For the past few years, Shout Factory has been releasing English-subtitled series of Super Sentai, the Japanese shows that get turned into Power Rangers. But for the first time, they’re bringing over a series from before Power Rangers existed—and it’s the show that without which the gigantic, color-coded superhero franchise wouldn’t exist at all.
[Full disclosure: Haim Saban, the man who helped bring Power Rangers to life, has ownership interest in Univision Communications, which itself owns Gizmodo Media Group, the network of websites io9 is part of.]
The news was confirmed through Power Rangers fan channel MMPR Toys on YouTube, which revealed that Shout Factory would release the legendary Chōjin Sentai Jetman later this year, alongside the scheduled release of Hyakuju Sentai Gaoranger (turned into Power Rangers Wild Force in 2002):
Although Jetman’s release won’t be the first time Shout Factory has released a Super Sentai series that didn’t get turned into a Power Rangers show, it does mark the first time the company has gone back in Sentai’s 43-year history to a series from before Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, the show that would be turned into the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
To boot, Jetman is one of the most beloved Super Sentai shows of them all—widely considered not just one of the best entries in the series, but the show that saved Super Sentai from potential cancelation. Launched in 1991 after a string of low-rated series, the production team behind Jetman shook up the format of the franchise in some pretty big ways. The show offered a more soap-opera drama between the main cast—in between the parts where they turned into bird-themed superheroes to fight the sinister (and fabulously named) Dimensional War Party Vyram.
The changes turned Jetman into a hit with Japanese audiences, and revitalized the Super Sentai franchise. Haim Saban, who’d made several attempts to turn Super Sentai into a Western franchise, made attempts to adapt Jetman before scrapping them and eventually using its immediate successor, Zyuranger, as the basis for Power Rangers. If Jetman didn’t work as well as it did in Japan, Power Rangers as we know it today wouldn’t exist. They’re the superheroes that saved the superheroes, people—so if you’re any kind of Power Rangers fan, it’s definitely worth checking out this series when it’s released later this year.