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TRANSCRIPT – Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers – 研究 戦隊 ポッドキャスト レンジャー – Episode Two Volleyball Spike Your Repressed Aggression Straight Down Into Hell

研究 戦隊 ポッドキャスト レンジャー - Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers
研究 戦隊 ポッドキャスト レンジャー – Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers
KENKYUU SENTAI PODCAST RANGERS EPISODE TWO: Volleyball Spike Your Repressed Aggression Straight Down Into Hell
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[“It’s Morphin’ Time!”]

Ethan: Minna-san, yokoso. Welcome to Episode 2 of Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers, your favorite deep dive cross-cultural recap and analysis podcast for the Super Sentai and Power Rangers franchises. My name is Ethan, I use he/him pronouns, and joining me today is my regular co-host Andrew.

Andrew: Hi!

Ethan: As well as our good friend, producer of the show, and many others, Nelson. Welcome to the show.

Nelson: Hello, yeah, I’m Nelson, I’m- yeah, he-him, since that’s the vibe here, like that, more people should do that, and yeah, I do stuff around here, but from my house.

Andrew: Yeah. Nelson drives a long way to get here, and it takes him a long time to do it.

Nelson: Yeah, you know, but it’s worth it every time. I like coming out here, it’s a very relaxing drive, except for the part through Jasper.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ethan: Jasper has like… four red lights in two miles.

Andrew: It’s the worst.

Ethan: You wouldn’t think that a full-on four-lane highway would get that backed up just because of four red lights in two miles, but you would be wrong.

Nelson: Yeah, I saw like two different people get pulled over on the way here, so, you know, wasn’t me.

Andrew: Nelson, since I’ve got you here on mic, when are we getting more John Thefruitman?

Nelson: Oh man, this is what all this was about, wasn’t it?

Ethan: This was actually, yeah, this was an elaborate trap.

Nelson: This was a ruse!

Andrew: So for those who don’t know, Nelson is the songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist for the acclaimed musical act John Thefruitman.

Nelson: All-around man of mystery.

Andrew: Among other musical projects, but John Thefruitman. That’s how I met Nelson back in the Analog Revolution days, the first Analog Revolution days.

Ethan: Hashtag f*** Cobb County. We might have to beep that.

Nelson: But yeah, I do other stuff. I’ve got a show that I make with my roommates that you can also find on New Ellijay TV called Working Class Music.

Ethan: It was just playing on the TV in the lobby, actually.

Andrew: Yeah.

Nelson: So yeah, I do a lot of stuff. I don’t sleep a lot.

Andrew: That’s true.

Nelson: So here we go. I watched the wrong episode of Power Rangers.

Andrew: It’s going to be great. I did too. It’s okay.

Ethan: Today we are recapping and discussing episodes two of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and season one of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Before we get into the recaps, Nelson, why don’t you tell us about your experience with these two shows and the franchises they come from?

Nelson: Right. So Sentai, never watched it. Watched it here and it’s great.

Ethan: Yeah!

Nelson: It’s so out of pocket. I love it. You know, not to get you ahead of, you know, ahead of things, but episode two was super real, you know, straight up.

Ethan: It’s kind of hype.

Nelson: Yeah. It’s like…

Ethan: It kind of gets me hype to watch it.

Nelson: It opens with guys on the news, you know, being like, “There’re kids in danger! Yeah, well, I don’t like the way your face looks!” And then they all get into a fistfight.

Ethan: This is- I don’t know how much like, original Godzilla you’ve watched. But the like newsroom brawl or just like the talking heads segment.

Nelson: That’s the thing that happens in actual foreign government.

Ethan: It’s a staple for sure.

Nelson: But yeah, never watched Sentai.

Ethan: You’re a little bit younger than me and Andrew, so what was the first Power Rangers show that you were like into?

Nelson: Mighty Morphin’. I mean, yeah, I was born in ‘95. So I still caught Mighty Morphin’ on… What’s the thing?

Ethan: It would have been Fox Kids.

Nelson: Yeah, Fox Kids. Saturday mornings. But yeah, you know, grew up loving Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Dragon Ball Z, you know, all of the coolest sh**. Can I curse on here? Is that cool?

Andrew: Yeah, go for it. You’re going to have to bleep it later.

Ethan: Yeah, we’re going to have to… That’s fine. We want to keep it sort of PG-ish.

Nelson: Yeah, I’ll bleep it.

Andrew: I mean, we did end the last episode with-

Ethan: Yeah, I mean, that’s part of the outro. We’ll do that every time. I did disparage Cobb County, deservedly. But I think we’re going to try and keep it to a minimum because, you know, it’s a kids’-

Andrew: We’re talking about kids media. This is not a kid’s show, but we are talking about a kid’s show.

Ethan: I hope some kids listen to it though.

Nelson: But you know, yeah, it was just all the cool stuff that, you know, the kids were into. And I was, you know, a stressed out kid. So my parents were just like, hey, just…

Andrew: “Watch TV.”

Ethan: “Chill out.” Okay.

Nelson: You know, and also pro wrestling, you know, all that, which, you know…

Andrew: We’ll get to one of these days. I want to do a full Nitro and Thunder watch, me and you. Nitro and Thunder.

Ethan: I would listen to that show.

Nelson: Yeah, no, because I mean, I’ll tell you right now, one of my favorite things to go back and do, if I’m ever not feeling good, is watch anything WCW related between 1999 and 2001 when they closed. Because it’s some dying days of capitalism type stuff.

Andrew: And so when I was growing up with Power Rangers, you know, ’96, ’97, ’98, I was also a huge pro wrestling fan.

Nelson: Oh, yeah. ’97 is the greatest year of pro wrestling ever.

Ethan: I was not allowed to watch pro wrestling.

Andrew: I was there at the stadium for the Finger Poke of Death. I was there the night that WCW died. And I think that, you know, there’s some stuff to be said there. So one of these days we’ll get to that. But today…

Nelson: It’s about Power Rangers.

Andrew: We’re talking about Super Sentai.

Ethan: So we’re going to begin our recap segment with Zyuranger as usual.

[“KYORYU SENTAI… ZYURANGER!!”]

Ethan: Episode two of Zyuranger is titled FUKKATSU, the Revival, and was written by Sugimura Noboru and directed by Tojo Shohei, just like episode one. The episode starts with, as I mentioned, a Godzilla-esque news talk show bit, which rapidly dissolves into name calling and sort of loses the thread. Bandora is up on the moon plotting her plots while the Rangers are in their secret base doing exposition. We see Geki reading from a Bayeux-Tapestry-looking tome while he explains the frankly buckwild crackpot history of the five ancient tribes, which sounds like a mix between some ancient aliens type stuff and some young earth creationist type stuff.

Nelson: It’s got a hard stance on evolution.

Ethan: The book, the book itself has to be 170 million years old, and it’s just- it was current history at that time. And he’s reading from it, I guess, for the sake of nostalgia. But we can look at it, and I mean, there are there are young earth creationists who have the same ideas that-

Andrew: They don’t think it was 170 million years ago.

Ethan: Right, they think it was 6,000 years ago.

Nelson: That’s the people who think like humans and dinosaurs were like, we’re all here. Yeah, okay.

Ethan: Velociraptors on Noah’s Ark and stuff like that. Which was,

Nelson: Yeah, that’s great. I’m here for it.

Andrew: We’ve got in the core, the Guardian Beasts. We’ve got the Tyrannosaurus and the saber-toothed tiger.

Ethan: Lived in vastly different eras.

Andrew: I mean, the Tyrannosaurus and the Pteradon were in vastly different eras. But the Tyrannosaurus and the mammoth or the saber-toothed tiger, that’s going pre and post Rise of Mammals.

Nelson: Wait, but weren’t there dinosaurs in one of the Ice Age movies?

Andrew: Yes.

Ethan: Oh, we found a link. Did you bring your corkboard and red string?

Andrew: It’s downstairs in the Expedition Sasquatch room.

Ethan: That is literally, actually, literally true. Okay, Bandora launches the Nemesis mission shuttle back down to Earth, still in mini form, still with the kids inside of it, which races around the Tokyo streets causing havoc. While she gets Pleprichaun, whom many of the U.S. viewers may know as Finster, to create a new monster, Dora Skelton.

Andrew: Pleprichaun is a better name.

Ethan: Pleprichaun creates Doraskeleton. Crucially, not Dora Skeleton, Dora Skelton. All of Bandora’s monsters have this Dora signifier at the start of their names. That’s just a convention we’ll see going forward.

Andrew: It’s because they’re in Bandora’s family.

Ethan: Correct. And the skeleton is a powerful reassembling skeleton monster with some very strange powers. He breaks all of the ranger’s ancient weapons, and after they transform, he captures them in a weird pocket dimension. Totpat and Bookback, who are the little goblin and vampire guys, respectively, are also here planting a cartoon bomb on the mini space shuttle to kill the school kids while the rangers are distracted.

Nelson: Yeah, dude, the bomb, dude? Crazy.

Ethan: It is a black orb with a long fuse coming out of the top that they light with a match.

Andrew: Classic, yeah, Warner Brothers, Acme bomb.

Ethan: Yep, 100%. The rangers defeat Dora Skelton when Dan chucks his disassembled head into a huge crack in the earth, telling him to go to hell, but victory is short-lived as Dora Titan shows up again and rips into the pocket dimension, capturing Geki. Geki escapes, but the rangers are at a loss until the Guardian Beast Tyrannosaurus appears. Geki leaps in to pilot the Guardian Beast, and between its great power and the other rangers launching the mini shuttle like a missile at Dora Titan’s face-

Nelson: Oh, they get the kids out first.

Ethan: They do. Crucially, they get the kids out first, and they are victorious against Dora Titan. He’s vanquished.

Andrew: I expected, after seeing that, that we were going to get one per episode introduction for all of the Guardian Beasts.

Ethan: That is not an unreasonable assumption.

Nelson: Is that not what happens?

Andrew: That is not what happens, but that’s okay. That’s what I expected, though, because… So Saban later goes on to do the Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog. Do you remember the Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog?

Nelson: I do not, no.

Andrew: This was an entirely American homegrown show.

Ethan: It’s still a tokusatsu show, but it’s based loosely, very loosely, in Celtic mythology, and knights and stuff.

Nelson: Glad I didn’t see that. It probably would have upset me dearly.

Andrew: It is just this odd amalgamation of the tokusatsu style, done entirely with an American cast, set in a vague English stereotype.

Ethan: Yeah, sort of quasi-ancient Ireland. Sort of land of myth and monsters.

Nelson: Are there castles?

Andrew: There are castles. But it also has just the worst special effects. The worst special effects. They’re so bad.

Nelson: Worse than this early 90s power… Wow.

Andrew: Because it’s the same budget, but they started using digital effects.

Ethan: Yes. Crucially, tokusatsu means special effects, but it’s in the sense of…

Andrew: Camera effects.

Ethan: Camera effects, yeah.

Andrew: Special shooting.

Ethan: Special shooting and almost all of… I mean, all of the spark packs that explode when they strike each other with swords, all of that stuff is practical.

Andrew: Practical, yeah.

Ethan: There are computer graphics in some Sentai shows. I’m currently watching Megaranger on my own, and the whole sort of conceit of that is it’s all based in digital stuff. So this is like 1997. They’re really getting into it. But by and large, a lot… The vast majority of effects are practical ones.

Andrew: Yeah.

Nelson: See, here’s… Yeah, see, again, I don’t know about that other show, but it makes a lot of sense because the Power… Like, you know, my biggest Power Rangers memory is the movie with Ivan Ooze and all that.

Andrew: Right, Ivan Ooze, yeah.

Nelson: And there’s a whole CGI ending fight. Which like… You know, it’s 90s CGI. And it’s really bad.

Andrew: It’s exceptionally bad.

Nelson: And it’s like, oh, this is not mask footage. This is just America.

Ethan: In 1998, I was incredibly hyped. And then I went back and watched that movie not too long ago, within the past decade, I would say, and I was astonished at how poorly that CG has aged.

Nelson: It’s good until the last 15 minutes of the movie.

Andrew: Exactly.

Ethan: The costumes in that movie are phenomenal. The acting is…

Andrew: Okay.

Ethan: I mean, it’s as good as it gets in Power Rangers most of the time. The practical effects that they do use. It starts off with that incredible… We’ll do a whole episode on that.

Nelson: That’s a later…

Ethan: But it really, really tanks when you get to the…

Andrew: The CG fight. And it’s a shame because what makes Power Rangers work is the dudes in rubber suits. Like…

Ethan: That’s the whole thing.

Andrew: It is the whole thing. And they had all this money and they were like, maybe we shouldn’t do dudes in rubber suits. No, always do the dudes in rubber suits! All right. So Nelson was going to do a recap of the Power Rangers episode, but Nelson watched a different episode of Power Rangers. And that’s not his fault.

Nelson: It’s the links they gave me!

Andrew: If you’re watching Power Rangers along with us and you’re using the archive.org links, you’re going to see episode two listed as “Food Fight.” But “Food Fight” is like episode seven or eight. Episode two is “Hi Five.”

Nelson: Which, where did you guys find this?

Andrew: It’s just episode three on archive.org. [Nelson makes a face.] Yeah, I know.

Nelson: Well, I think we should provide an accurate list.

Andrew: We will provide an accurate list.

Ethan: That’s going to be one of my projects, is working out a watchalong map.

Andrew: And I didn’t realize that this was a problem until Sunday morning before we started.

Nelson: It’s a good thing we pushed it to Tuesday.

Andrew: And then didn’t tell you. But I started watching ahead and I was like, oh, this makes way more sense. So I’m going to do a quick recap of the Power Rangers episode. And again, my recap is not going to be nearly as detailed as Ethan’s because I did not take notes.

Ethan: All good.

Nelson: So I guess I’ll be back for “Food Fight” because I do have those notes.

Ethan: Yeah, I mean, whenever you want to come, you’ll be here filming and engineering anyway. Literally, it’s up to you.

[“IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME!” + theme music]

Andrew: Power Rangers episode two opens with the Rangers standing around a rope and climbing a rope. And this particular exchange is supposed to highlight a couple of things. One, what’s the yellow Ranger’s name?

Ethan: Trini.

Andrew: Trini. Can we talk about the fact that they color-coded the Rangers by race?

Ethan: This… is a thing.

Andrew: Yeah, and it sucks.

Nelson: I mean, OK, hold on. As the only person of color here, let me tiptoe through this very, very dangerous bed of roses. Weirdly, I was all the way up for it for so long until I realized like, “Ohhhhhh, yellow, that’s not good, yeah, don’t go doing that.” But the Black Ranger, I was like, that’s f****** sick. I’m here for that. Because, you know, black’s always been my favorite color.

Andrew: Sure.

Nelson: That’s me to death.

Andrew: He was my favorite Power Ranger as a kid because black was also my favorite color.

Nelson: Yeah. But yeah, once you dip into it a bit more, it’s pretty bad.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ethan: It’s one of those problematic things.

Andrew: It’s especially confusing, though, because if you watch Super Sentai, if you watch Zyuranger, the yellow Ranger is Boi.

Ethan: Yep.

Andrew: He’s not just a boy; he is a boy named Boi.

Ethan: His name is Boi.

Andrew: And I had never noticed before that the Pink Ranger wears a skirt, and the yellow Ranger does not.

Ethan: In the mask footage, that’s correct.

Andrew: In the mask footage. And anyway, so Trini is afraid of heights. That is what we’re supposed to get out of this segment at the beginning of the episode. Bulk and Skull show up.

Nelson: Goated theme song, by the way, for those two. Just gotta drop that in there. Great, yeah.

Andrew: I won’t argue with that. Bulk and Skull show up. People make fun of them. They try to make Bulk climb the rope. This ends badly.

Ethan: He yanks it out of the ceiling, but it is magically repaired at the end of the episode, with no sign of having been actually repaired. So, you know, not really. But it sucks. It’s fatphobic. It’s secondhand embarrassment city.

Andrew: I was not a fan of this. But the episode continues. And the episode continues in… It’s so weird. It’s so weird. So they wanted to incorporate the spaceship footage, the little spaceship.

Nelson: Yeah, the tiny spaceship.

Ethan: The time device.

Andrew: So they call it a time device!

Ethan: “We’re going to trap the Rangers in a time warp, just like we trapped Zordon.””

Nelson: What!?

Ethan: “Pay no attention to the fact that it is just the Earth space shuttle.”

Nelson: I remember the episode with the rope, I don’t remember the time device being the space shuttle.

Ethan: It is just the space shuttle.

Andrew: So they launched the space shuttle back to Earth, the tiny space shuttle.

Ethan: Strangely, it does not include any footage of the two Japanese schoolchildren. I can’t imagine why.

Andrew: It does not. But they use the exact same footage of the tiny space shuttle flying through the streets of the- Tokyo, I assume.

Ethan: They say in Zyuranger, “It’s headed towards Ginza!” So somewhere in the neighborhood of Ginza. I don’t know Tokyo geography.

Andrew: But they very quickly pan past or mask out any Japanese text.

Ethan: They overdub all of the sort of gasps, the sort of crowd noise to be English instead of Japanese, which is very smart.

Andrew: And then the spaceship shows up at the Rangers’ headquarters and flips up its nose and lets out a blast, which means that they had to shoot new footage of this little space shuttle in order to incorporate the space shuttle footage. Why did they even bother?

Nelson: They could have just done something else.

Andrew: They could have done anything else!

Ethan: Anything.

Andrew: But instead, the space shuttle is a time device, and they’re going to trap the Power Rangers in time the same way that they trapped Zordon in time. So-

Nelson: It’s crazy that they use that footage of them going through the street with the rocket, because Angel Grove is in Santa Clarita, which is like, you know, near like Northern California. And I’ve never been to Tokyo, but I’ve driven through Santa Clarita. And then- I’m going to tell you right now, they’re very different places.

Ethan: Yeah, there are no Japanese industrial parks in Santa Clarita.

Nelson: Yeah, way less buildings out there. Crazy enough.

Andrew: So one thing that really stood out to me in this episode, though, from there, it follows the same basic plot of the Zyuranger episode. They have a battle with some putties, they get transported to a pocket dimension, inexplicably, by the skeleton monster.

Ethan: Who, crucially, speaks in this one and does terrible skeleton puns. In Zyuranger, he just has a sort of terrible laugh that he does. He doesn’t actually talk.

Andrew: They go through the same battle. They throw his head through the same crack in the ground. They plant the same bomb on the time device, because that’s how they’re going to trigger it.

Ethan: Yeah, that part really falls apart under any level of scrutiny.

Andrew: And then, we have- I don’t remember what his name was in the Power Rangers episode, but we have the giant monster show up.

Ethan: I don’t think he gets named. It’s Dora Titan, but he’s just a sort of miscellaneous, unnamed giant monster.

Andrew: Yeah, he might not get named. And we get Rita’s make my monster grow, which is great. It’s the best line from the show.

Ethan: I think actually that one is in episode one, but not in episode two.

Andrew: You’re right. Because the Titan’s already a giant.

Andrew: Because the Titan’s already a giant.

Ethan: But it will show up basically every other episode moving forward.

Andrew: And we get the Tyrannosaurus Zord showing up inexplicably, and it’s the only Zord in the episode. And this is after we have already seen the Megazord. So they have the ability to turn into a giant multi-robot mega-robot with a sword. But instead, they’re like, you know, maybe we should just use the Tyrannosaurus.

Nelson: It’s so they let you know the Red Ranger is the leader.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s so that you know. Yeah.

Ethan: You can definitely tell this is like early days with this, because this type of adaptation had not ever been done before.

Andrew: No, it hadn’t.

Ethan: They are figuring it out on the fly. They loaded all of the really cool stuff in episode one to catch people’s eyes and to get kids interested. And then they sort of set- took a step back and said, OK, let’s try to do an episode by episode approach, which I think doesn’t doesn’t land quite as well.

Andrew: No, this one did not. And I know that- I know because I remember the show and because I’ve seen some of the episodes that are coming, that it’s going to work better in the future. But this one was just so weird.

Ethan: Very weird.

Andrew: I will call out a thing that I missed at the beginning of this recap is that this is the second episode of the series. It’s the first time that we get their communicators. Billy, very early on in the episode, demos the communicators for the rest of the Rangers. And I want to spend a couple of seconds on that, because Billy is just treated real bad by the show.

Ethan: Oh yes.

Andrew: For whatever reason, he can’t talk? in normal English? Instead, everything he says is ten cent words and technobabble. And they have Trini translating for him. And it’s not- they’re not exactly making fun of him yet, although that definitely does come. But like, they’re already being real mean to Billy is what I’m saying.

Ethan: It is worth noting also that that Billy’s actor, David Yost, was the only openly gay cast member on this show.

Andrew: And and got bullied for it pretty badly off set. Yeah.

Ethan: In addition to the like weird color coding that we mentioned before, we’re already seeing some like, capital P problematic sh**.

Andrew: Yeah, Billy’s communicators malfunction and end up transporting all of the Rangers back to the headquarters. And that is where this episode actually gets underway properly. And that’s how we end up with the time device attacking the Rangers. Somehow, it also causes Alpha to just kind of go crazy?

Ethan: This, I think, is a running theme with Alpha that he has got sort of, I mean, I think about it like a low sensory tolerance, kind of? He’s a weird neurodivergent robot, circuitdivergent.

Nelson: That makes so much more sense.

Ethan: I mean, just watching, textually, the show offers no explanation for why touching the communicator sort of pinballs him around the Command Center.

Andrew: But it does.

Nelson: Electrostatic interference!

Andrew: And then he does eventually repair the communicators. And the episode ends with that, basically. So they now have the ability to teleport to Power Rangers Central when it makes sense, sometimes. And they can communicate with one another. That’s pretty much the episode. Did I miss anything crucial?

Ethan: Trini conquers her fear of heights in order to save Billy from a putty warrior.

Andrew: Yes.

Ethan: She climbs some very obviously not dangerous looking rocks. It takes a long time.

Andrew: It does take a really long time.

Ethan: And she tricks the putty into jumping off a cliff to its terrible demise. And it doesn’t show you the putty landing at the bottom of the cliff, but it does make a noise, the like stock noise of car shocks squeaking. I don’t know if y’all picked up on that, but it sounds like the putty lands on the hood of a car in an action movie.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ethan: It doesn’t show you, again, but it makes that like skwerk-kink sort of a noise. I just thought that was an odd thing.

Andrew: Real weird choice.

Ethan: But Trini conquers her fear of heights to climb up the cliff after Billy. And then…

Andrew: And she does save Billy.

Ethan: She saves Billy.

Andrew: Which, again, is them putting, very early on, putting Billy’s character in the position of being the weakest and the worst of the Power Rangers. They have established that he is good with technology, but not good enough. Out of the gate, his thing is malfunctioning. And he is the worst fighter among them. And he is the…

Ethan: Pre-transformation.

Andrew: Pre-transformation, yeah.

Ethan: He does fine afterwards.

Andrew: And he is the most scared among them. And so I think it is worth highlighting, even at this early stage, how badly they are treating Billy.

Nelson: Yeah. They do make him seem like a weak little nerd guy.

Ethan: Which, like, he is a nerd guy, but…

Nelson: But, you know, you can be like… I mean, hey, you can be a jacked nerd.

Ethan: Buff nerds do exist.

Andrew: Like, I’m pointing this out because it was something that bothered me as a kid. Watching Power Rangers as a kid, I was a weird little nerd guy, and I empathized with Billy. And I always felt really bad about the fact that he never really got treated well. To the point that, much later in the show, he leaves. The characters on the show bully his character so badly that he leaves the Power Rangers.

Nelson: Spoilers for Power Rangers Zeoverse.

Andrew: Yeah, right?

NelsHe’s just like, yeah, I’m gonna go to this other planet and fix their technology because, hey…”

Andrew: “Y’all hate me and I don’t want to do this anymore.” And it’s just… It’s sad. And it just… It tore me up as a kid. And I think it’s really telling that it is so evident this early in the show.

Nelson: It’s funny because, like, when I was younger watching this, like, my older brother, like, just straight up just told me that with no context. He was like, “you know the Blue Ranger is gay, right?” And I was just like…

Andrew: Yeah, right, right! I remember getting that sh** too!

Nelson: All right. Like, yeah. So does that just kind of explain why, you know, why his character sucks? Like, I don’t know. It’s weird.

Ethan: It’s very emblematic of the times in a lot of… In all the worst ways, I would say.

Andrew: SSNelson, this was your first time watching Zyuranger?

Nelson: It was. And, like, I…

Ethan: Any Super Sentai, I think you said, right?

Yeah. No, none of it. I always see, like, Kamen Rider stuff and I’m like, that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Ethan: A lot of the Kamen Rider designs are incredibly sick.

Nelson: Yeah, so sick.

Ethan: It’s a little bit… manic? of a show for me? I would need to be in just the right mood to watch it. But I definitely appreciate the aesthetics.

Andrew: So have you ever watched… And Ethan’s going to hate me for bringing this one up, but have you ever watched Supaidaman?

Nelson: What?

Andrew: Spiderman.

Nelson: Spiderman?

Andrew: Japanese Spiderman.

Nelson: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Where, like, his dad just, like, makes him into Spiderman.

Andrew: It’s an alien.

Nelson: It’s an alien?

Andrew: It’s an alien that makes him into Spiderman.

Nelson:I thought it was…

Ethan: He’s got a car…

Andrew: He has a giant mech called Leopardon.

Nelson: Yeah, no, he’s got a bunch of stuff. He’s like Batman Spiderman.

Andrew: He’s Batman Spiderman.

Nelson: Yeah, I’ve seen it.

Andrew: So Supaidaman’s another one of these things that I definitely want to spend some more time on eventually.

Ethan: That’s a special episode, for sure.

Andrew: It is such a buckwild thing. But within the context of Power Rangers, I think it’s interesting that we had someone in Japan taking Marvel Comics Spiderman and reinterpreting Marvel Comics Spiderman for a Japanese audience.

Ethan: Yeah, as a tokusatsu character.

Andrew: Exactly.

Nelson: And so the other way around.

Andrew: Exactly.

Nelson: That’s awesome.

Andrew: Done by the same studio that produced Super Sentai, that was producing GoRenger. And many of the things that would come to be staples of Power Rangers, of Super Sentai, were the giant transforming robot, for example. That came straight out of Supaidaman. That was the first time that it’s seen on television. So this transnational sharing and adaptation is baked into the DNA of this stuff. Yep.

Ethan: So, Nelson, what’s grabbing you about Zyuranger so far?

Nelson: So, well, basically, it’s as out-of-pocket as I was hoping it would be. Yeah, like you were telling me before, how children just being in danger is such a regular thing. Like, why do they send kids to space? Because they’re good kids! Good kids get to go to space.

Ethan: They’re like honor students, right? So their reward for their good grades was they got to go on a whole-ass space mission.

Andrew: To a planet that only appears every 170 million years.

Ethan: To a planet that they called Nemesis. Hey, maybe don’t send infants to a planet called Nemesis.

Andrew: And they’re like seven!

Ethan: Yeah, no, they’re very young kids.

Nelson: Well, that and what grabbed me is… I guess the same thing that grabs me about a lot of old mech anime is just like, there’s the whole thing, like, you know, “get in the robot.” You know? Like, they’re just like, “hey, go, do it.” You know? Like, the ancient warriors are just like, “hey, we are those guys.” Like, we’re those folks. So we gotta get out there. We got to go get this done. And then they do it. And that’s the show. And then it’s like, cool. See you next week.

Andrew: I do really love that element of it. Comparing Super Sentai to Power Rangers, Power Rangers tries to do the whole, like, reluctant hero’s journey thing, where Super Sentai is like, actually, it is their destiny.

Ethan: Yeah, it is their destiny and their duty. And they are enthusiastic about it.

Andrew: And good at it.

Nelson: It is crazy how, like, very much American teenager vibes there are from Power Rangers. Because, yeah, even in the first episode, when it’s like, all right, you guys were picked specifically because you are going to save the world. And they’re like, mm, I don’t really know about that, bud.

Ethan: Not into it.

Andrew: Kimberly specifically.

Nelson: Oh, yeah. She’s like, what even is this?

Andrew: They were trying so hard not to give her a “whatever.” You know?

Nelson: Did they not?

Andrew: I don’t remember her explicitly whatevering Zordon.

Ethan: We do get a, uh, we do get a not. Yeah, we do get a “not!”

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Ethan: I can’t remember if it’s in one or two, but-

Andrew: I think it’s in two.

Ethan: Cringe. Yeah. This is why I haven’t gone all the way back through Power Rangers until we started making this show.

Nelson: Well, that, and I don’t think when they made it, they expected people to do that.

Andrew: No, no!

Nelson: They just thought, we’re doing a thing.

Andrew: This was a cheap cash-in program. It was not designed to live more than a year. The fact that there was another season is astounding.

Ethan: I mean, they, the studio asked Saban to extend season one by 10 whole episodes, which is a whole fascinating process we’ll get to.

Andrew: And how’s he going to do it? Because he doesn’t have 10 more episodes of footage to use.

Ethan: Exactly. And then, yeah, the franchise is still going today.

Andrew: Yeah.

Nelson: Good for them. But not, not Saban specifically. Talking about everybody that’s ever benefited from being a Power Ranger. Also except for that one Red Ranger that murdered a guy.

Ethan: Oh, wait, what?? Which?

Nelson: I don’t remember what season, but there is-

Ethan: Hold on, I do remember a vague headline about this. I mean, it wouldn’t have been one of these Rangers.

Nelson: No, it wasn’t one of these Rangers.

Ethan: It would have been a much later show.

Andrew: It wasn’t that much later.

Nelson: It was an early Red Ranger.

Andrew: We’ll get there.

Ethan: Okay, damn.

Nelson: Also, like, I completely forgot how aimless everything was before Tommy shows up.

Ethan: Oh yes. There is zero plot.

Nelson: We’re just doing stuff.

Ethan: We’re just doing stuff.

Andrew: Monster of the week!

Ethan: I mean, it doesn’t even really feel like Monster of the Week. It feels like Monster of the Minute in a lot of ways. It just shows up and it’s gone.

Andrew: And it’s gone.

Nelson: You know, comes in, gets big. Boom. Gone. Episode over.

Andrew: That’s Power Rangers.

Ethan: Hey, who among us, you know?

Nelson: Yeah! Hey, if everything could go that fast, you know, hey, I would probably get a whole lot more done.

Andrew: I won’t argue with that.

Nelson: Like, yeah, if you just wake up today and it’s like, hey, today we’re climbing a rope. Cool. That’s it.

Andrew: That’s it.

Nelson: Climb a rope.

Andrew: You got to conquer your fear of heights and kill a skeleton monster.

Nelson: Hey, but I mean, if you climb the rope, all the rest of that, walk in the park.

Andrew: It just happens!

Ethan: Going back to the skeleton monster for just a second before we get into the research segment. It is completely brutal the way that the Blue Ranger disposes of that monster’s head.

Nelson: Oh, yeah, just right-

Andrew: “Go to hell!”

Ethan: The skeleton like sort of smashes the ground with his sword and a big sort of chasm opens with lava. Who knows what the geology of this pocket dimension is? But the Blue Ranger just like volleyball spikes his head straight down.

Nelson: It’s my favorite part of that episode.

Ethan: It’s outrageous.

Nelson: They’re like, you’re not doing this again, dude! Get out of here!

Ethan: I can’t remember if it’s Boi or Dan in Zyuranger… sort of makes sense for him. He’s like athletic. He’s like active. When you watch Billy do it, it’s like, “Jesus Christ, dude, are you okay?”

Nelson: He’s getting that aggression out.

Ethan: He’s like, I mean, there’s something, I don’t know-

Andrew: Ranger power.

Ethan: But anyway, Andrew has our research segment for today.

Nelson, losing it a little: He’s got Ranger rage…

Andrew: So today I want to talk about David J. Fielding.

Ethan: Okay.

Andrew: Do you know David J. Fielding?

Ethan: I mean, I’m looking at your phone screen, so I do know who he played.

Andrew: David J. Fielding was Zordon, and I pointed out in our first episode that they don’t show Zordon’s mouth moving.

Nelson: I never noticed that.

Ethan: It’s sort of like liquid. His face sort of bobs around the tube, but there’s very little definition there.

Andrew: Right, and it’s almost like they’ve smeared Vaseline over the part of the lens that is specifically in front of his face. And you’re seeing him from a distance. So it’s not something that you notice unless you’re looking for it. But the next time you watch an episode, pay attention to it. You do not see Zordon’s mouth move. And I was wondering why. It made sense for Rita. It made sense for the Japanese footage. Makes no sense for Zordon, who they had to have shot in the US because he’s interacting directly with all of the US characters. So-

Ethan: And that character does not exist-

Nelson: He’s an original character.

Ethan: He takes the mentor role from Barza, and I think there may be footage later in Mighty Morphin’ Season 1 of pre-Time Warp Zordon, which is just Barza footage, I think. I can’t remember. But crucially, the character entirely is a completely new creation of Saban’s.

Nelson: Yeah, because in the movie, I think it’s in the movie, when they break his thing. It’s just him in a little blanket.

Ethan: He’s just a guy in a robe.

Andrew: Yeah. So in the movie, he is not played by Fielding.

Nelson: He’s not?

Andrew: He’s played by Nicholas Bell, I believe.

Nelson: What!?

Andrew: Anyway, so Fielding, the original Zordon, why doesn’t his mouth move, right? Well, the answer is that he only appeared as Zordon for one shoot on one day.

Ethan: This makes perfect sense to me.

Nelson: What?

Andrew: Because Haim Saban is a cheap ass. And he was making this show as cheaply as he could. That was the whole reason that all of these things happen. Every decision that they make on the show, every decision that they make on Power Rangers is made from the perspective of “how can we make as much money on the show as possible?”

Nelson: So they’re just reusing the same footage?

Andrew: They’re reusing the same footage over and over again.

Ethan: It’s like a DVD screensaver in a man’s head.

Nelson: That’s crazy.

Andrew: They had him record all of his dialogue, but then they had to bring him back, and they had to make him do more dialogue because the show was a hit. They got an order for additional episodes. So for his one day of footage, which they reused in 150 episodes, and now that I’m saying that, it might even be more than that.

Ethan: It wouldn’t be suprising.

Andrew: But for years, they’re using this footage of Fielding. For that, he was paid $150.

Ethan: Good lord.

Nelson: This is why they went on strike. I’m going to tell you that right now. Wow.

Andrew: They had him come back, and they had him do overdubs for the rest of season one, and they had him do additional footage for future seasons. And with all of that, at most, the man made about $1,000.

Nelson: Wait. So was it the same guy that did the voice?

Andrew: Yes.

Nelson: Okay. So that’s why they had to have him re-record.

Andrew: They had him come back. Over the entire run of them using Zordon in Power Rangers, all the way up through Power Rangers In Space, the man made a cumulative total of $1,000.

Ethan: That is outrageous.

Nelson: That’s insane.

Andrew: He does a bunch of other stuff now. He does a bunch of stuff that is entirely unrelated to Power Rangers. He started in 2018 or so appearing at cons.

Ethan: That’s cool. I don’t like cons, but it’s cool that he goes to them. If I was a con-goer, I would be thrilled to meet Zordon.

Andrew: Nobody recognizes him.

Ethan: That doesn’t surprise me.

Andrew: Nobody recognizes him at all.

Nelson: He’s not standing in a tube.

Ethan: One shot from 30 years ago, so I imagine he looks quite different now.

Andrew: He does indeed look quite different now. And he has hair.

Ethan: That’s not allowed.

Andrew: And facial hair.

Ethan: He should fix that.

Nelson: And if he wants to be recognized, he should fix that.

Ethan: Or he could just put a big tube over his head, even with the hair and beard, if he just walked around with a big thing full of…

Andrew: So he at cons frequently appears next to the actress who played Bandora.

Ethan: Oh, okay. I don’t know her name off the top of my head. [Transcriber’s note: She’s Soga Machiko. See my research segment in KSPR 03 for more!]

Andrew: I don’t either.

Ethan: But that’s delightful.

Andrew: But the two of them will frequently end up sitting together. And if you go and you read interviews with him, a lot of these interviews, because he doesn’t really do public appearances, a lot of these interviews are done at cons. And there was one in particular that I was reading that the interview was interrupted midway through for Bandora to start shouting at a person who has asked her, “hey, film a video with me!” And so she shouts one of Rita Repulsa’s classic lines at this girl. And they interrupt the interview. And he says afterwards, “I really hope you leave that bit in. Make sure to include that in the write up.” And, you know, I just love that. He just seems like such a…

Ethan: Good sport.

Andrew: Exactly. He is incredibly at peace with the fact that he was this iconic figure in this huge franchise and that he’ll never be recognized for it and that he’ll never make any money off of it.

Ethan: Yeah, just outrageous exploitation.

Nelson: First part I’d be okay with. First part, if I did something like so sick, you know, like if I was, you know, say like there was like a live action Spawn movie. That was good. And I was the guy who was like just in the Spawn suit and, you know, imagine if Michael Jai White just never had a speaking role. Great life. You know, but then he goes and opens his mouth and he’s got this iconic voice. Boom. Now you got to go do a whole other stuff.

Andrew: I mean, you get that with Star Wars with David Proust, who played Darth Vader.

Nelson: Darth Maul. No, wait, I’m thinking of David Park.

Andrew: Yeah, Proust plays Vader. And when he opened his mouth, it was ridiculous, so they had James Earl Jones open up all of those lines.

Nelson: So funny.

Andrew: It’s absurd, but it’s a very similar situation to what happened to Fielding, where you’ve got this like iconic character that he’s never going to get recognition for.

Ethan: Who is like the impetus for, I mean, he drives the story forward.

Nelson: Yeah, he really does.

Andrew: Entirely.

Ethan: He recruits the Rangers. He gives them the tools.

Andrew: And the only day he was actually on set was when they were shooting “Day of the Dumpster.”

Ethan: That makes perfect sense to me.

Andrew: As of the interview that I was reading with him in 2018, he had not met many of the actors. He’s never met the Red Ranger.

Ethan: Doesn’t surprise me. Well, Austin St. John, I think, is his own special story. We’ll have to get to him. He kind of drops off the face of the earth. Like it’s a whole thing. Sure.

Andrew: [Fielding] was there on set the day that they shot Day of the Dumpster, and he met some of the Rangers and that was it. Everything else they did with him, they did in a studio. And I thought that was fascinating.

Ethan: That is really fascinating.

Andrew: And I think that it’s a great example of the kind of cost cutting that the show was doing. You know, Saban Entertainment is, not was, is still out there and it’s a financial juggernaut. A big part of what made Power Rangers work was the toys. And a big part of why they made Power Rangers at all was that Saban was looking for a way to get those toys into the U.S. Looking for an excuse to get those toys into the U.S. Needed a franchise to hang them off of. But I don’t know if you’ve looked at Power Rangers toys recently…

Ethan: They’re not good. I do actually look at them.

Andrew (to Nelson): Have you looked at Power Rangers toys recently?

Nelson: Like recently? Like they’re still making them? No.

Ethan: Like what’s on the shelf at Walmart right now.

Nelson: No, because the only action figures I pay attention to are like stupidly expensive ones because the, like, because, you know, like to get all of that detail, you gotta, you gotta spend some money.

Andrew: I sympathize. So the Power Rangers action figures that are on the shelves right now are Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Nelson: Still?

Andrew: They do action figures for the original series.

Ethan: They’ve been doing like fresh molds, like fresh-

Andrew: Because it’s a new company that’s doing them. It’s Hasbro that’s doing it now.

Ethan: That makes perfect sense to me.

Andrew: The original Power Rangers toys were just straight reissues of the Zyuranger toys. They were just straight reissues of the Japanese toys. They were made in American factories, or were made in factories with the intention of shipping them to America. They weren’t actually in America. But they were made at a different standard of quality than the Japanese releases. They had plastic-

Ethan: Vastly different.

Andrew: They had plastic cast parts instead of die cast parts. And they were worse, you know. But they were at least made from those original molds, and they were made in these original designs. And the toys were what made the show.

Nelson: Yeah, I remember my old Power Rangers toys being like so dope, dude.

Andrew: And circa 2017 or so, Hasbro approached Saban and was like, hey, let us make Power Rangers toys. And they don’t have the rights to any of the original toys. They don’t have the rights to any of the original material.

Ethan: Oh no, dude.

Andrew: So I went and bought a couple of the more recent Power Rangers toys because they’ve been doing reissues of some of the side characters like Ninjor from Power Rangers Ninja. Well, I had the original Ninjor toy as a kid. It’s at the coffee shop now, and we’ve got a big toy box at the coffee shop my wife and I run that kids can just come and play with toys. And my original Ninjor’s in there. He’s, you know, yea tall. And I’m gesturing to the cameras, but this is a podcast, so you might not see that. But, you know, he’s about 18 inches tall and has some basic transformation. And they did a reissue that’s like seven, seven and a half inches tall. And it’s just like Ninjor. And it’s great. It’s small, but it’s great.

Ethan: Does it transform?

Andrew: He does all of the movement, yeah. The shoulder pads pop up, the shorts drop, the head flips.

Ethan: Sometimes my shorts drop and my head flips also.

Andrew: Yeah. But, you know, it’s a good toy. Yeah. And it is significantly better than most of the new Power Rangers toys. They’re all just hot garbage. That’s the kind of cost cutting that Saban is about. If he has an opportunity to make more money on a worse product, that is what he will do.

Ethan: And it’s worth noting that tokusatsu, like the original tokusatsu shows, are not expensive to produce, compared to, you know, like your average TV drama. All of those effects are done with trampolines. And you’re talking about 30 second cuts. Yeah. Like, I’m sure that just like setting up shots takes the most time. But Saban is like an expert cost cutter, which is like, it fits because sort of, if you read into the sort of the Power Rangers mythos, Shuki Levy does all of the music for the show and is credited as a co-executive producer. Saban met Levy on a business trip in France, because he is a businessman who goes to France for business. What does that mean for Power Rangers? I don’t have a clue. But like, he is a staunch capitalist, I would say, in addition to the Zionist mess that we mentioned briefly in episode one and will cover in due time.

Andrew: And that kind of cost cutting produces some really interesting results.

Ethan: Yes, 100%.

Andrew: Because working inside constraints forces you to get creative. Mm-hmm.

Nelson: Yeah. Don’t I know it.

Andrew: But it also occasionally just backfires horribly. Like we discussed with the Power Rangers motion picture, with the CGI at the end of the movie.

Nelson: Yeah. Shouldn’t have done it.

Andrew: And sometimes there is a human cost to it. And Fielding, I think, is a great example of that human cost.

Ethan: Yeah, we will eventually also talk in depth about Jason David Frank, who plays Tommy, who tragically took his own life not that long ago. And we’ll have to do our research before we can talk about it in any level of depth. But like, there is a human cost to these things. David Yost, Billy’s actor. Very, very tragic, which we will discuss in time, for sure. Do we have anything else to talk about?

Andrew: No, I think that’s it.

Nelson: Yeah. I mean, yeah, we got all the plugs out of the way early. You know, make sure to do that. Gotta, you know, gotta get my stuff in. You know, screw capitalism.

Ethan and Andrew: We’ll get to that.

Ethan: We’ll be back next time to discuss episode three of Zyuranger, which is “Ikusa e Zetsubou no Daichi,” “Fight in the Land of Despair,” and Power Rangers, “Teamwork.”

Andrew: “Fight in the Land of Despair” is a good one.

Ethan: It’s a good one. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please feel free to send me five dollars. And if you want to find me online, don’t. Nelson, if people want to find you online, what should they do? And what projects, as you’ve mentioned, have you got going that you want to shout out?

Nelson: They should not do that. That’s, man, it’s funny because I did go like private online like a year or two ago.

Ethan: That’s how I have all of my things.

Nelson: Yeah. And then everything I was working on started doing well and people were like, who made this? And I was like, ah, ****. So you can find me everywhere at NelsonForYou. You know, and if you can’t add me, then that’s too bad.

Ethan: Yeah, don’t worry about it.

Nelson: Yeah, it’s like, yeah, you can find my stuff on New Ellijay TV, IndiConRecs on YouTube, Working Class Music, the PlayJason YouTube channel. I don’t know. I make music videos. I do a lot of stuff. I’m very tired, so leave me alone.

Ethan: Perfect. Andrew, how can people find and get in touch with you? And what should they look out for?

Andrew: I’m at AJRoach42 in most places. The Fediverse is where I spend most of my time. I’m AJRoach42@Retro.Social. I make all kinds of stuff, including this podcast and many other programs for NewEllijay Television. And that’s probably the best place to find me. But I’m also at AndrewRoach.net or AJRoach42.com.

Ethan: There you go. Look him up. That’s all the show we have for you today. Thank you so much for listening. Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers is licensed CC-BY-SA and produced in collaboration with New Ellijay Television at the EllaJay Makerspace, which stands on the ancestral, unceded, stolen, and occupied lands of the Cherokee people. You can learn more about the Makerspace by visiting EllijayMakerspace.org, and you can learn more about the Cherokee people by visiting Cherokee.org. Strength, love, and solidarity to all oppressed people, and in the words of a wise man, f*** capitalism; go home. We’d like to thank Hurley Burley and the Volcanic Fallout for the use of their track, Colossal Might, extremely radical instrumental version for our intro and outro music. You can find that and more on Bandcamp.

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