Original Run: February 18th, 1994 – February 24th, 1995 (Japan)
Created by: Toei Company
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Eiji Kawamura
Cast: Teruaki Ogawa, Satomi Hirose, Hiroshi Tsuchida, Shu Kawai, Kane Kosugi
Toei Company, 53 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)
After watching Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger and Gosei Sentai Dairanger, I had to give the next installment Ninja Sentai Kakuranger a shot.
This series, like its predecessors, was used for footage in the American Power Rangers franchise. Kakuranger was used as the basis for the third season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, as well as its direct sequel Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers.
Initially, I didn’t like this series as much as its two predecessors. Sure, ninjas are friggin’ awesome and everyone loves them but it took too long for things to get going. Also, the early monsters in the series just weren’t that cool. To be brutally honest, they looked like the spawn of Garbage Pail Kids that mated with those really bad old school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures that just sat on shelves forever because they were too ugly and bizarre for kids to take home. You know, when the Ninja Turtles toy line was trying to milk every dollar, so they made a slew of awful characters or weird versions of existing characters because they were out of ideas. Maybe the Sentai creative team was out of ideas too. But the concept of using Youkai (Japanese monsters from folklore) was a cool direction. The problem was that the first several Youkai were just unimaginative and unsightly.
As the series progressed, we met the villain Young Noble Junior (“Gashadokuro” in Japanese). He immediately became my favorite villain in the franchise out of the stuff I’ve seen. He was cool and a bad ass heavy metal rocker that was trying to crush the Kakurangers and resurrect his father, Daimaou – another really cool villain. He also has a few great musical numbers.
Young Noble Junior only lasts during the middle of the series though. Once his father shows up, the focus is then on him for the remainder of the story. However, Young Noble Junior’s coolness might be eclipsed by the evil all-female Sentai group, Flowery Kunoichi Team. These were cat-themed female ninja assassins who looked cool as hell and who had a ton of awesome moments throughout the Kakuranger series.
As far as the Kakurangers themselves, they didn’t feel all that developed until around the midpoint of the series. Over the course of a half dozen episodes, the team split up and had to go on solo quests. These episodes were, by far, some of my favorite out of any Sentai series. This is where the Kakurangers came to life, as each had to battle their own demons in an effort to earn their own powerful scroll: the MacGuffin of the series, as it was needed to defeat Daimaou.
The series tapered off as it got towards the grand finale and it never recovered the great formula it had in the middle of its long duration. In the end however, it was still a mostly positive experience. The show just had a lot of creative hiccups throughout its run.