While growing up in Japan from 1982 to 1986, I got my first taste of Tokusatsu or "special effects" shows. In this article I will just be talking about the Metal Heroes (MH's)also known as the Space Sheriffs. For those not familiar with the MH's, SABAN used footage from some of those shows for VR Troopers.
I actually never got to really watch any of the TV shows while in Japan, mainly because my parents wouldn't let me. The main reason being because children's shows seemed more violent compared to American children's shows. So instead I collected hardcover super hero books every time I got the chance. I didn't start watching the shows until recently when I collected the dvd sets from Japan. I don't have any actual pictures of these books, though the picture below is what they kind of looked like:
Unlike Power Rangers or Sentai, the MH's were lone warriors for the most part. They did have female side kicks who were basically useless (in my opinion), all except for Annie in Space Sheriff Shaider. Naomi Morinaga who played Annie was a stunt woman in real life at the time, so she was able to hold her own in a lot of the fights every week. And speaking of stunt men/ women the Space Sheriff series was known for the main character being a stunt man in real life.
The Space Sheriff's did use mecha like their Sentai cousins, but instead of using their arsenal against a giant monster it was usually an enemy's ship. (The enemy ships below are actually from Space Sheriff Gavan.)
For Shaider, he had the following weapons/ mecha:
Vavilos: Shaider's main battleship
Sky Shaian: Shaider's fighter jet. Annie would pilot it whenever Shaider was in a jam.
Battle Sharivan: Shaider's battle tank. Shaider seemed to use the drill tank to save someone from the enemy when he probably could have just snuck in, or used the back door. (But hey, Bandai had to sell it's toys.)
Blue Hawk: Shaider's sweet Suzuki bike.
Lazer Blade: Shaider's primary weapon
Video Beam gun: Shaider's secondary weapon
Strange World Fuuma: In every Space Sheriff series, the enemy's would brainwash children(at least most of the time) to take over earth, er Japan. So the hero and his side kick would use their detective skills much like Magnum P.I. to track down and stop the enemy every week from their evil plans. Okay so Magnum never fought giant monsters, but you get the point.
I never saw the 2nd season of VR Troopers, but I'm not suprised why the storyline was changed. There are several episodes in Shaider that would probably offend many Americans. Case in point: In one episode, Fuuma creates and evil Santa Claus (all in black costume) and convinces a group of children to worship Great Emperor Kubilai, the leader of Fuuma. In the background could be seen a figure of Santa Claus upside down on the Cross. I'm not really sure what the writers were trying to get across to the viewers at the time because at the end of the episode the same children could be seen singing Christmas carols at a church. I don't understand Japanese that well, but having an open mind I looked past episodes such as this. Every culture is different and everyone thinks differently. I'm sure they (the writers) weren't trying to offend anyone, just get a message across. What was that message? Stick with your religion or whatever you believe in that's true and right to your heart? Okay so maybe I'm just rambling on about nothing. I'm just trying to say that there are major differences between the American and Japanese Sentai and (in my opinion)there is nothing wrong with that.
Operation OverDrive meets Engine Sentai Go-Onger
Hope you enjoyed the article. Comments are welcome.