Superhero style tokusatsu series had been around in Japan for several years (most popularly and notable being Ultraman and Kamen Rider), and a precedent had been set for relaunching a new variation of a character every year or two on those shows. In 1975 television company Toei launched a new spin on this idea - if one hero and his similarly themed successors was good, how much better would five be? Thus the new sub-genre known as Sentai (Taskforce) was created (later to be renamed "Super Sentai").

Just under two decades later Saban Entertainment got the idea to create a similar franchise in the United States. Using footage from the then current Sentai show Zyuranger, mixed with new stuff filmed in America, it launched Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Like their Japanese equivalents, the U.S. franchise was a great hit, and continue to this day.

The basic concept that is generally adhered to for most Sentai Tokugatsu series is that five teenagers are granted heightened abilities and incredible martial arts skills, which they can access through some sort of magical item and activation phrase. These heroes are then charged by a guiding higher authority to protect mankind from aliens and monsters who threaten the Earth. Almost inevitably these monsters, when about to be beaten, show the ability to grow to great size, which then requires the heroes to employ giant robots to even the odds again. Often they have to then combine their individual robots into one super-tough amalgam, in order to administer the coup de grace.

Japanese Sentai series

Himitsu Sentai Goranger

JAKQ Dengekitai

Battle Fever J

Denji Sentai Denziman

Taiyo Sentai Sunvulcan

Dai Sentai Goggle V

Karaku Sentai Dynaman

Chodenshi Bioman

Dengeki Sentai Changeman

Choushinsei Flashman

Hikari Sentai Maskman

Chou Zyu Sentai Liveman

Kosoku Sentai Turboranger

Chikyu Sentai Fiveman

Chojin Sentai Jetman

Kyouruu Sentai Zyuranger

GoSei Sentai Dairanger

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

ChoRiki Sentai Ohranger

Gekisou Sentai Carranger

Denji Sentai Megaranger

Seiju Sentai Gingaman

KyuKyu Sentai GoGoV

Mirai Sentai Taimurenja

Hyaku Juu Sentai Gaoranger

Ninpuu Sentai Harikenja

BakuRyuu Sentai Abarenjaa

Tokusou Sentai Dekarenjaa

Mahou Sentai Magirenjaa

GoGo Sentai Boukenger
(Currently Airing)

U.S. Sentai Groups

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Alien Rangers

Power Rangers Zeo

Power Rangers Turbo

Power Rangers in Space

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy

Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue

Power Rangers Time Force

Power Ranger Wild Force

Power Rangers Ninja Storm

Power Rangers Dino Thunder

Power Rangers SPD

Power Rangers Mystic Force

At some point I intend to start to do entries for each individual team and their members, but given the sheer scale of that, don't hold your breath waiting for it. It should also be noted that there are some other groups that qualify as Sentai, but who aren't part of the above series of sequels - Gatchaman being one example. Thanks to Stan 97531 for the last two Sentai series names.

Kelvin Green notes What's not commonly known is that the whole Super Sentai genre owes, perhaps indirectly, its origins to Marvel Comics. After the success of the Spider-Man series, Toei worked with Marvel on a second series, this time based on Captain America. For obvious reasons, they decided to change the name of the main character to Captain Japan. They also gave him a team of other national "Captains" to work with, comprising Captain Cossack, Captain France, Captain Kenya, and Miss America.

For some reason, they changed the name of the series and some of the characters before broadcast. The series became Battle Fever J, and the Captains became "Battles".

There's some disagreement over how influential to the sentai genre the show is. While it wasn't the first sentai show (that was Himitsu Sentai Gorenjâ/Secret Task Force Goranger), it was the first sentai series to feature the giant robot battles pioneered in Spider-Man/Supaidaman, and I think that's what distinguishes super sentai from plain old ready salted sentai. It was also the first to use the now-familiar silver mouthpieces on the helmets. Nonetheless, it's interesting how the normally publicity-hungry Marvel haven't jumped on this. You'd think they'd be telling everyone that they "invented" the Power Rangers.

That said, last week brought The Ultimates 2 #4 from Marvel, and it features a team of European superheroes all based around Captain America, so you get Captain Britain, Captain Italy, etc. It's impossible to know if this is a deliberate nod to that old Marvel co-production, but you never know...

1980's Denjiman and the 1981's Sun Vulcan were also credited as Marvel co-productions, although there appear to be no Marvel-related elements in either series. However, they more closely resemble today's Power Rangers than even Battle Fever J does.

Thanks to Dale Speer for additional information.

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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