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May 102017
 

If there’s one world that has exciting adventure, it’s the mystical and post-apocalyptic land of Ooo in Adventure Time (2010-present). The series title is appropriate since many kinds of epic adventure can be found in Ooo’s many different colorful kingdoms with bizarre characters.

The heroes are Finn the human boy with a lust for adventure and Jake the comedic shape-shifting dog. Although they live in a huge tree house, Finn and Jake mostly spend their time traveling around Ooo fighting off various enemies and saving the day, kind of like Xena or Hercules. You gotta love these guys.

The arch villain of this series is the Ice King, who is both powerful and sociopathic. He has a thing for kidnapping princesses and forcing them to marry him, mainly because he’s lovesick and misunderstood. So maybe the Ice King isn’t all bad, though he can be very eccentric sometimes.

Speaking of princesses, almost every kingdom has one and they’re all good friends with Finn and Jake. Here are some of the main ones featured. The first is Princess Bubblegum of the Candy Kingdom. She’s kind, well mannered, and proficient in science, but has a thing for spying on people. I don’t know why that is. In addition, Princess Bubblegum changes her attire more than anyone in the series.

There’s also Lumpy Space Princess (LSP for short) of an alternate dimension that’s simply called Lumpy Space. She’s spoiled, sarcastic, and talks like a valley girl, even though it does sound masculine.

Marceline the vampire queen is an aspiring rock star. Although she’s from an all-vampire family, I couldn’t help but notice the puncture marks on her neck as if she had been bitten. So was Marceline once human, or what?

If there’s one princess you don’t want to mess with, it’s Flame Princess of the Fire Kingdom. She may appear calm and collected, but Flame Princess is a loose cannon and can be very destructive when angered.

The land of Ooo also has many magical creatures like Lady Rainicorn. She is half rainbow and half unicorn and can turn objects and people different colors. Now that’s creative. Lady Rainicorn is also Jake’s girlfriend and only speaks Korean.

Another creative character is Tree Trunks the small talking elephant with a very kind persona who loves to make baked goods.

And of course, let’s not forget BMO. She is a mini living computer that resembles a Game Boy and can play VHS tapes as well as allow Finn and Jake to play video games. BMO also has an innocent persona and occasionally talks to her reflection as though it was alive.

Among many of the various characters, the most annoying is Lemongrab. He’s very dominant and has a high pitched voice. Anything he deems unacceptable, his anger goes all the way.

This is an interesting series that’s cute and funny as it is adventurous. Sometimes Adventure Time can be difficult to keep up with because it doesn’t follow a specific formula like most TV shows do. On the other hand, whenever there’s a big change among the characters, the show will always eventually go back to how it was before. That’s something I really admire about it.

Apr 122017
 

If you thought Sailor Moon was a cool anime series, then I have no doubt that you’ll find Glitter Force (2015-2016) just as interesting. This Netflix original series is about five middle school girls who gain superpowers from Glitter Charms and protect the world from the evil Emperor Nogo and his forces.

The heroes are the optimistic but clumsy leader Emily as Glitter Lucky, the tough jokester Kelsey as Glitter Sunny, the shy artist Lily as Glitter Peace, the loyal athlete April as Glitter Spring, and the highly intelligent Chloe as Glitter Breeze. Together these five friends are the Glitter Force. The team members are introduced one at a time per episode but at least that’s not spread too far apart like some shows do, like Sailor Moon and Sgt. Frog for example.

Of course every superhero team should have a guide. The guide for the Glitter Force is Candy, a pixie from the magical kingdom of Jubiland. She’s cute and hyperactive, especially when it comes to her ears being styled like hair buns.

I met Debi Derryberry, the voice of Candy, at Anime Festival Orlando 2013.

There’s also Candy’s older brother Pop. He’s not featured as frequently, which is too bad since he’s more vigilant than Candy and can transform into different things.

I met Todd Haberkorn, the voice of Pop, at MegaCon 2012.

Now we get to the villains. Hailing from the Shadow Realm, four fairytale based creatures use their power to absorb negative energy from innocent bystanders in order to revive Emperor Nogo. The first is Ulric the wolf who is very cunning and based on the Big Bad Wolf.

Brute is a troll that prefers to use brute strength over intelligence. Of course trolls are very common in both fairytales and the fantasy genre.

Third is a wicked witch named Brooha that uses magical contraptions and can clone herself easily. She’s based on different fairytale witches.

Then we have Rascal the jester. Despite his annoying voice, he’s pretty creative. He fights with magical playing cards and has a playful, but sadistic persona. He wasn’t featured in the series very much but I like his style, for a villain.

When the villains decide to attack and gather negative energy, only one of them goes to Earth at a time. Then he/she creates a monster out of a random object called a Buffoon, which always has a giant body and a clown face. Whenever the Glitter Force defeats it, a Glitter Charm appears and gets added to their arsenal.

Image result for glitter force

This was an interesting series for its superhero action that’s on the level of Power Rangers. At the end of each episode, there’s a song and dance number by the Glitter Force. The songs are pretty good and they only change after four episodes. If you are a Sailor Moon fan, I would suggest giving this show a try.

Mar 222017
 

Hanna-Barbera is best known for its animated shows with the occasional live action series. It turns out that there was an old series that combined both called The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968-1969). It’s about Tom Sawyer (Kevin Schultz), Huckleberry Finn (Michael Shea), and Becky Thatcher (LuAnn Haslam) ending up in an animated world while on the run from their nemesis Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy) in a mysterious cave. Their goal is to get back home to their hometown Hannibal, Missouri.

When I first saw this show on the Boomerang channel a while back, I was fascinated that it had live actors in an animated world like in such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cool World, and Space Jam. I always liked that concept.

Another interesting point is about Injun Joe. The three young heroes always end up someplace different and the animated antagonist always has a very striking resemblance to Injun Joe, right down to the chain and handcuff on his right wrist. Ted Cassidy voices each villain. As much as I liked his role of Lurch from The Addams Family, it’s good to see him doing a different range of characters too. Despite that the live action version of Injun Joe is only in the intro of every episode.

In addition to that, after the villain is defeated (sometimes ending in death) Injun Joe easily comes back as someone else. This leads to number of theories, from the whole series being one long dream to Injun Joe having some kind of supernatural power we know nothing about. Whatever the reason, it makes for an interesting episode formula.

The only other show I know of that used that tactic was Back to the Future the animated series (1991-1993). Whenever the protagonists travel back to any time period, they always run into an ancestor of Biff Tannen, who always calls Marty McFly a butthead at least once. I always found that interesting.

Back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I also would like to point out that even though Tom, Becky, and Huck are the only non-animated characters, there are times when they are animated at a distance. Particularly when a stunt double is required. It’s so clever how that works.

This was certainly a great series overall, especially with its unique method of real actors in animated worlds. What could’ve made this DVD set better was if there had been a special feature about how the series was put together. Unfortunately, there are none.

Mar 012017
 

Based on the title alone, The Seven Deadly Sins (2014-2016) does sound like a show about evildoers with a story plot similar to the movie Se7en. However, that’s not what it is at all. The Seven Deadly Sins are actually a group of heroic immortal knights in the region of Britannia until they disbanded after being wrongfully accused of plotting to overthrow the Liones Kingdom.

In actuality, it was another group of knights called the Holy Knights that took over and captured the king. So the king’s daughter Princess Elizabeth goes in search of the seven deadly sins in hopes of reuniting them to save her kingdom.

The first sin she finds is the leader Meliodas the sin of Wrath. Though he has the appearance of a child, Meliodas is very powerful. He has a comedic side also, which is mainly shown when he freely touches Elizabeth inappropriately without thinking. Oddly, Elizabeth doesn’t seem to mind because she never reacts to it.

The real comic relief comes from Meliodas’s companion Hawk the talking pig. He always reacts to Meliodas’s perverted ways and yells whenever anyone jokes about eating a pig product.

I met Christina Vee, who was the voice of Hawk, at Anime Festival Orlando 2011.

As the three of them travel together in a tavern that’s strapped onto a giant green pig, which is really nifty, more deadly sins are found like Ban the sin of Greed. He’s strong and has a laid back attitude, especially when it comes to stealing people’s clothes. However, Ban is very devoted for those he cares about.

Diane the sin of Envy is a giant girl who is in love with Meliodas, though he’s devoted to Elizabeth. I can see Diane being out of place being the only giant of the team, but she is very much an equal member as far as the other sins are concerned.

King the sin of Sloth is a fairy king that flies with a comfy pillow, which is appropriate. King isn’t lazy though. He’s in love with Diane, but their relationship is complicated because of Diane’s feelings for Meliodas.

It isn’t until much later in the series when the remaining sins are found. Gowther the sin of Lust is book smart but struggles to understand emotions. The best way Gowther does is by studying other people’s actions on how emotions work.

Lastly there’s Merlin the sin of Gluttony. That’s right, it’s Merlin from Camelot. Though shockingly, Merlin is a woman and an attractive one at that. She didn’t participate in the series until much later, but it would’ve helped if Merlin had appeared sooner.

This was an interesting Anime series overall. I’m sure you might be thinking that there were supposed to be seven sins but only six were featured. It’s true that one sin was still unaccounted for, Pride. I wonder who that could be.

Jan 042017
 

For a long time I have really enjoyed fantasy films from the 80s like Legend and Willow. Another one I can remember is The Last Unicorn, which has the same style of animation used in fantasy classics like The Hobbit and Return of the King.

In this story, a lone unicorn, simply known as the Unicorn, (voice of Mia Farrow) discovers that she is the last of her kind. So she goes on a quest in search of other unicorns that were chased off the edge of the earth by a demonic creature called the red bull.

She learns this from a Butterfly (voice of Robert Klein) that talks in riddle, songs, and poetry. Why couldn’t he just tell her straight? I mean, the way the Butterfly was carrying on was like he wasn’t paying attention when the Unicorn asked him about anything.

Throughout the Unicorn’s search, many of the people she meets mistake her for a white mare because her horn is invisible to them. It appears that only users of magic can see the unicorn for what she truly is and hear her speak, like Mommy Fortuna (voice of Angela Lansbury). She is a witch who runs a traveling Midnight Carnival, showcasing mythical beasts. Of course, the Unicorn is caged among them.

There, the Unicorn also meets the magician Schmendrick (voice of Alan Arkin). I can tell by his presence and persona that he is not an advanced sorcerer but is still learning.

After Schmendrick sets the Unicorn free, he joins her on her quest to search for other unicorns. All they have to go on is that the red bull comes from the seaside castle of King Haggard (voice of Christopher Lee), thought the connection between the king and the bull is unclear.

Along the way, they meet up with Captain Cully (voice of Keenan Wynn) and his band of outlaws. Although they seem to be a good group, the only one who joins Schmendrick and the Unicorn on their journey is the cook Molly Crue (voice of Tammy Grimes). She’s non-magical but does believe that unicorns are real and has for some time.

After getting to the castle, the red bull arrives and goes after the Unicorn. The only way to save her was for Schmendrick to turn her into a human girl, but that only causes complication. On the bright side, the Unicorn finally has a name, Lady Amalthea.

Image result for last unicorn amalthea

To make matters worse, King Haggard’s son Prince Lir (voice of Jeff Bridges) falls in love with Amalthea. If only he knew the truth about her.

I should also point out that there is also a talking cat that has an eye patch, a wooden leg, and an earring. It also talks like a pirate, which makes you wonder, but there’s no mention of where this cat came from or if King Haggard is its owner.

This was an interesting movie with exciting adventure and an excellent soundtrack that makes it a true 80s fantasy film. It was a great decade for that genre. Am I right?