Welcome to yet another edition of my never-ending journey to catalog my Tokusatsu CD Collection. This week I'm going to take things light and review only four CDs. Why only four? Well...they only ran this series on CD between Turboranger and Zyuranger.
I suppose I should explain what a "Super Action Sound" is. Well...it's basically a large portion of the song collection mixed in with a fairly generic plot so that the entire album plays like an episode. Some of them feature background music also, and some of them don't. It was an interesting experiment that started long before Turboranger, actually. According to my CCLemon99 Hyper Database of Tokusatsu Music the very first one was released in late 1981 for Sunvulcan and released sporadically on vinyl and cassette until it finally made it's way to CD for Turboranger. I would love to get my hands on some of the earlier Sentai (and Metal Hero!) Super Action Sound albums...but they're practically non-existent at this point.
In any case, I'm here today to talk about the four that made it to CD. This is Super Action Sound for Super Sentai!
Also, sorry in advance about not giving too many plot details. If you want to know, listen for yourself. Be warned......the plots are pretty standard. You can rank these CDs among the blandest of filler episodes in terms of story.
Kousoku Sentai Turboranger Super Action Sound
This is the first of the Super Action Sound CDs and actually a pretty good place to start. It is one long 40 minute track loaded with the cast of Turboranger spliced in with ten of the eleven songs from the series.
It would have been nice if maybe there were a few less songs and some BGM and more dialogue shoehorned in. As is the case with all of these CDs, it is an excellent source of stereo sound effects and dialogue during a time when these shows only aired in MONO (if the show was lucky enough to have a movie, that was the only time we got stereo sound).
Since this isn't too much more than a dressed up version of the song collection, it really isn't too exciting. The cast sounds very good (especially Riki). Outside of this CD having some formatting problems, it's pretty good despite being a little shallow.
Chikyu Sentai Fiveman Super Action Sound
Content wise...this one does a much cleaner job of giving the feel of an episode. There are less vocal songs (eight including the themes) used and now some BGM included. There are a few problems, though. The BGM and sound effects sound very quiet compared to the dialogue and songs. Also...those friggin Fiveman dolls hog up a pretty large portion of this.
Of the four released on CD, this one is probably the hardest to come by. It's the last one I bought and was kinda expecting better. I didn't care for it much at first, but it's really not that bad. The Fiveman cast did a nice enough job with their voice acting...in fact, not having to look at Fumiya's extremely punchable mug is a huge plus. As a whole, this one isn't too bad, but forgettable.
Chojin Sentai Jetman Super Action Sound
It follows the Fiveman format while making some improvements on the sound levels. They also try out some vocal effects when necessary. The result is something a little more natural in the technical department...but...
That damn Jetman cast ruins it. I mean, I wrote about Jetman not once, but twice and came to the conclusion that the only good thing to come from it was a Famicom game. Nobody sounds particularly interested or invested in this disc. Well, maybe Gai and Maria come off as natural as there are in the show. Seriously, though, if you've heard this CD you know what I mean. The evil laugh from Radiguet sounds more like politely-laughing-at-your-crappy-joke laugh. Maybe without the visuals, it just shows how lame this cast was.
If you search for any Super Action Sound stuff for sale, this is likely to be the first CD you'll find. It seems to be the most common and cheapest. I've had this CD since my early days of collecting Tokusatsu CDs in the 90s. This and Turboranger are the most common.
Oh yeah...where is Tran in this one? In school I suppose...
Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger Super Action Sound
Zyuranger had a lot of advantages going into this CD. It is technically the best of the bunch with a very clear sounding recording. The ever-present hum of some of the earlier Super Action Sound CDs is no more. This one also relies heavily on sound effects, which does make for a better atmosphere throughout.
This is easily my favorite of the bunch. The production rivals that of the sound design of an actual episode. Maybe the songs go on for too long (OK, the Bandora song did get quite a lot of exposure in the series), but this just works. The entire cast is on point and have voices that lend nicely to audio drama. Naturally Bandora is the best part of this disc...even going as far as to call the Zyuranger on a pay phone to taunt them. Burai making an appearance to save the day was pretty cool too.
It isn't without problems, though. Only Bandora makes an appearance on this CD...not even her Doramonster had a voice (DoraGerogero only made sounds). So really only seven people were involved in making this one. The lack of BGM really isn't obvious, but it is something I picked up on after repeat listening.
That said, this is the best of the Super Action Sound CDs. It is the closest we will get to watching an episode of Super Sentai without watching it. Recommended!
Sentai Drama CDs never totally went away once they stopped making Super Action Sound discs. I posted the Dairanger Kiryoku Disc to Youtube some time ago...plus drama did have a bit of a resurgence on regular Columbia releases starting with the Hurricaneger music and song collections and running to present day. The idea of a full drama album is neat, though. For something like Tokusatsu it can be difficult to paint a mental picture for something that relies heavily on effects and action...but some of these albums pulled it off. It can be done right.
I have a few other Sentai Drama CDs to talk about. Maybe I'll get to that in the future... The next time I do a CD blog.....I *promise* it'll be about something Ultraman. I don't think I've done a single post on any Ultraman CDs yet...and I have plenty of them. I'll pick something cool to talk about next time. As for my next blog...expect a DVD review that has been long in the making. It's something a little different...but something I really want to talk about.
That's all for now. Be sure to hit me up in the usual places and to check out my ever-growing music page for more articles and a very incomplete list of CDs I own.