“Where Do We Go From Here?”

May 4, 2017



In just less than two weeks, Saban Brands will be at the International Licensing Expo and will officially announce Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel. The 25th season of Power Rangers will of course be the continuation of the Ninja Steel story, and is rumored to feature cameos of various past Rangers. Personally, I do not have much faith in seeing a good anniversary season, given this is the same writing team that thinks that potty humor is laugh out loud hilarious. Nevertheless, Super Ninja Steel is coming next year. But what happens afterward? Where does Power Rangers go from here?


Before I really dive in, I feel the need to make something clear. This is an OPINION piece. What follows are my own personal thoughts and beliefs. I have no insider information about the inner workings and decisions being made at Saban Brands. Also, if you like Ninja Steel and are completely happy with Power Rangers as it is, has been and feel nothing should change going forward, that’s great. I have no problem with anyone who is enjoying the status quo. What follows are my ideas and thoughts about Power Rangers, and how I feel it needs to evolve in order to remain ever present in society.


As you likely all ready know, I am not a fan of Power Rangers Ninja Steel. In truth I feel the writing for Power Rangers started to go off the rails during Power Rangers Dino Super Charge. However, Ninja Steel has shown to me that the series is now officially off the tracks and laying in the ditch. The writing is now directed towards 3 year olds, there’s no reason or explanation given for numerous items, and the show now just feels like a 22 minute toy commercial. Granted Samurai through Super Megaforce were certainly not the best, but they still had their moments where you did feel like there were character, plot, and something actually at stake. The ratings have suffered as well. During Power Rangers Samurai the show averaged close to 3 million viewers per episode, but Ninja Steel is averaging about half that at 1.5 million. Plus the majority of summer hiatuses have taken a bite out of those ratings when the show returned in the fall. Finally, I recall seeing some toy sales data for Power Rangers Dino Super Charge, and it being the worst selling season since Saban regained the show.


Another factor that Power Rangers is at the mercy of  is Super Sentai. The overall designs that Sentai has cranked out over the past years have been less that exciting. From bland crayon trains, to nonsensical Ninjas, to Minecraft-Like animal mechs, it all shows that the design team hasn’t been producing the quality that we’ve grown to love in the past. But the bigger issue from Japan is their turning away from story, plot & characters, and instead focusing only on toys & gimmicks. Cards, Ranger Keys, Chargers, and Power Stars have made their way to for forefront of the show. Look at the Dino Chargers in Power Rangers Dino Charge & Dino Super Charge. How many Chargers were used just once, and then never seen again? How many of the Zords recently in Power Rangers haven’t been given an explanation, but instead just handed over to Rangers in a rush to continually crank them out? If you want to see gimmicks at their absolute worst, just look at Kamen Rider. Toei believes that there needs to be a new Rider Form in nearly every single episode. That mentality has been infecting Super Sentai, and thus spreading to Power Rangers. The current Sentai, KyuRanger, is believed to have 88 Kyutama (their little gimmick toy). Yes, 88 little toys for a 50 episode season. So the majority of those will likely again be “one & done” items. I remember when the “gimmick” of Power Rangers was just having teenagers turn into spandex clad superheroes, and pilot giant robots. We didn’t need some new toy shoved in our faces every other week, only to never see them used again.


I feel that all of these issues have led to Power Rangers becoming stagnant. Nothing in the show seems fun or original anymore, and the excitement is gone. So what can be done? I think there are three possible paths for the franchise to take.


Choice #1 - Keep the Status Quo

Nothing changes at all. Saban Brands and Toei both continue on the same plan and expect fans to just continue to eat up all the lazy writing and blatant toy commercialism. I sincerely hope this is not what ends up happening.


Choice #2 - Confident Change

Power Rangers gets a new writing staff that will respect all of the audience, write stories based on characters and plot, and both the writers & Bandai have the guts NOT to force tons & tons of gimmicks into the show and toy line. This would be promising, as it would show willingness on Saban Brands & Bandai America’s part to learn and evolve. To give the audience and consumers credit, instead of just seeing them as easy profits.


Choice #3 - Brave NEW World

Let me ask you something. What do Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all have in common? They have all had several animated series, most of which are in separate universes but still tell some of the same stories. So why can’t Power Rangers have that too? I feel it is time for the live action Power Rangers series to end, and an animated Power Rangers series to begin.


Yes, in 1993 Power Rangers stood out because it was live action and there were not many live action super heroes for kids. At that time the Batman films were basically all kids had for live action heroes, and those were heading south soon. So Power Rangers stood out from the crowd and thrived. But in the past 15 years, superhero movies have become more and more prevalent, to the point where now kids have a plethora of choices when it comes to live action heroes. Thus leading to Power Rangers just getting lost in the mix and slowly fading into the background. So why not be like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Transformers and Ninja Turtles?  Save the live action version for the movies, and have animated series for the times in between films.


Saban Brands LOVES Mighty Morphin. It is what is still heavily licensed and what the majority of society thinks of when you mention Power Rangers. So why not start over in an animated world? Power Rangers has all ready started a new “Mighty Morphin” universe with the 2017 movie. I feel that a CGI animated series based in the movie universe, that was a tad bit lighter in tone, would do well. Even the film’s harshest critics still stated that kids would enjoy it, and I believe most of them did. Have an animated series start in 2019 and run for four of five years along side (hopefully) two more films. Saban Brands originally wanted to have six or seven movies, but now reports are that Lionsgate wants to just do a trilogy. An animated series would be an excellent way of telling those other stories.


With an animated series, the only limits to it would be the imagination of the competent writing team. You could feature classic Mighty Morphin villains & monsters, but with new designs. Keep the Dino Zords all the way through if you wanted. Have the White Ranger this time be tied to Titanus. Bring Goldar back but give him his own personality and vendetta against the Rangers. Give every Ranger their own Power Sword like Bandai America did in the toy line. The potential is limitless. But the best thing about animation, is that it is so much cheaper. Think how much time and money has to go into suit & prop creation, permit filing, crane rentals, waiting for right filming time & weather conditions, etc… But with animation you have writing, storyboard, designing, voice over, and animating. Yes, I may be over simplifying, but most anyone will tell you that animation is easier & cheaper than live action.


Then after four or five years when that animated series has run it’s course, wait a short time of about a year and start over again with another new Mighty Morphin universe. Maybe have a universe that has more traditional Mighty Morphin spandex designs, but the Ranger’s powers all come from the Thunderzord Spirits. Then repeat the process for running that series for four or five years, a year off, and reboot. Again, there are no limits, so long as each animated series keeps that general “Mighty Morphin” feel that Saban Brands has been wanting to recapture and produce for so long.


These are all just my nerdy ramblings. No matter what happens in Power Rangers’ future, I’ll be right there to watch it and support it in some way. I just want Power Rangers to continue on, be successful & enjoyable, and to inspire audiences of all ages to always stand for and do what is right.



ALLONS-Y!

 

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