Hilarious. Last Wednesday, a Boston resident called the police to report something suspicious, namely a lighted object under a bridge of a cartoon character flipping the bird. It turns out that the suspicious object was a “Throwie” – a small battery-powered light board with a magnetic or sticky backing that can be thrown or placed up just about anywhere. They’ve been used in urban art projects, but the agency behind this one, and many more in major cities across the country, were using them as a form of viral advertising for the upcoming movie version of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Now I don’t mean to imply that whoever reported it did anything wrong. This is more an artifact of the age we live in, as something that would normally cause amusement or curiosity is now cause for possible alarm.
Outrage and chaos followed as the Boston authorities overreacted to the situation, shutting down midtown traffic and causing a panic, which was then blown completely out of proportion by local and national media. The Throwies have been up already for two weeks, so you would think that the police and fire departments would have seen them and learned where they came from. Since the Throwies were placed on public and private structures without permission (footage of them being installed is on YouTube), those responsible should have already been tracked down and fined. Plus, the police probably get calls from panicked citizens who see menace in every security camera (especially those police ones with the blinking blue lights), so you would think that if they weren’t already on top of the situation that they would have kept cool about checking out a LiteBrite image of a Mooninite. Governor Patrick later announced that it was all a “hoax”, which isn’t really accurate, as the Throwies were never meant to look like bombs. Perhaps Interference Inc., the agency responsible for the campaign, should have attached a label that read “NOT A BOMB” to each one. Then again, isn’t that what the terrorists would want you to think? Maybe the Boston bomb squad ought to raid KB Toys and check out all the LiteBrites they have in stock, and give the Etch-A-Sketch department a sweep while they’re at it. This is the same thinking that I apply to flying saucer reports – no reason to disregard an alleged spaceship report because it’s described as having the letters “UFO” painted on the side.
Predictably, Fox News had the funniest histrionics, with news anchors plowing into research on ATHF characters to find out if they have links to Osama Bin Laden, and a cranky Bill O’Reilly calling for the arrest of both the Ignignokt (leader of the Mooninite Army) and Ted Turner (who had nothing to do with it). Surprisingly, O’Reilly was unable to link Al Franken with the crime, which is easy enough. Franken voiced Mayor McCheese – another fast food character – in the pilot episode of the Clerks animated series, and so should also be at least brought in for questioning.
What can we learn from this? That advertising agencies that try to be “edgy” and “street” with their campaigns should remember that people who really are “edgy” and “street” usually end up in trouble with the law. That the authorities in Boston ought to pay more attention to what’s going on in their own city instead of acting like outsiders. Really, it was there for two weeks. Oh, and the people on Fox News are idiots. Just in case we might forget, they do their best to remind us every day. Let’s hope they show some journalistic integrity and scream just as loudly when a balloon advertising The Simpsons Movie is spotted drifting menacingly overhead.
SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK
Previously seen on the Sci-Fi Channel, Hellboy returns to DVD.
(O) HELLBOY: SWORD OF STORMS (Anchor Bay) The 70-minute animated feature is not exactly a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 feature film, since it doesn’t really pick up on much of the narrative themes and dramatic arcs of the live-action version. However, Ron Perlman and Selma Blair continue on in their roles from the movie, which is more like an episode in a Hellboy TV series. Hellboy goes to Japan to investigate a supernatural attack in the home of a noted professor, who is possessed by demons trapped within a magic sword in his collection, and his spells cause tectonic and meteorological disturbances worldwide, while awakening huge dragons. Hellboy is transported to a feudal Japan and the only way back for him is to break the sword, which will also release the two storm demons trapped within. Some of the menaces facing Hellboy in the past are really creepy, though also handled with good humor. Includes commentrak, featurettes, panel discussion, comic-book and more.
NEW DVD RELEASES
Here’s a rundown of the constant stream of anime comin’ at ya on DVD from around the world:
(O) THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD (Lionsgate) Those disappointed that the Hellboy cartoons don’t more closely resemble Mike Mignola’s comics should love this adaptation, a spoof of Lovecraftian horror tales in which President Lincoln’s re-animated head (Paul Giamatti) becomes a steam age superspy. Includes comic-book insert.
(O) THE BACKYARDIGANS: Legend of the Volcano Sisters (Paramount) Plus: a swamp creature named Tyrone.
(O) BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES: Heart of Ice (Warner Bros.) Two episodes presented under the “Kids TV Favorites” banner.
(O) BE MY VALENTINE CHARLIE BROWN / A CHARLIE BROWN VALENTINE (Paramount) Oh, Little Red-haired Girl, please be forgiving and do not laugh at my awkward advances.
(O) BEN 10 Complete Season 1 (Warner Bros.) As seen on Cartoon Network. A wristwatch device from space lets a boy turn into any of ten different superpowered beings, helping him fight space invaders. Sounds a lot like an update of the old DC Comics series Dial H For Hero with cooler superheroes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 13 episodes on two discs, plus commentraks, interviews, art lessons and poster.
(O) BLUE’S ROOM: Alphabet Power / Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (Paramount)
(O) BOB THE BUILDER: New to the Crew (Fox) Bob recalls the brutal hazing that accompanied his first days on the job.
(O) CASE CLOSED Season 2 Volume 2: Cracking the Perfect Alibi (Funimation) Episodes 34-39. Conan goes to a cabin in the woods, and guess what? A masked axe killer shows up!
(O) CHARLIE & LOLA Volume 3: My Little Town (BBC) The kids have trouble sharing their new play set until Martians invade.
(O) CINDERELLA 3: A TWIST IN TIME (Buena Vista) At the end of the story we were promised that Cinderella and Charming would live Happily Ever After. Disney writers find a loophole by having Cindi’s evil stepmother learn a spell that will reverse the Fairy Godmother’s magic. Man, they should’ve had that spiteful old harpy executed when they had a chance, huh? Includes games, activities and music video with Heroes hottie Hayden Panettiere.
(O) CLIFFORD: Doghouse Adventures (Lionsgate) Nine episodes.
(O) DEARS Volumes 1-4 Complete Box (Geneon) One year ago, an alien spacecraft crashed into Tokyo Bay, leaving the entire crew stranded on Earth with no means of returning home. In no time, the aliens are granted Japanese citizenship and begin participating in a home-stay program with the local people in order to learn all about human culture. When one DearS goes astray and wanders into the life of an ordinary high school student named Takeya, the adventure begins.
(O) DISASTER! THE MOVIE (Screen Media/Universal) Will an asteroid destroy the Earth? A claymation spoof of epic disaster movies, including an appearance by Motley Crue. In “clean” and unrated editions, with bonus shorts.
(O) DORA THE EXPLORER: Pirate Adventure / Cowgirl Dora (Paramount)
(O) DRAGON BALL Z Season 1 (Funimation) Tremendously popular fantasy fighting series from Japan, now seasoned, remastered from the original masters. The complete “Vegeta Saga” - 39 episodes on six discs, plus booklet.
(O) FERNGULLY / ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN (Fox) Double feature of moderately popular movies.
(O) INU-YASHA: Kikyu and Kogome (Viz) Episodes 149-151. The relentless attack of Princess Abi's bloodsucking demon birds continues, while Inuyasha and his friends race to find their nest.
(O) JUSTICE LEAGUE: The Brave & the Bold 2 (Warner Bros.)
(O) KODOCHA Volume 11: Down the Drain (Funimation) Sana races to complete her story before a rival agency beats her to the punch.
(O) THE LAST UNICORN (Lionsgate) The story of a lonely unicorn who sets out on an extraordinary quest to find her lost brothers and sisters. Along the way she meets a colorful cast of characters, including a bumbling wizard who magically transforms her into a beautiful damsel. When a handsome prince falls in love with her, he challenges the evil foe that holds her captive.25th anniversary edition of the Rankin-Bass feature with songs by America. Can you stand this testosterone-fueled epic?
(O) MAX & RUBY: Afternoons / Party Time (Paramount)
(O) MY LITTLE PONY: A Very Pony Place (Paramount) Three all new adventures, for those still not feeling macho enough after watching Last Unicorn.
(O) NODDY AND THE ROCKET SHIP (Funimation) A space adventure for toys, plus additional segments and music video.
(O) PANIPONI DASH Volume 2: Girls ‘n’ Roses (ADV) More school room fun. Five episodes with booklet, reversible cover and more. Also available in collector box.
(O) PAPUWA Volume 4: Macho Marathon (ADV) Bizarre adventures in a world of transvestite fish, fruity pink dinosaurs, hallucination-inducing poisnous mushrooms, and an army of assassins.
(O) THE PRINCE OF EGYPT / JOSEPH: KING OF DREAMS (Paramount) Hey kids! A double feature of Biblical musicals!
(O) RUMBLING HEARTS Volume 2 (Funimation) More teenage soap opera based on the PS2 game.
(O) A SHARK TALE / ANTZ (Paramount) CGanime twin bill.
(O) SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON / THE ROAD TO EL DORADO (Paramount)
(O) SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: Sponge for Hire / The Seascape Capers (Paramount) Twin pack.
(O) STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: Sweet Dreams Movie (Fox) Cake usually served in small portions here is presented as an extended binge.
(O) TEEN TITANS: Divide and Conquer (Warner Bros.)
(O) TEEN TITANS: Forces of Nature (Warner Bros.) These two discs under the “Kids TV Favorites” banner.
(O) TEEN TITANS: Trouble in Tokyo (Warner Bros.) While this one holds an original Titans movie, plus a bonus episode.
(O) THOMAS & FRIENDS: Milkshake Muddle (Fox) Make mine a chocolate malt.
(O) VIEWTIFUL JOE Volume 7 (Geneon) Being separated from Joe, Jr. has to fight against Jadow by himself. It is time for Jr. to prove that he is a hero candidate too.
And be sure to check back next week—and every week—for Mania’s Anime Avalanche! And check in every Tuesday for the latest DVD Shopping List!
Anime Avalanche (© 2007 Brian Thomas) is our weekly anime column. Brian Thomas is the author of the massive book VideoHound’s DRAGON: ASIAN ACTION & CULT FLICKS, available now!
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