Whenever you’re stressed, you do one thing, or a combination of many things. You go out for a walk. You read. You shower for the longest time. You listen to music. You talk it out. You write a column. (Fourth wall, bitches. Fourth wall.) Whatever it is, it’s a struggle to get your mind off whatever the hell you’re stressed about, whether it be work, class, drama, etc. Since I am also a human being, I naturally do tons of these things to get my mind off what’s stressing me out in my life. But one of the major outlets that helped me overcome my stresses is Tokusatsu.
Like many fans out there, my first exposure to Tokusatsu was Power Rangers. I know there’s going to be people out there who are gonna argue “BUT POWA RAINJERZ IS NAWT TOKU. ITZ UH-MARE-KEN CRAP!” but that’s really not the point here. The point here is that as a child, Power Rangers was the first time I was exposed to people in rubber suits and motorcycle helmets fighting each other and engaging in explosive-filled carnage. I remember eating lunch after school at home with my Dad with this small portable Black & White television watching some back to back Lost Galaxy and Lightspeed Rescue. Good times. Good fucking times. I remember just nomming away at some damn good Chicken Adobo while watching multicolored heroes kicking ass.
Flash forward to junior year of high school, I remember watching the film “Rocky” in one of my classes.
By that point, I’ve seen that film numerous times, that I know what happens. So when I saw it in again, my attention diverted to everybody in that class. Why? Because people’s reactions amuse the living shit out of me. I remember we were watching the BIG fight between the Italian Stallion and Apollo ‘EFFIN Creed. You know, the one where Rocky gets his ass handed to him to the point where he has a cutman (No, NOT THAT CUTMAN, you Mega Man nerds.) literally CUT open Rocky’s eye to get his vision up and running?
Now at this point, you’re probably asking “Dante, what the HELL does that have to do with Toku?” Well, I’m getting there. While watching that part of the film, I’m looking at the people in my class. Some were moving their shoulders back and forth, moving side to side as if THEY were in that ring, as if THEY were the ones going up against Apollo. See, you know that feeling that you get when you feel like you’re there in the movie/book/thing that you’re watching? THAT’S what I felt like when I was watching Power Rangers as a young, sad little fuck. I’m sure this is something we all could relate to for ANY childhood character.
During that full hour or so with my Dad, I felt liberated. (Especially when Time Force aired. Holy Mother of God, Time Force was one of those father/son family bonding moments for me.) As a kid, I didn’t really care as to how I felt that way, but I did. During that hour, I felt like everything in the world didn’t really matter. I felt like I could actually do things I couldn’t do in real life. During that hour, I felt like one awesome motherfucking Power Ranger that could kick ass, take names, pilot a giant robot, and save the day. If I had gotten in trouble with a teacher for sneaking in an action figure to class, or if I had gotten into a little bothersome misunderstanding with a good friend of mine at recess/lunch, it didn’t really matter when I got home and watched some Power Rangers.
That damn show had everything that I needed to make me feel better. I didn’t need a punching bag because the Rangers kicked ass for me. If my Dad had one of those moments where he failed at making me laugh, it’s no biggie because any comedic moment in Power Rangers made me laugh until my lungs gave out. The background music pumped me up and motivated me like a motherfucker. There were even some times I felt like the people on screen were an extra set friends that I could root for. (I was a child with an imagination. Shut up.) Bonus points if I had the role play toys and action figures that made me re-enact fights in my head. Because. Fuck punching bags. Imaginary mutants are where it’s at. TL;DR, the show and all the aspects of it put me at ease as a young lad.
As sad as it is to say, it never really seemed to go away as I got older. Obviously, I don’t fucking run around the house and slash things with toy swords nowadays….but in some sense, Toku was there for me if I ever wanted to escape. This time, it was in the sense of enjoying Toku shows for what they were in terms of story, characters, content, etc. Big test coming up? In the right mood, just study your ass off and then reward yourself with an episode of Operation Overdrive. Laugh at how bad it was, and then study again and reward yourself with Boukenger online. Got stood up for a date? Go home, watch the episode of RPM you DVR’d the weekend before, and get over it. Bonus points if you had friends to talk with who also happened to enjoy the show. Even MORE bonus points if you had a crappy/awesome toy you could rant behind a camera about.
This also went on to my senior year of high school, which was when I REALLY got into Tokusatsu. I was about to graduate. I was going to move onto better things. And best of all, I was in love. By that time, I was going out with this wonderful girl whom you will never know about because I respect people’s privacy, including her’s and especially my own. During the CLIMAX (see what I did there, Den-O fans?) of our relationship, we began arguing over trivial stuff. Whenever I said something, she didn’t agree. Whenever she said something, I didn’t agree. Half the time, we mooched and made up. Half the time, we both remained butthurt and didn’t talk to each other until we both calmed down. There were multiple breakups in-between. And it all went to hell from there. On and off. Off and on. On and fucking off. It was like a light switch having an epileptic fit. Anybody who has ever been in a relationship before knows this is something you should avoid at all costs. But for me? I thought, “This was different! I can feel it! I can avoid that from happening!”
I was dumb. Dumb and incredibly naive.
Through those dramatic moments, whether it be fresh out of an argument, or after yet ANOTHER breakup, I surfed the net and came across many other childhood shows I had forgotten like VR Troopers, and Masked Rider to get my mind off things. Hoo boy, Masked Rider. This was my entry point into Kamen Rider. Specifically Black RX. So sometimes, I would take a walk and sometimes, I would marathon Black RX when I was in that Toku mood. Eventually, I’d come across other iterations of Kamen Rider like Den-O, Decade, and G. I would end up watching those too, obviously.
“But what about that girl, Dante?” you’re probably asking. Considering where I am now, it’s safe to assume (and rather obvious) that shit happened between her and I. I saw stuff. I got mad. She called that night and said more stuff. I hung up. I hung up and got so mad, that it got to the point where I just didn’t care anymore. Detonated all our bridges Divatox-style. After a few talks with friends and family, TV, snacks, walks, and naps, I eventually got to the mood where I needed Toku to keep me at bay. So I did what needed to be done…I attended a Toku smorgasbord. I also did the closest thing I could to literally BEING my Toku heroes: Fandubbing, and editing. Yup. That’s how SpeedRacerFiber was born. It was an outlet to keep me sane. (Never disrespect the gin, bitch. Never disrespect the gin.) So I made videos, and slowly learned how to edit. (As well as slowly learning not to give a shit about certain things.) With this, and with a little help from my friends, I eventually woke up one day and told myself that I’ve spent 16 good years of my life without her and logically speaking, it’s something that I shouldn’t continue to be sad over. I was tired of feeling sad. What exactly did I do to deserve a pain so severe, it left me depressed for months? Nothing. Because I deserved better.
I also rationalized that situation this way. You know how Toku Heroes usually pose and/or walk away after they beat the living hell out of the Monster of the Week?
See how badass that looks?! Well, yeah. I thought of it like this. For anybody else who has had their heart broken, think of it like this. Your significant other is now a giant explosion. Kaput. Gone. If you go back, you’ll only burn yourself in the flames and hurt yourself even more. Not to mention that cool people don’t look at explosions. But if you just turn around and walk away, you’d not only learn to move on, but you’d be a badass doing so.
(This is obviously not limited to Toku heroes. Look at Horatio Caine, for example.)
Though it wasn’t necessarily the sole means of my recovery, Toku definitely played a huge factor into helping me clear my mind, allowing for reason (with a touch of jadedness) to enter my head and help me take charge of the situation at hand, eventually allowing me to mellow out into the person I am today. The same is still relevant now in college, hence the videos on my new YouTube account. I’ve even made wonderful new friends over here at DTR because of it, friends whom I can talk to whenever I’m stressed out.
I’m currently in a situation with another girl who’s driving me crazy, a complicated situation that I, quite frankly, don’t really want to deal with anymore. I’ve done the usual thing by talking and hanging out with my good friends, playing games, working on projects, etc. It has helped considerably, but it just wasn’t enough. This is why I ended up writing this long, sad excuse for a ramble, which I can say has allowed me to get a lot off my chest right now.
Now, Dan can benefit from my misery by promoting this long ass shit somewhere on some Facebook page or a message board or something. I helped myself while also helping out a good friend. That counts for something, right?
Joking aside, I personally find it amazing as to how much a simple genre of entertainment can help bring people together in this way, and can also play a role in making individuals grow to become a better person in some sick, twisted, half-assed, therapeutic way. Considering, I’ve witnessed people marathoning SpongeBob after some terrible shit happened to them, I guess the same thing could be said for any form of entertainment. Call me a sappy, sad, strange little shit all you want, but I’m thankful as hell for both the crap that I had to deal with and for having that form of entertainment serve as a means to help me do so. Because they’ve made me who I am now; a person who is content with what he has and what life has to offer.