One of the misconceptions about Tokusatsu shows (Japanese Special Effects) is that they are cheaply done, and automatically have less value because of that. TV-Nihon recently released the first four episodes of Timeranger, and I was struck by how impressive the special effects where. Japanese Special Effects, having it's defining jumping point with the first Godzilla movie, got unfairly labeled for being cheap by Western Cultures. Godzilla, for it's time, was a monumental achievement in special effects; and while the term Tokusatsu literally can be defined as any show with special effects - the sci-fi, super-hero, and monster genres of Japanese Popculture easily can be considered an art from unto itself. So what now might be considered a cost-saving measure by today's standards shouldn't necessarily be dismissed as being cheap.
And even in the case of a series like Super Sentai, primarily still a kid's show and using many of the same techniques employed during the 60s, 70s, and 80s - actually has constantly been pushing the boundaries of what Japanese Style Special Effects can do. Timeranger seems like a perfect example of that. Just watching the first two episodes, it seemed like they where trying to do newer and more stylized effects - sometimes (at least by today's standards) that seemed to fall a bit short of what they where actually capable of. Computer effects and CGI where being added more and more to what was still a very physically done special effects show - but it felt like they where trying to do so much more for a show that, not coincidentally, was the first Super Sentai series of the New Millennium; and while some of those effects might fall a little bit flat by today's standards, it still looks deeply impressive. We see the culmination of such effects regularly in Tokusatsu shows of today - easily mixing explosively impressive CGI Effects with the fast and true stylized Japanese special effects of old.
I do want to note that while I'm pretty impressed with Timeranger specifically, the addition of these new techniques didn't begin with that series. Shows like Zyuranger, all the way to Megaranger, where adding what looked like more and more dynamic and impressive effects. Timeranger just feels like it was perhaps a principle shift in direction for the franchise. The first episodes of the series in particular, perhaps because of a bigger budget for those episodes, always seem to have something bigger and newer that later episodes can't always do. Gekiranger's opening episodes seem like a good example of that - having a huge flooded city incorporated into the giant monster battle. That was a very cool effect, but one never repeated during the series.
Here's of the opening to Timeranger, which the theme song alone gives you an impression of the dynamic new style they where experimenting with during this series. Further below you'll find new screen shots I made from the first two episodes.
You can find these images added here: TimeRed Profile
You can find these images added here: TimeBlue Profile
You can find these images added here: TimeYellow Profile
You can find these images added here: TimePink Profile
You can find these images added here: TimeGreen Profile
You can find these images added here: Timeranger Robots
The Londers Family
You can find these images added here: The Londers Family Profile