[“It’s Morphin’ Time!”]
Nelson, distantly: Minna-san, yokoso!
Ethan: Okay, three, two, one, clap. [Andrew and Violet clap.] That was good. I’m not even going to bother with that one. Y’all got it.
[“It’s morphing time!”+ intro music]
Ethan: Minna-san, yokoso! Welcome to your favorite cross-cultural deep dive analysis and recap podcast, Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers. My name is-
Andrew: It is my favorite.
Violet: It’s mine too.
Ethan: My name is Ethan, I use he/him pronouns, and with me is my usual co-host, Andrew.
Ethan: We are also joined today by our friend and local hometown rockstar, Violet. Hi, Vi, introduce yourself.
Violet: Hi, I am Violet, I use she/her pronouns, I watch Power Rangers, and I am Doctor Deathray, look up AnalogRevolution.com.
Ethan: We’ll get to the plugs.
Violet: Okay, we’re going to start with the plugs before we lose them.
Ethan: So we did do that last time, Nelson did plug everything ahead of time and had nothing to say at the end of the show, so.
Andrew: Violet wrote our theme song, which you have just been enjoying.
Ethan: “Colossal Might (which is very fitting) totally radical instrumental version”, it kicks so much ass and we’re so grateful to have it.
Violet: I had to do some two-finger tapping, it was very fun.
Ethan: I remember you like, just picked it up out of nowhere basically and like, were fiddling with that recording as I was walking out a few weeks ago, and I was like, “is this gonna be…?” and then it was.
Violet: Yeah, and then it was!
Andrew: And then it was.
Ethan: Today we are recapping and discussing Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger Episode 3, “Ikusa e Zetsubou no Daichi (Fight in the Land of Despair)” [TRANSCRIPTION NOTE: This title reading is incorrect. The episode is actually titled “Tatakae Zetsubou no Daichi.” This is not the first or only title listed incorrectly on the various wikis and other resources, and we will continue to try and catch these errors before publishing. We appreciate your patience and grace.], and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season 1 Episode 3, “Teamwork.” Without further ado, unless we have further ado, we’ll get into the recap.
Ethan: All right.
[“Kyoryu Sentai… Zyuranger!!”]
Ethan: “Fight in the Land of Despair” was written by Sugimura Noboru, and directed by Ogasawara Takeshi. It begins with the Zyuangers sparring and practicing in a park somewhere, but they are just too strong and keep breaking their weapons, which to be fair are also 170 million years old. Dora Skelton broke all their other weapons that they like brought out of their magical stasis, so they are just fighting bare-handed, which is not great. But Goushi has the solution: back in the dinosaur times, a five-headed dragon was killed, and within its body were found five legendary weapons, which totally coincidentally line up with each of our heroes’ signature fighting styles. The Rangers confer with Barza, and he confirms that the legendary weapons remain in the underworld’s Land of Despair, but are nearly impossible to get, because if one gives in to sadness or spends more than one full day there, they will turn to stone. Bandora, of course, knows about all of this, and her plan is basically to stress out and distract the Rangers long enough that they are claimed by the Land of Despair. She herself can’t claim the weapons, but she only needs to prevent the Rangers from doing so.
Andrew: So Barza has normal ears. Barza has normal ears for the entire episode.
Ethan: For the rest of the show.
Andrew: Barza’s weird ear still bothers me. I had a dream. I had a dream that there was just an old man sweeping a sidewalk, and he turns his head, and he’s got Barza’s giant ear. It is haunting me.
Ethan: Yeah, it’s like very fleshy and like protrudes a great deal.
Ethan: Yeah, so Bandora kidnaps a boy called Hiroshi, as well as his mother, who live in the Sakura Condominium building to use as hostages against the Rangers, and she also commissions a new monster from Pleprichaun. In the Land of Despair, the Rangers split up. Geki, Dan, and Goushi plan to reach the castle as quickly as possible, while Boi and Mei go to search for Hiroshi. Dora Minotaur attacks Geki’s group, while Golems attack Mei and Boi, and they all fight as best they can with no weapons, but are outmatched even after transforming. Then Bandora uses her evil magic to make Dora Minotaur a giant, which is the first time we see Bandora do this in Zyuranger, and the Rangers must call on their Guardian Beasts to fight. They give him a run for his money, but ultimately Bandora calls a retreat, as the Land of Despair becomes freezing at night. Meanwhile, despite being rescued by Mei and Boi, Hiroshi can’t stop worrying about his mom, and the sadness in his heart causes him to become a statue, and that’s the end of the episode. Kind of a bummer. There were a few crazy things that happened in this one, and one of them I made a note of… The Minotaur acts like a landshark when it first shows up-
Ethan: -and it’s sort of zooming around underground. It also breathes fire. Oh, the cool thing that the Rangers did was use their Dino Bucklers as brass knuckles.
Violet: Yeah, no, that was sick!
Ethan: They use it as an offensive and defensive weapon, which makes sense. If you have a magical item that is plot-critical and is not going to break unlike your ancient weapons, like, yeah, just f*** beat somebody with it.
Andrew: Did we have all the zords in this one?
Ethan: All the zords were in this one.
Andrew: And this is the first time that we see all the zords, because in the last one, we just had the dino- or the…
Ethan: The Tyrannozord.
Andrew: Tyrannozord, yeah.
Ethan: Guardian Beast Tyrannosaurus.
Violet: Which was so sick to see all of the zords come flying in and just-
Ethan and Andrew: Yeah!
Violet: Yeah, no, here for it.
Ethan: This is one of the big differences in the pacing between these two shows…
Ethan: Is that it’s kind of a slow burn. The Rangers don’t immediately have their zords; they don’t immediately have their weapons; they don’t make a Megazord right away. You get to see these incremental things sort of build. And this is true of a lot of Sentai shows.
Ethan: Whereas the American versions sort of spoil the whole game, go straight to the top.
Andrew: We talked about this a little bit in the last episode. Power Rangers go swinging out of the gate hard with the Megazord in the first episode. But in the episode that we watched today, or that we’re talking about today, and the next one that we’ll talk about, they do start introducing some of these things that kind of get filtered in from the Japanese show. But they did, they started with the big reveal. Hey, we’re going to go Megazord first. And then we’ll sprinkle in all the other details.
Ethan: And as we’ll see in the next few episodes, it really throws the pacing off. So like there’s like a loose correspondence between which monsters are in which episodes, and like they obviously have to fit the plot of Power Rangers to the mask footage that they’re importing somehow with the absolute buckwild pacing shift from episode one… it’s taking them a while to figure things out.
Andrew: And I remember it working better, so I have to assume that it starts working better eventually. But right now it’s not working well.
Violet: No, it’s very much like go as fast as you can in Power Rangers. And it’s almost shocking to me that they, in Power Rangers, and we’ll get to this, that they don’t have the Power Weapons yet.
Andrew: Right, right!
Violet: Like they start with Megazord and then it’s like, oh yeah, by the way, you probably need these too.
Andrew: But they’ve got guns.
Violet: They’ve got guns.
Ethan: Yeah, they’ve got the Ranger Blaster, Ranger Swords. I want one of those so bad. I remember- I think ThinkGeek is dead now…
Ethan: But ThinkGeek at one point had a physical store at Town Center Mall in Kennesaw. And it was packed out of incredibly well-made Power Rangers merch. And I just didn’t have money for any of it, of course. But I’m just like, I’m still slavering.
Andrew: Oh, totally.
Ethan: Just like a well-made Dino Buckler with like that clicky- and a power- oh my god, yeah.
Andrew: So Violet?
Andrew: Have you watched any Super Sentai before?
Violet: So mostly through the Americanized versions.
Andrew: Right, so you’ve watched Power Rangers?
Violet: I’ve watched Power Rangers. The Thunderzord era is my favorite. And then I don’t remember them well, but I do remember watching VR Troopers and Big Bad BeetleBorgs.
Andrew: I loved BeetleBorgs.
Violet: So those are the main ones that I’ve watched. And I really remember Power Rangers. I revisited it in 2010 when they did those re-releases. But for the most part, it was Power Rangers focused.
Andrew: Do you know why they did those re-releases?
Violet: I don’t remember, no.
Andrew: You’ll have to listen to our next episode.
Violet: Oh, man, ok.
Andrew: I will be talking about it, but it’ll be in the next episode.
Violet: Oh, OK. Episode four.
Andrew: Yeah, episode four. You’ll have to come back for episode four to find out why they did those re-releases.
Violet: Stay tuned.
Andrew: Stay tuned. But this is your first time watching Sentai.
Violet: This is my first time watching Sentai. This is my first time with Zyuranger. This is my first time with any Japanese Sentai at all.
Andrew: So, quick first impressions.
Violet: Quick first impressions are: I can’t believe that it’s not like super high tech. There’s no Alpha-5, there’s no-
Andrew: It’s all magical.
Violet: It’s all magic.
Ethan: Super magic. I mean, there is a certain degree of magitechnology, but also just technobabble in Power Rangers. But it’s like there is a Power that exists in the Morphing Grid. And this is a sort of nebulous concept that I think they explore very deeply like in the Dark Horse [sic: the comics might actually be IDW? idk.] comics, for example? But like is not explained. And so it’s like there is just Power out there somewhere in the universe that through their morphers and things, the Power Rangers are able to like pull on and channel.
Andrew: And in the next episode, just straight out of their hands.
Violet: Out of their hands, because why not? But yeah, no, in watching Zyuranger and everything, I was like, oh, this is like magic. Why do they have robot dinosaurs?
Ethan: It’s kind of interesting because I mentioned in our first episode that Zyuranger has a lot of firsts for the Sentai metafranchise, and that’s one of them, is that it is not a purely sci-fi show. There’s a lot of fantasy magical elements. You know, you look at something like Jetman or even Gorenger, the original one, it’s all just straight up sci-fi stuff. There’s no magic. There’s all like har- I don’t want to say hard sci-fi, but very definite sci-fi.
Violet: Yeah, and then like also watching Zyuranger, it’s like, okay… this makes way more sense than Power Rangers is making as an adult, like watching this, like it’s- there seems to be plot continuity!
Andrew: Well, and so you talked about the pacing thing. You talked about how Power Rangers just kind of blows the pacing and throws everything out. And you made an allusion to that being a common thing in all the American Sentai. There’s at least one show where that is not the case. And I feel like it’s worth bringing up. I’ve brought it up before and we will bring it up again, I’m sure. But that’s The Mystic Knights of Tir na Nog. The only actual American show done in this style follows the Zyuranger formula of, okay, we’re going to slowly introduce things and we’re going to slowly ramp up the power. And because they were producing it from scratch, they were like, hey, let’s actually, let’s write something.
Ethan: Well, I think it’s just crucial to note that like, no one, again, no one had done this before. There’s a weird parallel with Victory Gundam, which was like the fourth major Gundam series to release. Yoshiyuki Tomino, who is the creator of Gundam and was like the principal writer and director of the show, really butted heads hard with the studio who wanted the Gundam in the first episode, and he wanted to do a little bit more of a slow burn over the first four. And so what they ended up with was this terrible compromise that jumps back and forth in time. It makes no sense. And I think Saban was under, who can say whether it’s from the studio or pressure he put on himself, but like, I think that he wanted to hit that big high note, first thing to capture that audience and to get the interest. And I mean, he was making the show for kids, obviously, in the 90s, but he also had to like impress the studio execs at Fox and like-
Andrew: Who had repeatedly rejected this premise.
Ethan: Margaret Loesch originally thought it would never happen, like ridiculed the idea.
Andrew: Right, he only way we got Power Rangers was fluke on top of fluke. You know, it’s interesting that you say that Saban was the one who was under pressure, because I got to wonder how much of that was an attempt to kickstart toy sales. You can’t sell a Megazord toy if nobody’s seen the Megazord yet.
Ethan: And it would also be confusing if kids are in the store and see one and are like, “What? What is that?”
Andrew: Yeah, it hasn’t happened on screen yet. Right. And so I wonder how much of that plays into it. But I don’t know the timeline of the toy releases.
Ethan: Me neither.
Andrew: Have to find that out at some point.
Ethan: You gonna to hit us with a Rangers recap?
Andrew: Yeah, I can do a Rangers recap.
Violet: Rangers recap~.
[“It’s morphin time! Go Go Power Rangers!”]
Andrew: This episode was called “Teamwork.”
Ethan: It was.
Andrew: Which is just such a heavy-handed title.
Ethan: I don’t know that anyone alerted the American production team about like subtlety or things. I don’t think they’re familiar with the concept.
Andrew: This episode is not subtle.
Ethan & Violet: No.
Andrew: So I’m not doming at this time. I did take some notes. I’m going to run through it relatively quickly. My notes are probably too detailed. It’s a work in progress, folks. Okay, so when we start off with Kimmy and Trini collecting signatures for getting rid of a toxic waste site. They’re at the high school, they’re collecting signatures, some folks hassle them. They want the boys to come with them to deliver the signatures, and the boys all have previous engagements, most of which sound made up.
Violet: They do. They sound legitimate, like, reasons, but they make them sound made up.
Andrew: Right, they make them sound made up. And the one that sounds the most made up does turn out to be a legitimate reason. But they play it like the boys are just blowing the girls off, which was a weird choice. The girls in response talk about teamwork and how they feel like they’re not being supported, which would land a little better if they had given the boys any notice whatsoever. Obviously this is heavy-handed foreshadowing. Rita, who is just watching the Power Rangers as if they are a sitcom, decides to use pollution as her grand scheme to take over the planet.
Ethan: Crucially, she implies that she has already created the situation. So my question in my notes was like, does she have like an LLC? Is she incorporated on earth through like a shell corporation and is just trying to pollute Angel Grove?
Andrew: And obviously the site when they do get there has been there forever. So like, decades. And Rita has only been free for days.
Ethan: Many questions.
Violet: So many questions.
Andrew: So Rita talks about pollution. And then we cut back to the high school where Bulk and Skull show up, and they beat up a guy for recycling a can. Kimmy humiliates them. And there was a bit here that caught me off guard. While Bulk and Skull are stuck in the trash can, doing the whole crab walk in the trash can, an unnamed woman comes over and tries to help them out. She’s wearing similar clothes to them. We don’t get her name. She doesn’t speak. But this does really raise some questions about Bulk and Skull’s place within the social strata at Angel Grove.
Ethan: So she is actually in a previous episode. Let me see if I can find the note that I made.
Nelson, distantly: There’s more of them in “Food Fight.”
Ethan: Oh, it was in “Food Fight!” The episode that we watched out of order. She is there and there is another guy there also. They’re all sort of like loosely goth.
Andrew: Vaguely punk.
Violet: Kind of punkish, yeah. Just like alt.
Ethan: She’s got like, long dyed-blonde hair and wears sunglasses 24/7. But crucially, those characters never talk.
Violet: She looks a lot like Debbie from the Wild Thornberries.
Ethan: I can see that, I can see that.
Andrew: I mean, just classic 90s grunge. So the reason that I bring this up is because I think it does raise some questions about Bulk and Skull as they are presented within the show that these characters are vexing me. I remember them being buffoonish cartoonish villains as a kid. And they are. They are played as baboonish and cartoonish villains. But they are also not explicitly and consistently the object of ridicule in the way that I expect. It’s a weird dynamic. Anyway-
Ethan: There’s an incident in episode four between Bulk and Jason that makes me think there are further underlying social dynamics. That might just be my writer brain acting up.
Violet: I really wonder about their home life.
Ethan: Yes! Big time.
Violet: Like I am concerned for Bulk and Skull.
Ethan: Deeply, yeah.
Andrew: So Kimmy and Trini go to the industrial waste site, which appears to just be like a construction site. There doesn’t actually appear to be much waste. There’s a mud puddle.
Ethan: In their conversation throughout this episode, there is some questions for me whether they want to close down the dump site or clean up the dump site. So I think there is supposed to be a dump there, but the corporations that are dumping their toxic waste are not following the regulations or just like dropping stuff and leaving.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s not clear.
Ethan: Yeah, not clear at all.
[“Sign a petition! Help shut the dump site down!”]
Andrew: So Kimmy and Trini go to the industrial waste dump where they’re ambushed by the Putties and a monster. This is all U.S. footage and there’s lots of like super tight close-ups and extra wide shots to mask the fact that they’re using stunt doubles. Rita and company watch the telescope and they decide to send Goldar to help. This makes no sense. Zack teaches Alpha to dance.
Ethan: He does do that.
Andrew: He says something about hip hop, which I didn’t really understand. And then Alpha starts screaming “dudettes in trouble.” It was a really weird phrase that that stuck in my mind as a kid when I saw this episode.
Ethan: I also made a note of that.
Andrew: But he says it like seven or eight times. And the first time he said it, I had no idea what he did. “Dudettes in trouble!”
Ethan: Yeah, hard to parse. No subtitles.
Andrew: So Zordon summons all the boy rangers to HQ. Clearly this implies that he could have also summoned the girl rangers to remove them from the conflict that they were in and chose not to.
Ethan: So like he does kidnap them in that first episode, but he like alerts them to transport immediately and they do, which I think implies that the things that they told Kim and Trini that they had to go do that they couldn’t come to deliver the signatures, were not actually that important. Because they literally show up in a second. It’s not like a “What’s up? What’s going on?” They just appear.
Andrew: And Zach’s thing was teaching Alpha to dance, which is, which is just ridiculous. So the boys show up and they watch the girls fighting on the viewing orb and they do nothing. They just stand there and watch. Finster sends a monster, the boys morph and are instantly teleported to a rock quarry that has nothing to do with anything else going on to fight the monster. The girls are at a toxic dump. Then Goldar shows up. Then the girls morph and are instantly teleported to a forest, and then to a beach. And during that sequence, the Putties kind of show up and disappear and show up and disappear. They fade in and out of reality. Alpha and Zordon talk about teamwork. Zordon talks about the secrets of the Power Weapons.
Ethan: Ancient secrets of the power weapons.
Andrew: The ancient secrets of the power weapons. Again, no, no context. Zordon’s just like, hey-
Ethan: He’s just been holding onto these for the time he felt was appropriate.
Andrew: Maybe now that they’re all getting their butts kicked, we should give them some weapons.
Ethan: We said this in episode one, but like Zordon’s motives again are deeply, deeply questionable.
Andrew: Yeah, he’s a suspicious dude.
Ethan: He could have presented them with the weapons right off the bat. Now that would screw with the footage importing, obviously, but like-
Violet: Like I gave you a Megazord, I gave you control of a giant robot that could destroy towns, I can trust you with these weapons.
Andrew: So at this point, Rita does not say make my monster grow, which made me sad. But she does throw her staff and make the Minotaur huge. And this is the same Minotaur from the Zyuranger episode. Jason asks for help from the girls and then he summons his Zord. I noticed in this shot for the first time I was, I was paying attention to all the Zord summoning the way the pterodactyl flies out of the volcano. And it happens every time the pterodactyl shows up, but it’s such a sick shot.
Ethan: Oh, it’s totally sick. There’s another sick shot where the Minotaur fires energy beams from its horns at the SaberTiger. And it like leaps off a cliff with these explosions behind it. And I was like, oh man.
Andrew: So I watched that three or four times this morning.
Ethan: Just a really good puppet shot.
Andrew: So this also brings us to a trope, which will continue, as each of the Rangers forms the Megazord, they all say something. And normally it’s just like-
Ethan: Yeah, when they like take their cockpit seat, basically.
Andrew: And normally it’s just like, you know, “we’re here, we’re going to do this thing,” except for Kimmy, who every time either makes a dumb joke, in this case, “Let’s munch this Minotaur!”, or says something else to really drive home the whole Valley Girl thing that they were going for with Kimmy.
Ethan: I don’t know how Amy Jo Johnson delivered those lines without bursting into laughter.
Andrew: After jumping into the cockpit and saying let’s munch this Minotaur, the pterodactyl does do a flyby on Goldar and shoot him with some lightning. Nobody discusses this, but they do it. And then they go back to fight the Minotaur. They fight the Minotaur with the little Zords and it is sick. It is it is absolutely the coolest footage I can remember seeing of the individual Zords fighting.
Ethan: This is something that happens somewhat regularly in Zyuranger and the other Sentai shows that barely ever happens in Power Rangers.
Violet: Yeah, I don’t ever really remember that happening very much, but it was very like, Voltron-esque.
Andrew: So like when when Dragon Zord comes along, Dragon Caesar in Zyuranger, he will combine with SaberTiger, Mastodon, and Triceratops, and they will fight as one unit and then Tyrannosaurus will fight on his own. So they will like, tag team and the same thing happens in Dairanger which corresponds to Season 2, the ThunderZords.
Violet: ThunderZords with Red Dragon Range- er, Zord.
Ethan: The White Tiger Zord will combine with the Unicorn and the Kirin and the Firebird and the Red Dragon Zord with its like dual mode capability will act as backup. And so you get a lot more interesting fight dynamics that way.
Andrew: So they transform into the Megazord and more or less immediately Zordon is like, “Yo Rangers, he’s too strong, come back.” Which corresponds with the fact that this fight did not actually end with the destruction of the Minotaur in Zyuranger, but it was a real weird pacing choice. We don’t see what happened to the Zords either, which I thought was was a real weird choice, but Zordon immediately says, “Oh, I hid them, they’re back in their hiding places.”
Ethan: I mean, we see the Zords like emerge without teleporting, but it makes me wonder like, can they also teleport?
Violet: That would be convenient.
Ethan: Very convenient.
Andrew: And then Zordon gives them their weapons. They get the Power Weapons, the weapons that in Zyuranger they’re still questing for. One point to note here is that this was US mask footage, which I thought was very unusual.
Ethan: I think it might be the first US mask footage we see in the show.
Andrew: And it’s not especially well done and super awkward. They all just do not wear the costumes well or whoever they’ve got in them. They teleport back to the Minotaur and they’re talking while they’re teleporting, which I hated.
Ethan: Yeah, this is- that’s not the first time this has happened, when they’re sort of like their electricity blur forms and they’re flying over a color corrected landscape, that’s usually like red or green. And they’re like making a plan as they’re going. It’s- you really wonder about like if they’re traveling at, you know, whatever, you know, clearly faster than like the speed of sound, for example. It could be light speed. I feel like there would be huge explosion when they arrive. But there’s a lot of logistics questions here.
Andrew: But how are they talking?
Ethan: Exactly. How are they, I mean, are they physically, mentally communicating? It’s very- I’d be interested to dig into that question.
Andrew: So, so when they get back, they’re with the Minotaur and he’s small again.
Ethan: Yes, he is.
Andrew: And this is not explained at all.
Ethan: No it is not. It’s barely explained in Zyuranger, frankly.
Andrew: Yeah. They pull their weapons and they start attacking the Minotaur more or less immediately. There’s no like lead up. There’s no build up. It’s just, oh, we got weapons, let’s attack. And within a few seconds of that, they form the weird, big, ridiculous gun and they blast the Minotaur to dust. Rita sulks. They all go back to the high school where Kimmy says, gee, things sure work out a lot better when we work as a team. And then the principal comes up and gives them a hard time and they speed clean the hallway, really badly, by the way. I don’t know if you noticed that, but they left a ton of trash on the ground. The principal comes back and he’s like, hey, how is the hallway clean so quickly? Which again, it is not, but whatever. And the Power Rangers just lie to the principal, just gaslight him. “What mess are you talking about? There was never a mess.” Zordon calls them on their communicators to congratulate them. And then there is a silly coda about Alpha learning to break dance.
Ethan: With a teddy bear.
Andrew: With a- yeah, inexplicably.
Ethan: Totally unexplained or unaddressed.
Andrew: So this episode sucked.
Ethan: Not one of the better ones. They condensed three and four of Zyuranger into this one to finish the Minotaur fight. But again, the pacing loses all sense. When the Zyurangers go to the Land of Despair, that’s like a big deal. Like we are risking our lives so that we can get these weapons. We don’t know how to get around in here. There’s this like curse hanging over everything. There’s a kidnapped boy and his mom we have to save. None of that is in- there’s no stakes.
Andrew: This episode, yeah, exactly. We get this vague environmental message. We get these comments about Rita, about using pollution to destroy the planet or whatever. But then that has nothing to do with the rest of the episode.
Ethan: The Minotaur is not like a pollution beast.
Andrew: Right. And it’s not like they didn’t have pollution beast footage to pull from.
Ethan: The two themes do not intersect.
Andrew: The whole thing was just bizarre. I remember seeing this episode as a kid. I don’t remember being especially disappointed by it because it’s got a bunch of really cool fight scenes in it, and that’s really all I’ve watched Power Rangers for.
Ethan: There’s a really cool shot when Jason is alone on the ground and the Minotaur is like stepping. And the camera like does this like juddering, jumping thing that I thought was really cool.
Andrew: Lots of the footage that they pulled into this episode from Zyuranger was excellent.
Ethan: That shot is not in Zyuranger.
Andrew: Sure, but lots of the footage they pulled into this episode from Zyuranger is excellent. And some of the fight sequences, even the U.S. stuff in the toxic waste dump or whatever, they were good. The fight with Goldar was fine.
Ethan: It was cute how they used the trash can technique on the Putties that they just had seen used on Bulk and Skull.
Andrew: But from a plot standpoint, this was hot garbage.
Violet: It makes zero sense. It really does.
Ethan: I thought Day of the Dumpster was confusing, but this blows that out of the park in terms of just, there’s nothing here, which is a real shame because this episode of Zyuranger is my favorite so far. The whole Land of Despair thing, it had big like Jim Henson 1980s vibes. It was very like Dark Crystal-slash-Labyrinth, kind of, and the whole idea of them turning to stone. And there was there was stakes, there was pressure.
Ethan: And there’s like all these statues sort of littered around like, oh, this is what will happen to us, which I’m deeply curious about those. Like, I don’t think they made all of those just for this.
Andrew: Right, so where did they come from?
Ethan: So I’m curious about where they came from. Do they just like live at the studio and they bring them out whenever they need sort of miscellaneous, Samurai, there’s Samurai, there’s like weird guys in sci-fi armor. There’s a couple of like Western style knights in armor, it’s very interesting.
Andrew: But yeah, I was disappointed enough in this episode of Power Rangers that it was a struggle for me to watch the next episode. And like, the next episode is better, but it’s not much better.
Ethan: Yeah, they’re really, really struggling to find their feet.
Andrew: I know that they do eventually. But I hope they do soon.
Violet: They do, but yeah, cause right now it’s very jumbled. Because I watched the first four episodes of each one back to back. Because I am just catching up to guest star on this one. And it’s so jumbled. I could not believe what they were pulling from which ones in the just first few.
Andrew: And this is the second time that they’ve just kind of thrown Goldar in as, “oh yeah, he’s also here!” because they just didn’t have enough footage to make a fight work. And so far, no one in Zyuranger has seen Goldar. Goldar has not appeared to the Rangers. But so far, the Power Rangers have fought him twice. They’re doing that thing with Goldar here in Power Rangers that they do with Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Ethan: That is- I was not expecting to hear that show mentioned today, so I’m intrigued as to where this comparison is going.
Andrew: On Star Trek: The Next Generation, they set up Worf very early on, season two once Tasha’s gone. They set Worf up as being this big badass. He is supposed to be this magnificent warrior. He’s the chief of security on the flagship of the Federation.
Ethan: Dear listeners, Worf is a precious teddy bear and he’s double autistic.
Andrew: We’ll break that down when we do our Star Trek podcast. 2025, right? But when they introduce anybody and they’re trying to show what a badass this new person they’ve introduced is, the first thing that they have that person do is go knock Worf on his ass. And so just over and over again, they have-
Ethan, experiencing transcendence: Oh, he’s a jobber!
Andrew: Yeah, he’s a jobber! He’s a jobber!
Andrew: They have they have people step up and and and knock Worf on his ass over and over again. They turn him into a jabroni and they’re doing that with Goldar in a really confusing way. They’re establishing Goldar as Rita’s enforcer and this big bad.
Ethan: He has a very scary face. He has this face and his cool golden armor and wings and stuff.
Andrew: Yeah, incredibly cool character and they just stomp on him over and over again.
Ethan: That continues the entirety of both shows. Although he does get a mech. He gets his own mech late in the show. It’s sick.
Andrew: I love that.
Violet: Good for him, good for him.
Ethan: Yeah, we’ll get to that. All right. I mean, I think we’ve largely covered our talkback. We talked a little bit about Violet’s history with the series. One question I have for you is that you and Ryan used to perform with a Megazord on stage, if I’m not mistaken. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Violet: Yeah, when I was in Hurly-Burly and the Volcanic Fallout, which I guess I still am in, because we just released an EP. So we would perform- and we were ridiculous kids in costumes. We were theater kids. So it was all about the costume, the stage presence, but we didn’t really have like money for props. So we had Ryan’s Megazord from when he was a child and it always was on his bass amp.
Andrew: And papier-maiche volcanoes.
Violet: Papier-maiche volcanoes- we couldn’t afford papier-maiche, we had boxes.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, that’s true. I’ve seen Hurly-Burly perform with a papier-maiche volcano.
Andrew: Yeah, full of balloons.
Violet: Full of balloons. The first time it was a cake and it was for my sister’s birthday party.
Andrew: Well, I love that. The Megazord is here. It’s downstairs.
Ethan: Yeah, it’s on display.
Violet: That’s not Ryan’s Megazord. That’s my Megazord, which is why it’s missing the pterodactyl.
Andrew: Big difference between your Megazord and Ryan’s Megazord.
Violet: Mine’s the 2010. Ryan has the original, which I wish I had.
Andrew: Okay, okay, my apologies. I didn’t mean to open that wound.
Violet: I don’t know where my pterodactyl is.
Ethan: They’re very easy to lose.
Violet: And then on top of that, I have another connection to Mighty Morphin: My brother was taught Shakespeare by Skull.
Ethan: Oh my god…
Violet: In like 2005, circa 2005-ish, Skull was teaching Shakespeare to Virginia Governor’s School. So like in the summer, he learned Shakespeare.
Ethan: That’s amazing. Okay, so pulling up Skull’s page, full name- This is a doozy: Eugene… Skullovitch. That’s why he’s called Skull. It’s not like a goth thing, it’s just Skullovitch. So that actor’s name is… Jason Narvy.
Violet: Yes, that was it, Narvy.
Ethan: Who just has this like incredibly well-crafted annoying laugh that mostly gets deployed at Bulk’s expense, frankly, he doesn’t really laugh that much at other people. Just such a good character.
Violet: Shakespearean trained.
Ethan: Apparently! And Shakespearean training. What’s your brother’s name?
Violet: Jesse, Jesse Hunter.
Ethan: Jesse Hunter.
Ethan and Violet: Shout out, Jesse.
Andrew: So when’s Jesse going to be on the show?
Violet: We can make that happen.
Andrew: Okay. When’s Skull going to be on the show?
Violet: I don’t know if I can make that happen.
Ethan: Are they still in touch?
Violet: I don’t think they’re still in touch.
Andrew: It probably wouldn’t be that hard.
Ethan: Has he got his email?
Violet: You know, honestly, we can reach out.
Ethan: We could at least just like send a nice note like, hey, we appreciate the work that you did… thirty years ago.
Violet: Would you Skype into our podcast?
Ethan: Oh, I don’t want to think about how teleconferencing and this show would work.
Andrew: It’s not that bad.
Ethan: No, that is such a cool connection. So that’s- we’re like three degrees away from an actual cast member. And who knows what we might discover later in the future.
Andrew: As we continue to Kevin Bacon.
Ethan: Three degrees from Jason Narvy. No, that’s so cool. I didn’t- you didn’t let us know about that before the show. So we’re like discovering this live in real time.
Violet: Yeah, I figured like, I should tell y’all.
Ethan: Violet, I know you’re- you’ve told us you’re not into Sentai yet. I mean, I guess, except for four episodes, but you’re into like other tokusatsu and mecha shows also, right? So tell us a little bit about what animes do you like?
Violet: I really love mecha anime in particular. Grew up with it on Toonami and everything like that.
Ethan: God bless Toonami.
Violet: God bless Toonami. You know, my intro into like the anime that I really remember first really digging was, of course, Gundam Wing.
Andrew: That’s the only Gundam show I’ve seen.
Violet: Oh, there’s several, several good ones. I really like the original Gundam.
Ethan: Frankly, Gundam Wing is pretty mid by the standards of the others. Like, it has a special place in my heart and will forever, but it’s pretty mid. It doesn’t help that the director died halfway through production, I mean completely- that threw everyone, as it would, but the second half of the show really, really suffers from production disaster. Anyway.
Violet: But yeah, so watch several of the Gundam series. Zoids, Zoids was so good.
Andrew: So Zoids is one of these things that I know I watched and loved. But Ethan and I talked about this recently. I could not remember a single detail about the show. Couldn’t remember anything about it. Couldn’t remember anything about how it worked, like the mechanics of the show were lost on me. All I remember is big robot, go fight.
Violet: Yeah. That’s most of it. That’s most of the show.
Ethan: But it’s important to note that robot is cat.
Andrew: And sentient.
Violet: And sentient!
Ethan: EhHhHh, some of them definitely are, and some of them aren’t.
Violet: But yeah, I collected the Zoids toys. Like they were little model kits I put together.
Andrew: Ethan had quite a number of those.
Ethan: I still have a bunch of mine. Whenever I want to feel burning shame about how bad of a modeler I was as a kid, I pull those out and look at the terrible nub marks.
Violet: Oh god.
Ethan: Like a four millimeter stub sticking off of every armor piece. Like, what did I use to cut these out? A freakin kitchen knife? I don’t know.
Andrew: Scissors? Your bare hands.
Ethan: I truly don’t know.
Andrew: When I built models as a kid, I definitely snapped them with my bare hands.
Ethan: I mean, I know I had access to like nail clippers, which is better than nothing, but like-
Andrew: Sure, but you didn’t have the knowledge that you needed them.
Ethan: No, no. You have a model of something. It’s a resin kit that we have talked about. What is that?
Violet: It’s a vinyl kit.
Ethan: A vinyl kit.
Violet: It is Combatler V.
Ethan: Okay, tell us about Combatler V.
Violet: So Combatler V, I really know from having it as a toy as a child. My dad would travel a lot and he would come back and bring us a toy, usually, when I was younger. So I’m pretty sure it came from like an airport or something? But um, Combatler was this red robot made up of various transportation parts, like his feet were like drill cars or something like that. And his chest was like some kind of jet thing. So I had the toy as a kid and it was my favorite toy. I have since lost every single one of the pieces.
Andrew: Sure, of course.
Violet: So now I have this vinyl kit in the other room that I have had on my project list forever, and I can’t wait to put back together. The other toy that I really want to get a model is Big O. I love Big O.
Ethan: They put out like a high quality Big O model a couple of years ago.
Andrew: Is that the Soul of Chogokin?
Ethan: I don’t think it’s Chogokin, I think it’s a different-
Violet: Okay, because they’ve had him out and yeah.
Andrew: They did a Combattler V that way too.
Ethan: There are a few, there are a few- the Chogokin stuff is like, big money.
Andrew: So I’m assuming that the vintage toy would have been from the same line that gave us the Super Shoguns in the US.
Andrew: And I have a ton of those. I don’t know anything about those characters in Japan other than Mazinger. But even then I know more of that from like Spain than I do from Japan. I absolutely love big ole robot toys.
Violet: Oh, Transformers, I get so nerdy about Transformers.
Andrew: Sure, of course.
Violet: Because like it’s like the toy version of what they did with the Power Rangers.
Andrew: In more ways than one.
Violet: Because they took just all these different toys from all these different companies that they got the molds and the rights to and just like, hey, let’s shove this into a show.
Andrew: And we’ll actually be talking about more of that in the next episode as well.
Andrew: Because the parallels are even stronger than you might realize.
Ethan: And there’s a parallel to Gundam there also, which is that Tomino saw Transformers and was like, “Oh, that’s cool.” So then all of the suits, like all of the big name suits and mobile suits in Zeta Gundam are transforming suits. Literally would not have happened unless he had happened to catch an episode of Transformers and go, “Oh, that’s a good idea.”
Andrew: Have you seen Our Friend Power Five?
Violet: I have not seen Our Friend Power Five.
Andrew: Ethan, do you know about this?
Ethan: I don’t know what this is.
Violet: Oh, wait. No, no, no. Yes, you showed me this.
Andrew: Our Friend Power Five is a South Korean hybrid live action animated film starring the worst Ninja Turtle knockoffs you will ever see.
Ethan: Oh, you did show me this. The guy got like a whole shipping container of Ninja Turtles costumes or something like that.
Andrew: He got the molds for the Ninja Turtles toys and a bunch of Go-Bots in South Korea, but neither Ninja Turtles nor Go-Bots had been released there. It hadn’t been localized and he needed a way to sell the toys. So he made a movie using some animated footage of the Go-Bots, using the same studio that actually did a ton of animation at that time. A bunch of anime was actually being produced in South Korea. So he used some of the same studios and then Toei provided him with the suits of his horrible Ninja Turtles. They’re really, really bad. But it’s the same idea where they needed a way to sell these toys. So they produced this film. The whole thing’s up on YouTube. It’s not good.
Ethan: Nelson’s watching it right now. I’m watching Nelson watching it.
Andrew: So the animation is super limited, but not especially bad, you know? But when you get to the live action shots, I mean, it is breathtaking. Yeah.
Violet: But same thing. Same hat, same hat.
Ethan: Cool, thank you for telling us about all of your history and your interests. So the research topic today is mine and I chose the actress Soga Machiko, because she came up so frequently. This is the actress who plays Bandora and the face of Rita, although not the voice for most of it. Although she would go back to redub Power Rangers in Japanese. So it is- if you watch the Japanese release of Power Rangers, it’s her dubbing over herself.
Andrew: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. There’s a Japanese release of Power Rangers?
Ethan: Yeah! They redubbed it.
Violet: That’s amazing.
Andrew: They took-
Nelson, distantly: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Andrew: Is it successful?
Ethan: I have no idea.
Andrew: Okay, we gotta find out.
Ethan: It’ll have to be like a special episode.
Ethan: We watch some Japanese Power Rangers.
Andrew: I want to see reaction videos. I want to see people who watched Super Sentai watching Power Rangers for the first time.
Ethan: That would be awesome. It’s like- it’s like that whole process that we’ve been talking about of like, the cultural transference. But not in reverse because it’s already happened once. So it’s just like a weird U-turn, you end up with like a sandwich effect.
Andrew: And that’s the way that this always works. This idea that any culture is a monolith is a myth. All cultures are made up of bits and pieces of one another. And this is just a particularly egregious example, where something that was localized is being relocalized, is being relocalized. I mean, it’s neat, frankly. Um, I love that I know this. Thank you for sharing this.
Ethan: We’ll have to look further into it. So Soga Machiko was born March 18th of 1938 in Hachioji District in Tokyo and got into acting through radio, starting in the early 60s. So she played like a couple of protagonist characters, a couple of evil characters. You know, she could do like a little kid voice if she needed to do a little kid voice, stuff like that. Her television debut came in the early 70s, mostly doing voiceover work. And then her first big tokusatsu role was as Queen Hedrian in 1980’s Denshi Sentai Denjiman. She would play the same character in Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan. And then very soon after that would play Majou Bandora in 1992 and ’93. And then as we mentioned, through the Sabanization process, she would be required not only to phonetically read some English lines to provide more footage for Power Rangers, but also to redub her own performance that had already been redubbed in English back into Japanese, but crucially was not playing Bandora, but was dubbing Rita.
Violet: That’s amazing.
Andrew: So I know Lord Zedd was not in any of the Sentai, is not in Zyuranger.
Andrew: Lord Zedd is an American invention.
Ethan: Complete Western new character.
Andrew: So does that mean that all of the footage of Zedd and Rita interacting was also… I guess it has to mean that, that is the stuff that was reshot by this actress.
Ethan: So there are multiple actresses now have played the character of Rita.
Andrew: Interesting, ok.
Ethan: So Zedd doesn’t show up until season two. When they have their interactions, that’s the same costume, but a completely different actress. That’s an American actress in the Rita costume playing the character.
Andrew: So when Machiko is playing Rita in English, it is for the last 10 episodes of this season.
Andrew: Okay, cool.
Ethan: Soga passed away in May of 2006, aged 68, after a long and storied career. And I think probably my favorite fact that I learned about her was that she had a small antique and curio shop in Harajuku. I just think it would be really neat if you just are like wandering around Tokyo thrifting and you walk in and Witch Bandora is just there trying to like sell you a rug. Or like-
Andrew: Threatening you if you don’t buy her rug.
Ethan: “I’ll crush your children in a spaceship!” Or you know, and I just think that’s such a cute little fact of like, she just had her own little shop.
Andrew: That’s wonderful.
Violet: I love that.
Ethan: And if you, you know, look at her actress credits, she’s all over Sentai and tokusatsu in general. The radio show stuff specifically is like expansive.
Ethan: And she actually makes another appearance in Power Rangers in like 20 years from where we’re at now in our coverage as a sort of quasi-angelic figure, which is like a reformed Rita Repulsa, who’s like the source of all good magic in the universe.
Ethan: Shows up way, way later. We’ll get to that when we get to it.
Andrew: In a decade, yeah. It’s going to take us till ’25 to get through season one at this rate.
Andrew: Good stuff.
Ethan: That’s the research topic for today.
Ethan: Thank you, Soga Machiko, for your excellent performances. We got anything else before we close out?
Andrew: I’m good.
Violet: I’m great.
Andrew: Thank you so much for being here, Violet.
Violet: I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for including me.
Ethan: Yeah! We will be back next time to discuss episodes four of Zyuranger, “Yomigaere Densetsu no Buki: Reawaken, Legendary Weapons!”, and Power Rangers, “A Pressing Engagement.” If you’ve enjoyed the show, please feel free to send me $5. And if you want to find me online, don’t. But you can follow the show on the Fediverse at KenkyuuSentaiPodcastRangers @ meet.CommunityMedia.network. Violet, what have you got going on that people should look out for and how should people get in touch if they want to?
Violet: I have so many things going on.
Ethan: I know.
Violet: Okay, so I am Dr. Deathray.
Ethan: She is Dr. Deathray.
Violet: Of Dr. Deathray and the Implements of Destruction. You can find us on Instagram, preferably through AnalogRevolution.com, or find me on the Fediverse at DoctorDeathray @ retro.social.
Andrew: That is correct.
Violet: I also am in Hurly-Burly and the Volcanic Fallout, who of course did this theme song. And we just released a Christmas album. This is coming out after Christmas. But go ahead and listen to it because seven days of Christmas- 12 days of Christmas technically starts on Christmas day.
Andrew: It’s also guaranteed to be a perennial Christmas classic.
Violet: Perennial, yes.
Andrew: It’s a free download and you will listen to it every Christmas for the rest of your life or you will die.
Violet: One of the two. Probably both. And then what else do I do? I’m an audio engineer. I run Analog Revolution with Andrew. It is our record label. We have a whole bunch of artists out. Pre-order’s up for Michael Cera Palin. Just released Eli Pop. All kinds of things. Just go to AnalogRevolution.com or find me on the Fediverse, DoctorDeathray @ retro.social.
Ethan: Mhm, mhm. Andrew, what have you got going on lately?
Andrew: I don’t think I want to do a plug today. There’s too much going on. No, very briefly: I’ve just started releasing a film serial from the 19-teens called “The Master Mystery” starring Harry Houdini.
Ethan: Yeah, the Harry Houdini.
Andrew: Yeah, the Harry Houdini. It’s a really fascinating kind of thing because it’s a mech show. The premise of the series is that there is a mech in 1918. This is before the word robot was coined. So like they don’t have the language to talk about this guy yet.
Ethan: What do they call it? Automaton?
Andrew: The machine.
Ethan: The machine, that makes sense.
Andrew: But yeah, it’s a fascinating little thing. An adventure serial in 15 parts. The closest thing that the teens had to television. But of course it’s silent, so I’m re-scoring it using some music that we’ve composed here and some music that I found in various places, Creative Commons licensed and so on and so forth. That’s fun. It’s on New Ellijay Television. We’ve also recently started releasing new episodes of Expedition Sasquatch, which is the comedy bigfoot podcast that I do. You can find that at expeditionsasquatch.org.
Ethan: Dot Org. Again, to any IRS agents who might be listening, .org; it is a non-profit endeavor.
Andrew: And you can also find that on New Ellijay Television. That’s a lot of fun. I do that with my buddy Josh, who will almost certainly end up on this show at some point.
Ethan: Almost certainly. We might have to like send a car to pick him up, but yeah.
Andrew: Bad driving anxiety, but that’s okay. We’ll get you here some way, Josh. And I think that’s it for now. Y’all know me, I’m always doing too much. You can find the rest of the things that I work on at AndrewRoach.net. And that list is also not accurate, but it’s more accurate than most of the other lists that I share.
Ethan: Including, but not limited to.
Ethan: All right. That’s all the show we have for you today. Thank you so much for listening, and thanks also to Hurly-Burly and the Volcanic Fallout for the use of their song “Colossal Might (totally radical instrumental version)” for our intro and outro music. Kenkyuu Sentai Podcast Rangers is licensed CC-BY-SA and produced in collaboration with New Ellijay Television at the Ellijay 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.