This is the third time I’ve written about Akibaranger, an “unofficial sentai” series done by Toei, aimed specifically at adult fans of the franchise. The first time was before I had seen a complete episode. It just struck me as a step in the right direction. The second was after I had seen half the series and I really liked it. Now, however, that I’ve seen it all, I wanted to weigh in on my final thoughts.
Yes, I loved this series.
No other way to say it. Just so we’re clear, I’m going to spoil the rest of the series, so if spoilers bother you and you haven’t seen the entire series, stop now, go see it, and come back. I’ll wait.
At the point I left off before, Malseena had figured out how to break out of the delusion world and was setting about causing trouble in the real world. It wasn’t so easy for our heroes though, their only way to be transformed in the real world is to go into their delusions, get so worked up that they can no longer tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and break out, becoming an entirely separate set of heroes from their normal, real-life bodies. We often see their other selves punching and kicking and dancing around in the background while the Akibarangers fight against Malseena’s minions. However, we find that Malseena isn’t really the bad guy we thought she was. In keeping with typical Super Sentai tropes, in the third quarter, they introduce the main villain, Doctor Z. He turns out to be the father of Hiroyo Hakase, who runs the Akibarangers, a promising scientist who disappeared years before after creating the original concept for Nijiyome Academy Z-Cune Aoi. Now, he wants to take over the world and take his revenge on the people who he thinks ruined his show.
Or does he? In fact, Doctor Z isn’t really a villain and Akibaranger isn’t really fighting in the real world. It turns out it’s all a TV show after all! In reality, everything is being controlled by, who else, the creator of the show, Saburo Hatte! Saburo is, in fact, a common collective pen-name that has been used for decades at Toei to give various producers unattributed screen credit. Nobuo recognizes the potential problem, identifying all of the elements that would lead to the series ending! He and his rangers, joined by the equally-concerned Stema Otsu Corporation members, fight to keep the series alive. However, they are no match for the man who can change their destinies with the stroke of a pen and, although they fight valiantly, eventually they are defeated and the series ends. At the end though, they do make a heartfelt plea to the audience to contact Toei if they want Akibaranger to have a second season. Apparently, the show did very well.
However, I don’t think it should get a second season. They did give a call out for anyone who wanted to see more to contact Toei, and while I’d be entirely supportive of something similar, I think the Akibaranger concept has run it’s course. It had a complete story, a beginning, a middle and an end and in order to really bring the series back, they’d have to entirely change what they’ve done so far. I am not a big fan of reboots. I also don’t much like the idea of Akibaranger coming back as a full Super Sentai series. It’s a spoof show and as wonderful as it was, it’s spoofed what it set out to spoof, there probably isn’t enough juice left in it to run 50 more episodes. Sure, there are other elements that could be riffed on, but no, it’s over, let it go. I’d applaud Toei coming up with something else aimed at an adult audience though, I’m sure people would love a full-length series in a similar vein if done right. I know I would.
So get out there and see this series. It’s short, it’s hysterical and if you’re at all familiar with Super Sentai or Akiba-culture, it’ll keep you laughing from beginning to end. Then, when you’re all done, go back and watch it again, this time paying attention to all of the things in the background. You’ll laugh some more. This is how good shows should be done. I, for one, want to see much more of it.
And it got me back into watching Super Sentai again. Go figure.