#209 : SilverHawks

Now this may just be me, but these pre-intro trailers really spoil the plot of each episode! … Are you a hardcore 80s cartoon fan? Several 80s creations have had life outside the decade either by nostalgia, reinvention, or a combination or the two. Many more exist as rumors, or more like a secret code that big kids like us never grow tired of. I pull a couple DVDs off the shelf and after gazing at the covers remember many things, but will they still hold up in terms of entertainment? Fun, adventure and deep space science fiction on today’s episode of The Classic Anime Museum… with… SilverHawks.

SH_11986… September 8, a Monday afternoon… If I am doing my math right I was in the beginning stages of the second grade in my elementary school years when a new cartoon would catch my eye. If memory serves me correctly I had anticipated the arrival of the SilverHawks for a couple of weeks knowing that it was created by the same folks behind ThunderCats and it was set in space this time. Seven year old me was drooling at the mouth as SilverHawks would become one of my favorite shows at the time hitting crucial buttons of joy. Cyborg soldiers, “partly metal, partly real” who act like the new sheriffs in town who take on the criminal gang of Mon-Star. And those SilverHawks were buff as all hell, true hard bodies. Do you remember the workout videos featuring Tamilee Webb? Buns of Steel, Abs of Steel, etc.…Yeah that sounds like the SilverHawks to me!

SH_2Sci-fi obsessed as we were in the 1980s, SilverHawks was very typical of depicting a future with high technology, space travel and alien encounters. Star Wars looked to be a huge influence, but also the American comic book hero character. Though based on a toyline, SilverHawks exudes the Marvel and DC type of characters who work as a team: X-Men, Fantastic Four, or Justice League. And while I am sure anime influence may not have been top on the listing I can compare the SilverHawks to sentai groups like Gatchaman, or more appropriately to the cyborgs of Cyborg 009. Once completely human both the cyborg soldiers of Cyborg 009 and the SilverHawks have been enhanced to become the ultimate fighting machines. Of course for Cyborg 009 this was done outside the characters’ wills for a criminal organization. These nine would rebel to fight against their creator. SilverHawks featured volunteers who fight for justice and peace and all the usual American apple pie sort of things that in reality is not always the picture perfect truth.

SH_3Every show needs some sort of identity markers from logo and typography, toys, characters, plot points and even a mascot at times. For SilverHawks the concept of mascot became legendary with the cybernetic enhanced Tally-Hawk. How many times did I want his talons to grip my forearm as I stare into his eyes; such a beautiful bird. Hawks and birds of prey in general have always been a personal favorite for me. The elegant grace, power and intensity of these birds are truly beautiful. While SilverHawks featured many characters from the heroic, to the diabolical, to the sly and even the goofy, none compare to Tally-Hawk whose only dialogue was a screech that said more than the length of a Russian novel. If Tally-Hawk was a Pokemon, I choose you!

SH_4Like many other Rankin/Bass titles, the design and pre-production was done in the U.S. while the heavy lifting of paint and pen ended up with a Japanese studio. In the case of the mid-1980s this was Pacific Animation Corporation. Though this show may not technically be anime in name it is certainly in spirit. Watch the opening credit sequence as an example. With ThunderCats lightning struck in a bottle in terms of success and in many ways SilverHawks would ride that wave as a sort of phase two. Does this show still hold up for me today? Yes and no. The early episodes still hold merit in my fandom, but the overall mythology lacks the breadth of ThunderCats and often times SilverHawks is a one trick pony that repeats itself. Yet as a single ride pony show it still is fun, in short bursts… “Ya know what I mean.” … a little nod to you Seymour 😉

#197 : Outlanders

Magical girlfriends, early harem influences and half naked alien ladies always fall for nerdy Earth boys who dont have many social skills and often get labeled as losers Now that is a different opening statement. Sandwiched between Urusei Yatsura and Tenchi Muyo was a one off OVA that still has its cult following even to this day and can be an easy recommend to otaku types who are into more contemporary titles as a buffer to get into older, classic titles… respect your elders please! Now then, let’s have a little fun this time round with the outlandish Outlanders.

Outlanders_1The super cynical side of myself kept telling me not to like Outlanders. Why in my right mind should I care, let alone watch an OVA which is basically about a hopeless geeky virgin guy who ends up with a bikini clad alien princess from another galaxy who for some bizarre reason falls in love with him? Really now, Urusei Yatsura was one thing to consider, but this premise again? This is space opera after all, it should be totally serious and filled with battle tactics, not his kind of silliness and pathetic romance! Then the inner voice inside me goes, “ya know, you love Maris the Chojo!” Well yeah, there is that And it says again, “you LOVE Dirty Pair too!” Oh all right then! I do love  fun antics in outer space featuring women who wear close to nothing, hello Barbarella. So step one has been reached, remove my cynical snobby side.

Outlanders_2Step two and this one is so obvious. Outlanders has such a beautiful presentation. On par with cinema quality detail and fluidity, Outlanders is a poster child of why fans of 80s OVAs hold them in such high regard. Well some of them. This is a well done production and showcased material many of us in the west were hungry for, but had no idea that this could exist until Outlanders showed up in our faces. Please give us more sci-fi please… an alternative to what we have known already… yeah now that’s what we are talking about. Back to the artwork, each frame is lovingly drafted showing a passion from the artists of Tatsunoko and AIC. And as to which studio did the heavy lifting of drawing I leave that to the historians as I am just in awe over the visuals. Add to this the pacing and a solid story that never leaves one bored either… this may be one of the best 80s OVA ever made from a technical level. What do you think?

Outlanders_3Do alpha males always triumph in the world as successful?… not this time around. Certain alien princesses like Miss Kahm from Outlanders prefer a more beta type like Tetsuya as a perfect specimen for manhood. Don’t ask me why. Only in anime can someone so unassuming become so epically heroic… sniff… it gives us all hope doesn’t it. After all that could me, or you. … Outlanders an example of insane comedy of star crossed love affairs, alien invasion, fun action, treking through outer space and how could I forget catgirls and dogmen… furry love. A coming of age story like no other. A rare flash in the pan. This may sound real cheesy, but Outlanders is so out of this world. Yeah that’s the best I could come up with. 😉

#194 : Okubyo na Venus

Pop idols are plentiful in terms of anime. Creamy Mami, Lynn Minmei (Macross) and Eve Tokimatsuri (Megazone 23) are three that come to my mind from the 1980s and depending on the audience are mostly, fairly well known names. Then there was Yumiko Kirita… now that is a name one does not hear everyday. Simply put she is a lost one hit wonder of sorts for her only appearance was in an obscure OVA from 1986, Okubyo no Venus.

OnV_1This time round the explanation with be quite short for Okubyo na Venus (sometimes spelled Okubyou na Venus) simply put because this OVA is only about 20 minutes in length. Very short and easy to digest. Yumiko Kirita was apparently one of the many pop idols in anime during the 1980s who had only a few hit songs. This OVA is the only document we have left of her career as far as I know. Four songs cover the entirety of this compilation of sorts (one gets repeated at the end by the way) that is styled after the then current MTV music videos of the time. Maybe this is her lone surviving EPK (electronic press kit)?

OnV_2Dialog is absent throughout the production and each of the segments are small individual statements where only the songs, as well as the visuals, tell the story. This vaguely reminds me of Robot Carnival, though Robot Carnival was much larger in scale and concept, a true work of art. I have seen the anime Cipher also linked to Okubyo na Venus in terms of a similar style, need to check this one out eventually (update… I have seen it!). So then, these are the segments in a nutshell, hope this does not spoil things: the first follows a day in Yumiko’s life of singing, shopping and practicing; the second pays many an homage to classic movies and characters; the third is a slower more artsy collection of still shots and relaxed moments over a ballad and the final is a scene from a concert of hers.

OnV_3Okubyo na Venus is not your usual 1980s OVA. While the facade of idol signer Yumiko Kirita is flashed everywhere, there is after all a flesh and blood human being who brought her singing voice to life that also needs recognition. Her name is Maiko Okamoto and she as well needs to be recognized in this posting. Without her singing ability and the animation talents of those involved, this little oddity of an OVA production would have never seen the light of day. A simple, charming title, Okubyo na Venus without question belongs with the pantheon of our more usual 80s anime favorites. I shall now reserve a spot on the shelf just for you!