Super Sentai heroes gather for festival in Tokyo

The finale of the first day of “Kamen Rider Seitan 50 Shunen x Super Sentai Series 45 Sakuhin Kinen 50 x 45 Kanshasai Anniversary Live & Show” on Feb. 25.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kamen Rider series and the 45th installment of the Super Sentai series, a special event for the two iconic tokusatsu superhero TV series was held on Feb. 25 and 26 at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo.

The event — “Kamen Rider Seitan 50 Shunen x Super Sentai Series 45 Sakuhin Kinen 50 x 45 Kanshasai Anniversary Live & Show” — included talks among cast members from both series as well as concerts featuring songs from major shows in the series. This was formerly an annual event known as Eiyu Sai (Hero Festival) and was held around this time of the year, usually at the same venue. Since it was canceled last year on short notice because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it underwent a name change as it took place for the first time in two years.

I attended the first day that focused on the Super Sentai series. The event kicked off in front of a packed house with Yohei Onishi singing the theme song for “Mashin Sentai Kiramager,” the 44th Super Sentai series show that was aired until February last year.

Because the audience was not allowed to cheer or shout, the crowd threw its all into clapping and waving glowsticks at a sight fans were unable to witness last year.

The world has completely changed from two years ago, but their love for Super Sentai is unfettered, and it filled the venue and made me feel overwhelmed just about from the start.

The first half of the show featured a talk by the cast of “Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger,” of which the last episode was set to be aired two days later.

Kiita Komagine had the lead role and joined a crew of popular voice actors — Shintaro Asanuma, Yuki Kaji, Yume Miyamoto and Takuya Sato — who made up the other Zenkaiger superhero team members. The group revealed behind-the-scene stories that were also a treat for the audience.

The second half of the event was devoted to music from Super Sentai series shows that were very touching and left me teary-eyed. For each song, members of the show’s superhero squad appeared on stage and added to the excitement. They did not just clap their hands or strike a cool pose, but actually went into their superhero characters on stage.

Geki Red from “Juken Sentai Geki Ranger” stood in his signature pose, while Zyuoh Shark from “Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger” was in full “tsundere” mode (seemingly aloof but doting inside).

It was a real thrill to see them up on stage looking the same as they do on TV.

Of course, all the superhero songs were wonderful, especially because they evoked memories inside me as I listened. The whole show was brilliant with some celebrated artists such as Takeshi Tsuruno singing the Zenkaiger theme song and Win Morisaki taking the mic for the theme song of “Avataro Sentai Donbrothers,” the latest addition to the series.

Above all, it made my day that I could listen to Isao Sasaki and Mitsuko Horie perform both “Susume! Gorenger,” the theme song of the debut show of the series, and “Zenkai Gattai! JuraGaon,” a tune from the latest installment of the series.

How fortunate I am to be born in this era! Broadcasts of the series began in 1975 and performances by those two singers still sound fresh and high-spirited, giving us encouragement.

The final words by Horie were impressive as well: “I’d like to continue singing good songs.”

Surely, many people involved in the production of the series have worked on the project with the hope of delivering “good songs, good shows and good action.”

That’s why the series has grown to be loved worldwide over such a long time. With these thoughts in my mind, I exited the Budokan hall in the evening surrounded with a faint scent of early spring.

A Blu-ray disc featuring the program from Day 1 of the festival is scheduled to go on sale via Toei Video Co. on June 22. A disc for Day 2 will also go on sale on the same day.