On August 28, 1993 the world met 5 teenagers with the power of ancient beasts to help them save the world from evil. Today that tradition continues. Boys have been falling in love with Power Rangers for over 2 decades! It is hard to believe it has been around that long, but this is shadowed when you look at the Japanese show Super Sentai which is where Power Rangers comes from. Super Sentai has been running in Japan now for a whopping 38 years! Starting back in 1977 with Himitsu Sentai Gorenger. Much like Power Rangers, Super Sentai has caught the attention of boys for decades and is now something that fathers today, who were children when it started, share with their sons.
The continuing success of this franchise is undeniable and with a new movie on the horizon it is hard to see it ending any time soon. So what about the girls? Well Japan could hold the franchise for the female demographic, but it has been pretty much ignored by western audiences so far. Starting in 2004 with Futari Wa Precure is a magical girl anime franchise know as Precure where girls are granted magical powers to transform and defeat evil.
How does Precure work? Well the original couple of series kept to two or three members, but by the time they reached their third series they changed things slightly. The one thing you are guaranteed from the third series onwards is a pink Precure as the leader, a blue Precure and a yellow Precure. Then if their is a forth, fifth or sixth member of the team they will be either red, orange, purple, white or green. Now you can not deny how this already seems like Power Rangers, multiple members in different colours fighting evil. Check out the transformation sequences of the five members of the ninth series Smile Precure.
Much like Power Rangers, Precure offer the audience stunning transformation sequence and can help you grasp the theme of the series or the powers of the character. In this case we have Cure Happy (pink) - light, Cure Sunny (orange) - fire, Cure Peace (yellow) - lightning, Cure March (green) - wind and Cure Beauty (blue) - ice. This is something Power Rangers have done for year, just look at the Power Rangers Morphing Sequence below.
Even if you have never seen Power Rangers Wild Force you can tell from their morphing sequence that the red is a lion, yellow an eagle, blue a shark, black is a bison and white is a white tiger. Did you notice what both the Smile Precure and the Wild Force Power Rangers did? They both said their series name in their call to activate their powers. Smile Precure call out "Smile Charge!" while the Power Rangers Wild Force call out "Wild Access". The only thing the Power Rangers Wild Force did different was have their theme song playing instead of just transformation music. Now how about them using their powers? Well below is Cure Melody and Cure Rhythm from Suite Precure preforming their Music Rondo attack.
How do the powers work?
Well if you couldn't tell, their theme was music. With Precure being an animated series compared to live action, they really show how much more impressive a power or attack could be portrayed. Their primary advantage is the run time, where Power Rangers requires the powers of CGI to aid in their attacks it has to be short and sweet due to budget constraints and the ability of live-action. It also tends to be more portrayed in fight sequences, like the clip below from the newest Power Rangers series Power Rangers Dino Charge.
It could be said that having a live-action fight sequence is always exciting to watch so it makes it better than having flashy magical attacks. However anime could argue that point. Simply check out two Precure fight sequences below. The first is of Cure Moonlight from Heartcatch Precure against the evil Dark Precure and the second is Cure Beauty fighting it out with the villainous Joker in Smile Precure. These are only two Precure out of a current total number of 40!
You can literally see the power and force in the attacks between Cure Moonlight and Dark Precure. The small effects help you get an understanding of the sheer power in the fight, for example when you see the tread marks left in the dirt from Cure Moonlight taking the impact of Dark Precure's attack at the beginning of the fight. It is also clear how magical attacks and fighting sequences and mix wonderfully together and how a magical attack can turn the tides in battle for either side.
With Cure Beauty you see a much more elegant fighting style, but a much greater ability to adapt in a fight. This shows how the fighting styles change from series to series, where when compared to Power Rangers the fights are pretty similar in style from series to series. As you also saw Cure Beauty created swords out of ice during her battle and then combined two to create a bow. Precure do not always have weaponry as their attacks fill in that spot, but sometimes they do. Where Power Rangers is always guaranteed for the rangers to be decked out with guns, swords, cannons and personal weapons.
Giving us a blast from the past there were the original Power Rangers combining their Power Weapons to destroy their foe. Well Precure do not often have these types of weapons. Cure Beauty is a rare Precure who creates hers, normally a weapon in Precure is more of a key to unlock a new attack or aid in a group attack. Below you can see the heroines from Dokidoki Precure using their Lovely Force Arrows in this manor.
As you can see the weapon is more of a power unlocking device, but I think given they aim this at girls it makes it more appealing for the audience. I do not think the Cures having weapons like the Power Rangers would work as it is all about the magic.
What makes it different?
Now I am not saying girls do not have anything in western countries, we have seen many incarnations for young girls to watch including Winx Club and Disney Princesses, but they lack the continuing franchise in the style boys get from Power Rangers and other super hero based shows. Disney Princesses for example tend to stay in their movies and never crossover unless in merchandising or fan-art. But Precure do crossover every year! The Precure franchise gives their fans not one movie a year but two. One movie will consist of the current series heroines fighting it out in their own movie against a new foe, the second movie is an All Stars movie. The All Stars movies have become a very much anticipated film amongst the fans of Precure as they see dozens of Cures fighting together.
So what Marvel have been doing in their movies with creating franchises such as the Avengers by combining the characters from solo movies is nothing new to Japanese audiences. Precure beat them to the idea by several years! So how could this franchise explode besides the TV show and movies? Merchandising!
Merchandising...the key to a success!
Here is the commercial for the Prechange Mirror which the girls from Happinesscharge use to transform. Well instantly you can see in addition to the transformation device you also have clothes for role playing to be taken further, but that's not all! There are also figures and plush toys available. Merchandising has been a huge factor behind Power Ranger's success, and many series have been cancelled due to poor merchandise sales such as Young Justice. They also tend to have a deal every year with McDonald's having Precure feature in their Happy Meal toys. So they know how to cross-brand this franchise.
Why has it not been picked up?
Well it was...and failed! The first series of Precure was released and shown on the channel Pop Girl, but just look at the opening they created compared to the opening used in Japan.
Now is it just me or does the English opening sound much more childish and contrived? It lacked the beat and clear signs the original Japanese opening had. The Japanese opening played off the fact the two main characters Cure Black and Cure White are actually opposites in their personality. This was key as the pair were meant to represent the Ying and Yang as they are stronger when together. However all hope is not lost!
Saban could be about to save the day!
Saban is pretty well known for making Power Rangers the huge success it is, and they have brought us many other titles throughout the years including Big Bad Bettleborgs, Masked Rider, Digimon Fusion and Sonic X. They have acquired the rights to the Precure franchise and are working under the title "Glitter Force" for the franchise. If this will be the name of the English version of the franchise is yet to be determined, but Saban is Precure's best hope of meeting western audiences with success. The best part for them is the fact the shows and stories are ready, the movies are good to go and there is a massive catalogue of merchandise for them to choose from. All they need to do is new voice overs for the franchise. Fingers crossed the girls will not have to wait long before they see the girls can kick it just as well as the boys.