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Fun-Size Round Table: X-Corp #1

From the desk of Daniel McMahon, GateCrashers CEO

Ethan,

Sending you this memo for this week’s Fun-Size Roundtable, since I will be OOO. X-Corp #1 is out and you know what that means: there is social media engagement to be had. X-Men are HOT right now, they’re printing money. Only way they could be selling more is if they slapped a Bat Symbol on one of them!

(Note: Look into acquiring rights for Dark Claw)

Anyway, BIG week for corporate so please keep buzzwords in mind. 

  • Synergy
  • Impact
  • Krakoa
  • Return on Investment
  • Crossover

Possible slogan for campaign: “That’s Mag-fu#$in’ Neato”

This one’s all about the business of Krakoa. Basically, Angel and Penance have been tasked with building out the corporate side of Krakoa.
It’s written by Tini Howard, illustrated by Alberto Foche, colored by Sunny Gho, and lettered by Clayton Cowles, with cover by David Aja.

Anyway, I left my review on your desk to show. I am off to Krakoa to secure GC52 press clearance for the Hellfire Gala. 

Ethan Chambers

For one of my most-anticipated books of the current Reign of X era, featuring some of my favourite mutants, X-Corp #1 ended up being just incredibly average. There’s good stuff in it; Angel and Monet are a lot of fun, Jamie Madrox seems to be getting some development again, and I’m a mark for corporate shenanigans. 


However, I found the story itself to be lacking, unfocused even, as if the team needed to get through as much story as possible before the Hellfire Gala next month. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the art either; it didn’t fit the vibe the book was going for. So yeah, X-Corp #1, it’s fine.

Colby E


…Well, I liked it.

Is X-Corp #1 a great comic? Not really. There’s three too many plots, a couple of the characters’ voices are off, the art feels blandly serviceable at best, and it’s frankly far too confident in itself for what’s on offer. But while the book definitely stumbles out of the gate, there’s good here too – the bones of the book’s world show for a wide world of stories, and Howard’s proven on Excalibur that once she gets pieces in place, her storytelling picks up considerably. The writing, while over-expository, keeps things humming and lands a few good gags. Most intriguing is that it’s a superhero comic with essentially no fight scenes – always worth a look, if only for the novelty. 

There’s no denying that this isn’t the best opening offer for a series with so much potential, but given time and space to develop, X-Corp might just be worth the investment.

Bobby Varghese Vinu

There’s a sort of aimlessness to this issue, as I do feel like the book struggles with showcasing how X-Corp would work in a world like our own, with its own set of businesses and practices. It seems more preoccupied with just showing what I like to call the “cool biz.”, which begs the question: What is this book about? 

What also bothers me the most about X-Corp #1 is Trinary. When Tom Taylor’s X-Men: Red came out, I was excited at the prospect of an Indian mutant, so imagine my disappointment when she was used as the team’s tech support character, a trope which falls prey to a disheartening stereotype that I’ve had to endure as someone who hails from India. She’s still tech support here, and there’s a bit of dialogue that makes it clear that this is a white person writing an Indian character. There’s no life to her character besides a bland artificiality meant to make her “interesting.”

So what are the positives? Well, the pencils are okay, but the colors do make me wish that there could be more life to it. The images have an artificial feeling to them, which I would like to think is intentional given the book is about a corporation, but I think this is just an oversight on the art as opposed to any deliberate meaning.

Maybe X-Corp will improve in the long run, but besides the David Aja cover (why couldn’t he draw the issue?) and the colors by Sunny Gho, this is a disappointing first issue.

Daniel McMahon

Ya’ know, really going against the grain here to say that I loved this issue. Sure, some of it is a little messy, but it feels like one of those montages of getting the gang together. I think there is so much here in the way of character dynamics being set up. Monet and Warren both have two sides to them and we get to see that on full display in this issue. I’m also a huge sucker for Jamie Madrox, so I was excited to see him. I loved this issue and am excited for more.

Simon Zuccherato

X-Corp #1 starts off with a musing on possibility, and it was an issue with a lot of them. I tend to enjoy corporate hijinks when done well, and so I’d been looking forward to this series for months. Alas, it took me around five full readings to get what was going on in this issue, and once I did, it wasn’t worth it. 

The only thing that our leads actually do that seems to matter is flying their base to Brazil to gain media attention, and when we’ve seen so many other things fly in the Marvel Universe already, it’s no longer impressive for the readers. I still think this book has possibility and potential. It just needs to pivot quickly and find its focus, lest it lose all the hype that’s been built up over the past year.

Categories
Television Various Media

Bug Man Incarnate: A Definitive Guide for Getting Into Kamen Rider

Edited by Ben Ventura

With the recent announcement of Shin Kamen Rider, a question I’ve been hearing frequently is, “How do I get into Kamen Rider?”.  It’s a fair question to ask, as unlike other Tokusatsu series and movies like Ultraman, Power Rangers, or Godzilla, Kamen Rider isn’t as readily accessible to a western audience .  I don’t mean this as a matter of the content being difficult to get into; it’s tough to find all the various television seasons, movies, and manga in English.  I hope that with this guide, I can explain why the current state of Kamen Rider’s presence in the West is the way it is, and make it easier for you, the reader, to get into this wonderful franchise.

What is Kamen Rider?

Kamen Rider is a tokusatsu (lit. “Special Filming”, a term used to describe the genre of live-action films and TV shows that use special effects) franchise created by manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori.  Ishinomori originally intended to adapt his manga series Skull Man for television but ultimately opted for a grasshopper-esque design for the hero instead, as Skull Man’s content was deemed too dark for the show’s intended 7-13 year-old audience.  

The Original Kamen Rider Is Coming to YouTube - for Free | CBR

The first series in the franchise, the suffix-less Kamen Rider, first aired  in 1971 and followed the adventures of college student-turned-cyborg Takeshi Hongo as he fights the terrorist organization Shocker. Since then, the franchise has undergone many iterations, with roughly 40 main riders and over 100 riders in total at the time of this writing.  While themes and plots vary, at its very core, the franchise will always follow a singular motorcycle-riding masked hero who fights against monsters (or Kaijin, as they’re commonly referred to) and evil organizations.

The Kamen Rider franchise’s many seasons can be categorized by the eras in Japanese history within which they aired in: The Shōwa Era (Kamen Rider – Kamen Rider Black RX, 1971 – 1989), the Heisei Era (Kamen Rider Kuuga – Kamen Rider Zi-O, 2000 – 2019), and the Reiwa Era (Kamen Rider Zero-OneKamen Rider Saber, 2019 – Present).  The show took a break from 1989 to 1999 (the first ten years of the Heisei era), but during this time the series was kept alive through movies and stage shows. 

While the bulk of the Kamen Rider franchise is its long running TV show, there are also movies, V-Cinema (direct-to-video releases), web-series/net movies, novels, manga, and stage shows that expand on the series’ many seasons. As of the second half of the Heisei era (Every season after Kamen Rider Decade and before Kamen Rider Zero-One), each season of Kamen Rider has had at least one crossover movie with either the previous season’s rider or a variety of previous riders (often referred to as “Movie Wars”), one Summer movie which typically introduces a new movie-exclusive villain, and a set of post-show V-Cinema movies, usually focusing on other riders from the show.

Kamen Rider has been adapted for American audiences twice.  The first was in the mid-90s, when Saban Entertainment, fresh off its roaring success adapting Kamen Rider’s sister series Super Sentai into Power Rangers, was trying to adapt other Toei properties to recreate that success.  Kamen Rider received an adaptation from Saban Entertainment similar to Power Rangers with the Masked Rider series, which adapted Kamen Rider Black RX into a 40-episode series. The character also appeared in a 3-part crossover with Power Rangers.  Unlike other Saban Entertainment adaptations like V.R Troopers and Big Bad Beetleborgs, which both ended as the company ran out of Japanese Footage to adapt, Masked Rider was canceled due to low ratings and paltry toy sales.  

However, the Kamen Rider franchise would see yet another American adaptation in 2008 with the CW’s adaptation of Kamen Rider Ryuki, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight.  The series managed to win a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Stunt Coordination, and even got two video game adaptations, but had received neither a second season, nor a follow-up.

Aidan BLM.'s tweet - "Happy 50th anniversary to Kamen rider. A franchise  that I love so much. It's story, themes and characters are amazing and I  always love it. I'm glad I've

At the time of this writing, Kamen Rider is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a number of recent announcements including a remake of Kamen Rider Black titled Kamen Rider Black Sun, an anime adaptation of the Kamen Rider W sequel manga Fuuto Detective, Shin Kamen Rider, directed by Hideaki Anno and slated for a 2023 release, and two new American localizations of Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider Zero-One done by TokuSHOUTsu.  The latest season, Kamen Rider Saber, began airing in August of last year, and is slated to end later this year, before the next season, presumably celebrating the series’ 50th anniversary, is released.

Why is it difficult to find Kamen Rider media in North America?

While there’s no concrete reason for the lack of Kamen Rider content in North America, some possible reasons include the slightly more mature material not being appropriate enough for younger audiences familiar with Power Rangers, as well as there being a lack of interest in the material.  As mentioned above, both attempts to adapt Kamen Rider for Western audiences proved to be commercial failures at the very least.  

But the world has changed significantly since the release of Masked Raider and Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, and the advent of the internet has made it far easier for Western audiences to become more acquainted with the series.  Despite a rapid increase in interest in the series overseas, Toei’s acknowledgement of said interest has progressed at a snail’s pace.  The amount of localized Kamen Rider content that Toei has licensed for the west is far outnumbered by fellow production company Tsuburaya with their Ultraman series.  Will things change with the 50th anniversary of the series?  Only time will tell.

What is being done to make Kamen Rider more accessible in North America?

While Toei has been rather averse to localizing and translating Kamen Rider for Western audiences, it doesn’t mean that there haven’t been attempts to bridge that gap.  Currently, through legal means, North American audiences can watch the original Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Kuuga, and the Heisei anniversary movie Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Forever on Shout Factory’s TokuSHOUTsu channel, as well as Tubi TV for free, with ads. (NOTE: KR Heisei Generations Forever, as well as most, if not all Kamen Rider movies, are not good entry points into the franchise).  The 2001 season Kamen Rider Agito can also be streamed with a subscription to the TOKU streaming platform.  

To celebrate the series’ 50th anniversary, Toei has been releasing subbed versions of the first two episodes of various seasons of the franchise, as well as movies like Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J to their Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel, though there’s been no explicit mention of how many episodes they will be uploading to the channel in total.  

Shout! Factory, Toei Company Ltd. Announce Distribution For KAMEN RIDER ZERO -ONE And KAMEN RIDER RYUKI « SciFi Japan
The two shows being localized by Shout! Factory later this year

On April 3rd, 2021, the anniversary of the premiere of the first episode of Kamen Rider, it was announced that Kamen Rider Ryuki (2003) and Kamen Rider Zero-One (2019) would be localized for North American audiences by Shout Factory, with the two seasons streaming on their TokuSHOUTsu platform, and the latter receiving a blu-ray release, making it the first season of Kamen Rider to ever receive a physical blu-ray release in North America. 

How to Access Kamen Rider currently

There’s a harsh truth to be acknowledged in regards to getting into Kamen Rider in that, as very little of the franchise has been legally localized in North America, and even less so in Europe and other regions, accessing Kamen Rider involves a significant amount of piracy.  Pearls be clutched, gasps be had, but it’s true.  But the very fact that people outside can access so many seasons of Kamen Rider outside of Japan is thanks to the work of subbers & scrubbers.  

While piracy should never be suggested as a glowing recommendation, when it happens to be the only method of accessing a certain piece of media in a certain region of the world, it should be considered.  Nevertheless, as a viewer, you should support official releases whenever and wherever possible.  A common practice in the Kamen Rider/Super Sentai fansub community is taking down subbed versions of shows that get official releases, in order to support those releases.  In showing interest for official releases, it signals that there is a significant interest in the series outside of Japan, and could push Toei to localize more seasons of the Kamen Rider franchise.

A Primer on Kamen Rider Subs and Scrubs

In order to localize Kamen Rider for english audiences, the content needs to be translated and subtitled.  So who is responsible for doing this?  Fans; amateurs putting professional-quality work (most of the time) into not only translating the content, but encoding the video as well.  As the internet became more and more connected over the years, fansubs became more proliferant, with more and more subber groups popping up to handle subbing various series and seasons.  Here are some common terms you might want to know when looking for fansubs:

  • Sub: A subtitled, translated/localized video 
  • Subber: Someone who translates/localizes raw Japanese video 
  • Scrub: An edited Sub, usually with subtitle errors fixed
  • Scrubber: Someone who goes back and fixes mistakes in fansub scripts and/or adjusts them to better fit the story
  • Raws: An untranslated, unsubtitled video, often ripped from streaming sites and DVD/Blu-Ray releases, or recorded from TV
  • Encoder: Someone who encodes subtitles into video files
  • Scripts: The raw translated text with timecodes mapped to video timecodes, but not attached to a video
  • Softsub: A subtitled video in which the subtitles are not hardcoded into the video’s encoding, and can be turned on/off in a video player, or switched out for another subtitle track (often associated with files ending in .mkv)
  • Hardsub: A subtitled video in which the subtitles are hardcoded into the video’s encoding, and cannot be changed or turned off/on (often associated with files ending in .avi or .mp4)

Where to Start With Kamen Rider

While the answer to this may vary depending on where you look online, most seasons of the Kamen Rider franchise are structured as standalone stories that don’t require any knowledge of previous seasons’ story or lore.  At most, previous storylines and characters will be referenced in crossover movies, which in turn don’t have much impact on the season’s main storyline.  The biggest exception to this would be Kamen Rider Zi-O, which celebrated the series’ 20th Heisei-era season by bringing back riders from previous seasons.  As such, Zi-O should not be recommended as anyone’s entry into the series.  

The franchise’s many movies are often not good entry points into the series either, as they assume the viewer already has a significant amount of knowledge of who the characters in the movie are.  These movies take place either midway through a season, or after the season has finished, so it’s not recommended to use them as jumping-on points.

玲維 on Twitter: "Wの声はオルガとバナージかよ! 桐山漣さんと菅田将暉じゃないのか…… #仮面ライダーW #桐山漣 #菅田将暉  #RIDER_MoH… "
The two protagonists from Kamen Rider W, Shotaro and Philip

As for a personal recommendation, I would recommend Kamen Rider W as any new viewer’s first season, as it’s not only a fantastic season, but also a season I’d consider to be the platonic ideal of what Kamen Rider as a franchise is.  It’s Kamen Rider done as detective fiction, and the bond shared by the two protagonists exemplifies the spirit of the Kamen Rider franchise at its purest.  Beyond that, you’ve got a fun transformation gimmick in the form of USB Flash drives, a sinister crime family with hidden ties to our heroes, and fantastic action choreography.  After that, just choose whichever series piques your interest, and jump on in.

A List of Kamen Rider Seasons and Recommended Ways to Watch Them

Kamen Rider (Shōwa, 1971-73)

Kamen Rider 1 (Masked Rider 1) by ShinRider on DeviantArt

College student Takeshi Hongo is kidnapped and turned into a cyborg by terrorist organization Shocker.  He manages to escape before being brainwashed and vows to fight against Shocker to  stop their reign of terror as the eponymous Kamen Rider (later known as Kamen Rider 1/Ichigo).  He is later joined by Hayato Ichimongi, who fights alongside him as Kamen Rider 2 against Shocker and its successor, Gel Shocker.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; TokuSHOUTsu, Tubi TV

Kamen Rider V3 (Shōwa, 1973-74)

Kamen Rider V3 vs. Destron Mutants Now Subbed - Orends: Range (Temp)

A sequel to Kamen Rider, college student Shiro Kazami undergoes the process of becoming a cyborg to fight against terrorist organization Destron and protect mankind.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Generation Kikaida; First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider X (Shōwa, 1974)

Kamen Rider X the Movie Japanese Movie Streaming Online Watch

Scientist Keitaro Jin is able to transform his son Keisuke Jin into a cyborg before being killed by the terrorist organization known as G.O.D.  Fighting as Kamen Rider X, Keisuke vows vengeance upon G.O.D for the death of his father.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Order of Zeronos (eps. 1-6), The Masked Subbers (eps. 7-35)

Kamen Rider Amazon (Shōwa, 1974-75)

Kamen Rider Amazon (1974) 11-13 BluRay – ASkyTI Fansub

Orphaned from a plane crash in the Amazon forest, Daisuke Yamamoto grows up amongst an Incan tribe as a wild child.  His village is massacred by the demon Gorgos and the evil organization known as Geddon.  He is given the GiGi armlet and is given the ability to transform into Kamen Rider Amazon, as he heads back to Japan to put an end to Geddon. 

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Hi No Tori Fansubs; First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Stronger (Shōwa, 1975)

Kamen Rider Stronger To Be Released On Blu-ray In Japan - The Tokusatsu  Network

Shigeru Jo finesses the evil organization Black Satan into giving him cyborg powers, which he uses to become Kamen Rider Stronger.  Alongside Tackle, another cyborg warrior given powers by Black Satan, he fights the organization to avenge the death of his friend and bring peace to the world.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Bereke Scrubs (over Midnight Crew Subs and KITSubs); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Skyrider (Shōwa, 1979-80)

Kamen Rider (1979)/Skyrider Now Fully Subbed - Orends: Range (Temp)

A kidnapped scientist is forced by the terrorist organization Neo Shocker to create superpowered soldiers for them.  Instead, he gives injured camper Hiroshi Tsubaka extraordinary powers, allowing him to fight as the high-flying Skyrider.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: KITSubs; First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Super-1 (Shōwa, 1980-81)

仮面ライダースーパー1」第8話「闘え一也!死のドグマ裁判」 | サンダーストームのブログ

Kazuya Oki undergoes a cybernetic surgery to prep himself for space travel, but before he can head for the stars, the International Space Development Program’s base is attacked by the Dogma Kingdom.  After training under a martial arts master, Kazuya fights the Dogma Kingdom as Kamen Rider Super-1.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Bereke Scrubs (over SXIG)

Kamen Rider Black (Shōwa, 1987-88)

KAMEN RIDER BLACK (TV): KOTARO MINAMI RESPECT THREAD |

Two stepbrothers are kidnapped by the Gorgom cult and undergo surgery to become candidates for the next Gorgom Creation King.  One of the brothers, Kohtaro Minami, escapes and vows to save his brother.  He becomes Kamen Rider Black, and fights to defeat Gorgom.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Bereke Scrubs (over Century Kings Subs, encoded by Bunny Hat); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Black RX (Shōwa, 1988-89)

Discuss] BLACK RX is my all time favourite Rider suit design. Interested to  see what everyone else's favourite suit designs are. : KamenRider

A direct sequel to Kamen Rider Black, Kohtaro settles down after defeating Gorgom, but is kidnapped by the Crisis Empire and flung into space.  Morphed and evolved by the sun’s radiation, Kohtaro fights the Crisis Empire as Kamen Rider Black RX.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Bereke Scrubs (over Stone Subs, encoded by OZC-Live); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue (Shōwa, 1992)

Shin Kamen Rider/Prologue - Version 3

The first of three Kamen Rider films released during the Heisei era hiatus period.  Doctors experiment on Shin Kazamatsuri, a motorcycle racer, in hopes of finding ways to strengthen the human body against diseases.  Unbeknownst to them, their research is funded by a crime syndicate who seek to use the research to create their own genetically-enhanced super-soldiers.  Kazamatsuri is fused with grasshopper genes and is turned into a humanoid grasshopper.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; Toei Tokusatsu World Official Youtube Channel 

Kamen Rider ZO (Shōwa, 1993)

HTOP on Twitter: "27 years ago Kamen Rider ZO was released, which is my  favorite Kamen Rider movie. I think it beautifully condenses everything  that the franchise is about into a 45

The second of three Kamen Rider films released during the Heisei era hiatus period.  Lab assistant Masaru Aso is experimented on and given the ability to turn into a grasshopper-like being called Kamen Rider ZO.  He uses his power to fight the “perfect being” known as the Neonoid.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; Toei Tokusatsu World Official Youtube Channel 

Kamen Rider J (Shōwa, 1994)

仮面ライダー: Kamen Rider J (仮面ライダーJ)

The third of three Kamen Rider films released during the Heisei era hiatus period.  Reporter Kouji Segawa sacrifices himself to save a little girl, but is resurrected by spirits of the earth as Kamen Rider J.  J is known for being the first rider to grow in size to fight large kaiju.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; Toei Tokusatsu World Official Youtube Channel 

Kamen Rider Kuuga (Heisei, 2000-2001)

Kamen Rider Kuuga Coming To Streaming | Den of Geek

Happy-go-lucky hero Yusuke Godai uses the ancient power of the ancient hero Kuuga to fight the Gurongi, the revived members of an ancient monster tribe.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; TokuSHOUTsu, Tubi TV; First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Agito (Heisei, 2001-2002)

Kaito9029号🎧 on Twitter: "Twitter離れてる 間は 仮面ライダードライブ を本編全話 みたり  子供の頃放送していたアギトを 見返したりしてた あとは 鬼滅の刃 アニメ 漫画 共々 すべて みて 読んで すっかりはまってしまった… "

Seen as a spiritual successor/sequel to Kuuga, an amnesiac named Shouichi Tsugami transforms into a powerful warrior in the presence of monsters known only as “The Unknown”.  Meanwhile, the police force create their own man-made Kamen Rider modeled after Kamen Rider Kuuga, titled G3, to fight against the Gurongi, known here as “Unidentified Life Forms”.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; TOKU streaming service (paid). OR Gomen Rider Scrubs (over TV-Nihon); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Ryuki (Heisei, 2002-2003)

It's 03/02/21, Happy 19th Birthday Kamen Rider Ryuki! : KamenRider

13 Kamen Riders in possession of 13 respective card decks form contracts with monsters from a mirror world and fight for survival in the Rider War, a battle royale that ends with only one rider standing.  Journalist intern Shinji Kido finds himself sucked into the mirror world and enters the Rider War as Kamen Rider Ryuki to protect the real world from the mirror world’s many monsters.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber:  Official release incoming; TokuSHOUTsu, Tubi TV; First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider 555 (or Faiz) (Heisei, 2003-2004)

仮面ライダー: Kamen Rider Faiz (Φ) Blaster Form (仮面ライダーファイズ Blaster Form)

The Orphnoch are seen as the next evolutionary step in human evolution.  The Smart Brain corporation tries to use the Orphnoch to take over the world, developing Rider Gear to help them find the Orphnoch king.  The Rider Gear is stolen, and one of the gears, the Faiz Gear, ends up in the hands of Takumi Inui, who must now fight against Smart Brain and the Orphnoch as Kamen Rider Faiz.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Agony Subs

Kamen Rider Blade (Heisei, 2004-2005)

Tokusatsu News Network on Twitter: "Are you one of those people who stay up  at night wondering about the genius behind Kamen Rider Blade memes? In this  article, we delve into the

52 demons known as the Undead fought to the death in the past in an event known as the Battle Royal, and have been uncovered in the present by archaeologists, setting in motion the next Battle Royal.  The BOARD organization equip Kazuma Kenzaki and Sakuya Tachibana to fight as Kamen Rider Blade and Kamen Rider Garren respectively against the Undead.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Turn Up Scrubs (over TV-Nihon, encoded by Bunny Hat); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Hibiki (Heisei, 2005-2006)

Kamen Rider Hibiki Episode 46 | OZC Live

An Oni named Hibiki takes on a high-schooler as an apprentice as he fights against monsters known as the Makamou.  A music-centric season where the Kamen Riders are all Oni.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Shushutto Scrubs (over TV-Nihon, encoded by OZC-Live); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Kabuto (Heisei, 2006-2007)

Earthly on Twitter: "Kamen Rider Kabuto - Complete Series Batch (1-49 +  Movie + HBV) https://t.co/sFUGtTePGk… "

A young man named Soji Tendo trains his entire life to gain access to the Kabuto Zecter and get his revenge on the human-imitating Worms walking amongst humans.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Earthly Subs

Kamen Rider Den-O (Heisei, 2007-2008)

ムービーコア®︎ en Twitter: "『 #仮面ライダー平成ジェネレーションズFOREVER 』に #佐藤健 が #野上良太郎役 で出演!  【コメントあり】 https://t.co/WZRzCVBcyO #平ジェネ #平ジェネFOREVER… "

High School dropout Ryotaro Nogami finds himself possessed by four benevolent Imagin, wish-granting demons from the future, who have come to the present to gain corporeal forms through making contracts with humans. Ryotaro and the four Taros fight together as one against the other Imagin as Kamen Rider Den-O, travelling through time on the time-travelling bullet train, the Den-Liner. 

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Earthly Subs (encoded by OZC-Live); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider Kiva (Heisei, 2008-2009)

My Shiny Toy Robots: Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Kiva

In 2008, a reclusive young man named Wataru Kurenai fights against the Fangire race as Kamen Rider Kiva.  In 1986, Wataru’s father Otoya Kurenai fights the Fangire race alongside Fangire hunter Yuri Aso using the Kamen Rider Ixa module.  A season with two concurrent plotlines in the past and present, weaving together to reveal the truth behind the Fangires and Kiva himself.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Railler Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)

Kamen Rider Decade (Heisei, 2009)

My Shiny Toy Robots: Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Decade

Nine worlds, each representing the first nine seasons of the Heisei era, are merging into one, causing catastrophe across the multiverse.  Amateur photographer Tsukasa Kadoya uses his powers as Kamen Rider Decade to travel to each of the worlds and eliminate the anomalies that lie within them in order to protect his own world.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Rider-Time Subs

Kamen Rider W (or Double) (Heisei, 2009-2010)

ARK XLR on Twitter: "I kinda hope that Kamen Rider Saber has a lady  vocalist for the OP It's pure superstition, but I think lady vocalists are  a good sign… https://t.co/g7JhsU3GzF"

In windy Fuuto city, hard half-boiled detective Shotaro Hidari and the mysterious genius Philip fight as Kamen Rider Double, the two-in-one Kamen Rider.  They investigate crimes committed by Dopants, criminals who use thumb drive-like devices called Gaia memories to become superpowered monsters. 

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: W-Time (encoded by OZC-Live); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official

Kamen Rider OOO (Heisei, 2010-2011)

My Shiny Toy Robots: Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider OOO

The medal-based monsters known as the Greeed awaken after an 800-year slumber.  Traveler Eiji Hino is given the OOO (pronounced Oh-z) Driver as well as three medals by the disembodied hand of one of the Greeed, and uses them to become Kamen Rider OOO and fight against the Greeed.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs

Kamen Rider Fourze (Heisei, 2011-2012)

Kamen Sentai: Kamen Rider Fourze Series Review

Transfer student Gentaro Kisaragi finds that his high school is the hotbed for paranormal activity.  Along with his friends, Gentaro finds himself able to teleport between his school and a lunar base on the moon, within which he finds the Fourze Driver.  Using the Fourze Driver to become Kamen Rider Fourze, Gentaro fights against the monstrous Zodiarts attacking the city.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs

Kamen Rider Wizard (Heisei, 2012-2013)

What Kamen Rider Teaches Us - The Tokusatsu Network

A mystical ritual unleashes the monsters known as Phantoms into the world.  Haruto Soma, a survivor of the ritual, finds that he now has powers and uses the Wizardriver to become Kamen Rider Wizard in order to protect the world from Phantoms.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs

Kamen Rider Gaim (Heisei, 2013-2014)

TV Time - Kamen Rider Gaim (TVShow Time)

In the corporation-run Zawame City, dance crews try to bring joy back to the city, competing in dance battles and using the mysterious lockseeds to battle creatures called Inves from another dimension against each other.  Portals begin opening up across the city and Inves come through, rampaging throughout the city with no one to control them.  Ex-dancer Kouta Kazuraba finds a Sengoku Driver and transforms into Armored Rider Gaim to fight against the Inves and the Yggdrasill Corporation.  Rival dance crew leaders gain access to similar powers, which leads to a Sengoku period-like war within the city.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Aesir Subs

Kamen Rider Drive (Heisei, 2014-2015)

Kamen Rider Drive Episode 15 | The Glorio Blog

Recently-demoted beat cop Shinnosuke Tomari works with the Tokujo Special Investigation Unit and inventor-turned-sentient-belt Krim Steinbelt to fight against the time-shifting cyborgs known as Roidmudes as Kamen Rider Drive.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs

Kamen Rider Ghost (Heisei, 2015-2016)

My Shiny Toy Robots: Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Ghost

Aspiring ghost hunter Takeru Tenkuji is killed on his 18th birthday by members of the monstrous Gamma race.  He’s brought back to life on the condition that he must find 15 Eyecons, representing the spirits of 15 historical figures, within 99 days, or else he will cease to exist.  As Kamen Rider Ghost, he fights the Gamma not only to save himself, but to protect the world.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs

Kamen Rider Amazons (2016-2017) 

JEFusion | Japanese Entertainment Blog - The Center of Tokusatsu: Kamen  Rider Amazons Episode 2 Clips - Dual Amazons First Encounter

A gritty reimagining of the original Kamen Rider Amazon series, produced by Amazon for Amazon Prime Video.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; Amazon Prime Video

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (Heisei, 2016-2017)

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Impressions - The Reimaru Files

A mysterious virus called the Bugster Virus causes monsters known as Bugsters to emerge from its victims.  With the help of gaming corporation Genm Corp’s Gamer Drivers, medical intern and gaming genius Emu Hojo fights on behalf of the Cyber Rescue response team as Kamen Rider Ex-Aid to get rid of the Bugster menace.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Excite Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)

Kamen Rider Build (Heisei, 2017-2018)

My Shiny Toy Robots: Series REVIEW: Kamen Rider Build

Ten Years after a mysterious box from Mars split Japan into three regional factions, amnesiac inventor Sento Kiryuu uses the Build System to fight against the evil organization Faust as Kamen Rider Build, and bring unity to Japan once more.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)

Kamen Rider Zi-O (Heisei, 2018-2019)

JEFusion | Japanese Entertainment Blog - The Center of Tokusatsu: Kamen  Rider ZI-O Episode 1 Preview

High Schooler Sougo Tokiwa has dreams of one day becoming a king.  When two resistance fighters from the future come to the present to warn Sougo that he’ll one day become a world-conquering Demon King, Sougo’s life is thrown into disarray.  As Kamen Rider Zi-O, Sougo fights against Time Jackers seeking to disrupt the fabric of space and time, while travelling through time to meet the Heisei Kamen Riders who came before him.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)

Kamen Rider Zero-One (Reiwa, 2019 – 2020)

My Shiny Toy Robots: First Impressions: Kamen Rider Zero-One

A failed comedian inherits his grandfather’s A.I/Android company and fights both as a Kamen Rider against rogue androids corrupted by an anti-human terrorist organization, and as Hiden Intelligence’s CEO against corporate rivals.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release incoming; TokuSHOUTsu, Tubi TV 

Kamen Rider Saber (Reiwa, 2020 – 2021)

Tokusatsu Suits on Twitter: "Kamen Rider Saber (2020) - Episode 1 Suit:  Kamen Rider Saber Brave Dragon… "

A young novelist fights against mystical creatures from a magical alternate world alongside an ancient sect of sword-bearing Kamen Riders.

How to watch it/Recommended Subber: GenmCorp Subs

Afterword

Kamen Rider as a series is very easy to get into; you pick a season that interests you, and you hop in.  However, Kamen Rider as a media is extremely difficult to source legally, which  is a barrier that needs to be traversed in order to engage with the franchise.  With time, it will become increasingly more accessible for North Americans (sorry Europe, you’re still left in the dust here), and by supporting official releases like the upcoming Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider Zero-One localizations, that progress can hopefully come faster.  Until then, salute to all the subbers, scrubbers, and encoders translating and localizing this series without any financial compensation, as without them, Kamen Rider’s presence wouldn’t be nearly as big as it is today.

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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.