Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Turbo Boosted

The other night, I was watching the 1987 theatrical movie of the Japanese sentai Maskman (y'know, like ya do) when I was reminded that their big carrier ship is called "Turboranger". That's the thing on the linked page that is directly below the team on their motorcycles. No big deal, right? All that stuff has wild names. Well, if you're vaguely familiar with 1980s-era sentai (and believe me, you're excused if you're not), that name might sound familiar to you. Specifically because Turboranger is also the name of the 1989 sentai series.

I still find this kind of odd. Toei does recycle names here and there in their tokusatsu series . I mean, with 50 or so years of the genre under their belts, some duplication is inevitable. What's striking is to use almost exactly the same name for two different things (vehicle vs. team) in two series that are so close together in the same subgenre.

Whoa, wait a sec, hold on. Almost the same? I thought I said they were both called "Turboranger"? Well, they are - in English. However, in Japanese, it's a whole other story. The Maskman vehicle's name is written ターボランジャー in Japanese, while the 1989 team's name is written ターボレンジャー. There is a subtle difference of exactly one kana between them, but they both still say "Turboranger".

I had a theory regarding this. Occasionally, Toei has included a KANJI spelling of "ranger" in sentai. Rather than the phonetic katakana レンジャー (defined as "ranger" in the dictionaries), they put forth the alternate rendering of 連者. These two kanji together could be roughly defined as something along the lines of "group member". So suppose the レンジャー (renjâ) was reserved for a ranger that was a person while ランジャー (ranjâ) was a ranger that was a vehicle. It was an intriguing solution.

Except the evidence indicates that it's not true. One trip to the Japanese Wikipedia netted me an entry dedicated to the Ford Ranger.

Click Here!

If you are attentive, you'll notice they write the vehicle's name with the レンジャー (renjâ) spelling.

Therefore, I am stumped, and I put forth this mystery to the Internet at large. Is there any reason why Toei used the same name, with a slight kana variation, in two almost consecutive sentai series for two completely different things? Or was it just one of those "Well, why not?" sort of deals?


Xenorama said...

oh, you know I am looking forward to an explanation...

C. Elam said...

This is obscure even by my standards! But if I don't ask, who will? I am fascinated by the naming conventions in these shows.