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Tuesday, August 21, 2012
When it was announced that Shinkenger would be adapted for America as "Power Ranger Samurai" - I was hopeful it would do well, but more realistically was expecting a disaster. I watched the first season, more out of curiosity that anything else. I was pleasently surprised to find that they where using the Japanese scripts of Shinkenger, almost scene for scene. It was errie, to say the least -- watching footage I had been familiar with for nearly 2 years before hand. While the episodes where following nearly the exact same plot - the acting, feeling, spirit and soul of the Japanese series was just missing.
Adapting Shinkenger, by its very nature, would be a very hard show to adapt. The theme of the series is practically a celebration of everything Japanese. Removing things like Mojikara (Kanji/Character Powers), would simply be impossible. They kept that in - merely leaving the words un-translated. They even had the same set-up; the Red Ranger, being the Lord - and his retainers protecting humanity from demons. Thing is... these are all Western Actors. They made some really stupid moves, though - like creating Mega-Power modes for the characters, when they are in their zords. I haven't watched the series since it began to sharply deviate from the original plots, and have sort of stood back, waiting to see how much more stupid stuff could they toss into the show. Even more Mega-ier Power Modes, made to look like Samurai Armor, for example? I know it may be contained to the toy line, but I happened to see a Black Scorpion re-paint of Ebi Origami as well, supposedly being Dekker's (hate that name) zord.
I really just shouldn't have expected much. I know some fans equally, and sometimes more, like the Power Ranger versions of the series; but, this comparison of the Gigazord, and Samurai Ha-Oh, pretty clearly shows the difference. (At least I think so.)
Here is the Gigazord - with Mega-Armor aplenty!
Here is Samurai Ha-Oh
Besides the awesome music, elevating the action and emotional excitement of the scene -- it is further named by an over-eager Ryunosuke, as Samurai Ha-Oh, which apparently is the highest rank a Samurai can achieve; as it means Military King.
I know what they came up with, really, was inevitable -- and I'm glad at least some of the awesome things from the series could be seen on TV in America. I certainly liked the original Power Rangers when I was a kid. While Super Sentai is likewise just a kids show - the quality of the writing, acting, action, effects - and dedication to making an excellent series really shines; Shinkenger being one of the top examples of the best of Super Sentai.
Still, I wish the real series could have continued on better - and that such an incredible show could be seen by a wider Western audience. At least we can see some of it: here's an incredible clip - of the ending battle of Shinkenger.