American kids from the 90s may very well remember the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The child-centered television show featured a team of live-action heroes battling monsters, or an alien threat, set on obliterating all life on Earth. The original team consisted of five ordinary teens who discover they are the only ones who have the power to stop the alien threat. Meanwhile, in the 70s, Shotaro Ishinomori created a series known as Super Sentai. Unfortunately, the Japanese series was not received well, and so the creator decided to bring it to a halt after two years. What many American fans of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers do not realize is that the show takes its origins from Super Sentai. Despite several similarities, there are many notable differences between the Power Rangers and Super Sentai.
Differences in Power
The first notable difference is the way the heroes receive their power. In Power Rangers, the teens receive their powers through their DNA, or through a morpher. The teens receive training from a mentor who teaches them who to morph into the Power Rangers. By morphing into these suited heroes, the teen can use their super powers to overcome the alien threat to their planet.
In Super Sentai, the heroes have a morpher known as a henshin device that they wore with their uniforms. While heroes from Power Rangers can lose their special abilities and powers, powers cannot be taken from the heroes in Super Sentai. The only way to remove powers is to destroy the henshin device. However, it is possible to repair the device.
In Super Sentai, it is also possible to switch powers simply by switching devices. In Power Rangers, each teen has their own power, which is not something they can transfer to another ranger. Therefore, Super Sentai offers a transfer or power that monster cannot irrevocably destroy. Rangers from the American series, however, can lose their power and may or may not recover those powers.
The Life and Destruction of Monsters
Just like in Power Rangers, the masked and outfitted superheroes in Super Sentai must destroy monsters that threaten life on earth. However, the life and destruction of those monsters differ between both shows. In Power Rangers, the rangers destroy a monster using the Megazord or Power Blaster. If a monster grew to incredible proportions, they team could not destroy it with the Power Blaster, first.
In Super Sentai, it was a hard, fast rule that the team had to destroy the monster using a team cannon while at normal size. Then, the team had to transition into a larger size and use a robot to destroy the monster. Although this concept became popular in later episodes of Power Rangers, it was not how monsters were initially defeated in earlier episodes.
In most cases, once the team of Super Sentai heroes destroyed a monster, it remained defeated. If a resurrection did occur, the reason was given for the resurrection. It was not uncommon to see the resurrection of a monster in Power Rangers. However, the show rarely explained why or what had resurrected the monster, thus leaving the audience to ponder the reasons why.
Running Action vs. Teleportation
In Power Rangers, you often see superheroes teleporting from one location to another. Teleportation is especially common in earlier episodes of Power Rangers. Heroes from Super Sentai can also teleport, but very rarely do. Instead, the heroes often run. The show creators believed that running action heightened the dramatic appearance of each scene rather than simplifying the process with teleportation.
Villainous Classes and Names
With Super Sentai, you will find that villains, or monsters, have certain classes and names. In Power Rangers, the use of classes and names is near non-existent. In Super Sentai, Kakuranger had to deal with the Youkai. Similarly, Goranger dealt with Gorma and the Black Cross Army. Ohranger handled the Baraonia Empire, and Dairanger featured the Gorma.
Power Rangers Zeo, an adaptation of Ohranger, introduced audiences to a villainous group known as the Machine Empire, but that was the only classification of named villains. In truth, there were several groups of villains identified in Super Sentai, but almost none in Power Rangers. Of course, the lack of villain group identification did nothing to slow the popularity of the TV series.
Even most interesting is the fact that monsters also had identifiable classes in Super Sentai. For instance, Magiranger features the following classes of monsters:
- Beastmen Kings
- Dark Beasts
- Super Dark Beasts
In Power Rangers, monsters were simply monsters. GoGo Five had elemental classes, but that was nearly it as far as the classification of monsters. From group identification to class identification, Super Sentai was a very detailed show. Many monsters also had a name with which the audience could use for identification.
In Power Rangers, however, monsters were rarely given a name. There may have been a select few bad guys, such as Repulsive Rita, who received an identifying name, but most went unnamed. Still, Power Rangers proved far more popular among audiences compared to Super Sentai. Of course, Super Sentai never reached America to determine what popular outcome it might have had.
Another defining difference between the two shows exists with their continuity. American audiences always seem to enjoy continuity. They like a show that continues from previous episodes or even seasons. Super Sentai did not offer any continuity between each series. Instead, each series took place in a different universe.
For that reason, each season was allowed a fresh start. Super Sentai could feature a change in rules if they wanted to accommodate the different universe. Rather than sticking to the same rules, they could add, create, or throw in surprising curveballs to help captivate the audience. Unfortunately, the show flopped anyway.
In Power Rangers, the audience enjoys the fact that almost nothing changes from one series to the next. Everything happens because of continuity. Every show exists in the same universe. In fact, the rangers from Power Rangers are aware of their predecessors and the powers they had. In Super Sentai, there is no recognition of any predecessors.
Power Rangers and Super Sentai, Not so Different After All
Despite the differences, there are many similarities between the two shows, too. However, it is the differences that defined the popularity of one show over the other. Whereas Super Sentai does not have the familiarity of Power Rangers, it is because of Super Sentai that Power Rangers even exists.