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.

Round and Round We Go, OR Why The New Season of Doctor Who Has Me a Little Bit Worried.

“Well, Peri, what do you think? Hm?”

“It’s terrible.”

“Oh, never mind about the clothes; they’re easily changed. What about me?”

“I meant you!”

“Sorry, afraid I don’t understand.”

“Well, neither do I. I mean, people don’t change like that. I mean, physically, just in a flash.”

“I’m not ‘people,’ Peri, I happen to be me.”

“But why?”

“Natural metamorphosis. A form of rebirth. I call it a renewal. And this time, a positive triumph. I can sense it in every fiber of my being.”

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Tomorrow sees the beginning of the eighth season of the 21st century incarnation of Doctor Who and the debut of the latest actor to portray the time-traveling Doctor, Peter Capaldi. That’s not him in the picture above, of course; instead, you’re looking at the sixth actor to take on the title role, Colin Baker, who flew the TARDIS from March 1984 through December 1986, and the dialog up top is a back-and-forth between his Doctor and his young companion Peri from his proper debut story, the much maligned “The Twin Dilemma.”

We’re looking at dear old Colin because of something that struck me last Christmas, as we entered the final moments of Matt Smith‘s final bow in the TARDIS. Smith’s Doctor’s current companion, Clara, has been through an anniversary special, so unlike Peri she knows the drill; when the Doctor is mortally wounded (or is about to succumb to the effects of old age; that’s happened three times now), the regeneration process kicks in and transforms him into a new man. And yet, that almost seems to make things worse — as she watches him stumble around the console and make his last speech she knows that the dear man she’s come to know, come to have a bit of a crush on even, will be replaced with a complete stranger. When that moment hits like a blow, when in the blink of an eye Smith’s face is replaced with Capaldi’s, Clara is in complete shock and remains in a wide-eyed, slightly terrified state through the end of the episode. The best point of comparison really is the end of “Caves of Androzani,” Colin Baker’s prececessor Peter Davison‘s last tale, through the opening of “The Twin Dilemma”; the TARDIS is in flight, the Doctor has regenerated before his pretty young companion’s eyes, and because of ill effects of that process it seems the poor companion’s life is in immediate danger.

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Gateway to Obsession: Run That Back For Me, Will Ya?

If you’re a Doctor Who fan who’s at least reasonably familiar with the original “classic” series, you probably recognize this serial.

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It’s “The Caves of Androzani,” the best Doctor Who story ever according to the results of the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine poll where they asked readers to rank every Doctor Who story that had aired up to that point. It’s also the first Doctor Who story I remember seeing, way back in late 1984, or maybe early 1985.

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This is me crossing another dusty old robot show off my bucket list.

NOT EVEN JUSTICE, I WANT TO GET TRUTH!

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Long-time friends, followers, and readers probably recall my strong affection for Armored Trooper Votoms, a fifty-two episode mecha anime from Sunrise studio directed and created by one Ryosuke Takahashi, the gentleman who directed most of Sunrise’s fondly remembered robot cartoons of the 1980s that weren’t directed by Gundam director Yoshiyuki Tomino. Takahashi’s Votoms is a gloomy, bitter robot cartoon full of shady characters and corruption, soaked in acid rain and blood. At least, that’s how it starts, opening with a dreary urban setting that reminds me of a more run down Blade Runner before moving to an equally miserable jungle planet that might as well be called Space Vietnam; clearly that’s the war that Takahashi and company are in a mood to evoke, as that stretch of the show opens with the most obvious Apocalypse Now homage imaginable. The show’s robots are fragile tools that may have a certain character, but they are not characters in the way that previous robot cartoons’ robots were. They’re disposable, interchangeable, and absent for episodes at a time. The true focus of the show is one man army Chirico Cuvie, a quiet, terse young man betrayed by his comrades, falsely accused by his government, and skilled only in the art of combat. He’s a different breed from the bright young heroes who came before him, a harder hero for a harder cosmos.

Where Votoms is a damaged butterfly of a show, Takahashi’s previous effort, 1981’s Fang of the Sun Dougram (co-directed with Takeyuki Kanda, who would also go on to direct his own Sunrise robot show in ’83, Round Vernian Vifam) appears to be the gauntlet-like chrysalis it emerged from. As of this writing I’ve watched eighteen of its seventy-five episodes (yes, seventy-five episodes) that aired from October 1981 to March of ’83, and I can see how it stands as an important evolutionary step between Tomino’s Gundam and both Votoms and even Zeta Gundam. It’s also enjoyable viewing, if a bit slow at times and also possessed of a lead character who spends a very long time being frustratingly naive.

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Vlog 04.30.2011 – In The Beginning …

Through thick and thin, there are three multimedia sci-fi franchises that will always garner a look-see from me, three never-ending sagas I’ll always be curious about whenever they rise again. This week I look inward and try and explain exactly why these three, echoing out from my earliest days, still speak to me on some level. If you know me at all (or check the tags for this post) you know what three they are. You might even be able to guess why they still fascinate me so. Regardless, give it a look and let me know what you think.

Did this week’s video in 4:3 because I wasn’t too keen on cutting the top of my own head off again. Trimmed a few digressions here and there, but I still clocked in at a hair over twenty minutes. If everything goes according to plan, next week’s will be much shorter, albeit similarly self-indulgent. Should still be interesting for fellow Robotech fans, though.

In other news, I got caught up with the X-Men anime this week and thought this particular shot of Cyclops from episode four was amusing.

This just isn't turning out to be Scott's day.

Second part of the first Doctor Who story of the season airs today and, same as last week, I’ll have some thoughts on it up here on Sunday. I’m going to try and craft those thoughts into a more coherent shape this week, as I wasn’t too keen on the rambling ramshackle form of the first “Eleven For Eleven.” We’ll see how THAT goes. And of course, the week ahead will bring another five days of Robotech, as Minmei’s movie premieres, Zentraedi soldiers take to the streets of Macross City once more, and the first steps are made towards peace between man and alien.

Vlog 04.23.2011 – Tears for Strangers

Earlier this week marked the one year anniversary of the death of Robotech architect and visionary Carl Macek, and this past Tuesday Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures star Elisabeth Sladen died from cancer. These two facts put me in a melancholy mood, and I decided to reflect on the passing of these two major figures from two of my favorite entertainment franchises and the nature of the way fans mourn. A lot of thinking out loud here, and I’d be curious what your thoughts are on the subject.

The sixth series of modern Doctor Who begins today in the U.K. and North America. I’ll have some thoughts up on that tomorrow, and then it’s on to another week of Robotech, as a defiant Khyron and Miriya needle the battle fortress, we spend a day in Rick Hunter’s head, and our heroes are defeated not by Zentraedi, but by orders from headquarters.