super sentai

We are who our backpacks say we are (or not) — the SSSS.Gridman trio and color-coded archetypes

Initially, it seems like a fairly innocuous shot of backpacks. Yet, in the world of SSSS.Gridman — which uses a variety of pillow shots to create a stifling summer atmosphere in contrast with its kaiju and robot fights — these stills are not only creating a mood but can also tell us a bit about the characters involved. In this case, these three backpacks belong to the series’ main trio: Yuuta Hibiki, Rikka Takarada, and Shou Utsumi. The colors also auspiciously match up with traditional tokusatsu (or really, Super Sentai) color coding.

Studio Trigger and Tsuburaya Productions’ SSSS.Gridman isn’t the first more recent superhero series to riff on what came before — in this specific case, tokusatsu series and Gridman the Hyper Agent. Depending on how SSSS.Gridman progresses, Gatchaman Crowds‘ use of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman as a building block for what it had to say could be an apt comparison. Even the “SSSS” in the title is a reference to Tsuburaya Productions’ own 1994 English-language adaptation of Gridman the Hyper Agent, called Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad.


The Red Ranger: Tsubasa Misudachi vs. Hajime Ichinose

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The new heroine of Gatchaman Crowds insight is energetic above all else. She springs out of bed in the morning, bounces down the stairs, and never seems to walk anywhere, choosing to run instead. She cannot calm down long enough to do her morning exercises properly, and when chastised by her grandfather, she huffs, “I’m exhaling properly!” rather than changing her own behavior.

All energy, all emotion, and all hot-headed rookie, Tsubasa Misudachi is all Red Ranger.


Samurai Flamenco: to do good, or to do no harm

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“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future – must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”

-from “Epidemics” in the Hippocratic Corpus.

Masayoshi Hazama is no physician; however, by donning the costume of Samurai Flamenco, he’s tasked himself with the well-being of others. He adheres to a strong moral code, truly believes in righting wrongs – or petty annoyances – and wants to be a hero like the super sentai television heroes he was raised on.


Idols of Her Past, Idol in Her Present: Mari Maya

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Mari Maya is an idol by day, and a magical girl by night. Does this sound familiar?

If forced to settle on only one profession for young girls to dream of and aspire to become, anime would surely choose that of the idol. I’m not speaking of idol-specific anime  – Love Live!, AKB0048, Aikatsu!, The Idolm@ster, Pretty RhythmNatsuiro Kiseki, and to some extent the entire Macross franchise – but rather the ubiquitous presence of idols in anime, specifically as paragons of success. I’m speaking of characters like Himari Takakura in Mawaru Penguindrum, who dreamed of becoming an idol, and watches as her two childhood friends end up living her dream. In my own first anime experience, Sailor Moon, Usagi Tsukino or as I knew her, Serena, attempts to enter an idol competition by the fourth episode. The localized title of that episode says it all, “So You Want to be a Superstar.”  Anime tells us that being an idol isn’t just a dream, but The Dream.

What interests me about Mari is not simply that she became Flamenco Girl, but that she was an idol first. She was already living The Dream, but not her dream.