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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 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?

Nov 162016
 

Moeyo Ken: The Complete Series (2005-2006) takes place in an era where monsters can live in harmony with humans in the city of Kyoto, as long as they are licensed. If there’s an unlicensed monster running loose, an all-female fighting force called the Mobile Shinsengumi capture those beasts in order to protect Kyoto and its citizens.

The team members include Yuko Kondo the sword master, Toshie Hijikata the sharpshooter, and Kaoru Okita who uses different types of weapons along with little helpers called the Shikigami to help out in battle.

Image result for Moeyo Ken Characters Nekomaru

When not fighting unlicensed monsters the Mobile Shinsengumi have other misadventures with Ryunosuke, who is the long lost son of their superior, Oryo. He does what he can to help out the team, even though he’s not much of a fighter.

Also staying with the team is Nekomaru, a monster cat with a great sense of humor and a huge appetite. Don’t worry, he is licensed. Nekomaru always cowers when there’s trouble, but is very noble when it comes to saving lives. He can magically transfer one of his nine lives in order restore a dead person to life. One thing I can’t help but notice is Nekomaru’s voice. It sounds similar to Paul Lynde.

The main villains are the Tsubame Group, consisting of Miki Saotome who is a mean girl, Ukon Tanaka who is handsome and fearless, and Sakon who likes to use a bazooka. They intend to overthrow the government about the monster rights, which makes them a nuisance to the Mobile Shinsengumi.

This was an interesting Anime series. It has both great action and humor. There’s no monster these ladies can’t handle, no matter how perverse some of them are.

Sep 212016
 

Although I’m not hugely into The Brady Bunch, I found the animated series The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series (1972-1973) rather interesting. It’s about the adventures of the Brady siblings, Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy. Whether it’s about traveling back in time to ancient Greece or encountering superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, the adventures are more magical than the sitcom.

The original actors who played the six children on The Brady Bunch (Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, and Susan Olsen) voice their characters on this show. However, Mr. and Mrs. Brady along with Alice the housekeeper do not appear.

What are also different are the story lines being more watered down. For example, the often mentioned jealously Jan has over Marcia’s popularity is never an issue. You can really tell it’s a kids show that way.

Many of the mishaps that occur are often caused by Marlon the talking mynah bird. He is a wizard who can cast spells but they often go wrong.

Other animal characters include Ping and Pong the pandas. They can speak also, but only in gibberish. I’m sure that it was meant to sound like Chinese since panda bears are from China.

Then there’s Mop Top the dog. I can’t help but think that he has a very striking resemblance to Hotdog from the old Archie cartoons.

Image result for the archie show

Speaking of the old Archie cartoons, the animation style is very much the same. I can especially tell during the musical numbers. The repetitive movements the Brady Kids make when they perform are just like in The Archie Show and Archie’s Funhouse. It’s really quite interesting if you think about it.

There are a few other human characters created for this show, like reoccurring antagonist Chuck White. He’s very self-absorbed and tends to cheat and sabotage others on many occasions. Chuck also acts macho, but the sound of his voice, as well as his mannerisms, remind me of Yogi Bear.

The other characters are Fleetwood, who is easygoing, and Babs a pretty redhead who likes Greg. Oddly, Greg doesn’t feel the same way about her.

I enjoyed this series, mainly for its catchy songs and similarity to The Archie Show. Now if I were to compare The Brady Kids to The Brady Bunch, I would always prefer the animated version because it’s so much easier to follow.