportunity, Beast Morphers

Lest You Come Down From Your Ivory Tower

No one likes a pretentious brat, and sometimes, the rangers find themselves having to navigate around someone that’s just too posh to be rabble-rousing with miscreants.  The episode ends with the pretentious asshole punk learning a lesson in humility and caring for others.  Isn’t teamwork great?

Examples:

  • The Curve Ball, Turbo
  • Double Duty, Lost Galaxy
  • Diva in Distress, Dino Thunder
  • Ocean Alert, Dino Thunder
  • Resurrection, SPD
  • Break Out, Dino Charge

Juggling Responsibility

When you’re a teenager with attitude, you have to juggle your responsibilities as a ranger with your responsibilities as a not-ranger.  Sometimes things veer in one direction much harder than the other, leading to problems for our rangers.  This episode follows one of the rangers reconciling with their role as a Power Ranger in face of their regular life.  Tough decisions are made, but in the end, they stick to their duty as a ranger.

Examples:

  • Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire, Mighty Morphin
  • A Different Shade of Pink, Mighty Morphin
  • Song Sung Yellow, Zeo
  • In the Limelight, Lightspeed Rescue
  • Looming Thunder, Ninja Storm
  • Lights, Camera, Dax, Operation Overdrive
  • Kevin’s Choice, Samurai
  • Recipe for disaster, Dino Charge
  • A Date With Danger, Dino Charge
  • Ace and the Race, Ninja Steel
  • Car Trouble, Ninja Steel
  • Taking Care of Business, Beast Morphers
  • Boxed In, Beast Morphers

Power Rangers, Powered Up

Not a specific episode, but a power-up for the whole team.  Sometimes, the MOTW is just too powerful for our daring rangers, and they need a power boost to deal with the threat.  Every member gets access to this power-up, which they use intermittently in subsequent episodes whenever they need a boost.

Examples:

  • Metallic Armor, Mighty Morphin
  • Lights of Orion, Lost Galaxy
  • Super Dino Mode, Dino Thunder
  • SWAT Mode, SPD
  • Legend Mode, Mystic Force
  • Defender Vest, Operation Overdrive
  • Jungle Master Mode, Jungle Fury
  • Super Samurai Mode & Shogun Mode, Samurai
  • Ultra Mode, Megaforce
  • Dino Steel & Dino Drive, Dino Charge
  • Ninja Super Steel, Ninja Steel
  • Beast-X Mode, Beast Morphers

Gee Red, How Come Your Mom Lets You Have Two Power-ups?

Oh, but it wouldn’t be a Power Rangers season if the Red Ranger didn’t get an exclusive power-up, with an entire episode dedicated to how they get that specific mode.  After all, they are the leader, and only they are capable of wielding the incredible power of a Battlizer (yeah, that’s what they’re called).

Examples:

  • Mission to Secret City, In Space
  • Facing the Past, Lost Galaxy
  • Web War, Lightspeed Rescue
  • Beware the Knight, Time Force
  • The Wings of Animaria, Wild Force
  • Shane’s Karma, Ninja Storm
  • The Passion of Connor, Dino Thunder
  • Reflection, SPD
  • The Hunter, Mystic Force
  • Things Not Said, Operation Overdrive
  • Roar of the Red Ranger, Dino Charge
  • The Royal Rumble, Ninja Steel
  • Sound and Fury, Beast Morphers

Who me?  A Ranger?

It sure would suck if someone with the superhuman powers of a Power Ranger were to lose all memory of them being a ranger, huh?  That’s what happens in this episode, as the MOTW makes one or more rangers lose all memories of being a Power Ranger.  It’s up to the remaining rangers to try and remind the rangers of who they are before the MOTW gets away with their dastardly plans.

Examples:

  • When is a Ranger Not a Ranger?, Mighty Morphin
  • The Last Ranger, Lightspeed Rescue
  • TJ’s Identity Crisis, In Space
  • Secrets and Lies, Wild Force
  • Forgive and Forget, Dino Charge
  • Attack of the Galactic Rangers, Ninja Steel
  • Rewriting History, Beast Morphers

Boys will be Boys

In this episode of Horny Hormonal Power Rangers, male rangers on the team are put under a spell, falling head over heels for the (female-coded) MOTW.  If you’re really daring, put them all under the same spell, forcing them to fight one another for the adoration of the MOTW. Don’t worry though, the rangers get a nice lesson with some tough love by the end of the episode.

Examples:

  • Lovestruck Rangers, Time Force
  • Heart of Blue, Operation Overdrive
  • United We Stand, Megaforce
  • Love at First Fight, Dino Charge
  • Tough Love, Ninja Steel
  • Love Stings, Ninja Steel

Woe, our identities

One of the toughest parts about being a superhero is maintaining your secret identity.  Well, unless you’re a Lightspeed Rescue ranger or an Operation Overdrive ranger, in which case your identity as a Power Ranger is public knowledge, but I digress.  What happens when a member of the public accidentally uncovers the rangers’ secret identities?  To what lengths will the rangers go to protect and hush that information?  Will they be dealt the benevolent hand of kindness, and have their identities protected by this Peeping Tom?  Oh, and there’s a MOTW to fight during all this.

Examples:

  • Carlos on Call, In Space
  • Full Exposure, Time Force
  • Ranger Reveal, Beast Morphers

Enter the Sixth Ranger

Considered one of the most important parts of any given season, the sixth ranger’s entrance marks a dynamic shift in the season’s team hierarchy.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers got lucky in that the season of Super Sentai it adapted was the first to include a sixth ranger as a part of its regular cast.  The circumstances behind the sixth ranger’s arrival change from season to season, be it a bad ranger turned good (as you’ll see below in “Going Good”), or an ancient ranger awakened to help the team, or a supporting cast member picking up the suit to join the main team.  Given how commonplace a factor it is, here are some exceptions to the rule.

Exceptions:

  • Turbo (The status of the Phantom Ranger being a Power Ranger is contested and yadda yadda yadda)
  • Lost Galaxy (The status of the Magna Defender being a Power Ranger is contested and yadda yadda yadda)
  • Dino Thunder (Started with three, got two extra)
  • Jungle Fury (Started with three, got five extra)
  • Beast Morphers (Started with three, got two extra)

Going Good

Nothing like a good redemption arc to flesh a character out, huh?  Sixth/extra rangers who start evil (or in Eric Myers’ case, an asshole), but become good has been a recurring theme since Mighty Morphin’s Green With Evil.  With a few exceptions here and there, the rangers are introduced in a multi-part episode where they manage to hand the main team’s asses to them, before ultimately overcoming the influence that’s making them evil (or in Eric Myers’ case, an ass- actually, he’s still a bit of an ass even after he learns to play nice.).  

Examples:

  • Tommy Oliver, Mighty Morphin
  • Kat Hillard, Mighty Morphin
  • Astronema/Karone, In Space & Lost Galaxy
  • Ryan Mitchell, Lightspeed Rescue
  • Eric Myers, Time Force
  • Zen-Aku/Merrick Baliton, Wild Force
  • Hunter and Blake Bradley, Ninja Storm
  • Trent Fernandez-Mercer, Dino Thunder (Technically, he started good, turned evil, then good again)
  • Koragg/Leanbow, Mystic Force
  • Tyzonn, Operation Overdrive
  • Spirit Rangers, Jungle Fury
  • Jarrod and Camille, Jungle Fury
  • Heckyl, Dino Charge

Going Good, Villain Edition

Who says bad guys can’t go good? In these episodes, the MOTW either isn’t actually evil, to begin with (being forced into doing dirty work for the Big Bad) or are a villain with a strict moral code, which puts them at odds with the Big Bad’s goals.  It’s up to one of the rangers to reach out to the MOTW’s soft side and solve things by talking it out.  

Examples:

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (Mr. Ticklesneezer), Mighty Morphin
  • Green No More (The Dark Rangers), Mighty Morphin
  • The Wasp with a Heart (Waspicable), In Space
  • Loyax’s Last Battle (Loyax), Lost Galaxy
  • Trip Takes a Stand (Notacon), Time Force
  • It’s a Mad, Mad Mackerel (Mad Mackerel), Dino Thunder
  • Samurai (Katana), SPD
  • The Return (Matoombo), Mystic Force
  • Mystic Fate (Itassis), Mystic Force
  • The Spirit of Kindness (Whiger), Jungle Fury
  • Rico the Robot (Rico the Robot), Megaforce

Us, But Evil

The Power Rangers’ greatest enemy is themselves. No, I mean literally, duplicates of themselves.  Big Bads love creating clones of the Power Rangers to fight against them.  These episodes usually have the rangers matched in skill, until they figure out how to turn the odds against their doppelgangers (which usually just means that the color matchups end up getting mixed and matched).  The Psycho Rangers are the most famous example of the clone matchup, showing up in not one, but two separate seasons, facing two separate teams.

Examples:

  • The Evil Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (A Bad Reflection on You, Mighty Morphin)
  • The Evil Mutant Rangers (Mighty Morphin’ Mutants, Mighty Morphin)
  • The Dark Rangers (Green No More, Mighty Morphin)
  • The Shadow Rangers (Shadow Rangers, Turbo)
  • Crash and the Creeps (The Song of Confusion, Turbo)
  • The Psycho Rangers (Rangers Gone PsychoTo the Tenth Power, Space & Lost Galaxy)
  • The Cyborg Rangers (Cyborg Rangers, Lightspeed Rescue)
  • The Evil Time Force Rangers (Trust and Triumph, Time Force)
  • The Shadow Rangers (The Master’s Herald, Wild Force)
  • The Evil Ninja Rangers (The Wild Wipeout, Ninja Storm)
  • The Evil Mystic Rangers (Light Source, Mystic Force)
  • The Evil Overdrive Rangers (Red Ranger Unplugged, Operation Overdrive)
  • Duplicon Clone Rangers (Double Ranger, Double Danger, Dino Charge)
  • The Evil Beast Morphers Power Rangers (Game On!, Beast Morphers)

The Mandated Halloween/Christmas episode, or, How I Learned to Love the Clip Show Episode

According to TVTropes, a Clip Show episode is “An episode which consists mainly of fragments (clips) of previous episodes.”  In a series where a lot of the budget goes towards the effects, props, and monsters, sometimes you need a clip show to pad the season out without having to do a ton of legwork.  These episodes, which take place near the end of a season, involve a loose framing narrative that allows the team to reminisce on their journey, be it near, or right after the end of their journey.  So why bring up Halloween and Christmas?  Ever since Saban regained the rights to the franchise from Disney, the clip show episode has been relegated to the season’s Christmas and Halloween Special episodes.  It’s also worth noting that a regular Christmas/Halloween special every season was never a thing prior to the Neo-Saban era.   

Examples:

  • Party Monsters, Samurai
  • Christmas Together, Friends Forever, Samurai
  • Trickster Treat, Samurai
  • Stuck on Christmas, Samurai
  • Raising Spirits, Megaforce
  • The Robo Knight Before Christmas, Megaforce
  • The Ghostest With the Mostest, Dino Charge
  • Race to Rescue Christmas, Dino Charge
  • Trick or Trial, Dino Charge
  • Here Comes Heximas, Dino Charge
  • Grave Robber, Ninja Steel
  • Past, Presents, and Future, Ninja Steel (An exception, this one had no reused footage)
  • Hypnotic Halloween, Beast Morphers
  • Scrozzle’s Revenge, Beast Morphers
  • Clip show episodes (Non-festive):
    • Crystal of Nightmares, Mighty Morphin
    • Until Sunset, Lost Galaxy
    • The Last Ranger, Lightspeed Rescue
    • A Calm Before the Storm, Time Force
    • Legacy of Power, Dino Thunder
    • A Test of Trust, Dino Thunder
    • Insomnia, SPD
    • Koragg’s Trial, Mystic Force
    • Way Back When, Operation Overdrive
    • Don’t Blow That Dough, Jungle Fury
    • If Venjix Won, RPM
    • Party Monsters, Samurai

The Mandated Team Crossover

For anyone that’s followed Power Rangers for more than a season, this is one of the most highly-anticipated episodes of the season.  A previous team gets another chance to shine as they team up with the current team to defeat a threat that takes two teams to handle.  These episodes also offer some closure to plot threads from previous seasons.  It’s heartwarming to see Joel and Ms. Merriweather married in Time Force, or Wes and Eric chumming it up as best buds in Wild Force or seeing what Jason Scott’s been up to since that terrible Turbo movie.  Sadly, the franchise has been pretty inconsistent with these types of episodes, be it due to behind-the-scenes logistics or whatnot.  In some cases, you’ll get just one or two members from a previous team meeting up with the current team.  It’s something, I suppose.

Examples:

  • Rangers of Two Worlds, Zeo
  • Shell Shocked (It counts, even it’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover), In Space
  • To the Tenth Power & The Power of Pink, Lost Galaxy
  • Trakeena’s Revenge, Lightspeed Rescue
  • Time for Lightspeed, Time Force
  • Reinforcements from the Future, Wild Force
  • Forever Red, Wild Force
  • Thunder Storm, Dino Thunder
  • History & Wormhole, SPD
  • Once a Ranger (On a technicality), Operation Overdrive
  • Legendary Battle, Super Megaforce
  • Finders Keepers & Grid Connection, Beast Morphers

The Quarry

This isn’t an episode specifically more so than it is a location.  Ever since the franchise’s inception, there’s always been a particular quarry that shows up at least once every season.  It’s hard to tell if it’s the exact same quarry each time (except for the obvious change when the show moved its filming to New Zealand), but there’s always a quarry. Why the quarry?  Sometimes there’s plot significance, but most of the time, it’s because it’s the easiest place to get away with large, bombastic explosions.  

Examples:

  • Too many to count.  Trust me, when you see it, you’ll know.

Some Final Thoughts

You’ve got your rangers, you’ve got your plot points, and you’re ready to write about the adventures of your spandex-clad heroes.  None of what I mentioned above should be taken as gospel for creating your own tokusatsu story.  Power Rangers RPM, considered by many to be one of the best Power Rangers seasons, took the happy-go-lucky goofball adventures of Engine Sentai Go-Onger and turned it into a story about post-apocalyptic rebellion.  The comparisons between Super Sentai and Power Rangers warrant a conversation for another day, but they’re both series that are full of heart (with the exception of Megaforce and Super Megaforce).  They’re meant to represent the best of us, a team of heroes fighting against the end of the world for the betterment of humanity.  Your story should inspire people to be better, to morph the world into a better place.

One reply on “To Make a Ranger: So You Wanna Make a Sentai Story, Huh?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s