Samurai Pizza Cats: Anime Dubbing Done Amazingly Well

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The three calamitous kitties of courage!

I’ve talked about it before, but the 90s were a bad time for dubbed anime. It was hard to find any localization of an anime that stayed true to the original, or one that wasn’t chopped to bits during the editing process. Even if you managed to find an anime that doesn’t edit anything out, you’d still have to deal with awkward atrocious voice-acting. Not every dubbed anime was like this, however.

Some anime, such as the early dubs of Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho still hold up phenomenally well. However, there are rare occasions when the dubbed version surpasses the original in every way! One such dubbed anime that managed to do this was the cult classic series “Samurai Pizza Cats”.

This show originally aired in Japan under the title “Kyatto Ninden Teyandee”. Originally aired in 1990, the show did relatively well in ratings. The show revolved around three anthropomorphic feline cyborgs who worked at a pizza joint, while fighting crime as ninjas on the side. And yes, this is just as ridiculous and amazing as it sounds! They do battle against a corrupt fox, one who is vying for control of the city.

The show was an action-comedy, filled with puns and silly jokes galore. The show did moderately well, though not enough to warrant a continuation. There was a second season planned, as well as a spinoff series. Sadly, both projects were cancelled. What did happen was the series getting an English localization the very next year!

Not only that, but it was being handled by Saban! Yes, the very same Saban who would one day adapt Super Sentai into Power Rangers. The very same Saban behind VR Troopers, Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog, Los Luchadores, and Big Bad Beetleborgs. Saban decided to create their own version of Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, which proved to be an immensely difficult undertaking.

Why? Well, Saban did not have access to the translation scripts. They had no idea what the characters were saying, what the plot was supposed to be, or even what the character’s names were. As a result, the writers were forced to come up with an entirely new plot on their own. Eventually, this lead to the creation of one of the most well-known anime dubs to this day: Samurai Pizza Cats.

With no real script for the writers to work off of, everything had to be invented from scratch. Everything was given a new name, and I mean EVERYTHING! Heck, the city was even renamed from “Edoropolis” to “Little Tokyo”. Despite being rewritten completely from scratch, it turned out surprisingly good! A lot of this comes down to the humor, the characters, and the way the writers paint the insane world the characters live in.

The show revolves around our three fearless felines doing battle against the mischievous rat “Seymour Cheese”. Cheese’s big plan is to wrest control of the entire city from the semi-incompetent monarchy that runs it. To do this, he enlists the help of Bad Bird, Jerry Atric, and an army of ninja crows.

This premise is utterly insane, and the show is completely aware of it! This show had no fourth wall, a snarky wit, and a level of craziness that would be right up there with most early-to-mid 90s shows. Epic action scenes, nonsense dialogue, it’s all there! It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoy this series.

It’s about 52 episodes long, and is definitely an enjoyable thrill-ride from beginning to end. Heck, even the clip-shows are made infinitely more entertaining with the absurdist jokes the characters constantly crack. The show is surprisingly solid, despite how downright insane it is. A good example of this comes in the show’s nonsense theme song.

It was sung by one of the show’s writers, who happened to be drunk during the recording. The way the singer stutters during his lines, sings some rather obtuse lyrics, and even breaks into random laughter at the end is a dead giveaway. Despite the song being sung by a man who was drunker than a skunk at the time, it turned out surprisingly well!

In fact, this is a trend that that applies to the show itself. This anime feels like something that just couldn’t work on paper, yet was somehow executed smoothly. The show isn’t without its flaws, however. Characters have a tendency to rattle on a bit too much, sometimes resulting in a flat joke. Stock footage is often used at times when it shouldn’t be, sometimes creating inconsistencies in the show itself.

Despite these problems, Samurai Pizza Cats is still surprisingly entertaining. It’s one of the few dubbed anime from the 90s that I actually find myself coming back to. I think the most alluring aspect of the show is the cheesiness that comes with being a Saban product. You haven’t really experiences silly 90s schlock until you’ve seen at least one Saban show! This being an early Saban production may be enough to drive most people away. Honestly though, you won’t find a better nonsense ninja cat show in any reality!

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The Spider-Man Movie Time Forgot: Green Goblin’s Last Stand

When it comes to Spider-Man movies, there’s a lot to choose from. With 8 films in total, finding that perfect Spider-Man film can be difficult. I love most film incarnations of the character, but only a couple of them have managed to capture the energy of the original comics. One of the movies that I found to be the closest to what a Spider-Man SHOULD feel like would have to be the often forgotten fan-film known as “Green Goblin’s Last Stand”.

This fan film has a bit of an interesting history behind it. In the early 90s, there was a lot of talk about film studios making a theatrical Spider-Man movie. James Cameron was set to direct this movie, which was a big deal at the time. Enter amateur director Dan Poole, who wanted desperately to play Spidey on the big-screen. In order to show major film studios that he had the chops to play Spider-Man, Poole decided to make his own Spider-Man movie as a sort of test reel. In 1992, Poole released a film adaptation of the classic “Goblin’s Last Stand” story.

Fan films of Spider-Man weren’t that out of place, especially in the decades preceding the release of the first theatrical Spidey movie. However, none of them were based off a popular and well-established story arc. Poole was looking to change that with his own movie, which was based off the popular “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” story arc from the 70s.

Upon release, this film wasn’t very popular. The internet didn’t really exist in 92, meaning you couldn’t watch it on some random video site. You had to buy the VHS tape, which wasn’t an easy task. I’ve had friends who would even trade tapes among each other, in an attempt to get some hard to find shows and specials. Some may find it silly now, but VHS tapes were a hot commodity back then.

Once the internet came into the picture, films and shows became more easily obtainable. As a result, Green Goblin’s Last Stand started to gain traction. What also helped the popularity of the film was the cancellation of the James Cameron movie, which made people even more hungry for a proper Spidey movie adaptation.

The film became sought after, to the point where Poole eventually released a “Making Of” documentary for it. Heck, he was even promised a cameo in the 2002 Spider-Man movie! He unfortunately didn’t get it though, which probably ticked him off considerably.

So, why so much hype for a single low-budget fan film? Why did so many people clamor for it? Well, let’s take a deeper look and find out! The film runs for about 45 minutes, and details Spider-Man’s climatic final (at the time) struggle with the Green Goblin. What’s interesting about this film is how it treats Norman Osborn / Green Goblin. Something to note about this film is that Spider-Man’s name isn’t even in the title. It’s just “The Green Goblin’s Last Stand” with no real mention of the film’s actual star.

This was most likely done on purpose, as a lot of focus is put on Norman and his emerald-skinned counterpart. Norman gets more attention in this film than he does in the first official Spider-Man movie, which is surprising. I grew attached to both Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin in this adaptation, mostly due to how certain scenes were shot.

One of the best scenes in the film has to be the “hallway scene”. Norman sees a hallucination of Spider-Man in his home, which he chases down the hallway and outside. This eventually leads him to the site of his last encounter with Spider-Man, which results in some entertaining scenes I won’t spoil.

The Green Goblin was definitely one of the best things about this film, especially the talented actor they got to play him. However, what about Spidey? Our colorful costumed crusader is played near perfectly by Poole himself. Poole does an amazing job of giving the character wit and charm, while at the same time portraying him with a distinctive voice.

Tom Holland’s portrayal of the character comes off as eerily similar to how Poole plays him. The voices of both actors are near identical to each other, at least when it comes to voicing both Peter and Spider-Man. While the portrayals of its main characters are definitely solid and entertaining, the weakest part of the film is Gwen Stacy.

She doesn’t get a whole lot of screen-time, her portrayal of the character comes off as bland, and she doesn’t really add all that much to the film. Due to the low budget of the film, her death scene is also really lame. That’s major thing I have to talk about is the film’s budget. This film cost 400 dollars to make, which is cheap even for early 90s standards.

There was no real budget for the film, and the director paid for the film out of his own pocket. As such, some scenes in this film look insanely cheap and awkward. That being said, all of the stunt work for the film was done by Poole himself. These include scenes of him swinging on a large rope fastened above the city, with little in the way of safety.

Poole put his life on the line to make this film as authentic to the comics as he could, and somehow it turned out really well. Sure, this film has not aged well in the slightest and some scenes come off as being incredibly cheesy. Still, you can feel the passion that went into this film.

You can see that the director wanted so desperately to play Spider-Man and that this film was a good way to show his passion for that character. While we live in a time where the market is flooded with Spider-Man films, it’s good to sometimes look back at the little guys who put together their own projects featuring the web-singer.

Sure, fan films will never have the same reach as a big budget motion picture. However, sometimes the passion and effort of a film can make you look past its seemingly non-existent budget. Revenge of The Green Goblin managed to satisfy that craving I had for Spider-Man movies that are truer to the source material.

It’s an extremely flawed film, but I still love it! The fact that a single man risked his life hundreds of times just to see this project to completion is astounding. It was worth it though, as this one man created a fan film that is immensely enjoyable and awesome. Truly an underrated gem of its time, ’nuff said.

 

Syrup’s Indie Game Showcase: Magicmaker

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about any Indie games, which is something I need to rectify! Once every two weeks, I’ll put out a showcase on an Indie game and give my thoughts on it. Consider this a sort of mini-review, a post designed to focus on the many Indie titles littering Steam. These could be well-known games, or ones few people have heard of. Today’s focus is on Magicmaker, one of the more “unique” Indie games I’ve played.

Released in 2014, Magicmaker is a side-scrolling action RPG. You play as a security guard, who has recently being hired to perform work for a wizarding academy. You are then sent out into dangerous locales to do battle against random monsters and giant bosses. Despite being a small and seemingly normal security guard, you have one thing that makes you a threat to pretty much everyone and everything around: Magic!

As the title of this game implies, you can make your own magic in this game! By combining various spells together, you can create your own devastating spells. Sure, setting something on fire is all well and good. However, what if you want to both set the enemy on fire and make them explode? Or better yet, suck out their soul to power your rampant magic destruction? Or heck, how about creating a giant lightsaber-like weapon?

Insane things like this are the crux of Magicmaker. There are over 2 million different spells you can create, allowing for a variety of insane combinations. Couple this with randomly generated levels, various difficulty levels, and the immense amount of ways you can customize your character, and you have a game that just oozes fun.

Magicmaker’s fun gameplay isn’t its only big draw though. The game’s art-style is extremely eye-catching, boasting a “paper-craft” design. Everything looks like it’s made out of paper in this game, which gives the world and it characters a unique look. Very few games that I’ve played have used this art-style, aside from Paper Mario and a few others.

It’s not only a game that looks pretty, but one that sounds amazing! Magicmaker has a truly entertaining soundtrack. The songs in the game can range from heart-pumping to relaxing and melodic. Care actually went into the songs for this game, which is often times rare for an Indie game.

If there’s anything bad that can be said about this game, it’s the lack of direction. Half the time I don’t know where to go, which is made even worse by the large amount of portals scattered about the place. Which world do I go to next? Which one advances the story? It’s hard to tell, to be truly honest. You just have to guess, leap into portals, and then hope everything works out.

Worse than the lack of direction is the game’s story, or lack thereof. As previously mentioned, your character is supposed to be a security guard for a school of wizardry. The plot relates mostly to you being sent out on missions, and doing things that aren’t really related to being a security guard in the slightest. There isn’t really a focused narrative, and your character tends to advance through the plot seemingly at random.

On top of this, the main quest is pretty short. It’ll only take you a few hours to plow through the story, leaving only the higher difficult missions to do afterwards. Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this game. It’s short, fun, and has an insane amount of replay value. Its randomly generated levels invite experimentation with your character build, and its character customization is extremely detailed and fun to utilize. I recommend getting this game on sale if you can, especially for those who love a good side-scrolling action RPG!

Log Horizon: An MMO Anime Done Right

In the past couple years, I’ve found myself getting a lot more invested in MMORPGs and games with MMO elements. I’m talking games like Elder Scrolls Online, Dragon Ball Online, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Wild Star, VRChat, and Toontown Online Rewritten. Ever since I started playing these games, I’ve been craving a TV show about said MMO experiences.

I tried Sword Art Online just last year, but could not get into it. I felt the characters were a bit too bland, the stakes weren’t high enough, and the mechanics of the show’s fictional game weren’t well-defined at all. As a result, I gave up after episode 5. Afterwards, I tried my hand at the Phantasy Star Online 2 anime. Much like with SAO, I didn’t like it one bit.

The PSO2 anime felt like a bland tie-in, and I found that I couldn’t get fully invested in the characters and world. As a result, I started neglecting anime that revolved around MMOs, missing out on shows that I’m told were actually quite awesome. One such show is “Log Horizon”, which I only recently started getting into.

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Log Horizon 2: Rabbit’s Revenge

What is Log Horizon? Well, it’s yet another anime about people getting stuck in a MMO. Unlike other shows, the characters don’t really know how they got stuck in the game. They just end up inside the game world itself, unsure of what occurred or what threw them in there. Inside this game, they can’t truly die and they have access to superhuman abilities and powers.

One may think it’d be like a utopia, but sadly this is not the case. Corrupt users find ways to break the system, while exploiting both the game itself and the lower-level users who play it. In this wayward word, it’s up to Shiroe and his band of his misfits to try to survive and bring some needed balance to this chaotic land. They do this by trying to work around the politics imposed by other users, while also doing battle with renegade guilds.

While all of this may sound formulaic, Log Horizon manages to bring a lot of charm and originality to a somewhat generic premise. This comes down to its memorable and likable main cast. You have the rather nerdy leader Shiroe, the dashing and heroic cat-man Nyanta, the stalwart tough-guy Naotsugu, and the deadly assassin known as Akatsuki.

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Nerds in medieval times = Best thing ever!

These are just some of the characters that make up the back-bone of the show’s principal cast. The show is host to a multitude of interested and entertaining side-characters, along with a gaggle of badass and intense villains. The show’s biggest selling point isn’t the characters themselves however, but how they interact with each other and the world around them.

I said in my last post on VRChat that “A MMO lives and dies by its player-base”, which is doubly true for the “Elder Tale” game our heroes find themselves stuck in. For you see, the biggest threat to our heroes isn’t the monsters roaming land. The real enemy they have to deal with is themselves, other players, and their own self-doubt.

Despite this show technically being an action show, it doesn’t shy away from showing us the deeper politics associated with the various guilds and factions. Despite the show making it clear that the world inside the game is more prosperous than our own, it bares some of the same problems. For example, the more powerful guilds will often kidnap players of lower levels, because said players are given EXP potions for free.

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Such a colorful cast of crazy anime characters!

By keeping weaker players captive, they are able to extort them for an unlimited supply of these stat-boosting potions. That’s one of the things that makes Log Horizon so interesting, in that it manages to make the interactions between these players feel real. It answers the age old question of “What would you do if you were trapped in a game?” Log Horizon’s is focused entirely on explaining how its game-world works, and then showing you how the players can use these systems to their advantages.

On top of this, the anime does it in a way that’s easy to understand for everyone, even for people who don’t play these kinds of games. The characters solve the problems plaguing their world in interesting and unique ways, which is something I can appreciate. It’s definitely one of the most refreshing anime I’ve seen in a while, which is saying a lot.

As of writing this, I’m still in the very early portion of this series. I fully intend to watch through both seasons of this show, before moving on to the similar-in-concept show known as “Overlord”. I really appreciate that Log Horizon managed to rekindle my love for MMO-based anime. I haven’t felt this invested in a virtual reality show since “.Hack//Sign” from way back in the day. Here’s hoping the rest of Log Horizon can live up to the greatness of its early episodes!

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Not sure why there are snowman in the back there…

VRChat Game Review: A Beautiful Mess of A Digital Chatroom

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The best place to watch anime is in “Space Japan”, AKA Seisoken City!

Something that has gotten traction as of late is “Virtual Reality”. While this has been a concept in movies, TV-shows, and literature, the general concepts of VR hadn’t been defined until recent years. Modern VR is in its infancy, and there aren’t a whole lot of fun games out for the platform yet. Still, developers are trying their hardest to put some unique and memorable experiences out for the hardware.

This brings us to one of the most popular VR games in recent memory: VRChat. This game is essentially a virtual chat-room, not unlike that of “Second Life”. The key difference between the two is the inclusion of Virtual Reality, which is what gives VRChat a bit of an advantage.

Being able to pop on a headset and get immersed in a virtual world is something I’ve been interested in ever since watching the “.Hack//Sign” anime back in the early 2000s. VRChat is looking to capitalize on the experiences present in that show and similar franchises, by presenting the player with a massive virtual world to interact with.

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I’m getting some early 2000s anime flashbacks from this.

Sadly, VRChat is a gigantic mess in its current state. For one thing, there’s not a whole lot to do. You can walk around, pick stuff up, talk to people, and play the occasional mini-game. Aside from that, the experience is pretty bare-bones. Sure, the game is still in Early Access, meaning that it’s not fully complete yet. Despite this, I feel like the game won’t change all that much upon full release.

This is especially annoying, since the game is essentially a “MMOG”, a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. If the game continues to lack varied content, it’s not going to be able to hold the attention of the large audience it recently gained. A MMO lives and dies by its ability to retain an audience, which a lot of online games tend to have problems with nowadays. To be fair, this game is known as a “Virtual Chat-Room”, meaning it’s more of a space for just talking to people.

And sure, it’d probably be your kind of thing if you just want to chat. Unfortunately, VRChat also has problems in this area as well. You’ll often run into people spouting memes, verbally attacking other users, or people just screaming as loud as they can into their microphone. Now, this normally wouldn’t be as big of a problem, as most online games have this.

However, when most of what you can do in a game is often spoiled by trolls or people just pestering you, it can get annoying. I’m not saying all the players are like this, but several people do tend to do this a lot. There’s quite a few people who like to break the rules of the game and are often able to get away with it. This is because the mods aren’t really good at their jobs. They’ll often ban people for the dumbest of reasons, and let the actual rule-breakers get away with whatever they want.

For example, you can get banned just for pointing out how bad the mods are at what they do. I get that being a moderator on anything is difficult, but mods should have thicker skin than that. So, I’ve brought up a lot of bad things about this game, but what about the good? Surprisingly, this game does do a fair bit of things I like.

For example, it fully endorses player-made content. These include character skins, entire maps, and custom soundtracks for said maps. Almost 90% of the stuff you’ll see in the game was handcrafted entirely by players, which is actually pretty awesome. I can’t tell you how cool it is to walk around the futuristic “Seisoken City”, or venture into a recreation of “Kami’s Tower” from Dragon Ball.

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It still amazes me that places like this exist in the game. It’s so beautiful!

Not only do these worlds look good, but they all have a unique feel to them. For example, Seisoken City boasts a ton of massive screens that play non-stop anime clips and J-Pop music videos. Meanwhile, you may venture into a completely different city-scape and happen across all of weird real-world advertising.

You can also visit these worlds with any custom skin currently available, essentially allowing you to traverse these lands as your favorite character. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it was to venture through an expansive city as a gigantic monkey! It was like King Kong, but mixed with anime and randomness.

Unfortunately, getting character skins can be very annoying. Every time you log off, your character skin disappears. If you want to wear anything other than a generic template skin, then you have to run all the way back to that specific world. You must then equip that skin again, if you want it back.

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“Behold my giant monkey… FORM!”

Still, the shear variety of character skins is enough to make up for this. Name any kind of popular character from any well-known series, chances are that you can play as it in VRChat. The biggest thing VRChat has going for it is accessibility. Not only is it free, but you don’t need a VR headset to play it!

Let’s be real, VR is freaking expensive! VRChat circumvents this, by allowing you to play without a headset. This is great for people who can’t afford one, or are having issues with their headset. Plus, this allows people who are on the fence about VR to experience to give the medium shot. Heck, it might even sell some people on VR as a concept! On top of this, the game is also free. I doubt it’ll stay free, they’ll probably add micro-transactions once the game is finished. Hopefully, micro-transactions won’t ruin the flow of the game.

Here are my final thoughts on VRChat: It’s a beautiful mess. There’s barely anything to do, a fair amount of the community is toxic, and the mods are terrible at doing their job. Despite this, VRChat was able to fully immerse me, even without a VR headset! The beautifully designed worlds, the shear amount of character skins, and the ability to chat with your friends in a virtual space is the true selling point here.

While some of the interactions with random users can be less-than-savory, there’s still fun to be had. Seeing silly interactions between people role-playing as their favorite characters is surprisingly entertaining. I mean, once you’ve seen Agumon from Digimon get drunk with the Green Goblin, it’s hard to go back to regular games. Check VRChat out if you’re interested, just don’t expect too much out of it.

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Portals: The only way to travel in this game! Aside from walking everywhere, of course.

 

The Awesome Absurdity That Is Space Ghost: Coast To Coast

90s animated television was truly a bizarre thing to behold, due entirely to its experimental nature. The mid-to-late 90s became a breeding ground for some of the oddest and most entertaining shows you could ever imagine. I’m talking shows like Daria, King of The Hill, Dr. Katz, Samurai Pizza Cats, Spider-Man Unlimited, Batman Beyond, The Maxx, Cybersix, and Gargoyles.

The 90s was a barrage of all these weird and memorable shows, but one show really set the mood for the absurdist cartoons that would follow in its wake. I’m talking about the hilarious and bizarre 1994 TV series, Space Ghost: Coast To Coast. Heralded as a cult classic of sorts, Coast To Coast was a successful attempt to bring a relatively obscure Hanna-Barbera character into the mainstream.

The series began airing in the mid-90s, and was one of Cartoon Network’s first “original” programs. I say that in quotations, as Coast To Coast re-purposed almost all of its animation from older Space Ghost cartoons. Since those shows already had severely limited animation, this meant there wasn’t a whole lot work with.

Despite the limited animation frames, Coast To Coast surprisingly worked. It was an absurdist animated talk show, featuring the titular Space Ghost character. Working alongside his two arch-enemies, Moltar and Zorak, Space Ghost would interview a cavalcade of famous celebrities and musicians.

Even though the series had very little in terms of original animation, it made up for that with some solid humor and entertaining characters. The show was a unique take on the “late night talk show” concept. I could never get into most talk-shows, since they had a tendency to just not that be entertaining. It doesn’t matter how many funny celebrities you get, it’s just hard to make a show where people sit down and talk for 30 minutes entertaining.

I get why people like the genre, but it’s never been my thing. Oddly enough though, Space Ghost: Coast To Coast managed to make late night talk shows into something truly entertaining! The show’s interviews were never straightforward, mainly because the questions the celebrities are asked aren’t the ones the characters are asking.

When recording the live-action segments, completely different and often time random questions were asked to each guest star. These answers would then be used for entirely different questions in the show itself, often times leading to random or hilarious results. Because of this, there were often times where the answers didn’t match the questions being asked.

This really adds to the charm of the show, and helps create that “surreal” feeling that the show is known for. Despite being billed as a “talk show”, the interview segments are only a fraction of each episode’s running time. Usually, most of the episodes are spent watching Space Ghost and his crew dealing with silly cartoon shenanigans.

These include following a random ant around the planet, being chased by evil alien pods, or even selling out to a fictional fast food chain. These scenarios were often more entertaining than the interview portions, which were already pretty fun in their own right. Coast To Coast was a series that proved to be popular, mostly due to how different it was compared to other cartoons airing at the time.

The series picked up steam pretty quickly, soon becoming a mainstay on Cartoon Network. Since then, it’s become one of the channel’s hallmarks. It ran for many seasons, got several specials, and even received two different revivals. It also got a ton of spin-offs including The Brak Show, Cartoon Planet, Harvey Birdman, and even the popular Toonami block of programming!

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One wonders how Moltar can drink coffee with no actual mouth…

Space Ghost: Coast To Coast also popularized the style of re-using limited animation, which would become a staple of the Adult Swim block. Coast To Coast is one of those rare shows that not only surpassed its source material, but managed to be something wholly unique on its own. It’s not a perfect show, that’s for sure.

The limited animation, bizarre scenarios, and the rather abrasive soundtrack may be a turnoff for some people. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to get through those first couple seasons of Space Ghost for me, since those are the ones that haven’t aged all that well. Still, if you stick with the show and watch past season 3, you’re definitely in for one of the most entertaining experiences in Cartoon Network history.

I’m A Published Writer Now!

Good news, everyone! As of late week, I am now officially a published writer. I wrote an article on Star Phoenix about Asperger’s and my experiences living with it. The link to it is on my “Info About Me” page, but I’ll also link it here as well. I’m pretty proud of it and how it turned out and I’m glad Star Phoenix decided to run my story. Without further adieu, here it is!

Remembering Digimon: The Movie

Digimon was a huge thing back in the 90s to early 2000s, at least to a certain extent. Some people say Digimon piggybacked off the successful of Pokemon, which could be true to an extent. They did have similar names, show concepts, and both had successful anime adaptations. Of course, this meant when Pokemon received a theatrical film, Digimon would attempt to do the same.

This resulted in the bizarre anthology film known as “Digimon: The Movie”. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it was an attempt by Fox to capitalize on Digimon’s popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s. The film was stitched together by three completely unrelated Digimon films, and was formed into a singular film for American theaters.

This meant that all three movies were horribly and painfully mashed together into a horrible chimera of a film, that is somehow still one of my favorite childhood movies. Why is that? Well, because it still feels like Digimon! Sure, a lot of the jokes are stale, the film feels awkwardly edited, and there’s way too many late 90s songs in the soundtrack, but it is still a surprisingly entertaining package.

It took the adventures of our heroes, including Tai and Davis, and used it as a vehicle to tell new stories that most American audiences hadn’t even seen yet. Sure, it a Frankenstein’s monster that was stitched together from three separate films, but it had a surprising amount of heart to it.

As bad as a movie as it was, it is still remembered by people to this day. So, why do I bring this up? Well, Disney bought Fox a couple of weeks back. As such, the rights to the movie were transferred over to Disney. This means that they can essentially re-release it, if they wished.

Disney probably won’t do this, though. Disney has made it no secret they hate Digimon, especially how they treated the franchise after they bought the dubbing rights from Saban. Disney will probably just keep it in their “vault” until the end of time, leaving only digital copies for people to watch.

A movie about digital monsters is only available digitally, it’s kind of ironic really. In short, Digimon: The Movie was an extremely flawed film that had some passion go into it. It’s not some kind of cult classic, and I doubt it’ll ever be heralded as such. Still, it’s entertaining in a cheesy nostalgic sort of way. I do hope Disney decides to re-release the film, even if they have no real intention of doing so. After all, I’m sure people would buy it! I mean, I totally would. Then again, I’m a super nerd, so that’s to be expected.

Homestar Runner: A Legacy of Great Web-Cartoons

To me, internet animation has always been a unique subject to tackle. There are so many facets to online animation, and so many awesome cartoons out there to list. I’ve tackled the animated web-short “Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit”, but I thought I’d go back and discuss the epicenter of all online animation: Homestar Runner. While Homestar wasn’t the first piece of online animation, it did popularize it to a great extent.

So, what is Homestar Runner? It was originally a children’s book published by the “Chap Brothers”, but eventually spun off into one of the first truly successful web-series. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest web cartoons of all time! It revolves around a group of cartoon characters living in “Free Country USA”, a made-up fictionalized state. Homestar is an arm-less athlete, who loves to run and generally isn’t all that smart. He has to deal with the masked menace Strong Bad, who is his rival and occasional arch-enemy.

Strong Bad himself was first introduced as a somewhat bland villain to Homestar, but eventually grew more popular as the site got bigger. This eventually landed him his own web-series on the site called “Strong Bad Emails”, in which the mask-wearing malcontent would reads various emails from around the globe.

This series became the most popular aspect of the site, overtaking most of its content. Strong Bad Emails were the main draw, though The Brother Chaps still put out various other cartoons on occasion. These included shorts, longer cartoons, and the occasional “Teen Girl Squad” episode.

Homestar Runner was a unique website, for it had all these cartoons available FOR FREE! That’s right, you could pretty much watch any show you wanted, whenever you wanted! It was like Newgrounds, but with actual quality control and an interface that didn’t look like trash.

Homestar Runner also offered games, which were usually modeled after old-school games from way back in the day. These were also free, albeit extremely simplistic. The site was so inviting and so fresh, and has surprisingly remained mostly the same after all these years. There has never been a huge attempt to remodel the side, which is much appreciated. After all, why fix what ain’t broke?

So, what made Homestar’s collective content great? A lot of it comes down to its humor, which is deeply rooted in both pop culture and surreal comedy. Homestar was a series that wasn’t afraid to poke fun at other properties, ideas, concepts, cliches, and even its own characters. As a result, the series never took itself too seriously, and generally was entertaining to watch.

The cartoons feature about a dozen memorable characters, such as the animal-like The Cheat, and the ever-depressed Strong Sad. The characters came off as quirky, silly, goofy, and were all very hilarious. To this day, Homestar remains one of my favorite web cartoons. It revolutionized online web animation, and made it popular.

It became so overwhelmingly popular that it’s been referenced by various forms of media, even to this day. Shows like Megas XLR, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and even the game Kingdom of Loathing all reference Homestar. Even when the series went on hiatus, its popularity never truly died down.

I found myself recently re-watching a lot of the old Homestar stuff, and it’s still entertaining after all these years. It is the longest running web-series of all time, even outrunning the long-lasting “Red Vs. Blue” series. The various Easter Eggs, subtle adult jokes, and likable characters keeps me coming back even as an adult. It’s one of those shows that just never loses its luster for me. With Homestar making a resurgence in content these past couple years, I think it’s a great time for newcomers to give the series a try! Surreal humor and wacky characters are the gift that keeps on giving, after all.

Happy New Years, Everyone!

It’s been a great holiday break for me, and it was good spending time with family. I’m going to usher in 2018 by making a resolution: I intend to increase the quality and output of my written work, to go beyond what I was capable of before, and to branch out into territory. I intend this year to be my best year yet, and I look forward to creating even more enjoyable content. I hope you all have a good New Years, and I wish you all luck with whatever you guys have planned in 2018. Keep it real, and do your best!