Gif by WillyFive
Is this Power Rangers?
Yes! And no! Power Rangers is an adaptation of Super Sentai, which is a tokusatsu series. However, tokusatsu as an genre is way bigger and more varied than just adults in spendex fighting rubber monsters! There are adults in fake armors fighting rubber monsters, adult in spendex fighting each other...
Now, seriously, tokusatsu is a japanese type of action series/movies that makes heavy use of special effects, which can include CG or practical effects. Many tokusatsu focus on superheroes fighting monsters or other superpowered beings, like Kamen Rider. Others focus on giant monsters, like Godzilla. Others combine some elements of both sides, like Super Sentai/Power Rangers and Ultraman.
Here on this thread we focus more on the two more mainstream tokusatsu series currently airing in Japan - Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. However, we have Metal Hero, Ultraman, Garo and Godzilla fans, so feel free to talk about any tokusastu series!
So, which series can be considered Tokusatsu?
Good question! Some of the more known Tokusatsu series are:
The series Power Rangers was based on. A team of heroes fight monsters, first as a team, and then with a mecha fight. Nowadays, Sentai series are more focused on a younger audience - however, most of them still have more mature themes and writing than their Power Rangers counterparts.
- Chojin Sentai Jetman (1991)
- Mirai Sentai Timeranger (2000)
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger (2007)
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (2011)
- Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger (2013)
This started as insect, bug-themed heroes, riding motorcycles and destroying monsters, but nowadays the series has evolved and some of those elements aren't as present as in the past. Instead, current Rider focuses, normally, in one hero, and it's episodes are more serialized than Sentai. While every Rider series has their monsters, at times the focus can also be the conflict between Riders, or even at times more than one group. It's focused on older kids and women, so it may have a more complex plot and themes may be more complex and nuanced at times.
- Kamen Rider Amazon (1974)
- Kamen Rider Den-O (2007)
- Kamen Rider W (2009)
- Kamen Rider Fourze (2011)
- Kamen Rider Build (2017)
The classic monster movie franchise, where the star is a giant, nuclear-powered lizard. Godzilla has appeared in mediums, in many ways, so it's representation may vary wildly - some focus on Godzilla as a menace, others focus on the battle between Godzilla and other monsters, while in some, Godzilla may even ally with humans, if only to destroy a bigger menace.
- Godzilla (1954)
- Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971)
- Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)
- Shin Godzilla (2016)
Another classic series, where giant warriors from Nebula M78 fight giant monsters. Those series have stories that, at times, connect with older series, but most are easy enough to follow even if you didn't watch them. Oh, and they still use lots of practical effects, so the fights and choreographies are a big draw for those series.
- Ultraseven (1967)
- Ultraman Nexus (2004)
- Ultraman Mebius (2006)
- Ultraman Orb (2016)
Armored Knights fight demons to protect humanity. This is a more adult oriented series, so it may contain more graphical scenes and nudity. All the series and spin-offs are linked between themselves, so it is recommended to watch those series in order, or at least check if the series is a direct sequel to another.
- Garo (2005)
- Garo: Makai Senki (2011)
- Garo: Makai Retsuden (2016)
This is an older series that ran from the 80's until the late 90's. The basic premise is Heroes in metallic armor combat the menace of the week, but there are huge variations between the series: The first three had Space Sheriffs against monsters, Juspion diverged a bit from that by giving the protagonist a giant robot. Metalder fought against many foes at the same time, and Jiraya was Ninjas vs Ninjas. There were even three series from the early 90's were focused on rescue heroes facing more mundane menaces. Some of those elements were transfered to certain Sentai and Kamen Rider series.
- Uchuu Keiji Gavan (1982)
- Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion (1985)
- Choujinki Metalder (1987)
- Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya (1988)
- Tokkei Winspector (1990)
Last but not least, here are the one everyone knows, the western adaptations of Super Sentai. It follows pretty much the same formula as it's origins: team fight first, then a mecha fight at the end. Power Rangers seasons can either be a direct adaptation of it's origin season with western actors, or do a completely different thing with the series footage.
- Power Rangers In Space (1998)
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm (2003)
- Power Rangers Dino Thunder (2004)
- Power Rangers SPD (2005)
- Power Rangers RPM (2009)
Also worth checking out: Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (2000)
While those are less common nowadays, there are many, many other tokusatsu series, from Japan and even other countries: Shotaro Ishinomori, creator of Kamen Rider and the two first Sentai series, also made many series in the 70s and 80s. Tsuburaya Productions, Takara Tomy and Toho also made some less known tokusatsu series, with varying degrees of success.
- Kaiketsu Zubat (1977)
- Seiun Kamen Machineman (1984)
- Madan Senki Ryukendo (2006)
Also worth checking out: Dennou Keisatsu Cybercop (1988) (No english subs, yet)
Is anything outside of those lists worth watching?
Of course! This list was made with suggestions from many members, and I tried to pick things with different tones, settings and eras, so there's probably something here for everyone - but different people like different things, and there are many divisive series that some people love and other people hate.
If you want more specific suggestions, feel free to ask! We will gladly suggest something that may be of your liking.
What are the current series?
Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger
Five young warriors from the Ryusou Tribe are chosen as knights to fight the Druidon Tribe, that once reigned over the planet until a meteor hit the earth, and wants it back. Rumors say this is a "Last Chance" for Sentai, and Toei is throwing everything that worked in the past into this series - This feels pretty much Kyoryuger with small touches of other series.
Power Rangers Beast Morphers
In the future, a secret agency mixes a new discovered element with animal DNA to create a new team of Power Rangers. However, an evil sentinent computer virus called Evox is trying to take over the Morphin Grid, and corrupts two of the original Ranger candidates. For the first time, Hasbro is in the helm of the Power Rangers series, and the first few episodes show some potential!
Aliens have been emigrating to Earth secretly, but only a handful knows about this truth. The main character works for an organization takes care of cases related with aliens, and uses his Ultraman powers to protect the peace.
Kamen Rider Zero-One
The first Reiwa Kamen Rider! In a futuristic setting where humans and AI - known as HumaGears - live together, Hiden Aruto is the CEO of the leading company in AI development, and also Kamen Rider Zero-One! He fights against a terrorist group that hacks the HumaGears to turn against the society. The government is also involved, with A.I.M.S., who works to destroy the sabotaged HumaGears.
Any other series that aired this year?
Super Sentai Strongest Battle Reunion Special
Everything has to have a Battle Royale mode now, even Super Sentai. A mysterious girl named Rita gathers sentai heroes from the past on the planet Nemesis, where she tells them any wish they desire will be true to the winner team of the tournament. Directed by Koichi Sakamoto, so there's a big chance that the action will be good, and that girls will do badass things, probably in fanservicey ways.
Not tokusatsu, but focused on them! Based on a manga, it follows the life of Kano Nakamura, an office lady that has a secret: she loves tokusatsu, but is ashamed and tries to hide it. Hilarity ensues.
Kamen Rider Zi-O
The finai Heisei Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Zi-O, travels through time, meeting other Riders and obtaining their powers, so he can become the ultimate Overlord. Some people don't like that. Oh, Kamen Rider Decade is there, sometimes. There's also a guy called Woz that's actually two guys now that makes the show worth watching.
Any series coming soon?
Not that we know of! This year already had a new Power Rangers, Kamen Rider, Ultraman and Sentai. However, there's always the possibility of something new surprising us!
Where can I watch those series?
- If you are in Japan, or have access to japanese channels, TV Asashi airs Kamen Rider and Super Sentai every Sunday Morning, 9AM and 9:30AM Japan Time.
- Shout Factory sells Super Sentai and Power Rangers DVDs. It also has some Super Sentai and Ultraman series on their streaming series.
- Crunchyroll lost much of it's Ultraman content, but still has some of the newer series streaming.
- Hidive has some Garo series.
- Netflix has Power Rangers, but the series and episodes avaliable may vary a lot, depending on your region.
- There are some other licensed DVDs out, depending on your country. US has Kamen Rider V3 and soon will have Juspion DVDs. Brazil has many Metal Heroes and some older sentai.
- For non-licensed series, there are fansubs. Won't link them here, since they are at best at a grey area, but it's pretty easy to find subs for most recent series, and even for some older.
Where can I get tokusatsu news?
- The Tokusatsu Network
- Orends: Range
- Toku Connect
- Twitter! There are many people to follow, but for the latest news, Matt Hunt has been specially amazing.
Do you guys have a Discord where we can discuss tokusatsu?
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Thank you ShadowSwordmaster, WarRock, Willy Five, LordVas, KingDirk, javadoze and everyone at our Discord group! Without you, this OT wouldn't be possible.