Thursday, May 31, 2018

Top 10 Favorite/Most Influential Cartoons

There's something going around social media that asks people to list their Top 10 Favorite/Most Influential Cartoons. That sounded like a blog post topic to me, so here we are. I'm going to list these in no particular order, basically as they come to me. Also, I'm going with the "Most Influential" side of the equation, since "Favorite" would take too long to narrow down.

The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour

No conversation about cartoons would be complete without talking about Looney Tunes. These cartoons showed me many layers were possible in storytelling, and my whole family loves them. Heck, there will be times when we'll just start quoting Bugs & Daffy cartoons out of nowhere.

Star Blazers

This is a no brainer. I remember seeing Star Blazers when I was very young and that started my love of both anime and long form storytelling. The fact that this was a self contained quest, with a beginning, middle, and end fascinated me. American cartoons just didn't do that.


I love many Disney cartoons, and many of the shows from the 90's, but none has resonated with me as much as Gargoyles. An equal mix of Mythology, Arthurian Legend, Shakespeare, and Superhero, this cartoon seems like it was made for me. Add to that the fact that the cast is just lousy with Star Trek actors, and I'm hooked.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

I've told the story on MotU-Cast about how I won a He-Man contest from Burger King as a kid. I was already a big He-Man fan, though. The idea that strength was to be used to the benefit of others, and wasn't a goal in itself, was a great message.

Battle of the Planets

As much as I hate, and I do mean HATE, 7-Zark-7, I can't deny that Battle of the Planets was a treat for me to watch as a kid. I don't remember seeing it with any regularity, so stumbling across it was always a special occasion. Plus, it lead me to Gatchaman, which is the FAR superior source material, so I can't ignore it.

Challenge of the Superfriends

I could list most of the Superfriends here, but the one that was my favorite (and, coincidentally, didn't have any Junior members) was Challenge. The intro sums it all up, "The Justice League of America versus The Legion of Doom." What more could you want?

The Incredible Hulk

When someone mentions The Incredible Hulk, this is the music that plays in my head. Much more than the wonderful Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno show, this is the comic brought to life. No, it's not 100% faithful, but Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, and Rick Jones are present, along with General Ross and Major Talbot. Plus, this Hulk can speak!

Record of Lodoss War

One of the first Anime that I saw when I was in college was Record of Lodoss War, which is, essentially, a Dungeons and Dragons session animated. Like with Star Blazers, this was a very definite beginning, middle (which was at the start, for some reason), and end. It was wonderfully animated and had some great characters.


I'm a mark for Rankin-Bass, Science Fiction, and Superhero cartoons. This is a combination of all three, with the caveat that the heroes are actually space cops fighting the space mob. Plus, it had lessons about the solar system at the end, which is better than the "You see, Timmy ..." stuff that the other shows of this era were doing.

Flash Gordon

I love pretty much all of the Filmation adaptions, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Tarzan, Star Trek, but Flash Gordon holds a special place in my heart. Again, this was long form story telling, but there really wasn't an end to it, since every time Ming was defeated, he would just escape and come back. It did build on itself, though, which was really nice.

How about you, dear reader? What are your top 10 cartoons?

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Avengers Viewing Order

Before we went to see Avengers: Infinity War my dad said that he had no desire to see it, because he didn't want to watch 20 movies in order to understand the plot. That got me to thinking, just what movies would you HAVE to watch in order to know what's going on? I think I have an answer, and I'd like to get some feedback on it.

I would argue that everything you need to know is contained in the Captain America and Avengers movies.

In The First Avenger, we get a baseline for the "Infinity Stones" with the Cosmic Cube/Space Stone. We also get the relationship between Cap and Bucky, which plays into so much of the later films. Not to mention a great performance by Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull. The other Phase One films were terrific, but this one lays a lot of the groundwork.

The Avengers got the team together, showed the interactions between the members, and gave a good introduction to all the characters. It also gives us the Mind Stone, not that we knew it, and Thanos at the end. Knowing the Avengers is necessary to getting what's going on in Infinity War.

Going on to The Winter Soldier, we get more of Cap's life and it brings Bucky back into the fold. We also get the stakes going up with the reveal of who is controlling SHIELD, and the introduction of Crossbones & The Falcon.

Age of Ultron gives us the real start of the rift between Cap and Iron man, and lays the ground work for both Civil War and Infinity War. The original Avengers break up and we get the new team, lead by Cap, which goes right into Civil War.

Civil War is where it all goes to hell. The Avengers are caught up in a major incident, which prompts the UN to pass a resolution on Superhero Registration. Cap and Iron Man are on opposite sides of the issue, leading to the existing, and one new, heroes choosing sides. That leads us right into the events of Infinity War, where everyone is scattered and have to come together to fight against Thanos.

The other movies are nice and give you a lot of information, but these 5 are the ones that I think you NEED to watch in order to understand what's going in in the latest release. Of course, I could be wrong. What do YOU think is absolutely necessary to see before Infinity War?

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Goblin Songs

It's no secret that I love pretty much everything done by Rankin-Bass, from Rudolph right up to Thundercats and Silverhawks. The one that really got me as a kid, though, was their adaption of The Hobbit. Yes, some things (like Beorn) were trimmed for time, but the overall story is incredibly faithful to the book. Heck, they even use the lyrics that Tolkien wrote for the songs.

It's those songs that I want to talk about today. I think that they did a great job translating them for the screen and I really enjoy each one. However, it seems like the Goblin songs are the ones that tend to be a bit more toe-tapping. I think it's because of that, and my love for classic rock type music, that they tend to stick out in my mind.

The Hobbit has two of these songs in it. The first is "Down to Goblin Town", which is sung as the Dwarves and Bilbo are captured while crossing the Misty Mountains. Here it is:

The second is sung while the Goblins and Wargs have the party trapped in the pine trees:

Both of these are really down songs, being about how the goblins are going to do horrible things to our heroes, but they've got an infectious beat that just sticks in my head.

A third song exists, from the adaption of The Return of the King. This is a completely original song, but it keeps the same style as the first two. More of a rock tempo, even with the upsetting ideas behind the lyrics. Check it out:

So, am I just odd (don't answer that) or do others gravitate towards the goblin music?

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Convention Report - Zenkaikon

Jad Saxton's Q&A Panel. Note Kira in her Sailor Moon shirt right up front.
This past weekend our family traveled back to Lancaster, PA to attend Zenkaikon. This was the first Anime specific convention that any of us had been to, so it was an interesting time. We attended more panels than we normally do. This was partially due to more stuff that we were interested in and partially because there wasn't much else to do there.

Let me start out by saying that this is not a huge convention, but it's also not tiny. It took up pretty much every room of the Lancaster County Convention Center and I would say it was moderately attended. There wasn't any point that I felt it was over crowded, which is my normal complaint with conventions.

Kira with Sarah and Jad. She was HUGELY excited both before and after this.
Our primary draw to this convention, other than it being convenient, were two of the guests, both of whom are from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon MaidSarah Wiedenheft (who plays the titular maid, Tohru) and Jad Saxton (who plays Kira's favorite dragon Kanna). We were able to get autographs from both ladies and Kira got pictures with them as well. I also gave them each a business card and an invitation to appear on Anime Freaks, should they have the time.

Kira asking how Jad relaxes
We attended the Meet Jad Saxton panel you see above, where Kira was able to ask her two questions, and the voice actors panel which also had Jessica CalvelloQuinton Flynn, and Phil LaMarr. They had some interesting stories to tell, but if anyone is looking to become a voice actor just read this rather than asking, since that was their standard answer.

On the panel side of things, the first one we attended was on Saturday morning where Brandon DeCoster presented different anime openings and what they look like around the world. This isn't just a language thing, either. Apparently different countries have varying standard lengths of openings, which means things need to be added/subtracted depending on where you are. They also shift focus depending on who they think the anime is targeted to, like adding more costume changes to Gundam Wing in Italy, to help target girls.

Saturday afternoon we went to a panel conducted by a group called Manly Battleships titled "Before An Unexpected Journey: The Anime Legacy of Rankin/Bass". They went over the outsourcing of animation, both stop action and hand drawn, to Japan and how many of the creators went on to work on some important anime. They also agree with me that the Rankin Bass Hobbit is far superior to the bloated Peter Jackson movies.

Sunday we attended another Manly Battleships panel, this one about the career of Don Bluth. It has Mrs. Brisby in the title, so we weren't going to keep Michelle away. There were many interesting points brought up, and they even touched on some movies that I didn't know about. Kira now wants to see Thumbelina, so I need to find that somewhere.

A couple of cool cosplayers. Sailor Moon on the left and the Red Dragon Emperor from High School DxD on the right.
The rest of our time was spent people watching and going through the dealer's room, which only had one booth selling Anime & Manga, and another that was just selling Manga. The rest were artists and merchandise vendors. We bought some stuff (probably too much) and generally had a good time. They've already announced their dates for next year, and we'll think about going back. It all depends on scheduling, both of our activities and their guests. I would certainly recommend this convention, though. At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, it's just the right size and mixture of things to see and do.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Heathen Trek

The other day I was thinking about Star Trek, which is not out of the ordinary for me, and my mind went to the Galactic Barrier. This is the energy field seen in the episodes "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "By Any Other Name", and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" from The Original Series. It surrounds the Milky Way Galaxy and, while it doesn't prevent intergalactic travel, it certainly makes it extremely dangerous.

So we have this huge, dangerous thing that surround where humans are. Of course I then went to J√∂rmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, and then my entire world view had a seismic shift. As an abstract, I have always considered our "reality" or "dimension" to be Midgard. What if it's simpler than that, though, and Midgard is actually our galaxy? That would make J√∂rmungandr the Galactic Barrier and, while not as huge as if he was encircling our dimension, he would be of an epic scale. You can see why Hymir was a little nervous when Thor hooked the serpent during a fishing trip.

This makes the Nine Worlds a little smaller. I would still consider Hel/Niflheim and Muspelheim to be different dimensions, but the remainder would be other galaxies. That means that getting to and from them would be difficult, but not like getting back from Hel. It also makes the Marvel version a bit closer to being acceptable to me. I don't buy the one planet idea for places like Jotenheim, but I can accept a galaxy.

I don't know about you, but I love it when my varied interests can cross over like this.

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