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Sep 102013
 

In this hilarious Anime comedy, Squid Girl (2010-2011) is a girl from the sea with squid-like qualities like tentacles as extra arms, glowing in the dark, spitting squid ink, and her love of shrimp. Boy, does she love shrimp. Squid Girl vows revenge on mankind for polluting the ocean. As determined as Squid Girl is, she isn’t very bright and always fails when it comes to dominating people.

The first building Squid Girl finds after coming out of the ocean is the Lemon Beach House, which she originally planned to make as her base of operations, but after damaging one of the walls, the beach house manager Eiko has her work off the damage as a waitress. Eiko is a strong-minded girl. When Squid Girl drives her crazy, it always leaves me laughing.

However, the one who really keeps Squid Girl in check is Eiko’s sister Chizuru, who is the beach house cook. Sure she appears kind, but Chizuru has incredible strength and fighting skills, which is enough to make Squid Girl afraid of her. It makes you wonder where Chizuru learned those skills.

Then there’s Takeru, who is Eiko and Chizuru’s little brother. He enjoys Squid Girl’s company and loves to play with her, no matter what her game is.

Yuuta

At MythiCon 2013, I got to meet Marianne Miller, who voices the role of Takeru’s friend Yuuta. When she talks about Yuuta, she often mentions that he talks about poop. This is a reference to the episode when Squid Girl builds a sandcastle that looks like poop.

Occasionally Goro, who is one of the lifeguards, comes to the beach house and Squid Girl always secretly swipes the shrimp from his meals. Goro is devoted to his job and many girls find him attractive. If only he had the courage to talk to Chizuru, whom he has a crush on.

Later on, Squid Girl meets other human friends like Sanae, who has an obsessive crush on her, as well as surfer girl Nagisa, who actually fears Squid Girl. Squid Girl loves to take advantage of that as a big break in her attempt to invade mankind.

I met Christina Vee, who voices Nagisa, at Anime Festival Orlando 2011.

There are also extraterrestrial researchers who believe Squid Girl is an alien. Leading the group is Cindy Campbell. She’s obsessed with getting Squid Girl to admit that she’s an alien, even though she isn’t.

If you think Cindy is funny, you should definitely see the rest of her team. Harris, Clark, and Martin are just as obsessed as Cindy is if not more so. They are hilarious, despite that they always brag about being MIT graduates.

Of course even beach houses have competition. The strict owner of the Southern Winds Beach House, whose name is never revealed for some reason, finds out about Squid Girl and tries to capitalize on her popularity. He has his shy daughter Ayumi wear masks of Squid Girl’s likeness with crazy gadgets inside that often backfire.

I can’t help but feel sorry for Ayumi when that occurs, but she becomes a little more comfortable when she works at the Lemon Beach House occasionally.

I also met Tony Oliver, who voices Clark and the unnamed beach house owner, at Anime Festival Orlando 2010 and again at AFO 2013.

I enjoyed this Anime series. Even though Squid Girl intended to invade the surface world, she ends up finding friends and family instead, not to mention a few unwanted admirers.

Aug 202013
 

Can you believe it? This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Power Rangers franchise. What better way to celebrate than to have the Power Rangers comedy duo Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy a.k.a. Bulk and Skull at Anime Festival Orlando 2013. They had one of the most hilarious Q&A panels I have ever been to.

Normally, Q&A panels take place on a stage and the celebrity guests sit behind a table, but this time Paul and Jason actually bring their chairs down near the front row. They were also playing funny tricks on each other throughout the panel that made everyone laugh. I loved it.

I once read that Paul Schrier directed some scenes from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but there was no mention of which episodes and he was uncredited as a director most of the time. I asked him which episodes he directed. Paul said that he directed ten episodes in all. Mostly he shadow directed on the sly whenever director/producer Jonathon Tzachor needed to take care of other things with the network.

After the Q&A panel, my sister and I were the first ones in line for Paul and Jason’s autographs. They are a couple of real nice guys and were glad to autograph a couple of photos and a book that I got years ago about a behind the scenes look on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie.

Speaking of the Power Rangers movie book, it was interesting to find out that voice actor and Power Rangers producer Tony Oliver wrote it. He was at this convention. He told me as he autographed the book that he took some of the photos inside, but didn’t have a copy of the book himself.

The next day Tony Oliver, Paul Schrier, and Jason Narvy had another Q&A panel. The hilarity was better than ever as they talked about the creation of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The only major difference was that most of the hijinks stayed on the stage.

There were some interesting facts mentioned. Originally the series was going to be called Dino Rangers, but that didn’t work out. Then the zords were going to be called zoids, but George Lucas already owned that name for Star Wars.

What I really found interesting was that there were three versions of the pilot episode and we got to see the first scene from each one. The first pilot took place in a bowling alley. Bulk was known as Punk #2 and there was a different actress who played Trini the Yellow Ranger.

The second version of the pilot episode took place at the juice bar and Bulk was the leader of the group of punks, which Skull became part of. When Bulk accidentally gets veggie chili spilled on him, there is a fight scene between the rangers and the punks. Come to think of it, I noticed that pieces of the footage were used in the final scene in the season one episode, Big Sisters.

Unfortunately, those two pilots were deemed too violent, so the third version of the pilot was made and it became the one that first went on the air. It had Bulk and Skull without the other punks because there was no need for them.

I definitely had a great time at Anime Festival Orlando this year. I’ve met other stars there as well, so be sure to look for them on future posts.

Aug 232010
 

The Castle of Cagliostro (Lupin the III) was an old Anime film from the early 80s. An international thief named Lupin and his partner in crime Jigen go to a European city called Cagliostro to investigate some counterfeit money, but stumble onto something more.

While fixing a flat tire, Lupin and Jigen find Clarice, a bride on the run from mobsters. For the thrill of the excitement, Lupin and Jigen go after them and rescue Clarice. Lupin just can’t resist a lovely damsel in distress, but she gets captured again.

Lupin has some very crafty skills with agility and gadgets, much like a superhero. Or is he a super villain? It’s hard to tell because he’s on the wrong side of the law, but isn’t dangerous to others.

The character was also featured on the series Lupin the 3rd and was voiced by Tony Oliver, who I met at Anime Festival Orlando 2010. It was bit unclear to me, so I asked Tony if he was the voice of Lupin on this movie as well. It turns out that it was Bob Holt. There were three actors who played the role in the Lupin franchise, Tony Oliver, Bob Holt, and Sonny Strait, who was also at Anime Festival Orlando 2010. Tony liked his version the best.

Lupin and Jigen soon find out who Clarice is and soon get more than what they bargained for. She is the unwilling fiancée of the Count of Cagliostro and the boss behind the fake money. Things really get exciting when the Count’s henchmen, who are ninjas with sharp metal gloves and bulletproof bodies, attack Lupin and Jigen.

After escaping, Lupin and Jigen sneak into the castle to rescue Clarice. They slip by all sorts of traps throughout the place. Lupin even climbs a tower with his bare hands before using any of his grapplers. Then Lupin slips from a rooftop, but uses it to gain speed and jump a long distance. That’s incredible. Makes you wonder how he does in track and field.

Lupin soon falls into a trap door with a lot of corpses hanging down as well as a pile of bones at the bottom in the catacombs. “Must be previous uninvited visitors.” That sure is a lot of them. There’s hardly any walking space in that spooky area.

It soon becomes a war zone at the castle after Lupin and Jigen crash the Count’s wedding in another attempt to rescue Clarice. The Count and Lupin even have a duel within the clock tower. It’s real smooth how they both maneuver with all of those moving gears.

This was an exciting film with a good story line. I still wonder where Lupin learned his amazing skills, even if he is only an animated character.

Aug 112010
 

Welcome back. Other celebrity guests I had the opportunity to meet at this convention were voice actors Tony Oliver, Sonny Strait, Jessica Straus, and Anime comic book writer Tommy Yune. They were all nice.

In addition to the subject of Power Rangers, Tony Oliver had a Q&A session. Not only was he the voice of Saba, the White Ranger’s talking sword, he was also a writer and producer of the series. When Tony presented the pilot script, he had no idea that the show was going to get this big. The first clue that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would take off was when he was showing footage of the version from Tokyo with music to kids here in the U.S. and it was a huge success.

Tony Oliver has been a voice actor for 25 years, mostly in Anime shows like Robotech and Lupin the 3rd. The show he’s most proud of was a dramatic Anime series called Flag and one he wished he had gotten to work on was Cowboy Bebop. Basically, Tony thinks that the best part about being in Anime is the storytelling and depth they contain.

Tony Oliver has had great convention experiences and loves meeting fans.

Sonny Strait also had a Q&A session and mentioned that Anime Festival was one of his most favorite ones to attend. One of the biggest highlights was when Sonny talked about his latest series, Dragonball Z Kai. (He was the voice of Krillin.)  He said, “The Nickelodeon version is great, if you’re seven. It’s highly edited.” So Sonny didn’t want anyone to judge the series based on that alone. He did mention another version of Dragonball Z Kai that’s more for an older audience on the CW network and Adult Swim, which is so much better without the extra editing.

Sonny Strait’s idol is Mel Blanc, who voiced the Looney Tunes. His father also liked imitating voices, like Donald Duck, which was a great influence on him. Sonny was hilarious with his impessions of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. They were right on.

Check my blog for part 3, when I’ll be talking about Dan Southworth and Reuben Langdon demonstrating stunt work. It’s like this Anime convention has everything!