The Sentai Show

A clip from the sentai show "Sailor Moon." Distributed by DIC Entertainment and Optimum Productions.
A clip from the sentai show "Sailor Moon." Distributed by DIC Entertainment and Optimum Productions.
A scene from "Samurai Pizza Cats." Time to call for backup? SPC is distributed by SABAN
A scene from "Samurai Pizza Cats." Time to call for backup? SPC is distributed by SABAN

Ah, the sentai show. You can be forgiven for having no clue what I'm talking about, but most all of you will have probably watched sentai at some point in your life. Pronounced "sen-TIE," this has become an otaku phenomenon in Japan, as well as a success worldwide.

Basically, the sentai show is a subgenre of Japanese and American fantasy, trademarked by a group of heroes, wearing matching outfits of different colors, fighting bad guys in what has been termed as "villain of the week" formula shows.

The show that really brought out the sentai craze in Japan is called Super Sentai. While the show has gone through numerous incarnations, it basically surrounds five teenagers wearing different color spandex and matching plastic helmets. An evil overlord then sends out a different monster each week to get beaten up by the Super Sentai team. Just as the Super Sentai team is about to lose, they call upon some assistance, usually in the form of a giant robot or a sixth team member who saves the day while the five members take all of the credit.

Sound familiar? Of course it should. There's a North American version called Power Rangers. But Sentai had already touched down in North America before then. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could also be considered a member of the sentai club. Let's go through the list:

  1. Costumes: Sentai shows feature the central characters in the same costume. Generally you wouldn't be able to tell them apart aside from the color of their uniform. Turtles? I wouldn't know Leonardo from Raphael if it weren't for the blue and red headbands.
  2. Villain of the Week: Power Rangers had "Putties." Turtles has "the Foot Clan." Not to mention Klang and Shredders minions, BeBop, Rocksteady, Baxter, and a host of other mutants that would get the tar beaten out of them and sent home with their - ahem - tails between their legs.
  3. A Helping Hand: Casey Jones, April, Splinter, some other aliens from Dimension X whose names currently escape me. There was no shortage of help when the going got tough.

Of course, Turtles was still distinctly western in terms of storyline and serialisation, but nonetheless, it contained the essentials of the classic sentai formula.

Other sentai shows include Samurai Pizza Cats, in which three anthropomorphic felines don white, red, and blue armor to fight off Big Cheese, Bad Bird, and their many robotic monstrosities. And when they needed help, they would call in "The General, on the double." Of course, the Pizza Cats would take all the credit.

Sailor Moon is one of the few sentai shows to successfully target women, using the different colored sailor uniforms, the villain of the week formula, and Tuxedo Mask as the role of the helping hand.

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RachaelLefler profile image

RachaelLefler 5 years ago from Illinois

Sailor Moon proves the genre can be improved dramatically by the addition of.... Tiny Miniskirts!


Bubblegum Senpai profile image

Bubblegum Senpai 5 years ago from Little Tokyo Author

Yup. It seems everytime I watch an anime, the schoolgirl uniforms get smaller and smaller/ Remember how long the skirts were in Sailor Moon (The School Uniform, not the superhero one)?

Then again DiC was owned, in part, by Disney at the time.


RachaelLefler profile image

RachaelLefler 5 years ago from Illinois

I'm watching a show right now, I'll have the review of it ready probably saturday since tomorrow night I have a date. Anyway, it's called Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. It's a very typical Magical Girl story, almost cliche, but one thing I like about it is that even her magical costume skirt is more modest than most anime schoolgirls'. Anyway, the main character's only a third grader, she has no business wearing a sexy costume! When I was in junior high and high school I found it so hard to find girl characters I could cosplay as in a mom-approved way! Even though a lot of them were about my age. Mostly I ended up cosplaying then as boy characters, which is hilarious considering certain... attributes of mine... are kind of hard to conceal!


Bubblegum Senpai profile image

Bubblegum Senpai 5 years ago from Little Tokyo Author

Crossplay can be pretty fun sometimes too! As always, there are exceptions - like watching a bunch of guys who have no feminine features do the Lucky Star Dance... Mildly entertaining, but highly nausiating.

The latest issue of OtakuUSA has an article about crossplay. And some of the outfits look amazing!


RachaelLefler profile image

RachaelLefler 5 years ago from Illinois

Lol, I was reading OtakuUSA yesterday at Barnes and Noble. I got all excited about this DVD give-away before I realized I already own that DVD, lol! It's season 3 of YYH. I've seen a lot of guys that like to do sailor moon characters and other sailor-fuku sporting schoolgirls, which is always funny.


Bubblegum Senpai profile image

Bubblegum Senpai 5 years ago from Little Tokyo Author

Yeah. If they can get away with looking feminine it's pretty good. When they don't even take the time to shave, and cover up some of the more -ahem ...masculine features... than it's not quite so fun.


AnimeHime2011 profile image

AnimeHime2011 5 years ago from Greensboro, North Carolina

Thanks big time for making this Hub, made me remember some of my favorite 'Sentai' Animes and I'm glad to see that even for first timers, on this Hub they would learn something. Awesome job and I love all of your Hubs!


Bubblegum Senpai profile image

Bubblegum Senpai 5 years ago from Little Tokyo Author

Thanks! I've been busy on side projects for the past couple of months, but I plan on getting active again on HP, plus moving back to the big city, but look for some new hubs in the future!

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    Nigel, AKA Bubblegum Senpai has been a weird, anime obsessed freak of nature since he first watched "Samurai Pizza Cats" as a young lad.



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