Around the time Power Rangers In Space was airing, Fox Kids aired a special entitled Power Rangers Funniest Moments. On the surface it was a clip show, but it was a comedic masterpiece that also gave yours truly his first glimpse at Super Sentai.
As a joke, the special included clips from several Super Sentai series, including one of some blue henchmen dancing in the streets of Japan. As a kid watching it all I could think was, “What the hell is that from? It’s so weird! I wanna see that!” Well, it’s now eighteen years later and I can finally watch Ninja Sentai Kakuranger on DVD.
It’s been a long time since the great war between the Three God Generals and the Youkais, an ancient race of monstrous spirits. Since then, imprisoned in a cave protected by the mystical Seal Door, their leader Daimaou and his Youkai army wait, planning for the day they can finally strike.
That day has arrived and it is up to the Kakurangers, along with the Three God Generals, to defeat the Youkais, before Daimaou’s villainy destroys Earth!
That’s the official plot and if that sounds simple well…it is. I’ve only seen the first fifteen episodes and so far not much has happened. From what I’ve heard the series does have a tonal shift about half way through, so you’ll have to watch and see for yourself on that one. The series begins with your standard standalone episodes with the Kakuranger team taking on various Youkai. You don’t learn much about the characters and you’re basically just watching for the action.
The series at least takes a little time to introduce the main cast, with only three of the Rangers debuting in the premiere. Right off the bat, Tsuruhime is the stand out member of the cast. The first female leader of a Super Sentai team, she’s easily the most likeable and fun to watch. She’s the only one to really take her role as a Kakuranger seriously and not put up with the rest of her team’s antics.
Sadly, she’s also a victim of the sexism inherent in a lot of Tokusatsu programs of this time. One notable example is in an early episode where Sasuke, the Red Kakuranger, attempts to see through her clothing. It’s moments like these that take you out of the fun of the show and remind you that, even as the first leader of a Super Sentai team, Tsuruhime isn’t treated as well as she should be.
The other cast member worth mentioning is Jiraiya, the Black Kakuranger. I wish I could say the guy had any redeemable character traits, but I’d be lying. It’s honestly just hilarious to see this guy speaking English all the time. His actor could speak fluent English and it’s a delight to hear him exclaim, “Who are you?” with the other characters having no idea what the hell he’s talking about.
The mecha are also great, the team getting two sets of humanoid mecha to combat the Youkai. As much as robot animals are cool, give me my own personal giant robot that can punch and kick any day.
Oh yeah, the theme song is also about a guy getting cockblocked by a ninja. No, seriously! Go watch the opening theme again and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Kakuranger DVD Presentation
No matter what you feel about Kakuranger itself, Shout! Factory has done a solid job on this release. The subtitles are clear and very readable. Nothing is over translated or under translated and they’re a slight step up from the earlier Zyuranger subtitles that a few fans had complained about.
The video looks great as well, although this is coming from a fan who had been watching VHS rips of the Super Sentai for years. Sure, it’s not Blu-ray quality, but for what it is you can see everything perfectly clear. The subtitles also aren’t hard encoded, so if you need screencaps or happen to speak fluent Japanese, they can easily be turned off.
The show sounds solid as well. Not one to test out with your 5.1 surrounded sound, but it gets the job done. You may notice sometimes that the actors lips don’t quite match what they’re saying. That isn’t an audio issue with the DVD’s, it’s just that back in the day they didn’t roll sound while filming Sentai and would instead just dub it in later.
Sadly there’s no sight of the Kakuranger movie or the Super Sentai World special. There aren’t any bonuses on this set, as was the case with the previous Dairanger set.
As much as the series itself hasn’t wowed me so far, I’m glad this set has finally come out. Shout! Factory is really doing Tokusatsu fans a service by finally releasing these series. For years fans thought they’d never see the light of day outside Japan and now we’ve gotten three in a little over a year!
If you’re a hardcore Super Sentai fan, you should be sure to pick this up. It shows Shout you want more releases like this. If you’re a more casual Sentai fan, Kakuranger does have enough different about it to pique your interest, if only for having a woman leader of the team. If you’ve only ever watched Power Rangers, this set will give you a whole new look into what they did to make Season 3 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers happen. Want to learn more about how it was changed? Check out our article on the adaption of Super Sentai into Power Rangers.
Kakuranger itself, so far, gets 2/5 stars. The DVD’s however get a solid 4. Shout! Factory is doing solid work to give fans what they want.
And hey, that ending theme is still weird, hilarious, and catchy as all hell.
You pick this set up on May 17th.