Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan Ep. 1: The Machine Empire of the North Pole - Summary/Review

Here we have the 5th Super Sentai, first 3 ranger team, and the only one in history to lack any female rangers. Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan. Roughly translating into Solar Squadron Sun Vulcan. Only thing I know about this season is that it got backlash for not having any girl rangers and is the only Sentai to be a direct sequel to the previous season, Denziman. The theme this time is Air, Land, and Sea. Because Fire isn't good enough. Click "read more" for my full coverage.


After a very 80s theme song, the episode begins with a narrator talking about the waters between Greenland and Ellesmere Island at it appears this is where our villains will be located in the Arctic Ocean. A submarine investigate the area and is destroyed. Afterwards, a search plane is also destroyed.

It starts to show the submarine being blown up on screen, but them quickly cuts to this stock footage explosion. 

The title card reveals the villains as the Machine Empire. Seriously? That name goes this far back? Now, with the Machine Empires arrives, terrible weather from tsunamis to volcano eruptions are happening all over the world. This weather problem becomes so bad that the United Nations holds a meeting to investigate. Why doesn't the UN get involved with any other alien invasions? However, the Machine Empire interrupts this meeting. 

They're a machine empire called Black Magma and are based at the North Pole. I don't get it.

With this declaration of War, all of the worlds leaders agree that the only solution is to form the Taiyo Sentai. What!? Bull! What we see next are the three members of Sun Vulcan being assembled. 

The first guy has a sword thrown at him followed by several explosions and bullets from machine guns all from a woman wearing very villain looking clothes. He evades them all, throws rocks back, and chases after the woman that was doing all this. Brave, skilled, yet stupid man. She gets away, and this man gets an alert on his wrist devise that signals it is time to assemble. Ryuusuke Oowashi.

Our next guy is introduced as the traditional glutton, someone who loves to eat. A balloon falls out of the sky and he gives it to some little girl. However, some ticking reveals that this balloon is somehow a bomb that this guy manages to toss away. However, the same lady that attacked Ryuusake appears, but this is ignored as this second man also gets the call to assemble. Asao Hyou. The yellow ranger being a big eater is an old trope of Super Sentai. Long abandoned in modern seasons.

Our last ranger to be is shown playing a guitar on a docked boat. Harpoons fly out of the water, barely missing him, and a couple of foot-soldiers appear from the water and get into a fight with this music man. He makes quick work of the foot-soldiers, even cutting off one of their hands. Brutal. This hand is shown to be robotic just before both the attacking woman is seen watching the fight and this 3rd guy also gets the call to assemble. Kin'ya Samejima

The attacking woman

All three recruits meet at a coffee shop named Snack Safari and the women who attacked them all has followed them. Once inside the shop, Asao is over eating, and Ryuusuke shows the owner his wrist communicator to indicate that he is part of Taiyo Sentai. The owner pulls out a strange device that the 3 members are to put their symbols into off of their wrist communicators.

Once all three are in, the device guides them into the back of the shop to a series of hidden elevators. During the long hide, the narrator gives backstory for all three rangers.

Quick Recap:

Ryuusuke Oowashi - Age 25. an  Air Force Officer in the UN Peace Corps' Guardians of World Peace. An ace pilot who protects the sky and the air element of the team.

Kin'ya Samejima - Ag 23, a Navy Officer of the same UN Corp. He is also an oceanographer. Protects the sea and the water element of the group.

Asao Hyou - Age 19, part of the Ranger unit of the same UN corp. Excels at scaling walls. Protects the land and the Earth element of the team. 

I guess fire wasn't good enough.

After several more hallways, checks points, and other scenes to imply the base is very far away. The 3 rangers to be finally arrive at an underground pool where some girl swimming is waiting to greet them.

Miss Arashiyama

Why do I get the feeling she is going to be the closest thing this season has to a female protagonist?

This pool scene is just fan-service as the episode quickly jumps to an office with Miss Arashyama fully dressed and the owner of the coffee shop waiting for them. How did he beat them there?

He is introduced as Commander Arashiyama and the lady is his daughter. The commander gives the rangers a recap of what Black Magma did so far and tells them they will fight them as Sun Vulcan. Also, there is a talking dog for same reason named C.C. and Asao is revealed to be afraid of dogs. I would make a joke is I wasn't also afraid of dogs. Now, it's henshin time!

In addition to their ranger forms, they also get their mecha immediately.  I appreciate a ranger base that actually comes prepared before a situation calls for it. 

Cutting away, we get our first scene inside Black Magma's base. The leader from earlier is shown to have an all female crew.

Were the writers compensating for not having any female rangers?

Black Magma has footage of Sun Vulcans training and sends a Bio-Machine to attack them. This naturally brings us to the first monster of the week. Beetle Grub Monger.

This monger attacks the Sun Vulcans base killing several guards along the way. Not long into the attack, the Sun Vulcan appear to take them out. After the first team role call, we get the first proper ranger fight. It uses a lot of floating wire effects and overuses instant replays and jump cuts. Reeking of the 80s. Surprisingly, it is a very fast paced fight and shows off several moves with little to no dialogue. In a hilariously lame moment, the rangers defeat the monster with a volleyball attack. 

If you think this was dumb then you have obviously never been hit in the face with a volleyball.

The monster immediately grows giant after taking the fatal volleyball blow. It is implied this is due to being a machine. Some buildings blow up, and the rangers summon their mecha. First, the larger carrier ship, Jaguar Vulcan, flies in slowly to fire off a couple rockets. Then, Cosmo Vulcan and Bull Vulcan fly out of Jaguar. Each mecha gets in a few attacks before combining into Sun Vulcan Robo.

This super Robo uses a classic sword and shield combo and makes quick work of the monster. Back at the Ranger's HQ, it is revealed that there is a spy among their ranks. The commander is very quick to point the finger at his assistant, Ms. Kageyama. A special camera reveals Kageyama to be an android in disguise. Upon seeing this, Kageyama quickly confesses to being a spy named Dark Q.

Totally not a mask

Dark Q says the base will be destroyed before running off. Why wasn't anyone trying to restrain her? However, Dark Q does not get far. She gets trapped behind a security door and ejected from the base which causes her to blow up. That was kind of brutal, even for an android. Why didn't they try to capture and hack her?

The episode ends with the reveal that the base was built underneath a safari park and with the Commander, his daughter, and the rangers walking around it. This park is a safe haven for various animals that the Commander has vowed to protect. A last minute environmental message is thrown in out of the blue. C.C. comes running up just to remind us that Asao is afraid of dogs, everyone laughs, and cut to credits. 

Final Thoughts

This episode had a couple of plot wholes, but was overall impressive with how much they got done within one episode. Every major character, the threats, and ranger abilities were all introduced at an acceptable pace without any need for cliffhangers. Fight scenes are very dated, but they were acceptable for the early 80s. The only parts that really bothered me were the UN all just unanimously agreeing that Sun Vulcan was the best option and the random fan service. I cannot imagine all the worlds leaders entrusting the fate of the planet to a 3 man Japanese exclusive team, even if Ranger super powers were accepted world wide. Not one mention of anyone using their armies.

The fan service really does feel like the alternative to not having a female ranger. I understand it probably got a couple extra views, but it really came out of no where. Why is there a pool at the Sun Vulcans base? Who knows what went on in that writing room 40 years ago. 

I may a well address the lack of a female ranger at this point. If you watch any season, the female rangers are always less developed and get less spotlight time than the male. Both back then and now. There is no doubt to me that Toei does considers the bulk of their audience to be boys. Today, it seems strange that they didn't make VulPanther a female for the sake of variety; but remember at this point all Red, Blue, and Yellow rangers were male. So, it kind of makes sense from a business perspective. However, reports say there was lack lash from fans about this decision, so this is to date the only season to not have any female main rangers. 

Overall, my nit-picks probably would not have bothered a younger audience, and everything that needed to get introduced was. So, by a technical stand point, this was a great episode. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that it is early 80s so the effects and fight scenes are very underwhelming by todays standards. But, if you are a fan of old school cheesy performances, than this is for you. 4/5

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