Ranger Station Episode 71: The Song Of Guitardo
With 800 episodes over the course of 22 years, the Power Rangers television show is arguably the single most successful live-action superhero franchise of all time, and certainly one of the strangest. Adapted from Japan's long-running Super Sentai series, created by manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori, the Power Rangers combined the giant robots and monsters of their Japanese counterpart with a completely different set of secret identities and problems, and became a pop cultural phenomenon. That's why we're looking back with an in-depth guide to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, including its source material from Gosei Sentai Dairanger in ComicsAlliance's Ranger Station!
This week, the Rangers face off against what is perhaps the most unfortunately named villain in Power Rangers history, and Dairanger introduces us to Bullet Shoji: The Warrior of Love!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 71: The Song of Guitardo
Writer: Shell Danielson and Shuky Levy
Director: Terence H. Winkless
Original Air Date: September 26, 1994
We've only really talked about it in the context of the soaring glam metal fight songs of Ron Wasserman, aka the Mighty RAW, but I honestly think there's a lot to be said about the relationship the Power Rangers franchise has to music.
The theme songs alone are a pretty weird journey, starting with the amazing classic theme song and moving through the next 20 years with different twists on whatever was popular at the time. Jungle Fury and Ninja Storm for instance, are these strange variations on mid-2000s pop punk, and, Operation Overdrive and Mystic Force have this Gnarls Barkley sort of thing going on, and then it all loops back around to Samurai and Megaforce just being the original theme song with minor tweaks to the lyrics.
Which, I suppose, is the benefit of having a song whose entire verbal component is made up of two words and the name of the show. It's pretty easy to repurpose.
I could go on --- Dino Charge literally starts with "in a world full of strife you must fight to survive," which, while accurate, is pretty grim by Power Rangers standards --- but the show also plays with music in really weird ways. Like, sometimes, it's weaponized by a giant cicada with a murder guitar.
This is Guitardo, and if you've been paying attention at all over the past 70-odd weeks, then you already know exactly who he is and how he came to be.
When Kimberly is struggling with her songwriting --- you know, that very important interest she has that we have never seen before --- Lord Zedd is inspired by the mere presence of an acoustic guitar to unleash... a cicada.
Because, and I quote, "where there is wood, there are cicadas," which I'm not sure is entomologically accurate, even when the wood in question is, y'know, a guitar. Like, would it not have been easier to just skip the middleman here and make a guitar monster? You already have the name, dude.
There is one really interesting thing about this, though: It's one of those rare occasions where the season's ongoing Bulk and Skull plot actually ties into the main story with the monster. See, Bulk and Skull are out in the park doing a little bit of sexy roleplaying to spice up their relationship, with the secondary goal of luring the Power Rangers into action so that they can discover their identities.
The thing is, it works. The Rangers hear the shouts and run over to check things out. The only problem is that since they're not Morphed yet, Bulk and Skull just assume that it's their nosy classmates butting in and presumably attempting to throw them into a nearby cake.
But while the Rangers are off dealing with that, Kimberly leaves her guitar leaning against a (presumably cicada-infested) tree, giving Zedd the opportunity to cast his spell uninhibited. Thus: Guitardo, who immediately attacks the Rangers with his sinister raps and rhymes. Er, rock and roll.
And here's the weirdest thing about the entire episode: The song that Guitardo attacks them with sounds exactly like "Spoonman." Well. Maybe not exactly, but it sounds a lot like what "Spoonman" would sound like if it was sung by a six-foot cicada who wanted to kill the Power Rangers. Just read that line with the cadence!
And I mean, that actually makes a lot of sense, right? Soundgarden dropped that single in February of 1994, which means that it was probably getting radio play constantly when this episode was being written and filmed. I don't think it was intentional --- although it would be kind of amazing if it turned out that the producers of the show just hated Chris Cornell and wanted to see him as a giant bug who gets exploded by the Power Rangers --- but clearly some part of the musical zeitgeist was slipping in.
I just wish they would've switched over to the rap station and had Guitardo coming out sounding like Illmatic.
With the power of explosive musical notes, Guitardo quickly takes out all of the Rangers except for Kimberly and Tommy, leaving them to face him alone at that amusement park that they always go to for dramatic set pieces.
It's a tough fight, but eventually, the Rangers decide on a solution that may actually be one of the most amazing things the Zyu2 footage has ever provided: Kimberly decides to fight music with music, and strings her Power Bow with extra strings so she can use it as a harp --- harps are basically just big guitars, right? --- and counters his evil music with her good music. Then, she and Tommy load up the Dragon Dagger like an arrow and shoot Guitardo right in the friggin' face, taking him down without the need of the Mega Thunderzord.
It's the Power Rangers equivalent of "Ether."
Remember back when we started in with Gosei Sentai Dairanger, and I told you Shoji was your new favorite Ranger and you just didn't know it yet? This is the episode where that's going to happen. Because this is the episode where we meet Bullet Shoji: The Warrior Of Love!
The last few episodes have, of course, been spotlights for the various Dairangers, and while Daigo's spotlight and the introduction of Kujaku, or the big reveal that Ryo's father was a six thousand year-old traitor to the Gorma were probably the ones that were more important, this week's episode, "Magnet Gauss!", is unquestionably one of the most full-on rad episodes of Super Sentai ever produced.
And it all starts with Shoji --- the Heavenly Tenma Ranger --- meeting a girl.
See, Shoji is a boxer by trade (hence the amazing nickname), and when he's out doing his road work, he meets up with a cute fellow jogger, Natsumi, who wants to learn the sweet science herself. Shoji immediately senses a love connection, but there's a problem.
And that problem... is Magnet Priest.
As the name implies, his human form is essentially a magnetic Father Guido Sarducci, and he's wandering around polarizing people and forcing them to either repel each other or attracting them into various objects. And to make matters worse, his favorite targets are people who love each other, whether romantic or familial.
X2: X-Men United (2003).
Clearly, the Warrior of Love cannot allow this to stand, especially since he and Natsumi have both been branded with north-flavored magnetism, and Shoji's attempt at rescuing her ends up sending her crashing into a nearby wall.
He makes up for it later. But first, his first attempt at taking him on ends up in a spectacular loss against the Magnet Priest's true form. And just look at this guy:
Also amazing? His plan to kill Natsumi by branding a car with the south pole of his Magnet, and sending it chasing her down the street until Shoji intervenes on a dirtbike, leading to an amazing car chase and explosion.
With Natsumi rescued, it's time for the second battle against the Magnet Priest, and while he quickly brands the other four Dairangers, that's what leads to his downfall. See, while Kaku took the pretty obvious route of telling Shoji to use the monster's power against them -- you know, like they do with every monster -- they don't just figure out how to reverse the polarity or whatever.
They turn themselves into a human rail gun.
This is Linear Fist Central Bullet Train, Shoji's ultimate attack, and it rules.
Seriously: If ever there's been a single episode that justified picking up an entire DVD set, this is the one.
In Ranger Station, each episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will be graded on a scale of one to ten in five categories, with a final score awarded with a maximum of fifty points.
Weirdness of the Monster: While I do like the effect of explosive musical notes coming out of a giant insect's guitar, this is another one of those Zyu2 monsters that seems like they just made a generic costume and pulled a random accessory out of the warehouse for it. 4/10
Deviation From The Source: 10/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: There is literally no way that Bulk and Skull dressing up as a monster and a princess and chasing each other around is anything other than an attempt to spice up their relationship. 7/10
Moral Lessons: Soundgarden is the hot new sound of the '90s! 5/10
'90s Fashions: Go back up and look at Bulk and Skull's costumes, and please take note of how amazing it is that Skull is wearing his signature studded leather belt over his princess dress. 8/10
Total For Episode 46: 34/50