Power Rangers Super Samurai: The Complete Season (Blu-ray Review)

Power-RangersThe Sanzu River is rising! Master Xandred’s monsters grow stronger!  And the new mysterious Nighlok Serrator emerges!  How will the Samurai Rangers fight these stronger opponents?  By unlocking the power of the Black Box and becoming Super Samurai! Experience all 20 episodes of this super season as the Power Rangers continue their quest to master the ancient Symbols of Samuria Power, harness the ancient might of the BullZord, morph into Shogun Mode and pprotect humanity from Master Xandred and the Netherworld’s most vile villains!


I must confess to being a virgin when it comes to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (now is that the most inappropriate sentence you’ve ever read or what?).  I can’t tell you what the whole Jungle Fury spinoff series was all about, or what makes the original MMPRs that different from the Power Rangers “Super Samurai.” But, on the theory that if it goes on Blu ray, it’s gotta be good (editor’s note: Charles is sometimes quite stupid), I gave this series a look.

It’s actually a wrapup to the Power Rangers Super Samurai cycle, which, has been going on since I don’t know when and which actually sired a Christmas special (!?).  Saving grace, I suppose, is that by now the Japan-American translated kid-kitsch can’t possibly be taken seriously by anyone.  Oh, I guess down the line Christopher Nolan or someone will do a Power Rangers Noir, you know, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and getting away from the campy, silly Power Rangers of the 60s and back to the original, dark, brooding, psychotic Power Rangers of the 30s and 40s. But for the time being, dig the candy-colored costumes, bad-pun dialogue and ritualized episodes for the post-ironic silliness that they are.

The Story So Far (I guess). Grotesque monsters from some nether dimension are called Nighlok, and their regular invasions of Japan are fought by the teen descendants (almost none of whom are visibly Japanese) of elite mystic Samurai warriors. The team of Rangers assemble in each episode (now with heavy CGI assist, of course) to battle a particularly grotesque Nighlok and their “Mooger” henchmen, with a new Red Ranger, Emily, in control of the team. I’m told this who-is-the-real-Red Ranger stuff is long-running backstory. Hey, I didn’t even invest in following Lost, so don’t bust me on missing the epochal drama over this one.

The main Nighlok is a spiny creature called Master Xandred, who was badly wounded by the Power Rangers Samurai in a previous episode arc and spends most of this one in semi-invalid state, in a cool Flying Dutchman-from Pirates of the Caribbean ship, on a mystic river that supposedly influences human despair (oh, I’ve heard of this river; it’s called the `Japanese economy’ I do believe).

Xandred keeps sending guest Nighloks with weird powers (gluing people together; duplicating itself; causing others to eat uncontrollably) into the human realm, and they temporarily stymies the Power Rangers, until they fight back with “BullZord” or “LightZord” or some kind of ultimate weapon (which looks suspiciously like it might be selling now at toy stores). Early in the series another Nighlok, calling himself Serrator, shows up out of nowhere to kowtow to Xandred and offer his own brand of Nighloks, but [spoiler alert you could’ve seen miles away], Serrator is just a usurper after Xandred’s top-monster rank.

Ultimately there’s a showdown of good-vs.-evil (you probably can guess who wins) that closes this particular chapter in Power Rangers history, and I guess fans will appreciate that. Meanwhile, the Power Rangers’ longtime American producers (mainly Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, if I’m not mistaken) can count their yen gleefully. I heard a long time ago that the Power Rangers moguls were so savvy that they’d mapped out long-range plans for the franchise, charting the initial boom, the inevitable backlash, the loss of the viewer interest…and the eventual nostalgic revival for aging fans, probably now with bratty kids of their own. Really, they predicted it all. Forget Paul Volker, put these guys in charge of the Federal Reserve or something. They’d end the Great Recession in 20 episodes.

Are you still reading this? I kind of hope not, but if you are, know that there’s a subplot in which Antonio, the Gold Power Ranger, survives having his consciousness temporarily transferred to a dead fish and coming close to being eaten by a domestic cat. From this he suffers the equivalent of Power Rangers Traumatic Stress Syndrome. That idea is almost worthy of Robot Chicken, though it’s probably meant to be taken rather seriously here as one of the typically corny Life Lesson things offered continually throughout the franchise.

Still, imagine: whole VA Hospitals filled with deranged-psycho ex-Power Rangers, confined for constant domestic violence, or severe Mooger injuries, or drug-fueled combat flashbacks, or memories of burning down innocent Nighlok villages of women and children, or tormented by avenging conscience for abusing Rita Repulsa at Abu Ghraib. Now there’s an idea for the next series.


Those cheesy miniatures and creature suits of yesteryears’ Power Rangers may be history, but the fancy new digital stuff and crature costumes can look just as endearingly garish, in a 1080p HD picture.  Things look crisp and clear, just not perfect.  DVD and Blu-ray versions are sold separately.


You can listen to the Power Rangers (or the non-threatening Nighlok squid-sidekick Octaroo, who speaks in rhyme) making bad puns in French or in Spanish in Dolby Digital 2.0.  Guess a Japanese dialogue version was outlawed by that treaty signed by General MacArthur, or something.  The English version is a rocking DTS 5.1 Master Audio.  For some reason there’s also a sub-setup that allows you to mute the audio or adjust the volume on the fanfare that plays during the menus.


Extras are two lackluster music videos. One, for what it’s worth, actually a record of live Power Ranger floor show at some Comic-con or other; gotta hand it to the troupers who drilled to perform that.  Wonder if they had a “we went to Julliard for this?” moment.  A “Train Like a Ranger” segment has the various PWs lead kid viewers in basic calisthenics exercises and maybe a yoga pose or two.


Come on, it’s Power Rangers, what did you expect?



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