Revisiting the Super Sentai Craze in the Philippines

Before the ‘Power Rangers’ existed, there was the Super Sentai series in Japan.

This week marked the premiere of Haim Saban’s ‘Power Rangers’ movie, and while critical opinion was mixed, the film to date has been a financial success so far. However, the Power Rangers franchise in general is not an original concept.

The Power Rangers were actually adopted from the Japanese Super Sentai series that is now in production for over 40 years. In fact, stock footage of every Super Sentai series were used in combination with originally produced American footage to create the Power Rangers that it is today.

The premise of the Super Sentai (and of the Power Rangers in particular) is simple. A group of normal individuals-turned-superheroes dressed in color-coded battle suits fight the forces of evil, using mecha that, when joined together, form one giant robot in order to combat a more towering monster.

The Philippines caught its first glimpse of the Super Sentai when ‘J.A.K.Q Dengekitai’ (known here as ‘The Lucky Aces’) was aired on RPN-9 back in 1978. However, it was its predecessor ‘Gorenger’ (known here as ‘Star Rangers’) which popularized the Super Sentai in the country.

The mid-1980s saw the entry of both ‘Bioman’ and ‘Maskman’ to the country. Now regarded as classics in the Super Sentai genre, ‘Bioman’ and ‘Maskman’ were regularly aired here for much of the 1980s and deep into the 1990s, and its popularity rivaled that of late 1970s robot anime ‘Voltes V’ and ‘Daimos’.

The 1990s marked the beginning of the end for Super Sentai in the Philippines. Although ‘Goggle V’, ‘Turboranger’, ‘Fiveman’ and ‘Jetman’ were introduced during this period, they were eclipsed in popularity thanks in large part to the ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’, which premiered on ABS-CBN around 1995.

From then on, the Power Rangers franchise was aired in both English and Filipino dubs on the following channels: ABS-CBN Channel 2, Studio 23, Yey!, Hero and Cartoon Network. And while the Super Sentai soldiered on in its native Japan, Filipino networks have no interest in importing such series due to the changing tastes of viewers.

So while people flock to the cinemas to watch the ‘Power Rangers’ movie, let’s not forget that it is the Super Sentai which started it all. The series may be past its prime here, but its influence remains prevalent today.

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