So You Want To: Write The Next Super Sentai
Super Sentai has a simple enough concept: Live-Action series styled like anime about multicolored heroes in spandex with numerous weapons, including Humongous Combining Mecha, against an army of goons in rubber suits. However, just because it's campy doesn't mean you have to make it dumb. You can still make it work. With that being said, let's get busy.
Necessary TropesColor-Coded Characters You're gonna need to be able to tell each member apart somehow. How you do it is up to you, most Super Sentai shows have the entire suit in that colour bar a few other bits but in Tomica Hero Rescue Force they all wore orange with trim depending on the colours. This usually also applies to their pre-henshin state, but as Chouriki Sentai Ohranger showed, you don't have to do that necessarily. It just helps. If they work for some form of group and have uniforms that they wear before transforming (See Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger) then it's slightly more likely that they'll have colour co-ordinated uniforms outside of battle. Law of Chromatic Superiority Red Is Heroic, so have The Hero wear it (it's not an absolute requirement, but it's a franchise tradition at this point so you'd better have a very good reason for breaking it). He usually gets the best stuff, the primary focus, etc. Don't sideline the others, though. Spandex, Latex, or Leather Chances are, you're gonna be going with spandex; as much as some people deny it. Latex armor and leather-like materials aren't unheard-of, though. The Power of Friendship A staple of the genre. It makes the kids happy, after all. BFG You're gonna need something to blow up the monster before you summon the... Humongous Mecha Specifically, Combining Mecha. The main weapon tends to be a sword for these ones. They are always Super Robots. Be sure to include a lot of them, you'll make some good money out of their toys.
Choices, ChoicesFirst, Theme: Each season has some kind of overlaying theme to it. This theme is the inspiration for the heroes' costumes, their mecha, and sometimes even their weapons. Don't worry about repeating a theme that's already been done. After all, there were three car-themed seasons, three dinosaur-themed seasons, three, ninja-themed seasons and plenty more where that came from. Give the theme a chance to rest before you dig it up again. 5 to 10 years sounds about right. Second, Tone: Do you want it to be a dark drama? Or a wacky comedy? Or even a ridiculous parody? This decision will affect how things look. Third, Number of Heroes: The minimum to a team is three members, usually in red, blue and yellow. One of the two non-red members is going to be a girl. Usually it's yellow, but sometimes it's blue. On at least one occasion both blue and yellow were girls, even. The most common configuration is to have five members, consisting of the usual red, blue and yellow but with a pink/white and black/green member along with them. You don't have to have Two Girls to a Team, but you can if you want. Chances are, the guys adapting your series will want to turn the one that isn't pink/white into a girl for the sake of feminism, though. Of course, just because you start out with three/five doesn't mean you have to have that many for the whole series. Choujuu Sentai Liveman introduced the concept of having two additional members join a three-member team, and Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger introduced the concept of a permanent Sixth Ranger joining the team later. If the concept of a Sixth Ranger just doesn't cut it, you can always bring in an Extra Hero that fits the theme of the show, but not the heroes' costumes. Heck, you can add as many members as you like. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger got away with ten, and Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger literally took it Up to Eleven.
PitfallsAvoid going overboard with Stuff Blowing Up during the fight scenes. Chances are, your audience will be more impressed by your actors' martial arts skills than the huge explosions constantly happening behind the heroes and villans. A much better use for huge explosions is to have one happen just after the rangers morph at the start of a critical battle or a team-up, because Awesomeness Is Volatile.
Potential SubversionsYou don't have to include Black and White Morality. Feel free to make the heroes somewhat morally questionable or your villains not that evil.
Suggested Themes and AesopsJustice. Resolve. Traffic safety. Keep it optimistic, even in the worst of times.
Potential MotifsIt all depends on the theme. Popular ones include dinosaurs, cars, police squadrons, ninja, and especially animals. When all else fails, go with a neutral vehicle theme.
Suggested PlotsChances are, most of your episodes are gonna follow a similar formula: Monster attacks civilians, team faces off against monster but fails, focus member does something relevant to the episode, round two, heroes win, monster vs. robo, scene with group. There are a series of plots that happen often, though.
- A monster might attack brides, forcing the heroes to go undercover as a couple getting married.
- A monster might make copies of the heroes.
- A monster might not want to hurt anyone, but the team will usually end up having to blow him up anyway.