Power Up! The Best 10 Super Sentai Shows You Need To Watch

Super Sentai, the iconic Japanese superhero franchise, has captivated audiences worldwide for decades with its thrilling action, colourful characters, and epic battles. From the mighty mecha to the heroic warriors, there’s something truly magical about these dynamic shows that have stood the test of time. Western audiences might know them by another name, but you are missing out if you didn’t delve deeper into the history of the Super Sentai,

With the conclusion of the latest season, Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger, on 25 February 2024, there’s no better time to explore the best that the franchise has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to the genre, here are the Top 10 Super Sentai shows that any tokusatsu fan needs to add to their watchlist.

#10. Choudenshi Bioman (1984)

Choudenshi Bioman is a classic Super Sentai series released in 1984, predating the Power Rangers franchise (Super Sentai’s Americanised counterpart). Bioman marked an impactful shift in the franchise by incorporating engaging drama and meaningful team interactions. Notably, this was the first series to feature more than one female hero on the team. 

However, this came with its own challenges and when conflicts arose, Yuki Yajima, who portrayed Mika Koizumi/Yellow Four, was forced to depart the show, posing a significant hurdle to production. A replacement was swiftly found in Sumiko Tanaka, who assumed the role of Jun Yabuki and stepped into the boots left vacant by Mika’s departure. Creagtively though, the decision was made to write Mika out of the series by killing off her character early on in the show. This marked a pivotal moment in Super Sentai history, as it remains the only time a main roster member met such a fate.

Ultimately, it led to compelling storylines that combined action, melodrama, and character development. Moreover, Bioman was one of the first few Super Sentai series to feature an overarching plot, while grappling with moral dilemmas that resonated with audiences.

#9. Ninpu Sentai Hurricaneger (2002)

Ninpu Sentai Hurricaneger leverages an exciting aesthetic that sees the protagonists harnessing the power of ninja techniques and martial arts in their battles against evil. Its engaging plotlines and well-paced action sequences ensure that viewers remain hooked. Additionally, the series strikes a balance between light-hearted humour, infused with early-2000s charm, and a dark story, appealing to a wide range of audiences.

Furthermore, Hurricaneger benefits from its strong ensemble cast and memorable villains, each with distinct personalities and motivations. The dynamic and well-developed characters, including the duo Gouraigers — rival rangers who eventually join the Hurricanegers — provide depth to the storyline and create compelling conflicts throughout the series.

#8. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger (2004)

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger‘s strength lies in its episodic format. Whilst lacking a principal villain and central plotline, it offers a rich and engaging viewing experience. The series prioritises character development, group dynamics, and exploring the concept of justice. Each episode serves as a platform for challenging the charismatic characters, pushing them to their limits, and testing their resolve in various situations.

This approach allows a deep dive into the characters’ personalities, motivations, and moral compasses. By focusing on character-driven stories rather than overarching plots, Dekaranger creates a compelling and dynamic world that keeps viewers invested in the journey of its protagonists. As a testament to its success, this series is the only Super Sentai series to clinch the Seiun Award, which recognises the finest science-fiction contributions across both Japanese film and television productions for the year.

#7. Juken Sentai Gekiranger (2007)

Superhero media often live and die by their villains, and Juken Sentai Gekiranger shines particularly bright when it comes to its antagonists. The show’s serialised approach effectively builds and intensifies rivalries, fostering compelling dynamics not only among the heroes but also between them and their adversaries.

The interactions between characters are rich with depth and humour, leading to engaging and memorable exchanges. Moreover, Gekiranger‘s commitment to humanising its villains adds complexity to the narrative, elevating the overall viewing experience. Boasting intricate lore, finely-tuned narrative pacing, limited filler content, and some of the best fight choreography in the franchise, Gekiranger delivers a distinctive and electrifying journey for fans.

#6. Choujin Sentai Jetman (1991)

Inspired by the 80s animated classic Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (better known by its American adaptation, Battle of the Planets), Choujin Sentai Jetman builds genuine tension among the heroes, creating a captivating dynamic that feels authentic and relatable.

Instead of immediately trusting one another, the group grapples with conflicts, arguments, and a gradual building of trust over time. This realistic portrayal adds depth to the series and enhances the believability of the team’s journey.

Moreover, the complexity of the villains’ emotions further enriches the narrative, contributing to its darker themes and more dramatic, human tone. Jetman‘s unique mix of action and intricate character development made it a groundbreaking series in Super Sentai history, transcending the boundaries of traditional tokusatsu to become a compelling soap opera.

#5. Mirai Sentai Timeranger (2000)

Mirai Sentai Timeranger stands out for its intricate and well-crafted storyline that captivates viewers with its combination of action, drama, and suspense. As the last Super Sentai season produced in the 20th century, it boasts a bleak yet enthralling storyline, offering glimmers of hope that compels viewers to keep watching. The series navigates complex themes such as fate, identity, and the consequences of time travel, adding depth to its narrative.

Moreover, Timeranger boasts a fascinating cast of characters, each with unique personalities and backgrounds. The interactions and relationships between the team members are a highlight, providing emotional depth and driving the story forward. Additionally, the villains in Timeranger are memorable and formidable adversaries, posing significant challenges for the heroes throughout the series.

#4. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger (2013)

Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger’s vibrant and energetic tone, combined with its dinosaur-themed motif, appeals to children and adults alike, evoking a sense of nostalgia while offering something fresh and exciting. Also known as Beast Power Squadron Dinosaur Ranger, it offers dynamic and visually striking action sequences, showcasing the powerful mecha battles and the Rangers’ unique abilities in thrilling ways.

The series effectively balances the action with moments of levity and fun. Moreover, Kyoryuger explores themes of teamwork and friendship, while cleverly embracing elements of music and dance to resonate with audiences on an emotional level. Its popularity led to massive toy sales and even a South Korean sequel series, Power Rangers Dino Force Brave (2017).

#3. Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (2009)

Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is often praised for its strong storytelling, compelling characters, and unique blend of traditional Japanese culture with modern superhero elements. One aspect that makes Shinkenger stand out is its rich and immersive world-building, drawing inspiration from Japanese history, folklore, and mythology to create a vivid and authentic setting.

Led by Tori Matsuzaka (Wandering, The Blood of Wolves), the compelling characters, each with unique character arcs, are supported by outstanding acting. The series also explores themes of honour, duty, and sacrifice, adding depth and emotional resonance to the story. Additionally, Shinkenger excels in its action sequences, choreography, and special effects, delivering epic battles and visually stunning mecha fights that captivate viewers.

#2. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (2011)

As a celebration of the 35th anniversary of Super Sentai, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger revolves around a team of space pirates who can transform into past Super Sentai teams using special Ranger Keys. This fan-favourite season pays homage to the franchise’s rich history and features various team-ups with characters from previous seasons, delighting fans with nostalgic cameos and references.

Moreover, Gokaiger features a charismatic cast loosely based on character archetypes from One Piece. Their development as individuals and as a team adds depth and complexity to the story, while their interactions with past Sentai teams provide opportunities for character growth and exploration.

#1. Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger (2023)

Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger may have only recently concluded, but it represents a peak in the franchise thanks to its imaginative storytelling, dynamic characters, and thrilling action. Its engaging storyline and well-executed plot twists are deftly paced, akin to two curated seasons of entertainment as opposed to a single drawn-out season.

Despite being part of a franchise targeted towards kids, series writer Minato Takano believes that “there is a difference between ‘for adults’ and ‘enjoyable for both adults and children’.” Consequently, he aimed to create “something that children and their parents can enjoy watching together at home and find interesting.” The result is a trendy show inspired by Game of Thrones, as well as shounen series like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, One Piece, and Hunter X Hunter.

The colourful cast boasts impeccable acting, delivering their lines and emotions with the pathos of an epic drama rather than simply a Sunday morning programme. Additionally, the robust production value behind King-Ohger includes lots of CGI, extensive on-set virtual production, and LED walls, prompted by The Mandalorian’s use of the Volume (the largest and most sophisticated virtual filmmaking environment).

Bonus: Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger (2012)

Plenty of shows pay homage to or parody the Super Sentai franchise, such as The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman and Love After World Domination. However, Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is created by Toei, the company responsible for Super Sentai itself. As an “unofficial Sentai”, Akibaranger merges the vibrant world of otaku culture with classic Super Sentai elements, creating a unique viewing experience tailored for adult audiences.

Across two seasons, Akibaranger often parodies and deconstructs the conventions of Super Sentai, poking fun at clichés and stereotypes while simultaneously celebrating them. This meta-commentary adds an extra layer of depth and entertainment for viewers familiar with the tropes of the genre.

From classic adventures to modern masterpieces, the Super Sentai franchise continues to captivate audiences with its blend of action, drama, and camaraderie. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to the genre, these top 10 Super Sentai shows promise to deliver epic battles, heartfelt moments, and a sense of wonder that truly embodies the spirit of tokusatsu storytelling.

Do you agree with this list, or have your own picks? Let us know!