krpalmer: (anime)
Returning to the original Voltron (as distinct from the anime series it was made from) after long years, though the episode at the top of a playlist on Netflix introduced by people working on the new Voltron Legendary Defender, did bring to mind all those old impressions of just how hard the dialogue was trying to claim the animation wasn't showing anyone being killed. Instead of stopping there content in my convictions and moving on to "The Real Ghostbusters" or something else, though, I did keep working my way down the list, and a few more things started striking me. If the episode at the top seemed to have been selected in part because it didn't display a familiar formula, a good number of the episodes just below it were from quite early in the series, often featuring conference-room scenes from Dairugger XV (which became "the other Voltron") cut into them. I could understand this getting to the point where it just couldn't be repeated any more, but it was something to see an effort made to link the two series, even if that effort didn't seem particularly remembered by anyone. More than that, there were moments that didn't quite seem to be followed by "so he was a robot after all" or "they were just knocked out."

For all of that, I was interested when vagaries of schedules brought me straight from the first episode of the original series to the episode that concluded the second set of episodes of Voltron Legendary Defender. There was what did seem like "a final consequence if you can notice it" and "another sudden revelation about a character" that did seem, at last, to tie into the sudden revelation about a different character that had concluded the first set of episodes and left me jumping at a theory. In some ways, Voltron Legendary Defender can be exactly the story it's saying it is, distinct from the suspicious yet amused impressions that had done a lot to keep the original stuck in a small corner of my mind. At the same time, with what new "mecha anime" series do appear these days seeming to have a hard time garnering positive comments from other people, the giant (piloted) robot action the concluding episode got around to was quite satisfying in its own way.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
The episodes of "Star Trek: The Animated Series" were engaging enough to watch while exercising on weekend mornings; I'd been thinking a bit, more or less from the start, that they somehow somewhat dodged the sense of "familiarity" and even "set consensus" that can settle over all of the live-action series, along with "if you are convinced Star Trek 'has' to involve its original characters..." They came to an end, though (with an episode I'd read Alan Dean Foster's novelization, considerable expansion upon, and rationalization many years ago), and I did get to wondering how I'd keep myself occupied on my ski machine from then on.

Right then, however, I saw an announcement the people working on the new Voltron Legendary Defender had selected some of the original Voltron episodes to be streamed on Netflix as an adjunct to their own series. That did get my attention, although I was quite ready to remember that when the original Voltron had had its "nostalgia release" on DVD a decade ago, I'd held out for the anime series it had been made from instead. The thought's occasionally come to me, though, that I just might be dismissive of Voltron because of the accident of having had "the other Voltron" stick in my mind a bit more, and just perhaps that "other" science fiction action had been more vulnerable than the space fantasy it seems just about everyone else remembers better to having all that careful "this is a cartoon; nobody ever dies in a cartoon" redubbing stand out. I went ahead and took a chance on "Voltron '84."
The complications of a single episode )
krpalmer: (anime)
The unexpected buildup of its third series, from "I suppose it's playing to its strengths" to "did it just leave a part of its familiar setting behind?", did a lot to revitalize my interest in the computer-animated, "anime-esque" RWBY. I wound up buying its Blu-Rays and watching through them with a full awareness of where they were headed, perhaps still helped along by the thought it was "an indie production" but getting past "it's something it was done at all." (This might reflect a bit on how I did just stop watching the slightly connected "Red vs. Blue" without making a big deal of it.) As the fourth series got under way, I was pleased to see it available on Crunchyroll, even if this might bring to mind "it's perhaps even an all too comfortable way to convince myself I'm not just watching anime."

In any case, as the fourth series got under way the characters did remain scattered and in new places, and that pushed from my mind the wondering I'd done right at the end of the third series of if things might be put too much together again. That did, though, connect to how it might be all too easy to pile up a list of anime series where the characters have fantastic adventures but never have to go very far from the safe base of their high school, although when I think a little bit more about that not all of them can be called "recent" in the way just perhaps used by some for who every "fannish" diversion is forever falling from the heights they started at. Noting the different ways "family" got involved in the plot threads, I stayed interested all the way through. It was only thinking back that I did wonder a bit about the story having taken its time dwelling on large and staggering things having happened, but that might have been inspired by one comment from someone else I did look just a bit for, which may only have reminded me of all those suspicions that to delve too much into the opinions of others for reassurance your own opinions are valid can feel like a zero-sum game. In any case, I'm wondering where things might go next, even with new episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender available to keep taking that trifling step away from outright anime. (Some of the first episodes in its own new series, though, seem, without having made a big, showy deal of it, to have stepped away from "this is a cartoon; nobody ever dies in a cartoon.")
krpalmer: (anime)
Several months back, when I was looking to buy a null modem cable to try and hook up my family's old TRS-80 Model 100 to a more modern computer for the first time in over a decade, I needed to fill out the online order to the free shipping threshold. At that point, I happened to think back to how the third series of the computer-animated RWBY had sort of snuck up on me and impressed me, and got around to ordering the Blu-Ray of its first series. A while after that, I saw the Blu-Ray of its second series in a local video store for what seemed a very reasonable price, and bought it as well. It didn't seem that much later that I saw the third series was now available on Blu-Ray as well in the same place. Then, with the impression it wouldn't be much longer until a fourth season began to pick up where things had left off, I got around to watching the show over again.

I'd at least been curious about something "anime-esque" in some way associated with "Red vs. Blue," a comedy series voicing over in-game recordings from usually rather sedate Halo matches. Watching RWBY's first trailers had impressed me, and perhaps I'd even started thinking this might be the very best medicine for those dwelling on quite well rehearsed complaints that anime itself "these days" depended entirely on being tailored to a handful of outright creeps over in Japan. Since those first moments, though, I do have to admit to, by the end of the second series, becoming uneasy about impressions of negative comments overheard and the feeling the series couldn't coast on "having been made on a shoestring" forever. Now, however, with the sense the series had gone somewhere, things seemed to fit together better; I was able to recognise as well that in the waits between each group of short instalments some details had faded so that some things might have missed me altogether. Even the second series seemed more interesting now. (It might not have hurt either that I'd noticed that where most of the background characters in the first series had been simple blacked-in silhouettes, work had been done after it to computer-model those bystanders in detail.) I can still suppose each "series finale" might have depended to some degree on sudden appearances, and it's an open question as to where things might go and how accepting I can be (not to mention whether the series will be available for viewing on Crunchyroll), but I can at least look forward both to what's to come and to getting back to the commentaries and other bonus features.
krpalmer: (Default)
After I'd finished watching the episodes of Star Trek's second season I'd wanted to watch, I never quite got around to opening the third season collection I bought with the others and watching those handful of episodes I have an impression managed to transcend the straitened circumstances of the show's final go-round. That did get to me every so often, but I just couldn't seem to make the time with so many other things to do and watch. However, Netflix did add a good number of Star Trek series just recently, and one of them was "The Animated Series" from the mid-1970s. As a Saturday morning cartoon those episodes were half the length of regular episodes, and the thought did get to me that I could watch them while exercising on weekend mornings, what with more episodes of "Voltron Legendary Defender" still to come. For all I know, seeing news the existing audio of a "lost" Doctor Who serial is going to have animation made for it had a bit of influence too.
'A physiological symptom of latent primal superstition. The fear of primitive people confronting something unknown to them.' )
'Compared to the people who built this ship, we are primitives. Even you, Mr. Spock.' )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
The computer-animated Peanuts movie that just happened to align with the comic strip's sixty-fifth anniversary seemed to get good notices, including some from people I supposed to be other Peanuts fans, but where I had bought a Blu-Ray of The Lego Movie I waited on The Peanuts Movie until I was surprised to see it turn up on Netflix. This could have had something to do with how, aware as I am of how "drawn animation" has helped shape perceptions and form mental images of the Peanuts characters, a good number of the TV specials and the four feature-length movies made years ago preceded me by enough that I'm only aware of their storylines through their storybook adaptations. It just might be that, with certain small elements condensed out along the way, they kept striking me as veering between "ultimately outright depressing" and "perhaps lightweight." (As a small example, when I finally had the chance to see "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," its concluding minutes didn't seem quite as bleak as the storybook had somehow left me thinking.) Still, I wound up taking a chance, and there were things about The Peanuts Movie I did get to mulling over.
There was a big surprise )
krpalmer: (anime)
In the raffish pantheon of mid-1980s cartoons, Voltron's niche may be smaller than some but it does seem remembered, its title invoked in the sure expectation of bringing back memories of "five robot lions that combine to form a mighty robot." (That, though, does remind me of the seeming accidents of history that made the other Voltron, the "fifteen flying cars, plane-things, and nondescript aerial bricks that combine to form a mighty robot," stick in my own memory, even if some of that may shape a certain subtle dismissal different from the usual shrugging off...) More than that, in possible place of nostalgic merchandising the title's been applied to new animation (now produced on this side of the Pacific) in just the past few years. I do know the series "Voltron Force" didn't seem very popular among those whose opinions of it I did see, even if they never seemed to articulate specific reasons for that. However, this wasn't the end of things. In its constant push to produce content that can't be taken away by the studios, Netflix announced it would be streaming another new Voltron series, and its staff including some people who'd worked on the Avatar franchise seemed to help some wait for the actual work to judge it. The first preview clips prompting recognition of how Voltron's combination sequence now obviously drew on the well-regarded stock footage of the giant robot anime GaoGaiGar attracted that much more attention, and when "Voltron Legendary Defender" began streaming I started taking it in. I was perhaps still weighted by recent ambivalent thoughts about intellectual property being recycled by corporate owners as if to avoid the risk and effort of coming up with new fundamental ideas, but it's also more than easy to recoil from thoughts of self-proclaimed fans monstrously incapable of conceiving others might like something they don't. I did at least wind up imagining it's possible there could even be parents drawing on their own memories with the thought it's for the sake of their kids, perhaps even connecting two generations (although this not having been the case when those parents were kids themselves can pack its own uncertainties...)
Even after all of that, though... )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
A few weeks into its fall season, Crunchyroll added the third series of the computer-animated RWBY. This was just when I had dropped one of the few new anime series I had so much as taken a chance on that season, so I had the time to start watching this more "domestic" production and the readiness to see it as softening the added blow to not playing the game so many others seem to these days of gulping down great quantities of up-to-date anime. However, it was possible that one small advantage of watching RWBY was that it was just a bit easier to avoid the comments of others about it lest they grind down whatever positivity I could manage the way they sometimes do with anime series themselves.

That the people making RWBY were able to continue after the much too early death of the series creator Monty Oum was something, but I still might have been aware that while things hadn't ended with the creeping feeling in the second series that the story weren't moving forward too much and the comment "that it's done at all" was starting to feel sort of inadequate in the face of the criticisms I had seen, those points were still there to start with. When the latest series led off with a "tournament," however, I did sort of have the feeling this could play to a strength. Just as in certain anime series themselves, it could be seen as a good excuse to get to the action without needing a lot of setup or serious consequences. Over the length of the nearly weekly episodes (and the episodes did seem to be getting longer, almost to the length of "regular" "half-hour" television episodes, without dragging too much), though, the perpetual ominous setup that had been kept out of sight of the main characters started to affect larger things, and this built to a pretty serious finale, one that might even have challenged the comfortable safety of the sort of "cartoons" some of those who watch anime might yet dismiss.

From where things left off, I do have the hope some things will be put back together. If everything is "put back together," that might wind up a bit less impressive than they seem as of this moment (a moment I still haven't risked against the opinions of anyone else, anyway...) Still, it was something that could yet be "living up to a legacy."
krpalmer: (smeat)
By the time I'd got to the end of the second series of RWBY, I might have been thinking a good deal of an impression that the computer-animated, "anime-esque" series seemed most significant as a suggestion that something similar could be done by a small and dedicated group of people. That seemed in turn so coincident with the outright criticism of its story as "not original enough for an original production" I'd been trying to bypass that perhaps, when it was over, I also just tried not to think too much more of it. Not that long ago, however, I happened to notice a bit of news that its creator Monty Oum was in the hospital and a fundraiser was being arranged to help with the bills; that did make me feel a bit sorry for him. Just a few days after that, though, and not long at all after hearing the series was now in the Netflix catalogue, I noticed a thread about the series on a message board where I might not have been expecting to see it, and poked into it with an idle sort of curiosity and the hope I wouldn't run into another batch of criticism only to see the news Monty Oum had died at an unfortunate young age from complications of being in the hospital. I couldn't help but think that all the criticism now seemed that much more petty, and even as I wondered if anyone could pick up where he had left off I got to thinking that just perhaps the inspiration provided is more important than ever.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
When I decided I'd rewatched as far into The Simpsons as I wanted to, I was aware of just how sharply my viewing habits had come to focus on anime, and thought I could do well to keep up just a little variety by taking in another "designed in North America" animated series. A few shows I already had a fair bit of familiarity with came to mind, but so did Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I hadn't seen any of but which some other people seemed to have taken a good bit of interest in, including even a comment or two that this was a show "influenced by anime" that could nevertheless be enjoyed by anime fans themselves (even if they might not see it as so much of a singular without dwelling on thoughts of it only appropriating surface details like "sweat drops" and "SD mode."

I wound up returning to Batman: The Animated Series, though, and with one thing and another it took me a while to get through that show. In that time, I did manage to buy all three "books" of Avatar: The Last Airbender and conclude it would be the next thing I got to when I could, but I'd wound up sort of conscious that in the years since it had premiered the first part of its title had been appropriated by a big special-effects movie, the other half had been applied to a much less critically successful film, and while a sequel animated series had begun Avatar: The Legend of Korra just didn't seem to have won the same approval from fans. (There seems to have been just a bit of pushback against that general dismissal of late, though.) The North American animated series that anime fans took the most interest in now seemed to be My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (although as I write this, even it now seems to not quite be "the big new thing" any more). Even so, there can be something to watching a series without the pressure of other immediately available and evolving opinions, so I started into it.
Into the elements )
krpalmer: (Default)
From what I overheard, people seemed to like The Lego Movie when it was in the theatres. The trailers I looked for after I'd started noticing those positive comments looked fun to me; I was sort of impressed by the staccato "stop-motion" effect given to the computer animation, similar to the "brick films" I've seen a few of online. (Years before that, back in elementary school I did include two Lego astronauts in a stop-motion short filmed with a home movie camera; given that I remember most of it used a toy space shuttle it may not have counted as a real "brick film," though.) I contemplated going to see it at the movies myself, but then another comment overheard in different circumstances about the sort of audience bound to be at it did sort of give me pause, weekends got busy with other things, and I decided at last that I'd wait for the home video release. As I bought the "regular" Blu-Ray in the middle of the pricing spread, though, I was still wondering if it would indeed seem to me to be too much "kid's stuff," and more than that just how I would take one specific cameo of a "licensed minifigure" from a company other than Warner Brothers (even if that studio was associated with a "theatrical premiere" featuring associated characters just a few years back...)
Not just one cameo discussed )
krpalmer: (Default)
There's just one episode of "The Original Series" on one of the Blu-Ray discs in the second season Star Trek collection. A partial explanation for this might be that "The Trouble With Tribbles" is augmented not just with "bonus content" but two follow-up episodes from later series. Before I bought the Blu-Ray sets I had watched my way through two "Best of" DVDs, one of which had the original episode on it, and as for Deep Space Nine's thirtieth anniversary time-travel episode I can remember having seen it years before. In between them, though, I was interested for my own reasons in seeing one of the animated episodes from 1973...
'That tin-plated overbearing excuse for a starship captain did it to us again!' )
krpalmer: (anime)
People did seem to like Avatar: The Last Airbender, but when I bought its DVD sets I was also aware Dave Filoni had worked on that series before taking charge of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. More than that, hearing the series also cross-pollinated anime and "western" animation certainly didn't hurt either, even if this did continue to point out how I didn't quite seem to be watching even as many animated series done in at least some part on this side of the Pacific as I used to. It had been a while since Megas XLR, Teen Titans Go, and even The Boondocks, as varied as those experiences had been.
People also seemed to... )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
When, a while ago now, I reached what I'd decided would be an adequate stopping point for watching DVD sets of The Simpsons, I pondered a few other options for watching North American animation and wound up returning to Batman: The Animated Series. Some years before that, I had bought the first DVD collection of that show, part of a general mix of "finally being able to really afford anime" and "keeping up with assorted cartoons," if one that did leave me thinking I really ought to at least try and watch some live-action stuff. (That urge added a bit of impetus to starting the new Battlestar Galactica, although when Doctor Who returned not that long after I thought more "this ought to be interesting" than "this will be somehow 'good' for me.") When I never saw the package the second collection was supposed to be in on my doorstep, though, I went to slight lengths to get the anime I'd missed out on but just sort of left Batman.
Once equipped with this new motivation... )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
"Man cannot live by anime alone" seems just about self-evident to me. There are also times, though, when it begins to feel a bit like a reproach. I suppose that where some move on to an interest in Japanese or East Asian culture that doesn't need to involve "drawings" and others now find long-format stories of the fantastic told in "live action" over here, I've thought I want to take in more of where I came from in the first place, animation in all forms... but when I'm still working my way little by little through the DVD sets of Batman: The Animated Series, there seems an indication of priorities and the risk of a narrowed viewpoint. (I suppose I'm also watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but it might just be that some combination of "computer animation" and thinking of it as "Star Wars" first somehow keeps it from filling some "animation quota"; in any case, rewatching the DVD sets of it is also slow going.)
The discovery and beyond )
krpalmer: (anime)
In the summer of 1985, my family bought a VCR. It wasn't long before we were recording programs from the handful of channels our antenna picked up out where we lived, and that came in handy as autumn arrived. One of the local stations had long shown cartoons at noon, but now, instead of waiting for rainy lunch hours and obliging teachers providing a rare treat for a classroom of students stuck inside, I just had to hope my parents had remembered to set the timer. In keeping with the times, the cartoons the channel showed were shifting from two decade-old reruns to the phantasmagoria of mid-1980s syndication, and that season they showed a different program every day of the week. Right in the middle on Wednesdays, after Transformers and The Lone Ranger (I looked forward to the former a bit more than the latter) and before The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show and the "He-Man-like" Blackstar (again, I liked the first more than the second), there was a show called Thunder Sub. It started off in a peaceful future rudely interrupted by the "Death Force," arriving on board "Terror Star" from "the dead planet Gotham," and Earth's last hope was the enormous and eponymous submarine. Something about the show caught my attention, and part of that might have been the actual continuing plot, even if that was tricky to follow when we didn't happen to have recorded the episode that week. However, there was a larger snag...
The snag... )
...and how I got past it, two and a half decades later )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
Out on a long drive yesterday, I was stopped at a traffic light near a grey Volkswagen Beetle (the "especially old" kind now, I suppose) with a personalised license plate. I read "PUTITINH" and started trying to sound through it, and then after a second or two I remembered the Simpsons episode where Homer is trying to replace the family cars and he gets the advice "Put it in H!" while test-driving a car from a country that "no longer exists." I do sort of wish my camera was at hand to record and prove it, but the sighting does amuse me. Could there be something "dubious" to getting a license plate like that? Perhaps, but understanding it when you see it seems to relieve you of any chance of feeling superior.
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
It took me a while to watch through and listen to the commentaries on the ninth season set of The Simpsons, but during that time the thought seemed clear in my mind that this would be the last set I got of the show whether bought myself or asked for as a Christmas or birthday present, in a sense a second, perhaps more definite farewell to it after sort of drifting away from the broadcasts a few years back to take part in an online chat on Sunday evenings. (For that matter, in the time since then most of the other people in that chat have since stopped taking part in it...) There's certainly something melancholy about this. Still, for some reason I find myself thinking further back than the original broadcast of the ninth season and my odd, strong feeling at the time that I was so impressed by the episode "Lisa the Simpson" that it might make a stopping point...

When I first got online, in an age of Usenet newsgroups, it seemed to me that a Simpsons newsgroup would be interesting to follow. However, I soon got a sense from it that the general consensus of the group was that by the sixth season of the show, the glory days were long past, the show's immediate future was very much in question, and the only thing left to do was to complain about every joke built around an unusual shift in somebody's character and every animation error... it was there, perhaps, that I formed my suspicion that "fandom" is much less about actually enjoying something than about complaining how your interpretation of the first few instalments has diverged from how the actual creative staff developed things. Of course, if the point is complaining, then maybe I try to keep up my attachment to original works by looking askance at certain other fans.

A few years after finding it and even making the occasional post to it, I stopped reading the newsgroup altogther, and perhaps that helped stretch out my enjoyment of the show by half a decade more. Perhaps, too, getting around to listening to the DVD commentaries was oddly pleasant in hearing the creators enjoy their own work. In any case, after trying to wrap things up on a definite and positive note, I can now think about starting to watch some other work of North American animation, perhaps picking up again on "Batman: The Animated Series" (I ordered the second DVD set of it to join the first some years ago, but never saw the package on my doorstep), "Samurai Jack," or "Avatar: The Last Airbender" (which I admit I've never seen any of, but I have noticed other people impressed with it...)

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