Okay, I totally didn't blog about watching the entire run of Cowboy Bebop this summer, including the movie. It was totally freakin' awesome. That said, there were a couple of times while watching Bebop where I was like, "is that...? Could that be a reference to...?" After watching Samurai Champloo I sussed that Watanabe is referencing many other classics of Japanese media culture. I caught only a few of them, however, being the dreadfully clueless gaijin that I am. However, there was an episode around halfway through the 26-ep run -- dang it, and I wish I had a screenshot of it to put up -- where Spike and Faye are in space gear ready fly out of the Bebop in their ships, and they TOTALLY look like Ken and Jun from Gatchaman! You heard it here first, folks! I googled this reference and I am totally the ONLY ONE who caught it! Nyeh! I am so going to get a screenshot and post about it at a later date.
Most definitely, Gatchaman totally rocks and rolls over Battle of the Planets, the watered-down, weird U.S. transposition of this totally cool anime from the early 70's. You know, leave it to the Yankees to screw up a totally good imported cartoon. I am reminded, of course, of the New Line Warriors of the Wind fiasco, where Roger Corman bought the U.S. distribution rights to Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and edited it so badly that it made absolutely no sense. It would be another 10 years before Miyazaki would trust us with another of his movies. I grew up watching Battle of the Planets and so watching the original source anime, Gatchaman, is like watching a whole different story. I recognize the characters and the music, but the stories are completely different. For one thing, the stories in Battle of the Planets all take place in space, while Gatchaman's stories seem to occur more often under water.
The nice thing about finding all the original Gatchaman episodes on DVD is that I get to introduce DJ to this important cartoon from my childhood in its original, unadulterated form.
Check out the very cool Gatchaman fansite by Veronika Henkels which has a link to Tatsunoko's website (not for easily culture-shocked Gaijin). It was totally not a surprise to me that this was the same studio that put together Speed Racer, and in fact just before I left for work the old man and I had a discussion about the music from Gatchaman. He said it sounded a lot like the music from Johnny Quest and therefore was a total rip-off because Gatchaman came out 8 years after JQ; I said the music sounded just like Speed Racer. Back and forth until I said, "well, honey, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree," to which the old man said, "yeah, to agree that I'm right and you're wrong!" We have such intellectual discourses in our house. In your face, old man!
DJ and I were watching an episode from the DVD of Liberty's Kids that we have at home, "Give me Liberty." It has only three eps on the thing which is a criminally small number to put out on a DVD. The other thing that is irksome is that they only have, like, three or four sets of these things and they are by no means anywhere close to being in order or to being complete. I saw a complete 6 DVD set of Liberty's Kids at an educational media website, for $500.00! That's insane! The Producer of this cartoon, DIC, is probably making money hand over fist because a lot of stations (like the pass-through digital station we suddenly get on our analog set) play Liberty's Kids to satisfy their federally-mandated educational content quota for the kiddies. And what about the adults? Don't we get a federally-mandated educational content quota? Or maybe that's what American Idol and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? are for.
The other thing I wanted to mention was that there were a buttload of movie stars who did voices on Liberty's Kids. For instance, Liam Neeson did the voice of John Paul Jones on the episode we watched the other night. But there are a ton of big names on this show (including the velour fog, Mr. Cronkite) like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dustin Hoffman, Annette Benning -- Ben Stiller??? Huh? And I could go on and on. The only other show that could match that Hollywood body count is The Simpsons, and their DVDs cost less and have more eps per!
Here's a good article at Common-place about commercial fare that caters to teaching children about American History, like History Rock, a part of Schoolhouse Rock that taught a bunch of us the Preamble to the Constitution with a catchy tune. You have to scroll down a bit to read the Liberty's Kids part but the whole thing was very balanced and pleasurable to read.
Here's a so far great (I haven't read too far into it yet) online encyclopedia on cartoons that seems pretty darn complete, called Toonarific. Go there and poke around -- it is totally worth it!
SMC is a very, very neglected blog so don't expect many posts constantly. I mostly use this as a venue to talk about cartoons I'm watching with my son or my growing obsession with current and old anime. For more blog posts on what I'm doing, please see The Accidental Environmentalist, my less-neglected blog about living environmentally.