Henshin Robo Genndyzer (Or, Mike’s Quickie Review of SYM-BIONIC TITAN!)

Going through my referrals, I discovered that the one entry on this blog that always generated a large portion of the weekly hits turned out to be my report of Genndy Tartakovsky’s new series, Sym-Bionic Titan. It wasn’t so much because of it being a hard-hitting article, but rather the wait for its broadcast felt like listening to the first prolonged note of a three-hour opera –you want it to just start already! Thankfully enough, as of Friday night, that first note finally carried into what we came for.

Sym-Bionic Titan finally made its premiere on Cartoon Network, one of the two things worth watching that night (the other being the Star Wars: The Clone Wars season premiere. Screw everything else), and I’ll just tell you right now: It was worth every second of the wait. I posted about it on Facebook straight away, telling my friends “Animation buffs, you will love what they did with the style and backgrounds. Mechaholics, you will love all the homages and nods. Star Blazers[/Yamato] fans, you will cream yourselves at the climax”. Really, that’s the shortest possible way I can best sum up this premiere, but if you want the long-version? Hit the jump.

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An Open Question To Plex

Hey there, Plex.

Remember when you guys created Victory Mars or Ryuuseioh? Do you have any recollection of intricacies that ignited the fantasies of the kids everywhere (in Japan)? Because lately, now more than ever, I’m curious as to whether or not you’ve any idea what you’re doing anymore with these Super Sentai mechs. Especially when seeing this latest contraption for Goseiger….

….and realizing that, holy Tezuka, you’ve truly sunk to the bottom of the barrel: You’re actually ripping off of yourselves.

There have been people who believe that Goseiger is just a buffer year for Toei, flying under the radar just enough to make money for next year’s series. That would make sense, given its incredibly bland presentation, but look at Go-Onger‘s utter travesty of mech design, or Shinkenger‘s Samurai Haoh (which ultimately got spammed and took away from my initial excitement in its appearance). This isn’t just a case of bad execution; there’s no challenge anymore. No innovations. Nothing to make them more than lumps of interlocking plastic that you’ll eventually sell off on eBay. The art of Super Sentai mech design has dumbed down.

The sad part isn’t that Plex and Bandai are going to get away with this, nor is it that there’s really nothing I can do about it, save me getting a job within their ranks. It’s the fact that once again, there’s something that used to be creative and awe-inspiring that has been simplified where it didn’t need to be. I know it sounds dramatic, but I do sort of feel bad for the future in that case.

Rather than the inner child who grew up playing with the likes of the Galaxy Mega and Oh-Blocker, it’s the aspiring designer in me that just wants to know, “When the hell is it going to get fun again?”

MECHA MADNESS: VOLTES V Show-Notes

I recently did a bit for Anime82’s Mecha Madness regarding Voltes V, one of my favorite mecha anime of all time. Because there’s a lot of stuff that I feel needs mentioning, I’m doing a show notes page to keep it all in one place. If you’re coming here after the review, hope you enjoyed it! If you haven’t listened yet, what are you doing?! Go listen right now!

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Gonna Make It Over The Top (In Audio)

So okay, Friday ACE has been going on for awhile now, R5 Central’s still on hiatus, what’s next on the plate of Rider 5 Productions….and by that I mean, me? Dirty Pair.

I’m going to be producing a pilot for a potential audiobook series adapting the exploits of the Lovely Angels. My first ever fan-project, if you can believe it! Now right about now, you’re probably asking one burning question: WHY? Honestly? It just kind of happened.

Some time ago, a fan transcription of Kodansha’s hard-to-find English release of The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair fell into my lap. This was before Dark Horse published the first two books so I figured I’d hold onto it…..and let it gather dust, unfortunately.

Flash-forward to the present where I’ve suddenly developed an itch for audiobooks–Or at the very least, producing one. It’s a new medium for me and as a producer, I found myself wanting to take on the challenge. It was somewhere during my research for my Dirty Pair articles when I’d remembered that I had the fan transcription, even though I’d bought both Dark Horse release. All the same, I imported it to Google Documents and just sort of left it there as a prospect if I followed through with things.

One more jaunt to about a week ago: Still recovering from an annoying summer cold and following the upload of my crossover article, I felt the urge to take out the fan-transcription and play around with it. By the time I’d finished the first draft, it was five in the morning. I took it as a sign that, well, maybe I really need to produce this.

As I type, I’m holding auditions with the goal of getting the pilot out before August. If it’s well received, I aim to go through the entirety ofGreat Adventure and release the chapters online via podcast feed. If anything, I hope these will generate some interest in the books themselves that are available…and perhaps get the Powers That Be interested in getting the rest of them out. (He said, dreaming of a perfect world.) I normally wouldn’t get so fired up with a fan project like this but as I said, something really burns about this idea; sometimes you just can’t ignore the blaze.

Mazin-Follow Up: SKL Thus Far

I’ve been noticing pingbacks to my post from awhile back regarding the initial 2channel rumors about Shin Mazinger, thinking that these are details of the forthcoming Mazinkaiser SKL (Skull) series. Because of my Friday ACE duties on OUSA.com, I’ve been really bad at keeping up with this blog so I figured that while I’ve got a moment, I’d breathe some life into this thing and get down what we DO know about this show.

It’s being produced by Brain Base:
Brain Base was the animation studio responsible for two of the more prolific and highly recommended Dynamic Super Robot OVAS: Shin Getter VS Neo Getter Robo and the original Mazinkaiser series. To date, BEE Media nor any of the team of Shin Mazinger have been revealed as staff. Yes, I know you’re hoping for Imagawa to be involved with this one too but we haven’t heard anything yet.
EDIT: No official mention of Brains Base involvement! Three cheers for internet inaccuracy!

It will be set in an alternate reality:
This will be separate from the previous Mazinkaiser series and any other Dynamic Super Robot timeline. That’s not to say that references won’t pop-up. Case in Point: The Silene-esque Aphrodite robot that can be seen behind Kaiser SKL (Should we be calling him Skull!Kaiser?) in the promotional artwork. Speaking of our title mech….

The New Mazinkaiser Will Be Broken:
Aside from the rather intimidating Skull Pilder, Skull!Kaiser will not only have the rather intimidating-looking Ganzantou [lit. “Fang Slash Blade”] sword in the promo art, but his rendition of the Fire Blaster–Mazinkaiser’s “Breast Fire” attack–has a unique twist; the chest plates are in fact two handguns. Now if they can be guns AND use the Fire Blaster attack….yeah, BROKEN.

And that’s about it. There have been rumblings on how the lead character might be the son of Kouji and so on, but not a lot has been backed up. I do want to bring up one thing to keep in mind in regards to everybody disappointed that this isn’t a Shin Mazinger sequel: In the past, whenever it came to the Dynamic Super Robot OVAs of the 90’s, they always tended to be consecutive. When Change! Shin Getter Robo ended, we almost immediately had news of Shin Getter VS Neo Getter Robo. When that ended, we were greeted with news of the first Mazinkaiser series in the final episode. If Brain Base is involved, whose to say that news of Shin Mazinger‘s next great chapter isn’t just waiting in the wings?

In the meanwhile, if you’re looking for a place to keep up with updates, there’s a rather slick Facebook group devoted to finding everything out about Mazinkaiser SKL the moment it comes online. Until then, courage.

Macekre Forever: Remembering Carl Macek

Though I was born in the tail-end of the 1980’s, I was never a Voltron Kid. Sure, I watched the other “essentials” of the decade, but I never found myself getting into it, nor did I have any recollection of watching it when I was younger. Recently, I gained some insight as why this might be the case via…well, my Mom. I was a Robotech kid.

Awhile back, the family had been sitting in the living room, watching something on TV, and we’d started talking about the Demise of Saturday Mornings. By that, I mean how the concept of a network TV block devoted to (good) animated shows has gone the way of the video arcade and Betamax. Mom brings up the stuff we’d watch together when I was little on Sundays: Captain Power, Transformers, and that one show with the girl who sang and the jet-robots….

My jaw drops. “Robotech?”, I ask her.

“Yeah! That’s the one!”, Mom replies. She tells me that she’s always wanted to see it again, to which I tell her that I won a Macross box set at a con awhile back if she wants to. I love being brought up in a family of geeks. Suppose we’re going to have a marathon one of these days, but that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because it came out just now via Twitter and Cartoon Brew that Carl Macek, best known for being the producer and story editor of Robotech, passed away this Saturday.

Say what you will about him being Butcher The Killer; the fact that he’d figured out a way to weave three shows together to form a massive science-fiction epic is just astounding. Even more amazing is that if you take a step back and think about it, Streamline Pictures (the company founded by Macek and Jerry Beck), was responsible for being the supplier of many a gateway drug: Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Dirty Pair, titles that many people can cite as being major influences and the reason they love anime. I mean hell, a group of friends of mine walked out of Pioneer’s theatrical re-release of Akira when they discovered the lack of the Streamline dub. Because that’s the version that started their love affair with Japanese animation, their loyalty speaking volumes of the impact it, and other Streamline releases had. (Well, that or they didn’t feel like sitting through a English dub that got Johnny Yong Bosch nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy at the American Anime Awards.) No matter how you spin it, anime would not be where it is today without his efforts.

Though I can barely remember watching Robotech, the seeds were definitely planted. I can almost liken it to hearing Mozart in the womb, as odd as that sounds, due to it being among the strange mixture of events in my Secret Otaku Origin. It’s why I find myself saying so much about a man who I’m sure I probably never thought that much of until now. In spite of all the criticism, Carl Macek will be remembered as a pioneer in getting those crazy Japanese cartoons seen by people overseas. To that, I say “Thanks, Carl, now get some rest. You’ve earned it.”

……Resisting the urge to say “Huh”.

That’s The Second Album I Ever Bought!

A new year is approaching us, valiant readers, and with it the next decade of the 21st Century. As a friend of mine observed, this past one sort of sucked, what with the politics, economy, and all those other important things that I don’t talk about on this blog. That got me wondering if there was actually was anything worthwhile to come out of the first cours of the 2000’s. I originally was going to post a photo of all the movie ticket stubs I’ve been collecting these past few years. Somebody has the same idea unfortunately, albeit more organized. Lamesauce, as the kids would say.

Forced to retreat into a second plan, I found myself thinking of my music collection; I found one of my old CD cases–you know, those pouches that carried those things people listened to before the iPod–and with it, a bunch of albums and singles I completely forgot about! And there’s some pretty nice stuff in there too, so much that it got me thinking about what the most crucial albums in my life were. Nothing like The Second Album I Ever Bought (even though it’s in the title), rather I’m looking at the game-changers, the music that shaped me and my interests. It’s hard to narrow those things down so I figured I’d do the next best thing and pick the five most memorable ones and go from there. So, here for you now are these life-altering albums.

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