We looked at a few Tokusatsu bad guys this year, but we're most overdue to review what are likely the world's most famous, if only because they were among the first to reach any significant level of fame outside Japan. I was there at ground zero for the arrival of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, which everyone now knows was a localized edit of a slightly different Japanese series, but us idiot kids back in the day just assumed to be some brand new genius invention of Saturday Morning television. We didn't have the internet; we couldn't just hop on some wiki and find out our new favorite show was really a mangling of Zyuranger.

Filtered through the sensibilities of 1990's America, Zyuranger became a hip and radical after school drama about "teenagers with attitude," by which we mean they were well behaved and polite schoolkids who said no to drugs and respected the law, and then at some point almost every day of their life they had to call their giant robots to murder a big crayfish or something. As hokey as it was, a lot of us ate it up like it was humanity's then-greatest cultural achievement of all time, and for a very brief period, a slew of tokusatsu monsters became household names. Or, at least, their goofier English names became household ones. We'll go over the main villains here first, then my picks for 13 favorites!


The original story of Bandora is a pretty zany one; 170 million years in the past, multiple human tribes lived among and worshipped dinosaurs. When Bandora's son was killed by a Tyrannosaurus however, she struck a deal with Dai Satan, basically the devil, to become an all-powerful witch, turn on the dinosaurs and wipe them out. Unfortunately, her memory of her own son was erased, and Dai Satan used Bandora as an agent in his plan to exterminate all life on Earth. She is eventually defeated and trapped in a giant canister on a roaming planet that won't approach Earth again for many millions of years.

Power Rangers Counterpart: Bandora was simplified quite a bit for American audiences; stripped of any real origin story, Rita Repulsa is just plain evil for the sake of being evil. She loves making babies cry, she only likes Devil's Food cake and she especially despises Christmas, all of which is fairly funny, as is the fact that in this version, she was imprisoned for thousands of years in a garbage can on the moon. What's more remarkable however is that the original Japanese Bandora is arguably even goofier than "Rita." She even has an upbeat theme song that she loves to sing herself, sometimes to celebrate a perceived victory. This even includes a little rapping and they STILL left it out of the 90's American counterpart?!

Iconic in either translation, you have to love her gigantic two-pronged hairdo and conical metal bra, though there's not much more to analyze in terms of "creature design" here.

One funny quirk of the localization is that, despite "Rita" being a witch, all of her minions are referred to as "space aliens," their magical fantasy roots downplayed heavily. I guess they just thought aliens were more marketable.


Bookback is apparently some sort of hobgoblin, and his job is to keep record of Bandora's evil deeds, so basically like a notary or a scrivener? He's unfortunately not very smart and not very strong; his only power is that he owns a gun, and he's almost never seen using it.

Power Rangers Counterpart: "Squatt" is one of Rita's two idiot comic relief minions, so it's almost the same role as Bookback but without the secretary work.

Design: a short, chunky guy with pale blue skin, jutting teeth and lots of little spines, including on the single fleshy horn that sprouts from his scalp. Most of his design is covered over in clothing and armor however, including a chest piece with multiple clock-like dials built into it and a broken helmet with goggles he never uses. He has just enough touch of gritty sci-fi that he actually can pass for a "space alien" out of all Rita's minions; I could at least see him hanging out with Jabba the Hutt. Despite being a mostly harmless screw-up, he is mercilessly disintegrated by a wave of purifying energy towards the end of the original "Mighty Morphin'" continuity with the rest of Rita's minions. It's surprisingly enough in the Japanese version that they're all spared. Imprisoned back in their trash can thingy, but still alive!


Forming a duo with Bookback, this guy is actually supposed to be an alchemist vampire, which sounds awesome, but he never really does any alchemy and he's never managed to drink human blood. In fact, he never gets to do anything at all but hang out with Bookback and engage in all the same minor schemes.

Power Rangers Counterpart: I have no idea why they named this guy "Baboo." Did they think he looked more like a baboon? I guess I don't exactly know where the name "Totpat" comes from either, to be fair. In both versions he has a wimpy voice and mannerisms.

Design: it's a shame crying such a rad vampire design is never put to use. Totpat is a fanged, bat-eared, black and blue humanoid with some almost xenomorph-like details including metallic ribs and spiny, organic "gloves." His legs are also wrapped in what resemble bat wing membranes, and on his shoulders are two extra arms; incredibly long, thin, bony ones with three-clawed hands. It's almost like the elements of bat wings are split up into different parts of his body! For good measure he has an entire little batlike creature mounted on his arm, but we never find out if this has any purpose. He also has a golden monocle, and a cluster of little gold clocks on his chest, I guess to match his buddy.


A fan favorite, Grifforzer is Bandora's most faithful and impressive minion, actually engaging in battle more than once. It's apparently only by Bandora's magic that he's able to speak, which he's apparently pretty grateful for. I also somehow went most of my life never noticing that he's supposed to be a manticore, scorpion tail and everything!

Power Rangers Counterpart: basically the same, Goldar is treated as kind of a big deal and was definitely a favorite among kids. The Japanese version has a relatively humanlike voice, but our Goldar had an extremely hilarious snarling monster voice courtesy voice actor Kerrigan Mahan, who tells a pretty fun story about developing the character.

Design: I guess it's fair enough that I couldn't tell what he's supposed to be, since he really looks like a cross between a wolfman and a gorilla with bird wings, mostly encased in golden armor. Not expecting Americans to remember what a manticore is anyway, I think "Power Rangers" actually did declare him a hybrid monkey monster.


Usually seen in human form, Lami is actually married to Grifforzer, which makes more sense now that I know they have a scorpion connection in common. At the end of the series, when the villains are re-imprisoned, Lami and Grifforzer end up having a normal human looking baby that even Bandora loves, so we actually leave these villains off as a happy family!

Power Rangers Counterpart: "Scorpina" is simple another major underling of Rita who happens to fight alongside Goldar a lot, and was going to date him in a cancelled episode that would have, presumably, used some of the Zyuranger footage of the two together. Both versions of the character can turn into a giant scorpion-based kaiju, though, which we can assume is her truest form??

Design: the kaiju mode isn't as simple as a "humanoid scorpion" at all, despite being described that way just about everywhere. Densely covered in gold and red armor plates, the stinging "tail" is actually a long, flexible extension to the back of the head, and its flattened shape reminds me more of a limbless centipede than a scorpion's tail. The face is also wonderfully pugnacious, with a chitinous red forehead that slopes forward into almost a big bulging snout, right above the lovable fishy looking eyes and small snakelike mouth. The long, thin, insectois legs sweeping backwards from the head are also cool as heck! Grifforzer scored two different 10's in one marriage...and Goldar tragically missed out.


Literally supposed to be a leprechaun, but his deal is that he's a potter who sculpts all the Dora monsters from magical clay. He's not even evil; he's just that devoted to making monsters, and I guess working for toku villains is the only career path that really entails.

Power Rangers Counterpart: Finster never even encounters the Power Rangers himself, as far as I know, but I remember he talked as if he hated them just as much as Rita. I guess I would too if they kept blowing up my art.

Design: a pretty creative take on a leprechaun; a wizened elf-like creature with a pointed nose, long ears and a skin texture like white driftwood. I don't think the final costume kept the little twigs and leaves sprouting off him.


The nearly mindless mass-produced underlings of Bandora are simple clay humanoids that jump and flail around wildly, with glowing red eyes and flaring, toothless mouths in their lumpy grey faces. Eerie, but barely more than a trivial nuisance to the heroes. Power Rangers decided to call them "the putty patrol" and gave them comical gibberish I always found oddly creepy as a child; the poor things seem to stupid. But with that, it's time for:



The very first Dora monster and obligatory here, this cackling skeleton monster can break apart and reform like any good skeleton, only dies if his head is destroyed, can summon special putties in skeleton costumes and and drag opponents into a spooky foggy pocket dimension. Except the name "Bones," nothing about him changes for Power Rangers.

Design: just slightly more than a straightforward human skeleton, Skelton is a bulky bone humanoid with large, pointed shoulder bones, a fanged skull and an asymmetrical scattering of extra bone plates protecting his chest. What he's better remembered for is his fancy outfit including a cape, a feathered hat and a sword. Why does everybody love a dapper skeleton so much? Why did we decide skeletons should so frequently be dapper?


Dora Circe is actually one of Pleprechaun's "rejected" designs, one that he apparently considered too vulgar or bruteish for his tastes. But Bandora, in this particular episode, has been obsessively trying to lose weight with a crash diet and becomes bitter at a human family for enjoying food, so she demands a gluttonous monster to eat all the food they have and ruin their family grocery store. Haha. The monster is of course capable of eating absolutely anything; even weapons!

Power Rangers Counterpart: Pudgy Pig was simply intended by Rita to "eat all the food in the world," with Zordon estimating the monster could do so within 48 hours. I'm pretty sure both Rita and Zordon are idiots, because this makes no logistical sense whatsoever and frankly I'd like to know what they're even defining as "food" here. It obviously can't just be any edible material by the standard of any organism because then we'd be talking about Pudgy eating all of the organic material on the entire planet. But even if it's just what's edible to humans, that's a pretty damn broad umbrella. Maybe it has to be dead? Maybe it has to be dead and already prepared into a stat a human would eat or at least cook? I don't know.

Pudgy was so popular however, he'd be brought back later as a friendlly monster created from a pig named Norman.

Design: Dora Circe is named after a witch from the Odyssey, but not actually based on the witch herself, instead referencing Trojan warriors Circe transformed into pigs! His iconic design is honestly pretty freaky; a huge, miserable looking pig head with hoofed legs, scrawny arms and a gigantic helmet. The final costume design also added giant trotters to the arms, on top of the humanlike hands. The overall effect of this monster feels straight out of a Bosch painting, doesn't it? It's such an outrageous being, its no wonder it became one of the most famous of the series.


This one's name means "fake," and it has the power to disguise itself under an illusion, taking the form of the Dragonranger's mech to confuse the other Zyurangers. It can also teleport, which you kind of expect from illusion monsters at this point. Like Skelton, there's almost no difference in the American version other than the name.

Design: this is the plainest and simplest kaijin in the series, but that plays well into its powers and theming. It's a humanoid covered in pale, smooth armor padding, its face almost featureless except for a toothless slit of a mouth below a single large humanlike eye. It brings to mind a simple mannequin or dummy beneath the "costume" of its illusions, which I think is really cool! I've seen similar concepts in other media, sometimes a more literal mannequin-like or doll-like mimic, but this was the first I ever personally saw the archetype. In fact, it was the first I ever saw the show at all, but I tuned in a bit late; all I glimpsed was the final battle between two robots, and then one of them transformed into this ghostly one-eyed figure, and then it teleported away. I honestly had no idea what I'd just seen. It left a distinct impression on me, but I feel like this might be one of the most forgotten monsters in the show.


In another bout of sheer pettiness, Bandora wished to ruin human enjoyment of nature by planting this monster in a public park. By luring and consuming normal insects, the arachnoid could produce swarms of toxic moths that put humans to sleep!

Power Rangers Counterpart: for whatever reason, everything about "Spidertron" is kept except for the moths, instead simply unleashing a sleep spell. BORING! I wish I'd known as a kid that this giant spider guy made moths! That's awesome!!

Design: more interesting than just any humanoid spider, Tarantula is mostly a huge, round, colorful and very hairy spider abdomen, but with eight hook-tipped limbs spreading out from a vicious looking multi-jawed mouth at the center. Picture basically a giant octopus monster standing on two tentacles, then reskin it as a spider, and you have Dora Tarantula. What's oddest of all are the eyes, arranged in tiny pairs on four chitinous panels that, at least in the concept art, can actually flip open on little hinges to reveal clusters of spines it can fire!


This one actually wasn't one of Bandora's monsters, but a peaceful subterranean creature driven to rage when the Bandora Gang eats some of her eggs and simply blames it on the Zyurangers. Bandora later promises to resurrect Goda's dead offspring if the monster can kill the heroes, and unfortunately, the innocent single mom refuses to listen to reason or back down until she has to be destroyed. Only one egg is left, but it's implied that her last baby will live on :(

Power Rangers Counterpart: boringly enough, Goda was reinvented as the male fish monster "Fang," and the eggs dubbed into "rare gooney bird eggs" that Fang simply wanted very badly to eat himself.

Design: considered a fish-based monster, but very alien in appearance; a mostly blue-tinged humanoid with large overlapping scales down her legs and bulkier organic armor on her torso and arms. She has some cool retractable harpoons on her forearms as well, and a beautiful alien-looking head that sort of makes me think of a cross between a dog, dinosaur and carp, with mean little eyes under scowling bony ridges and a toothless piranha-like maw at the end of her muzzle!


A remarkably powerful one, this frog monster could devour people whole and keep them stored in his body, displaying their faces in his fleshy stomach. He also came with an arsenal of attacks including his whiplike tongue, a second energy-based "tongue," energy beams and a force field! He was also completely indestructible, except for the face-like markings hidden in his neck folds. This is another kept exactly the same in Power Rangers, except for being called "Terror Toad."

Design: while basically exactly a giant, clawed and sharp-toothed frog, it's interesting that this monster also has some distinctly chameleon-like qualities; the spiny crests on the back of its head, single horn, and long straight toenails are all very chameleonlike. It's also only chameleons that have long, thin, snapping tongues - frogs and toads have broad, flattened ones! - but both animal groups are portrayed with the chameleon tongue so frequently in media, there's no telling if the designer knew this. Finally there's that "false face;" when the head flips back and the neck blubber is straightened out, skin markings form an almost demonic looking face with scowling red eyes and a toothy grin.


An incredibly tough monster, Antaeus is armed with a variety of energy weapons and can infinitely regenerate as long as its heart is intact. A heart that even functions like its own monster! In Power Rangers, the heart is even given its own voice and personality, referred to as "Cardiatron" and described as a computerized entity.

Design: kind of a bipedal and ultra-menacing turtle, with an elongated and tapering shell resembling a hillside with its covering of green foliage. Love its big mole-like clawed hands and how nasty its little face is, with lipless interlocking teeth instead of a turtley beak, mean little red eyes and a sharp pointed "nose" or proboscis. Of course the coolest aspect is the heart creature, a fleshy red sphere with a few tubes and tentacles. Love any monster whose heart exists as an independent enemy! Paper Mario even had their own version with Tubba Blubba. Was Dora Antaeus possibly even the inspiration??


This silkworm monster was Lami's personal pet, and had the ability to consume the souls of children, naturally. They simply left all mention of this out of Power Rangers, instead making it a more minor monster; one of the few that could never speak, though it did laugh at least once.

Design: a really beautiful one! A detailed giant silkworm standing on two wrinkly, humanoid legs obviously modified from a caterpillar's prolegs (sucker-like false legs) and with fuzzy tentacles added down its back. It also follows the same design scheme as Mothra's larval form, in that the caterpillar's head is reinvented as a set of jaws, and the bulbous area behind its head becomes the "face" with a pair of deep pits for "eyes," like a giant skull head!


This is an interesting one; when the Bandoras discover a deposit of exceptional monster-making clay, a prototype is made in the form of Frankenstein's Monster. Besides his incredible strength, he's able to breathe a noxious red mist said to be a by-product of the clay itself. He could also pull the bolts out of his neck, which were connected by a chain. Frankenbolt nunchaku! He was indeed one of the strongest monsters the villains ever created, but to quote one famous and beloved intergalactic celebrity, this wasn't even his final form.

Just when Franke seems to have been killed, he mutates into Zombie Franke; it turns out this is a monster that only grows stronger every time it gets defeated. This more gruesome creature had the same powers and weaponry as before, but was far more aggressive and far more resilient. Later still, Bandora imprisoned thirteen human children to summon her master, Dai Satan, who infused Zombie Franke with his own power to create Satan Franke, suped up into a much less humanlike monster with energy attacks and an acidic foam.

Power Rangers Counterpart: these episodes were split into multiple Mighty Morphin' stories. Franke in his default form was used for a standalone Halloween episode, while Zombie Franke became "Mutitus," Rita's ultimate monster, which then transforms into "Fang-Gore." Not much else is different!

Design: I love the idea of a Frankenstoid as only the beginning of an ever changing undead mutant. Even in his humanlike stage, his concept art is more striking and unsettling than your typical Boris Karloff wannabe, and they did the best they could translating that to a human actor with a few prosthetics. Zombie form on the other hand is magnificently ghastly from concept to costume; with its mushy looking body and external ribs, it looks like a different monster narrowly rescued from an acid bath. I love the bolts and gears fused into its bones, and the fact that its left forearm is the head of some dead snake or lizard stapled in place, the rest of the monster's skeletal arm and hand protruding from its mouth! Zombie's own face is also simple but effective; sort of like a mummy head if the bandages were obviously folds of skin, with sad looking empty eye sockets and noseless, lipless jaws with wicked teeth!

When it transforms into Satan Franke, the original zombie head is pushed aside by the much larger new demon head. The face is just a smooth humanoid skull with narrow, glowing red sockets, a pair of fangs and a bulging forehead, but it has pale horns curving back over a thick neck with brain-like wrinkles, the entire head unsettlingly (and probably deliberately) pretty phallic. Then the body has even more mutated ribs, bulkier half-skeletonized arms, an organic fuzzy cape, and the whole head of Dai-Satan sticking out of the chest. That's just a pale human face with a hairdo of thin crystalline shards, but it was fairly confusing in Power Rangers because it looked so important. If you were still a kid who didn't know what Zyurangers were, you might have thought that ominous looking face was going to be part of one more final form.

A gorgeously grisly ghoul all around, but still not our last monster by far; we're getting into still weirder territory now!


This time, Bandora began to notice she was getting wrinkles (after 170,000,000 years?!) and became jealous of the youthfulness of human children, so she created a monster that could rob them of it. This snake-themed monster's true power source and weakness was a golden apple on top of its head, and it could cause a similar apple to grow on the head of a child, like some parasitic mushroom, aging them rapidly the larger it grew! It could also open its huge maw to unleash snakes that it could also stiffen out into arrows and fire from a bow, because why not!

Power Rangers Counterpart: removing all that business with draining children's lifespans, "Snizzard" is simply a hybrid between a snake and a lizard with something called the "Zapper Apple" on its head for no particular thematic reason.

Design: extremely memorable to me, this creature's main body is a broad tsuchinoko-like snake whose tooth-lined mouth continues down the entire body. The whole underbelly of the snake peels open when its spreads its jaws, filled with the little symbiotic snakes. It also gets two large cobras as arms, and coiled tangles of little green snakes as its humanoid legs! This is also a rare case in which I like the final costume a lot more than the concept art, even though every detail is technically the same. The slightly fatter proportions of the costume's face just give it a lot more charm to me, and the way the long, thin teeth messily jut out the sides.


This one's episode finally gives Totpat a bit more focus. He's sad that he's never tasted human blood, and he's so weak and cowardly that even a little human girl is able to drive him away with ease. Frustrated by the uselessness of her only vampire I guess, Bandora has Argus created to help Totpat, trapping the same little girl in an illusionary realm where she believes her own father is a vampire.

While usually taking a humanoid shape for the purpose of rubber suit action, this is technically not a humanoid monster at all, but a being the form of many independently floating eyeballs surrounding one giant central eye!

Power Rangers Counterpart: though they excised the vampire storyline, the American series surprisingly kept in the child kidnapping part. Instead of tormenting children with fear however, "Eyeguy" specialized in draining their mental faculties and was deployed by Rita to steal the intelligence of a child genius, which I have to say is arguably more disturbing than scaring them with vampires, even if the vampires were their own family.

Design: absolutely perfect! A humanoid mass of almost entirely eyeballs of varying sizes. The fingers and toes are formed from wrinkled, white flesh but each end in an eyeball, and the head is a pale, wrinkly, fleshy dome that can at first appear to have a toothy mouth, especially since it also has two eyeballs protruding toad-like from the top, but of course the "mouth" is just the lid of its central eye! For good measure there are also two more eyes on thick stalks that sprout from behind the shoulders, and of course he's always surrounded by a few spare oculars bobbing and whirling through the air on strings.

A guy of eyes is always more visually interesting the higher its eyes to guy ratio, but if it's only eyes with zero guy, there's nothing to visually distinguish it from any other all-eyes guy. This one adds just enough non-eyeball material to give it some unique and original anatomy, and to top it off, the central core eyeball gets to float around with an awesome looking mass of fleshy roots.

I also love that, when this monster emits an energy weapon from the central eye, there's a simple, flat, 2-d animation of the eyeball popping out. It's a simple way to do this effect without having to build the gimmick into the costume, and still looks convincing enough to me because the "cartoon" quality is sort of how the real eyeball could look if it lit up brightly enough.


This monster was interestingly enough not an original Pleprechaun creation, but an ancient monster recreated by Pleprechaun at Bandora's request. Actually, is that what they're all supposed to be? That would make sense, yeah. The creature's primary ability is one of my favorites of any Tokusatsu monster: it can inhale flowers of any variety and spit them back up as toxic, leaping monster flowers with vicious teeth! Bandora hoped it would turn all the flowers in the world against mankind, so I guess she's actually not much smarter than Rita Repulsa was with Pudgy Pig, unless both monsters were prototypes of an entire vast army they intended to make later??

Power Rangers Counterpart: "Spitflower" is created by Rita entirely to ruin a parade float, ha ha.

Design: It not only has my favorite weird power of this bunch, but a stellar design to match! Guzzler is shaped sort of like a bulky, bipedal reptile with an elongated, armor plated skull, but it's made entirely of plant tissues including multiple thin tentacles. Its big, round shoulders are covered in overlapping leaf-like scales down to its blue flower-like "arms," which end in snapping gar-like jaws. The warty and bony green head has many protruding, interlocking teeth, a pointed lizardlike snout and a large pelican-like throat sac to evoke a pitcher plant, while what appear to be a pair of eye sockets are only pits housing a pair of small horns, the actual eyes up on a couple of adorable snailish stalks that grow from the shoulders! It's just a beautifully designed, menacing and fun looking creature combining some of the best aspects of various botanical beasts, all for that kickass flower corruption ability!

Guzzler/Spitflower is probably my favorite, but we're going to rank another plant monster just slightly higher because it is, after all, Halloween season (November)


When Bandora goes on another of her angry rants about human children, Totpat and Bookback come up with a monster to torment kids in another new way: Dora Endos is a monster that spreads a sneezing virus, and can disguise itself as a clown. How do these things tie into one another? Well, the clown distributes golden balls and convinces children to play sports with them, but when the balls break, they unleash the virus. Oh no! Worse, Endos is so filled with germs that its virus will apparently spread all around the world if its body is destroyed. You might think the villains could therefore create something that already spreads the virus, but I guess they just want to be spiteful and make a global pandemic entirely the fault of the Zyurangers. Maybe Endos just shouldn't have bragged about this ability mid-battle.

Power Rangers Counterpart: "Pineoctopus" is a pineapple crossed with an octopus, which Zordon says as if it's obvious how dangerous that is. Okay Zordon. The show keeps its ability to turn into a clown, but it's a different clown named Pineapple, and instead of a sneezing virus, Pineapple the clown uses a magic powder to turn people into cardboard cut-outs of themselves. I have no idea where this idea came from, but it's a pretty funny one that's still reasonably "creepy."

Design: this is, as I mentioned, another plant based monster, but it's even stranger than Guzzler; the least humanoid monster suit built for Zyuranger! Radially symmetrical, the body is a thick, cylindrical trunk covered in green scales of plant tissue, completely hiding the suit actor's humanoid legs altogether. At the top is a huge flower, pointing straight up, with many thorny yellow tentacles waving from the center. Each of these ends in a fuzzy poof and a reddish berry-like growth covered in a few dark holes. The flower is ringed by pale pink petals, then encircld by a ring of long, pointed green leaves, and then there's a ring of appendages that serve as its "arms." Each is an elongated green pod at the base, then a few pink frilly segments - like nested cup flowers - and then a dark brown pod ending in a short, red tentacle. The whole thing is very alien, straight out of some old sci-fi pulp or an interpretation of a "triffid," but the flower elements and the bobbing upper tentacles, almost like tassels ending in "bells," still communicate a distinct clownishness.

The sneezing ties in with both flowers and a theme of practical joking, but I love that it's actually a disease and not just a pollen attack. It adds an even more alien and more threatening "biowarfare" feel to an otherwise lighthearted concept, and even in a series with Franke Zombie or Argus, a virus-spreading toxic flower clown might be their very spookiest antagonist, and even remains so in the Americanized version!

So, that's it for Zyuranger monsters...but also, not really. When Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers proved to be such a smash hit in the states, Saban sought to extend its life beyond the original series footage, as I also briefly mentioned in my review of slug and snail kaijin. This resulted in a new, Western-made season commissioning brand new monster costumes from the original Japanese studio, and what fans call Zyu2 offers enough gems that we'll be giving it a post of its own! And if you know anything at all about Power Rangers, then you know what that also means: