On My Shelves: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer."   Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the biggest media phenomena of its generation, and probably the single largest reason for the explosion in popularity of urban fantasy in the last few decades. While it has many ancestors (including the original movie, which [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: One Piece– The Third Piece!

I continue my review of the immense and intricate shonen anime One Piece, following the sometimes "Idiot Hero" Monkey D. Luffy and his peculiar crew – swordsman Rorona Zoro, navigator Nami, combat cook Sanji, medic Chopper, sharpshooter Usopp, archaeologist Nico Robin, and musician Brook – in their united yet individual quests across the hazardous sea called the Grand Line. To recap important points about our heroes and the world of One Piece: Some years back, the so-called Pirate King, Gol D. Roger (usually called Gold Roger) was executed [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: One Piece – The Second Piece!

         A while back, I reviewed the shonen anime One Piece. That review covered what I had seen to that point, but One Piece is a titanic piece of animation, a series still ongoing after more than 630 episodes. I'm now going to talk about what I've seen of One Piece since – up through around episode 380.      When we last left our group of intrepid pirates (who are about as piratical in their normal behavior as Will Turner and Jack Sparrow in his gentler moments), Monkey D. Luffy had just managed to defeat God Enel/Eneru, a Devil [ Continue reading... ]

(Not) On My Shelves: Neon Genesis Evangelion

      In the very early 1980s, a new anime company burst onto the scene, founded by a couple of fans who had determined to go pro: Gainax Studios. First gaining prominence with a fantastic video intro to the Daicon convention in 1981, Gainax gained funding and resources to release four anime which were generally considered classics, each in its own way: Gunbuster: Aim for the Top!, which was a high-powered space opera which combined ludicrous with the realistic in what was both a gentle parody and also a completion of the Giant Robot [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Tiger & Bunny

          In an alternate world, superbeings, called NEXTs, have emerged from the general population. Generally gifted with one power, the NEXTs were originally feared, but as many have turned their talents towards crimefighting, keeping the peace helping people in times of need, they have become more popular. "Hero TV" is the most popular show on television, following the exploits of the Heroes and ranking them based on their achievements (catching crooks, preventing accidents, saving civilians, etc.).   To further increase their [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Iron Man – the Anime

         The Japanese have a somewhat … peculiar track record in adapting American properties. One need only look at the Japanese version of Spider-Man, in which he ends up with a giant transforming robot, to realize that one might have a bit of trepidation in knowing that another Marvel property is to be adapted into an anime.        Even in current day their track record is rocky; I'm really not sure that the world needs a bishonen Wolverine, and the X-Men anime has serious flaws. So Kathleen and I were a bit dubious about [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Primeval

    You spend your entire career planning for just about every crisis imaginable - up to and including alien invasion - then this happens. So much for thinking outside the bloody box.           -- James Lester        The first episode of Primeval opens up like a classic monster movie flick; a young woman in trouble, chased by something we don't see clearly but is definitely huge and hostile, and then a quick chase sequence which indicates our momentary heroine is a goner.        But Primeval is nothing like your [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Yoroiden Samurai Troopers

    The anime Saint Seiya, which I discussed some time back here, gave rise to an entire subgenre which I call "God-Warriors" – young people chosen by something on deific level to battle god-level threats, generally in a "Five-Team" configuration. This of course owed a great deal to the "sentai" shows of the same era, but Saint Seiya codified it for its generation and a number of other shows quickly followed – some following its lead, and others trying to take off from it and go in another direction; its influence can be seen in [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Gensomaden Saiyuki

  It's well-known that we're willing to take our cultural heritage and rewrite it in amusing ways; red-bearded, bearish, Norse warrior god Thor becomes a tall, blonde warrior speaking faux-Olde English in the comics; Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is remade as a gang war in modern times; the world of Greek Mythology is mixed up with Egyptian, Roman, and a bit of Wuxia film for Xena, Warrior Princess.   The Japanese are no less willing to do this to our cultural heritage… or their own. Saint Seiya was a peculiar, to say the least, [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Jonny Quest

       In 1964, Hanna-Barbera decided to try an action-adventure based animated television series, and asked comic-book writer and illustrator Doug Wyldie to give them a treatment of an animated version of Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy, a popular radio drama from the 30s through 1951. As it turned out, they couldn't get the rights to Armstrong and asked Wyldie if he could create a similar show treatment with original characters. Wyldie took the basic idea of the old Jack Armstrong adventures – a young boy and his friend or relative on [ Continue reading... ]