So here’s the complete batch for Zyu! Sorry for the wait but we threw in a few extras to make it worth it. First up is the preview for Zyu, nothing special. Next we have an interview with Chiba Reiko (Mei) and Soga Machiko (Bandora). This was an extra on a Tokusatsu Heroines Recap DVD. A few people asked for it and luckily someone upped the raw like a week before we finished Zyu, so it all worked out. It’s a pretty good watch and we get some behind the scenes stories, like how they filmed the scenes with Bandora on her bike and just how bad Mei is at stunt work. And lastly we have something really special, the Zyuranger Dino Video! The Dino Video was the first in a long line of Super Sentai Super Videos. It’s a neat little watch that features an annoying Dinosaur puppet (who I swear sounds like a Digimon but I can’t tell which one) and a sing along to DaiZyuJin’s and Dragon Caesar’s theme songs. You NEED to watch those, if only for Caesar’s. Those lyrics are 100% legit, we didn’t jokesub them at all. They’re really saying that stuff and it’s amazing.
Now with the Dino Video there’s a slight catch. It was never released on DVD so we had to use a VHS raw. It’s good, for the most part, but around 15 minutes in you’re gonna get a blast of VHS 90’s nostalgia. For maximum effect we even used yellow subtitles just like the ones you used to find on anime and toku VHS tapes back in the day. We hope you old timers enjoy them. Now, I’m gonna let Lynxara post a little something she’s prepared that was inspired by a conversation she had with an all around cool guy, internet personality Vangelus. (Here’s his review of SRC DaiZyuJin)
Welcome to the batch torrent for Kyoryuu Sentai Zyuranger, presented by GUIS and everyone’s pal, MegaAnon. Before you get to watching, here’s the final release note for the series.
Zyuranger is probably best-remembered among Western fans for being the show that was adapted in the seminal original season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. MMPR’s success was one of the defining features of 90s pop culture, and has continued in one form or another for 20 years. This is a huge impact for one series to have, and as such, some fans tend to assume that otherwise Zyuranger was a humble little series, just one more Sentai not too different from the ones before. Thinking that way certainly gives MMPR an appealing “creation myth.”
And, like most myths, that story is not true in a literal sense. While Zyuranger’s overseas rebirth as MMPR is an amazing phenomenon, Zyuranger was a turning point for the Super Sentai series before any of that happened. Prior to Zyuranger, Super Sentai concepts were almost always grounded in some sort of science fiction, usually the soft, pulpy type you’d also see in superhero comics. Under Hirohisa Soda, the writer whose work defined Super Sentai’s basic formula in the 1980s, the franchise managed to explore a dazzling array of sci-fi themes and storylines. We saw humans exiled from Earth in Flashman, a unified Earth defense force battling invaders in Changeman, and even far-out concepts like pyramid power and hollow earth theory in Maskman.
The first Super Sentai show to make any explicit reference to magic in its core premise was Turboranger in 1988. Turboranger was one of Hirohisa Soda’s last efforts as Super Sentai’s main writer, and tentatively explored the idea of a benevolent fairy helping humans defend themselves from warring demon clans. The show’s aesthetic was a bit ahead of time, taking cues from Jim Henson projects of the 1980s like Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal. While the fairy’s magic was needed to make the heroes’ gear work, at the end of the day they still fought using machines and gadgets designed by a scientist, not pure magical powers.
Zyuranger was the first series to be written by Noboru Sugimura, Super Sentai’s second regular main writer after Soda semi-retired and a young Toshiki Inoue briefly made his mark on the franchise with Jetman. Sugimura’s take on Sentai couldn’t have been more different than Soda’s. Where Soda had always shied away from mystical themes, Sugimura was happy to plunge headlong into making Zyuranger a completely fantastic take on Sentai. For the first time, everything about a show’s concept, from the hero’s powers to the robot concept to the villain faction were completely fantasy-themed. Daizyujin is a walking god instead of mere machinery, the Zyurangers wield fantastic weapons right out of a 16-bit RPG, and Bandora is the archetypal child-hating witch of fairy tales and Western folklore. This was a controversial change in content that was mirrored in the mecha design and effects, which used a variety of new techniques and shot fight scenes in a noticeably different way than prior series. Zyuranger definitely built on strides forward made in Jetman and Fiveman, but had a look and feel all its own.
While longtime fans were divided on the show (and some remain that way to this day), children gave Zyuranger such a warm reception that Sentai was changed forever. Now, shows with a sci-fi or military theme are the exception, and instead fans largely expect a new set of heroes with some sort of new magical power each year. Sugimura continued on from Zyuranger to be the head writer of Dairanger, Kakuranger, and Ohranger, which all incorporated a certain amount of magic and myth into their premises. After Ohranger, Sugimura left Toei to work for Capcom (where he authored games like Resident Evil 2 and Onimusha).
If you watch Sugimura’s series of shows in sequence, you can see his style develop and mature over time. Sugimura’s take on Sentai was surreal and disorienting, yet absolutely focused on addressing children as its primary audience. While never alienating children, Sugimura works an undercurrent of darkness into his shows, particularly Zyuranger, that only an older viewer will truly appreciate. In Zyuranger, these themes are best embodied in what fans have long called the “Dragonranger Saga,” and the fiendish particulars of Bandora’s backstory. Through Dragonranger and his counterparts in later shows, Sugimura also refines the rough concept of the “sixth ranger” into an archetype that modern fans, twenty years later, will still easily recognize.
Sugimura’s work paved the way for a true revolution in Super Sentai, one that continued after his departure from Toei. As the 90s went on, characters became more nuanced, plots grew more elaborate, and shows strived hard through both gimmick and story to distinguish themselves from what came before. It could be argued that Sugimura’s work on Zyuranger helps set the stage for a decade of constant innovation and slow improvement, all within the bounds of a “house style” that roughly resembles his own. Sentai undergoes its next fundamental stylistic change in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, and after that the franchise moves in a new and different direction.
Of course, a historically significant show is not necessarily an enjoyable one. There is no guarantee that you’ll like Zyuranger as much as you might like its descendants. As far as that goes, we can only encourage you to download the batch for yourself and see what you think. Zyuranger can be strange, and at times the plot may seem to be rambling and infested with wandering children. We would encourage you to be a little patient with the show, and give yourself time to sink into its surreal and dreamlike atmosphere. If you can do that, then hopefully you’ll enjoy Zyuranger as much as we did.