Manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori created a television series called Himitsu Sentai Gorenger (Secret Squadron FiveRangers), which was the first of the Super Sentai series and which, like Kamen Rider (another Ishinomori creation) and Ultraman, has produced new series almost every year since, down unto the present day.

The Super Sentai series is better known in the US. by the adapted/bastardized version known as the Power Rangers, and tends to feature teams of five color-coded heroes fighting evil.

 Himitsu Sentai Gorenger  ran from April 5, 1975 to March 26, 1977.  Concomitantly with the release of the television series, Ishinomori produced two manga series about the characters, one of which ran in Weekly Shonen Sunday from May 4, 1975 to  August 10, 1975, and the other of which ran in Shogaku Gonensei from April to July 1975.  The two versions are basically similar, although they give slightly variant origins for the team. Both versions have been collected in a single volume and released in English.

The premise is that the evil Black Cross Army is destabilizng the world order, so the good-guy organization EAGLE* recruits five young people and outfits them with power-suits and helmets that enhance their senses and physical abilities.

They are:

  • Tsuyoshi Kaijo (Akarenger/Red Ranger), a martial artist, the leader and Our Hero
  • Shinmei Akira (Aorenger/Blue Ranger), the second male lead
  • Oiwa Daita (Kirenger/Yellow Ranger), the big dumb guy who eats a lot
  • Peggy Matsuyama (Momorenger/Pink Ranger), the woman
  • Asuka Kenji (Midorenger/Green Ranger), the wisecracker who specializes in riddles 

They are guided by an older guy whose name escapes me at the moment.

The art is good.  Ishinomori started out as an assistant to Osamu Tezuka, and one can see the Doctor' influence here.

The stories are basic hero stuff, but readable.  It's interesting to get a chance to see what it was like at the beginning of a genre which has lasted so long.

*Stands for "EArth Guard LEague"

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