What I Thought Of The Next Generation Space Sheriff Movies

The Space Sheriff Trilogy (Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider) took place from 1982 to 1985. All three series had a common theme of heroes wearing some kind of metallic armor. It seems Toei was partly inspired by Iron Man during the Metal Hero saga's Space Sheriffs. Later, there were "spin offs" like Juspion and Spielban which may have not bee direct sequels or operated independently from the Space Sheriff Trilogy. 

After that huge travesty of a TV drama known as Zaidorks, I'm more than glad that Toei decided to release their true successors. Zaido was a terrible joke with its slow pacing, bad acting, bad writing and it's just that stupid. Too many fillers, too many stereotypes of Filipino telebasuras, etc. made it a bad show. It wasn't bad because it was a localization or because Filipinos made it. No, it was horrible because it wasn't done properly. It had the potential but it ended up badly. For a "sequel" it didn't do justice to the legends that are Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider. It wasn't even worth a TV drama series either because a lot of sci-fi related TV series from Taiwan, Korea or Japan have done much better. Either way, it's a real huge failure. GMA-7 had Heisei Kamen Rider or fantasy-based Korean series to guide them on how to do a fantasy TV series but they failed big time. 

The "remedy" was to create the three movies. I tend to view them as "what if" sequels made for adult fans since most of Toei's shows are aimed towards children. I don't think Metal Hero will be as feasible as it used to be. Sure you had a lot of cool series but Metal Hero hardly has a unifying theme. After Spielban, the Metal Hero formula deviated to new directions. You have Jiban as a monster slaying Robocop, you have a ninja metal hero in Jiraiya, you have Janperson as a Robocop type TV show except the hero has no human past and the last two series were all but good. While I think Kamen Rider EX-AID could work with a cartoony formula (since a lot of Kamen Riders are now succeeding with cartoony humor) but it wasn't meant for Metal Hero.

The three movies seem to appeal more to adults than with children. Let's consider that 1982 to 2012 is a whopping twenty years. By then, the fans have grown up. The primary trend of Toei with Kamen Rider and Super Sentai is for a new generation of children who watch Tokusatsu. By then, a lot of fans have entered their late 20s or are in their 30s by the time the films are released. I guess Toei still wants to appeal to adult fans even if they're not the primary market. I can accept all the changes Super Sentai has of late because they aim to provide as many collectibles as possible.

The setting of the Next Generation films happens some time after the films ended. They're all sequels to each other. They show that even after the fall of Maku, Madou and Fuuma there's still crime to tackle. That was the theme carried on during the Rescue Police Trilogy (Winspector, Solbrain, Exceedraft) and Dekaranger. During Dekaranger, the heroes start climbing up the ranks and the fight still continues. The same concept happens in the Next Generation films. There are criminals who seek to restore the legacy of the three empires.

The first time I showed interest in the Gavan film was hugely because of Yukari Taki's presence. Yes, I know it's a stupid reason but I also watched it for childhood nostalgia. The film itself had the plot of trying to restore Makuu. Commander Qom's actor Toshiaki Nishizawa was still alive that time. But the sequels Sharivan and Shaider came around 2014. I don't know why there was a two year gap but I think Toei was focused on its main audience so it's understandable. The movies weren't probably made to sell toys compared to when the three shows were aired. The movies weren't all that child friendly either compared to Super Sentai and Kamen Rider from 2001-2014. It was also nice to see the classic mecha and effects benefit from newer CGI technology after 20 years.

After watching them, I felt that these were not only the true successors but I miss the much more intense action old school Tokusatsu from the 80s up to the year 1995 had to offer. The Space Sheriffs were better than Dekaranger in their action scenes. There were also deeper storylines back then. There was also some kind of "universe expansion" that happened in the series. It felt like Toei wanted to address a what if scenario. The Space Sheriffs are already moving up and in the case of Dai Sawamura, he's already dead as the Next Generation Shaider film suggests. They also showed the reality that even after one evil group is done the struggle never ends. There will always be enemies to show up and sometimes, who you expect least to be your enemies may also be your worst enemies. That became a message of the Sharivan and Shaider films for adults.

The three films managed to show the need for people to respect their individual uniqueness. At first, I felt like that the three new members didn't have as much spark as their predecessors. I didn't want to watch them at first but I decided to watch them anyway but only because of the girls. Looking past eye candy, one must remember that a bad show is never saved by eye candy. It also showed me my tendency of extreme favoritism and biases when I watch Tokusatsu. The three heroes at the end of the film manage to live up to the expectations not of the suits they wear but as human beings who fight for a better world. They didn't need to be their predecessors. They just needed to be themselves to become successful as Space Sheriffs. They didn't need to be as good as their predecessors to be likable. Instead, they needed to be themselves in doing their best without comparing themselves to their predecessors to live up to the legacies that were passed down to them.

Like as said, it's just like my relationship to newer Super Sentai. I remembered the first time Shinkenger aired, I felt like Tori Matsuzaka wasn't as good as Kazunori Inaba as a red ranger. They both carried the name "Takeru". Matsuzaka felt like he was stiff and just didn't have much of that spunk, he didn't have that charm Inaba had a red ranger, he ends up more like Jetman's Kotaro Tanaka as Red Hawk than he does as Inaba as Red Mask. Yet, I could still like both characters. The same happened when I watched the three films: the newer school actors just have to be themselves. I like Shinken Red and Red Mask based on their individual merits. I still felt that Red Mask had more charm than Shinken Red for nostalgic reasons.

In my case, I better assess the problems of every series individually rather than compare it to past series. A lot of changes happen to cater to the children's market. My reason for not liking what Kyoryuger up to Ninninger had to offer was mainly because the writing didn't appeal to me. Kyoryuger's cast members all did a good job but I felt like the writers tend to put too much emphasis on Daigo Kiryu. ToQGer's acting was so-so and even if it won its well-deserved award, I still felt like assigning a burnt out Yasuko Kobayashi ruined the glorious and shining potential it had. Ninninger got too focused on gimmicks and nostalgic factors instead of becoming its own show. But I admit, I also have my biases no thanks to generation gaps

As of late, I'm liking Zyuohger on its own merits. It'd be unfair for me to keep comparing Yamato Kanzaki to other red birds like Takayuki Hiba, Yuusuke Amemiya, Ryu Tendo, Yousuke Shinia and Sosuke Esumi. He's his own character and he's likable in his own way. The other Zyuohgers may share some nostalgic value for older fans but they are they. I just need to keep in mind it's all about one's individual uniqueness. 


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