The new Power Rangers movie will be opening in theaters this Friday, and 10-year-old me is frothing at the mouth to see it, even if I do hate the fact that they are basically turning Rita Repulsa into the Green Goblin. Anyone who was a kid in ’90s or 2000s knows the basic premise of the original series: a wizard bestows a group of ordinary teens with special power that allows them to morph into super-powered fighters in skintight spandex called Power Rangers. The Power Rangers each have their own special power and fighting ability, and they also have the power to pilot giant fighting robots called Zords to battle the host of evil creatures who threaten to conquer Earth.
The series first aired in the United States in 1993, and has since bloomed into a global franchise, with toys, video games, and endless spinoff series making quite a few people lots and lots of money. But you may not know about the off-the-wall Japanese show that started it all. Created in 1992, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger featured the classic setup of teens transforming to battle intergalactic evil, but unlike previous series in the Japanese Super Sentai franchise, this series had a special magic all its own that sparked a worldwide phenomenon. The followup series Gosei Sentai Dairanger (“Five Star Task Force”) began in 1993, and it doubles down on the delightful weirdness and bizarre scenarios in which our plucky heroes find themselves as they battle the villains known as the Gorma.
Here are just a few of my favorite things from the Gosei Sentai Dairanger series:
1. Any appearance of the giant cosmic justice dragon Daijinryuu
Daijinryuu appears whenever a battle between the Dairangers and the Gorma have gone too far and threaten to topple the natural balance of the world. Daijinryuu is neither good nor evil: it’s the equivalent of your mom showing up to stop a fight between you and your little brother–but with LASERS.
2. The evil purse monster
What the actual….?! I LOVE this thing. The coin purse monster is a demon that opens up to shoot a blast of giant red heads that either latch onto people’s faces to capture them, or send them flying through the air on impact. Why does he have a coin purse for a head, why is he attacking children and shooting detached heads at people? Who cares! It’s hilarious. In fact, all of the monsters in this installment of the Japanese Power Rangers are totally freaky and wildly inventive.
3. This group of teenaged girls-turned-demonic-glam-minions
An angry lipstick demon wants revenge against the Power Rangers, specifically the Pink Ranger, for scarring her face during a battle, and she recruits a gang of unsuspecting young women to help her get the job done. Bewitched by the magical purple lipstick smeared on their lips, the girls use an intense, high-pitched harmony to bring down the Power Rangers. That sucks for the Rangers, I know, but I only care about one thing: when does these girls’ album come out? When will the EP be on iTunes? They may be hypnotized by intergalactic evil, but these girls can SING.
4. Whatever’s going on here
I’m into it.
5. The ANGST
You thought that the American Power Rangers were the champions of cheesily acted teen heroics and crises of conscience (Yes, I am talking about you, Tommy.) But they’ve got nothing on the Japanese rangers. So many swelling speeches, so many Serious Looks™, so many agonized turns away from the camera, and all in rapid-fire, full-volume Japanese that just heightens the drama. It might be easy to make fun of Pink Ranger for being wracked with guilt over drawing her dairen rod too quickly during a battle, but listen, haven’t we all been there?
6. The scheming little prince of the Gorma
Awww, he’s so cute! And he’s going to destroy us! This sworn archenemy of the Rangers may be tiny, but he’s a mastermind that often has the Rangers scrambling to avoid defeat. I love the bizarre and sometimes unsettling monsters, but this little Japanese grade-schooler in a munchkin costume is actually my favorite villain. What he lacks in size he more than makes up for with his daring and inventive schemes that target not only the Rangers’ physical weaknesses, but also their, like, family issues and stuff. Dang. Don’t let the adorable button custom and baby face fool you, this kid is a stone cold villain. May we all be this gangsta one day.
There are so many strange and delightful moments from Gosei Sentai Dairanger and the other shows in the Japanese Power Rangers franchise, there’s no way I could get to them all. See them for yourself! Catch the first ten episodes of Gosei Sentai streaming free right now on Tubi TV.