Power Rangers – A 20 year catch-up

It was 20 years ago today that the Power Rangers first front-flipped one-by-one over a camera before posing for children everywhere with a television (or at least those with fancy satellite TV services). The heavily adapted Japanese import’s legacy is undoubtedly huge – just about everyone in their 20s knows the original six rangers, and has their favourites.

Like Tommy, the Green Ranger, who now looks like this.

"Jesus Didn't Tap"

“Jesus Didn’t Tap”

Time moved on. Kids grew older and forgot about the show, and a younger audience took their place time and again, leading us up to today and huge plans for the Power Rangers anniversary.

Some of us didn’t stop though. One of those ridiculous weirdos is me, and I have watched just about every episode of Power Rangers to date. Because of this, I sometimes get a lot of questions on what happened to the Power Rangers story. What happened to certain characters, story beats, zords, etc.

So here I present to you a quick catch-up on the last 20 years of Power Rangers. You might want to read it if you plan to watch next years big anniversary series, where Pirate Power Rangers have access to all of the previous teams powers. And some of them make cameos. Like Tommy!

Oh hey, Tommy's back again!

Oh hey, Tommy’s back again!

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

This bit you’ll know. Five teenagers with attitude get wicked cool dinosaur themed powers and robots and fight a witch on the moon. A sixth one joins them, but not before he’s possessed by Rita Repulsa and fights them. He has the fucking Dragonzord, and the Dragon dagger, and he has a shield and he was the best.

He lost his powers, got them back, and then lost them again. Jason the Red Ranger got his shield and zord to control.

Then Lord Zedd arrived, destroyed their zords, and they got new THUNDER ZORDS. More toys to buy! (I bought them) (they were cool). Tommy came back as the White Ranger, and Jason, Zack and Trini (the asian chick) got replaced with JOHNNY YONG BOSCH, VOICE OF VASH THE STAMPEDE FROM TRIGUN, ICHIGO KUROSAKI FROM BLEACH, THE HERO FROM PERSONA 4 AND ZERO IN MVC3 and a couple of other people.

I have a serious man crush on this handsome gentleman

I have a serious man crush on this handsome gentleman

Rita and Zedd joined forces, blew up the Thunder zords, and they got new NINJA POWERS and NINJA ZORDS which they again used to do the same thing with. Kimberly, the Pink Ranger everyone loved, left and was replaced by an Australian woman. There was some stuff where they were turned into kids and had to find parts of this super powerful “Zeo Crystal” to keep it out of Zedd’s hands.

There were Alien Ninja Power Rangers as well at this point. They went through a car wash in one episode to “hydrate”.

This is where people started to fall off. Things changed, a lot, leading into:

Power Rangers Zeo

Billy the Blue Ranger is now a technical advisor, the command centre was blown up but rebuilt into a fancy new set, and everyone gets new suits and zords and stuff. They have a new enemy, the machine empire, a load of weird robots living on the moon trying to blow up Earth or something. They fight them, they win, then they lose, then a mysterious Gold sixth ranger shows up voiced by one of the VR Troopers who turns out to be alien triplets.

True Story.

Jason, the original Red Ranger, gets the Gold Ranger powers. They fight some more. Billy fucks off because everyone keeps calling him a fag on-set.

Then the climax! For the first time, the Rangers properly beat the bad guys, and then Zedd and Rita show up (who had been spending the series travelling around the moon in a Winnebago) and blow up the leaders of the machine empire.

The End.

Until…

Power Rangers Turbo

The rangers “shift into turbo” with new powers based on cars and fight a sexy demon space pirate lady that lives in a submarine who once tried to resurrect the literal devil or something. The latino Blue Ranger is replaced by a kid who grows into an adult body when he morphs.

And then suddenly, the “original” rangers leave as they’ve graduated school, and new people join. There are no longer any of the original six left, Zordon has disappeared and Alpha 5 has been replaced with the street-wise Alpha 6. Also they drive ridiculous giant cars and in one episode they were baked into a pizza.

Blah blah fight, blah blah new zords, then suddenly the sexy bad lady gets her shit together and fucking storms the command centre, with the Rangers valiantly trying to hold them off at the gates before wearing out their Turbo powers. Command centre is destroyed for good, and smelly pirate hooker is called back by her evil master dude that looks like the monster from the black lagoon. They also head to space by stealing a rocket and leaving the kid behind so that they can be…

Power Rangers in Space

The evil board meeting is happening. Rita, Zedd, the Machine Empire (somehow rebuilt?) and space pirate lady are all in attendance. They speak to their EVIL MASTER, who has somehow captured Zordon (remember him?) and then suddenly a new Red Ranger shows up before surfing away on a space surfboard. Radical.

The four remaining Turbo rangers land on the moon, which is consistently shown to have a breathable atmosphere in Power Rangers, and gets completely owned by some bad guys before the new Red Ranger surfs in and shoots them up. After some persuading, they get new ASTRO MORPHERS and become Space Rangers. Also, for some reason, their Earth space shuttle can dock with the Red Ranger’s alien spaceship to become a Megazord.

They fight across the galaxy searching for Zordon so they can save him. They meet the Ninja Turtles, and my bro JOHNNY YONG BOSCH also returns for a one-off episode to train the latino Black Ranger, as a former Black Ranger himself. I marked out.

A femme fatale with less cleavage than the pirate lady opposes the rangers with evil Ranger copies (the Psycho Rangers), until it turns out she’s the Red Rangers sister. She defects, they find Zordon, and in an attempt to wipe all evil from the Galaxy, they shatter his energy tube. Rita and Zedd turn into humans. Other bad guys turn to dust. Everyone is saved!

Until they reboot the franchise and sever pretty much all ties with the previous few series.

The Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger

Thez’s Note: This was originally written over a month ago, when Akibaranger finished. I didn’t feel like it was ready at the time, and have now rewritten a lot of it. Enjoy!

Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger has finished, the officially unofficial parody of Japanese Power Rangers and otaku culture that has had many people, including myself, losing their shit on a weekly basis.

Hikonin Sentai Power Rangers Otaku

Yes, their helmets are sculpted moe hair. Yes, it is awesome.

For the past 13 weeks I’ve been following the adventures of the Akibarangers, three Japanese otaku who (presumably) live, work, or go to school in the Akihabara district in Tokyo. This centre of nerd and geek culture in Japan is under attack from the neighbouring districts, who wish to cleanse Tokyo of Akiba and it’s otaku, with only the Akibarangers in the way of the self titled “Blatantly Evil Guerilla Marketers”. Only, it’s all in their heads.

The show’s amazing entertainment stems from the self-aware nature of the characters, people living in the real world where Power Rangers and its Japanese originator Super Sentai are just TV shows. The Red Akibaranger, Nobuo Akagi, is a Sentai Otaku. Thanks to his obsession with the Super Sentai series, he’s constantly referencing the tropes in each of the episodes, coming up with cliche solutions to all of them. The tropes aren’t just centred around specific Power Rangers stuff either, with a lot of generic fiction cliches not safe from parody. Brainwashing, imposters, monologuing, and even Chekhov’s guns are called out and addressed appropriately.

The team of three rangers is rounded out with Akiba Blue, Mitsuki Aoyagi, and Akiba Yellow, Yumeria Moegi. Mitsuki is a high school Martial Artist, with a secret love of the show-within-a-show Anime Z-Cune Aoi, a popular cartoon in the world of Akibaranger. She starts off reluctant to properly join in on the poses and roll calls commonly used in Sentai, before warming up over the course of the show.

Yumeria is a young office worker who is obsessed with cosplay, appearing in a different costume in almost every episode. She also draws fan work, doujinshi, which usually involves her love of homosexual men. It’s a great mixture of stereotypes that are a lot more realistic than the haphazard concoction found in something like the Big Bang Theory.

The powers of the Akibaranger are derived from their “delusions”, their day dreams as nerds. Thanks to their active imaginations, they constantly attribute trivial aspects of day to day life to being the work of their imaginary foes. Thanks to their limited edition Z-Cune Aoi action figures, they can mentally link their fantasies and morph into their ranger forms – at least in their minds. It’s just like being on the playground again, although this time nobody’s arguing over who gets to be the Red Ranger.

Hikonin Sentai Power Rangers

He never did

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering how long such a premise can last before they run out of jokes. You’d be right to worry about this, and that is why over the course of this relatively short show (one fifth of a normal super sentai season of 50ish episodes) there are enough twists and turns to keep you constantly on the edge of your seat. It’s an amazing show, combining story and humour in such a way that you never know what’s going to happen next – even if you think you do.

What now though that Akiabranger is over? For those that have seen it, you’ll understand when I say it’s difficult to continue without perhaps retreading old ground. For the moment, there’s a secret episode that will come out on DVD by the end of the year, and the cast are doing a Radio Show about their time on the series which is quite interesting. I myself have sent an email to the radio show (in mangled Japanese) praising it, and would be interested in seeing a Power Rangers adaptation of it.

Is that enough now? Sure, I’d love to see more, but I also don’t want my time with the show ruined with a needless sequel. For now though, I urge anyone with even the merest hint of Power Rangers nostalgia to give it a watch.

The All New CurrentGenCast – 3rd June 2012

Like a bus, you wait forever for posts on CurrentGen, and two come at once.

I actually never got that cliche though – the most bus travel I ever did was in Southampton which has a really great bus system. I digress though, as we have an all new podcast.

That’s right, Phil and Thez are back, talking about the topics that matter. Like what we’re doing now, fast food, Japanese Power Rangers Parodies, the Young Justice cartoon, and more.

You can find me, Thez, now writing for the Linux User & Developer magazine and website, and Phil is starting to podcast with True PC Gaming.

We hope to have another cast soon!

– Thez

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BGM: Fez