Welcome to Tokusatsu Gesundheit, where your author continues to be busier than expected! This week, we’re talking about the Power Rangers season that wasn’t, 2012’s Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters!
Three young heroes are recruited by Japan’s Energy Management Center to be become the Go-Busters, defenders of the wondrous clean energy source Enetron from the Evil Organization Vaglass, digital beings striking mankind from hyperspace.
Also, the Vaglass were sucked into hyperspace thirteen years ago, along with the research facility the heroes’ parents worked for – that they’re still means their parents might be too.
Go-Busters is the 36th Super Sentai series, coming after the anniversary extravaganza Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. It did a few thing differently from prior series, notably featuring leather costumes over the traditional spandex, and worked in a few elements from Power Rangers (notably calling the mecha “Megazords” and the phrase “It’s Morphin’s Time!”). However, the toys sold like crap and the darker and more complex (…for this franchise) plot turned off the target audience of young kids, marking the series as something of a failure. As such, it became the first series since 1992’s Zyuranger to be entirely skipped by Saban in creating Powers Rangers.
- Mid-way through the season, the Go-Busters actually go into hyperspace to rescue their parents…and fail. They find that over a decade spent functionally mid-teleport has irreparably digitized their parents, and that Messiah (the Vaglass’ leader) has incorporated their knowledge into his own. In order to end the immediate threat of the Vaglass, they have to say goodbye to their parents one last time and blow the entire research complex straight to hell. It’s actually a pretty heartbreaking turn. Of course, the threat’s not entirely over, but it changes dramatically.
- The team’s fourth and fifth rangers, Beet & Stag Buster, are a fun comic duo.
- The snooty, faux-affable agent of the Vaglass on Earth, Enter, is a great villain. He benefits from spending the vast majority of the series being the only villain (outside of monsters of the week) that the heroes interact with.
- The engrish catchphrases (the Go-Busters respond to their Morphers calling out “It’s Morpin’ Time” with “Let’s Morphin” and they activate their Zords with “Let’s Driving”) are frustratingly amusing.
Go-Busters, thought a bit slow to get rolling, has ended up being one of my favorite seasons of Super Sentai (I’ve been watching them straight from Japan for about six seasons now). It’s downfall was, like Young Justice and Freakazoid, was being material better suited to an audience older than the one it was meant to target.
NEXT WEEK: We return to our regularly scheduled Kikaider REBOOT.