The hit series “Power Rangers” is approaching its 25th anniversary in 2018. The show’s ride morphed from smooth to bumpy, but left an everlasting impression among many.
In 1975, the source material that inspired Power Rangers was formed in Japan. The series was called “Super Sentai,” or Super Squadron in English. The Japanese series was about five young adult heroes, each in a different colored outfit, who fought a dangerous criminal organization called the Black Cross. The villains had an army of foot soldiers and monsters. Each week the main characters would suit up, become super heroes and fight a different monster.
For the next 17 years, the “Super Sentai” series annually changed names, team motifs, hero abilities and villain organizations. In 1992, the season titled “Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger” was the first of many to be adapted into “Power Rangers.”
Haim Saban, the founder of Saban Entertainment, obtained the rights to distribute “Super Sentai” as “Power Rangers” in 1992, and in 1993, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” aired on American television. Unlike “Zyuranger,” where the main characters were royalty and knights, the main characters of “Power Rangers” were regular high school students going through their everyday lives. The rangers were: Jason, the calm and collected Red Ranger; Zack, the cool and suave dancing Black Ranger, Billy, the shy nerdy Blue Ranger; Trini, the compassionate Yellow Ranger; and Kimberley, the valley girl Pink Ranger.
The rangers were mentored by Zordon, an alien that watched over the rangers in a time tube and assisted by the clumsy robot Alpha 5. The main villains of the series were the space witch Rita Repulsa and evil conqueror Lord Zedd, who sent down monsters for the rangers to fight each week. Later on, a sixth Green Ranger was introduced: the bad boy Tommy, who would go on to become the most popular ranger in history.
The rangers used cool weapons to fight on the ground, but if a monster grew, it was time to pilot the Zords, assault vehicles modeled after dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. The Zords then combined into the Megazord, a giant robotic “mech” (a robot that is driven by people) that the rangers piloted together to take down the monster once and for all.
In the beginning, there were numerous complaints about the new show as parents were concerned that the show was too violent for children. But in reality, the characters ended up becoming role models for a generation of kids, and even a first crush among many with Kimberley and Tommy or Jason.
The series has left a lasting impression with its memorable characters that the audience could relate to. The show taught children life lessons about working together and being strong. while also learning skills such as trust, listening, empowering children, and responsibility.
The colorful suits and the connections between the two shows’ seasons, including current members teaming up with past rangers, has led to a large fan base that has lasted for two generations.
Jason David Frank, the actor who played Tommy, returned to the series multiple times, but his polite and friendly personality off stage is possibly what makes his character Tommy the most popular ranger in the entire series, alongside the original red ranger. Just like in Japan, the series reinvents itself each year but still keeps the classic cheesiness that fans new and old have come to love, bringing a unique charm that few other shows have.
All of the seasons that have previously aired are available to watch on Netflix. The new season, “Super Ninja Steel,” airs in 2018 and will be the 25th anniversary season with past rangers expected to appear.
We don’t know who the returning rangers will be, but with the fandom lasting for 25 years in America and 42 years in Japan, it will surely be fantastic to find out what the rangers have in store for us next, and what the franchise will bring for new generations to come.