Wednesday, January 30, 2013

6 Things that are Wrong with power Rangers Samurai

With MegaForce Set to debut, Shinta lists off the Top 6 things he hates about Saban's revival of Power Rangers.

Note:  This was originally planned as the opening episode to 2013.  However, due to production issues, I couldn't get it to work in time.   As Such, this is an editted version of the script I was going to use.


I don’t like Power Rangers Samurai. I think it’s one of the worst power Rangers Seasons in Existence, only beaten out by the travesty that was Jungle Fury. Yes, I think it’s worse than Turbo as I have fond memories of that one.

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I still watch power Rangers. It’s a guilty pleasure that once more informs my persona of lusting of the old days where I found more enjoyment in my life. It’s a Franchise that helped broaden my horizon from the average kiddy series to have a greater tolerance for action in my pallete. Some of the series are majestic marvels of story-telling. I was honestly ecstatic when I heard Saban Bought back the series, as while Disney did a Decent job during the run, the majority of my favorite seasons were Saban-Era. But as early as the pilot, I started seeing the major flaws. Not helped as by that point, I had moved on to Watching the subtitled Super Sentai and Kamen Rider series. So I had seen Shinkenger and knew the potential for storytelling there, and been aware of problems the production team would run into in adapting a sentai series with major Japanese cultural Aspects weaved into it.

Which I won’t be discussing in this list, as to be honest, they weathered those in a half-decent manner. What I will be going over is six elements I found to be absolutely Lazy, Stupid and nonsensical aspects that really detracting to my viewing. So let’s start something minor, and move up to the major issues.

Number 6: Naming conventions.

Okay, many would see this as a weakpoint, as of course they can’t use the Japanese names for the Spin Swords, Called the Shinkenmaru, or refer to Symbol Power as Modikara. However, both of these examples are really lazy renames. The sword’s don’t really spin, they reflect the image on the disk. Why not call them Disk swords? Why did the phrase Symbol power need to be a direct translation? Why not Give a line about the symbols using their life energy, just manipulated by the characters they draw into their abilities, and just call it life energy? It’s lazy that they just slapped a name on it without any effort. There are three others that Really got to me. Naming the second half of the Series ‘Super’ samurai.

Super. Samurai. Are they “SUPER! Thanks for asking!

Yes, it introduced the series’ super mode, yes it was the section that covered the strongest weapons in their arsenal. But ‘super’ is one of those qualifiers that require a very small window of use, otherwise it just gets groans for the viewers. Super Sentai gets away with it as the franchise name as there’s a long-stretching history to that name, AND because of the second word to the name. Sentai. Sentai, directly translated, means Soldiers. The Super Sentai are Super soldiers, brought in to combat threats that threaten the world which other organized forces can’t properly combat. Changing the name to the same series makes it seem like the company is begging you to tune in, and I feel that Power rangers, while having kids as it’s intended audience, should have more dignity than that. Next is the Shark Sword. This irks me because in the Japanese version, it’s the Kyoryumaru. Kyoryu translating to Dinosaur, as in It’s ancient. They could have gone the ancient route and call it the ancient sword, the form it granting the ancient samurai mode or ancestor form or something.

But the big one to me, that put the nail in the coffin for adding it to the list. The Samurai Gigazord.

Since the beginning of the franchise, Power rangers has always referred to the final combination of as many of the machines they have into one unit as an Ultrazord. It’s tradition. Samurai doesn’t follow this and I REALLY don’t know why. Furthermore, much like super, giga- is one of those monikers that indicates a Last resort. Like the Giga Slave form Slayers which can potentially destroy the world is mis-cast, or Machinedramon’s Giga Cannon, which after firing exhausts the majority of said Digimon active energy supply. Final Combinations in series like these are used multiple times, and usually at the end of the series are outmatched by the big bad. Ultra- denotes that while it is REALLY powerful, it isn’t always the final resort, and can be used without cost.

Number 5: The Theme Song.

Everybody knew this was coming. IT really weakens the series as it opens on a remix of the original theme from Mighty morphin power rangers.

I have nothing against the original mighty morphin theme. Hell, repeatedly on lists about the theme songs it comes out on top. But, It’s unique TO the first three seasons. When the show moved one to using newer sentai suits to match the footage, they made a sequel song to go with Zeo. Same with Turbo, and In Space, and So on. From Zeo onwards, each theme song gave an imprint of the related series, and more often than not, reflected the quality of that season.

For example, Lost Galaxy ‘s theme Tries to tell a story but runs out of time to do so, and the last arc before the finale shoves in a trip to the titular lost galaxy, which devolved into filler. Jungle Fury’s theme is awful, reflecting the series many blame as causing the franchise to Bow out under Disney’s Purview, as RPM was probably the magnum Opus under the house of Mouse.

Samurai’s theme only changes a few minor lines to complement a few stupid lines the writers tried to hammer into the skulls of the viewers. So it really fails at trying to tell something about the series it’s playing into. Made worse, but they chose a rather bad band to do the song. And unlike the original, there’s no extended cut that tells more about the series.

If you want to do a cover of Go Go Power Rangers, you call in Masaki Endoh!

Number 4: The Teamup with power Rangers RPM.

Why even do it in the first place if you’re going to half-ass it?

Here you need some backstory. The two-part special “Clash of the red rangers” was made up of footage from the Super sentai Films Shinkenger the fateful war, and Shinkenger vs Go-Onger. Go-Onger was the series RPM got much of it’s fight and all of it’s mecha footage from. Go-onger had the protagonists fight Machines from an alternate universe where machines rulled over all, and were given their powers and helped in battle by sentient vehicles.

Thus the ‘Googly anime eyes’ as Ziggy put it during RPM.

So the Crossover. To make it work, since RPM had the setting of Robot Apocalypse, they used the alternate universe elements from Go-Onger to retroactively set RPM’s events in an alternate universe from the normal continuity, while also establishing that there are ways for the two to cross over. I have no issues with this. Nor do I surprisingly have an issue of RPM’s red ranger Scott Truman remaining in his morphed Form. Eka Darville, the actor that played Scott in RPM was not available for the film, so they just put an actor in the suit and dubbed over the voice with a voice actor that, breaking Power rangers tradition with the practice, actually sounds somewhat like him, making many fan believe said voice actor “Tobias Reiss” was a pseudonym for Eka. And Well, Go-On Red was kind of a High-ego hero. Since the crossover used the footage from the films, they production staff couldn’t tune it out as much as they did in RPM, so Scott comes off full of himself, which ran against his character. Again, something unavoidable with how they put this together.

My issues start with the continuity problems. Jayden hands over the Sharksword disk to Scott for the super mode fight BEFORE he actually claims it in battle and shows off it’s abilities, a flub made worse at the merging of the two movies out-of-order with each-other. Jaden also using his symbol power to summon a car, Something done for comedy that fit in with GO-Onger, is used with total seriousness, and when it breaks down Scott and Antonio are kept out of the battle trying to fix it. FIX A CAR THAT IS AN ENERGY CONSTRUCT CREATED BY SYMBOL POWER.  That’s freaking lazy, and made worse, they chose the battle from the movie promoting the sharksword, instead of the over-the-top battle which climaxes on the Moon with both Team’s Megazords fighting a massive Mecha construct and fully combining their powers. I hate that they kept the Rest of the RPM team out of this teamup. Even if they had to use the same reasons as why Scott couldn’t demorph, it’s insulting that they’re left as a throw-away line on how the rest of the Samurai Team got back from being transported to another universe. Speaking of, the in-universe reason scott doesn’t demorph is he isn’t sure if he can survive in a world with clean air, another retcon about the RPM universe and how most of it is a wasteland, even though most of the time the RPM team fights in a Biodome where the air is just fine. It’s just lazy, made worse that since the other universe wasn’t shown, we don’t see how the supposedly toxic environment hurt the other Samurai rangers. They could have said the crossing of universe locked him in his morphed form. IT’s a different in the universal Morphing Grid, something that has been established in past continuity, so it screws with their powers, especially as RPM played off of a biofield dynamic as was described by Doctor K.

And my last problem is this completely out-of place race between the two red Rangers on a Horse and a Motorcycle. This is a multi-minute sequence that just eats time, and is only used to play up the whole Technology vs traditions thing that was never made a major plot-point aside from some throw-away lines and insults while the pair were affected by an enemy spell. It’s only purpose is to eat time and waste money.

Number 3: The two season split.

There is absolutely NO reason for this from a financial or scheduling perspective. They aired the chronological beginning of the series, events that predate the pilot that first aired as part of the second years plot.
Power rangers has always had series that are produced from the same sentai footage run all within a single running block. The First season of mighty morphin had Sixty episodes, which ran from August of 1993 to May of 1994, normal for a fall season series, especially one that happens to have episodes air on weekdays. Later seasons of the saban era decreased their number of episodes to around 40, and set it up so around 16 would air in the spring, usually within a Februar-to-june period, go on Hiatus to air reruns through the summer, and come back with new episodes airing on weekdays beginning in September and the season would conclude in November.

When Production was handed over to Disney after Fox Kids Collapsed, Disney aired it on ABC every weekend for an hour block, usually the last week’s episode followed by a new one, with the occational weeks of reruns int eh summer before resuming likewise in the fall and wrapping up once more IN November. Beginning Mystic force they cut the episode load down from 40 to 32, streamlining the series to have less filler, and forcing the writers to get a bit creative with character development, something that the final 4 of Disney’s Heydey did better than others.

With Samurai running on Nickelodeon and Nicktoons, things got majorly screwed.

I’m using Wikipedia for these airdates, but here’s how they fell. In February of 2011, the series premiered with the third episode, and were followed until June with another 13. Then nothing for four months. In October of the same year We had another five episodes, still once-a-week. Hell, the last of the set was a clip-show meant to have a Halloween theme, and two of them were the chronologically first episodes that they only now decided to air. November gave the clash of the red rangers two-parter, and finally was another clipshow themed around Christmas. That is twenty-four episodes out of a 43 episode series.

2012 had another 13 episodes air weekly starting in February, And the final seven run once again in October. That is an insane running Length for 43 episodes that just doesn’t work for this franchise. People like concise Stories run in a respectable time frame. And no, that doesn’t mean Saban should shorten the running episode length back down to 32 episodes of even worse, down to the supposed twenty. Compressing them like that makes for even less character development in a franchise dominated primarily by fighting scenes and stock footage transformation and combining sequences. They are designed to run within a single year, or if they continue onwards you extend the series to compensate, like with the additional two seasons of Mighty Morphin, which had 52 and 43 episodes respectively, but moved on to include other sentai footage for their purposes.

To put this in perspective, Super sentai has nearly 50 episodes per series, and have had them run Near continuously Since 1978, missing very few scheduled airdates. The most recent one was in observance of the Aftermath and loss of life in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that rated a 9.03 on the richter scale.

Granted, some of this can be attributed to Nickelodeon Scheduling, as it isn’t the first time the US airing of series has been delayed on that channel. Hell, IN Latin America, Samurai wrapped up in August, months early. But with Nicktoons having weekly marathons of the olde stuff, and having reruns of samurai run on weekdays on both channels, there was no reason to just run episodes every weekend for it’s full run, and then contract Saban to move onto the next series for 2012. Hell, ratings would go up and merchandise released would improve sales of everything was kept concise, meaning more money would be spread around. But no. People got bored of being accosted by reruns of short episode spans for months, and moved on. Kids got the toys they wanted out of it early, and thus sales dropped when normally they’d jump with new show-related items made their way to the shelves. For companies that like making money, they dropped the ball in keeping it coming in.

Worse, from a fan Standpoint who have moved onto to watching the Japanese originals to know what’s coming, because of this split They screwed up the twentieth anniversary.

Let me explain. 2011 was the anniversary of The 35th super sentai series. And starting in February of that year, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger began airing. Gokaiger was a celebration of everything and everyone related to the franchise, having the titular characters being able to take on the forms of every, and I mean EVERY member of the 194 past sentai. There were tribute episodes to multiple previous series while it managed to tell it’s own unique story, as the Team learned not only the importance of the previous 34 teams, but what it meant in and of itself to be Super sentai as they Fought and Won against the forces of the most Vast galactic empire ever featured in the franchise, one that the previous 34 teams could only fight to a stalemate at the cost of their powers. Gokaiger is my Favorite Sentai Series and without a doubt among the best ever produced, and it would take a LOT of effort to screw up it’s adaptation.

And Yet, before they even have begun production on it, I know they already started screwing up.

See, Gokaiger isn’t being adapted until 2014 at the earliest. 2013, the year of Power ranger’s 20th anniversary has the adaptation of Tensou Sentai Goseiger, a series which revolved around a group of in-training Angels and their battles against three forces and a fallen angel that endangered the world. Saban is using Gosieger similar to another reboot or rehashing, an while Gokaiger footage seems to be popping up on occasion in trailers, it’s not being used well. Especially since megaforce is once more being split into two twenty-episode seasons, the first alone using Gosieger footage.

That…Is really stupid. You can’t force a story structured like Goseiger into a window like that and have any expectation of it working out. Samurai set this standard that the company is mistaken in believing works, and it’s only hurting their productions as a result. Speaking of their work, that brings me to-

Number 2: the utilization of Bulk and Spike.

This is somewhat difficult to explain, as this covers the storytelling decisions in Samurai as a whole. Bulk and Spike Just serve as a Microcosm to the elements here. Farkus Bulkmeier and Spike’s Father Eugine Skullovich were the underdog Fan Favorites starting from their roots as ineffective bullies at the beginning of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers until their Crowning Moment of Awesome in the Finale of Power Rangers in space, where the two stood up to evil to defend the power rangers and led the common man in the fight against the forces of evil in defense of their home. Their stories between these two points wove into the stories of the rangers as the pair regularly interacted with the team, and overtime became friends as they underwent character development.

For Samurai, the production team Brought back Paul Schrier to portray Bulk, and partnered him with Felix Ryan as the socially awkward Spike. Good Idea, bring back the viewers with the return of Saban to production by reintroducing A fan-favorite character, and have him help mold the next generation.

The problem is, unlike the early years of the franchise, they didn’t embed Bulk and Spike into the Narrative.

I’m serious, The pair aren’t ancillary to events, and frankly barely interact with the Rangers in either morphed OR civilian forms. Their plots only remotely relate to the bigger issues in an episode, and as Such, eat time that could have been used for Character development for the others.

Because frankly, there is VERY little character to the team aside from Cliché

Most of the time we see them training or going about their ranger duties. Their individual interests don’t at all influence or play into their actions. They’re just blank slates, their backgrounds providing information that just doesn’t matter.

And what’s worse? The majority of their backgrounds are lifted directly from their shinkenger counterparts. Jayden and Takeru are both brothers acting in the stead of their sibling who should be leading-Albeit Jayden is actually related and isn’t adopted like takeru was, Chiaki and mike are both Funloving gamers, Mia and Mako are both women who love working with kids and are Horrible Cooks, Emily and Kotoha share the older sister who was supposed to be the yellow of the group but fell ill, and Genta and Antonio are the fish-loving chefs with amazing technical skills. The only difference in Backstory is Kevin, who has dreams of being an Olympic swimmer, while his counterpart Ryonosuke Was a Kabuki actor and loved the theatre

Though they do share the same quirk of finding new ways to combine their mecha arsenal, notably Tenku-shinkenoh—Aka the battlewing megazord, and the Samurai Haoh aka Samurai Gigazord.

Well, Okay, Antonio is a nowhere near as socially awkward than Genta in Shinkenger was. But that plays back to my point on Bulk and Spike. Spike’s personality aligns perfectly with Shinken Gold, with the exception of the fighting prowess, tech skills, and fishing ability. It’s like they split Genta down the line, with the quirky stuff shoved into spike and the rest a slate that fits into a bland Soldier to fight against underworld monsters.

You know what would have been a good way to tie The two groups and invoke character development for the lot? Make Spike the gold Ranger.

Just Go with me on this, Including his rare cameo’s in lost galaxy, Bulk has Seven years of living with monster attacks and, overtime He and Skull got damn good at running from them and on occasion fighting off monsters and footsoldiers. Spike is in better physical condition than his father was at his age, likely as since monster attacks kept befalling the planet and Skull’s own luck encountering them, he wanted to make sure his Son could get away if he ever found himself in such a situation. Then, when the samurai Rangers appear, Bulk gets the Idea to try Training Spike to be A Samurai. This is all stuff established in the first few episodes. All that was needed to be added were four things. One: Like his father with the piano, Spike being a savant when it came to technology and hacking. Two: An Enjoyment of Fishing as his recreational activity. It wouldn’t need to be a big thing, just the guy being found off a boardwalk tossing a line into the water when Bulk grabs him for training in a few episodes. Three: a container Spike Kept secret from his Uncle Bulk that would in time be revealed to be the Octopus Foldingzord, given to him by his childhoold friend for safekeeping, and with which helped him to develop his Morpher and Gold ranger powers. And Four: Bulk’s Training methods, though at points silly, actually working to get him to a point where he could fight with the rangers.

That’s it, that was all that was needed to take a secondary character and translate him as the production team did with the others into his sentai counterpart. Saban, you did it for the majority of the other rangers badly, why not go the full monty and save the money of hiring another actor out of nowhere?

Story-wise This would bring the two groups together, officially embedding the pair into the plot of the episode. Afterwards there then could be a few stories of Spike’s style and quirks clashing with the others due to their difference in method while they worked on getting The Gold ranger’s arsenal assembled. Then comes a Monster that the others have a tough time against, until Bulk and his weird methods come in to help them get an edge, all while Spike is being Taught by Mentor Ji to better coordinate in battle with the others—or possibly lead into the plotline about the creation of the black box. It would be simple story that would allow the others to appreciate Bulk’s help, along with giving two subtle messages to the viewers: that while learning to do things the traditional way is alright, sometimes out-of-the-box thinking is needed to succeed, and just because someone isn’t like you, doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to making things better. It would be a simple story that would come back to Bulk’s days where he and his best friend unknowingly palled around with the original teams, while acknowledging how far he’s grown since then, helping the world’s newest protectors Succeed in their own mission. IT would Show character development on all sides and make the group less bland, even potentially give the actors they chose a potential to actually do what they were hired to do. Namely; ACT!

But no, The production team wrote in a new character to take the place as Samurai Gold, and the bulk and Spike bits ate up time that could have been used better. I’m Sorry Paul Schrier. I enjoyed seeing you as Bulk again, and you did buoy up a TON of the lamer eps, but you could have been cut and not made significant impact.

And finally, the biggest thing wrong with power Rangers Samurai, the element that hurt the most over and over again to see included is.

Number 1: Mega Mode Power.

There is No point to it. It’s armor the rangers put on to pilot the zords. They are in Giant Robots and stuck in large, empty Rooms. What POSSIBLE reason could they have for putting on armor?
There was nothing wrong with the Shinkenger cockpits, Samurai played enough into the Samurai lore for it to make sense. They followed the plots to getting each of the zords, Hell, even The Blue ranger to be the one to come up with the final combination of all of their units. Story-wise there was absolutely no change at all.

The damn things were a waste of money and resources just so you could say you shot it live yourselves.

There is a reason no series since the original mighty Morphin has done original cockpits. It’s a waste of resources that could have gone to other places. Season 3 of mighty morphin only got shots of them interacting in the cockpits as they already had the set from when they shot the big budget mighty morphing movie, and just reused it. Ninja storm reproduced the Sets for their zords the few times that team was shown unmorphed or helmetless in their cockpits, and odds are they got the sets straight from Toei.

Costumes are not cheap to make, especialy when you move away from making them out of cloth and go to the rubber and metals. You need text types, molds, have them be correctly sized. There’s a reason Kamen Rider Swapped to two-part stories when the Riders started to obtain more and more forms, it was so as to save resources to accommodate their construction.

And Not only is there one Mega-mode form. Oh no. There’s one for the super form as well for each ranger, then the hyper more one to match the Sharksword, and the Shogun Battlizer form the core five can use. I wouldn’t have an issue with the battlizer form except it’s primarily used very, VERY briefly when they trigger the finisher of the gigazord, and only once do any of them use the armor’s OUTSIDE of the megazords. And Megazord fights are mainly of the actors in the monster and megazords suits duking it out, with the occasional cut to inside for reaction and plans from the team, and to initiate the finisher.

So yeah, they were expensive to make multiple versions of each, cost money to be kept in condition for shooting, forced the company to shoot new, fresh footage in a rented stage that also had to be made from scratch, and their content per episode was under a minute, when they could have just used the stock footage. Their inclusion wasted resources that could have gone to making the show better, and added nothing in the end that could not have just been taken from the stock footage already available to the producers.

And that’s my list of things that hurt Samurai. And despite all my rage at the screw-up, I want the Power Ranger franchise to keep going, so I hope Saban and the production crew wises up on their mistakes.
My cousin Just had a kid a few months ago, and when he’s older I want him to be able to enjoy the current series runner amongst his young-kids series (Likely to be the adapatation of Gobusters if the current trend holds), so his parent’s can tell him of stories of when they watched it too, possibly even receiving a DVD collection of the older stuff from a certain Second Cousin as a gift one Christmas.

However, with how Samurai has dragged on for the past two years, I have no Good expectations of Megaforce.

Made worse is what I found out about the actors heading up Megaforce. I can’t help but notice a similarity in casting to Samurai’s. They’re all good-looking people. Out of the Men, only the Black ranger has previous acting credits, and did some work as a stunt coordinator. The Yellow ranger was on a Soap opera for twenty episodes after being featured once on america’s next Top model. I’m likely to cut the Pink ranger some slack however, as Christina Masterson’s acting Credits date back to 2005, Four years longer than her next closest peer.

Yes, Mighty Morphin had terrible actors, but that was countered by said actor’s abilities in martial arts, which the show needed for it’s non-sentai fight scenes. Time force didn’t have a lot of unmorphed fight scenes, But the performance brought by the cast in their roles was spectacular and arguably the best in the franchise. That the show features attractive people isn’t what draws viewers to the show; it’s the fighting, the characters, and the tech the rangers use that inevitably gets turned into toys for kids.

So with that along with the problems Samurai had that were avoidable, I expect it to be bad. Likely it’s a product of how television writers have become more and more idiotic in their potential viewers are kids.

Oooor maybe it’s a symptom of a larger problem in the media business, I don’t know, but A franchise that influenced my childhood is once more risking going down the toilet and I’d rather not see that happen.

And I hope I’m wrong. I Hope that Megaforce will become a classic held up in regards by fans Like In Space, Time Force, Dino thunder, and RPM are today. But The cynic and Realists that dominate my Psyche know that by all provided evidence it will be at best mediocre, and at worst kill the franchise yet again. You know how Certain of this I am?

If The Power rangers Megaforce that airs in 2013 is good or I find myself Liking it; I will, In a video I will post, Eat The Goseiger Ranger key, in It’s entirely. I am that certain Megaforce will not be good.

That’s all I have to Rant on. See you all next time.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'm not even gonna bother defending anything that's "good" about either Samurai or Megaforce because well...both shows sucked, in my opinion. But, I guess we should be thankful that we still have the original shows to look back at and appreciate them for what they. Even those that were either bad or that some of us may despised the most, *cough!* Mystic Force! *cough!* But hey, look at it this way, as long as the franchise continues to exist and hopefully, if the people at Saban Brands can get their shit together by the end of Dino "Supercharge", things might be better afterwards.

    So with that out of the picture, I'd would say that instead of doing a full on review on Jungle Fury, why not list about some of the things that you personally think is wrong with the show or what you don't like about it. That way, you could unleash your rage in an more healthier and emotional way. I'm just sayin'!!!