Friday, November 18, 2016

Top 20 Fictional Quintets

After doing lists on two-, three-, and four-member teams, it’s now the turn of five-member teams for me to do a list on.  This may or may not be the culmination of my ongoing series of lists on small-sized fictional teams, as I’m still contemplating if I should also make lists for six- and seven-member teams (is a team with more than five members can still be comfortably considered a “small ensemble”?).  The possibility for two more lists is always open.  But, for now, it’s okay to assume that this is the last of the series.

Quintets – or groups with five members – are a common structure in fiction.  It seems that five is informally considered as an ideal size for a small-sized ensemble – not so few, not so many, but just right.  As usual, I picked and rank those in this list primarily out of my personal preferences.  However, I also seriously considered how much a particular ensemble is strongly and effortlessly identifiable as a quintet, how close they are able to make “5” synonymous to themselves.

Stone Protectors was one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles copycats that arose in the 90’s.  I will probably hate it now as an adult, but as a kid, I enjoyed the animated series.  I even bought an issue of the comics from Harvey Comics Entertainment (I still have it), though it’s objectively godawful.  The titular Stone Protectors are members of a rock band that have been empowered by magical stones, given Troll doll-like appearances, and summoned to an alternate magical world to fight the evil Saurians.


The Great Lake Avengers – also known as The Great Lakes X-Men, The Great Lakes Champions, The Great Lakes Initiative, and the Lightning Rods – is somewhat of a joke superhero team made up of naïve, oddball D-list heroes.  Originally and definitively made up of founder/leader Mr. Immortal (who I think will be an amusing addition to the actual Avengers team), Big Bertha, Flatman, Doorman, and Dinah Soar (now deceased), this team used the name “Avengers”, without any official permission from the Avengers, to ride on the premier Marvel superhero team’s fame and reputation.  In fact, they often change their team’s name in order to show the appearance of being connected to what’s the hottest superhero team.  Truly, they’re a bunch of weirdos, almost pathetic.  But they genuinely have interesting powers, and make an interesting group.

The all-star starting five of Teikō Junior High School Basketball Club were nicknamed the “Generation of Miracles” because they are all basketball prodigies, possessing incredible individual skill sets.  Though they weren’t really working as a team, they dominated their opponents because of sheer talent.  After graduating from middle school, the five of them took an “Oath”, that they would go to different high schools and compete against each other to determine the best among them.  Their “Phantom Sixth Man”, Kuroko, was also part of the “Oath”, though his motivation was different from them – to prove that his team-centric philosophy of basketball is superior.  In the end, Kuroko, with his new team Seirin, successfully sends his point across to his former teammates.

Debuting in Darkwing Duck episode “Just Us Justice Ducks Part 1”, the Justice Ducks (named such, though two of the are not ducks) are a ragtag team of heroes from the animated series Darkwing Duck and DucktalesGizmoduck, Morgana Macawber, Neptunia, and Stegmutt were all encountered by Darkwing Duck in separate occasions before – some of them were even former nemesis of his.  But when the Fearsome Five – made up of Darkwing Duck’s archenemies – came into existence, it led them to band together, though Darkwing initially wanted to battle the Fearsome Five alone, so that all the glory would be his.

Little Foot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike aren’t just one of the most emotionally investing traveling parties in fiction, but their strong bond of friendship, tendency to venture into perilous adventures, and overall sense of sanguinity make them a very memorable quintet.

Though these Victorian literary characters – Alan Quatermain, Mina Murray, Captain Nemo, Edward Hyde, and Hawley “The Invisible Man” Griffin – aren’t “superheroes” in a traditional sense, they’re still one of the best superhero teams ever conceptualized.  What prevents them from being ranked higher in this list is the fact they didn’t really stay a “team of five” – or a team for that matter – for long.

Of course, the Super Sentai deserves to be in this list, for having one of the most notable quintet structures in fiction.  Being the inspiration and source of the Power Rangers, it can even be argued that they epitomized the concept of a five-member team.  A couple of Super Sentai teams could be in this list, but I decided to just let one team represent them all.  And I chose Chikyu Sentai Fiveman, since “five” is literally identified with the team.

The Fiveman Super Sentai team is made up of the Hoshikawa siblings, who, as children, were separated from their parents when the Galactic Imperial Army Zone attacked Sedon, the planet they were trying to terraform.  The robot Arthur C6 took them back to Earth and raised them.  When the Galactic Imperial Army Zone begins their invasion of Earth, the Hoshikawas have grown up into young adults, and are prepared to defend Earth from them after being trained with Fivemen technology.

Mobile Fighter G Gundam is likely the silliest series in the Gundam franchise, but I don’t care.  I liked it a lot.  Set in a future wherein space colonies of countries settle their political differences every four years through a Gundam fighting tournament, the anime centers on Domon Kasshu (pilot of the Shining Gundam, then later, the God Gundam; representative of Neo Japan) and the allies/friends he gained during the tournament: Chibodee Crocket (pilot of the Gundam Maxter, representative of Neo America), George Deg Sand (pilot of the Gundam Rose, representative of Neo France) Sai Saici (pilot of the Gundam Dragon, representative of Neo China), and Argo Gulski (pilot of the Gundam Bolt, representative of Neo Russia).  They weren’t always known as “The Shuffle Alliance”, but they eventually inherited the name, crests, and purpose of the original Shuffle Alliance.

The Junior Detective League is the name of the detective club of Conan and his elementary friends.  In the early days of the club, when there were only four of them, the successes of the cases they stumbled into were basically exclusively due to Conan’s efforts, with Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Genta just along for the ride.  Sometimes, they contributed, too, to the extent of being “aides.” But as the series progressed, especially after Ai Haibara was recruited into the group, they were able to show flashes of potential of becoming legitimate investigators and detectives on their own.

“Let’s volt in!”

It’s the iconic battle cry of team leader Steve Armstrong which ushers in the most famous mecha transformation/assembly sequence outside of Power Rangers: the five Volt Machines combining to form Voltes V while the anime’s iconic theme gloriously plays in the background.  For being the participants of this fist-pumping sequence and for being the guys behind the Voltes V mecha, the Voltes V team – Steve, Mark Gordon, “Big Bert” Armstrong, “Little” John Armstrong, and Jamie Robinson – get a spot on this list.

Here’s another Gundam ensemble, this time from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, my most favorite Gundam series. Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Raberba Winner, and Chang Wufei are five teenagers sent to Earth with their Gundams by the Colonies to attack the Organization of the Zodiac or OZ.  They were initially unaware of each other, as each one of them was individually sent to Earth by their respective Colony.  But sharing a common purpose, they eventually band together.  What makes this group very interesting is because each one of them is a borderline psychopath with a tragic past, giving the team a sense of volatility.

The Breakfast Club is one of the most brilliant and most definitive movies of the 80’s.  The titular “Breakfast Club” is made up of five teenagers representing five different high school stereotypes – “the criminal”, “the princess”, “the athlete”, “the brain”, and “the basket case” – who bond during a Saturday detention together, coming into the realization that there’s more to each one of them than what’s defined of the respective cliques they belong in.

“Team Hokage” is the name of the Recca Hanabishi’s squad for the Ura Butō Satsujin tournament.  Initially made up of Recca, his childhood friends/rivals Domon Ishijima and Fūko Kirisawa, and one-time enemy Tokiya Mikagami, they are later joined in the tournament by Kaoro Koganei, who used to be in the side of the antagonists.

“And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids.”  It’s the catchphrase of every single monster-costumed criminal that the Scooby Gang catches and unmasks.  I never get tired of hearing it.  I love the Scooby Doo cartoons (especially the old series), and I love the quirky mystery-solving team of Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Fred, and Daphne.

Witch each member – Nate (“The Brains”), Sophie (“The Grifter”), Hardison (“The Hacker”), Parker (“The Thief”), and Eliot (“The Hitter”) – excelling in his or her respective role, the “Leverage Consulting & Associates” (a front name) is easily the best small-sized heist/con team in fiction.  Great thing they use their thieving talents against the bad guys.

G-Force is the superhero team of the classic anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, which had received an American adaptation in the form of Battle of the Planets and G-Force: Guardians of the Space.  As a kid, I friggin’ love the G-Force, and it was the very first memorable team with a five-member structure that I ever encountered.  Up until now, I’ve got a soft place in my heart for this team, and I think they still hold up as a stylish and kickass superhero quintet till this day.

The comicbook Guardians of the Galaxy is the best space ensemble in fiction, but the film version of the team is equally appealing.  Heck, it’s probably more quirkily delightful.

The team is expected to expand in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but as far as the original lineup is concerned – Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora, and Drax the Destroyer – they are easily a distinctively disorderly, fun quintet.  I enjoyed how they started off at odds with each other, but were then compelled to band together by circumstance for initial selfish motivations.  Eventually, they learned to genuinely care for each other, as well as found the heroes within themselves.

The comic book “first class” of Prof. Xavier was made up of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel.  The X-Men has expanded extensively and evolved numerously through the years, becoming the greatest comic book superhero team ever (though nowadays, the current X-books aren’t as very exciting as before).  But its humble five-member beginning nonetheless inspires much nostalgic fondness and respect.

Actually, come to think of it, the original five X-Men are also still pretty much relevant in a “modern” context, as they are currently roaming around the present day Marvel Universe, after the adult Beast used time travel to extract them from the past.  Thus, there are three X-Men right now that have teenage and adult versions simultaneously co-existing in the same time period – Angel (Archangel as an adult), Beast, and Iceman (the adult Jean Grey and Cyclops are dead).

X-Force is originally Cable’s team. However, after the events of House of M, almost all “X” teams became integrated into the X-Men, under Cyclops’ command.  Cyclops then transformed X-Force into a black ops strike team arm of the X-Men, to handle “dirty” missions that the other X-Men wouldn’t openly do.  Most of the other X-Men were unaware the existence of X-Force.  But after the events of Second Coming, the X-Force and their actions were revealed to the rest of the X-Men, and Cyclops received heavy backlash.  He took responsibility of X-Force’s actions and disbanded the team.

However, Wolverine believed that an X-Force team could still do a lot of good (by doing a lot of bad), and tried to convince Cyclops to continue sanctioning an X-Force team, but failed.  Despite not getting Cyclops’ approval, Wolverine still secretly formed an X-Force team, recruiting Deadpool, Psylocke, Fantomex, and Archangel to join him, and giving them one rule: no one could know they exist (so they basically held the same covert nature as the previous incarnation, only this time, Cyclops was also not aware of them).

Iconic the original five X-Men may be, but for me, they aren’t the most interesting X-Men quintet.  The Uncanny X-Force is, as each of them had experienced being forcibly influenced by evil in the past, which left a lingering darkness inside them, making them ruthless enough to be ready to kill when necessary.

Multitude of Power Ranger teams have come and gone through the years, but the very first one – composed of Jason Lee Scott (Red Ranger), Kimberly Hart (Pink Ranger), Zack Taylor (Black Ranger), Trini Kwan (Yellow Ranger), and Billy Cranston (Blue Ranger) – remains the most definitive five-member Power Rangers team in Power Rangers lore – and my most favorite quintet in fiction for that matter.

When the legendary Tommy Oliver (as the Green Ranger) joined the team and when original members Jason, Zack, Trini, and Kimberly (the ultimate crush of every boy of my generation during the 90’s) were respectively replaced by Rocky DeSantos, Adam Park, Aisha Campbell, and Katherine “Kat” Hillard, fresh faces and arcs were infused into the show.  It was fine, I guess (primarily because Tommy was awesome), but the lineup from then on didn’t have the same sense of “immortality” that the original lineup had.
It can be argued that, individually, they aren’t necessarily the best Rangers there are.  But as a team, as a quintet, Jason (with all due respect to Tommy, he might be the greatest Ranger ever, but Jason is the greatest Red Ranger ever), Kim, Zack, Trini, and Billy made the quintessence of the Power Rangers team their own.

(Too bad the upcoming Power Rangers movie is looking to be an atrocity, in my opinion; threatening to ruin the legacy of the original five.)

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