Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Stuff of Legends: The 47 Ronin.

It’s an interesting coincidence that Nickelodeon announced that it was making a TV movie based off of their game show Legends of the Hidden Temple earlier this month and that I’ve chosen to shed some light onto this legend now.  For those who don’t know or can’t remember, the game show took place in a generic Mesoamerican temple set and would start off with the character of Olmec relating some sort of legend that happened somewhere in the world.  He would then introduce an artifact from that legend as the goal that the various teams were striving for.  It’s through that show that I first learned about this particular legend.  Another interesting thing about the show upon rewatching it is that so many of the legends were based around real historical figures.  That’s an interesting thing that I’ll get to later, though.

Anyway, this is the legend of Chushingura or The 47 Ronin.
In 1701, Lord Asano of Ako Castle was appointed to serve on the reception committee at the Shogun’s castle in Edo (modern day Tokyo) for a visit from the Emperor’s messengers.  This was a major event and would require Lord Asano to observe a very complex form of etiquette.  The Shogun’s master of ceremonies Lord Kira was appointed as Lord Asano’s teacher in all things etiquette.  Now, the story varies.  Some say that Lord Kira was just naturally rude and arrogant, others say that he was not pleased with the number of presents he was given (it was traditional to present gifts to an honored teacher and man of high rank in this situation) and some say he was upset that Asano simply wouldn’t bribe him.  Whichever way it was, Kira seemed to go out of his way to embarrass, insult and deride his pupil.  Asano endured this stoically for a while until finally things came to a head within the Shogun’s palace and Asano drew his sword and swung it at Kira.  Kira was only wounded.  However, to attack a man in anger was illegal and to do so within the Shogun’s palace was practically unthinkable.  Asano was tried and ultimately ordered to commit seppuku (ritual suicide).

Word of Asano’s death soon reached back to Ako Castle and Lord Asano’s retainers.  This was dire business.  The retainers were now Ronin or masterless samurai.  Not only that, but the Shogun’s government would now come to claim all of Lord Asano’s lands and holdings.  Some of the retainers considered resistance, holding the castle until the end.  The head steward Oishi Kuranosuke instead convinced the others that the fortunes of the clan would need to be restored first and if that didn’t work, they would exact their revenge upon Lord Kira.  They petitioned the Shogun to allow Lord Asano’s younger brother to take up his position.  The Shogun declined and all that remained was the goal of revenge.

Of about 300 samurai, only about a quarter of them agreed to exact revenge (the number would get whittled down to 47 later on).  Then, the ronin all went their separate ways and prepared for the chosen day.  To throw any potential spies off the scent Oishi sent his wife and youngest children back to his mother-in-law’s house.  His oldest son stayed with him and became part of the plan.  He then went on to live a life of indulgence.  He was seen drinking, brawling and gambling frequently and visiting houses of ill repute.  All this was to convince the world he was an utterly debased man.  Some legends even say that a samurai from Kyoto once came across him lying in the street and spat on him saying that he was no true samurai.
Finally, the day came.  The ronin came together, put on fresh clothes and armor and put a fire brigade uniform on over the armor so they could move through the streets unimpeded.  They then raided Kira’s home quickly, meeting little resistance from Kira’s personal guards.  They hunted for Kira throughout the house and ultimately found him hiding in a storage shed.  They offered Kira the chance to commit seppuku but he refused.  They then used the same dagger that Lord Asano used to kill himself to behead Kira.  They then took the head to the temple where Lord Asano’s grave was.  They washed the head, placed it on Asano’s grave, said prayers and burned incense.  Then, all 47 of them offered themselves up to the authorities to pay for their crimes.

46 of the ronin were sentenced to death and allowed to commit seppuku so they might have an honorable death.  The youngest of the ronin was allowed to go free.  Sources differ on why that is.  Some say it was because of his youth.  Others say it was because he didn’t take part in the actual attack but just acted as a messenger.  However, the story of the Revenge of the 47 Ronin is still known today.

I wanted to include this story because of my own interest in Japanese folklore and because the title would be known because there was a movie based on it that was of questionable quality.  You’d hardly know it was supposed to be the same story based on the trailer (I never saw it, I couldn’t quite get past the Keanu Reeves-iness of the lead actor).  However, the story is a big deal in Japan.  It still gets adapted into novels, plays and puppet shows.  Interestingly, there’s also always been a little bit of controversy over it.  Some people say that what the ronin did was honorable.  Others say they waited too long in their preparations, risking that Lord Kira who was already over 60 at the time might die in the meantime.  Others say that Lord Asano’s death should have ended everything right then and there.  In truth, these events are a bit of an oddity as far as I understand it (I am by no means an expert on Japanese history or culture).  The way of life of the samurai as it had been was rapidly fading by 1701 and being replaced by more government and bureaucracy.  The Shogun’s order that Asano commit seppuku was a fair one by the standards of Japanese law at the time.  And the whole thing essentially ends with 47 men killing an older man in a storage shed.  Though some like to paint the whole thing as the epitome of samurai conduct, it may be more accurate to see it as one of the last gasps of a way of life that was on its way out.

The thing that should be noted though, is that this isn’t a completely made up story.  This is an event that actually happened in 1701. The Japanese refer to it as the “Ako Incident”.   I’ve mentioned in past entries that legends have some sort of basis in fact.  Well, this one has a lot more fact than others.  Heck, they even know where these men were buried.
There was once a time when legends and history often seemed indistinguishable.  There are any number of stories we’ve learned about real historical figures that are in fact more accurately considered legends than truth.  George Washington chopping down a cherry tree is a legend.  Marco Polo bringing pasta from China to Italy is a legend.  Christopher Columbus trying to prove the world is round is a legend.  All of these have proven apocryphal at best.  Yet, many of us learned these as history.  With the state of the world and scholarship now though, it makes me wonder if there is a place for the historical legend in the world these days.  I’ve already met people who’ve used the word legend as if it was a synonym for “lie” or “bad history” in my life.  There are some legendary figures that we accept as just stories and that we seem to like better that way (take King Arthur and Robin Hood as examples).  Yet, the connection between history and legend still makes things tricky.  I’ve also encountered people who’ve maligned Disney for their take on Mulan who they refer to as a “historical figure”, even though the only record of her existence is a short poem.  I’d argue they were within their rights as fiction-makers.  Yet, there’s also the issue of their fictionalizing the life of Pocahontas, which is generally considered to be wrong even though the oral culture had fictionalized the lives of real people for centuries.  Was Disney wrong or were they just “legend-building”?  I’m not sure we’ll ever really have the answer in this lifetime.

The legend of the 47 Ronin is not only considered a big deal and quintessential samurai tale in Japan but also a reminder of how close legend connects with history.  Whether you see them as true history or just an epic yarn, the 47 Ronin certainly are The Stuff of Legends!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Once Upon a Time there was a card game . . .

I don’t get much chance to post about games, either of the video or tabletop variety.  Sometimes it’s an equipment issue and sometimes it’s a “having enough players” issue.  However, I managed to bring up the award-winning tabletop card game Once Upon a Time (no relation to the ABC television show) to the fellow members of my storytelling group once and they seemed intrigued.  So, we set up a time during our February meeting to play.
I figured this would, if nothing else, be a great gimmick for a review.  I got a group of professional storytellers to play a storytelling game.  Sounds interesting, right?  However, that might not be the case.  I’ll explain further in a minute.

Okay, so the group assembled consisted of myself, Sandy Schuman, Bonnie Mion, Eric Randall and Gil Payette.  You may be able to get to know more about them by clicking over to the Story Circle of the Capital District home page. 

The way the game goes is that everyone is dealt a hand of cards.  These cards contain different types like Characters, Places, Aspects, Objects and Events.
Everyone is also dealt one ending card.
The object of the game is to tell a shared story, using up the cards in your hand and weave the story towards the ending card you’ve been dealt.  Along the way, if you stumble in telling the story, or you have in your hand something they mention, or if you have a special Interrupt story card you can interrupt the story and take over as the new storyteller.  People are not bound to the cards in their hand but they have to use them all to win.  Also, story cards have to be used for things that are major parts of the story and not things mentioned in passing.  There are also some other rules that are meant to legislate the course of the game.

Now, it didn’t seem like we made it through a single hand before it seemed like someone wanted to change the rules of the game.  We also had one player who always tried to finish the game in one turn and sometimes managed to do so, even if the end result was a bit of a stretch.

Now, why is this?  Why did there seem to be such discontent over the design of a game that has won at least five awards?  Well, I think it’s because I miscalculated how much fun the potential gimmick of my review was going to be in practice.  Basically, Once Upon a Time is a storytelling card game that’s designed for regular people and not storytellers.  The ability of one of our members to end a game in a single turn may have attested to that.  The skill level of some of us was beyond what the game was designed for.  Also, elements of the game that were probably included intentionally for fun didn’t go over as well with the players assembled.  For example, the stories in the game had a tendency of shifting in different directions rather radically or even randomly.  Things that were very important at the beginning of the story suddenly disappeared in later turns.  While this element may have been considered fun and potentially humorous to regular players, it kind of rankled a group of professional storytellers.  For people who are used to carefully crafting the stories they tell, I’m not sure they could see the appeal of telling stories that frequently went off the rails.

So, we kept trying to change the rules.  First we tried it with fewer cards.  Then we tried it with our hands showing.  And a couple other variations until we had to get the actual meeting underway.

I don’t wish to paint this as a bad game because I can see the appeal in its design.  However, I will say that it’s probably not for everyone.  You have to accept the randomness built into it and that there won’t be one coherent through line for the story you tell.  I’d definitely try playing it again with a less experienced group of storytellers and see how that goes before passing judgement.

Before I go, I would like to point everyone to the show Tabletop featuring Wil Wheaton that made me aware of this game.  I’d also like to point you towards some other tabletop games that feature fairy tale themes.  Ones like Winter Tales, Fairy Tale Gloom, Dark Tales, Tales of the Arabian Nights and Scary Tales.  I would also like to point out some games for younger players like Iello’s Tales and Games series.  There are also some games that draw on legends like Sheriff of Nottingham and Shadows over Camelot.  Whatever your gaming group, it looks like there may be a story-inspired game out there for you.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fairy Tale Fandom Book Report: Winter.

I have not come to praise The Lunar Chronicles but to bury them.

Actually, I’ve really come to do both.

You may remember that many moons ago, I wrote a post about Marissa Meyer’s YA book series The Lunar Chronicles.  To sum up that post: I really, really, really like The Lunar Chronicles.  However, I did write that post before the final book in the series Winter and the series prequel Fairest came out.  So, now that I have read both those books and the main core of the Lunar Chronicles series is done, I thought it would make sense to both review the latest book in the series and do a sort of post-mortem on the series.

So, after reading the entire series, do I still really, really, really like The Lunar Chronicles?  Yes.  Yes, I do. 

To sum up what both Winter and the rest of The Lunar Chronicles is about: it’s the story of cyborg Cinderella as she attempts to launch a revolution against the Evil Queen of the moon assisted by a gun-toting Red Riding Hood, hacker Rapunzel and a Snow White whose mental powers are driving her insane.  Also, there are wolf soldiers, a deadly plague and some male characters derived from the storybook princes.
That phrase might be a little hard for some people to take in.  However, it’s one of the things that shows just how geek-friendly this series is.  Reading the series, I was constantly reminded of other science fiction and fantasy properties but never in a way that took away from the story itself.  The most notable ones I could see were Sailor Moon, X-Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.  This is probably because of the influence of the series’ writer, Marissa Meyer.  The writer herself is a geek and a fairy tale fan.  How much of a geek/fairy tale fan.  Well, her and her husband went to San Diego Comic Con and cosplayed as Little Red Riding Hood and the Woodsman.  That’s how much.  And given that she seems to be about the same age as I am, I wouldn’t doubt much if those properties I listed were in fact influences on the story.

The title character of this volume is Queen Levana’s stepdaughter Winter.  Winter is a Lunar and has the Lunar gift like most Lunars do.  However, Winter is so opposed to using her power to manipulate others that she refuses to use it.  As a result, lack of use is driving her insane.  This insanity is manifested through vivid and often scary hallucinations.  The one thing that seems to keep her grounded is her affection for childhood friend and royal guard Jacin.  Jacin plays the role of both the prince and the Huntsman who lets Snow White get away.  The story beats of Snow White play out in this future world as all the while a revolution is underway.  Only, instead of an apple, it’s an apple candy laced with a deadly plague and instead of dwarfs it’s Cinder and her ragtag group of friends.  What’s truly great about Winter is how the metaphors for both her and Levana play out.  Winter is beloved by the people and seen as the most beautiful girl on Luna.  This is despite the three scars she has on her cheek from when Levana made her cut herself.  The scars may even enhance her beauty.  Winter is someone who is genuine and beautiful despite and because of her flaws that she doesn’t try to hide.  The people love her “warts and all”.  Levana however is scarred because of burns she received during childhood when being manipulated by her sister.  However, she hides it all behind a Lunar glamour.  The scars may be physical in the book but they represent her inner scars and the ugliness she hides beneath the surface.  Levana, as shown in Fairest, was someone who was ruined by her own manipulative family and her belief that love is a battle.  Winter herself even becomes something of a good model for people with mental illness.  It gives away some of the story though, so I won’t elaborate.

I’ve praised the world-building in this series before, but you have to love how well planned out it all is.  There are things that are introduced three or four books before they receive their ultimate payoff.  The plague which takes the role of the poison in Snow White is introduced way back in book one.  Carswell Thorne, who plays the role of Rapunzel’s prince is introduced in Scarlet, the book before Cress in which he really becomes important.  Meyer also isn’t afraid to break from some of the more traditional associations of these fairy tale characters.  In this world, Cinderella stand in Cinder is of royal blood while Snow White’s analogue Winter is only royal by marriage.  Also, the characters of Kai, Thorne and Jacin who are analogues for the princes from “Cinderella”, “Rapunzel” and “Snow White” are transformed into a prince, thief and guard respectively.  If those last two characters hadn’t been changed, then the story would have been awash in princes.  Interestingly, both characters also remind me of other fairy tale motifs with Thorne being Jack (both as a fool and a lucky rogue) and Jacin reminds me of the soldiers from stories like “How Six Men Got on in the World” and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”.  The end result is a series of books that does not feel like a rehash but like an echo of something old and familiar.  The last couple of books even redeemed the character of Scarlet for me a little in having her play off of Winter.  I still think Scarlet is the weakest in the series, seeing as it’s yet another tale of Red Riding Hood falling in love with the Big Bad Wolf.  This is practically the oldest story in teen fairy tale fiction.  However, Scarlet is just grounded enough to be the perfect foil for Winter when Jacin isn’t around.

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  The main part of The Lunar Chronicles is done.  There are still some ancillary parts left, though.  I still haven’t read Stars Above which is a book of short stories set in the Lunar Chronicles world.  Also, I hear there are graphic novels forthcoming based around Cinder’s android friend Iko.  However, Marissa Meyer is moving on to other projects and I’m eager to see what they are.  There are lots of reasons to read these books and I’ve seen many of them listed on Tumblr sites and Pinterest, but my reasoning will be that they’re fairy tale fiction that actually feels fresh and shows just how well these age old tales work with new genre fiction elements.  If you have the chance to read The Lunar Chronicles, don’t wait.  I feel they are definitely worth reading.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fairy Tale Fandom Book Report: A Brothers Grimm Coloring Book.

Now, if you’ve been to a bookstore recently, you may have noticed a trend.  There are now coloring books for adults.  I’ve seen them stacked on a table in my local Barnes & Noble as well as a small display of them at a local independent book store.  Piles of pages of cityscapes and folk designs and mandalas among other things.  There have been all sorts of claims made regarding the positive benefits of coloring for adults.  It’s supposed to be linked to all sorts of things like stress relief, meditation and mindfulness.  I’ve got some links.  Here’s one where a neuroscientist explains the potential benefits and here’s one from cable news powerhouse CNN.  I do also have a link here about the limitations of adult coloring.  The basic gist seems to be that you shouldn’t expect too much from it.  One of my favorite vloggers, Kiri Callaghan, swears by it though.  Even if it’s not helping as much as people say, it certainly can’t be hurting anything.
So, naturally, when I saw this I had to pick it up:
The full title is A Brothers Grimm Coloring Book and other Classic Fairy Tales.  It’s illustrated by an artist named Adam Fisher and published by Pegasus Books.

Of course, now that I have it, it begs an important question: How do I go about reviewing a coloring book?

Well, I’ll just go through my observations and we’ll see what the end result is.  As is expected from a coloring book, every page has a single black and white illustration.  At the bottom of each is a quote from the story that the illustrated scene is taken from.  First of all, they include the source of their quotes, which is a big plus for me.  I know a major network TV show that doesn’t even cite its fairy tale quotes (:cough:Grimm:cough:). 

Now, some of the scenes come from popular tales like “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella” and “Hansel and Gretel”.  However, there are also lots of scenes from more obscure tales like “Frau Trude”, “The Three Languages”, “The Singing Bone” and “Iron Hans” among others.  There’s even one “Pied Piper” illustration, which technically isn’t a fairy tale at all, but people don’t know that.  Now, as the title suggests, not all the stories depicted come from the Brothers Grimm.  So, using their name in the title is a little bit of a cheat.  However, I suppose their name has some marketing power.  I have noticed that some of the scenes do come from the more “pop culture” versions of the stories (like a princess kissing a frog).  However, that’s an easy thing to let slide considering how many other tales are represented.

The pictures themselves are well drawn and interesting to look at.  For some of them, the perspective can be very unusual.  For example, there are some that are extreme close-ups of characters’ faces like Snow White Rumpelstiltskin and Frau Trude.  I’m not sure how much that will lend to the book’s relaxation benefits.  Rumpelstiltskin’s mug is something I might want to keep my distance from. 

Ultimately, if this book is something people want and can make use of will come down to an individual person’s wants and needs.  Personally, I still haven’t colored anything in this book yet.  Part of me just likes to look at the black and white pictures.  But if I do . . . dibs on the page with the giant beanstalk!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Go Go Fairy Tale Rangers!

I had been thinking about doing another one of these for a little while.  I even recently got some good feedback from someone about them.  So, here we are.  This is the (largely untitled) column in which I point out the connections between fairy tales/folklore and modern popular media.  You remember, I did one for Doctor Who and one for Star Wars.

So, which piece of modern media am I going to look at this time?  Would you believe Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!?
Well, if you did guess that, then you’re both right and kind of wrong.

You see, I’m actually taking it back to the Power Rangers’ source material.  I’m talking about a series of shows known as Super Sentai.

The way it works is this, ever since the 1970s Japanese television has had a series of kids’ superhero tokusatsu (special effects) shows made by Toei called Sentai.  The first was Himitsu Sentai Goranger (Secret Squadron Goranger) that ran from 1975 to 1977.   
Goranger: the first Super Sentai
Most of these shows last for about a year and each one has a different theme and actors as well as a story with a beginning and an end.  All the shows were very heavily focused on toy-friendly elements and all of them had the color-coded heroes.  Starting in the 1990s, an American company called Saban started importing the Japanese footage and cutting it together with American footage to create Power Rangers and pop culture history was made.

Personally, in terms of popular culture, I was really much less of the generation that loved Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and more from the one that loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (keeping to the theme of pop culture properties with ridiculous names).  However, my love of superheroes and fantastical fiction and my fascination with Japanese pop culture eventually led me to the property and Super Sentai.  I must say, I am actually rather fond of the show now.  There’s a certain sincere unrestrained, over-the-top quality that the show has.  As if the creators of the show never actually ask themselves if they’re going too big or too ridiculous.  Don’t get me wrong, the show is just about as cheesy as it’s American counterpart.  However, it seems more honest in its cheesiness.  Also, I find their pre-fab/ variations of a theme approach to superheroes to be interesting.  And lucky for American audiences, a company called Shout! Factory has started importing uncut Super Sentai and offering it on DVD!

So, let’s get started!  For this column, I’m going to be focusing on a show called Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger (Dinosaur Squadron Zyuranger).  This is the show that got cut and re-edited to create the first season of Power Rangers.  It’s actually kind of easy because it’s from a run of fantasy inspired Sentai shows (I never said I wouldn’t go for the low hanging fruit).  The plot is this (and it gets a little wiggy, so bear with me): 65 million years ago was the age of the dinosaurs.  However, the age of the dinosaurs turned out to also be an age of humans in warring clans with witches, knights, princes and kings.  The witch Bandora brought about the end of the dinosaurs but warriors from five of the clans trapped her in a magic jar on the rogue planet Nemesis.  The five warriors are then put in a long sleep so that they may be woken if Bandora should ever return.  They are Geki the TyrannoRanger (Red), Dan the TriceraRanger (Blue), Boi the TigerRanger (Yellow), Goushi the MammothRanger (Black) and Mei the PteraRanger (Pink).  Naturally, they’re woken 65 million years later in modern Tokyo where they fight the good fight using super-suits, weapons and the help of their gods which conveniently resemble (and assemble into) giant robots. 

So, how does this show call on fairy tales and folklore?  Well, I’m going to conveniently split this up into three parts.

The Villains
There is no way to get around this: the main villain is a wicked Witch.  It is the go-to female villain for almost anything fairy tale.  Bandora (Rita Repulsa in the American version)  is walking in the same footsteps as the villains from “Rapunzel”, “Hansel and Gretel”, “Frau Trude”, “Snow White” and many others.  The villains are where the main fantasy components come from.  While most of her henchmen are strange creatures that are hard to place in any mythic/folkloric tradition, the disposable monsters she sends are all generally based on creatures from folklore and mythology.  It’s mostly Western mythology to boot.  Power Rangers downplayed this by giving the monsters new, silly names.  However, the subtitles of the show attest that there were monsters based on Pixies, Unicorns,  Goblins and Djinn as well as creatures from Greek mythology like Chimaeras, Sphinxes, the giant Argos and even a pig monster inspired by the myth of Circe.  One notable monster even draws on the story of “Snow White” a little bit.  Dora Ladon is a monster based on the serpent that guards the golden apples of the Hesperides in Greek mythology.  However, though he’s decidedly based around a different apple-centric story, he starts off the episode by offering Mei a poison apple like the Queen in “Snow White” does.  One difference between Mei’s predicament and Snow White’s is that while Snow White is awoken by outside forces, Mei must fight through it herself in the dreams and hallucinations she has after being poisoned.

Burai the Dragon Ranger
To some extent, all the Zyurangers have a little bit of “Sleeping Beauty” in them.  When the age of the dinosaurs ended, they were all put into a sort of suspended animation so that they could wake up far in the future.  So, in addition to some “Sleeping Beauty”, there’s also a little bit of “UrashimaTaro”, a Japanese fairy tale which ends with a man returning to his home village after centuries away.  The show itself doesn’t really delve much into it.  The first Zyuranger we actually see wake up is Burai the Dragon Ranger, though.  Dragon Ranger is the Green Ranger in American Power Rangers.  Burai originally shows up as an antagonist but later joins the team.  His awakening doesn’t really remind me of “Sleeping Beauty” or “Snow White”, though.  It makes me think of something that’s not quite fairy tale but fairy tale-adjacent.  It reminds me of the Welsh legend of “King Arthur’s Cave”.  We’ve all heard the whole bit about how when Britain is in its darkest moment, Arthur will return to set things right.  Usually, the story goes that he’s on the mystical island of Avalon.  The Welsh story tells a different tale.  In this, he and all his knights are asleep in a cave.  It’s in a cave, or rather more of a buried temple, that Burai wakes up in.  Burai, during his stint as one of the good guys does have a much more straight-forward connection to “Sleeping Beauty”.  There’s an episode that name drops it directly.  In this episode a little girl who’s friends with Burai is put to sleep by the dark forces and Burai has to find her and wake her up.  The monster in the story is even based on the spinning wheel from that story.  It’s just this big, spiked wheel that flies around and knocks people over.  A reference to a much more obscure fairy tale occurs earlier when a major development about Burai is revealed.  This is a pretty big SPOILER, so if you don’t want it don’t continue reading.  Anyway, it turns out that Burai is living on borrowed time.  He had actually died during his long slumber but the forces of good conspire to keep him alive for a while longer.  It can’t last forever, though.  So, in order to extend his life he has to stay in a room where time will stand still for him.  The room is filled with candles, including a green candle representing his own life.  As long as he stays in that room, the candle doesn’t burn down any more.  The idea of candles representing people’s lives is a very memorable image.  One of the places it can be traced to is a Grimms’ fairy tale entitled “Godfather Death”.  The story also deals with what happens when you try to tamper with one’s own life-candle.  Give it a read if you’d like.

Fairy Tale Logic
Ever notice in fairy tales that things don’t always seem to follow the normal flow of logic that would happen in the real world?  Like how a prince needs a shoe to identify a woman he danced with all night or how putting an old woman’s night cap on a wolf automatically makes the wolf unrecognizable, or how in “The Boots of Buffalo Leather” the soldier seems to pull a magic power out of nowhere to deal with some robbers.  This all contributes to the sense of “unreality” that fairy tales often have.  A similar sense of unreality also exists in Super Sentai.  It especially exists in this one.  In fairy tales, every disguise seems to work, no matter how bad it is.  There’s a scene in “The Fitcher’s Bird” in which the heroine dips herself in honey and rolls around in feathers to disguise herself as a bird.  Similar things happen in Zyuranger.  There’s a scene where the Dora Monster version of Frankenstein’s Monster is supposed to be disguised as some kind of worker.  However, the monster just has a bandana tied around its head.  And it looks like a Frankenstein monster with a bandana tied around its head.  No one recognizes it.  By the same token, the Zyurangers always seem to be going around in the same knightly and princely garb that they were put to sleep in 65 million years ago.  No one around them seems to think this is strange.  In fact, no one even seems to suspect they’re the Zyurangers until they transform right in front of them.  There are other things too.  At one point, four of the Zyurangers are watching one of their members fight a monster on the TV.  The fight is being broadcast by the bad guys.  Then, when things are looking grim for their teammate, Geki turns to the others and says “Quick, jump into the TV!”.  Then they do it.  They just jump into the TV to get to the fight.  They had never been shown to have that ability before and they are never shown to have it again.  But it all just adds to the sense of fantastical unreality that is Zyuranger.

Zyuranger is far from the only Super Sentai show to reference fairy tales.  Boukenger referenced both “Cinderella” and “Momotaro”.  The characters of Toqger even went to a fairy tale town at one point.  Also, there was a “Frog Prince” reference in Magiranger.  The show can be a bit of an acquired taste.  Though, for those who are fans of it, I’m glad we can get an official release of it here in the United States.  Who knows, if Toei keeps making these shows, maybe there will be an Otogi Sentai (Fairy Tale Squadron) someday.