Power Rangers Samurai
My kids are huge fans of the Japanese Sentai series. And when it was announced that there was going to be an American version of what has been considered to be the best Sentai series to date, Samurai Sentai Shinkengers, broadcasted in America with the title Power Rangers Samurai, I took a wait and see approach. And I had just cause due to how the American entertainment industry has done to water down quality in the hope of selling cheap knock-off toys.
The American version of Samurai Sentai Shinkengers has its moments as it tries to copy as much as it can from the original source but as in doing so the spirit of what made it popular has basically been lost. The most visible one is that Saban Entertainment, which makes the shows, still does not know the difference between a Samurai and a Ninja, like comparing a Marine to a Navy Sailor. When the actors chance into their Samurai costumes, they do so while wearing ninja mask. Power Rangers Samurai does have a lot riding on it. The original story line dealt with a lot of serious issues that worked together to create a huge following.
A few examples are as followed. The Red Shinkengers is a proxy for the true leader of the clan. He would rather work alone that use the other Shinkengers and many times have come close to passing out from exhaustion or would rather die from training and/or fighting Doukoku forces. Reluctant at showing his true feelings towards other Shinkengers which causes mix feeling as the others feel he doesn’t care about them. He starts to change especially when a childhood friend shows up wanting to join the team as Shinkenger Gold. He also has to deal with Jyuzo Fuwa, a rogue villain who helps the Shinkengers as well as desires to have a duel to the death with Shinken Red.
Jyuzo Fuwa, A man whose wife was murdered and has been transformed into his sword, wants to battle Shinkenger Red to the death. On many occasions he has assisted the Shinkengers in order to protect Shinkenger Red from dying before they can have their personnel battle as with on other occasions to test the Shinkengers strength and weaknesses. At the same time he is looking for the person responsible for his wife’s death. He also shares a bond with Dayu Usukawa.
Dayu Usukawa, a woman who gave her heart to a man as he left her to marry someone else. In a jealous rage she sets fire killing everyone. As the fire starts to consume her, she clutches the man she loves as he longs for the other woman who is now dead. She is reborn into a Gedoshu similar to the way Jyuzo was as her former lover is turned into a shamisen; a musical instrument that plays eerie music with the sound of a tortured man begging to be set free. Dayu is very loyal to Doukoku.
Doukoku is to the Shinkengers as Darth Vader is to the Rebel Force. With a seal keeping him from entering into our world, he sends others to cause misery and pain in order to break the barrier between both worlds that would allow him to freely enter our world. If Doukoku entered our world with the seal still in place, he would basically dry up and die. The first time the Shinkengers faced him, Doukoku defeated them without moving a step. So powerful, that for the love of Dayu’s music, he risked death in order to save her and her shamisen.
On Wikipedia for ‘Power Rangers Samurai’, Saban stated “the show will have a "brighter tone and gets an infusion of fun and comedy that wasn't present in Jungle Fury and RPM. In reality, Samurai Sentai Shinkengers was darker than the last Sentai Series that being Juken Sentai Gekiranger (Jungle Fury) and Engine Sentai Go-onger (RPM). As Jungle Fury and RPM were comedies by comparison to the original source material leads one to wonder how to turn a serious story line into a comedy. The entire Japanese series is meant for kids but with Samurai Sentai Shinkengers, even older adults with or without kids, were watching this show. So much so that there was an extra movie made of the series. So much so that it is still talked about and has been recognized as one of the best Sentai series out of a now 35 different Sentai shows.
The show was watched not only in Japan but across the internet using a software program called Keyhole TV as with torrent downloads and web sites such as TV-Nihon. All of this leading to a continuing ongoing argument. Should shows, primarily from Japan, be subtitled or dubbed? Watching a Japanese show being watered down to a Weird Al Yankovic version can be entertaining but it lacks to true feel or spirit of the show.
My final thoughts are these. Saban created this type of show many years ago as a way to bring Japanese entertainment to American audiences, did help open the door to overcoming cultural differences as well as experiencing something other than the cookie cutter style of programs and movies coming out of Hollywood. But over the years as the internet grew to shorten the cultural gaps, Saban’s Power Rangers shows became more appealing to preschoolers than to their original fan base that made Power Rangers famous.
An age group that today is watching dubbed Japanese anime shows as well as American anime shows based on Japanese anime like Sym-Bionic Titan on TV. If Saban Entertainment wishes to be taken more serious by the age group that made them famous when the Power Rangers first began broadcasting in America, it would be more beneficial as well as cheaper to simply bring the Japanese Sentai series to America, as is. Whether dubbing the voices or using subtitles, more and more people and kids are already watching the Japanese Sentai series as well as other shows like Kamen Rider and Ultraman through the internet and are seeing Saban’s Power Rangers as a kiddy show.