“It’s morphin’ time!” – you must be familiar with this phrase and remember shouting it out when you were a kid watching 5 adults turn into superhumans in shining costumes. The first one to do it was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – the heroes that almost every kid from the ’80s and ’90s would remember. With a new movie (Power Rangers) scheduled to be out in 2017, a lot of fans are excited as they have been waiting for so long to see their childhood heroes back in action. However, not many are aware of its origin. The original series was actually Japanese and was called the Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. So how is the Japanese version like versus the American one?
Remember that the American Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a re-filmed and re-edited version of the Japanese Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, so there were things that were modified.
To start off, let’s first look into the history of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger.
Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger was the first Super Sentai series to be adapted into the American Power Rangers series. That means Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (shortened as MMPR) is the first of its kind to appear on American television. However, Zyuranger was not the first Super Sentai series – it was already the 16th installment in Japan’s Super Sentai franchise produced by Toei and Bandai. Zyuranger was aired in February 21, 1992 by TV Asahi, a year before the MMPR came out. It had 50 episodes which lasted for about a year, whereas MMPR lasted for 2 years with 3 seasons (1993 to 1995).
Japanese viewers might take the Zyuranger lightly because it was just another series of the Super Sentai, but to Americans (and to most part of the world), it was something that they had never seen before.
Now that you know the history, let’s move on to the characters.
There were some prominent differences between the characters of Zyuranger compared to MMPR‘s. The person who brought in Super Sentai to America – Haim Saban, the head of Saban Entertainment – had changed the plot of the Zyuranger to suit the American context. The original version had only one female Ranger and the other 5 were males (not to forget they were all Japanese). The Rangers were Geki (Red Ranger), Goushi (Black Ranger), Dan (Blue Ranger), Boi (Yellow Ranger), Burai (Green Ranger), and Mei (Pink Ranger), the only female Ranger.
That is why if you take a closer look at the Zyuranger‘s costumes, you will notice that the Yellow Ranger does not have a skirt (refer to the first picture).
The heroes of the Zyuranger were not selected by the requirement of “attitude” like in the MMPR. They were actually Holy Warriors of Justice of ancient human tribes revived by The Guardian from a suspended animation from millions of years ago. They were not “discovered teenagers with attitude” like in the American version.
While MMPR had Zordon, an inter-dimensional being as their mentor, Zyuranger had a more mobile mentor named Mysterious Sage Barza. Unlike Zordon who was trapped in a time warp and could only give commands through his robot assistant named Alpha 5, Barza was able to carry weapons with him and even come face to face with Bandora (Rita Repulsa in MMPR). Barza was also the responsible man who awakened the Zyuranger heroes to fight with Bandora after her trap was unsealed. Did I mention he wears a more appealing costume, too?
The villains had their names changed for MMPR, but the names did not sound as evil as in the Japanese version. Zyuranger definitely had more evilness in their names – Bandora for Rita Repulsa, Grifforzer for Goldar, and not to forget the name Dai-Satan, the god of evil who appears as a bodiless entity and who gave Bandora her dark magical powers.
Besides that, there were three characters from MMPR that did not exist in Zyuranger. The characters were Lord Zedd, Bulk and Skull, and Rito Revolto (skull-like human figure, Rita’s brother). The reason is because MMPR had 2 seasons more than that of the Zyuranger, so the plot lacked characters and villains to spice up the story. The American version had to take in villains from other Super Sentai series like Rito Revolto from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger‘s Gashadokuro.
Those who have watched MMPR would have known the love story between Kimberly (Pink Ranger) and Tommy (Green Ranger). This is an element of American film culture where a love story is likely to appear when there are two good-looking characters present in the story that did not exist in Zyuranger. The Japanese version did not emphasize on side elements as the central focus revolves around Bandora’s evil attempts to destroy the Zyurangers and avenge Kai’s, his son, death. Even if there was “love” in Zyuranger, it would be a team kind of love where all members care for each other and always protect the weakest one (in the case of Zyuranger, it was the Pink Sentai).
Zyuranger‘s actors and actresses were really good in their acting that they made the characters look real. Witch Bandora, who is the main antagonist and the leader of the Bandora Gang, is feared as one of the baddest female villains in the Super Sentai series thanks to the excellent acting by Soga Machiko. She appeared in both the Japanese and American version of Season 1 and had played several roles in the other Super Sentai series. Her legacy still lives on even when she had passed away in 2006 when she was 68 years old due to pancreatic cancer.
Another worth mentioning is the cast of the Red Sentai, Yuta Mochizuki. He had remarkable achievements in his acting career having played major roles in the world of Japanese heroes – as J1 of the Neo-Jetman in Choujin Sentai Jetman and also as Kouji Segawa in Kamen Rider J. Not only that, but Mochizuki is also a familiar face for any Sailor Moon fan due to his portrayal of the second Tuxedo Mask in the Sailor Moon Musical.
Having watched both Zyuranger and MMPR, I would strongly recommend everyone to go and watch the original Japanese Zyuranger. Besides the facts that the actions were much better (MMPR had its amount of violence toned down due to complaints from parents in America concerning the amount of gore in Zyuranger) and the lyrics to the theme song is amazing (although it sounds a little bit like Disney), you can also learn Japanese the Super Sentai way! It feels a lot different when you see the heroes of your childhood speaking Japanese and throwing different kinds of punches! So go and watch it!
You can buy the original Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger DVD here.