Sensei Jason and The Black Belt Crew
This screenshot collage is dedicated to all of my friends, fellow artists, fans, and brethren who are admirers of Jason David Frank as an actor, a martial artist, and as a martial arts instructor as well as The Splendid Seven consisting of Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha, Shuran, Hakkaku, Ginta, Ayame, and Shunran. Sit back, relax, put on your nostalgia goggles, and revel in how a show starring a charming martial arts sensei and his seven young Yokai warrior wards would have made for really great television in the mid to late 1990s.
Take one renowned actor, martial artist, and martial arts instructor known for portraying one of the most popular Power Rangers ever, have him receive his own animated show starring alongside Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha the two dog Yokai warrior brothers, Shuran and Shunran the two panther Yokai warriors, and Hakkaku, Ginta, and Ayame the three wolf Yokai warriors, and you get a fun, thrilling, high octane, and thoroughly entertaining action show that combines Mister T’s as well as Karate Kommandos’ thrillingly kick-butt action with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ sense of thrilling amusement plus Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids’ fun brand of heart, edutainment, and teaching viewers young and old valuable morals and principles. The show would be called Sensei Jason and The Black Belt Crew which would run on Cartoon Network every Saturday morning at 9 AM from June 9, 1996 until December 18, 1999, running for a total of four seasons and one-hundred four episodes including holiday specials such as Halloween, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Sensei Jason David Frank would really take after Master Splinter, Mister T, Chuck Norris, and Fat Albert in terms of being the team dad and big brother mentor to his amazingly formidable wards. Speaking of his amazing wards, Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha, Shuran, Hakkaku, Ginta, Ayame, and Shunran would take after The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mister T’s gymnastics team, Chuck Norris’s Karate Kommandos Team, and Fat Albert’s friends and comrades in terms of their various personalities, martial arts styles, and individual quirks. Adding in The Wolf Elder, Toga the Dog General, InuKimi, and Izayoi being thoroughly involved as Sesshoumaru’s, Inuyasha’s, Shuran’s, Hakkaku’s, Ginta’s, Ayame’s, and Shunran’s lives as their parental figures coming in to check on their progeny plus Sensei Jason’s friends Esteban, Jonathan, and Corinne voiced respectively by Steve Cardenas, Johnny Yong Bosch, and Karan Ashley being akin to April O’Neill and Ms. Priscilla Bisby would make the show just as entertaining and fun for four seasons. If you cannot already tell, this show would have been a huge hit to both the young and the young at heart.
As I mentioned in my “What If” idea revolving around Sensei Jason played by Jason David Frank being a mentor figure to Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha, Shuran, Hakkaku, Ginta, Ayame, and Shunran, this show would have the formula of a high octane opening to get the viewers excited, a live-action prelude with Jason David Frank himself introducing us the viewers the main story of what is going to occur, the main action where Sensei Jason and The Black Belt Crew are involved in solving mysteries, stopping crime, kicking villain butt, and learning something valuable along the way, a live-action epilogue with Frank summarising the lesson and bidding us the viewers until the next, and an instrumental version of the show’s theme tune as the closing song. Sensei Jason and The Black Belt Crew would not just revolve around various martial arts, with each Black Belt Crew member specialising in various fighting styles, but also learning about various morals and principles, especially with the Eight Codes of the Arts being implemented, namely brother- and sisterhood, dedication, cooperation, respect, attitude, self respect, confidence, and discipline. Aside from morals revolving around the codes and ethics of martial arts, other lessons would revolve around the importance good health, the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle, dealing with first crushes, handling peer pressure, safety as a priority, self-esteem, close family ties, and dealing with school bullies. Furthermore, heavier topics such as children in troubled backgrounds, gun violence, gang wars, kidnapping, child abuse, parental abandonment, depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, discrimination in the forms of sexism and racism, gender equality, divorce, being in abusive relationships, pedophilia, suicide, death, and sexuality would also be touched upon. The show’s approach to teaching valuable lessons in an entertaining fashion would never be preachy nor condescending but would be something for viewers to be entertained with in an enlightening, thrilling, and involving manner, thus being a show that is way ahead of its team while gaining mainstream appreciation thanks to Jason David Frank bringing life to a fictionalised version of himself being a mentor figure to formidable young Yokai martial artists. With that said, let us segue to the characters because they are the Alpha and the Omega of this series, given how strong they are together as a united family.
Sensei Jason starts the series as a 22-year-old college student studying Sports Sciences, Physics, and Japanese Studies at Harvard who runs his own dojo and ends the series as a 25-year-old pursuing his Master’s degree in Japanese Studies while keeping his dojo alive and running. His main martial art is Karate, but he is also adept in other martial arts to the point where he combines each and every one of them, including Taekwondo, Judo, Jujitsu, Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Kickboxing, and Capoeira. Balancing his academic duties in college with his responsibilities as a mentor, instructor, and teacher may not be easy for him, but his encouragement, kindness, down-to-earth nature, and unconditional love for the martial arts and to his young wards keep him alive and make him fully grateful for having wonderful people around him, thus making him embody the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood.
Sesshoumaru starts the series as a 15-year-old 9th grader and ends the series as an 18-year-old 12th grader. His signature martial arts are Shotokan Karate, Kyokushin Karate, Brazilian Jujitsu, and Japanese Jujitsu. He may be a competitive, reflective, and taciturn lone wolf, but he is fiercely loyal to his brother Inuyasha, his adoptive brothers Shuran, Hakkaku, and Ginta, his best friend Ayame, and his little sister from another mister Shunran. Aside from his competitiveness, reflective, and taciturn lone wolf nature, he is also a disciplined Karateka full of honour and integrity to his craft. He embodies the code of discipline.
Inuyasha starts the series as a 14-year-old 8th grader and ends the series as a 17-year-old 11th grader. His signature martial arts are Taekwondo, Hapkido, Pankration, and Bokator. He is a super strong, super fierce, and super tough leader who never backs down from a fight, is always there for his family, and always does what he can to better himself as a fighter and as a person. His strength, fierceness, toughness, and leadership lend themselves well in his skills as a Taekwondo practitioner full of guts and stamina. He embodies the code of confidence.
Shuran starts the series as a 14-year-old 8th grader and ends the series as a 17-year-old 11th grader. His signature martial arts are Mongolian Wrestling, Sumo Wrestling, Vale Tudo, and Sambo. He is the big, tall, strong, and ferocious bodyguard who uses his imposing size, as the tallest and biggest member of the group, to intimidate his foes and bring honour and solidarity to his family. He has a big and healthy appetite that boosts his strength and stamina as a wrestler but is also careful to never overeat because he knows fully well that his body is his temple. He embodies the code of self respect.
Hakkaku starts the series as a 13-year-old 7th grader and ends the series as a 16-year-old 10th grader. His signature martial arts are Muay Thai, Pradal Serey, Kajukenbo, and Panantukan. He is the energetic, hyperactive, and enthusiastic messenger who always relays the news of what is going on and what urgent news needs to be taken care of, thus demonstrating loyalty and high spirits to his family. His passion to keep on reaching greater heights and willingness to never give up make him strong as a Muay Thai practitioner. He embodies the code of attitude.
Ginta starts the series as a 13-year-old 7th grader and ends the series as a 16-year-old 10th grader. His signature martial arts are Lethwei, Sanda, Jeet Kune Do, and Pencak Silat. He is the charming, lovable, and adorable pretty boy who has really cute dimples on standby as well as some quick reflexes to boot all to demonstrate that he is not just another cute and pretty face. He genuinely cares for his family and would do everything to bring reverence and allegiance to them. Should any harm be done to them, he would use his clinches and strikes as a Lethwei practitioner to subdue his enemies. He embodies the code of respect.
Ayame starts the series as an 11-year-old 5th grader and ends the series as a 14-year-old 8th grader. Her signature martial arts are Kickboxing, Boxing, Nippon Kenpo, and Koppojutsu. She is the courageous, valiant, and valorous tomboy who shows fierce determination and always gets back up on her feet no matter how many times she gets knocked down. Every time some felon knocks her down, she returns with a barrage of punches at her favour. Her iron fists are especially useful thanks to combining her skills as a kickboxer and boxer ready and willing to give her opponents a huge knockout. She embodies the code of dedication.
Shunran starts the series as a 9-year-old 4th grader and ends the series as a 12-year-old 7th grader. Her signature martial arts are Capoeira, Shaolin Kung Fu, Wing Chun, and Baguazhang. She is the cheery, mischievous, and sanguine girly girl who is always clever on her head and on her feet regardless of the situation. Whenever she and her family find themselves in a particularly uncomfortable situation, she does her best to keep the team spirit going well like a well-oiled ship. Her fleet feet and agility are exceptional when it comes to combining her skills as a capoeirista and a Shaolin Kung Fu practitioner. She embodies the code of cooperation.
The Wolf Elder in his human form starts the series as a 52-year-old boxer and boxing coach showing no signs of retiring and ends the series as a 55-year-old still being as strong as ever as a boxing coach. He passes his wisdom, love, and kindness down to his granddaughters Ayame and Shunran and admires how Sensei Jason has helped them be the courageous young girls that they are. He even considers Sensei Jason to be a great teacher and equally great leader.
Toga starts the series as a 36-year-old Karateka and Karate sensei who is also adept in various martial arts and passed down his love for the martial arts to his sons Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha and ends the series as a 39-year-old continuing his career as a Karateka and Karate sensei. As a fellow Karate sensei, Toga sees Sensei Jason as a knowledgeable young man and a great role model to his sons, his stepsons, and his surrogate daughters. He confirms that Sensei Jason is excellent for his beloved sons.
InuKimi starts the series as a 32-year-old Aikidoka and Aikido sensei displaying grace, agility, and power in everything she does as well as being an unconditionally loving mother to both Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha and ends the series as a 35-year-old still continuing to make Aikido and the martial arts as a whole as a serious investment. InuKimi considers Sensei Jason to be almost like the eldest son she would have loved to have because of how wise and disciplined he is. She and Toga could not have asked for a better sensei.
Izayoi starts the series as a 31-year-old Kung Fu practitioner specialising in the styles of Praying Mantis, Crane, and Snake displaying speed and agility and ends the series as a 34-year-old continuing in this martial art all while being extremely loving, affectionate, and supportive to her adopted sons Shuran, Hakkaku, and Ginta. Izayoi cherishes how patient, kind, and caring Sensei Jason is towards her precious sons and revels in how they have grown in wisdom and in fortitude. She could not be any more prouder as a mother.
Esteban starts the series as a 21-year-old college student studying Sports Sciences, Physics, and Japanese Studies at Harvard while competing in Brazilian Jujitsu and ends the series as a 24-year-old pursuing his Master’s degree in Sports Sciences while being heavily involved in being an instructor in Brazilian Jujitsu. He is a laid-back, chill, and cool person who considers Sensei Jason to be like an older brother figure and is always helpful towards him and The Black Belt Crew in various missions. This means that his chill attitude should never be mistaken for weakness, for he can also use his joint locks and arm bars to subdue their foes.
Jonathan starts the series as a 19-year-old college student studying Physics, English Literature, and Japanese Studies at Harvard while also being a diligent practitioner in Jeet Kune Do and ends the series as a 22-year-old aiming to do his Master’s degree in Physics while having an internship with Sanford and Taylor Laboratories. Knowledgeable on his head and on his feet, Jonathan is a conscientious tactician who is always reliable in getting his allies and friends out from a sticky situation while being just as formidable as a combatant. As the brains of Sensei Jason’s circle of friends, Jonathan always has something up his sleeves.
Corinne starts the series as a 19-year-old college student studying Media and Communications, Journalism, and English Literature who aims to be an anchorwoman while being just as active in Wushu and ends the series as a 22-year-old intern at Harvard University Press and Boston News Network. Corinne’s vivacity, enthusiasm, and ambition are utterly infectious, for she never stops at nothing until the job gets done. She is always ready to be open to different people and new experiences and always has her notepad and camera on the ready. Aside from her journalistic ambitions, Corinne is also a firm believer in justice for all.
Sensei Jason and The Black Belt Crew, their friends, and their parental figures are always prepared to defend themselves and their loved ones against crime and all forces of evil. There is no enemy strong enough nor clever enough that they cannot oust, and their sense of teamwork and close family ties are the keys to getting every job done. Even when times get really rough, they always find a way to bounce back up with punches, kicks, blocks, and grapples galore. Watch out, villains, here come Sensei Jason and The Black Belt Crew.
I hope you all enjoyed this, and I will see you in the next submission. Take care, stay safe, and may the power protect you, everybody.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Karate Club The White Ranger Kata belongs to Saban, Toei, and Jason David Frank.
Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha, Shuran, Hakkaku, Ginta, Ayame, and Shunran from Inuyasha belong to Rumiko Takahashi and Sunrise.