Choudenshi Bioman- The First English Dubbed Sentai Series

Contrary to popular belief, the first Sentai completely dubbed into English wasn’t Zyuranger (Power Rangers Season 1, in 1993), it was 1984’s Bioman! A Filipino TV network dubbed the whole series in English in 1987, and released it to some success on the local TV stations.

Episode One Dubbed in English here on VEOH.com.

Bioman is the story of 5 young people (isn’t it always?) who become the agents of the Biorobo and are given superpowers to fight against the evil Doctor Man and his minions.

It was a big hit in it’s time in Japan, The Philipines, and France (where it was a megahit dubbed in French) and if you watch it, it’s not hard to understand why. It did many things differently than the Sentai series that would come before it and the ones that would come after it as well. It is unique, and just plain fun to watch.

A few examples of what made it different-

  • The Biomen’s mentor was also the mecha they piloted into battle, but it didn’t directly communicate with them, that was all done through Peebo, a C-3PO type robot that was clearly the inspiration for Alpha 5 in Power Rangers. (In fact, the first unaired version of what would become Power Rangers was in fact Bioman dubbed in English by Haim Saban! However the FOX execs wanted American actors, not Asian ones on the screen, so he came up with the Power Rangers we know today.)
  • The Biorobo was limited by the ability of it’s human pilots/partners, and as they got stronger so did it. There are actually training episodes of them trying to get stronger so that they can handle the mecha’s more high-performance abilities.
  • The mecha fights themselves are shot so that the mecha have a weight to them and seem big, unlike most shows where the mecha are shot like the guys in suits they are.
  • Doctor Man (I love that name!) had just a few lieutenants, and a few Beastnoids (monsters), and couldn’t make more. So the same bad guys kept coming back, and they had a chance to become characters in their own right.
  • Instead of a new monster each week, there was a new giant robot instead, piloted by one of the bad guy lieutenants.
  • The plots were generally fun and interesting, and rarely boring. They really tried to mix the stories up, and not just go for the same old thing.
  • The English dub is in Phillipino English, and done in a straight but playful way with odd dialect-isms that really add to it’s entertainment value. (They were dubbing it for kids, but not stupid kids.) My personal favorite is the bad guy’s “FOR THE MAN!” salute, which brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. (For those who were born after 1990, “The Man” was 1970’s street slang to refer to white authority figures.)

I actually get bored of Sentai series really quick (they’re too damn repetitive), yet for some reason I can watch Bioman with a big smile, even though it wasn’t part of my childhood. It’s just pure entertainment on a level which isn’t stupid or condescending, but pitched just right for any audience.

For the Man!

Rob

 

A History of Power Rangers

I know I’m showing my geek roots here, but it’s time to come clean.

I was a Super Sentai fan. -_-

There, I said it. It’s out there.

Sentai (and by default Power Rangers) was one of those things I would have sold my left arm to be able to watch as a kid if I had known it had existed. It was my 10 year old dreams come to life at a time when all I had were a few Godzilla and Gamera movies to dream of whenever Superhost showed them on Saturday afternoons. I loved superheroes, I loved giant robots, I loved giant monsters- what combines all three of these? Sentai!

I still remember on my trip to Disneyland when I was 14 or so I wandered into a shop there that was selling imported sentai toys, and to get interest they had a TV above the pile of toys silently playing clips from what I think was Google V. I just stood there in rapt fascination and watched for literally an hour, and then the next time we went back to that area two days later, I went back and watched them again!

That’s why when, ironically enough, Power Rangers came out in the early 90’s I was still interested. Now, I wasn’t fanboy level interested, because to be blunt the show was kinda stupid and at that point I was in University not elementary school, but the base appeal was still there. I saw there was something there, and if only it wasn’t written so badly I could see how it could be pretty entertaining. Eventually, of course, I discovered a way to watch actual Japanese sentai shows, and became a fan of those for a while, but I did keep an eye on Power Rangers, watching the occasional episode and hoping it would get better at some point.

It did, actually. There were a few seasons like Power Rangers- Time Force, and the most recent Power Rangers:RPM that actually transcended their genre to reach decent levels of cool. (RPM was intended to be the last season and the producers didn’t care what they did, so the creative team went all-out to produce quite a dark show.) Although in between those seasons there was a lot of drek, and lord knows I didn’t have the patience to go back and actually sit through the crap for those few gems that might be hidden in there someplace.

Luckily now we have someone else to do it for us! Louis Lovhaug of the blog Atop of the Fourth Wall has begun putting together a series of 40 minute retrospectives about each season of the series which are both funny and critical in a way only someone who truly loves something can be. So far he’s done the first six seasons of the show, and for even a casual fan they’re pretty entertaining. So if you’re curious how this show managed to stay on the air for literally 17 seasons, now’s your chance to see why.