Tag Archives: cartoons

Previously on Robotech

I’m watching Robotech for the first time ever. I’ve only seen two episodes so far but I kind of like it. It goes down easy when I need something uncomplicated to watch in between getting home from work and going to the gym.

I probably would have enjoyed watching it on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. Oh well, I had The Tick and X-Men to tide me over. Speaking of which:

What am I watching in Winter 2016?

I originally posted this over in the podcast group blog. I rather like having everything I write in one spot, so now I’m reposting it here. I picked two shows to talk about out of the assload that I’m currently watching.

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi posing with lightsabers while clone troopers shoot their guns in the foreground.

Non-anime: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Thanks to The Force Awakens and the damn Galaxy of Heroes mobile game that I got hooked into, I’ve grown interested in the only bit of modern Star Wars that I haven’t watched. These are actually two different series – one is a 2003 show animated in a more traditional style while the other is a 2008 CGI spectacle. The 2003 version was helmed by Genndy Tartakovsky, he of Samurai Jack fame, and it’s just as excellent as his previous work. It’s a largely wordless action show which reduces a massive interstellar civil war into a series of intense duels across different planets. In style it’s basically a samurai epic in space, which should be unsurprising considering what Samurai Jack was like. Both Samurai Jack and the anime Katanagatari felt very similar to me, probably because they both take a lot of their cues from the chanbara genre (i.e., samurai movies). So I must recommend the Tartakovsky Clone Wars as an action and a samurai fan. Plus it changes General Grievous from the ridiculous robot with emphysema that he was in Revenge of the Sith and turns him into a genuinely terrifying enemy.

The 2008 Clone Wars changes things up quite a bit. It explores a lot more of the titular conflict, but in style it’s much more of a kids’ show. General Grievous has become a cartoonish bad guy who keeps getting beaten by the heroes every week like the villain from an 80’s Saturday morning show. At points I half expected him to shout “I’ll get you next time, Gadget!” like Dr. Claw at the end of every episode of Inspector Gadget. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation, as I realize that this iteration has a different target audience than the previous one (being on Cartoon Network I assume the Tartakovsky show was aimed at hipster animation aficionados).

Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice Ahsoka is the spunky Young Adult heroine one would expect from this sort of bildungsroman, and while I’ve only just finished the first season I expect the rest of the show to build up to her becoming a full-fledged Jedi. But even as a kids’ show this series can get pretty dark and depicts actual characters dying, which I appreciate in that it doesn’t try to keep kids in a metaphorical hamster ball separated from the real world consequences of violence and conflict. Though there’s really quite a lot of fighting in this show. I mean, do people in Star Wars ever just watch Netflix and chill? I know what regular people on Star Trek do to relax, but I have very little idea what it’s like to not be a general or a mystic space knight on Star Wars.

Still, an interesting thing to ponder is that for most 21st century kids, this is their Star Wars. It’s not the original trilogy, it’s not even the prequels, it’s this CGI show that’ll be the first thing that comes to mind when the words “Star Wars” come up. It’s at least a lot better than the prequels, and it’s a pleasantly entertaining show to relax with, so I’m going to stick with my Star Wars viewing project. Possibly I’ll move on to Rebels once I finish.

Anime: Schwarzesmarken

This is just an enjoyably dumb show to bitch about if you’re into giant robots and military porn, which I am. I also have a fascination with both alternate history and the Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War. The show is stupid but in a creatively-nourishing way – whenever I’m watching I’m either imagining German pop music playing in the background or mentally composing a rant about how remarkably off-base its understanding of history and international politics is. That’s when I’m not criticizing it for its right-wing politics and historical revisionism. God, this anime is shit. But I can’t stop watching it.

Lost in Japan

Remember Kappa Mikey? It was about an American cartoon character moving to Japan to work in the anime industry. It made really obvious jokes about Japan and anime, so it wasn’t exactly good. However, the unequivocally great thing about it was the catchy theme song from Beat Crusaders.

Uh, remember Beat Crusaders? They broke up in 2010.

Shakespeare in the original Klingon

This is a weird thing I just came across, but I discovered a trailer for Legend of Korra in the original Japanese.

I jest, of course. But something seems off about the voices.  I assume the top voice talent wasn’t used to dub a foreign cartoon show.

Some research into Korra and Avatar‘s reception in Japan reveals that it was seen as too American, which I can understand because the show basically has American kids dressing up in East Asian costumes.

To continue with the weirdness, here’s a trailer for Book 2 of Avatar:

I don’t think they got Azula’s voice down. But I think Katara’s voice wasn’t bad in the opening. And here’s a peek of how the typical episode plays out.

Strange, right? It’s like looking through a portal into a parallel universe.

The end of an era

Well, Legend of Korra ended. The final finale for the fictional universe first depicted on Avatar: The Last Airbender has aired. What do I think about it?

I think it had a suitably awesome ending. No deus ex machina and an exciting use of the dubstep laser, so this is ahead of other Avatar finales.

I liked that Korra won not by beating up her enemy, but by being a better person. And let me get a hell yeah for our heroine not ending up with Mako (that was a close one) and walking off into the sunset hand in hand with her beloved.

Having said that, though, let’s not forget that another, more obscure and less noticed series ended as well. Yes, I’m talking about Argevollen.

You know, calling the finale of Argevollen good or bad implies that it could have ended any other way. I honestly don’t see how else the show could have ended and remained true to itself and its deliberately low-key approach. I mean, looked at what happened: the relationship between the two leads remains platonic, there was no giant battle, the angry rival dies in his suit without ever crossing swords with the hero, and a suicidal man gets talked down from his ledge.

It’s as if they tried to make the opposite of a typical giant robot anime. I hadn’t realized how entrenched the clichés were in this subgenre until I saw this finale. I seriously doubt Argevollen will be a big earner for its studio, considering how different it is from Valvrave and whatnot. I predict that the Blu-ray and DVD collections will end up remaindered and become collectors’ items among a very small subset of anime fans. I liked Argevollen, but I have to ask, how in the hell did this show get made in the first place?

War of the Worlds Part II

What’s this? An unofficial animated sequel to The War of the Worlds set during the First World War?

And it’s from Malaysia, too. Hmm . . .

Well, the CGI war machines look good but the animation of the human characters looks kind of like it’s from a late 90s or early 2000s cheapo cartoon show, like that Saturday morning Stargate one. I suppose it’s nice to see animation from countries besides Japan or the US. We’ll see if the animation industry in Malaysia is a going concern from here on.