Wednesday, June 22, 2016

MISC. MANGA, *Blacksad

This French comic series is an American crime noir, but done entirely with anthropomorphic animals! Printed out in full-sized album books by Asterisk publisher Darguad, this was written by Juan Díaz Canales and superbly drawn by former Disney animator Juanjo Guarnido. There have been 5 albums done in Europe, but released so far as 3 in America through Dark Horse Comics, the first 3 of which were collected into a single volume.

Blacksad ia a black humanoid cat living in an anthro version of our world where he's a former WWII vet now acting as a jack-of-all-trades private eye. The first case we run into has Blacksad investigating the killing of a famous actress he used to date. Next, he teams up with his on-again/off-again partner Weekly, a weasel reporter, to deal with a racial violence in a case with white supremacists, namely animals that are completely white furred/feathered/scaled. The last part of the first volume has Blacksad taking on the task of playing bodyguard to a turtle on a lucky streak in Vegas, which evolves in a Cold War plot with a corrupt senator. The second volume, A Silent Hell, sees Blacksad and Weekly in New Orleans during Mardi Gras to hunt for a missing blues musician whose wife is about to give birth to their child, but his benefactor wants him found mostly to cover up a past medical debacle. The third book titled Amarillo features Blacksad still touring America after New Orleans, and is first charged with taking a travelers convertible back home, but becomes engrossed with a roaming poet whose actions have lead to a series of violent acts after teaming up with the poet's perky publisher.

This series is still going on in France, with future publications said to come in English from Dark Horse. Each story brilliantly balances the worlds of a gritty detective tale with a look at American society during the 1950s, plus the occasional delve into surrealism and how dreams can wash over into reality. You can read any of the volumes separately on their own, or get all of the visual awesomeness as the intrigue continues.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

MISC. MANGA, *Mazinger

This particular color one-shot trade paperback is unique among other U.S. releases of manga as it is the first one made specifically for American readers by the original creator, Go Nagai. Mazinger Z is pretty much the template of all "super robot" Japanese titles from the early 70s, but this Mazinger graphic novel is a gritty remake of the genre, which becomes a whole different tale halfway through.

Set in the early 23rd Century, mankind is at war with each other, but this time with giant mechas. One of their ace robot pilots is Major Kabuto that operates the mighty Mazinger(which here looks like the robot that would eventually be used in Mazinkaiser). During a huge battle, a freak wormhole opens up and Kabuto along with Mazinger are sent to another world where giant lizard men called the Zard Empire are attacking the topless blonde Princess Krishna, who is of equal height to them. Kabuto fights off the rampaging reptiles, and Krishna offers to marry this supposed mysterious knight if she helps her kingdom, but Kuboto reveals that he's really shorter compared to her, and leads her army against the Zard. Just after he unleashes Mazinger's full power against the Zard wiping most of them out, Kabuto somehow sent back to Earth and finds a month has passed here as he reengages his own enemy.

Even though this was billed by the American publishers of First Comics as being a "all ages" title, there is some gratuitous nudity and action in it. It was printed as an album-sized comic specifically in English in 1988, so its probably not to hard to spot in the magazine section of a used book store. A lot of the elements Go Nagai made for this were later used in his Mazin Saga manga series that also became an early 90s video game. The comic has some spectacular visuals, and any fan of classic giant robots will totally dig it!

Monday, June 13, 2016


MISC. MANGA, *Jem And The Holograms

With most of the Hasbro toy lines from the 80s making a comeback in one way or another, it was long beyond the time for their "other" girls product, Jem! There was a frustratingly unappealing live-action movie that even old school fans disliked, but prior to that IDW released a very open-minded comic geared towards original fans, plus modern day comic readers, especially otaku.

Jerrica Benton is a shy young woman hoping to for her band with her sisters(two of which are adopted)to make it big. They discover that their father secretly invented an AI program named Synergy that can create realistic holograms, which Jerrica uses to get over her stage fright by creating the secret identity of "Jem"(who is oddly supposed to be nearly an entire foot taller than Jerrica!), and calling their band The Holograms. They try entering a battle of the bands to get a record contract, which has them crosses paths with their soon to be rivals, The Misfits. Things get a little steamy when Jerrica's sister Kimber starts dating the Misfits' Stormer, plus a lot having to keep Synergy's existence a secret. This becomes even more hectic for Jerrica as she carries on a relationship with Rio, a rock magazine reporter, who in this version of the story isn't all that in love with her Jem persona. The Misfits' lead singer Pizazz has an auto accident, leaving her voice damaged, so her band needs to get a replacement singer for their joint tour with The Holograms, namely their friend Clash's transgender cousin, Blaze. But Synergy gets a glitch around this time, which forms a split personality called Silica that separates herself from Synergy, and uses her hypnotic powers similar to Sharon Apple in Macross Plus. It's up to a team effort of both The Holograms and Misfits to save the world.

This comic is shaping out to be really eclectic with its character designs. Aside from being one of the most LGBT-friendly American comics of all time, there's also some serious creativity given to body-types, ranging from your non-standard heights and weights for high profile females. Still no sign of the 5th Hologram, Maya, but so far the comic is keeping the spirit of the original TV series, the upshot with The Misfits being a bunch of psychotic saboteurs who tried to actually kill The Holograms in every other episode! Plus, Pizazz has the best cat and pajamas!



Friday Night!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku

One of the first OVAs to be released in the early 90s that made an international impact among soon-to-be converted otaku, Nuku Nuku was an original 6-episode OVA created by 3x3 Eyes writer Yuzo Takada. This later evolved into a manga spinoff, plus a TV remake, and an OVA remake. It might seem like an ecchi comedy, but is actually a grand-scale cybernetic sitcom in the spirit of Project A-ko.

Set in the undetermined future, brilliant scientist Kyusaku makes off with his son Ryunosuke after he learns that his wife Akiko was going to use the android he created to as a weapon for her company, Mishima Heavy Industries. Kyasaku takes the brain of Ryunosuke's nearly deceased cat and transfers it into the android body, which he claims to be his "daughter" named Nuku Nuku. This new cat-brained sister of Ryunosuke, as well as his bodyguard from being taken by Akiko's henchgirls, Arisa and Kyouko. Akiko uses numerous attempts to reclaim Ryunosuke, including fighter jets and an octopus mecha, but Nuku Nuku's robotic strength and childlike determination usually prevail, although at causing massive property damage. Ultimately, Kyusaku and Akiko remain separated while Nuku Nuku finds herself getting into more shenanigans, normally caused by screw ups from Akiko's company, like runaway androids and malfunctioning laser satellites.

Nuku Nuku remains one of the more memorable OVAs of its time, and turned a lot of people into being anime fans because of its over the top antics. It's like a cyberpunk action story, but like a primetime family comedy. There is an impressive dub done by ADV Films, but also one originally produced of the first half of the series in Britain, even though there was some material cut from it to seem more like an "all-ages" title. The TV remake was done more as a superhero spoof filled with an extra load of cliche characters specifically created to fill out the cast, even though the show only lasted 12 episodes with 2 holiday specials. The other OVA series was titled Nuku Nuku Dash, with an older Ryunosuke trying to court a more serious-minded Nuku Nuku, making it more of a romantic sci-fi comedy. The manga was also released in America acting as a series of tie-in stories to the original OVA. Even though there hasn't been a license rescue of this since before ADV Films changed its company's structure, it's still a great piece of anime nostalgia. The collected DVD has been advertised on places like Netflix as a single movie, but it's not a compilation but still 6 separate episodes.

They turned the Tardis into a pickup...

Friday, June 3, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, *The Peanuts Movie

Being it 35 years since their last animated movie, the Peanuts gang is back in their first film featuring the title of their comic strip. Blue Sky Studios took a break from doing Ice Age sequels to make this 3-D CGI feature-length production and latest animation featuring Chuck and the gang outside of insurance commercials. This acted as a retake of the stories, not acting as a continuation from any previous works.

Charlie Brown is a young balding boy who despite having a decent group of friends and an overly-imaginative beagle named Snoopy, he suffers from low self-esteem. The arrival of a new neighbor/schoolmate referred to as the Little Red-Haired Girl give Charlie Brown the determination to get her to notice him. This goes from trying to win the school talent show, and working with her on a book report. Most of his efforts go fall to either Charlie helping out his sister, or loosing his book report to a model airplane. Snoopy meanwhile tries to write his own story of himself as a WWI flying ace patrolling for the infamous Red Baron who kidnapped his imaginary love interest Fifi(voiced oddly enough by the movie's only celebrity voice actor, Kristen Chenoweth). Charlie Brown does eventually gain the attention of the Little Red-Haired Girl, but just as she's going away for summer camp.

The Peanuts Movie works as a perfect time capsule for the entire print run of the original comic strip, as its could take place during anytime in the last 50 years, not alluding to anything specifically recent or trendy, making it very innocent and open to all-ages, also one of the few G-Rated mainstream movies to come out in a while. The CGI works great and achieves a significant stop-motion look to it. It stands out as a timeless modern day classic for fans of a simple story or something for the whole family.