Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Terrifying Fascist Dictator Echinoderm

Normally, I'd relegate this to my other blog, seeing as how it would fit the expanded mission statement of that one ("tokusatsu"), but this was just too amusing to put anywhere but here.

Bwa ha ha.

(For other comical tokusatsu depictions of Nazis, see here and here.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Winner Of The Title "Most Heroic"

He-Man, easily.

Sure, it's kind of a silly, arbitrary field to pick out a winner for. But let's take a look at what He-Man has occasionally been known to do.

In the episode "The Sleepers Awaken," Prince Adam suddenly encounters a strange woman, who waves her hand in his face, paralyzing him, and proclaims that he's her slave now. When a strange man attacks her and snatches her pet, he asks to be freed, and when she frees him, he runs off-while she's powerful, she apparently can't catch him. Once he's out of sight, though, he becomes He-Man, and rescues both her and her pet. Not long after, they are attacked (inside an ancient, decrepit castle) by a monster called a dragon snake, which he ties up. When the strange man appears again and destroys a giant vine growth that is supporting the castle, He-Man returns to the castle to save the pet again, then heads even further back into the collapsing building in order to rescue the darned dragon snake. This is run of the mill for He-Man.

Superman seems edgy by comparison.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

X-Men Cartoon

They say it's out on DVD now. (shrug)

I was going through the rounds, and found some very critical commentary on it.

Well, I never said the old X-Men cartoon was as good as Batman: TAS. And if I ever implied it, it was unintentional.

The old X-Men cartoon was enjoyable for what it was-a rather cheap cartoon about the X-Men. Any affection I have for the X-Men pretty much comes from there, as I've read like three X-Men comics (and one of those was based on an episode of the cartoon).

The reason I've indicated I enjoy the series is because I did. Even the worst cartoons often have something very enjoyable about them, and many such series are better than their critics give them credit for.

What I liked about the X-Men cartoon and its contemporaries, good or not, was that they tended to be reasonably long-running series with reasonably strong internal continuity and some degree of focus on action. That era made such series in pretty large numbers, and all of them are at least a little watchable. (Many of them, while hopelessly stupid, were still pretty enough to enjoy them. There were plenty of good series, like Exo-Squad, Reboot, and Beast Wars, though.) What further distinguished them was that their internal quality was consistent-it wasn't like watching the He-Man cartoon (or any '80s series), where one episode would be awesome and the one right next to it would be absolutely awful.

There are still series like that, but most of them live on cable now, and I don't get to watch many of them. (Any other series like that tends to have been imported, which is why I like anime. Nothing to do with the genre itself.)

Sigh. Stupid cable networks.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Super Robot Profiles: Machine Blaster

Boy, it's been a bit since I last did one of these, hasn't it? (Feels longer than it is, but still...)

Blocker Gundan 4 Machine Blaster is a series that I can't boast a huge amount of knowledge of, but I can tell you one thing for certain about it.

It took the venerable concepts of Mazinger Z (detachable head ship, super robot type weapons, etc.) and did them literally to death. (Well, perhaps I exaggerate.) It took an idea that wasn't too bad at all, and did it over and over again in so many ways that we end up with the idea practically becoming a parody of an idea.

And while these designs have a certain charm to them, they are U-G-L-Y.

Only a small community has much interest in Machine Blaster, and this is almost purely for posterity. Other series on at the same time (such as Combattler V, king of yo-yos, and Gaiking, Mr. giant-dragon-head-for-a-body) were much better.*

If Combattler V can kick your butt because you're goofy and lame, you're in trouble.

*Actual summary of Machine Blaster's "concept" from Wikipedia: "The number 4 comes from the team of 4 robots. The robots individually have their own weapon, but they can also be combined to form a fire ring which cuts through the enemies. It was not the most popular show since anime powerhouses Gaiking and Combattler V, which featured more creative combinations and designs, were ruling the airwaves."

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Excuse Me While I Talk About He-Man For A Bit...

In 2002, when the new "Masters of the Universe" cartoon came out, many fans of the older series were excited (myself included, despite the low probability of seeing very much of it for myself, as I didn't and don't have cable).

When my older brother (previously mentioned here), who did have cable at the time (as I understand it, the place he's living in right now is really hard to get service for), brought over a tape of a marathon showing of the first part of the series, I got to see more of it than I rather expected. Someday, I suppose, I'll see the rest, when I have real money and buy the whole darned series for myself.

It's a good series, all in all, as the more violent and slightly more grown up cartoons of the era it was on the tail end of often are; engaging if often a bit pointless. It's actually, I think, less pointless than a lot of those, partly thanks to its roots in a show so strongly dedicated to being wholesome it practically invented the cheesy moral segment spot. (Certainly, if you Google "moral segment" [with the quotes], the first thing you get is a reference to He-Man stuff.)

But ultimately, there's a glaring, gaping flaw in the series itself, or rather, a deficiency compared to its Filmation cousin.

The world of Eternia, as it exists in the 2002 series, is derivative, kinda boring, and excessively new.

The world of Eternia, as it exists in the Filmation series, is original, entertaining, and incredibly old.

I shall use, as an example, Castle Grayskull, the most important edifice in the universe (both literally and figuratively).

In the '02 series, Castle Grayskull has been there, seemingly, for a rather long time, for no particular reason. It's just a big, ugly old castle. It just so happens that it was chosen, about twenty years ago, to house the secrets of the universe and stuff.

In the Filmation series, Castle Grayskull is unspeakably old. Who built it? Nobody knows, it's too darned old. Why did they build it? We can't be sure, it's too darned old. It might have been built to house major secrets of the universe, that might have come later, or something else entirely. While the "too darned old" excuse for not knowing stuff about it is a bit of a copout, it's a legitimate reason, and we know that, if there's time travel, there shouldn't be an excuse for why it's not there in the past. It creates a sense of real history.

In the '02 series, Castle Grayskull is based partly on medieval, partly on ancient Egyptian architecture. This nonsense mishmash is topped off (or bottomed out) by some weird physics-defying stuff such as the ancient cavern full of crystals underneath the place.

In the Filmation series, Castle Grayskull barely can be said to have architecture at all. The darned thing looks like it used to be-or maybe still is-alive. The entrance is a frikkin' mouth, for crying out loud! Did the castle grow out of the ground? Did some giant, disturbingly manlike being die here? We don't know (it's too darned old), but the building never looks like they were copying great architecture-they were inventing it.

Moving away from Grayskull for a moment, Filmation was great at making weird psychedelic stuff to stick into their cartoons. Was it because they were all coming off of the decades-long highs of the '60s and '70s? Was it because they were prone to bad dreams? We don't know, they're too darned-wait.

As an example of that, some of the weirdest visuals I've ever seen can be viewed in the season one Filmation episode, "The Taking of Grayskull." It's like watching the flotsam of a digestive tract, while they ride past on a conveyor belt, and go through a cave full of membrane-snake monsters... You kinda had to be there.

Believe it or not, it was awesome.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blogging About Blogging...

...but not really in depth, I promise.

Feeling a bit on the reflective side, I suppose.

I find that, when all else fails, simply accurately reporting something one encounters (with minor humorous embellishments) is actually very fun and entertaining. On the other hand, there's always the risk that one will misidentify things. (For instance, I misidentified Superman pulling a pin out of a dude's face as using a knife [bullet point number 13, natch]. This is the first time I've retracted this statement, ironically.)

Tags/labels are easy to misuse. I'm pretty sure I'm not using them perfectly correctly; with 213 labels and 250-odd posts, that's rather disproportionate. (Of course, most of them are one-off tags only associated with one post at the moment; probably that's more the fault of my poor memory and short attention span than indiscrete blogging.)

Also, while my readership has clearly increased over time, it tends to be in bits and chunks. (I now have one follower! OMG!) This is clearly the fault of my total lack of focus; my mind travels to different subjects over time, and this blog is more for my benefit (keeping track of what I'm doing, and helping me share that with a few people I know) than it really is for anyone else.

Um, that's it, really.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Life and Death of Robot John

I was considering doing a full review of "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet," a long, dull, and totally insane old sci-fi movie, but there was one character in it who stuck out in my mind as being especially worthy of being given tribute. Since the movie is available everywhere on the Internet for free, I'd suggest looking it up for yourself if you're interested in more.

Robot John is a robot.

He was built by this guy, whom I would never want to wake me up, because he's one creepy, evil-sounding dude. (My sister remarked "Man, I thought he was totally going to go insane and kill the rest of the expedition or something!")

Anyway, here he's awakening Robot John in order to call upon the automaton's nigh-superhuman skills at operating a spacecraft.

Look at those eyes. They're wise, and dare I say nearly omniscient.

Anyway, despite the scientist being so bright that he can build a highly sophisticated robot such as the magnificent Robot John, it turns out that he was right to turn over piloting the craft to Robot John, as John narrowly saved them from flying right into a freaking mountain.


Then, when they get there, for some reason they take Robot John apart, and force the mighty one to wander around in most undignified fashion...

Stupid humans.

Give Robot John his head back, man!

Fortunately, this grave oversight does not cost them much, they just get their suits superficially ripped by a bunch of ravenous local reptile monsters.

Again, why did they take him apart?

Anyway, despite some difficulties caused by stupid humans, Robot John's strength and durability let him muscle his way past the reptile monsters... not that anyone could see what was happening.

And once he was across this obstacle (which appeared to be water, which is ironic for reasons I'll bring up), he helped the explorers cross... somehow.

These, for reference, are the mighty feet of Robot John. Bow down before them.

Bow, I say.

Anyway, there's something about Robot John that I doubt he would like to get around, so if you'd be so kind, this next part is between you, me, and Robot John, okay?

Robot John is afraid of water. (Ironically, I'm pretty sure he was wading through it when he was being chased by the lizard things.)

And this comes at the worst possible time, when his human deadweights are suffering from some kind of exotic Venusian fever.

Fortunately for them, he finds a cave, where there is no water. (Robot John always keeps his priorities straight.)

And there, he watches over them as they collapse and start dying from horrible infections.

Creepy scientist dude, by the way, starts chanting stuff like "Must... do... math in head... in order... to retain consciousness..."

It's obviously up to Robot John to save them, but he knows nothing of infections, so it's up to the Commander to coach him through it, from his air car that floats on water and-er, just roll with it, it's old and American-dubbed Russian.

Anyway, this stupid human has no faith in a robot that can pilot a spacecraft better than a human and fight off reptile monsters without perceptible effort, so he tells Robot John, "Listen to me and do exact as I say. Listen, Robot John. Listen up now." And he carries on like this for a bit until he's sure John's got the message.

First, Robot John must take the special packet from the explorer's first aid kit on his spacesuit. (Wait, what? Why didn't he do it himself when he started getting sick? Stupid human.)

With his hands that are barely smaller than the Jaws of Life, and not much more delicate.

Somehow, Robot John does it.

Robot John, you are clearly a king among robots.

Oops, he dropped it.

Fortunately, this was apparently all part of Robot John's ingenious plan to open these delicate containers, because he probably would have ground those tablets to dust if he'd had to get them open manually.

And he manages to get the helmet open, and the pill in his mouth...

And then, in what could have been a deal-breaker, he splashed water in his face...

And shut the helmet.

I take back what I said, Robot John. You are a saint.

Nobody would have blamed you if you'd just chucked those guys over the waterfalls and ditched 'em.

Anyway, so then Robot John shows off his vast strength by felling a tree, merely by tying string to it...

Keep in mind the size of those darned trees...

And spinning his torso around like a dervish.

Down come those trees.

Just to remind you of how big those trees are:

Ever faithful, ever useful, and ever patient, Robot John informs his deadweight companions that it should be safe to cross.

So what do they say in response? "Thanks, John, for all the hard work?" No, they say "Play some music, John, and we don't even care what."

Stupid humans. Nobody'd blame you if you shoved them right off that makeshift bridge, John.

Soon, the light changes to a sinister, slightly reddish color. Something bad is happening:

A volcanic eruption. And they all just stand around and watch.

Oh, those stupid humans will be the death of you yet, Robot John!

So what do they do? One suggests they try to use a grapple line to slide across, a nice, sensible suggestion. But the other says, no, John will have to carry us across.

Stupid humans.

Despite John's strength, they're slowing him down in this mucky lava, and he decides it's time to lighten the load...

Go, Robot John! It's about time!

What's going through Robot John's head at this point?

A good question.

It's probably, "Well, my head asplode."

Noooooo! Robot John!

Excuse me, I think I need a moment.

Will anyone (besides me) shed a tear for poor Robot John?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

And yes, that is the dude that John was trying to chuck into molten lava. What a stupid human.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thus Superman...

...was trapped in Shakoora's magical noose.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cheesy Sci-Fi Movie Review: Warning From Space

According to various sources, this movie is notable only for being the first Japanese science fiction film shot in color. (Wikipedia remarks that it may have inspired Starro from DC comics, but this is probably a teeny bit questionable.)

There's no way around it; this isn't a particularly good movie. Not to say that you can't be entertained by it...

It borrows heavily from The Day the Earth Stood Still (a reminder on my opinion of that film) and When Worlds Collide (sadly, I've never seen it). The plot: Peaceful aliens that look like bipedal cyclops starfish made of cloth (called Pairans, but I don't know where you would learn this from the film) come to warn Earth of "Planet R," a planet "from another galaxy" which is hurtling towards Earth and threatens to destroy it. Why do the aliens care? Because their planet is in the same orbit as Earth on the other side of the Sun, and it would suffer if something bad happened to Earth. (Roll with it, it's old and Japanese.)

Comparisons with the films that probably inspired it will generally talk about how weak it is by comparison. While I'll admit that it's no masterpiece, the benevolence of these aliens is actually much less questionable than that of the aliens from TDtESS: While those aliens pretty much just said "Disarm or die," these aliens said "We'll try kinda hard to help you."

I say "kinda hard," because the film's narrative is horribly disjointed and full of wacky plotholes. For instance, there's a scientist who knows a formula that could create a substance that would allow for the creation of a bomb "many times more powerful than the A- or H-bomb." (That is exactly how they put it, every single time.) The aliens know this formula, having developed it in their ancient past, but discarded it because they had no need for it. ("We do not recognize your trait called aggression." Paraphrased significantly.) The aliens, despite being able to recognize the formula on sight, don't actually know it. What. How. Sometimes why.

Anyway, the movie couldn't have held together if they hadn't done it that way, but it still creates a big problem: When the scientist gets kidnapped by the mob because the existence of the formula was accidentally publicized, he gets tied up for interrogation purposes, and then he gets left in an apartment building alone for a month, while the Earth heats up from the presence of Planet R (roll with it, it's old and Japanese) to the point where it's killing stupid animals. (A dog shown reacting to Planet R in the sky was later shown wandering through the street and collapsing; a cat shown sitting on a rooftop also reacting was never shown again, implying it knew better than to stay where it was hot. Score one for cats.) So the aliens rescue him after the building he's in starts inexplicably falling apart. It's then that we find out they could have found him at any time, because they put a tracking device ring on him. They get the formula from him, and then throw him back out into the street to find shelter. (Holy cheese, man, they aren't very concerned with his health, are they?)

Then, they launch a missile to blow up Planet R. And because it's old and Japanese, this doesn't cause mass destruction on Earth's surface.

One of the other interesting things about the film is that the most prominently featured alien, apparently a high-ranking individual, is female. (Or, for most of the film, a human woman.) This is probably the most entertaining part of the film, actually-the alien lady (who modelled herself after some kind of Japanese pop star to explain why they picked out an attractive actress) runs around doing super insane stuff like ten-feet-straight-up jumps, phasing through solid objects, and knowing advanced scientific formulas (forgive them if that sounds sexist, it's old and Japanese). And they have to do tests on her (or rather, on her hat and tennis racket) before they decide for sure there's something strange going on, and even then there's one guy who is all "Well, I don't know, maybe..."

I watched a few other cheesy science fiction movies of dubious origin recently, so a few more of these are coming down the line. This might have been longer if I wasn't kinda sick right now.

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cartoon Profiles: GIJoe Extreme

On a previous occasion, I mentioned GIJoe Extreme. (I mentioned it even more previously as part of my documenting Hasbro's ever-shifting efforts to make GIJoe popular again.) Time to do a full writeup.

(A lot of people would disagree with me, I'm sure, but I love the way they shout "Extreeeeeeeme!" It's just so hilarious.)

Something that was overlooked the last time I talked about this cartoon, by the way? Further increasing the parallels to '90s comics, it actually had the closest thing a cartoon could have to a photo cover: Live action segments at the beginning of the episode.

Something that you may notice as a long-time reader (ha!) is that one of the Extreme Joes is Sgt. Savage. Visually, the style of this cartoon is pretty similar to Savage's own, with just about everybody being rather huge and muscular. And I do mean everybody.

This includes the weaselly and sinister Government Man who manages them...

...and his pick for the team.

They've got nuthin' on Freight, though.

His diet clearly has 100% of the recommended daily dose of Extreme. (In this shot, he has just landed inside the enemy base after parachuting out of a plane, with no parachute. And he braked himself with his guns. Yes.)

Also, shadows.
I haven't even mentioned that the villain is basically a Nazi Darth Vader with a beret.

I saw a relatively small number of episodes of this show back in the day, and wasn't very impressed merely because it was in the same block (the POWER BLOCK!) as Beast Wars, and Beast Wars is kind of a lot better.

I mean, if nothing else, it did precisely what it was intended to do-revive Transformers as a brand. What can GIJoe Extreme claim it did?

Well, it certainly gathered one rabid fan, anyway.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


So something happened yesterday that gave me something to blog about. Great, except for the fact that it also made it impossible to blog.

Yesterday was not a good day for me. Not in terms of the living-through-it part, anyway.

So my parents (whom I live with) have both been sick. It seems to be the flu. Anyway, both of them were laid up and unable to do things such as put my kid brother on the bus-my sister filled in for them here. This made it a bit easier for me to get up early, actually, which was important-my sister and I both had dentist's appointments at 1:00.

That comes off without a hitch (my mouth was given an exceptionally clean bill of health, in case you're wondering), and we head for home, stopping briefly at a store to pick a few things up because the parents are sick. We're going through the frozen food section, and I notice the frozen pizzas, and knowing the parents won't be able to cook food for that evening, consider picking it up. I decide against it so we can go home quickly, for the sick parents mean we must be home in time to greet our kid brother when he gets home.

So fast forward a couple of hours. It's getting towards supper time, and Mom concludes that we should go pick up pizza since there's no chance of supper getting ready. Things are still going all right... until I get to the pizza place and, in a moment of distraction, lock my keys in the car.


So we have to call home (thanks, Pizza Hut employee, for lending us the cell phone) and call for a ride from one of our sick parents. And it happens to be Dad, who is rather grouchy over this (by the way, it was raining very hard the whole time), especially since he's sure we have a backup key (even though we don't).

He brings us home, we eat hurriedly, and Dad decides we need to call for assistance as soon as possible. (A lot of Sis's personal things were in her massive purse within the car.) We just missed my only opportunity to blog on time at this point. We call a towing service who "does lock-outs" and tell them to meet us at Pizza Hut.

We get there, and they show up in what was essentially a full-sized semi truck, with two guys. One guy steps out of the truck, takes his little tools and opens the car, and gives us a bill for $65.

Sixty. Five. Dollars.

To come and open a locked car, using a balloon and a stick.

If you want to get into a job that doesn't require a huge amount of schooling, go into auto repair and towing. You'll make a killing.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Back from my hiatus, at least sort of.

I'll just point out this animation rather than doing a complex blog.

I got YouTube working again, obviously.

Better content tomorrow, perhaps.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Brief Hiatus

I'm taking this week off from blogging here. Haven't been in the mood, and Flash Player still isn't working. Just an FYI, so you don't think I disappeared.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Shakoora Came Back...

...and attacked him with his magical powers-

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


So somebody pointed a link to here, and I felt a need to make a few remarks. Go peruse it if you please (it'd be best to open a new window/tab).

On picture 1 ("Twendy-One"): Wow, that is impressive. My little brother can't seem to hold a straw without squishing it.

On picture 4 ("Hybrid Assistive Limb"): Seriously, a wearable robot named HAL? Who made that marketing decision?

On picture 5 ("Wakamaru"): Why does the robot need an apron? It's not like it's got any other clothes to keep clean... (Of course, it's an "actor," so I suppose the apron's just a prop, but still...)

On picture 9 ("RoboLobster"): You will bow before the RoboLobster. That is all.

On picture 10 ("ATHLETE"): It's hilarious that they put so much effort into their acronyms... Seriously, NASA's gotta have the biggest acronym research department in the world.

On picture 11 ("Toyota Motor Corporation robot"): This robot put its lips together and whistled. Then it got stuck that way.

On picture 13 ("My Spoon"): They seriously named a robot "My Spoon?" Seriously?

On picture 14 ("Toyota Motor Corporation partner robots"): A robotic brass section? That's only slightly less impressive than Elektro, the smoking robot.

On picture 15 ("T-34"): They're preparing for the takeover, you know, it's not like we need to help them along...

On picture 16 ("Farmer Wu's rickshaw robot"): It is a robot that pulls a rickshaw. You need know no more.

On picture 19 ("Big Dog"): A robot named Big Dog. Yeah.

On picture 20 ("Rollin' Justin"): Somehow I am put in mind of a mad scientist.

On picture 22 ("Mr. Incredible"): Somebody's gonna get sued...

On picture 23 ("Tyrannosaurus Rex"): Hey, hello again!

On picture 24 ("bino3"): Bino3... is watching you.

On picture 25 ("demo warehouse"): Aw, man, robot shelves? How do you find anything?

On picture 26 ("synthetic face"): The Whisperer in Darkness, perhaps?

On picture 27 ("Navy Talon 3B robot"): The instructions on that mine are very helpful. ("FRONT TOWARD ENEMY")

On picture 28 ("Paro"): Aaaaah! Baby seal robots! The end is at hand!

On picture 29 ("auto plant"): Rather sophisticated, considering the state of government in Iran.

On picture 30 ("CEO of Intel, etc."): Ah-nold versus robot arm. Irony.

Well, that's all I've got for now.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools...

...stinks. And that's all I have to say to you today, Internet.

-Signing off.