Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Journey Through the Sentai OPs


Well, I had originally wanted to talk about what I thought were the best Super Sentai opening credits sequences, but thought I'd just combine it with brief thoughts about the songs, as well, and cover them all. There was a time where I would regularly watch those special compilations Toei would release of the credit sequences -- they're entertaining and when they're done well, they're nice little snippets reflecting our favorite shows. I feel like toku credits can be a little unappreciated. So here we go!

1) "Susume! Goranger" by Isao Sasaki and Mitsuko Horie

Like the show itself, it's kind of hard to hate this song, even if it isn't quite a favorite -- it's the first, it's weird, it's different from the others. But it's not quite favorites material, is it? I don't mind the song, but I'm not like "Oh, yeah, Goranger!" when I hear it. There are some songs out there that I can listen to twice in a row -- this ain't one of 'em. The credit sequence is pretty standard, in that '70s spy kind of way, but it works considering the show's premise. The lyrics are pretty bizarre -- written by Ishinomori himself, who always just likes to talk about colors. But unlike his Kamen Rider lyrics, the overuse of the color adjectives is appropriate for Sentai, of course.

2) "JAKQ Dengeki Tai" by Isao Sasaki

I remember when I first saw these credits, thinking they were so damn boring. All that shaky-cam car stuff eating up most of the credits' time. The song itself doesn't scream opening theme, but I like its funk, and it goes real well with the second, better half of the credits sequence, in which the JAKQ members frantically race through a crowd, obviously in search of Crime evildoers. These guys were supposed to be deadly, tough, serious investigators, dammit -- a robotic Impossible Missions Force.

Also, the second version of the credits that include Banba/Big One is a big improvement. You get a couple of cool shots with him, which requires all of that car stuff to be edited down a bit, which is a plus.

3) "Battle Fever J" by MoJo

Yeah, it's dated. Yeah, it has some goofy sound effects. But MoJo makes it a damn fun song, and for the first Sentai with a giant robot, it has this appropriate lyric -- "One by one we're small, but together we're invincible." Maybe not with Battle Fever, but a Sentai mecha is supposed to drive home the entire point of a Sentai team -- combining individual forces into one. We have loose, hip, pop-culture referencing spies in this one, and the credits choose to be more comedically tinged than the previous two, which is a shame.

4) "Ah! Denshi Sentai Denjiman" by Ken Narita

There's something I like about Ken Narita's voice, but I always thought this was just a strange song. The credit sequence is also a bit bizarre, starting the staple of showing the Red boxing for no real reason, having Yellow -- the super smart scientist -- drop a beaker and have it explode in his face like a dolt, having Green -- the super cool cop -- drop and roll on the ground like Emilio Estevez in Loaded Weapon 1. Weird thing is, unlike Battle Fever, I DON'T think these credits are meant to be all that humorous. If you keep in mind when this show was out, the effect of them running in super Denji speed is cool, but when thrown in with these credits, they become a further part of the weirdness.

5) "Taiyou Sentai Sunvulcan" by Akira Kushida

Don't like it. This song just does absolutely nothing for me. It's a really goofball sounding song to me, and it never matches the quickly paced fight scenes choreographed by Junji Yamaoka. And those lyrics, man -- "If there was no sun, the earth would be screwed -- YAY!" Huh? Credits again are just standard. Red flying a plane, which it seems like every Red has done in the credits at this point. Shark showing more life than he ever does in the show. Panther's creepy, blank, dead-eyed stare. Gratuitous bikini shot. Out of scale mecha.

The ONLY time I've EVER enjoyed this song is the Metal Brothers cover of it. (I miss liking Hironobu Kageyama and Masaaki Endou.)

6) "Dai Sentai Goggle V" by MoJo

MoJo returns! And it's...a rather forgettable song. Honestly, it took me ages before I could recognize this damn thing, it's as plain as an Ultraman song. (Don't ask me to play Name That Tune with an Ultraman song, because I'd lose.) The credit sequence is a bit of a cheat, making the team look cooler than they are -- they're jumping off cliffs, climbing mountains, flipping over explosions, dashing out of their base towards their duty! They left out the part where they're fighting bad guys who think it's a good plan to turn people into watermelons.

Up until this point, I pretty much like all of the ending credits and the ending themes more than the openings. But that begins to change with...

7) "Kagaku Sentai Dynaman" by MoJo

Takayuki Miyauchi tried out for this song, and as awesome as he is, MoJo needed it more. He needed an apology for Goggle V, and he delivers. This is pretty much the first fast paced Sentai theme, one that grabs you, one that's made to be played during fight scenes. No kids choirs, no "YAY!," no disco dancing -- just burning balls of fury. The extreme close up shots of cast members in the credits take down the coolness a bit (it's a bit Love Boat-y), but all of the action shots go well with the footage, letting you know just what it is that Dynaman does best -- staging great action scenes in the middle of fireballs.

8) "Choudenshi Bioman" by Takayuki Miyauchi

If I'm going to be honest? The Bioman theme bores me a bit. After Dynaman makes a good impression, Bioman kind of slips back into the early-80s of being a case where I like the ending theme more, and the OP theme is just slow and not good for battles. And how out of place is that xylophone? Miyauchi is putting his all into it, but don't expect less from him. However, I think pretty much every other one of his main toku themes are better than this one. (Kamen Rider Black RX's OP is his best theme, IMO. I always thought it was a shame that such a wretched show had such great music, from songs to BGM.)

There's nothing much to say about the credits themselves; not much in-suit stuff, just the Bioman posing, most of the credits focusing on mecha. The cast shots are weird, with the heroes doing mostly "sporty" things and then just smiling. Jun is the ONLY one who's not smiling like she's on something. No wonder she's the coolest one on the team, eh?

9) "Dengeki Sentai Changeman" by Hironobu KAGEyama

What do you think I think about this song? I love it, of course. It's the first Sentai theme that wants to be a bit more of its time, hence them choosing popular idol Kageyama, hence always advertising the soundtrack as "with a rock beat!" Kageyama's predecessors were particular kinds of performers, older guys associated with older, loungier style, but Kageyama was a young guy who was still pretty popular -- his boy band turned rock band Lazy was broken up, but he was just setting out on a solo career. I think you can hear the difference between Changeman and its predecessors in the track -- crazy guitar intro to wake you up after Bioman's theme!

And the opening credits are awesome, a condensed look into the team's pre-Changeman military life. The explosions of Dynaman! The shots of the team are all awesome, hard-ass and serious -- no smiling or thumbs-up or winking or peace signs: choppers, machine guns, hand guns, grenades, more guns, knives, THE COMMANDER WITH A MACHINE GUN! The lyrics might be talking about how love is their power, but these guys ain't messing around.

10) "Choushinsei Flashman" by Taku Kitahara

Kitahara's one of my favorites, but I always thought it was a shame how...SOFT he makes his voice on this song. It's always kept the song from being one of my absolute favorites. Because it has such a unique sound to it, some nice lyrics, but he sugar coats his voice. What I like about Kitahara, usually, is...he may not be the greatest technical singer, but he puts a lot of emotion into it, and I often find that preferable to singers who are good singers TECHNICALLY, but will have no life or emotion in their actual singing. (Think Adele.) So it's disappointing he's so reserved for an opening theme.

I remember always thinking the credits were cool when I was a kid -- the team in the dark, the shot with Rolling Vulcan, the Flash Hawks riding by. Sure, there's some of that smiling, thumbs-up stuff in the cast shots, but they kept it to the members who it actually suited, like Bun and Sara. Jin, Dai and Ruu all look appropriately kick-ass.

Shinichi Ishihara did a cover for this song that I haven't heard. Since Miyauchi does a couple of insert songs for Flashman, I always wondered if he would have sang the main themes if not for Kitahara. And then Miyauchi covered the Flashman opening at a Brazilian concert several years ago and it was pretty cool. I'd like a studio version of that, dammit! (I think that might be a future post: covers and studio versions of toku and anime songs that Shougo would like to be made.)

11) "Hikari Sentai Maskman" by Hironobu Kageyama

This is probably my favorite Sentai opening theme. It has a fast, fight-appropriate sound to it, yet it has some nice lyrics, and lyrics that match the show well, not only the usual "heiwa mamoru" stuff, and yet it works when it should probably clash. And Kageyama's really singing his ass off here, he's putting such emotion into it. He's still really young sounding and reserved on a lot of the Changeman soundtrack, but you can hear the Kageyama -- from the good years -- we all know coming through here.

The credit sequence could have used more action shots, IMO, but I always liked the parts with the cast and the meditation hand gestures.

12) "Choujuu Sentai Liveman" by Daisuke Shima

Daisuke Shima was a well-established and popular singer by the time he did Liveman -- initially he had the image of a rocker, but tried to remake himself as a ballad singer. So, for Liveman's upbeat, new-wavey OP (and ED), he's a little out of his element, but I still love this song. (I've killed it, but I remember how much I loved it.)

The credit sequence, though, is one of my favorites, especially the prologue that spells out Liveman's backstory. Then shots of our cast, in rare moments of fun for 'em. While the prologue is kept, the credits are changed once Black Dumb and Green Dumber join the show, never really flowing as well with the song. (Which is a problem with too many credit sequences that will change every time the show gets a new member or mecha or Bandai toy.) The ending credits sequence suffers more, but maybe that's for a different post.

With Kouji Kaya singing pretty much every other song on the soundtrack, I've wondered if he would have done the main themes if not for Shima. That would have kind of sucked, IMO, that guy's just pretty generic sounding, while Shima has character to his voice and is pretty distinctive.

13) "Kousoku Sentai Turboranger" by Kenta Satou

An awesome song, an extremely catchy song, a super-80s song, all belted out with Satou's strong enthusiasm. It's one of my favorites, I like some of the lyrics, but the credits seem a little last minute. The cast shots look like they were taken at the Japanese equivalent of Sears Portrait Studio, and the rest is just mecha filler. Such a cool song deserved better. (On a sidenote, the Turboranger soundtrack is one of my favorites. Changeman's and Turboranger's song collections are the only ones where I can pretty much listen to every song, even if I pop 'em in intending to just listen to a couple.)

When I recently rewatched Turboranger, I noticed an episode plays the song "Birthday Song" by the band TOMCAT, and that got me wondering what it would have been like if TOMCAT had done the Turboranger OP. Pretty awesome, I'm guessing, but Satou's good enough. (If TOMCAT had done the OP, it wouldn't be the OP as we know it -- one of the awesome things about that band is that TOM writes all of her own lyrics and music.)

14) "Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman" by Kenji Suzuki

The song itself is middle of the road for me. Suzuki's vocals are pleasant, and some of the lyrics are nice ("Guard with love your cherished ones, and the future of your cherished ones.") but it's a pretty low-key song. And the credits are a Goggle V situation in that it makes the show, particularly the heroes, look way cooler than they are. How about that shot of Gaku/Red practicing kendo in a blizzard? Fumiya karateing it up by crashing waves? Or Remi unleashing some crazy kung-fu? Or Blue and Red on that hovercraft that NEVER APPEARED IN THE SHOW! Fiveman was a mess of a show that blended elements from every Sentai before it -- it never knew what it wanted to do, what it wanted to be, and that's proven even in their credit sequence.

15) "Choujin Sentai Jetman" by Hironobu Kageyama

Don't like it. Never did. Not once did I listen to this song and think "Cool!" or "I'd like to listen to that again!" It's way too soft, goofy, sappy, wussy for the show that Jetman thought it was. And it's the Sentai song that Kageyama ALWAYS performs, it's tiresome and the Jetman themes are probably the most lackluster of any Sentai song he's sung. (Yes, that includes the ear-harming "Dino Guts Never Stop.") I mean, Kageyama's doing a great job here, but it's kind of a lost cause. And if I'm being honest: the first time I heard this song, I thought it was a woman singing it. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was the Changeman/Maskman dude.

The credits are also a bit hokey for the SERIOUS DORAMAAAAA Jetman thought it was. They're all so happy -- even Gai! What the hell's that about? And you got their stewardess saluting them as they skywrite their names with bad special effects and they're flying around together and it's all so sappy and diabetes and Gatchaman's on line one to sue your birdballs.

16) "Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger" by Kenta Satou

Poor Kenta Satou. While he brings a lot of energy to this song, it doesn't really do him justice. But it was still a hit. He won a Gold Disc award for it. The song doesn't really do much for me, but then I HATE this show, so that doesn't help.

The credits try to have some neat action shots, but what's up with those cast shots? They all seemed so dead-eyed in them. Goushi looks like he doesn't know where he is, Tricera looks stoned, Tiger looks like he regrets doing the backflip and Mei is the walking dead.

17) "Gosei Sentai Dairanger" by NEW JACK Takurou

We all know how crazy fast paced and kinetic Dairanger can be, right? How just jam-packed with kung-fu action it is. NEW JACK gives it his all, and it's a really cool song, but...these credits, man. All of them just happily riding a bike? Why, because of the China theme? C'mon! The credits are so underwhelming they had to resort to sticking shots from the episodes in 'em. That kinda ended up helping, but, still...

18) "Secret Kakuranger" by Tou Chi Chien fake name

I like this song, but I always thought it was too mellow. It doesn't reflect the fun, crazy spirit of this show, and it doesn't reflect comic book ninja action, either. Add to that Chien's sleepy vocals and you get a song that's easy to doze off to. It has nice music, but I just don't think it's opening material.

I like the credit sequence, though. How cool's it when they drop down in front of the moon? Or show off their ninja moves? The song's not bad, but it needed to match the credits and reflect the show more, IMO. There's a time and place for slow themes, but Kakuranger certainly wasn't one of them. (Metalder, on the hand, IS appropriate for a slow theme.) And what's weird about the song is that, musically it's slower, but the lyrics are pretty WTF, they're not trying to be flowery or poetic the way the usual slower toku theme, like Metalder or Blue Swat or Changerion's will try.

19) "Ole! Ohranger" by Kentarou Hayami

The lyrics are so generic they could only be written by Saburou Hatte...and, hey, they are! The song has a nice, fast pace to it, and SOUNDS like it should be a good opening, and Hayami's putting a lot into it, trying to sell it as a good opening, but it's all sleight of hand, because it's just kind of generic to me.

The action shots in the credits, courtesy of Junji Yamaoka returning to Sentai after leaving early into Maskman's run, are AWESOME, from start to finish. I want to watch THAT Ohranger show. But you know what's not awesome? The bizarre way they did the cast shots. Goofy smiles and split screens. The Ohranger cast is pretty cool and it's a disservice to them and Yamaoka's awesome action shots. You coulda been a contender, Ohranger.

20) "Gekisou Sentai Carranger" by Naritaka Takayama

Fun, crazy song that perfectly captures the spirit of the show with goofball lyrics to match. As for the credit sequence...the first one is just kind of dull, but the second one is perfect with the way they get in all of the character bits, having the heroes pose next to their suit actors, too. Sad thing is? The second one is ruined by the use of the Full Accel version of the theme, which is slowed down and given a hideous tin can effect and takes a lot of the fun oomph and energy out of the song.


21) "Denji Sentai Megaranger" by Naoto Fuuga

An appropriately of its time, youthful, vibrant song and performance by Fuuga which suits the show, as well as a great credits sequence that captures the personalities of our cast and has a lot of cool in-suit shots. It's a rare show that changes the credits sequence halfway through, but keeps the quality -- maybe even exceeds the original credits.

22) "Seijuu Sentai Gingaman" by Ryu Kisami/Masato Shimon

It's anisong sacrilege, but I've never really liked Shimon's style and I think he clashes with a lot of the music he's given. His voice is totally nails on a chalkboard to me, and I don't understand why he was given every classic anisong back in the day. But I liked his work in Gingaman, I don't know if it's his voice maturing by Gingaman or if it's just the strength of the song. Probably the latter, because the Toshihiko Sahashi-composed song is AWESOME. I love the composition of this song, especially the instrumental bridge that's used to awesome effect in Ginga Red's fight in the first episode. Still, both the OP and ED would be even better if someone like MoJo or Takayuki Miyauchi was singing it.

The credits sequence itself is cool as far as the costumed portions are concerned, but the awkward cast moments take them down a notch for me. Those bizarre effects when they're showing off their Earth powers were odd looking even in 1998. But the running through the forest, the jumping in front of the explosion, stomping on the reflection of Balban's flag, the cool henshin sequence -- good stuff.

23) "Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive" by Shinichi "Da Man" Ishihara

Ishihara's long been one of my favorite singers, of not just toku songs or anisongs, but just period. He has such a strong voice, can fit mostly any genre, and just consistently hits the songs he's given out of the park, even if it's a crummy 30 second Bandai jingle. (His song for the Geki Touja commercial is a better song than most mecha songs in the last several years.) And he doesn't disappoint with this song, which is as serious and urgent as the rescue workers of the show are. It's a BIG sounding song to match the BIG, BIG hazards of the show, the cinematic-seeming situations the show tried to pull off. And the credits rock, showing our heroes in their perilous non-superhero work, but also featuring some nifty in-suit shots of them in action (jumping through fire, fighting through grunts).

GoGoFive has been accused of not having enough fanciful action, and it's understandable if people see these credits and feel disappointed by the show's low key action style. GoGoFive's action was always meant to highlight the danger of the situation and reflect that these guys weren't karate masters, and not showcasing some fancy wire-fu stuff, which would have been out of place.

24) "JIKU ~ Mirai Sentai Timeranger ~" by Kumi Sasaki

One of the few things I like about Timeranger is its opening theme. Sasaki has a powerful voice that knocks you back and she just kills with this song. (Like Fuuga, I'd like for Sasaki to be given some new Sentai material.) The composition, with the faux organ, is pretty unique. But the credits, man...they want to be really cool and Matrix-y, but they're just odd. There's those up-the-nostril shots of the cast, and then the cast running at strange speeds, and then those slow-mo-make-boringly-choreographed-action-look-cooler-than-it-is action shots. But the worst? The shots of the cast in their tighty grayies. I still can't stand those pajamas the Timeranger wear under their clothes. The Space Sheriffs pulled that off better, but in Timeranger it just looked dopey to me.

25) "Gaoranger, Hoero!" by Yukio Yamagata

Ishihara tried out for this song, and he would have been awesome, but Yamagata's the perfect match. He's The Ghost Who Walks, summoning the power of ten lions to growl this thing out. I've always said that it's a cooler, more kick-ass song than those happy, tree-hugging Gaoranger deserved. The credits, too, make the team more impressive and cool looking than they are, it's a rip-off.

26) "Hurricaneger, Sanjou" by Hideaki Takatori

This one's difficult for me. I literally hate mostly everything about Hurricaneger, but I like this song, and I'm a big fan of Takatori's. He has unique vocals and always put such an energy in his performance that he can make the dopiest theme sound kick-ass, but it's REALLY strange to listen to this song after hearing so much of his newer stuff: Takatori has always had a quirky singing style that he eventually really let loose with, but he's just really restrained and quiet on this track, it's a bit shocking to relisten to it.

And the credits sequence is even cool, I don't know how the show pulled that off considering the Hurricaneger are one of the stupidest Sentai teams you'll find. My favorite bit is the earlier version of the credits which keep the Gouraiger in the shadows. But even in their individual shots, the Three Stooges themselves look cool. I...it's...I'm at a loss for words.

27) "Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger" by Masaaki Endou

The downfall of Sentai opening themes, in my opinion. I mean, it's a fun song, and Endou brings his usual craziness to it, but it's a Takafumi Iwasaki-composed song, and he uses the same tricks in all of the songs he composed and sort of set a standard for a certain sound to the songs that the soundtracks are STILL building from. (His songs basically go on too long, are too sugary sounding, and repeat themselves A LOT. This is when Sentai openings start pushing past four minutes on a regular basis and you just want 'em to STOP.)

I like the credits themselves, even though they have that odd frame-rate to 'em, and...I still don't understand that shit at the beginning with the three floating in gold, turning from kids into themselves or whatever the hell that's about. What is that!?!

28) "Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger" by Psychic Lover

These rat bastards. I know people go absolutely ape over this song and these guys, but I never liked it that much. I can't stand Psychic Lover, but this is probably their only listenable song, IMO. Yoffy has said that the musical director was a real hard-ass who made him keep redoing the song, and that guy or gal must have been the magic behind the song, this being Psychic Lover's only tolerable song and how...quiet Yoffy's vocals are. The difference in Yoffy's vocals is shocking. Usually he's like...Terrance and Philip, you know? He's just bellowing shit in a nasally high-pitch, with his head flapping off, but here, he's, like...SINGING. What a concept. They still bury him in a lot of effects and back-up vocals, though.

While I think the Dekaranger were supposed to be cooler than their show ended up making them look, the credits and song try to reflect that initial image: talk of chasing criminals down to the ends of the galaxy is too cool sounding for what the show gave us. I really like that shot in the beginning, during the narration, of the Dekaranger turning before the Earth, with an ominous shot of Aburera imposed over it.

29) "Mahou Sentai Magiranger" by Takafumi Iwasaki

Oh, boy. This song is just...too sparkly and soft-ass for an opening. I mean, that makes it a good match for the show, but...I can't stand this song and I can't stand Iwasaki's flat, squealy vocals. (My brother loves Iwasaki and would hate to read that. Sorry, only I'm not sorry.)

The funny thing is how in the narration, that guy is trying so hard to sell the team. "Magic! It's a holy power! MAGIC! It's the way to adventure! MAGIC!!! IT'S ALSO THE MARK OF COURAGE!" And then what do you get? "Go fight Mag-Mag-Magiranger" in that Chipette squeal. The team flying on brooms, looking dead-eyed past the camera, winking at the camera, throwing kisses to the camera. (And those are the guys on the team, HEYOOOOOOO.) The show thought it was being cool by bringing in Power Rangers' Koichi Sakamoto to do his usual over-the-top wire and explosion stuff, but I always thought it looked dopey and looked twice as dopey set to this music. "Tabidate!!!!!"

30) "Gougou Sentai Boukenger" by Nobuo "NoB" Yamada

I remember being pretty excited that Yamada, of Saint Seiya fame, was going to be doing a Sentai opening. There were rumors that Kageyama was going to be given the big anniversary theme, and Kageyama said he was offered it on his blog at the time, but went on to say he was happy that they got his pal Yamada instead. (I think Kageyama pretty much turned it down since '06 was around the time he decided to devote all of his time to the terrible JAM Project and the Lantis record label.)

NoB, the '80s hard rocker -- surely he'll give us a song that washes away the memories of Magiranger's music, right? Wrong! For NoB being a rocker stuck in the '80s, the music he composed keeps right in line with the millennium Sentai sound, right down to having a kid singing back-up. (Which turns out to be NoB's son.) You can tell Yamada was a mentor to Iwasaki, because this also has the blueprints of the Iwasaki style -- a too long and too repetitive song that eats its own tail.

I can't say I like this song too much, and I HATE the show, but...aside from the goofy, oddly out of synch, strange full body shots of the cast, I kind of like the rest of the credits. The stunt guys do a good job making the Boukenger look cooler than they ever appear in the series -- take a look at them standing in the middle of a fireball! Or Red fighting on that infamous bridge! Or Blue and Pink taking a crazy dive off a mountain into the sea! (That has to be a nightmare to dive into water in suit, especially from that height.)

31) "Juuken Sentai Gekiranger" by Takayoshi Tanimoto

I like the sound of the song -- which is surprising since it's an Iwasaki composition -- and the lyrics. Heck, it's one of the only modern songs featuring a kids choir that doesn't make you want to pour cement into your ears, but I don't really care for Tanimoto's style. The guy sounds like he's in pain when he sings, and I find it uncomfortable to listen to. But it still falls into the Iwasaki pattern of repeating itself too much and going on for longer than it should.

I really like the credits, though, from the coolly said narration to...the whole shebang. The cast looks cool, Rio and Mele actually look cool, there's some good action stuff (even the stuff shot by Power Rangers' Koichi Sakamoto, and I'm not a fan of his style). These are the most consistently awesome credits Sentai has done for a while.

32) "Engine Sentai Go-onger" by Hideyuki Takahashi

Takahashi just might be the Japanese William Hung. The credits are good enough for the show, which means freakin' embarrassingly corny. I remember slapping Taku Kitahara's song "Be Top" from the racing-themed anime Dash Yonkuro onto these credits and not only did it seem to work, but it actually improved the credits. (All I did was take out the shot of the so-called villains to get it to match.)

Next.

33) "Samurai Sentai Shinkenger" by Psychic Lover

Yoffy at his floppy-headed worst. I kind of like this song, but his vocals ruin it for me, just absolutely destroy the song. I also always thought this show was what I call Karate Kidded in that it's just a huge amalgam of Japanese cliches, which is surprising because it wasn't written by Hollywood white guys. Samurai and those funny brushes them Japanese like and kabuki and sushi and Mt. Fuji and BUSHIDO and origami! The song does a good job of reflecting that stereotyped side of the show.

The credits are meant to be a bit of a departure from Sentai's norm. I like the first half of them, but find the action stuff boring. These are samurai, man! You need to do better than have them just STANDING THERE in a mook attack. Shinkenger thought too often that it was enough to have their heroes just stand still and look "cool" rather than actually SHOW them doing cool stuff.

34) "Tensou Sentai Goseiger" by NoB

I didn't really like this song much at first -- I thought it was generic and that NoB's vocals were really subdued -- but it grew on me. It has a big sound to it, but the lyrics are about as generic as the show itself. Remember Sentai lyrics like "Your heart is a miraculous road through the cosmos, which love continuously travels"? That's from Maskman, and that's my clunky interpretation of it. 23 years later the lyrics we get? Lyrics that basically boil down to "WE'RE THE GOOD GUYS, OUR MISSION IS TO FIGHT THE BAD GUYS, GOSEIGER, GO!!!!" It's a seriously lazy song, almost on a Power Rangers-level. ("Go, Power Rangers! Go! Go, Rangers! Go!" -- every PR song ever.)

I do like the credits sequence, though. It goes for a Shinkenger kind of thing with the cast, but at least has some fancier action scenes.

35) "Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger" by Tsuyoshi Matsubara

I shivered in fright when I read that Matsubara was doing a Sentai theme. He was the lead of Project DMM, where he was involved with several terrible Ultraman themes, and sounded like he was given birth by a helium balloon. He's a heck of a lot better on this song and his other Sentai songs and I want to know the difference. I mean, he's not exactly a favorite of mine, but I went from hating the guy to being like "Eh, he's OK."

The song kind of loses me in its too bouncy of a chorus, but I like what leads up to it, and I especially love the credits sequence -- the past Reds running past Marvelous, the journey through the old heroes until the camera finds the Gokaiger, the beach-side action shots, the fun little bits with the wanted posters. Like a nerd, I watched these credits a lot when the show was airing.

36) "Busters Ready Go!" and "Morphin'! Movin! Bustersship!" by Hideyuki Takahashi

I'm still kind of pissed that Takahashi's been given so many themes when he's such a bleh singer. He has more main Sentai themes than someone like Shinichi Ishihara or Kumi Sasaki and that ain't right! I'd probably like the first opening theme with a different singer, even though I still don't know why the countdown goes "4-2-3-1." The first opening credits are OK, I like those brief shots of the sunglasses-wearin' team with the digital junk flashing over them and the action in the second half of the credits that make the Busters look tough. (They even make Cheedah Nick look cool, dodging explosions.) But, geez, man, this was already a hard cast to like, so why give them those goofy shots -- Red with a dopey grin on his face, Blue going crosseyed and forcing a smile, Yellow washing her mecha like it's the most interesting thing a superhero can do. This is the best they can do?

Apparently so, because the second theme, which sounds like the most forgettable insert song ever, is worse, and the revamped credits are some of the least thought out of the franchise. You know how some of those early Heisei Kamen Riders thought they were being really experimental and artsy and cool with their credits, but they were mostly just cheap and looked like a local car dealership commercial? That's these credits. When superior credits are replaced by inferior credits and a bad song, it's called the "24.7 remix."

37) "Vamola! Kyoryuger" by Shougo Kamada

Oh, good, a Yoffy sound-alike that was handpicked by Yoffy. That's exactly what Sentai music needed! The song is torturously sugar rush happy, one of those noisy "Make it stop!" songs like JAM Project likes to do. I really can't stand those kids that randomly yell "Gaburincho!" and "Fire!" and turn the thing into a bad commercial jingle.

The credit sequence itself is pretty good for an anime. No, I seriously hate it. How can you not want to punch the cast in the face, especially Blue with his dumb "I'm so dopey" expression? Piss on these clowns.

38) "Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger" by Daiki Ise

If you have the strength to make it through the 47 "gos" at the start of the song, you'll find it to be an instantly forgettable song that seems like an ending theme to some bad '90s mecha anime nobody remembers. The funniest thing is the way the Japanese Wikipedia describes this song as "punk rock." Sure, it's punk rock, if the godfather of punk rock is Potsie Weber. On the brightside, the PV is (unintentionally) hilarious.

The credits themselves...they're such a nonsensical blur that I still can't even remember what really happens in them, other than that over-the-top anime jump Red does and a bunch of jump cuts. Bah. Oh, bwa-ha-ha, one of them trips each week at the explosion! HEY, GUYS, REMEMBER AKIBARANGER, AND HOW IT'S A BETTER SHOW?

39) "Saa Ike! Ninninger!" by Youhei Oonishi

I expected better music and a cooler song, what with it being composed by infix guitarist Akira Satou. I kind of like it after a few listens. But Oonishi's got some of that Tanimoto "sounds like he's hurting when he sings," making if uncomfortable for me as a listener.

The opening credits themselves are a mess. More traditional than Tokkyuger's, at least, but ripped off from a dozen of past credits. The wirey dance fight scenes don't look cool, the animated graphics are busy and fugly, and the cast portion are in that Magi/Bouken "Look awkward while doing stupid shit" style. So far Ninninger's been an incredibly generic show, and these opening credits really capture that. The new Fiveman?

16 comments:

  1. Shogo I can say this that... I usually prefer Sentai tunes from the 80s to the 90s...

    Now for the songs you don't like but I like...

    Sun Vulcan
    Goggle V
    Jetman
    Zyuranger
    Dekaranger

    For opening that I REALLY HATE:

    Kyoryuger
    ToQGer
    Ninninger

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  3. Great post, again!

    My top 5 - Opening credits:

    1 . Gekiranger
    2 . Changeman
    3 . Maskman
    4 . Megaranger
    5 . Gokaiger

    My top 5 - Opening songs:

    1. Maskman
    2. Sun Vulcan (yeah, I´m sort of Kushida-maniac)
    3. Dynaman
    4. Go Go Five
    5. Changeman

    One more question: what do you think about Maskman Movie´s opening? I have obvious reasons to like it (Kanako Maeda + swinsuit!), but the choice of the song and the choreography are strange...

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    1. I remember being really puzzled when I first saw the Maskman movie, why they decided to do the credits like that. If the Maskman movie had been a more comedic or lighthearted movie, you could understand, but the movie was intended to be serious.

      I've always liked the song and think it's fun, but...yeah, those credits are weird. Ryousuke Kaizu looks like the only one who's into it, too, everyone else seems embarrassed. I like how it ends with them doing their Maskman pose, though.

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  4. Great topic.
    It's nice that not only you discuss OP, but also on credit sequence, which I find it fascinating.

    IMO, sentai of 1985 (Changeman) ~ 1999 (GoGo Five) were "Golden Age", where the series were very solid in terms of writing and story.
    It also had the best OP, which stands out better than later years.
    Choosing my favorites from this era is really hard, which shows how great that era were!

    If I had to pick Top 5 (not in specific order), here's my personal choice:
    1. Maskman (Kageyama at his best!)
    2. GoGo Five (Last Great Sentai series, Last Great OP)
    3. Changeman (Beginning of Golden Age)
    4. Turboranger (Kenta's awesome!)
    5. Dairanger (Best of the early 90's!)

    In retrospect, Dekaranger really marked the decline to sentai series along with OP; granted, there are few good/decent ones, but it just didn't felt the same as my favorites (with few exceptions though).

    I noticed how OP for anniversary series has been very lackluster, notably Boukenger and Gokaiger. The only ones that stood out were Gaoranger, which was pretty decent to kick off the anniversary.

    What is your thought in Akibaranger OP (both seasons)?
    You put Nobuo/AkibaRed on "Red Warriors", so I was bit surprised you didn't included here.
    Personally, I liked the season 1 intro better; along with the season.
    Season 2 was OK though; didn't like the lyrics too much (which sounded way too silly and cheesy)
    It was still better than Gokaiger IMO (...which isn't a fair comparison though. lol)

    Take care.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! :)

      I loved the first Akibaranger OP and credits. The song is catchy and fun and has a lot of hilarious lyrics, and I love that 8-bit video game sound it has to it. The credits have these layers and layers of funny bits, some of which usually always gets a chuckle from me (like Yumeria's reaction to losing her wig).

      The second season's were a step down, IMO. I don't like the song as much, but find it irritatingly ear-wormy -- I try to avoid songs that cause so much blasted ear-worm. The credit sequence was too busy and didn't have the same amount of comedic touches. I did like the way they mocked those Niconico type obnoxious comments, though.

      I still like Gokaiger, though. It's been my favorite Sentai anniversary series and I think it's a special show. Akibaranger was a nice sort of extension of it, though, and it's too bad Toei has such low confidence in their regular shows that they aren't doing more Akibaranger out of spite. (Well, that's my take on it.)

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  5. "...I'm a big fan of Takatori's" How could you...?

    "I can't stand Psychic Lover" Brother!!

    I'm so glad to have found someone else who agrees about the Bioman OP. I've always said that the Aura Battler Dunbine theme song is just a better version of the Bioman OP...and doubly irritating since we never got a MIO Tokusatsu theme song. It contains 100% of the same elements and does all of them better. Even the xylophone. To a lesser extent I find the Xabungle theme kinda similar too.

    Oh yeah, you're not going to mention the two Ohranger theme songs that never happened? Heh. I thought it was fascinating atleast! Especially how they both fit the credits perfectly.

    Now if you'll excuse me...I gotta hovercraft out of here. What? Didn't know I have a hovercraft? Ofcourse I do...and no, you can't ever see it again.

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    1. I knew you'd give me flak for liking Takatori. :P (I remember you saying at Japan Hero how much you hated the Dekaranger Robo theme. I'll agree there, that song is awful, and Takatori goes into overkill territory.)

      I've read people complain about my hating Psychic Lover, saying that Yoffy's a good singer, he just has a style I don't like. ("That style? Off-key singing." is my reaction.) Now, Takatori, THAT is a style of singing that I think you either love or hate. Yoffy's just bad.

      It kind of made me sad to realize how much I didn't like the Bioman OP. (Before I wrote this post, I not only watched all of the credits, but listened to pretty much every OP, too.) Because, for me, Takayuki Miyauchi is up there with Shinichi Ishihara. I think he has a damn great voice, and I like so many songs of his, so for his Sentai theme to be so "meh" to me, it's disappointing.

      It's funny that you bring up MIO, because I always thought of her as the female Takayuki Miyauchi. You can tell these two had real training, and their voices are so powerful, they're such great singers that they should really have better careers than they do. (I don't mean for that to sound as mean as it does, but...I do think they should be, like, big stars in Japan.)

      I anticipated people asking me about Akibaranger, but not the two Ohranger themes. I didn't even think about them. I'm still kind of shocked by those discoveries of yours.

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    2. I always described Yoffy's singing as honking.

      Oh oh! Did you ever hear that Tokusatsu Oh CD? It's one I deeply enjoy now, but didn't care for much when it came out in the early days of my CD Collection. Anyway...it has a duet with Takayuki Miyauchi & MIO on a Shaider song. Sure it's 2001 Miyauchi, but MIO is on point. They still sound great together.

      I really wonder if they regret not using 'Crystal Sky as the Ohranger theme song. It has become the hallmark song of the series. It must have been a real last minute change if they kept it as the episode preview music. The whole ending song debacle is just...bizarre. Heh

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    3. Honking's a great way to put it, heh.

      Is that Tokusatsu Oh album the one where everything's a remix? I remember listening to it years ago and not quite liking it, but I think that was also before I started to pay attention to MIO. Since I'm not an anime fan, I stumbled on her by accident kinda, first hearing hear on "Toki o Koete," where I instantly noticed how she wiped the floor with Kageyama and Mizuki.

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    4. That's the one. It's really grown on me the same way the Sharivan Digital Trip Synthesizer Fantasy has.

      I really wonder why she never got into Tokusatsu. The two times she did appear (two songs on Tokusatsu Oh and one for Gekiranger) are really random.

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  6. The ToQger PV was *unintentionally* hilarious? I hope and pray nobody thought that anyone watching the video was going to take the bizarre slo-mo shots of the band members flying through the air seriously ...

    June 22, 2015 at 12:41 PM

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    1. Well, Ise was trying to act all cool by headbanging and stuff. And the Japanese are under the impression the song is "punk rock." So...yeah, it's way goofier than they think.

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    2. When they all hold hands and leap into the air I can't help thinking of "Suicide Club" where everyone jumps to their deaths off a train platform ...

      "Kamen Rider credits like a local used car dealership" Why does RYUKI come immediately to mind? ;)

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  7. You lost me when you said you disliked the Sun Vulcan theme. That song gets me so pumped! Follow the Suuuun, catch the suuuuun! Oh well. Great blog by the way.

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  8. You lost me when you said you disliked the Sun Vulcan theme. That song gets me so pumped! Follow the Suuuun, catch the suuuuun! Oh well. Great blog by the way.

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