Update: A new image has revealed the suits and weapons of the teams, found at the end of our original post below.
It’s a new day for fans of the long-running Super Sentai franchise, as word trickles slowly down the superpowered pike that those lovable, multi-colored hero teams are getting a makeover for their 42nd entry into the television saga. I thought the star-spanning quest of 2017’s Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger was an interesting departure, with its enormous team of twelve protagonists fighting to save a future universe from an oppressive empire, but it seems Toei Company and TV Asahi are doubling down on that idea and giving us a story with not one, but two teams in a single series. Not only that, but these teams are being set against each other as enemies and rivals. The official title and general thoughts on this new concept follow.
The name of the show reads more like one of Super Sentai’s annual team-up events, where the cast of each current season gets a chance to meet up with the cast that directly preceded it for a small crossover adventure. Yet this show (for all intents and purposes) will be both our introduction to these two groups and sic them on each other for our amusement. It’s a “versus movie” in series form.
The verbose and intriguing title is Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger and the direct translation may be just as confusing as the title for the uninitiated. Essentially, the first task force is a group of thieves and the second is a squadron of police. It’s quite literally cops and robbers in spandex.
There are many other rumors and bits of speculation flying around that concern how exactly this will work, with two teams that are both intended as headliners, but it’s interesting that Lupinranger is named first. Are we in for a group of lovable rogues a la Captain Marvelous and the space pirates of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger? And what about this police unit that is apparently trying to catch them? Do we have some of the future cop stylings of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger to look forward to?
And how will the teams share focus? What we have heard is that these will not be the standardized five-person troops, but rather, we will start them off with three a piece, a bit like the ninja-themed series Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger, which itself had a vaguely similar concept where they later merged with the two-man Goraiger team. We suspect that this series will capitalize on the concept a bit more thoroughly and keep the conflict a major factor in the story rather than simply a cool extra feature. One thing we feel confident in guessing, though, is that the two teams will eventually merge into one fighting force. Whether that happens toward the middle of the series or closer to the end, it’s too early to call.
What makes this seem more likely is how the two groups apparently transform into fighting mode with similar technology. Both using some sort of weaponized henshin device, a “transformation gun” along with a collectible that is personalized to the individual user. Those collectibles are said to be vehicle-based totems that not only deliver unto the user their Ranger powers but also become their giant mecha, for when the enemy grows to enormous heights. That enemy, who we can suspect is a third party which both teams will face as the series goes on, remains relatively mysterious, for now. The look of our teams perhaps less so.
Lupinranger may consist of:
LupinRed (male, red)
LupinBlue (male, blue)
LupinYellow (female, yellow)
Patoranger may consist of:
PatorenIchigo (male, “number one”, red)
PatorenNigo (male, “number two”, green)
PatorenSango (female, “number three”, pink)
A fourth Patoranger is also on the menu, with the slightly style-breaking name of PatorenUgo. Instead of assigning him a number, like the core three, his title, Ugo, is pronounced like the actual words “you go”. The name recalls one of the catchphrases young hero Riku uses in 2017’s Ultraman Geed, in which his “yugo” (fusion) begins, and he merges different power sets to create a new fighting form. Which may imply that PatorenUgo is an uber-powerful dude who can utilize multiple power sets at once. Or it’s just a funky name for the extra hero.
Speculation has run wild about how the show will focus on the two teams, and it’s believed that the show may switch back and forth systematically, one episode treating Lupinranger as the lead characters with the opposing team taking a backseat, then the next episode giving Patoranger the bulk of the spotlight before reversing it again the following week, and so on. It’s uncertain if this style would lend itself to the most natural storytelling, but we’re far from seeing any visuals for a lot of these ideas.
What’s most important are the basics, which have never been attempted in Super Sentai to this degree before. It represents the franchise’s continued commitment to thinking outside the box and reaching for something unique, after years of getting a little too set in old ways. Kyuranger opened the door, and now Lupinranger/Patoranger get to blow the thing off its hinges. Would that every franchise with rainbow-suited superheroes reach for this kind of excitement in the coming years.
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