Nusantaranger Interview: Power Rangers and a Powerful new Web Manga / by Gabe Canada

If you are a product of the 1990's your journey into the hybrid worlds of Otaku/American geek culture probably began with a giant monster destroying the cardboard skyline of Angel Grove. Power Rangers has celebrated more than two decades on air and like its Japanese predecessor, Super Sentai, its reach is global. At the completion of its first season it was perhaps the highest rated children's program on the planet this side of Sesame Street.

It is no wonder than that kids in Indonesia where just as enraptured by Super Sentai and MMPR as children in the U.S. and U.K. were. Now Indonesian writers and comic artists are morphing their talents into Nusantaranger, a webmanga that gives Indonesia its own set of teenage henshin heroes. Series creator Shani Budi was kind enough to answer my questions via email while his team were preparing for Asia Pop Con.

I want to start by asking you why you chose the "henshin" or "tokusatsu" format and why at that point did you settle on adapting this story as a web manga rather than a tv or web series?

I chose the tokusatsu or henshin heroes genre because I grew up watching them. I'm already familiar with Tokusatsu, especially the Sentai series, starting from Dai Sentai Google V. Even now, I still watch Tokusatsu, whether it's Sentai or Kamen Rider. At first Nusantaranger's concept was for a webseries, but we don't have that much people or budget, so we changed it to a web manga format that everyone can read free of charge.

Were you influenced by both the American and Japanese versions of these series? Do you or your team have a favorite series or ranger? Its cheating if you say Nusa Red!

Nusantanger has many influences from Sentai series, because most of its team are fans of the show. Actually in Indonesia, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series was very popular because it was aired on one of the local channels. Three of my favorite Sentai series are Choojin Sentai Jetman, Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Liveman. My favorite ranger is of course Black Condor.

How would you describe the state of the comics/manga industry in Indonesia?

In my opinion, the Indonesian comic Industry is developing. Many new comic artists have shown up with varied comics, but it is mostly in web manga format. For the printed version itself, Indonesia still lacks variety and titles.

How is Anime/Japanese pop culture received in Indonesia in general?

In Indonesia, Japanese pop culture has been well received. Anime and comics are widely available in the Indonesian language. Earlier this month Indonesia threw the Asia Anime Festival for three days and the response was very good.

Can you explain the different regions that each of your rangers represents and a little bit about how those areas differ in terms of culture or legends that you are presenting with Nusantaranger?

The five main protagonist of Nusantaranger represents Indonesia's five biggest Islands. Rangga Wira Prakoso as Nusa-Red acquires his power from Java island. Kanaya Meuthia as Nusa-Yellow got her power from Sumatra island . Rimba Kalamantana as Nusa-Green acquires his power from Kalimantan (Borneo ) island. Renata Mokoginta as Nusa-Black got her power from Sulawesi island, and George Saa as Nusa-Blue got his power from Papua island. Each of the five characters names are suited to their Island origin, including their Ranger costume. There are elements of each cultures that we use. Even the villain groups name, Sandekala, is taken from a West Java term for the transition from daytime to night that is believed to be the time when evil comes out.

Power Rangers/Super Sentai has origins in manga with creator Shotaro Ishinomori being the most prolific manga creator of all time. It has been said that you were influenced by the success of Bima Satria Garuda the Indonesian adaptation of his other Tokusatsu series Kamen Rider. Is this true? And to what extent if at all did Ishinomori manga style have an influence on your work?

It's true that Bima Satria Garuda became the inspiration for Nusantaranger being born. Because of Bima, we saw that Indonesian's should already have heroes from their own country. I am a big fan of Ishinomori Sensei. I read almost all of his comics from Skullman and Cyborg 009 to Kamen Rider Black. Nusantaranger was also influenced by his creations.

Do you have any plans to release the manga in the west? If so when should audiences in the US and UK expect a chance to read it?

Surely we want Nusantaranger to be known not only in Indonesia, but outside of our country too. Hopefully in the next one or two years Nusantaranger's comic will be available in English.

Will the Nusanta Rangers be getting any Zords or giant robots in your manga? Can we expect some of the classic power rangers duels with giant monsters?

Of course, because we are inspired by Sentai series each Nusantaranger will absolutely have their own Zords, and the monsters will be bigger and stronger. But we have a unique concept for Nusantaranger's Zords, and we're sure no one has used this concept before!

Once again thank you! We wish you the greatest success. Is there anything at all that you would like to add at all about Nusantaranger or any other projects you may be working on?

Thank you for interviewing us. Nusantaranger is our way to introduce Indonesia's varied culture to the young generation in a fun way.