Knight Rider? No it’s Special Rescue Police Winspector. Unlike other Metal Hero series, the show deviates from heroes killing monsters that have caused crime or battle a sinister organization. Instead, Winspector has no main villain running around and focuses strongly on a rescue theme.
Winspector is a special police force organized by Captain Shunsuke Masaki, played by Hiroshi Miyauchi. While the show has some Knight Rider influences like its amazing police car but don’t expect it to be completely like Knight Rider. The team was created to combat criminals and not monsters of the week. MADDOX is a computer with artificial intelligence who helps dig down the database for the criminals of the week.
The Winspector Squad
The main hero is Ryoma Kagawa. He’s the leader of the Winspector Squad. Unlike other superheroes, he might be one who older fans can relate to in some way. Ryoma is privileged to wear the Cross-Tector but with great power comes great responsibility. The Cross-Tector sets a five minutes limit to the user of the suit as a constraint. You didn’t have with the Space Sheriffs, Kamen Rider, Super Sentai and Power Rangers. But Ryoma is stuck with that limit and he must save as many people as he can before the time limit is over. His life can be in danger after five minutes. Then he must rely also on Biker and Walter to help him in his operations. Demitasse a bullet like robot is later added into his list of androids.
A bit of throwback to the Space Sheriffs is the non-transforming badass female partner. If Super Sentai had females in power suits but why not this show? The female parter is Junko Fujino. Junko feels like she’s just there for eye candy though she still shows off her amazing fighting ability. She’s got some episodes where she shows off that fighting. She’s a hot bruiser so beware if you think of trying to do anything to her. Hisako Koyama is a cafeteria worker who’s actually the occasional cover agent. I felt like both characters needed more development. Togogaro Rokkaku plays as a lower ranking officer who’s there for comic relief but seldom gets involved with the plot’s progress.
How the show progresses without any main villain
Winspector’s scenario is sort of a what if to a series of events. It’s the year 1999 as far as the show’s continuity is concerned. What’s funny is that in GoGoFive in 1999, the Grand Cross event really happened in August 18, 1999 and that year a rescue-themed Super Sentai was created. The show also shows how humanity can take technology to the wrong direction as evidenced by many crimes in the show or how some events tend to show disasters related to the consequences of reckless destruction. It also shows how some villains have noble agendas but shows that nothing you do ever justifies crime.
The show’s development doesn’t go with the villains and heroes but more on the heroes. In everyday life, people get promoted and demoted based on their performance. As situations get tougher, the people behind Winspector end up creating new gadgets as the situations get tougher. The whole show’s direction is mixing Tokusatsu elements into American rescue-themed shows. As the show progresses, everyone realizes what’s important in them as they continue to battle day to day criminals and do rescue tasks. In the end, Winspector is ordered to go on a worldwide scale leading to Solbrain’s formation in the next season.
The possible legacy of Winspector to later Tokusatsu shows
After Winspector, there were two more shows that came with the same theme. Winspector was succeeded by Solbrain where Captain Masaki resumes his role as the show’s mentor. Exceedraft was meant to be a standalone series but was later connected to Winspector. All three Rescue Police shows from Winspector to Exceedraft had no real main villain involved. Then there was Tokosou Robo Janperson as a Robocop-style Tokusatsu series except the hero was 100% mechanical. Blue SWAT came next which may have been Dekaranger’s spiritual predecessor.
The influence went into Super Sentai and Power Rangers. Gekisou Sentai Carranger endorsed safety rules and may have tried to do the lesson of the week approach from Chikyu Sentai Fiveman. It even had a rescue-themed upgrade for its mecha midseason. Then we had Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive and Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue as rescue-themed shows. Lightspeed Rescue not only had Captain Mitchell which felt like any typical Tokusatsu commander but also the show had a public service announcement on safety rules. Tokosou Sentai Dekaranger and Power Rangers SPD may have also shared in that legacy. In the case of Dekaranger, some episodes were more or less like the Rescue Police Trilogy since some of the Alienizers were independent villains than shown to be Agent Abrella’s clients.