How Denjiman Created the Super Sentai Formula
Team TokuNet writer and translator Robin Caine shares how Denshi Sentai Denjiman featured a lot of firsts in the Super Sentai franchise that set the formula for future installments.
January 31, 2021 marked the 40th anniversary of Denshi Sentai Denjiman‘s finale. This series set up the groundwork for the future of Super Sentai and its final episode is still talked about to this day.
Denshi Sentai Denjiman, which translates to Electronic Squadron Denjiman, is the first series that employed goggles in the suit design. The helmet visors were all made to look the same, with minute differences unique to each character. This allowed more focus on the individual suit colors being the defining trait of each character.
It was from this show on that the design team established the method of making the heroes differ mainly by color while making the rest of their costumes more uniform.
Also, electric lights were incorporated into the head to show further show off the essence of the name “Electronic Sentai”. The lyrics of the opening: atama ni kirameku denjimeca (translates to “the sparkling Denji-Mech in the head”) is what symbolized what Denjiman is the most. Incidentally, Poppy (now Bandai), the sponsor of this series, was in charge of the design.
Another first for the Super Sentai series was the team each having a transformation item. The heroes in Himitsu Sentai Gorenger and Battle Fever J transformed without the use of any device. In J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai, the characters got into costume by entering a capsule.
While the previous installment Battle Fever J featured the first giant mechas as well as giant robots that resemble the monster of the week (in addition to fighting the monster of the week), Denjiman featured monsters becoming giant upon defeat.
This series also featured a team where everyone was not originally part of a defense team. In fact, one of the highlights of the show showcased a group of descendants of a destroyed planet gathering together under the guidance of fate. A rumor suggests that this idea was inspired by the popularity of the Science Fiction genre, as well as the theme of Nansō Satomi Hakkenden, a story about eight youngsters bound by a fateful connection in another world.
This is also the first Sentai series that featured the idea of vast worlds. The threat to Earth in this show was the Vader Clan, invaders from another dimension in space. While there have been times when the big bosses were aliens, this is the first time that an enemy of cosmic scale has attacked from the very beginning. As mentioned above, this may have been an element of science fiction.
The Enemy Drama Made the Finale Exciting
It all starts with Banriki the Demon King’s debut in episode 37. This is the first time a Super Sentai series had a third power in play. At first glance, he does look a bit silly, but he is so terrifying that he eats his smaller combatants alive and calls them “delicacies.” Moreover, his battle strength is more than equal to that of the Denjiman. In the latter half of the series, he had an eerie presence that could be described as the “eye of the typhoon.”
Episode 48 marked the first multi-episode storyline in the franchise that leads up to the finale. Unlike the previous episodes, the continuous storyline up to the last episode was centered on the Vader clan, the enemy side. The drama on the enemy side impacted fans of the series and is still talked about to this day.
Denshi Sentai Denjiman impacted the future of Super Sentai not only in terms of designs but also storytelling.
July 18, 2021 at 11:02 am
This was an interesting read. I had no idea that so many of the Sentai forumula’s firsts originated from Denjiman. Super Sentai (and Power Rangers) really owes a lot to this team. I hope it gets a chance to be translated for English viewers and distributed on a wider scale some day.