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Ramblings of a Zen Otaku



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I Love Re-Releases!

8/14/2009 2:55:15 PM permalink

Yeah, you heard (read) me. I love re-releases. I don't just mean individual volumes collected into one complete collection either (or, soon, sets collected into collections). I mean those shows that just don't seem to go away. Those shows that are re-packaged, re-shuffled and released once again for a new lease at life. Those shows that fans groan over when they see them on the release schedule, I can't help but crack a smile. Why? Well, besides being a fan that tends to go against the grain, re-releases just strike me as a win-win.

Let's check out this week's releases: Saiyuki Seasons 1-2, UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Season 3-4, Grenadier Collection and Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid on Blu-Ray (I count it). The week before? Mahoromatic Collection, Sakura Wars Collection, Slayers Seasons 1-3, and Samurai Deeper Kyo Collection. Week before that? The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Collection. I can go on and on. Each one of these have been re-released at a great price point that make it basically impossible not to pick up if you missed it before.

Today, I nabbed that Saiyuki set for $29.99. Slayers Collection was $34.99. Sakura Wars for $19.99. Suzuka and Elfen Lied for that price as well. It goes on and on. I don't know about you, but I can see to it to try a show people think is crappy for $19.99. I've bought much worse for much more. That is for sure. On top of that, think of the potential sale prices these could be had at.

On the business end, these collections are a no-brainer for anime studios looking to squeeze more value out of their investment. We want these studios to survive don't we? If it helps them in any way to keep afloat and pick up new titles, I will gladly pick up some re-releases I missed on the first, second or even third time around (Hello, Saiyuki). I know if I'm picking these things up, there is no question that many others are doing so as well.

Moving to a more personal note, why should these titles get anyone riled up? Isn't it selfish of us to bemoan a reprint or repackage? What if someone completely missed Twelve Kingdoms on it's first or second run? Now they notice it on its third time around, realize it is a great show and finally pick it up. That is a good thing is it not? How about the recent rescues and releases of Grave of the Fireflies and Now and Then, Here and There? Great shows that disappeared are now back on the map. If you are tired of seeing re-releases, why not just smile at another week where you can save your money?

I want to see more re-releases. That's right. More. I want to see titles such as Saikano, Maison Ikkoku, Sailor Moon, Captain Harlock, PatLabor, Legend of Black Heaven, Haibane Renmei, City Hunter, Gunbuster 2, Crest/Banner of the Stars, El Hazard OVAs, Tenchi Muyo OVA 1-2, Gundam Movies 1-3, Rurouni Kenshin, Niea_7, Boys Over Flowers, Black Jack, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cyber Formula, Urusei Yatsura, You're Under Arrest, Kimagure Orange Road, Master Keaton, Human Crossing, Miami Guns, Hare Guu, Hyper Police, Gall Force, Inu-Yasha, DNA Squared, Project A-Ko, and the wild assortment of one shot OVAs that Media Blasters has. If you don't have the licenses anymore, pick them up on the cheap and get these shows back out there!

I won't even get into releasing these titles on Blu Ray. FUNimation has my money for their upcoming Blu Ray collections. Don't the rest of you studios want my money too?

In closing, don't mock the re-release. It is a simple win-win. It enables those who missed a title the first (second...or third) time around to pick it up, it gives studios another cheap source of income and can even save you money if you already have the title. I suppose one could argue that this practice devalues the worth of the show and anime in general. In some instances, I agree with this. However, if I have to choose between a show being out of print and getting re-released many times over, I will gladly take the release. Look at the titles I listed above. Wouldn't you love to be able to pick up many of those titles once again at a lower price in a neat collection instead of breaking your back trying to track them down?

I guess there are always fan-subs right?

Tags: Re-Releases, ADV Films, FUNimation, Bandai, Right Stuf, Media Blasters,
 


Godannar!! - Afterthoughts

7/22/2009 12:38:04 PM permalink

My review for Godannar!! hit the site yesterday. Sadly, I thought the review was due to be posted on the 24th. Hence, the late blog post to accompany it. I plan on writing up blog posts to accompany each review from this point going forward, if only to pass on some thoughts I've had since watching and writing the review for a show. If you have any ideas, comment or suggestions, please let me know.
 
Godannar!! features four or five mecha with breasts. They jiggle. They not only house weapons, but they jiggle. Robots with the full on Gainax bounce working hard throughout the 26 episodes. This got me thinking. What other female mecha are we aware of in the annals of anime's super robot history? I'm talking full on robots. Not cyborgs or robots made to look like human girls or even powered suits ala Bugglegum Crisis
 
Well, Go Nagai started it all with Mazinger Z's Aphrodite A and Diana A (piloted by Sayaka Yumi). This doesn't surprise me since Go Nagai started a great many thing in anime/manga history. I'm pretty sure a female robot or two has shown in his works since then. There is also the Mazinger Angels manga that features a take on the Charlies Angels with an all female cast of pilots and robots. GaoGaiGar FINAL featured KoRyu and AnRyu as two female robots who join the GGG team. Even when they combine, they are obviously feminine. There is another instance I can recall in G Gundam where there is a robot in Sailor Fuku, but I honestly can't recall the pilot. There were a ton of wild mecha in that show (Windmill Gundam anyone?). Finally, the one that sticks out in my mind is Arcee from Transformers: The Movie. As a kid, my mind was blown. She would be one of several that would show in the Transformers franchise going forward (including Ariel, Optimus Prime's girlfriend...why do I know this?!?).
 
Can you name anymore?
 
- Goh Saruwatari still sticks out in my mind as a very underrated and overlooked Super Robot hero. While Godannar!! is a bit restrained when it comes everything but fan service, he is the one that brings the fire and spirit to the show. Heroes in this genre are used to having a bad time of it. There are plenty of highs and lows in the course of being a great Super Robot hero. However, Goh may as well be named Jack Bauer. 
 
His girlfriend is killed, his depression is massive but he continues to fight. His depression lead him to think that falling in love and marrying a girl still in high school was a good idea (stupid move Goh). His marriage is rocky from the get go. He lives with his annoying brother who is in love with his wife. The girlfriend he thought was dead for five years has returned to the living as an amnesiac that his current wife takes care of. His long time friend explodes into a scary monster thing who warns him the same will happen to him. Everyone he is close to gets hurt or dies. His wife up the leaves him over something so stupid the Love Hina girls thought it was stupid. Finally, his fate resembles that of Jack Bauer's fate at the end of this past season of 24 (S7). Sure, there is a "happy ending" but the poor man is put through such hell that I had to check if Anno or Tomino wrote his scenario.
 
You can't help but root for him as he tries to fight through the crap he is continually put through. He isn't perfect. He's a flawed man in many ways which makes his story, a story you have to dive through the tits and ass to pay attention to, worth watching.
 
- ADV Film's "Jiggle Counter" should be made its comeback with this show. Maybe even Jiggle Counter 2.0! Keeps track of both human jiggles and robot jiggles! Many even a counter for ass shots and camel toe! Speaking of jiggle...
 
- How did Shizuru's breast size make such a jump between the bulk of the show and the final episode (which is a time skip of 7 years)? She would be in her early 30s at this point in time, but she put on no additional weight anywhere but her breasts (she was always made fun of for her bigger butt though). She didn't have a child either. Is that possible ladies? Put on no weight but increase your bust size another two sizes when they were already a healthy C-cup or even borderline D? Of course, with the increase of bust size came increased attention from men. 
 
- The fun interactions in the Godannar!! maintenance group made me realize I miss PatLabor. Can we get a new PatLabor series please? Don't make it suck either.
 
- Ichiro Mizuki and Mitsuko Horie sing the opening theme to the 2nd season entitled "Engage!!! Godannar." This is but one of many, many duets over the years for these two. "Cross Fight!" from the OVA Dangaioh, and the opening and ending themes to both the Magne Robo Gakeen and Ninja Captor shows. Mizuki is also the leader and man responsible for the formation of the anison group JAM Project. Their music will finally be available on iTunes sometime this year. For more on his career and the other members of JAM Project, you can check out my write ups here(work in progress, last one is upcoming)!
 
See ya next time with Moribito Set 2!

Tags: Godannar!!, Anime Review, Super Robots, ADV Films, Sentai Filmworks
 


HOSTAGE: The Revenge of the Backlog

3/24/2009 12:00:39 PM permalink

Hey everyone,

I've got to be quick because they're looking for me. I managed to hide, but it won't be long until they find me. I hope this message finds you well. I'm being held hostage by my backlog! I don't know how it happened. Just, all of a sudden, it all hit me at once and it took over!

It used to be so simple! I would receive a new DVD and would immediately watch it to much joy. Then my interests would shift a little bit and I would concentrate on something else. Meanwhile, I wasn't going to give up on my anime! So, I would buy some killer sales and discounts while my attention was elsewhere. I would pop back and forth between all of my interests, but before I knew it, it was too late! It had become a monster!

Stacks and stacks of anime now taunted me and the onslaught continued. Finally, it literally was overwhelming. Granted, this occurance did not happen overnight. It had been building for years. Both in the physical form and in the mental. You see, my brain continued to give me warnings that I just chose to ignore.

"Don't buy that! You need to start watching what you have! You never watched anything from that sale years ago!"

"But this show just came out! What if I buy it and it gets me into a groove and I take down everything else. It could be the spark!"

That spark never came. But the sales sure did. The sales! It was those evil sales! 40-50% all anime! Specials, deals, buy 2 get 1 free, extra 20%! It's their fault I'm in this mess! If it wasn't for them helping to make my hobby cheaper, I wouldn't be in this mess! It's a crack dealer with a discount card! The only difference is I just stockpiled my crack while any normal addict would have snorted theirs and died in their bed after evacuating their bowels...

Thinking about it that way, perhaps it's not a bad thing. So if it's not a bad thing, how come I'm paralyzed by my backlog now? It has gone to become quite powerful over the years. It's presence is inescapable. Even after reducing my collection into a series of DVD storage cases (the type you put your CD collection), it's power does not wane. All I did was compress it. It speaks to me if I even look at another anime title.

"You think you're going to watch that if you pick it up? You're scared to. You'll have to face me if you do!"

It was right. It still is. Things finally came to a head last weekend when I went to Best Buy to see if their was any anime I wanted before their 50% clearence sale ended. The voice taunted me yet again until I couldn't stand it anymore. So I gorged. Many shows were bought that day. In an act of defience against the monster, I lashed out. However, reality always does set in and now the monster grows until I find myself in here...writing what seems like a farewell note.

I have no one else to blame but myself in all honesty. This monster was created by a simple man who loves his anime, but one who would not commit to watching everything he bought.  Like a scary credit card debit you find youself in. It's definitely not as detrimental to your livelihood, but it can certainly paralyze your hobby. Trust me, I've climbed out of credit card debt.

While no serious debt, it is a debt nonetheless. It's existance creeps into your mind at almost any moment. You could be watching your favorite show, movie or playing your favorite games. Any time the slightest bit of free time comes up the monster in your mind will exclaim "Why are you wasting time on this?! Do you not know what you should be spending time on?"

How pathetic. I shouldn't be blaming those lovely sales or discounts. Only myself. Through neglect, I've created my own personal Frankenstein's Monster that haunts my collection and my viewing habits. If there was ever a time to take a stand, it should be now. I know I'm not alone in this struggle. Hobbists with backlogs of anime, music or quite possibly worse, games. They all know my pain. The horror of their own personal monsters.

Join me brothers and sisters! No longer should we be haunted by creatures of our own creation. We must take a stand! Sacrifices must be made for the greater good and survival of our collections and our minds. Do not be scared friends! I just need to search around for something to aid in my counterattack.... Ah ha! Okay, here is our plan of attack my comrades.

1) Do not buy more than what you can reasonably watch. Anime shows can be quite long and take up more time than you think. Buy it then get to watching it. Then move on.

2) Resist the lure of the sales. There is a reason Right Stuf's Shawne Klecker is called "The Dark Lord." He will break your will with those deliciious studio sales and delightful weekly specials. If you're getting behind and you can sense a backlog building, you must resist the call of the sale. Maybe pick up one item just to make yourself feel better about taking advantage of the opportunity. Just make sure that one item isn't a complete series box set filled with 52 episodes.

3) Baby Steps. If your backlog is as astronomical as mine is, baby steps is the key. When trying to accomplish darn near anything, baby steps is the key. Go through your collection and pinpoint the one shot OVAs/movies, short series OVAs, 13 episodes shows, and then the 26 episode shows. Then, start small and work your way up.

With this plan of action, we can form a good habit of finally tackling these ferocious monsters and enjoying the shows we paid good money for and never watched! Freeing ourselves up to finally get back to watching newer shows and discussing them with friends. As a bonus, our money would finally be justified as the product we bought will have been viewed!

So, with that, I'm going to confront my backlog. It's going to be one hell of a fight. However, I believe I can prevail. To steal a phrase used by my parents; I brought it into this world, I can take it out of it! To whoever reads this, use my words as fair warning. Don't let this happen to you. Take care of your backlogs early and you will never have to face the horror and brutality of a backlog gone wild.

Signing off....

Tags: Fun, Anime, Backlog, Comedy
 


It's a Super Robot Celebration! Just make sure to Respect Your Elders.

2/3/2009 7:58:01 PM permalink

As I have proclaimed on some other blog, this month is not only Black History Month, but it is plays host to a month long, personal Super Robot Celebration. For my (and your) amusement, I'm going to dive head first into the glorious, epic, and rather weird genre that is the Super Robot. Today, I kicked it off with a look at the two forefathers of the genre. I hope you all don't mind me sharing of course. There will be a great amount of exclusive ramblings to come in the future. Things like a salute to the Super Deformed and celebrating a bunch of birthdays.

For now though, Respect Your Elders.

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With the release of Gainax's Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in 2007, many fans flocked to see the bombastic opera of super robots, guts and glory. Once again, Gainax took hold of the genre and paid homage to it, while at the same time, taking it to ridiculous levels rivaled only by few other shows. With that being the last major super robot show released in the U.S., I believe it's a good time to take a look back. Way back. Way back to the fathers of the super robot genre. Tetsujin 28-go and Mazinger Z.

Tetsujin 28-go, better known to Americans as Gigantor, was the creation of Mitsuteru Yokohama (Giant Robo, Sangokushi) in 1956. Originally a comic that ran in Kobunsha Shonen Magazine from 1956-1966, Tetsujin 28-go told the story of Shotaro Kaneda, a twelve year old boy who was put in control of a military superweapon that was originally built to turn the tides of World War II. Instead, it was used to stop criminals and other enemy robots that threaten the safety of the country. The creation and design of the series stemmed from Yokohama's own experiences in World War II including the bombing of Kobe, Japan between March and July of 1945, the Vergeltungwaffen (Vengence Weapons) of Germany and, oddly enough, the 1931 movie Frankenstein.

Over the years, there have been a group of Tetsujin 28-go releases, sequels and remakes. There is the original 1963 black and white television series Tetsujin 28-go (83 episodes) which was brought over to America by Fred Ladd as Gigantor. There were heavy changes made to the show in order to be released in the U.S. including name changes (Shotaro Kaneda became Jimmy Sparks), the dumping of any WWII origins and the setting being changed to the year 2000. In 1980, a Tetsujin 28-go remake series (51 episodes) was created with more modern (and somewhat darker) designs based on the original art. Again, Ladd brought this show over to the U.S. 13 years later as The New Adventures of Gigantor. This show was seen on the Sci-Fi Network and could be one newer fans may remember a bit more. This series gained a sequel series, Tetsujin 28-go FX (47 episodes), which follows the son of the original robot controller with a brand new robot.

In 2004, a re-imagining written and directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa was released that actually placed the series closer to the time frame of the manga. This series was released by Geneon Entertainment under the original name of Tetsujin 28 which marks the only time this franchise has been released in the U.S. under it's original name. Sadly, it probably sold about five copies (if you want to redeem yourself, you can buy the show at Right Stuf) which is a shame because the show is pretty solid. In 2007, there was a theatrical movie released based off of this specific series called Tetsujin 28-go: The Remaining Month. If it ever makes it out of Japan at this point is unknown. Not to be forgotten is the 2005 live-action film (which you can pick up as well) and the CG movie in production at Imagi Animation Studios.

If Yokohama's Tetsujin 28-go is the primitive birth of the giant, super robot, there is no question that Go Nagai's Mazinger Z is the evolution. In fact, his creation was not just an evolution. It was a revolutionary title that continues to shape the genre to this day. Everything you know and love about the Super Robot genre owes a debt to Mazinger Z.

To dive deep into Go Nagai's career would require a completely new article but I'll just say that any comic you read today that flashes a little sexuality here and there, you owe to this man. Among a myriad of other things. Heck, Nagai put Shonen Jump (yes, the same Jump that hosted Dragon Ball, Naruto and One Piece) on the map. The story of it's creation is a rather simple one. Like most mangaka of the time, Nagai was a big fan of Astro Boy and Tetsujin 28-go and wanted to make a robot story of his own. While stuck in traffic, he came up with the idea of piloting a giant robot from inside the robot itself, like a car. Several concept revisions later, he created Mazinger Z. A super robot that is activated by flying a hovercraft into a docking area in his head and is piloted from that location (a first for the genre).

Mazinger Z tells the story of a super robot forged from "Super Alloy Z" built by Professor Juzo Kabuto to counter the evil Dr. Hell and his relentless army of mechanical beasts. The two have a history together as they researched and discovered an ancient, hidden civilization (based loosely on the Mycenae) on the Bardos island. They, along with an entire research team, discover that this civilization used titans made of steel as an army. Going mad, Dr. Hell killed everyone on the research team and ran off to use these titans to rule the world. Professor Kabuto escaped this betrayal and attempted to warn the world of the danger to come. He finishes Mazinger Z and passes it on to his grandson, Koji Kabuto, before he dies at the hands of one of Dr. Hell's minions.

The original show ran for a whopping 92 episodes and pulled in very good ratings. Episode 68, airing on March 17th, 1974, pulled in a 30.4% rating. One of the highest of all time for anime. When the show was reaching it's conclusion, it continued on with the introduction of Great Mazinger and it's respective TV series (56 episodes). There was also a side series called UFO Robo Grendizer which featured Koji Kabuto. In 2002, the series continued with the Mazinkaiser OVAs which was the only part of the series that was released in the U.S. untouched (released in the U.S. by ADV Films). The series also spawned a slew of "team-up" features that featured creations of Go Nagai's that would team up to defeat a common foe. Among these are Mazinger Z vs. Devilman, Mazinger Z vs. The Great General of Darkness, Great Mazinger vs. Getter Robo and Grendizer, Getter Robo G, Great Mazinger Decisive Battle! The Great Sea Monster. While Mazinger Z made little impact here in the U.S., it made a huge splash in Europe, Mexico, Central and South America and in the Philippines.

So, what did Mazinger Z do for the Super Robot genre? Well, the list of what it introduced is honestly quite staggering. As mentioned before, it was the first time a robot was piloted from within the robot itself, a robot that would become mankind's only hope, power crazed mad scientists along with the scientist father or grandfather that leaves behind their life's work, stupid henchmen, long forgotten civilizations, and lovable supporting characters that may be a love interest or a little brother or sister. It also introduced the female robot with Aphrodite A, complete with missile launching breasts.

The shouting of special moves was also made popular with this series when Koji would announce the use of one of Mazinger's weapons like the melting ray from the robot's red chest piece (Bureesto Fiyaa!). This expanded on it's use in the 1968 live-action Giant Robo series and other television shows. It also gave us the oft duplicated Rocket Punch! An attack which fired one of the robot's arms towards it's opponent and returning back. It's characters even bucked the character sterotypes of that day. Koji Kabuto tended to be a hot-headed jerk throughout the series while his love interest and pilot of Aphrodite A, Sayaka Yumi, was a loud tomboy. Both character types a complete opposite of what was portrayed during that point in time.

Without Tetsujin 28-go and Mazinger Z, I really don't know where this wonderfully fun genre would be today. Would there have been a Gunbuster? Would Nagai and his assistant Ken Ishikawa have come up with Getter Robo? What about Dangaioh? Would Yoshiyuki Tomino have dabbled in the genre throughout the years creating the influential Space Runaway Ideon? Would he have flipped the switch from "Super Robot" to "Real Robot" and introduced the world to Mobile Suit Gundam? Would have have earned his nickname "Kill Em All Tomino" in the final moments of Zambot 3? Without Ideon and Gundam, would Hideki Anno have blurred the line between "Super" and "Real" with Neon Genesis Evangelion? Could we break through heaven with Gurren Lagann? The list goes on and on. Truly, many of the anime we watch and enjoy, even outside of the Super Robot genre, can be traced back to the ideas and innovations introduced by these two creations.

So, next time you're enjoying one of these and other kick ass shows, pay some respect to it's history. Take some time out and track down these classic shows. You will come to have a deeper appreciation for what you enjoy now because of it.

Tags: Super Robot, Tetsujin 28, Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, Go Nagai, Mitsuteru Yokohama
 



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Date Joined: December 7, 2008

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