#177 : Dancougar: Requiem for the Victims

Hold on! Thirty eight episodes and this story I have been watching for some time is not over yet!? … Often times a series has a proper ending, or some kind of closure that can be taken care of in terms of a follow-up movie, or OVA to iron out details that seemed odd or rushed. Yet not for the 1985 mecha series Dancougar. Maybe the show was cancelled, or perhaps there was a need for more creative freedom to allow for the final installment to eventually surface as an episode length OVA? The story is far from over, for we must now tie up all these loose ends from the previous 38 episodes to conclude with Dancougar: Requiem for the Victims.

Dan_Req_1Save the final boss fights for last and make it really good! The television series had a lot of potential and I tried to be fair towards it in my initial review, but seeing a lot of mecha anime, I felt this has a lot of super robot re-hatching that had been in place since the mid 1970s that by 1985 was a little derivative. The look of the show is very spot on for the period, still I personally recommend other mech titles from 1985 in terms of watching priority: Zeta Gundam and SPT Layzner. Still, Dancougar had an attitude that was appealing, nice character designs and a fine robot that would have made a great toy to promote. Now after 38 episodes of story we find the Cyber Beast Force with two remaining obstacles to complete before a proper ending could be declared. Shinobu, Sara (still has awesome hair!), Ryo and Masato have to take down long time arch rival Death Gaia and Emperor Muge himself to rid the Earth of the tyranny of the Zorbados Empire.

Dan_Req_2The choice of ending the show as a single shot OVA is an interesting one. Perhaps the creative freedom I mentioned before was a strong reason for this decision. Not being tied to the restrictions, or standards of content for television allowed a greater amount of creativity. Also the possibility of having a higher budget could yield a more polished product… this is a nice looking production. Yet again, this was the mid 1980s and the OVA market was a new and fresh, as well as lucrative market to release animation to the public. You can watch the initial episode run for free, but for the finale, you’ll have to pay for it. For great mecha action, it’s worth the price.

Dan_Req_3It has been some time since seeing the TV series and watching Requiem for the Victims was a breathe of fresh air that reminded me of what I enjoyed in Dancougar proper beyond any personal issues. Also Requiem for the Victims accomplished what it set out to do, which was finish the Dancougar story in a very dramatic fashion… just who were the real victors in this war? As always in war, both sides lose to a certain degree even if one side declares a triumphant declaration. Ironically though, Requiem for the Victims would would not be the final finish for Dancougar as a franchise; out of endings come new beginnings.

Capturing the Wind: Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata Before Studio Ghibli

Up until recently I had given panels at my local anime convention, a run of about five years from 2015–2019. My most successful panel, and one I gave for three years in a row because of the evergreen content, was Capturing the Wind: Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata Before Studio Ghibli. Obviously it was a popular event for an hour of time and witnessing Studio Ghibli panels from the past and noticing the audience turnout, I knew I had to do one, yet I had to do it my own way within the framework of my definition of ‘classic anime’. Reason being, talking about anime from the 1980s, let alone the 1960s and 1970s can be a very niche category. Most fans are younger than me, or have a frame of reference that is the most zeitgeist of properties available. By the way I was born in 1979 in case you want to do the math. That being said, how do I do a panel discussing the work of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, two men I respect, within the confines of my focus of study?

CtW_1And then it happened… of course, talk about their work before Studio Ghibli’s foundation. These two gentlemen cut their teeth on a lot of movies and television series, all of this before the year of 1985, the year of Studio Ghibli’s birth. I had my content! Of course I focused on their major projects, mostly when they had the directors chair, because I could run a laundry list of doing key animation for this one episode of this series, or assists with whatever task was available for that movie. Ten productions would make the cut, each with video clip, but for here it will all be in the written word. Studio Ghibli fans, who is here to learn and experience some lost, or perhaps not so lost if one has familiarity, treasures of the careers of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata? Don’t be surprised that what you love about the work of these two gentlemen also shows up in their earlier works as well; good habits and styles never change once they solidify.

Beginning with directorial debuts for a feature film, then leading to initial collaborative efforts, I would continue with two final categories: television work, because we often equate Miyazaki and Takahata with their cinematic presence and finally a quartet of final projects from the early 1980s that directly preceded the founding of Studio Ghibli. I will not explain in detail each of the productions here, but with link them to my other posts where you can read more in depth on each particular production. Of course this panel only covered what I had seen at that particular moment. Even now I am still filling in gaps by watching other anime not available at the time where I could have had opportunities to showcase more material. But then again I only had one hour and what I had to work with was enough of a fun show.

Here were the following anime that I focused on for the panel Capturing the Wind: Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata Before Studio Ghibli:

My initial goal was to showcase to Studio Ghibli fans that the names of Miyazaki and Takahata go well beyond the familiar movies we have watched time and time again. Did I succeed? I think so, but now that legacy can live here online and reach a wider audience. Of course there are a couple more anime that I wish I could have included, but at the time I had no access to the show or movie, Heidi: Girl of the Alps being the best example (watching that one now!). If you love Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, their collective work at Studio Ghibli is only the beginning to a world of many treasures which featured their creative talents. Before capturing the wind of Ghibli, we can witness the emerging portraits of these two artists as young men… a little nod to you James Joyce 🙂

CtW_2Many a thank you to the work you both did. We love you!

#171 : Scoopers

Wow the title alone is enough of a grabber… just what in the world is Scoopers? An anime about a young couple who run an ice cream shop?… no. Maybe an anime about a  pet scooping service that goes around to the parks when your dog leaves a souvenir?… no. Wow you got me… maybe Scoopers is about journalists in a sci-fi, slightly cyberpunk universe, trying to catch the next big ‘scoop’ on guy who has been blowing up satellites and space shuttles? No way, that sounds to good to be true and yet… it so is. OK, we have the basics out of the way, lets throw that tape (or digital file) into the old dusty VCR ( or whatever your media player of choice is) and hit play!

Scoopers1A supposed Mr. X and his organization are the responsible party for the havoc of blowing up these satellites and space shuttles. Who can stop this dastardly foe but for two… reporters? Enter Yoko and Beat (BEATO!) who work for for the organization Private Eyes. “Private eyes are watching you. They see your every move.” Yoko is a strong and determined lead and Beat is a combination of things. He is a Yoko’s partner, a photographer, Yoko’s bodyguard and would you believe it… he’s an android too! He gains super powers when Yoko pulls out her compact and hits a couple of buttons, almost like a remote control. Talk about killer makeup! Together they track down the hide out of Mr. X at the amusement park of Techno Land, but what lays in store for them is more than any roller coaster ride.

Scoopers2Scoopers is one of those 80s OVAs you find at the very bottom of the undiscovered bin of lost oddities. It resembles a lot of retro action properties of the time, City Hunter, Space Adventure Cobra, Dirty Pair and Lupin III in terms of style, color and attitude. It just lacks staying power and being a one off OVA may be part of the issue. The concept of guerilla journalists who are more like crime fighters is a fun concept and the sci-fi high technology is a nice touch. Nothing like the element of fantasy of what we thought the future might be like from the perspective of the 1980s. And speaking of hi-tech, check out those computer graphics interspersed with the cel drawn animation. For the time that was high end stuff, but it is kind of laughable now.

Scoopers3Can I return back to Lupin III? It seems that Scoopers and Lupin III have something in common; are kind of related… perhaps siblings? When watching the credits one name jumped out at me and made me go, oh wow! Does the name, or I should say pen name of Monkey Punch ring a bell for any of you? He is the original creator of everyone’s jacket wearing thief, Lupin III and he also is responsible for Scoopers as well. Nice to see some of his other work. The character designs and some of the behaviors favor a Lupin style with Beat being similar to Lupin and Yoko being an alternate to Fujiko. Wait!… Monkey Punch, why not have a crossover of Lupin with Scoopers?

Scoopers4Scoopers is a lot of fun and finding off the wall, weird, bizarre, or out of this world older anime is the joy of combing through the lost archives of what Japan released way back yonder. This is what being a classic anime fan is all about because just when you think you have seen everything, something else shows up and say, “Um, you missed one!” I  am glad Scoopers founds it’s way into my viewing experience, although the ending… yeah we need to talk about that… kind of a let down and makes you want, or hope there is a second installment in some form. And yet in the end, we have to make due with what see, which is an aircraft flying off into the distance carrying an escaped Mr. X. What’s his final fate, will he get to some sort of trial? Will justice prevail? And will the story and photos from Yoko and Beat make the top headline? Your guess is as good as mine.

I want to give a special thanks to Kingmenu Subs for their work on Scoopers. Thank you and keep up the good work!

2020: What’s coming up?

I am not one to make any promises, or specific goals, but I do have a general idea of things that will be happening here at CAM for 2020. It will mostly be business as usual, why fix what is working, but I have ideas of the general direction of where I will be heading this coming calendar year.

First, I had a request for Legendary Armor: Samurai Troopers/Ronin Warriors, so that will be coming up soon. I never finished Samurai Troopers and even though I was aware of Ronin Warriors, I never watched it… until now. Fun show! Next, I want to include more titles from the greater collective of The World Masterpiece Theater. I have a couple entries already on this site (Anne of Green Gables and Little Princess Sara), but I also have access to another handful. I have enjoyed these shows and consider them to be a lost treasure in the world of anime. A couple even include the talents of one or both of these very popular gentlemen, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata…

Speaking of Studio Ghibli, the only films I have listed here on site are Grave of Fireflies and even though it’s not technically Ghibli, it still counts, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. When I get to #200 expect to see one of the three other 80s Ghibli titles be  highlighted that day. Also, a little out of left field, but I can make it work, I am going to include two (or maybe more if it works out) live action films that are key influencers, or even adaptations of classic anime titles. Spoilers, one will be Streets of Fire and the second Lady Oscar, a live action adaptation of Rose of Versailles.

Beyond that it will be my usual randomness. In total I want to reach the 500 mark in regards to anime entries here at CAM. That will take a few more years though, but 2020 will add another good selection to the listing… reaching 250 by the end of the year is a possibility.

Stay safe everyone.

– Josh

Thank you all, have a great holiday (2019)

To all of you who read my work whether following me long term or starting out this year, I wish to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for the support. I started CAM three years ago having never created a blog before and wanting so dearly to talk mostly about 80s anime… I never thought it would be were it is today back then. Whether you find my posts on Google, add me on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, or are a part of my WordPress family, you have brought me joy thee last few years in knowing I am not alone in being an old fashioned otaku of sorts.

As a final greeting for the year I have two questions for you all…

Question 1: What is your favorite Christmas themed episode, or movie that fits under the anime umbrella? I am interested to see if there are any I have not seen, or forgotten, or if you and I have similar tastes 😉

Question 2: Any requests for next year? I have a few series in process at the moment and I have stuff marked out on my shelf and my hard drive, but I wouldn’t mind a helping hand from you all to help me narrow down future entries. Also, I am always on the look out for any new releases both physical and fansub. My only rules are simple: has to be anime or animated in Japan and focused mostly on the 1980s, but you know I also have a groovy interest for the 1960s and 1970s too. 

Have a great New Year, Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Yule, or whatever you celebrate! See you again in 2020.

Josh

P.S. I want to give a final quick thank you to companies like Discotek, Rightstuf/Nozomi, Funimation, Sentai/Maiden Japan and all you fansubbers for keeping these old classics alive and available. Never in my wildest imagination as a kid would I have thought I could have watched so many titles of anime I only heard rumors on or read about in various sources throughout the years.

Tag! I’m It: My ‘Geeky’ Past

I have been tagged and asked to talk about my geeky past. I prefer the word niche over geek, probably because geek was slightly derogatory term in the past, but whatever… nine things about me. Keep in mind I was born in 1979, so my childhood was the mid to late 80s… late Gen X.

1. What was the first toy that you wanted so bad that you thought that you would die without it?

I was really obsessed with having Voltron when I was very young, but the most important toy was LEGO hand downs. I could build anything I dreamed of, within limitations of the bricks at the time, and I still have a passion for the studded plastic bricks. The original NES was an amazing device at the time too (and even still, minding the fact you have to tinker with it)

2. What was the first time that you realized you were doing something geeky?

I guess when I realized what I love to do, or have interest in did not conform to the standard mainstream?

3. What was the first geeky thing you collected?

Perhaps the Robotech comic books released by Comico. I also collected baseball cards as they were cheap back then. The Robotech comic collection finally reached completion later in life and the baseball cards are mostly gone… shows where I landed on my tastes in general in life?

4. What was the first anime you watched that you knew was anime?

I kind of knew that Robotech featured animation from Japan, perhaps Voltron as well, but maybe it was Akira, Record of Lodoss War or Venus Wars as these were titles my friends had. Even with awkward dubs or adaptations, all the stuff that originated in Japan always had

5. What was the first hobby that you had to explain to your parents?

I have to explain everything to my parents to a certain degree. LOL! The good thing about anime is I got my mom into it via Miyazaki/Ghibli and Osamu Tezuka titles. She loves animation in general so it was an easy fit.

6. How many geeky hobbies do you have, and when did you start them?

Anime, animation and cartoons: since 1984, Video Games: since 1988, Astrology: whole life, yet it has peaked and valleyed over the years, LEGO: as long as I can remember, Gender Bending: since maybe age five to six

7. Why do you find joy in your geeky hobbies?

They are like great friends, or an extension of myself, a way of individual expression

8. When was the first time you realized that you wanted to write about your hobbies?

I guess I always wanted to talk about what I enjoyed, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I launched CAM.

9. If there is one blogger you wish you could have had as a childhood friend, who would it be?

Tough call… I would have loved all of you to hang out with me as a kid, we could have been power in numbers against all the bullies and had fun times at my house watching cartoons and having a snack.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

Call it a theme or not, but often times in anime you have a storyline around a protagonist and their fellow sibling. In the case for this outing, a brother. The relationship becomes an intertwined focus into the overarching plot, a microcosm acting in the greater macrocosm. Fullmetal Alchemist’s Edward and Alphonse are a prototypical example that is well known in the circles of fandom. … or am I out of step because I watch older material? Truth be told I finally saw FMA a good decade after it’s initial release, but that’s besides the point. … Sometimes he may be your friend, your rival, or your karmic destiny. He may be righteous or vile, charming or conniving, more respected or revered… but in the end, he is one’s brother and often times love is what bond’s you together, or like the old Joy Division song once said, Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Here are ten examples of brotherhood from the world of classic anime.


Astro Boy… Astro and Atlas

brother01


Fist of the North Star… Kenshiro and Raoh (and don’t forget Toki!)

brother02


Godmars… Takeru Myojin (Mars) and Marg

GM_3


GoLion… Takashi and Ryou Shirogane

brother07


Grave of the Fireflies… Seita and Setsuko

brother06


Mobile Suit Gundam… Sayla Mass and Char Aznable

brother03


Saint Seiya… Shun and Ikki

SS03


Space Battleship Yamato… Susumu and Mamoru Kodai

brother04


Touch… Tatsuya and Kazuya Uesugi

brother05


The Wild Swans… Elisa and her six brothers

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