Not One Space Pirate, A Whole Squad Of Them

They're pirates in space. But they've got more than guns and swords. They've got cell phones and groovy collars. Arrgh!

Earlier this year, the 35th Super Sentai show debuted on Japanese television. In the West, the Super Sentai series is known as Power Rangers and features a "sentai" or "battle squad" of color-coded super heroes.

The term "sentai" was used by the Japanese during World War II, and after the country became demilitarized, shows like Super Sentai, an off-shoot of the tokusatsu boom, allowed Japanese boys to enjoy militaristic themes and motifs, but not in an explicitly militaristic manner.

The 35th Super Sentai series is pirate-themed and dubbed Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger ("Pirate Squad Gokaiger").

The show takes pirate tropes, but gives them a knowing, futuristic spin, such as a robotic parrot named "Navi", which is also the Japanese word for a car navigational system.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger's Goukai-oh (Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku) Space pirates are a long standing motif in both the West and Japan. During the 1970s, Japan went a little crazy for space pirates with manga (and later anime) Space Pirate Captain Harlock, which was created by Leiji Matsumoto of Star Blazers fame.

By the 1980s, the term "space pirates" found its way into Metroid, though not as futuristic sea dogs, but as pillaging insectoids.

The Super Sentai series itself has featured space pirates called the Space Pirates Barban as the baddies, casting curvy pin-up model Kei Mizutani (pictured) as Steerwoman Shelinda.

The Gokaiger aren't fighting the Space Pirates Barban, but the Space Empire Zangyack.

Late 1990s bikini queen Kei Mizutani (星獣戦隊ギンガマン | Toei) Gokaiger wield swords, called goukai-ken, and pistols, called goukai-gun, but also carry a cell-phone-looking transformation device dubbed "mobairets" (a word play on "mobile" and "pirates"), as well as keys that allow them to change into Super Sentai heroes of yesteryear.

The Gokaiger series is a hit, with Bandai Namco, who owns the marketing licence, spawning the usual array of toy weapons, figures, and kiddy arcade games. It's not the best live-action sci-fi kiddy show on television (that would be Kamen Rider OOO), but it is the best dressed. Check out those collars.

Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome—game related and beyond. (Top photo: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku)


Comments

    Power Rangers has taken a kicking over the years, wish they'd maintained the continuous storyline of the earlier series.

      Last time I saw an episode it was on some kind of Tolkein trip.

        Ooh, are you talking about Mystic Force?

          The Disney era of Power Rangers alonst killed the franchise. The current season (Power Rangers Samurai) is a return to form. It's well done a only slightly changes from the original Sentai series

    So how about that Carranger episode, eh?

      That was a trip. But from what I was told by a long time Sentai watching fan is that CarRanger had that over the top comedy tone in it's own series

    Fuck kamen rider ooo coin show! it's a joke soo funny how this guy wrote kamen rider ooo is the best live action show. Gokaiger is The BEST simply Fuck kamen rider ooo coin show. ooo got nothing compare to what gokaiger got. life size and giant robot battle action. And the stories and rangers coming back and All sentai actors return.

    it’s a joke soo funny how this guy wrote kamen rider ooo is the best live action show. Hell NO!!

    Gokaiger is The BEST simply Best Live action kid show now and this year. Screw kamen rider ooo coin show. ooo got nothing compare to what gokaiger got. life size and giant robot battle action. And the stories and rangers coming back and All sentai actors return

      English, please?

    Gokaiger vs Goseiger 35th Anniversary Movie > Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs Dai Shocker

      The 25th anniversary Sentai movie just came out in Japan at the cinemas. Plus if you want to compare the movies, it's 35th anniversary Sentai vs 40th anniversary Kamen Rider (which just finished in Japanese cinemas)

      Gokaiger is generally > Decade in general. It's like Toei took everything they learned from Decade on how to not do an anniversary series, and applied it to Gokaiger.

    Both Gokaiger & Kamen Rider OOO have been good this season. But Gokaiger looks better after that horrible Goseiger series where OOO is judged harshly since it followed the amazingly awesome Kamen Rider W

    So... no evil ninjas to fight off then?

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