#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)

#216 : Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light

Technology has fallen… society has collapsed. Retrograding to a more medieval type of life, the people of the planet of Prysmos adjust to a more ‘primitive’ existence. Cars and high rise skyscrapers have ‘evolved’ into horse and buggy and fortified castles and the once beloved technologies that many of us in our modern world are dependent on has been superseded by another form of wonder, the wonder of magic. As the intro states, “Those who control the magic, control destiny. They are the Visionaries.” A short run toy show that was and still is one of my favorite Saturday morning pastimes. Behold Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

Vis_01Sunbow, the once fabled production studio has created many propaganda toy shows that at their hearts were to promote mainly the products of Hasbro. Yet somehow with Sunbow, the shows are in my opinion more superior than the toys. They take on a life of their own as a whole world is created around each toy line and supersedes the predominantly plastic creations with an organic mythology. Am I interested in collecting vintage Hasbro lines? No, I prefer to watch The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Jem and the Holograms and the little brother from 1987, Visionaries. An action figure line that also included holographic elements… magical light!

Vis_02Truth be told I did have two of the holographic chest plated figures as a child, Leoric and Arzon. Those two have since left my existence, but the show where both of these gentlemen originated is still a part of my viewing rotation. The plot is a simple one of two factions, the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords, who either uphold justice, or raise trouble on the planet Prismos. Yet there is also a third wheel as well, a neutral maverick, the wizard Merklin, who gave each Knight and Lord their specific magic. He is almost like a dungeon master from the veins of Dungeons and Dragons who sets the mood and pace periodically and is perhaps the most valuable character to the whole plot.

Vis_03What makes Visionaries so great is that for only a 13 episode run you get some of the most bang for your buck in terms of an 80s cartoon. Every episode has it’s merit! Why is this so? Mythology and interesting characters, simple. The world of Visionaries is much like more Earth based sci-fi like Vampire Hunter D, or Fist of the North Star. Mix this with a strong medieval themes and you get something a little different from the era. Almost like Aura Battler Dunbine without the robot mecha… though Visionaries does have a couple vehicles that can qualify as a type of mecha. … or maybe if one mixed LEGO’s Classic Space and Castle themes together?… Each character has their own personality archetype which adds to the plot line and is reminiscent of the first initial seasons of say The Transformers, or G.I. Joe when everything was small and simple.

Vis_04Then there is the presentation which is very polished. Visually we have to thank a Japanese studio for the grunt work of creating the ocular quality that is present in Visionaries. Take a guess which studio got the job? It’s a personal favorite of mine… TMS, Tokyo Movie Shinsha. Yet again we have another cartoon which got to use the talents of this studio and trust me it will not be the last time we hear from them again. TMS after all was contracted from time to time well into the 1990s. Could Sunbow have used TMS for The Transformers, or G.I. Joe, or Jem instead of relying on Toei and AKOM? Maybe, but no need to argue over what has passed.

When it comes to toy shows, there are plenty that filled the landscape of 1980s popular culture. Many new heroes and villains often came out of nowhere and sparked the imagination of a particular generation. Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light was among this crowd and is sadly in the more cult status position due to the limited run. This was a solid action adventure that still showcases the previously mentioned great stories and visual treatments. Yet there was also voice acting too as actors made these characters come to life in many ways. Can Visionaries be one of the best Saturday Morning Cartoons of all time? I vote YES!

#215e : The Transformers (Season 4)

Three episodes! Just three? How can this be considered a season? …that sounds more like a miniseries to me. And alas, The Transformers here in the west would receive a proper finale and in a hurry as well with a trilogy of episodes. Better this than nothing at all, but seriously who cheapened out on the potential here? Then again here is another perspective, maybe The Transformers here in the west were running out of gas? Perhaps ready to retire? In any case let’s properly finish this classic show!

TF_S4_11987, the fall… oh I remember it very well. New episodes of The Transformers were ready for viewing except this batch would be the very last. For real?! Coming in at a total of 98 by the end of this fourth season, The Transformers was a long ride I enjoyed viewing during the prime years of my childhood. This final trilogy would be known as The Rebirth and how does it clean up all the loose ends, while leaving the ending a little open ended. Fun and action packed, being another new season we get another grouping of more characters to watch… I am beginning to lose count here. We get a double spy, twins, the Throttlebots, the Targetmasters, the Headmasters and even one who can transform into six different modes. SIX! Kinda makes me miss the good old days of robot becoming a car, or an airplane. Still, these new types of characters are very creative and innovative.

TF_S4_2Don’t expect too much plot here besides saving Cybertron and restoring the plasma energy chamber. Remember this is only three episodes. The first release of DVDs here in North America from Rhino had an interview with the writer of The Rebirth, David Wise, who gave his take on the process of making this last season work. Originally this was slated as five episodes, then cut to three. If you can find this interview it is a great watch to see the nuts and bolts behind making a show like this. What to expect then is a run and gun approach by bringing in a character, or several, to cameo for maybe a couple seconds then moving on to the next scene, etc. etc. It is very watchable and entertaining, but wow talk about a rush to promote the entire 1987 toy line. At least we get a true and proper ending for The Transformers, a true “That’s all folks!” for us fans. Very few cartoons ever get this type of treatment. The Transformers not only got to walk away at the top of its game, but it also did it in a polished way… that was also rushed.

TF_S4_3And now for something completely different, Japan would release their own version of the season depicting the 1987 toyline. An alternative version of The Rebirth and yet not quite. The Headmasters would have a full 35 episodes telling a completely different take on the mythology which begs the questions, which one is canon? Take your pick… I say both… alternate universes as a theory. I slightly prefer The Headmasters in terms of the larger plot line and direction it took, but The Rebirth is still entertaining. Japan, Toei and Takara would pick up the torch abandoned by Sunbow, AKOM and Hasbro to continue the G1 animation outings for a few more runs showing that The Transformers were far from dead at the end of 1987. Then again, either way you look at it, the beginnings from way back in 1984 were completed in both series to a certain degree. Time to ride out into the sunset. ~ FIN

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