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The most recent Japanese sentai series has the usual thrills
"Dekaranger" is the 2004 entry in Japan's long-running series of "sentai" action-adventure programs highlighting the exploits of various teams of "Rangers" in color-coded costumes. I watched four episodes of "Dekaranger" after watching the season opener for "Power Rangers S.P.D.," the American counterpart of "Dekaranger." Interestingly, the characters in "S.P.D." are considerably older than their Japanese equivalents, who all seem quite young. Dekaranger's Pink Ranger is quite short (under five feet) and looks and behaves as if she was 14 or 15, while the others all have a late-teen vibe about them. (The ages given for their characters on one website are considerably older than they look and behave.) They squabble amongst themselves, much more than usual for a sentai team, which makes them a little different and, in fact, a little refreshing. It helps that Pink Ranger, Umeko (played by Mika Kikuchi), is so darned cute and perky, and that Yellow Ranger, Jasmine (played by Ayumi Kinoshita), is so pretty. Green Ranger is the quiet, serious no-nonsense one, Red Ranger is the wild, irresponsible, individualistic one and Blue Ranger is the one who fights with Red Ranger the most. (This relationship is echoed in "S.P.D.") The end credits sequence features all five performing a dance number while a robot band plays. It's amusing and Umeko is quite the performer. (She could be a J-Pop star if she wanted to and, for all I know, maybe she is!)
There's a lot of good action in the episodes I watched, including lots of battles with aliens and robot henchmen. There's a rousing Zord battle reminiscent of the Zord action in "Go Go Five" (also reviewed on this site) and its U.S. counterpart, "Lightspeed Rescue," and several good martial arts battles and stunts. There's a clever bit in ep. 4 where an alien opponent sends the combatants teleporting all over Tokyo, so Red and Blue Rangers find themselves fighting the alien in an empty speeding commuter train one minute and then on the back of a truck immediately thereafter. What I've always liked about sentai series is the frequency of on-location battles as characters in outlandish costumes go at each other in dramatic locales and sprawling public spaces. It gives a sense of believability and immediacy to the otherwise preposterous (but highly enjoyable) goings-on.
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