Japan: Cool Triumphs

March 2, 2007

How Japanese pop culture has invaded U.S.

As a child in America, I would rush home from school, dash through the living room without bothering to take my jacket off, and leap for the TV dial. If I was lucky, the set would come on just in time to see an animated racing car steering wheel spin into the frame, accompanied by an upbeat, jazzy soundtrack. “Go Speed Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go!”

Ah, he’s a young guy.

My first encounter was the fantastic 1960s edition of Astro-Boy, created by the brilliant Osamu Tezuka. It’s still far superior to the two more recent, color series. First, due to fewer commercials, there’s more story. Second, Astro Boy was introspective and melancholic. He had a depth not found in cartoons at that time. It made a deep, lasting impression on me. Third, the design just kicked the ass of crap being churned out by DePatie-Freleng, Hanna-Barbera, and (eventually) Filmation. Fourth, it showed the future.

The 1960s were filled with Japanese cartoon series that were memorable: Prince Planet, Marine Boy, 8th Man, Gigantor, and, finally, Speed Racer.

And, unlike the writer quoted above, we kids at the time did know these cartoons were from Japan.

I don’t have time to do a detailed analysis. And, really, for those who are astute, only two images are necessary to show why American animation was a national embarrassment and why we kids not only favored but decades later still remember Japanese animation.

Here is a still from Astro Boy:

Astro

Even though everyone is standing still, the image just reeks of excitement! The characters’ positions are dynamic and emotional.

Here is a still from Flash Gordon, which was a very expensive project for the hacks at Filmation:

FilmationFlash

Why did I pick Flash Gordon, which was one of their later series? By that time, Japanese animation was no longer a niche item in America. Filmation had close to two decades of excellence in animation to guide them (ie, to steal from!). Yet they still produced stilted shit with less detail than some children’s coloring books! If I had to guess, I’d say those robots were in an attack formation. Yet it all looks so damned dull! This was one of their most expensive series too. Can you imagine how much worse the extra-low-budget churn-them-out stuff was?

Here are two more images:

A still from 8th Man:

8thMan

The drawing is not the greatest; the proportions are all way off. But, damn, the pose is still dynamic and you can see the Japanese are at least trying.

A still from Tarzan:

Ftarzan2

I mean, really!

Astro Boy is now available on DVD!

Astro Boy (1963) Ultra DVD Box Set 1 (D) Limited Edition

The very first anime ever produced, Osamu Tezuka’s (KIMBA, THE WHITE LION / HI NO TORI / METROPOLIS) original 1963 – 1964 ASTRO BOY delighted children around the world with its touching stories and compelling characters. In the U.S., many will remember this popular children’s series which aired on TV during the 1960s.

Now, this groundbreaking series returns for the first time ever in a stunning new collector’s edition that includes the first 52 episodes of the original black and white series as seen in the US, restored to pristine detail, and featuring never-before-seen footage and brand new exciting extras.

Astro Boy (1963) Ultra DVD Box Set 2 (D) Limited Edition

The very first anime ever produced, Osamu Tezuka’s original Astro Boy delighted children around the world with its touching stories and compelling characters. In the U.S., many will remember this popular children’s series with its catchy theme song which aired on TV during the 1960s!

ASTRO BOY returns for the first time ever on DVD! In this stunning second collector’s edition, you’ll find the final 52 episodes of the original black and white series as seen in the US, restored to pristine detail, and featuring never-before-seen footage and an amazing collection of extras!

Astro Boy Lost Episode (D)

“The Beast from 20 Fathoms” was created during the 1963 television run by a handpicked team of talented animators. The show’s creator, however, was said to be somehow unsatisfied by the results of this cooperative effort, and finally ordered that the episode be destroyed.

Before this occurred, a copy had been sent to NBC for English dubbing. To this day, it does not exist anywhere in Japan. Here at last is the missing episode after 30 years: make up your own mind! Please note that this print was extensively damaged, and that there are still some very minor visual defects. Our audio restoration was totally successful.


“Fuck It! Saddam’s History!”

March 2, 2007

Allegedly those were the words of our President after he decided to pull the trigger.

The War in Iraq Costs

Below is a running total of the U.S. taxpayer cost of the Iraq War. The number is based on Congressional appropriations.

See also: A Cheap Now Is A Very Expensive Later


Note To Self: See This Movie

March 2, 2007

The Most Disturbing Film You’ll Never, Ever See
Our Daily Bread / Dustin Rowles

You may want to look away, you may even want to turn it off at times, but it’s almost impossible not to be sucked in by this nightmarish look at the killing fields that provide our daily sustenance.

Update: There’s an actual clip (embedded YouTube video) from the movie there. Four minutes of hell. I think I want to change my mind about seeing this…


More Chuck McCann On YouTube!

March 2, 2007

Olivia’s Adventures:Chuck McCann tells Olivia about his dogs

Chuck McCann discusses his four dogs with Olivia

Ann Jillian as Mae West (1982) Clip 5

Mae rants about her part (and her co-star) in ‘My Little Chickadee’. With Roddy McDowall as Rene Valentine and Chuck McCann as W C Fields

Both are short clips. But it’s always good to have more Chuck McCann!


New Gerry Anderson On YouTube

March 2, 2007

Captain Scarlet – Old Series music video

Okay, so I’m happy I got my mitts on Premiere Pro 2 and decided to go nuts with editing a video for Captain Scarlet. Used the original credits theme song from the old series. The footage is only from the first 10 episodes, so for fans, yes, I know, there’s more I could’ve used in the later episodes. :(

All copyrights of the video are to Carlton releasing and Gerry Anderson himself! I just edited this hodgepodge! :P

A pretty good vid. Look at all those wonderful Derek Meddings explosions! God, I miss those! No one could do them like him. R.I.P., Derek Meddings.

Captain Scarlet A-Team

This is what you get when you cross Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet with the A-Team.

Pretty bad. But at least he tried to sync the sound effects to the images.


Yeah, I Know. But It’s Just So Damned FUNNY!

March 2, 2007

Do You Realize? — link to YouTube video

Do you realize that China has more workers than we have jobs? Do you realize that every year more and more books are printed that are both little and red? Don’t even get me started on India.

The above is a video response to what I’ve referenced in this prior post.

Kenneth Eng is now foaming at the mouth somewhere.


Right. This Is A Depressing Set Of Prospects.

March 2, 2007

Shift Happens — link to embedded Flash video.

This presentation will Blow Your Mind. Be sure to spread the link around email.

Here are the background links to it:

Feld Thoughts

Did You Know?

With versions to download at Gone Fischin’