We’ve just finished chronicling the third general election saga of MNL48, and wala masyadong balita as of now, so we’ll travel back in time to 2007 and revisit this weird spinoff in the Metal Hero series.
Before we even go to the creation of Zaido, let’s go back to 2005, wherein a much younger, more optimistic me saw Uchuu Keiji Shaider for the first time.
For a lot of the boomers, Shaider was part of the “batang 90’s experience” with it being one of the first tokusatsu shows to be dubbed in Filipino (as so they say) and together with Kamen Rider BLACK and Choudenshi Bioman, these shows from the 1980s found new life in foreign land and gained a new batch of fans who still worship it to this day and this would play an impact to their reception to Zaido later on.
Before Zaido: Pre-Production
If you were born in the past decade or have been living under a rock during 2007, this was intended to be a sequel of sorts to Shaider from the very beginning because I even remembered the first teaser ad featuring Shaider’s helmet serving as a silhouette and they even hinted to it being descendants of said Metal Hero if memory serves me right.
This was also during the peak of GMA’s fantaserye lineup so as a 13-year-old, this was the best of both worlds as I watched a great deal of their primetime shows like Mulawin, Captain Barbell and Darna 2005 and before you say I have shit taste in programming (in which I admit I do), this was also during the time our family didn’t opt to go back to cable television after our service got terminated in 2001 so this is as best as I can get from watching Gundam on Animax or The Simpsons on Cartoon Network (yes, that happened).
The director for this project is Dominic Zapata, who was at the time known as a master of shows with fantasy settings like Super Twins and I’m not sure as to what the boardroom meeting for show’s conceptualization period was like but in an odd twist of things, it seems that the idea of having three Space Sheriffs wasn’t a thing from the very beginning.
There were rumors back then that the original plan is that for the series to be a 1:1 copy of Shaider but Toei put the kibosh on that idea, so now they decided to make it all about not one, but three “descendants of Shaider” instead. Having three main characters in a Metal Hero series isn’t something new and it has already been done in the 1990s but I don’t think Mr. Zapata saw Exceedraft, Solbrain or Winspector so this is new to Shaider fans.
Toei’s editorial mandates also applies to the costumes as costume designer Steve Salvador explains as they’re not allowed to deviate too much on the source material but I didn’t think that also applied to the lore as there were a lot of changes to the Space Sheriff universe.
. The changes were more associated with Shaider’s Filipino dub from names being changed from their Japanese names to Filipino names like Kubilai to Kumma Le-ar and they even did a reverse Genkai/Jeremiah switcheroo as the priest Poe who was a transvestite in the original series, was changed an androgynous creature.
There is also the reason why the supposed Shaider remake was suddenly retitled to “Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan” aside from the fact that Toei shooting the original plan down is that Zaido isn’t the name of the space sheriff group but the highest rank a sheriff can attain within the Galactic Police ranks.
For some reason, the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s vehicles have been redesigned to sport universal cop car colors, for some reason. No reason was given why this was done but speculation at the time is that Toei has plans to export the show outside the Philippines but we’ll get to that later on.
Another thing to consider here is that yes, they intentionally put in telenovela elements on the show, as mentioned on the somewhat pilot episode (Zaido: Ang Bagong Alamat) that goes through the behind the scenes production.
Alas, there’s no copy of this said episode found on the internet but thanks to the people at the old GreatToysOnline forums, they were able to recap what’s on that special.
Did I mention that the motorbikes used by the three Zaido are custom made? It seems that’s the case because the body kits were produced by A-Toys Body Kit Builders, a car body customs specialist here in Manila.
The Episode Review
Now we got the the pre-production stuff out of the way, let’s watch this and see if it holds up to this day or did Toei do the right thing by retconning Zaido and then release a Gavan: The Next Generation movie years later. I was able to get a subbed version of the first episode thanks to the anons at 4chan’s mecha board (or /m/).
Visuals: The visuals are what I can call a mixed bag. The sets are fine by 2000s GMA standards, or 2000s Philippine TV for that matter. You can see that the sets were not hastily done and it proves that they put in at least some effort into this.
The only gripe I have is with the Galactic Force base. Avilo itself is something that you can see with Shaider but the suits worn by the people inhabiting said base are something more akin to what you can see in Blue SWAT.
In terms of costumes, aside from the regular space sheriffs wearing something that looks like the Rescue Police series trainees would wear, the main Zaido suits are bulky at best compared to the original Space Sheriff costumes designed by Katsushi Murakami.
It seems to be a combination of the space sheriff armor with the design sensibilities of suits between the Space Sheriff trilogy and Jiraiya and that combination makes them really look like police, something that the Timeranger and Dekaranger suits didn’t get.
One gripe I’ve had with the Zaido color scheme, even as I was having my Metal Hero/Zaido fanboy phase, is the color green. Green, is usually associated with Kamen Rider (at least during the Showa era and in Kamen Riders Ryuki, W, and OOO) and Super Sentai, but not the Metal Hero series, at least until 1995 with B-Fighter Kabuto. I do understand that Mr. Zapata didn’t watch Shaider at all but that’s no excuse for giving a space sheriff, or a metal hero that’s not a beetle fighter the color green. It just doesn’t fit. At all.
The grunts are plainly called Kuuma as opposed to Miracler Soldiers, and the Kuuma look like Lord Zedd’s children instead of Kubilai’s as they have these Zedd like fangs instead of these squid-like faces from the original series.
The two Hesslers have almost identical costumes whereas the alternate universe Poe ditched the Babylonian get up for a much more Arabian-esque purple and gray garb. Amy didn’t inherit Annie’s cowboy get up but gets a 1960’s revamp of the Annie costume.
It would be totally unfair to compare Zaido’s CGI to stuff like the Michael Bay Transformers films or that one Brazilian fan remake of Juspion as those are way out of GMA’s league so let’s compare it to, say, modern Toei productions as the CGI special effects that you see on Sentai/Rider shows post Timeranger. It’s obvious that the spacecraft and planets looks like they came from a PS2 game but if you’re a kid aged 5-7, these would blow your mind away.
There are instances that scene jump cuts look like they were directed by an Indian drama director because it has that swish thingy that you see in Indian memes.
Plot and Pacing: Zaido’s plot and pacing is one of the glaring problems the show has. Let’s compare this to the first episode of Metalder (yes yes I should compare it to Shaider, you say but Metalder is also a Metal Hero show so let’s get over it). In Metalder, God Neros was introduced in the first few minutes, he then says his plan for world domination, and then we get to see Metalder/Tsurugi Ryusei and his transformation and all that on the next half and this happened within the span of 24 minutes.
Zaido, on the other hand, had to have the narrator give us what happened to the events of Shaider, show that the Kuuma came back to wreak havoc on the galaxy, have commander Zion explain what exactly a Zaido is to the Galactic Council (which makes me wonder why the council didn’t know about this in the first place, considering that they’re the ones who formed the council), and switch back and forth between Galian’s (Zaido Blue) and Alexis’ (Zaido Green) backstories and we don’t even get to see the transformation (in Galian’s case) or how Alexis gets recruited to the Galactic Council Corps and this is for the whole 47 minutes.
You see, there are a myriad of reasons why the show’s pacing is like this but I think I can narrow it down to three, and they are…
- The fact that we have three space sheriffs on a different planet is something that really bog down the story structure. For starters, I understand the concept of character motivations and the need of a backstory but it seems that GMA spent too much time on the backstory of said characters and their lives outside of being a space sheriff.
Normally, in tokusatsu shows, if there are more than one heroes on the show, they’re basically on the same place during the introductory episode. This show, on the other hand, had the three protagonists be on three different locations on the first episode. We haven’t even got to the third Zaido as the show ended, and with every telenovela going with the show, don’t tell approach, it will take at least 2-3 episodes before Cervano (Zaido Red) appears in the show.
- Telenovela elements play a MAJOR role in slowing everything down as well. A great chunk of the episode is devoted to the supposed marriage of Galian and Arianna and with how the script was written, it’s just pure cringe.
Remember, this was supposed to be a kids show just like every Toei tokusatsu series not named Kamen Rider Amazons but they decided to add telenovela elements to the show and you know what that means: adultery (which obviously happens later in the show’s run and since this is a primetime show in the Philippines, it has to happen and it’s bound to happen anyway, no matter the genre).
“Pambata siya”, they said.
- Repitition– This is probably because they have to emphasize that the other two elite space sheriffs will come from Earth but the fact that Kuuma Lei-ar and his minions just spouted their plans for world domination that the narrator already said at the beginning of the show just makes no sense whatsoever.
The whole narration at the beginning should’ve just been something as short as “it has been ages since the space sheriff Shaider defeated the great emperor Kubilai (Fuuma Lei-ar) and the galaxy is at peace…or so we thought as evil strikes again in the galaxy.”
Speaking of writing, Galian’s path on becoming a Zaido kind of resembles how Takeshi Hongo became a Kamen Rider minus the cannibalizing his insides to be a superhuman thing. The training montage is actually something I liked from this series but it had to be cut short because muh telenovela elements.
GMA was able to pull this “prequel/evolution” plot device in their MariMar remake in two episodes but not in here. Interesting as MariMar didn’t need to have more than a two-episode arc to explain her childhood and how she found Fulgoso and stuff but a training montage on a live action shonen show gets only 10 minutes?! Give me a break.
Dialogue/Acting: The dialogue and how it’s being presented is as what you expected by both GMA teledrama/1980s tokusatsu standards. You can expect some lines that can absolutely make you fear for Voltes V Legacy (bite me, Suzulette) as it just makes you cringe the moment you hear those words, especially in the telenovela segments.
The alien characters’ accents make the writing even more stilted than it already is but I think that was done on purpose to differentiate them from the Earthlings. Dennis Trillo really brought out Galian’s leader-esque vibe with his acting although with how the script is written, his character fits more as a Showa era Kamen Rider than a space sheriff.
Soundtrack: I can’t say anything about Zaido’s soundtrack because it’s just the same soundtrack the Kapuso network uses on every. Show. They. Have. Produced. Since. The. 2000s. You can hear the soundtrack on Bubble Gang, you can hear it on KMJS and you can even hear it on Eat Bulaga Holy Week specials from time to time. The closest things that I can associate the word “original” to Zaido’s soundtrack is a synth remix of the Shigi Shigi Song (and that’s not even an original composition by GMA) and the show’s only theme song as performed by Sandwich, an Eraserheads spin-off.
Fight Choreography: I’m no expert on this one so criticize me all you want but when it comes to the fighting scenes, I don’t think the Japan Action Club is needed because the fights are just alright for tokusatsu standards. I agree that it needs more polish but don’t expect indy wrestling tier fight scenes where there are multiple flips per minute but at the same time, it needs more realism by not making it look like it’s 100% choreographed.
If you want to compare it to legitimate tokusatsu material, I’d say it’s a stage show at Kourakuen Park type of a performance because, as I’ve said, not much struggling can be seen from either heroes nor villains which makes it at least a bit realistic. Stage show performances tend to be more choreographed than the ones you see on TV.
Continuity with The Metal Hero Series: This one is based on the real world timeline of 2007-2008 as back then, Toei didn’t have plans yet to do a retcon by creating the NEXT GENERATION series which, according to some people at /m/, are a thing of its own and I don’t have any plans to watch that.
In this fictional timeline, they do acknowledge that there are multiple space sheriffs across the galaxy so Gavan and Sharivan do exist in this timeline but it is as if that Shaider and Shaider alone brought peace to the galaxy and the previous sheriffs didn’t do shit because they only considered the Sawamura bloodline when they started to pick the next batch of Zaido (they also mentioned that Gavan, Sharivan and of course, Shaider attained the rank of Zaido).
Why didn’t they seek out Gavan’s clan or the Iga clan (Sharivan)? Hell, why they didn’t seek help from outside the Galactic Force corps? We could’ve have had crossovers with other Metal Heroes like Jiraiya or Juspion but alas, I think Toei only allowed them to work on Shaider and not the rest of the Metal Hero series and the fact that everything else in the Metal Heroes outside of Shaider (like Gavan, Jiban, and Winspector) not having the same pop culture impact as Alexis Sawamura, as the only explanations I can think of as of this writing.
If you’re into tokusatsu lore, you might also think about plot holes Zaido introduces within the Metal Hero universe. Is the Kuuma clan the same species as the Fuuma? How was the Galactic Council formed in the first place? What happened to planet Bird? Does the Galactic Council consider guys like Spielban and the Rescue Police units as outlaws? So many questions will pop out of your mind if you consider the series’ inhabitants are living under the same universe.
Overall: Zaido’s first episode is not as bad as Shaider purists say but they sure do bring up some points that would make you second guess that GMA really intended to capture the spirit of the Metal Hero series into this show.
The telenovela elements, the slow pacing, the plot holes, the nonexistent soundtrack, and the stilted accents for the alien characters might put you off if you’re a tokusatsu purist but put that all aside, it can be a decent show that’s worth your time.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to watch Zaido in its entirety because little to no episodes exist officially on the Internet as neither GMA nor Toei bothered to get the series uploaded to their respective platforms. There is the first episode that was subbed in English by Subspicious Minds, some early episodes on Dailymotion that were segmented into parts and the episode with Tai Tomoyuki is available, in segments, on Niconico of all places.
The first episode of Zaido garnered a rating of 34.6% according to AGB Nielsen, beating out ABS-CBN’s Lastikman series by 4.3% and 99 episodes later, the show ended on the 8th of February, 2008 with “The Final Battle” getting a 32.3% rating, finishing third with GMA renditions of MariMar and Kamandag as the top 2 shows during the February 8-11 period of 2008. The show was replaced by Joaquin Bordado, a TV adaptation of an old Mars Ravelo comic.
This is where my opinions of the show as a whole comes in: Zaido was an okay spin-off/alternate timeline for the Metal Hero series and sure, it has its low moments from the insistence of using telenovela elements on the show and some of the Fushigi monsters don’t make sense in the Metal Hero universe (Ryan Yllana’s Siba Tiba the clown is more fit to be a Super Sentai monster than a Metal Hero one).
Being a tokusatsu fan also makes me irk that Toei didn’t let GMA use the rest of the series for extended lore (Zaido Red quitting the force and becoming a student of Jiraiya would’ve been nice or have other Metal Heroes like Spielban and Gavan be part of the Galactic Council would’ve been great too). In short, Space Sheriff Zaido started with the intention of getting Shaider into the 21st Century but the execution made it what it is, an okay show that’s a mish mash of tokusatsu and teleserye with mixed results.
For a show that beat Himitsu Sentai Gorenger to the punch of being the longest tokusatsu show (Zaido 100 episodes, Gorenger 84 and no, three seasons of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers doesn’t count as one show), most critics consider the show as a flop.
Nestor Torre of the Philippiine Daily Inquirer considered the show’s concept as “dated” and “borrowed”, not understanding the fact that Toei let the Kapuso network have the rights to create a Shaider spinoff so of course, it’s borrowed.
Otaku USA, on the other hand, said that Zaido is basically “a tokusatsu version of Passions” and in which they added “It’s like GMA Network just wanted to make yet another soap opera but slapped Shaider on just to get ratings.” They hit the nail on the head with this one.
Even the Japanese and the Malaysians think it’s a flop. The fact that the show was cancelled in Malaysia after 3-5 episodes and that the Toei company decided to retcon this with the Space Sheriff NEXT GENERATION says it all.
All in all, if you’re a Shaider/Metal Hero purist, this isn’t for you but if you want to watch what a 2000s Philippine tokusatsu show looks like, give the few episodes of Zaido a try.