Friday, June 22, 2018

Power Rangers Reflection Redux #09: Lost And Found In Translation

This episode is an interesting "concept" episode and probably the closest thing we'd be getting to something resembling a crossover between Power Rangers and its original Super Sentai source material. At the time of airing, there had been quite a bit of controversy surrounding it due to the way it presented the original material here. Some didn't mind it, others were outraged, and the rest either didn't know the difference between one or the other or they simply didn't care.

To be perfectly honest, I don't recall my reactions to this episode back in the day. It's never been mentioned or eluded to in any of the commentaries or the old blog. I know I watched it and I'd imagine an opportunity to see any semblance of seemingly unaltered Abaranger without going through unofficial channels... but nonetheless, my initial impressions from fourteen-ish years ago are largely forgotten.

So, I'm going into this with something of a clean slate of sorts. And yes, it'll be fairly brief for the moment.

I'm not going to dwell into a summary of the episode because there is really no point, but to make a long story short, Kira and Ethan are channel surfing at Hayley's cafe, which just got a new satellite with a billion channels or so included. At one point, they come across a show resembling PRDT; in reality, a dubbed version of Dino Thunder's source material, xxx Sentai Abaranger.

The episode in question involves a foreign baseball player who is apparently in it for the money and needs his back fixed. The monster of the day is a monster that shoots out wigs and whoever wears the wigs become greedy or something. The Rangers eventually fight the monster who manages to land a wig of Mr. Foreigner, who is all about the money until Blue talks him out of it, overcoming the spell and proving that Mr. Foreigner really loves the sport and isn't just doing it for the money.

The framing story behind the episode proper is two Rangers watching the show and enjoying themselves while Conner (our Red Ranger) thinks the whole thing is stupid and a mockery of what they do as Rangers. He eventually changes his tune on the show and even starts to enjoy himself a bit. The show ends the next day when kids are watching this foreign show.

That's all the summary I'm giving you here because really, it's just its own little thing that doesn't really develop to anything deeper. It's just a neat little easter egg episode that serves as a tribute to the original Super Sentai source material. It was an interesting way to present a (mostly) unedited episode of the original Abaranger series. Sure, the comedy dubbing made the whole thing silly (and I'd imagine they deliberately chose one of the sillier episodes to push this angle off the deep end), but for those who never saw any semblance of Super Sentai beyond the very few snippets that would appear on Behind the Scenes or Press material, this was a bit of a treat.

There was some controversy among a segment of the Super Sentai fandom who saw this episode as something of an affront; an insult to Super Sentai. Likewise, there's a segment who actually didn't mind the episode and saw it as an amusing nod to the bulk of stock footage that this Power Rangers franchise was based around. I thought the episode was perfectly fine and was more than satisfactory tribute to its origins. It's something simple, easy to digest, and a nice little balance. For whatever it's worth, it's something that might've made someone want to look into the Super Sentai stuff a little deeper and perhaps even track down a means of watching the shows themselves (a means that significantly easier these days thanks to the Shout Factory folks who are slowly putting out the old Sentai series on DVD.)

When all is said and done, Lost And Found In Translation is a harmless episode. Sure, it might not be presenting the original Super Sentai show in a flattering light, but I don't think that was the intention. They went with a goofy episode for the sake of going with a goofy episode and really, the message that the show tries to convey is more important than giving this show the respect it deserves.

And that message is that both approach the same thing in different ways, but is still the same thing. And that is true of the two franchises. Both use the same footage, the same ideas, and sometimes the same plots, but both also do so in different ways. And while one may do one thing better than the other and sometimes vice versa, at the end of the day, it's all more or less the same type of material with different approaches, but both maintain equal footing. It's okay to enjoy one or the other or even both.

Just don't be a dick about it.

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