Monthly Archives: November 2015

Digimon Tri: Reunion is an Amazing Start to the new Digimon Show

The biggest disappointment about Digimon Tri: Reunion is that the next installment won’t be until March, 2016.

Other than that though this was a fantastic sequel and it really hit all the right notes well and hard.  There are a few things I have some issue with but they’re kind of minor in all honesty.  There’s so much I want to talk about so let’s dive right in.

First, the bad.  I think the primary thing that annoyed me (and certainly Mary) was Tai’s constant flashbacks to the collateral damage in the Kuwagamon fight.  It’s fine to have some arc development for our lead character and it’s also fine for Tai to finally realize how destructive Digimon can be but this was a bit too much.    The flashbacks were overdone and Tai’s weariness seemed out of character.  Fortunately, many of the other digidestined were trying to snap him out of his funk especially Matt.  Reunion has taken a more mature look at Matt/Tai’s relationship and had them actually resolve their fights without throwing a single punch which was nice.  The two struggled to understand the other’s position and this culminated nicely into the triumphant return of Omegamon/Omnimon.

Although the animation is many times over superior to the original season of Digimon, I still have a couple of issues with it. The first one is that some of the Digimon, particularly Agumon, look kind of weird in this style but thankfully, I’ve gotten somewhat over that.  The second issue I had was the several longer-than-need-to-be shots of people that are just standing there doing nothing.  There’s a great shot of a girl looking at her bike for several seconds like, “Yep!  I have a nice bike!” and doing nothing else, haha.  Hopefully, this will be toned down in the following sequel.

Finally, I’m kind of disturbed why none of the main cast has talked about the season 2 characters yet; Davis, Yolei, Ken, and Cody.  In the beginning of Reunion we see them being…taken down I guess…by some unforeseen force.  I was even super ecstatic when I saw them because this confirmed season 2 being canon.  However, we don’t see them again (except for a brief screenshot with their names on a computer) for the rest of the episode and nobody mentions them at all which made me more and more uneasy.  Like, geez guys, aren’t you wondering where the hell they are?  Nobody even attempted to contact them when Digimon started to appear again.  Hm, it’s probably not a big deal but I wish at least somebody mentioned them…

That’s really it for my complaints, let’s take a look at what made me happy!

Digimon Tri, Backstage, Matt, TK

Some of the backgrounds in the anime were very nice and not lazy like in season 1. I especially loved the backstage here at the music venue Matt was playing at. The graffiti was a nice touch.

First off, I like how it’s implied how the group was slowly drifting apart, like they’re still good friends but they don’t hang out as much as they used to.  Podigious first pointed that out to me how season 2 made it seem like the original Digidestined weren’t as together as they were back in season 1.  But now with the culminated events in Reunion, the gang has an excuse to come back together again.  You also get the feeling that the Digigdestined, and in particular, Tai, seem somewhat lost without the influence of Digimon like they don’t really know what to do with their life after going on a great adventure seven years ago or so.  But now that the Digimon threat is back they find new meaning in their life and jump right into it.

I think Joe needs a special mention for this as it’s becoming obvious he really doesn’t like his life.  He’s struggling on his exams and he just seems depressed in general.  Mary pointed out to me that Joe, as well as Mimi, had the most natural reaction to seeing their partners again as they were so happy to be reunited with them.  I think Gomamon will have a very positive effect on Joe’s life and possibly force him to reevaluate his life’s decisions.

Character interactions are spot on and great.  The characters are more fleshed out and are given a variety of opportunities to bounce off each other.  A lot of them seem like a natural progression from what we saw back in season 1.  I should also talk about Mimi cause god damn was she the best character in Reunion.  I think one of the reasons why I like her so much is that she’s very different from her English-dub personality of a selfish ditz.  Her annoying attitude is gone and it’s replaced by a confident and very funny attitude.  I like how Mimi knows she loves girly things and is proud of it.  Her and Palmon were really the highlight of Reunion.

One of the most hilarious scenes in Reunion was when the gang gets back together and Izzy lectures about the recent, weird events.  After awhile, the kids get bored and start talking to each other while Izzy is still prattling on, oblivious that they are no longer listening to him.  That was great.  In fact, a lot of the humor on this show was well written and executed.  Gabumon lighten the tenser moments when he made fun of Matt’s brooding nature.

And in no particular order, here’s a general list of the things I liked

-A lot of the animation was gorgeous despite my previous complaints.  The fights were great, the facial expressions were lively and the digital distortion effects on Kuwagamon were well done.

-Mimi/Izzy supposed blossoming of a relationship?  I approve

-Izzy’s wardrobe program

-The secret government agency

-Matt’s new band name, Knife of Day and Tai making fun of it

-Gatomon kicking ass!  I love it!  She got so nerfed after she became good in season 1 but after that fight with Kuwagamon I was like DAMN!  Also, her voice actress is just perfect.

-KABUTERIMON’S SPIRIT BOMB/ELECTRO SHOCKER!!

-The characters had an actual wardrobe and changed their clothes every day.  Also, Mimi’s outfit in episode 4 was adorable.

Digimon, Digimon Tri, Mimi, Sora, Izzy, Digimon Clothes

Now, I am really looking forward to the future of Digimon Tri.  I have to wonder what will happen and if the show will actually address where the season 2 kids are at.  On a different note, one theory that I have seen going around is that the other Digidestined will get their Mega evolutions which would be AMAZING and I would love the crap out of that.  Some people have even gone as far as to suggest that Joe will come through in the end and realize that his friends really need him.  Thus, his Crest of Reliability will activate once again and Gomamon will be the first to digivolve into Mega.  If that was true then I would be all over that.  It also begs the question if the other kids would also DNA Digivolve as well.  Perhaps Kari and TK will DNA Digivolve as well as Izzy and Mimi.  Or maybe, there’s a brand new evolution sequence that the show will introduce which I can also believe.

Regardless, Digimon Tri is off to a great start and I can’t wait to see the next five parts!

Advertisements

The Problem with Timeline-191

So I’ve already talked about two Harry Turtledove series before, Darkness and WorldWar, so now it’s time to talk about Turtledove’s other famous book series.  The unofficially named “Timeline-191” (and sometimes Southern Victory) comprises of eleven books detailing the history of the two American countries after the South won the American Civil War.  Told from multiple viewpoints from both countries (and one or two thrown in from Canada), we experience the tragic history of these two countries as they are drawn into conflict again and again up until 1945.  Now, upfront, I honestly think this may be Turtledove’s weakest major series but before I divulge why, let’s dive into the series and see what makes it so special and one of the most famous alternate history stories of our modern day and age.

So the first Timeline-191 book is called How Few Remain.  In this book we understand why the South won the American Civil War and what happened to the two countries shortly after.  After a brief prologue dedicated to the defeat of the Union, the book picks up twenty years later where the two American countries pick up arms again and fight each other but this time it’s for the C.S.A. acquisition of two Mexican provinces.  Fearing that the C.S.A. would become too strong, the U.S.A. declares war on the C.S.A. but is abysmally defeated thanks to the C.S.A.’s reliable generals and its alliance with France and Britain.

How Few Remain is probably the most interesting book in the series as it can stand by itself very easily.  The book retains all of the Second Mexican War and its immediate consequences as well and as such, many of our stories have a clear beginning and a satisfying ending.  What’s more, unlike the rest of the series, all of our viewpoint characters follow historical characters like Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain.  The book also offers very reasonable ideas of what the world may be like in 1881 such as the C.S.A’s continual involvement with France and Britain and the dominance of Democrats in the U.S.A. up until the 1880s.  Now, Turtledove could have just left How Few Remain as it is but he decided to take this story he created and make a mega book series out of it.  What follows is the next logical step in our timeline, and a 30 year jump with it, the Great War.

This is my favorite part of the series and it’s awesome.  Because the C.S.A. allied itself with France and Britain, the U.S.A., in return, allied itself with Germany and the Austria-Hungary Empire to acquire its own strong allies.  Of course, everything went to Hell in a handbasket, thanks to a certain Archduke, and now, not only do you have the mess of Europe fighting each other, but now you got the U.S.A. fighting Canada and the C.S.A!  It’s a literal world war at this point.

So the first reason why the Great War trilogy is my favorite part in Timeline-191 is how it’s not immediately clear who will win this war.  It could honestly go either way.  In How Few Remain, right from the start, the U.S.A. is kind of done for so there’s not as much incentive to read the book.  But for the Great War, it’s so close and even that any small event can help push the war one way or another.

I also like how Turtledove just didn’t pull any punches with the harshness of trench warfare and the dire outlook for many of the soldier’s lives.  The settings and characters are highly realistic and don’t offer that sweet storytelling guidelines many of us are familiar with.  It’s very similar to the Song of Ice and Fire series, actually.  I also like how diverse our viewpoint characters are ranging from regular soldiers, to spies, farmers, commanders, and politicians.  We definitely get a full spectrum of viewpoints that cue us in what’s happening in this crazy world.  Turtledove excels at this and has done this before in the Darkness and Worldwar series.  This is a guilty pleasure but honestly one of my favorite POV characters is Gordon McSweeney who is a stupid, badass bigot.  The things this guy says and does in this series is great.

Now, there is a third reason but let me get back to that in a moment…

Gordon McSweeney at his craziest. Image from http://jakarnilson.deviantart.com/art/Sgt-McSweeney-s-MoH-47587475

So, spoilers, the U.S.A. along with the other Central Powers, won the Great War.  The series doesn’t end there though as we are treated to our next trilogy in the series, American Empire.  This trilogy is kind of weak as there are jumps of time within the books.  The three books cover about twenty years altogether meaning there’s a lot of plot development crammed into characters whom we already don’t spend much time with.

However, the second, and primary reason, why the Timeline-191 series falters at this point is Turtledove’s over reliance in incorporating plot developments that mirror our real world.  I’m serious.  Turtledove oversaturates his story with parallel events that almost defeats the purpose of an alternate history genre.  Long story short, the C.S.A. becomes Nazi Germany and fights the U.S.A. again in the 1940s.  And guess what?  The C.S.A. loses!  Go figure!

Now, the next four books in the series, called Settling Accounts, is entertaining to read but by this point, all sense of disbelief is kind of thrown to the curb and we aren’t as engaged with the story as we kind of know what will happen in the end.  I even stopped reading the series by this point due to the aforementioned reasons and it was getting depressing fast.  You see, throwing in a little nod here or there in reference to our timeline is fun or all but this is just overkill.

This is why I liked the Great War part of the storyline the best.  True, there are historical references in this trilogy but it doesn’t control the story as much as it does later on.  The trilogy is fun, original, and not bogged down by its sheer alternate history glory.  I’ve actually read online that supposedly, the U.S.A. was going to lose the Great War and actually become the next fascist power in North America.  But then Turtledove decided later on that that wasn’t going to happen which explains several things.  One, Jake Featherston, who becomes the C.S.A.’s Hitler, was a pretty nice, if awkward, guy early on before he almost suddenly develops this hatred against African Americans; and two, Gordon McSweeney was probably going to be the U.S.A.’s version of Hitler until Turtledove pulled the plug on that idea and killed him off, rather inexplicably, at the end of the trilogy.  Very interesting fan theory for sure and I’m interested to see how that story could have turned out.  Regardless, because of this switch, the Great War trilogy is not as tied down compared to the rest of the series and that’s what makes it so good.  My advice is to read How Few Remain and the Great War trilogy and just stop there.

You gotta love the propaganda posters people make for the series as well. Image from http://s13.photobucket.com/user/Redem10/media/Turtledovepropaganda.jpg.html

There’s a lot more to talk about this series so I’ll just leave that for another time.  For now, I’m curious to see if you like this series and if you agree with me or not.  If not, is there another alternate history story you like better involving the American Civil War?  Let me know!

Battle for the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel

Saturday morning cartoons had been a staple for many people’s childhood.  Their prominence from the 60s up until last year is something that many people growing up in America remember.  And it’s easy to see why!  It’s Saturday morning, you are one of the few people up in your household, there’s no school going on and your favorite cartoons are on.  Just sit in front of the boob tube and boom, watch some awesome cartoons.

While doing research for this article (i.e., looking through Wikipedia), I read that Saturday morning cartoons began to decline in the 1990s and 2000s and finally ended in 2014.  Could have fooled me!  The cartoons I watched in the late 90s and early 2000s were great.  True, this wasn’t the era of the late 80s and early 90s where you had classics like He-Man, Tiny Toons, Transformers, and so forth, but we had our fair share of cartoons that we can be proud to say we watched.

And these great Saturday morning cartoons were not limited to just one channel.  They were spread out through the local channels and reaching those who did not have cable.  Now, cable channels are credited for the disappearance of Saturday morning cartoons but the ironic part is that I never really watched cartoons on either Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network.  Nickelodeon had cartoons on weekday nights while Cartoon Network went all in on Friday nights.  They were relatively tame on Saturday mornings.

As such, I turned to channels that I would otherwise not visit.  ABC, The WB, and Fox.  These three channels battled to be the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel.  They had a unique line up of cartoons that were enjoyable to watch.  Whether it be old reruns or new cartoons, they had the ammo to satisfy your cartoony desires.

But who was the best one??  Who was the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel????  Let’s take a look!

Now before I go on, I have to say that I’m only looking at cartoons that I watched during that period.  As such, this list is going to be very subjective.  You have been warned…

First up, let’s go ABC with their One Saturday Morning Block!  Ah yes, this block had the best opening (see below video).  That intro just made you get SO PUMPED UP.  I’M SUPER EXCITED.  I loved the hell out of that song and its animation.  One day, I got the bright idea to record the Saturday morning block and save it for a day when my parents wouldn’t intervene.  Sure enough, they invited some friends over one night for bridge and that’s when I whipped it out and played it.  Anyway, I would crank up the volume and listen to that song again and again and again (which probably irked my parents but whatever).  Hell, you still can’t help but jam to the music.  Even the snapshot above brings back nostalgia for me with its colorfully bouncy imagery.

So what do we have for our line up?  Well, the cartoons that I watched were Pepper Ann, Recess, and Disney’s Doug.  Other cartoons on the same channel that I watch if nothing else was on were Teacher’s Pet, Buzz Lightyear, and the Weekenders.  Okay, so want to hear something ironic?  I believe I read this on the Wikipedia page but many of the cartoons I just listed mainly take place in a school environment.  This is funny because the intro song (the one I just talked about) boasted how One Saturday Morning was “five hours of summer” and this is pretty funny considering we’re watching cartoons that take place in school…

Irony beside the point, Pepper Ann, Recess, and Disney’s Doug were considered pretty good in my book.  Even though these cartoons took place at school, the characters, humor, and animation made them unique enough that you didn’t really notice it.  Plus, they still had fun adventures (especially, ESPECIALLY Recess) even if they were at school.  They also kind of took on heavy issues, especially for Disney programs, ever noticed that??  Disney’s Doug had an episode of anorexia once and Pepper Ann had one on training bras.  I don’t recall Recess having a heavy episode though it did have those typical children moral tropes that you see.  Anyway, if you didn’t notice by now, Recess was my favorite so I’m calling that one as the best cartoon on ABC.

Next we have Fox which had Fox Kids.  Okay, so truth be told, Fox Kids was kind of weak in cartoons early on and didn’t really have anything good until we got to the tail end of the 90s.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the only major thing it had going for a while…

…then came Fall 1999.

With it came two cartoons that I watched which were Monster Rancher but more importantly Digimon.  Digimon was what roped me into Fox Kids.  I didn’t discover Digimon, and by proxy Fox Kids, until Christmas 1999 when I was waiting for my family to unwrap presents.  As I waited patiently in the basement, I turned on the TV and discovered Digimon.  The episode that was on was the one where the kids were fighting Andromon.  That episode had me hooked and I watched every episode I could find from there on.

Power Rangers: Time Force later joined Fox Kids and it remains one of the few Power Rangers (much less live action) shows I watched.  I don’t know why I watched that one but I guess this show evolved from a “I guess I’ll watch it” to a “hey this isn’t too bad.”  Monster Rancher was nice but God help me if you ask me what it was about cause I don’t remember a damn thing (something with a boy and a wolf, a stone golem, and Mike from Monsters Inc??).  Rusty and Big Guy was also an interesting cartoon if I remember correctly, I should check it out again to see if it still holds up.  Beast Wars was also good but, surprisingly, I didn’t watch much of that show.  A lot of shows, in general, didn’t last very long, sometimes just a season, if that, mainly because they were just not that good or interesting.  Remember Angela Anaconda?  That was a weird show…

Fox Kids was pretty nice and you have to love those promo commercials.  Those commercials were so cheesily edited that you just have to adore it.  You also have to give a nod to those commercial break jokes/facts.  One fact started with “what food would never spoil?” after a few commercials the break would end and it answered “sugar never spoils unless you have water on it.”  And of course after I heard that I put water in my family’s sugar container to see what would happen…my parents weren’t probably thrilled with that…

Ending this trio channel battle we have The WB via Kids WB.  When you think of your typical Saturday morning cartoon lineup, Kids WB probably matches it the best.  You have superhero cartoons, Looney Toons-esque cartoons, celebrity cartoons, and anime.  These programs were also not subpar and had a nice level of quality to them (well…at least most of them did…).

Okay, so you have Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain going off of the Looney Toons-styled cartoons.  You also have the New Adventures of Batman and Superman which was later followed by X-Men: Evolution, Static Shock, Batman Beyond, and the Xeta Project.  Of course, you also had Pokemon and Yugioh (which the latter came on as my interest in Saturday morning cartoons began to wane).  Perhaps the oddball of the bunch was Jackie Chan Adventures whose basis sounds so…weird…that you would think it was destined to fail but it defied our expectations and was actually good!

The Batman and Superman cartoons were so awesome.  I was actually more of a Superman fan when I was a kid so I liked watching his show more than Batman’s.  I remember Kids WB had a contest where you had to write in a letter saying which superhero “kicked more booty” and I recalled that my brother and I said Superman while my sister said Batman (fyi, I now think it’s Batman).  The string of superhero cartoons that followed were good but I liked the Batman and Superman cartoons better.

Pokemon was a definite show to watch but since Pokemon was shown on morning and afternoon weekdays, the pull for it wasn’t as strong as it could have been.  However, they would premiere special episodes (e.g., Indigo League Championship) only on Saturdays and that was a very good reason to watch them.  Yugioh’s more mature (I guess that’s the right word for it) anime appealed to my preteen persona so I would stick around to watch that show before I finally stopped watching cartoons.

I already wrote an article on Jackie Chan Adventures but I should at least give it a mention.  This show should have, by all rights, failed and I’m glad it didn’t.  The premise of the show sounds almost like a direct parody of other celebrity cartoons similar to Mike Tyson Mysteries.  But the show was great as it established a mystical world setting, humorous characters, and Jackie Chan-styled fights.  After the Batman and Superman show ended, I would go to Kids WB mainly for this show.  That’s how appealing it was.

Alright, so, in the end, which channel can claim to be the Saturday Morning Cartoon Supreme Leader Channel???  After carefully reviewing the three channels I’m giving it to Kids WB!  Unlike FoxKids, which mainly had Digimon, and One Saturday Morning, which had a rather narrow focus of show settings, Kids WB had a diverse selection of shows that appealed to a wide range of audiences.  These shows were great and the channel offered a variety of characters, settings, and animation styles that really made it hard to best.  And, let’s be honest here, Kids WB arsenal was Batman, Superman, Animaniacs, and Pokémon.  That’s entertainment gold.

So, what do you guys think?  I know I didn’t hit all of the cartoons for each block but there’s just way too many to list!  Which channel did you watch the most of while growing up and what were your favorite Saturday Morning cartoons?  I would love to hear your opinions!