Today: August 28th, 2014 marks the 21st birthday for the Power Rangers franchise. Where was I when it started? How has it changed my life? To celebrate the past 21 years, I take a look back at how one children’s franchise shaped my past, my present, and my future. I owe a lot to these “teenagers with attitude”.
On August 28th, 1993, Fox Kids premiered a show featuring five teenagers with attitude hit United States television screens. They were selected in what appeared to be a completely happenstance way by a robot and a floating head in a tube to protect the world from a cone-bra wearing witch and her team of weird aliens. This show was none other than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Flash forward 21 years and the show is still on the air, with another two years already carved in stone with Power Rangers Dino Charge. That being said, I’m sure everyone reading this knows the history of Power Rangers of course, so I won’t bore you with that.
I recently received a question on my Ask.FM that read “What if there was no Power Rangers?” Of course I don’t know in which fashion the question was being asked, but my mind initially settled on the concept of Power Rangers never existing ever. Now I’ve always been one to believe in concepts like fate and destiny. That’s where the “Shukuen” part of my screen name comes from in the first place. I feel like everything we do in life leads to something else. That line of thinking makes me wonder that if Power Rangers didn’t exist, would I have gotten into other interests I have? Things like Pokémon, or other Japan-based franchises I currently enjoy. Possibly, but that thought is always there. I can’t say for sure how my childhood would have turned out if Power Rangers wasn’t around.
I stepped into the franchise from day one. I saw an advertisement for the show on Fox Kids (or perhaps another network, as I can’t for the life of me figure out what I was watching on Fox Kids in 1993…) and the concept was interesting to me. I had followed shows like Batman the Animated Series and Superman the Animated Series, along with all the other super hero cartoons at the time. Seeing one in live action with giant robots was definitely interesting to me, as I was into Transformers at the time as well. I watched the show on day one, and was hooked. My parents and I were all part of the mad rushes at toy stores to get some of the toys, though I don’t actually remember it being a big problem back then. I had nearly everything Power Rangers. I was obsessed.
Around the time Lost Galaxy came around, I was starting to lose interest. The characters I had been following for years were no longer a pivotal part of the show. I wasn’t fond of the designs, the toys, or the Zords in general. Other things in my life at the time were taking priority, such as Pokémon, Digimon, and other such franchises. My time with the franchise was over. Jump forward to 2004-2005. My friend Jeff (whom I had met through Pokémon) was still watching Power Rangers. He showed the Dino Thunder episode “Legacy of Power” in which Tommy, via a computer and apparently several spy networks, detailed the history of the Power Rangers to the Dino Thunder team. It was a nice way to introduce me to things, and see the plentiful amount of seasons I missed. I was heavy into Naruto at the time, with the rumor that Johnny Yong Bosch was set to voice Naruto in a dubbed show. Through the power of Googling Johnny, I stumbled upon RangerCentral.com. This bountiful resource was showing me the huge amounts of characters, villains, and Zords I hadn’t seen before.
A few months after Power Rangers S.P.D. aired, I decided to get back into this. I caught up with the episodes that had aired, and started going backwards through the timeline to check out shows I missed. Some were wonderful to me (Dino Thunder, Ninja Storm, Time Force) while others bored me (Lightspeed Rescue, Lost Galaxy). After several years, I bought my first morpher: the Patrol Morpher. I started to pick up a few figures too. I was essentially a kid again.
On the weekend of November 11th, 2005, an event in Detroit called Youmacon happened. While it was essentially another Animé convention, there was something special about this one. Not only was it extremely local (only 15 minutes from Jeff’s house!) but the cast of Power Rangers S.P.D. was set to attend, along with Dino Thunder favorite Emma Lahana. By the date of the convention, Emma, Matt Austin, and Brandon Jay McLaren all had to cancel unfortunately. This still met that Chris Violette, Monica May, and Alycia Purrot were attending. Joining them were Bruce Kalish (Writer/EP) and Greg Aronowitz (EP/Director/Designer), along with voice actor Johnny Yong Bosch, the guy partly responsible for dragging me back into this franchise in the first place. Youmacon was one of the fondest memories of my life. I had the pleasure of meeting Eric Berry (trekkieb47), Grant, and Ray (the former owner of rangerboard.com), the former two becoming great friends to me in this fandom. There’s something oddly magical about taking your first steps back into a franchise with an awesome convention, meeting cast members, and even having a hotel room party with them. It was a weekend I won’t forget.
Leap all the way to the present, and I can’t even believe where I am. I’ve been back in this fandom for nine years now, and I’ve been reviewing for five. I never would have anticipated that I would be a part of such an amazing fandom. I’d love to take a moment to thank certain people, but the list is simply too long. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. If it wasn’t for the people of this fandom, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Years ago, I was (and still am to an extent) an incredibly shy person. I hardly talked to anyone in High School, and I generally kept to myself, even when I had a nice, small circle of friends. If you would tell the me that existed nine years ago, that was just entering this fandom again, that he would work and grow to become who I am today, I probably would have punched you. Though given my demeanor years ago, I probably would have just ignored you. I am a completely different person now. Being a reviewer, and someone who is considered a personality among the fandom, you generally have to put aside those old thoughts of seclusion and reservation. I am more outgoing now than I have been in my entire life, and I have Power Rangers (and by extension Tokusatsu) to thank for that.
If it wasn’t for Power Rangers, I never would have went to Youmacon. If it wasn’t for Youmacon, I wouldn’t have met Grant. If it wasn’t for Grant, I would have never been introduced to Kamen Rider. Who knows from there? Tokusatsu, both American and Japanese has shaped who I am, and I can’t imagine my life without it. Of course if it wasn’t for Jeff I don’t know if I would have ever gotten back into Power Rangers in the first place, so huge thanks to him as well. Like I said. I wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for the people I’ve met through this fandom. I still find it surreal that in these nine years, I feel like I’ve grown as much as the franchise as a whole. I never would have thought I’d be out here making friends every day, and making a career out of doing multiple things I love. I live a life in which there are people out there that say they’re my “fan.” That in general is just astonishing to me. I’m just a big (in the literal sense) nerd doing what he loves. I don’t feel as though that warrants having “fans,” but sure enough, you’re all out there, supporting me and what I do. That’s just an amazing feeling.
Over these 21 years, Power Rangers has taught me to be myself, and that’s the same advice I give to anyone out there wanting to review, or do videos in general. Unless you’re taking an acting approach, and creating a character for your media, just be yourself. Power Rangers has also taught me about the cliche things like team work, unity, and friendship. Like I said, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now by myself. DosmRider, Jedimon2005, Aresol, you guys are amazing, and I thank you all so much for putting up with me and being my friends. Eric, George, PockyBandit, Chris, Misty, Chenix, Joey, Jeff, and so many other amazing people (I told you the list could go on forever) in the Tokusatsu community, I thank you too. I’ve met so many people via Power Rangers and Tokusatsu that I can’t even believe it. To Bruno of MMPRToys and Fury Diamond of RangerCrew in particular, thanks for your never-ending support in my videos and my work. It means the world to me. To Mr. S of CSToys, and the staff of The Tokusatsu Network, thank you for giving me opportunities to do things I love.
Power Rangers and Tokusatsu has become a lifeline for me. I’m not sure what my life would become if were to all end, but I certainly don’t want to imagine a life where it never existed. While we all have our ups and downs in life, I wouldn’t change a thing. Power Rangers has opened up so many doors in my life. If even one of those doors had remained locked, I wouldn’t be where I am today. While what started as a retrospective turned into a moderate life-story, all I can say is thank you. Thank you Power Rangers for introducing me to the world of Tokusatsu, and therefore introducing me to a world filled with so many people I’m honored to call friends, fans, and most importantly, family.
Happy 21st Birthday Power Rangers. The next drink is on me.
Thank you everyone,
Brian “ShukuenShinobi” Dagley