A Fresh Look at an Old Show: Power Rangers and All the Stuff I Never Noticed as a Kid

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If you were a kid in the 90’s, chances are you watched Power Rangers in one form or another at one point. Some friends and I recently took the time to re-watch some of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episodes from the very first American release for nostalgia’s sake, and I noticed a few fun things that I really wanted to share about the show for other people out there who may not have noticed.

1. Whenever the Rangers fight, they are magically transported to Japan through the magic of editing. The American version of the show is supposed to take place in California, yet whenever the rangers actually get into their uniforms to fight, the scenery suddenly looks a lot less American….why is that? I’ll tell you why: the USA version takes all the fight scenes directly from the Japanese Super Sentai Series, villains included. Have you ever wondered why the villains seem to talk funny and all of them look Japanese? It’s because they are all Japanese actors, dubbed over for an American audience. I don’t know how I ever missed that as a child….

My absolute favorite part of this lesson is the difference which, for me at least, was clear to see in the battle scenes. Having lived in Japan, I got a sense of what Japanese architecture looks like. The difference in scenery is striking in the transition to costumed fight scenes to scenes with the non-costumed American actors. Sometimes there are little tells in the background that even someone not familiar with the difference in architecture could pick up on- for example, one episode I watched recently featured the Rangers fighting in and abandoned looking lot and the graffiti in the background on the buildings was in JAPANESE!

Furthermore, if you pay close attention, that map that the Rangers are shown to see where the enemy is attacking always zooms in on a land feature that seems very…(how do I put this?) not California. I never thought much about it as a child, but when I really paid attention as an adult, I realized that the area they show in that map is Tokyo Bay.

"California"

“California”

But I have to say: if I could be magically transported to Japan every so often and the only catch to the deal is to fight monsters while doing it, I think I’d honestly take the deal.

2. Yellow ranger looks awfully manly in costume….because she IS a man. I’m not saying this as an insult– it’s true. Building upon what I just mentioned of all the fight scenes being from the original Japanese show, another tell of this is in the difference between the yellow ranger and the pink ranger. Have you ever wondered why the pink ranger was the only one in a skirt, and the only one with a slightly different helmet? That’s because in the Japanese version the pink ranger is the only girl on the team.

So why was the yellow ranger made a girl for the US release? Why not the black ranger? Or the blue ranger? Dare I suggest a female red ranger, or a male pink ranger?

When I looked into cultural meanings behind the color yellow, I discovered an interesting phenomenon. In Japan and most Eastern cultures, yellow is a sacred color. In Japan specifically, yellow is the color for courage. The reverse is true in most Western cultures where idioms like “yellow bellied” are often heard. Yellow is often seen as either a feminine or neutral color in the West as well, while in the East yellow is considered masculine. Could this difference in cultural perception be a part of the gender switch when it comes to the yellow ranger?

Though I cannot say for certain, it is an interesting thought.

While I was looking into the yellow ranger, I actually read that the original actress who played the yellow ranger, Thuy Trang, actually died in September of 2001 in a tragic car accident. She was cremated on September 10….an eerie thing to think about when you realize what happened the next day.

She was a beautiful girl, I must say. It is unfortunate that she died so young.

3. The rangers constantly wear their color, parading it like a flag for all to see. Maybe someone thought it would be cute to have the rangers prance around in their colors whenever they were in their street clothes, but it’s a little odd, don’t you think?

Bulk and Skull were definitely on to something.

Oh, and speaking of Bulk and Skull….

4. Bulk and Skull are literally everywhere the rangers go, even when it makes no sense for them to be there. Seriously. Everywhere. Even the gym—which seems to be a hot hang out for the power ranger crew. This part at least makes sense, the rangers would have to work out and stay fit in order to fight the bad guys. But why they hell are Bulk and Skull always there too? You can tell that they never make use of the equipment—especially in Bulk’s case (as the name implies, he’s quite a hefty fellow.) It’s clear they are only there to follow around the group, and I believe that is called stalking. Why have they never told the owner of the gym that these jerks are bothering them and stalking them, and get them thrown out? I doubt that they are that valuable of customers to the juice bar.

Another fun fact: Bulk and Skull make an appearance in every USA version of Power Rangers. I was surprised, when watching Power Rangers Samurai with my young cousin, to see that they were still on the show.

We all have to make money somehow.

5. The black ranger is missing his middle finger on his left hand.

            As we were watching, I happened to notice that the camera avoids Zack’s hands like they have the plague. Then, in one scene, we caught a glimpse of what looked like a nub where there should be a finger. To settle the argument, we decided to turn to google and discovered that actor Walter Emmanuel Jones really is missing the middle finger on his left hand. Apparently, according to the interwebs, Walter lost the finger when he was four years old in “an undisclosed accident”.

The actor can be seen discussing it at a panel in this youtube video and if you look at his “mophing scene” you will notice there are only 3 fingers on the top of his power morpher, where the others usally have 4 splayed out.

Black Ranger Morph

Again, I cannot believe I never noticed this.

            6. The fate of the Earth is resting on the shoulders of a group of “teenagers with attitude”?  We are so fucked. It’s been my life’s lesson that teenagers with attitude do nothing but fuck up everything they come into contact with. So…a floating head thinks it’s a good idea to give a group of “teenagers with attitude” super powers and rely on them to fight the bad guys? I know this is a common trope in magical warrior type series originating from Japan, but when you really think about it….Come on. Teenagers? Seriously? Although it would be easier to devote all their time to heroing because they have no jobs and their only responsibilities include going to school, I have met teens who complain about just that bit of responsibility….can you imagine having the fate of your planet relying on one of those kids?

Zordon should have picked adults who were trained in combat and firearms. The series would have been a lot shorter, but it would have been amusing to see.

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