Remember back in the early nineties, there was this show about teens with complicated feelings that got recruited by an interdimensional alien to wear dinosaur pajamas and punch monsters? Sometimes there were giant robots that combined into a "gianter" robot? What was that show called?
Oh right. Well, you may not know that the basic premise (and the action/monster scenes) were adapted from a long running Japanese tokusatsu series called Super Sentai. Mighty Morphing Power rangers’ first season specifically used footage and costumes from the 16th show in the series, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.
Zyuranger was a landmark show in the Sentai franchise. It was the first show based on prehistoric animals, the first to have a Megazord composed entirely of animal mecha, the first to feature a sixth ranger, and the first to incorporate fantasy elements in place of the standard sci-fi fare. Oh, and it was the first to be adapted for international release. You know, as that one show.
When I say adapted, I mean they dubbed over the scenes of the rangers in costume and fight scenes, and then spliced that with original footage. This is the key difference between all Sentai series and their Power Ranger counterparts: the American shows are a little more kid friendly, and the Japanese originals are completely insane.
In Mighty Morphin’, the Power Rangers are 5 adolescents with agreeable outlooks are summoned by an ancient alien named Zordon and given superpowers and dinosaur robots to fight Rita Repulsa, the self-proclaimed Empress of the universe. This is, of course, awesome.
The Zyurangers, however, are not high school students. They are the champions of the 5 tribes of dinosaur-evolved humans who lived in peace alongside the regular dinosaurs. After 170 million years of suspended animation, they are awakened when their ancient nemesis, Bandora the witch, plops her palace/skyscraper down in Tokyo, and rides a flying pennyfarthing bicycle around the city to inform all the citizens that she hates them.
Oh, also, Bandora got her powers from a deal she made with Satan. Not a satan allegory, not a character that just happens the look like Satan, but actual Satan. But that’s understandable, she just wanted revenge on the dinosaurs for the death of her son.
In Mighty Morphin’, Rita is accompanied by an entourage of yes-monsters, including Goldar, a griffon-ish thing that looks scary, but is hilariously inept and mostly harmless.
In Zyuranger, however, Bandora is assisted by a mostly goofy team of comic relief monsters, with the notable exception of the commander of her armies, Grifforzer. He is incredibly strong, a brilliant tactician, and is one of the few monsters to withstand the Megazord’s finishing move. Goldar is a joke, Grifforzer is a big deal.
In Mighty Morphin’, the rangers given the zords, powerful mecha based on prehistoric creatures, that combine Voltron-style into a mighty robot known as the Megazord.
In Zyuranger, however, the champions combine the five guardian beasts to form Daizyuzin, the physical manifestation of the ruling god of the original tribes. He first appears to Tyrannoranger in a vision of the apocalyptic future Bandora will bring about if victorious. He instructs Tyranno to on how to summon his physical form which from then on they do all the time to finish off the bad guys with a sword slash that cuts lightning into monsters. Somehow. Who cares, they explode.
Daizyuzin is also his own sentient entity, unlike his american counterpart. He often challenges and advises the Zyurangers to push them to their ultimate potential. Let me tell you a crazy story…
In Mighty Morphin’, Tommy Oliver becomes the green ranger after being kidnapped and brainwashed by Rita. The rangers clash with him over the course of a couple episodes, he beats them all up so easily, but eventually they’re able to destroy Tommy’s sword and free him from Rita’s mind control.
In Zyuranger, however, Burai, the brother of Tyrannoranger, willingly joins Bandora to fight against his brother and the other zyurangers. He still gets a sword, but instead of brainwashing him to serve Bandora, it just drives him hideously insane.
Tyranno tries to befriend him, but he’s insane now, so he says no. With a laserblast.
Daizyuzin steps in and orders Tyranno to kill Burai, Tyranno doesn’t want to, Daizyuzin says “Tough, I’m God, you have to,” and “punishes” Tyranno for his insolence. Meanwhile, Bandora traps the guardian beasts in lava and has a party on the moon. Burai gets rowdy at the party and is forcibly ejected through space and lands on Earth. He is met by a tiny person in white who drags him into a cave where time stands still, tells him he’s going to die in 32 hours, and gives him a magical flute-dagger that summons mecha-godzilla.
Long story short, Burai joins the Zyuranger’s after a neat fight and half a season of opposition.
In Mighty Morphin’, the Power Rangers were doing this:
In the last episode of the first season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Bulk and Skull help Zack kiss Angela.
In the last episode of Zyuranger, They blow up the Devil and kill Bandora’s son. Again. And Daizyuzin captures Bandora and her crew in a vase and launches it into space.
The series is the perfect introduction to the Super Sentai series, and if you can get your hands on it, call up some friends, and just let the sparks and spandex wash over you.