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Sep 162015
 

If you enjoy watching the Power Rangers battle enemies in their zords, then you ought to see Gurren Lagann (2007-2008). This takes place in the future, where mankind is forced to live underground due to the surface world being so hostile with beast men.

There are some individuals who intend to explore up above like Kamina the hilarious headstrong rebel and Simon the meek young digger. They like to address each other as brothers even though they’re not actually related. I think it’s nice that they do.

I met Kyle Hebert, the voice of Kamina, at Anime Festival Orlando 2012.

Eventually, Simon finds a giant robot head called Lagann and a drill shaped key to activate it. However, the key is tied to Simon’s emotions. So it only works based on his mood, which is hard to understand sometimes.

During Simon and Kamina’s attempt to head to the surface, they meet Yoko. She’s highly skilled with a rifle and knows how to handle dangerous situations. Yoko is also funny while trying to tolerate Kamina, or anyone that likes to gaze at her gorgeous body.

I met Michelle Ruff, the voice of Yoko, at Space Coast Comicon 2015, along with Amanda Miller and Christina Vee. All three of them voiced characters on Sailor Moon.

Together Simone, Kamina, and Yoko become Team Gurren. On the surface, the beast men drive bigger robots called Gunmen and each one is different. Kamina manages to steal a Gunman and combine it with the Lagann to form the Gurren Lagann. It not only can destroy other Gunmen more easily, it bring hope for humanity.

As the series proceeds, the team grows with new members and more stolen Gunmen that are reprogrammed to fight for good. Among those new members are the Black siblings, who are a team of skilled beast man hunters; Kittan and his sisters Kiyoh, Kinon, and Kiyal. They’re such an amazing group.

Many of the beast men are nameless, but one who is reoccurring is Viral. He’s actually more of a half human/half beast man. Although Viral loses against Team Gurren, he always lives to fight another day.

I met Sam Riegal, the voice of Viral, at MythiCon 2013. Of course, I’ll always remember him best as the voice of Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 version).

The leader of the beast men is Lordgenome the Spiral King, a tyrant intent on eradicating all of mankind. He appears somber, but don’t underestimate him, especially in battle.

I should also point out that in much later episodes, the series really goes sci-fi when Team Gurren takes the war into outer space seven years later.

This was certainly a good series with its action and humor. My only concern was that one of the principle characters gets killed off really early in the series. It’s a surprise that I never saw coming.

Sep 272013
 

Like many of you, video games have been a big part of my life growing up with iconic characters that are still popular even today. Wreck-It Ralph provides a whole new perspective of that world. Who would’ve thought that after the arcade closes every night, the characters of every game come together and can travel to different game worlds, thanks to a public transportation area called Game Central Station. I haven’t seen anything like that since Captain N: The Game Master.

There are quite a few classic video game characters featured from franchises like Street Fighter, PAC-Man, Q-Bert, Sonic the Hedgehog, Frogger, Dig Dug, even King Bowser makes an appearance. However, this movie is not about any of them. It’s about Wreck-it Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) the villain of Fix-it Felix Jr., who wants to be a good guy because he feels lonely and unappreciated. In a way, this game reminds me of classic Donkey Kong.

At Anime Festival Orlando 2012, I met Kyle Hebert who voiced Ryu from Street Fighter.

Ralph isn’t alone though. Other video game villains can relate to how he feels. Can you believe that they actually have a support group for these guys?

The hero of Fix-it Felix Jr. of course is Fix-it Felix Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), who has jumping ability much like the Mario brothers and a magic hammer that can easily fix anything as good as new. Although Felix and Ralph are enemies in their game, there’s no real hatred between them, but the other characters are another matter.

Ralph is now determined to win their respect by getting a medal, but since only heroes can earn medals, he goes to a military sci-fi shooter game called Hero’s Duty. There he must fight Cy-bugs and climb the tower, which isn’t easy. The Cy-bugs become whatever they consume and unlike other video game villains, these creepy bugs are wild monsters. The only way to control them is with a giant beacon that works like a giant bug zapper.

Ralph does get the medal, but it doesn’t go smoothly. He accidentally brings a Cy-bug with him as he ends up in Sugar Rush, which is a go-kart racing game in a world made of candy and ice cream. The racers inside this game remind me of the characters from Strawberry Shortcake.

One major issue for video game characters is that if they are caught out of their game, the players will think the game is broken and will possibly end up unplugged. To keep that from happening, Felix goes to find Ralph along with Sargent Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) the hero of Hero’s Duty. She is one tough chick, but I think it’s cute that Felix has fallen in love with her.

Meanwhile, Ralph meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) who is one of the racers in Sugar Rush, but is also a glitch. She steals Ralph’s medal and he’s determined to get it back, but after seeing a whole different side to Vanellope, they become friends.

A common term mentioned throughout the movie is “Going Turbo”. At first I thought it had something to do with Street Fighter 2 Turbo, but it isn’t until much later on when the meaning is finally revealed. Years ago there was a racing game called Turbo Time and the hero Turbo loved the popularity. Then when another racing game came along, Turbo got so jealous he snapped, which led to both games getting unplugged for good. No one has seen Turbo since, but he sure left his mark in the arcade community.

This is by far one of the most creative films I have seen about video games in a long time. It’s nice to know that the 8-bit era can still be as popular with today’s standards as it is nostalgic.

One last item: At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I got to meet Ralph and Vanellope at a character greeting.