Sentai Series Review: Chodenshi Bioman
Does anybody remember growing up yelling "Red One! Green Two! Blue Three! Yellow Four! Pink Five! Bioman Fight! Bioman!" with one's teammates? I thought reviewing Bioman after I saw the official Japanese language with subs from Grown Up In Spandex would be a good review.
I believe that many Filipino fans of Super Sentai grew up with Chodenshi Bioman if they were born in the 80s or late 80s. Bioman was dubbed by Telesuccess Productions and due to hectic schedules, a lot got lost in translation such as Peebo's gender. For starters, Peebo is a boy even if his suit actor is a girl. Alpha Five of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has a female suit actor but is still considered a male character nonetheless. What wasn't lost in translation was the plot involving the Biomen were chosen because of a decision 500 years ago.
The theme of Bioman somehow shows the dangers of technology going to the wrong direction. 500 years ago, the Planet Bio exploded in a heated warfare between the Bio Alliance and the Anti-Bio Alliance. To save the Earth from a similar fate, the android Peebo (who looks like a shoutout to C3P0 and Kamen Rider) together with the components of Bio Robo enter into the Earth. The Bio Robo appeared and showered five youths with Bio particles so they'll rise up to defend the Earth from a similar threat. That similar threat years later took place in the form of the New Empire Gear which some fans may remember simply as the Neo Empire.
Bioman was also experimenting on new concepts for rangers. Unlike its predecessors the show had two female rangers instead of one. The main line of characters were Shiro Gou (Red One), Shingo Takasugi (Green Two), Ryuta Nanbara (Blue Three), Mika Koizumi (Yellow Four) and Hikaru Katsuragi (Pink Five). Why Mika Koizumi was written off was not known except it's said that Yuki Yajima abruptly left the set. With that in mind, Mika's death was filmed and in the following episode we get Sumiko Tanaka acting as Jun Yabuki, the second Yellow Four.
The enemy forces known as the New Empire Gear represented the reckless use of science - a theme that would be repeated into Flashman, Liveman and Megaranger. Bioman as the start of the science theme of Super Sentai showed how reckless science can lead to one's destruction. The main villain Doctor Man was once the scientist Hideo Kageyama. Dr. Kageyama tried to increase his intelligence to become the world's greatest genius only to become very old quite early. To extend his life, he chose to become a cyborg and later in the series he became a complete Mecha Human. With his deep hatred for what he used to be - a human, he plans to enslave the human race with New Empire Gear. How Peebo knew about Gear's existence is not that well-explained but their existence forced Bio Robo to awaken. This was to prevent Earth from becoming another Planet Bio. Later, one plot mover namely Doctor Man's son Shuichi appears as an important key player in the conflict between robotics and life.
The villains in the series were atypical in some ways. While you had field commanders like Mason the strategist, Farrah the mistress of espionage who was accompanied by Farrah Cat (Yukari Oshima's big entry into show business before she'd be known by another stage name as Cynthia Luster), and Monster the brute force they didn't have the human sized monsters that were enlarged. Instead, you have the five Beastnoids known as Messerjuu, Psygorn, Juuoh, Mettlzer and Aquagaiger who would retreat every time they were beaten. It sort of bothered me how those guys keep surviving. When they retreat, Doctor Man launches a Mecha Giant either as a last resort or as the plot mover of the week.
Later, we would be introduced to the lethal hunter known as Silver. It's a good thing that Bioman didn't leave the Anti-Bio Particles plot behind. The plot of the Anti-Bio Particles was that they were used by the opposition in the Planet Bio. During the war, the Anti-Bio Particles showed their destructive capability to the point the planet exploded. Silver who was thought off long-dead possessed more Anti-Bio Particles than ever. Peebo ends up recalling Mika (but only as Yellow Four) during that episode. He warns that Silver's power is stronger than the Bio Killer Gun. Although none of the Biomen were killed by him perhaps due to their upgrades but one can't deny Anti-Bio Particles do more than just negate Bio Particles. His laser beams can cause severe damage even to New Empire Gear's subordinates. In the show, he looks for his giant robot Balzion which works its way into the finale arc. Later on, Doctor Man would end up using the Anti-Bio Particles (again) for the finale where he created both King Megas (his final robot based on Balzion's technology) and the Anti-Bio Bomb to destroy the Earth.
After watching Bioman in more or less accurate translations for the original language, I felt like I watched the show the first time. A lot of stuff were lost in translation or exaggerated presumably due to Telesuccess Productions' hectic schedule. Some plots by Gear were exaggerated or didn't make sense during the dub. The fan subs presented what Bioman really was and what the real plot ought to be. Today, I just pretend Bioman's English dub never happened after seeing the subs.
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