Chōjin Sentai Jetman

Speaking of battles, I found Jetman villains to be much more "otona" (adult) compared to what Zyuranger had. The villains are also in conflict within each other. The conflict brings balance to hierarchy of villains throughout the show.

Chōjin Sentai Jetman
Jetman in their flight uniform.

A few weeks ago, while I was messing around among free Plex channels, I came across to a super sentai show. The only sentai show that I had been familiar with was Zyuranger up to that point, and that is of course thanks to Saban's version of it - Power Rangers. Jetman has been a wildly different experience.

A trip down the memory lane

Beware! 90s kids ahead.

It was pure luck. It appeared that I turned on the channel right before the next episode had begun. It was the episode in which one of the Jetman was going through an arranged marriage situation. It had this funny mismatch between what actors on the screen were seemingly saying and what their voice were. The audio was obviously recorded on top of the video later on. This imperfection made the show look much more genuine, because that is the essence of tokusatsu spirit for me. Who cares if the props look VERY MUCH like props? Who cares the giant monsters are always humanoid and the underlying black spandex can be seen. Who cares the super robots have weird moves? It is a perfect representation of what tokusatsu was back then. Before I knew it, I had already watched 5 episodes back to back. (Shout! Factory channel had all evening reserved for Jetman.) It began with a catchy song. It ended with a catchy song. Characters were interesting and fun. I did not get the same feeling from a handful of original Zyuranger episodes I watched. It was a totally different beast. There were a few key moments that captured my attention to this show.

Chojin Sentai Jetman introduces a lot of opportunities for show runners to make and sell more toys, which is the primary purpose why those shows still exist today. I cannot imagine the feelings of Japanese kids towards the toys back then. I would have definitely wanted to have a Tetraboy toy at least. Imagine being a kid and seeing on a toy store display the exact robot that they used to film the show. What a time to be a kid!

Giant robots of Jetman

Other than a big span of "toy opportunities" as I called it when I was watching, there is a bit of a tragedy weaved into the over-arching storyline through some flashbacks revolving around certain Jetman and his former love interest. A heavy one, considering the primary audience of the show being kids. I remember saying "Is it ok to show kids that?" a few times. It is not violent or sexual at all. It is just emotionally too deep.

All the while, there are some love triangle situations bloom between Jetman.- It is interesting that Jetman is made of 3 women and 3 men, 1 of the women members being the commander of the team. The commander is the authority figure over the team, and I think the actress Mikiko Miki did a great job in commander's shoes. I always find it interesting that Japanese work culture seldom favors women for positions of authority but works of fiction fantasizes the opposite. The strong female figure is a repeated character template in many well-known works of anime today. Because of that, I think the commander is a very familiar character.

Moving onto some backstory. Jetman seems to carry the names of certain birds. To be honest, I did not care much about the origins of each color. Zyuranger does a better job establishing the backstory for each fighter. Jetman was the immediate ancestor of Zyuranger, so I guess they improved upon what Jetman brought into the game at that time.

I also found it entertaining that heroes of this show are of a diverse background. A fighter, a rich family's daughter who had never experienced hardship, a small town young farmer, a high school girl, and a playboy type trouble guy. The selection of each Jetman is not rooted at some mythological/cosmic balance, it is just random. Because of this randomness, a good chunk of the show deals with building up the harmony, fellowship, and the team spirit between Jetman. This build up pays off pretty well during the grand finale battle.

Speaking of battles, I found Jetman villains to be much more "otona" (adult) compared to what Zyuranger had. The villains are called Vyram (pronounced bayramu in Japanese.) I finished the show but I still have no idea about their origins, how their powers work, etc. They are just Vyram and Jetman are there to stop them. That is it? NO! Vyram is also in conflict within each other. The conflict brings balance to hierarchy of villains throughout the show. If one gets quite powerful, another one rises to balance the power struggle. This power struggle keeps the show fresh and flexible to built upon. I am not sure if they did polls back then about the most favorite Jetman and the most favorite Vyram among viewers weekly, but the flow of the show suggests there were probably some input about the popularity of characters along the way. Especially for this one:

Maria of Vyram

Meet Maria. Maria is not only too much good looking to be a villain, but also Maho Maruyama, the actress behind Maria, played the role very seriously. I mean, how deep of an acting can one display for a kids' tokusatsu show, right? Well, she is the boss. During fight scenes, she is dead serious. You would actually get scared if you see Maria out there in the streets even with that ridiculous outfit HAHA. She quickly becomes a focal point of the struggle between other members of Vyram. (Guess why?) I believe at one point even adults were watching the show thanks to her, because there is a dedicated episode to Maria that I call the "Maria appreciation episode" which is filled with beauty shots of the character -one may even call them fan service at that point.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed. The over-arching story gets to a resolution within 2 episodes. It ends on a bitter note. I did not expect a full circle happy ending from this show, as I usually expect Japanese shows to conclude their stories with a diverse color of emotions, but in Jetman's case, it does not feel right. Overall, I enjoyed the show up to a point that I put out almost 1200 words here. I feel myself lucky to have stumbled upon this show totally randomly. It is also the first super sentai show that I completed watching from start to end.

If you made it this far, give it's OP a try. It's quite catchy.