Ranger Philosopher Appears: Best Man For The Jobon September 25, 2012 at 11:50 am
I’m the new staff writer here, and I ain’t no greenhorn to this fanbase. Let’s talk about Power Rangers for a second before I tell you what I’m gonna write about.
I’ve been there since the start. I vaguely remember the early advertisements, even though I was 3 years old at the time; the franchise was born with my imagination. I was just old enough to begin analyzing things and partaking, and as a child a little bit more advanced than others, I was comprehending major intergalactic conflict before most of my friends were done shitting their diapers. Whatever this brave, new experience was, I was in it for the long haul. I was about to kiss sleeping in on Saturdays goodbye for the next 10 years.
As the years went on, I saw Lord Zedd’s brutal campaign unfold against Angel Grove. Putties after Putties, evil plot after evil plot, and episode after episode, I continued cheering on the Rangers through all circumstances. Very early on in my life, I modeled myself after the examples set down by the ‘Big Six’ of MMPR’s first season, becoming a beacon of hope and goodwill on playgrounds everywhere…and then they lost their powers. As a 5 year old, I was devastated. Rita had won, and there was NOTHING they could do about it, so they enlisted the help of Rangers from another world. Delphine and her Aquitian Rangers were the last line of defense as the six travelled through time to find the Zeo crystals; I was kept on the edge of my living room carpet every single day it came on; every Zord, every Cog, every villain, and the indomitable spirit of good over evil made for one great story over Reese’s Puffs.
I’m proud to say that my first date was taking a cutie that I shared a cubby with to see the Turbo movie. As an 8 year old, I had faith in both sets of teams: Tommy, the battle-hardened veteran, was in charge, and then handed the morpher over to a brand new guy named TJ enough to keep it going. I trusted Tommy, and TJ proved himself. Even Justin Stewart had proved himself in the defense of the Command Center; the Turbo Rangers were valiant, but their adventures were strange. Adapting a parody into something meant to be taken seriously seems disastrous now, but let’s face it: they did the best they could with the material they were given. I dare anyone to try re-dubbing Blazing Saddles so it becomes a Korean love story. Either way, it was a good enough venture that I found it devastating to see Justin silhouetted against the rising NASADA shuttle the final moments of the series, and then suddenly brought to attention by the warning that the Power Rangers would be back.
In Space was a bittersweet experience. Andros had one of the toughest jobs of any Red Ranger: not only was he dealing with very sudden command of a new team following the probably-permanent coma of his best friend in combat, but his archenemy was also his long-lost sister. Having a little sister myself, and being our parents’ only children, I connected personally with that issue. If that was me, could I have the moral fortitude to destroy the baby if it meant saving Earth? Was there any hope of converting her back to good? These questions shied in comparison to the death of Zordon. He had been IT; the guide, the mentor, the one who my heroes turned to in time of need.
Hope endured. The one scene that has stuck with me every single day since Countdown To Destruction aired was the one where Bulk steps forward to claim that he is the Blue Ranger in order to buy the real Rangers time. One by one, Skull, Professor Phenomenus, and three other citizens of Angel Grove stepped forward to claim that they were also Spartacus. That was the moment that I realized bravery isn’t programmed in the Rangers’ suits: the traits of a hero are underneath the helmet. To this day, I get chills re-watching the scene; it reaffirms the idea in my inner romantic that despite everything, right prevails.
As the years went on, I got up every groggy, darkened morning at 5:30 AM sharp to catch reruns of Boy Meets World before Fox began their national lineup, usually starting with Power Rangers. I had forsaken soccer and, sometimes, even sleepovers to ensure that I didn’t miss the next episode of Lost Galaxy, of Lightspeed Rescue, of Time Force. As a 10 year old, nothing spoke of thicker courage than Leo sacrificing himself against a mutated Trakeena with his own Battlizer, or being forced to watch Wes and Eric make a suicidal stand against Ransik’s forces in 2001. This was not sobering, nor saddening, nor shocking in any way: I understood the point of being a Power Ranger was to offer oneself to greater good, despite all circumstances.
I don’t know if it was simply my overactive imagination, but the messages of Saban’s show had sunk in. I had been doing better and better in school, standing up to bullies anywhere they decided to tread, and preaching the good words of the Rangers. However, as an 11 year old, I felt spent. The old heroes were long-gone, the Wild Force Rangers seemed to have everything under control, as usual, and I just didn’t feel threatened by Master Org. Thus, following Forever Red and the series finale, I bid the Power Rangers franchise adieu. It was time to move on.
As I began high school, I also began a very special connection with another show: LOST. I had become captivated with the story of Oceanic Flight 815, stunning characters, and a plot that never quit. As a 14 year old, I felt secure in the fact that I had suddenly found a rebound relationship.
But love works in strange ways.
I admit, my full attention to LOST was, at times, diverted by finding out what the name of the latest Ranger team was, or looking up their morphing sequence from time to time on a much younger YouTube. I let Power Rangers go, but it would not let go of me.
I suppose it was nearing the end of LOST that I began looking back into Power Rangers. LOST had been diagnosed with a fatal sixth season and everyone knew it; I would soon be single again and needed some love to fill my heart. As a young man, I had carried the values and morals laid down by the first ten seasons of Power Rangers with me every step of the way. I knew if I went back, I’d be welcomed with open arms by the latest team. The biggest hurdle was accepting that, by and by, Power Rangers was still a kid’s show, and accepting the idea that I was now rekindling a childhood interest. I felt as though I may as well have been revisiting my other loves of drawing on walls with crayons and sitting in high-chairs. Even the TV show Friends had a joke about how Power Rangers was a show universally accepted as being associated with juvenile behavior.
I didn’t care as soon as I began learning more about Super Sentai. I knew it was the source material for a couple of years, but hadn’t thought much about it until just before Gokaiger began airing. I was now re-hooked; the Japanese format had a much more mature tone and honored the fans with cameos and team-ups any chance they had. As a 19 year old, I suddenly became engulfed in the fire that had been rekindled.
I forgot to mention: I’m an amateur filmmaker and a long-time actor and amateur stunt person. With the world of independent productions quickly picking up speed through internet distribution, I decided that I was gonna make my own tokusatsu production and make it a web series. It’s not necessarily an excuse to stay involved with the tokusatsu community, as some have asserted to me, but it’s definitely a necessary homage to the genre that gave me some of the most important parts of my character; I am a good person, and I am not afraid to admit or accept it. One of these days, I think I’m gonna make a WWTD (What Would Tommy Do?) bracelet, with all It Came From Angel Grove references aside.
As a 22 year old, it is nerve-wracking to see the series enter into the big anniversary season. Mostly, it’s nervous anticipation; I have seen the ups and downs of the franchise and know what it’s capable of, under every creative mind that’s crafted it. As the newest staff writer of Morphin’ Legacy, I’m unable to find words to describe how perfectly this career in fandom has led me to writing (eloquently, by the way) for the groups of people who also once believed as I did in these teams.
I hope to serve you well leading up through the remainder of Super Samurai and the Megaforce festivities; I am here as a writer covering the philosophical side of Power Rangers, and tokusatsu in general. I’ve got some opinions on the secondary ‘90s shows like VR Troopers, Beetleborgs, and Masked Rider, as well as the Kamen Rider franchise and the Gavan reboot, but those are gonna be saved for a rainy day. For now, I’m here to talk about why we love Power Rangers so much that we’ve committed precious time on the internet to gather and celebrate what is basically a kid’s show. I intend to bring you answers to soak in and questions to chew on, psychoanalysi of your favorite Rangers, and general philosophical topics pertaining to what we love about these franchises, including why we love morphing/henshin sequences, the TRUE role of Zords, the intentions of evil villains, and Tommy Oliver’s great identity crisis.
If you have any ideas for topics you’d like me to cover, feel free to comment or contact me directly via Facebook.
Until the next one: be brave and press on regardless.