2016-04-03 03.53.31

Cripes, bit dusty around here, isn’t it? Well, here’s the annual combination ongoing gag/proof of life. Couldn’t let the 3rd of April pass without it!

As I’m sure is abundantly clear, nothing I planned on for the blog in the last year actually happened. It was a combination of the ol’ Unemployment Blues and the cloud of overwhelming misery that had been (and continues) hanging over my head ever since I moved back to Kansas nearly four years ago now.

For those not in the know (folks who aren’t friends on Facebook and didn’t pick up on it on Twitter), I did wind up with a new job in July, at which point I also abruptly stopped posting to the This Robotech Thing Tumblr as well — which is a shame, because I was well into posting a whole series of chronological scenes from All The Robotech Comics. Think I dropped off during The Malcontent Uprisings, which means I made it through all the dire issues of Return to Macross and the entire Comico The Macross Saga. Anyway, that was just low-grade filler content, something I could do on autopilot and still feel like I was doing something so not a terrible loss to the world. Much more importantly, the new job seems to be working out — almost nine months at it now — and I’m not spending anywhere near as much time walking around town fantasizing about slitting my own wrists, so that’s an improvement on a year ago.

Yes, as I said, the cloud of misery still hangs over me, but I’m mostly dealing with that (read: not actually dealing with that, just distracting myself from it) by spending a lot of time at the local downtown coffee shop reading Star Wars and Doctor Who novels (though at the moment I’m in the middle of a reread of Dune and some –gasp! — actual grown-up historical fiction I checked out of the library), buying more toy robots, and playing the Playstation 4 I just got for this very birthday (playing lots of Street Fighter V over the past week, badly).

Also, the new Macross show that, hilariously, premieres in Japan today — just like Macross Frontier did eight years ago! — didn’t look like something I’ll hate when it was previewed back in December. Between that, last year’s Star Wars not being terrible, and the last season of Doctor Who sticking the landing, things really could be so much worse.

(Okay, so things could be a little more sunshine and roses in the real world, what with the right wing passing all sorts of hideous pro-discrimination bills in states across the country and folks proudly showing off what damned fools and monsters they are by supporting the Racist Bad Haircut That Walks Like A Man, but I expect there isn’t a whole lot I can personally do about all that short of going out to vote this November.)

No promises of something new and/or exciting coming down the pipeline this time, because one thing I’ve learned is to stop doing that, but there is one particular series I’d love to do to commemorate a certain woulda/coulda/shoulda anniversary this year. We’ll see if I manage to make the time to do it. All I can promise for the future is that, barring some horrible accident, there will be another picture of me with yet another Ultra Magnus in front of my face this time next year, because that seems like a tradition that really is working out for me.

Cheers, all.

(Last year here; the year before and the original photo this is based on here.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 5.53.13 AM

Some Minor Updates, or The Big Three-Oh, Part 1.5 and Some Other Bits.

For a few days this past week I took a series of cracks at the first of those reviews I was planning and I just couldn’t break through the opening paragraph. I have a rough shape of the review in my head, but it’s been tricky, and not helped at all by the fact that I started to write this thing a couple of weeks ago and lost it. (I thought WordPress was auto-saving, since that’s a thing it used to do, but I guess the new post editor only saves drafts manually.) However, something happened this past week that I think gave me a better way in, so you should be seeing that next week.

I’m also still planning on doing that new episode of This Robotech Thing (I still have to shoot an intro, a news update, and an outro for it), but in the meantime I posted a series of photos of the second wave of Robotech 30th Anniversary product — the blind box figure assortment — to the Tumblr blog. Links to those posts follow. Continue reading



Well, there went another year. That wouldn’t have been so eventful if not for the whole losing-my-job-to-corporate-bankruptcy thing, which still smarts. Still having work dreams, still getting polite “we’ll keep your resume on file” e-mails, still posting toys and comics and things to eBay (nothing’s up as of this writing, but I’ll be doing another round next week). It’s rough going, but it’d be rougher if not for my family, bless ’em. They might sometimes drive me bananas, but they’re always here for me in a pinch. I probably don’t thank them enough, honestly.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a pile of things planned for the blog next week, including a new This Robotech Thing I shot some footage for last night and a review I started on last week that the blog ate, which makes it twice the cautionary tale that it was to begin with. More than anything, right now my goal is to keep myself busy and productive. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands at the moment — why not take advantage of it, right?

Mind you, today? Today, I’m just going to do my best to relax. Put this new Ultra Magnus through his paces (and hopefully sticker him up with some Reprolabels that are supposed to be coming in the mail any day now), watch some anime, play some more Lords of Thunder, and try and enjoy the day.

(Photo context here. And now that I’ve written this, time to get caught up on Arrow and heat up some soup.)


The Heroic Legend of Arslan Volumes 1 & 2 (Kodansha)

When I was in high school, anime didn’t occupy the corner of the media landscape it does today. It was certainly gaining a foothold thanks to weekly broadcasts of certain high profile direct to video features and movies on the Sci-Fi Channel and daily doses of VoltronRobotechDragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, but we were still firmly in the era of fansub tape trading and commercial releases carrying two, maybe three episodes of a TV series if you were lucky. I still vividly remember buying Neon Genesis Evangelion two episodes at a time for months on end, and buying it dubbed into English because those tapes were five to ten dollars cheaper.

There were a few other anime fans I knew in town, and one in particular who rode the same bus home that I did. He was a big, funny guy who had a vast library of anime series and films at his disposal, all duplicated in Extended Play from tapes he’d rented from our local anime shop. I can’t remember what all he loaned to me over the years; I’m fairly certain that’s how I first filled the gaps I had in the original Tenchi Muyo series, and I know that’s how I saw the first season of Ranma 1/2 and one of my all-time favorites, the first series of El Hazard: The Magnificent World. But next to El Hazard, one of my absolute favorite things he loaned me was The Heroic Legend of Arslan, a gorgeously animated fantasy adventure based on, I would later find out, a series of novels by Legend of the Galactic Heroes author Yoshiki Tanaka. I’m usually not drawn to fantasy stories, but the ornate armor stylings, lavishly garbed and beautiful character designs, and hauntingly lovely musical score enchanted me, and the English dubbed version by Manga UK was well cast and perfectly watchable. In those days most of what we were getting in the States were movies and short direct to video series, so when after four episodes (the last two of which were kind of shabby around the edges) it just sort of trailed off it was irritating but not unexpected. Two more episodes would make it to the states a few years later, but the animation had gotten worse, the English language cast had been replaced with lousy domestic sound-alikes with bad phony English accents, and the story still was far from resolved. Continue reading


Thirty years melting away in a handful of purchases.

Guys, if I’m being completely honest with you, I’ve spent most of the past few years in a pretty lousy funk that’s made getting any non-essential work (read: anything I wasn’t getting paid to do) pretty difficult. Unemployment isn’t making it any better; I spent a couple of days this past week so gripped by a mix of anger, despair, and frustration that I barely left my bed. Next week I’m going to try to make an extra effort to get up early, seize the day, and all that sort of positive thinking guff, because I have quite a list of things I’d really like to do with my non-job-hunting time — and if I do this right, the first fruit of that should probably hit the blog on Monday. But for now, I’m just going to leave you with this image of three currently available Transformers figures standing together that made me realize just how hard Hasbro’s hitting one particular nostalgia button this year.

One you’ve already seen on the blog, the Insecticon Bombshell in the bottom corner; the other two I might’ve mentioned on Twitter, but if you’re my pal on Facebook you’ve definitely seen that I got my hands on these guys — the new Leader-class Megatron and Deluxe-class Stunticon Dragstrip. Last year Hasbro was making a real effort to celebrate all three decades of Transformers, but the agenda this year seems to be “let’s just act as if it’s 1985 again.” Given that I was four years old in 1985 and reasonably happy, and here in 2015 I’m turning thirty-four and I’m really not happy at all, I am A-OK with sitting on the floor with a handful of Evil Decepticons and making believe for a few moments that it’s thirty years ago all over again.


But only for a few moments. Nostalgia will only get you so far in life. If you spend all your life focusing on the good times behind you, you’re probably never going to see any good times ahead — right?


If we’re all very good, we might get a new DANCOUGAR release out of this, so respect the pink-haired girl cartoon.

Over on ye olde ROBOTECH tumblr of all things, I’ve taken a moment to highlight William Winckler Productions’s new digital download release of the first four episodes FAIRY PRINCESS MINKY MOMO on Amazon’s Instant Video service.

“Why in heaven’s name would you do that THERE of all places?”

Well, as I explain there (visit the link for more details), it’s apparently based on a 1984-copyrighted Harmony Gold English dubbed version of the show that HGUSA was trying to get off the ground around the same time as they were doing ROBOTECH; in fact, it features a number of voice actors who you’d recognize from ROBOTECH. (It also strikes me as something that should have been on Nickelodeon in 1989 right between NOOZLES and MAYA THE BEE. Very similar vibe in look, story, and English adaptation.) Despite the Winckler release using the original Japanese series name, the dub renames the main character “Gigi,” which it not only has in common with Harmony Gold’s later dub of one of the MINKY MOMO original video releases in ’87 (released as GIGI AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, a mainstay of rental stores and the Kay Bee Toys video section all through the 1990s), but also other dubbed versions across Europe, which all apparently used the Harmony Gold version as a jumping-off point despite the fact that it never aired in its home territory.

I love seeing older anime released in the States, especially when there’s a bit of a story behind it and a vintage dub that had been lost to the ages involved, so this whole situation has me tickled in the same way that Discotek’s LUPIN III: MYSTERY OF MAMO having four different English versions on it does. If you can get past the sickly-sweetness of it — hey, it’s an old cartoon for tiny girls, that comes with the territory — and some rough acting in the first episode, it’s a very well made show that I can’t stop describing as rather charming. The only thing you might find to be a stumbling block is that it is priced at about what you probably would have paid for a VHS of the thing shelved right next to that GIGI AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH tape, a cool $14.99. If you’re a nut for this kind of stuff like me and want to take the plunge, you can find it here on Amazon.


It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.

For the last week and a half or so, every couple of nights I’ve had the same dream over and over again. I’m at work. The big blowout sale is done. There’s still plenty of product on the walls, but it does look picked over. At my manager’s word the giant red and yellow signs in the windows come down and business is poised to go back to normal. There’s rebuilding to be done, staff to hire, and hopefully corporate will do something about the fact that we’re low on things to sell, but we made it.

Of course, that’s not what happened at all. Two weeks ago now my workplace for almost three years, Pittsburg’s RadioShack store, shut its doors for the last time. The last time I was there all the product was gone, the register computers had been disassembled and boxed up, the counters had been shoved into a corner, and a pickup truck was tearing out of the side parking lot with one of our discarded Verizon cell phone displays. About a week ago the building’s owner put “FOR LEASE” signs in the windows, making the situation all the more real. Six and a quarter years working for this company were finally at an end. Continue reading