Sunday, 10 January 2016

Nerdversity Discussion: The Origins of Power Rangers

A big question that many Power Rangers fans ask is "what are the origins of Power Rangers?". Many fans say that it was in the attempted Bioman remake during the 80s before Mighty Morphin came out, some theorise that it's actually Gorenger back in the 70s, However, the origins go further back than that.

Eiji Tsubaraya (1901 - 1970) was a Japanese cinematographer and special effects guru. During the Second World War, his special effects expertise was required to make propaganda films, infact they were so good and realistic that it convinced the Allied commanders at the time.

After the War, he worked with Toho in their special effects department. It was during these years that he pioneered the special effects needed for Toho's newest project. Inspired by the same effects used by Willis O'Brien in King Kong, he perfected the combination of model shots and what we now know as suitmation to create Gojira (Godzilla: King of the Monsters) in 1953. The use of model shots and men in rubber suits was used heavily throughout the 1950s and is still used to this very day.

In 1966, Tsubaraya created a new breed of hero, one that would become a cultural icon to many across the globe. Ultraman. Using these techniques of blending live action with model shots and suitmation made it a sure fire hit. Ultraman has been dubbed into English and many other languages. It still continues to this day.

Following on from the boom of the Showa Era Toho movies featuring Gojia, Mothra, Ghidra, Rodan and Gamera, as well as the successes of Ultraman rounding off the 60s and into the 70s, Shotaro Ishinimori created a new breed of superhero. Kamen Rider. It followed the story of Takeshi Hongo, a motorcycle racer and scientist who was kidnapped by Shocker and turned into a cyborg warrior. However, he escaped and used his new powers to fight Shocker.

In 1975, 4 years after the success of Kamen Rider, Shotaro Ishinomori created what would be the first Super Sentai series, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger (Secret Taskforce/Squadron Gorenger). The series is superheros vs. Nazis, as the team the Gorengers belongs to is called EAGLE, formed by the United Nations, it's their job to act as a top secret group to combat terrorism and evil. Their enemies are a terrorist group under the name of Black Cross. Black Cross mix science and magic to create superhuman enemies, who's sole goal is to eradicate humanity and take over the world.

The success of Gorenger allowed the franchise to carry on for another 40 years, with the current series, Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger being the 40th anniversary team. So, what have we learned today? Without Eiji Tsubaraya pioneering the techniques used to make kaiju movies and tokusatsu in general, we wouldn't have Power Rangers as it is today. Saban would still be dubbing anime and the cast would be living normal lives. 

Whether you're a fan of Japanese tokusatsu at all or not even in the slightest, just remember to say thanks to the people that allowed it to happen and for us all to enjoy our favourite TV series, whether it's Mighty Morphin or Zyuranger.