#217 : Bavi Stock

Time for Action! And now yet another OVA oddity from that little studio I love so much from way back when. Kaname Production had their name identified with several productions during the 1980s including: Birth, Windaria, The Humanoid, Leda: Fantastic Adventure of Yohko and Dream Dimension Hunter Fandora to name a few. Now it is time to check out the two part action packed adventure known as Bavi Stock. Released in 1985 along with the brilliant Yohko, I had no expectation in regards to Bavi Stock, except a few screenshots to set a general idea of the setting. Overall I liked it, but found it a little confusing.

Bavi_1This first episode left me scratching my head. What did I just watch? We first see a member of the GPP (Kate), this is some kind of galactic police force, rescue a mute girl (Mooma) who has been captured by a renegade esper, Lady Lus Mila and her android companion, Eyesman. Then after getting birthday wishes Kate is asked to bust a guy out of prison who happened to be charged with murder. This fellow is named Bavi Stock (hence the title) and along with him we also add his boxing trainer, Sammy, who has plans to enter a hovercraft style race, even though he also is serving a life sentence (did he have his own method to getting out?). Upon returning to GPP headquarters we find it has been blown up, sadness. And then rejoicing again as Sammy prepares to enter the race while celebrating Kate’s birthday. Talk about a dichotomy. Then we meet up with Lady Lus Mila and Eyesman again… are they planning to enter this race as well?

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100Holy cow, talk about all over the place, I hope this second episode irons out some of these character’s pasts, or reason for being in this show? But first, the hovercraft race, which reminds me of the Star Wars pod race. Now onto episode two where Bavi, Kate, Sammy and Mooma are living together as a surrogate family. This one begins more comically and the visuals look a tad downgraded, or perhaps different from the the first episode. Thankfully some back story starts to emerge for Bavi and Mooma throughout this second go around. FINALLY! Add to that a treasure hunt on another planet that, as we add back in a little Star Wars, reminds me of meeting the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi. Now we have cuddly teddy bears to add as well that can communicate with us! This is one crazy OVA overall, but when looked at from another point of view, it was kind of fun. This is a B-Grade release for sure… maybe C, D… I leave that up to you.

Bavi_3This is by no means exactly like Kaname’s 1986 OVA release, The Humanoid, but if I could pair this with another Kaname release I would go with this combination. Both have over the top plots too big for their respective releases, not enough information to really understand the full picture, occasional comedic banter and characters that you enjoy and come to love. ‘Bad’ anime literally, but entertaining enough to enjoy despite the flaws. I actually welcome titles like this in my search through the OVA bins of lost titles as these have as much value to me as the bigger masterpieces. I had odd tastes I guess? Plus it’s a Kaname anime and no matter what I stick up for their catalog of work. And if I havd to choose between Bavi Stock and The Humanoid, I would go with the later. Why? COFFEE!

A big thank you to my friends at Kingmenu Subs for helping with this release, it was help on my journey here! (I never thought I would ever see this title subtitled… never say never)

#186 : Super Grand Prix

For the time being I have to settle for a substitute. Arrow Emblem: Hawk of the Grand Prix was a 1977 TV series produced by Toei about auto racing and I have interest in seeing this show. One, because it’s an old show… wow didn’t see that one coming as I seem to watch anything made before the millennium. Two, I like auto racing as a subject matter as I used to be a big fan of it. And finally three, it was directed by Rintaro. I like his work. In fact this was his gig before doing the Captain Harlock tv series the next year. Yet sadly nothing exists in English in terms of a subtitled entry as far as I know. This leaves me with a condensed adaptation called Super Grand Prix. Let’s give it a try?

SGP_1Thanks to a bargain bin dvd I can watch Super Grand Prix, though I am sure I have seen it online in places as well. It’s a typical shonen type of story about a young man wanting to become a professional race car driver and the ups and downs through that journey. The renamed protagonist Sean Corrigan is our hero who seems to have the worst luck in getting ahead. Soon enters a masked man… no not Char Aznable, or any other Gundam character that followed that archetype. This mystery man often talks of the great champion Niki Lauda, who by the way was a real F1 champion, three times in fact, who suffered severe burns from a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix that almost cost his life. Through determination he would return though badly scarred. Could this masked man be Mr. Lauda in disguise?

SGP_2Sean gets hooked up with the right people via this masked man after an initial set back and always through out the story seems to have divine intervention on his side. Of course he still continues to make mistakes, which means in this universe it’s better to mess up than be perfect as long as you have the masked man behind your back. Talk about a guardian angel! Slightly reminiscent of Speed Racer to a certain extent in terms of setting, the look of the show is a typical 1970s/early 80s Toei stock presentation, particularly the characters. Fans of particularly mecha shows during that time will know what I mean.

SGP_3Entertaining in it’s own way with the localized dub and restructuring, I found Sean’s journey in Super Grand Prix very watchable unlike another similar re-edit, Magnos the Robot. It’s a simple cartoon with basic archetypes that does not get pompous like later anime productions that take themselves over seriously; these too have their place as well, but sometimes a simple story is necessary to weed out the cobwebs of expectations. The question of how much of this condensed version was cut from the original forty four  episode is in question until I see the original version, but I know for sure that the journey has only begun in terms of our heroes journey to racing stardom.

#143 : Pole Position

PP84_1“Fun and excitement are abundant today as the Pole Position team get their own entry at The Classic Anime Museum.” … now that’s how to start an episode. 😉 It feels like Saturday morning though it may only be Tuesday Afternoon… I’m looking at myself, reflections of my mind… nice Moody Blues tie in, hehe. Pole Position was for me a staple reason to get up early, grab a bowl of Cheerios, or Rice Chex and cuddle up with my favorite toys for a couple years. Based on the classic arcade game by Namco, Pole Position was and still is one of my favorite shows from my formative years. Time to buckle up again for another ride.

PP84_2Often when it comes to video game adaptations into animation you have one of two choices: be a literal copycat or completely jump the shark and turn the show into something completely unique. Pole Position easily took the later option. Seriously, how does one turn an arcade quarter muncher driving laps around Fuji Speedway? An episode can turn into a quick game over if you hit any of the objects on the track, or the other cars… instant EXPLOSION! We need to do some heavy modification here work, à la Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors as an example. DiC created both of these shows and knew how to take creative liberties to the extreme to create a cartoon. And in either case, it works… splendidly!

PP84_3Now… let’s start off this alternate version with a brother and sister stunt team who are accompanied by their even younger sister and their pet. Is it a crossbreed between a monkey and a cat, or something else altogether? Who cares, it’s Kuma and I want one and I like him. Or, it is her? Maybe their non-binary? Very forward thinking! Now for the secret… Dan and Tess Darrett are more than just your everyday stunt drivers. Like their parent were, they are secrets agents for the organization Pole Position and solve crime and mysteries. Only their boss, their uncle, knows. And instead of the fancy open wheeled Formula One racer, let’s give Tess a red vintage Ford Mustang and Dan some blue futuristic prototype each with a computer A.I. that communicates with them, Wheels and Roadie. Brilliant, brilliant, I think we have a winning entry here.

PP84_4Pole Position is a stew where we take the name of a popular arcade racer, mix in elements of Scooby Doo, Knight Rider and James Bond and end up with a 1980s version of Speed Racer. And since the show was only 13 episodes, it doesn’t grow stale. It’s almost perfect for what Saturday morning cartoons used to be. Had it been a longer run for syndication, 65 episodes, then Pole Position may end up running out of steam? Maybe? Can’t say, because like everything, Pole Position is what it is and I love it for what it is. Action and adventure, cars, futuristic technology for the mid 1980s and being animated in Japan… I call that a killer combination. Check the credits at the end and mashed between the American and French staff you discover all the animators were Japanese. Even famed mechanical designer Shinji Aramaki contributed work. Oh yeah almost forgot… this is a DiC show… you have to have a classic Shuky Levi soundtrack and theme song. Yeah… now were ready to race! … um, who has the keys?

Honestly, a Saturday morning can be any, or every new morning of your life. Perhaps even a Saturday morning can occur during the afternoon or evening? Adjust accordingly to your local timezone. We all have a reason to get up every morning to see a new day… at least I hope so. For a time there was fun entertainment before the crack of dawn, but nowadays you may hit the snooze button twice before realizing it is past noon. In the end it does not matter when you get up, or what you define as the morning as you can always watch a Saturday morning favorite, like Pole Position, either via physical media or somewhere online at anytime. How the world has changed; as a kid I would have never saw that coming.