Astro Boy, Gigantor and Eight Man are classic shows that have a place in American pop culture, even thou Eight Man is probably the most forgotten piece of the bunch. This was the 60’s, and a cartoon with robots flying in the sky, high-speed androids and robot boys fit the era fine. From what I’ve gathered from what people who grew up with these shows, nobody questioned their origin. They were entertaining shows on the telly and that’s all that mattered. I’d throw Speed Racer into the mix as well, thou it arrived just a tad later to the mix, but met with the same treatment.
Video and computer games have a similar history, all things considered. Nobody really cared where from arcade games came from, they just rocked the place. Not even the name Nintendo raised some eyebrows, it was just some exotic name cocked up in a meeting. Pretty much what Herb Powell did in The Simpsons.
Games had a shorter gestation period than robot cartoons when it comes to finding the source to some extent. US saw the mid-1970’s Shogun Warriors, a toyline that used wide variety of toys based on Toei’s show with some changed names to fit better the American market. The NES era is relatively infamous of its localised games, and much like how American reception of these Japanese cartoons ultimately was felt back in Japan, so was the localisations and changed made to games. Perhaps the best example of this would how Salamander became Life Force in its arcade re-release and effectively became its own spin-off from the base game.
This, of course, has been largely in America. Europe is a bit of a different thing, with France, Italy and Spain having their own imported animation culture to the point of Spain having a statue for Mazinger Z. I remember reading about a tennis comic that a French publisher continued after its end in Japan. This was done by hiring an illustrator who could replicate the original style and saw healthy sales for a time. Something that like probably could never happen in modern world, unless the original author has died and has made it clear that continuing his work is allowed. Somehow I can see titles like Mazinger and Dragon Ball still gaining new entries to the franchise long after Go Nagai and Akira Toriyama have left for Mangahalla.
Sadly, I am not as well versed in pan-European phenomena when it comes to Japanese animation in the Old World, but there are numerous resources in both online and book format, often in native tongue. Perhaps worth investing time into for future entries.
While things like Robotech and Voltron made their names around the American landscape, the 1980’s saw a growing appreciation for the original, unaltered footage. This was the era of Laserdisc, and people were mail ordering cartoons solely based on the covers. Can’t blame them, LDs tend to have absolutely awesome covers. Whenever these shows were shown in a convention, a leaflet explaining the overall premise and the story would be spread among the visitors or a separate person would enter the stage and give a synopsis of the events on the screen. There were those who felt, and still feel, that localisation demeans the original work.
Similarly, game importing became a thing in the latter part of the 1980’s and in the early 1990’s with NES’ success, though it should be mentioned that Europe saw PC game importing across regions far more. The Nordic countries began importing NES games anywhere they could and specialised mail service stores popped up just to service this part of the population. It wasn’t uncommon to see Genesis and Mega Drive titles sold side by side in-game stores. Appreciation for the original game saw a rise, either because of it was simply cool to have shit in Japanese or from America, or because some level of censorship was present. However, more often it was because Europe was largely ignored when it came to releasing certain games. Importing unavailable games to a region is still relevant, perhaps even more so than previously now that companies are investing in English releases in Asian versions and region free consoles are becoming an industry standard.
The question I’ve been asking myself for a long time now, longer than I’ve been writing this blog, is that whether or not wholesome localisation like Space BattleshipYamato and Starblazers was a necessary evil of the time that we can be do without now, that we are grown culturally to accept the original work as a whole, or whether it’s just hubris of the people who are too close to their sub-culture and co-fans. A person who is tightly knit with music’s sub-culture doesn’t exactly understand the sub-culture of pinball or golf.
By that I mean that pop-culture in general doesn’t give jackshit whether or not panties are censored in a video game, it’s irrelevant in macro-scale. Even in a localised form a product can impact pop-culture in ways that the original couldn’t, the aforementioned Speed Racer and Robotech being highly impacting examples in American pop-culture. I guarantee that these shows would not have their impact without the localisation effort.
Is it a necessary evil then? Perhaps this is the subjective part with no answer. Those who value original, unaltered product without a doubt will always prefer the “purest” form of the product, whereas someone who doesn’t have the same priorities will most likely enjoy the localised version just as fine. It would be infantile to assume that people who don’t know better can’t appreciate the original piece or lack in intelligence somehow. It is merely a matter preference, and like assholes, everyone has one.
If it matters, I personally vouch for unaltered products whenever applicable for the sake of keeping the integrity of the product and the intentions of the creators intact. However, also see complete localisations having their valid place in e.g. children’s cartoons. While it would be nice to have two or more versions of everything for the sake of options, that’s not always an option for budgetary, marketing or some other reasons.
Perhaps that’s what could be argued; when it comes to Western culture, we are more acceptable to unlocalised products more than previously, but total localisations still have their place. Even without knowing much about the source, we can appreciate the intentions and look past the cultural difference.
Or at least we should be able to, and appreciate the differences and intentions without resorting to raising a hell for nothing.
To preface this review, I do have a bias for Schwarzesmarken as a fan of Muv-Luv overall. However, because of this bias I’ve decided to approach this series from the point of view that it is a singular entity without any ties to pre-existing franchises. This decision also stems from the fact Schwarzesmarken was marketed with that title alone without any naming connections to Muv-Luv. Within the fiction there is no pretence about the connection, and one can only guess why this decision was ultimately applied. Whatever the case may be, the show still needs to stand on its own and deliver a solid show for a positive review.
To expand upon the series needing to stand on its own, this review could compare Schwarzesmarken to the Light Novels and the Visual Novel, and to Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. This wouldn’t allow the work to present itself as it is. A comparison between different versions of Schwarzesmarken is worthy of its own post altogether.
A television series is a different beast to literal works. Total Eclipse is a lot of people’s first experience with the franchise and Schwarzesmarken served the same role to some extent. Because of this, in this review, I won’t hold against the staff for the changes that were made during the adaptation. Whatever is on the screen and how it is conveyed to the viewer are the only things that matters, supplemental and source materials be damned.
This’ll be more or less in-line with the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv posts I’ve done. Expect a general outline of the whole series with commentary running along with it. Not the best way to make a review, but never thought I’d go over this episode-by-episode basis. Expect loads of terrible jokes to boot. If you want a short tl;dr version, you can slip straight to the end paragraphs.
Now that you know where this review will have its base stance on regarding the series, let’s start with the show.
Looking at how well recent OVA BD remasters have gone through, Megazone 23 being absolutely beautiful, it was more or less just the question of time when Fight!! Iczer-1 would see its conversion. There were some fears about upscales, but gladly what we got is the definitive version of the series.
This is pretty much just a gallery post. The versions used here are Media Blasters’ Anime Works release from 2005 and the recent BD release. It would seem that whatever source Media Blasters’ is pretty bad, ranking below any of the Japanese Laserdisc releases. If we’re completely honest, the DVD is probably the worst release, on par with the VHS release. This remaster really something the series required, looking and sounding absolutely bomb. Whether or not it will see a Western release is an open question, but I would hope so. The Japanese release came with a memorial booklet and two CDs containing the series’ soundtrack.
When the 1990’s rolled, the bubble economy Japan was enjoying the in the 1980’s burst open. The bubble economy is far too large here to go into detail, but long story short, real estate prices were inflated to stupidly high proportions alongside overheated economy activity and other factors. In order to keep inflation in check, Bank of Japan enacted a policy to raise inter-bank lend rates in the late 1980’s, and in late 1991 after fifth monetary tightening, assets had visibly plummeted and this decline would continue throughout the whole 1990’s, and being named as the Lost Decade. This has been later been expanded to 2000’s as well, making the Lost Decades, as Japanese economy growth has not recovered.
This directly affected any and all companies, and safe moves were essential. While reading Comic Lemon People we can see that after the first tightening by the Bank of Japan, there is a change in the stories’ style and content. The 1990’s Lemon People was a pale shadow of its former self, stories being less fantastic and illustration quality harshly dropping, until the magazine was cancelled in 1998.
The animation industry didn’t see truckloads of money and cocaine poured into it. Adventure! Iczer-3 was produced just in the time when the bubble economy burst, and knowing the history of the era we clearly see how it was supposed to be something more than six episode deal. Toshihiro Hirano himself tried to launch Iczer-4 related series off the ground pretty much straight after, but it never went anywhere and stuff got recycled into the second season of Magic Knight Rayearth due to the fact the comic had not yet finished. Sen-Shoujo Iczelion, or Iczer Girl Iczelion, was released in the early 1994 and was seemingly another attempt to create a mainstream television Iczer series.
I have the least background information on Iczelion outside what surrounds it. Much like with Adventure! Iczer-3 I haven’t paid it much attention. I do have the A.D.Vision VHS release sitting on my shelf (it never saw and English language DVD release), but just like with the predecessor series, I have no sourcebooks the or the like to read from. Guess it would be a time to fix that up one of these days and see what was going on in the background. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that neither Adventure! Iczer-3 and Iczer Girl Iczelion were successes enough to carry the torch, leaving this to be the franchise’s last animated piece. It didn’t help that Hirano never finished his damn comics.
On with the show!
The OVA starts with a pan over a wrecked city, with a fight still going on in it. Iczelion is hurt, and is she is soon trapped by the enemy and is killed off in rather visible manner. Then, the planet is destroyed and the opening fanfare rolls in.
This is an effective opener, showcasing that once again we have a competent group of villains, and there is just enough raw violence not to soften things up too much. Just like with Adventure! Iczer-3, there is no horror, bu the atmosphere is really damn nice. It sets the OVA to a good start.
Things don’t let go as we’re presented with the Nagisa of the show, Kai Nagisa. She wants to be a pro wrestler, and that’s awesome. Despite the economy crash, the early 1990’s was pretty damn good era for Joshiprowres. As Nagisa stop to wait a train to pass by, an enemy attacks to her direction, throwing the train towards her instead, and a strange little robot takes her to sub-space.
The mascot of the series introduced itself as Iczel, in English no less. It knows her name, explain the situation and proceeds to the blow Nagisa’s clothes off in order to become her armour just as the enemy arrives.
The armour design in Iczelion is neat. It’s nothing to write home about, but it mixes the Hirano-Iczer look with the Robo designs. Iczel is essentially just a mascot version of Iczer-Robo anyway. It’s a bit on the plain side, especially with the head gear. Orange is a bit weird choice for main character colours, but nothing bad in deviating from the form from time to time.
Nagisa is told to fight, in which she proceeds to neck-jab the enemy with a kick, then pulls a back-drop, exploding the enemy in the process.
God, I love this Nagisa.
Iczel of course reprimands her for not using beam attacks, and as the sub-space fades away, she finds herself next to the railroads in her new getup and arguing with Iczel. Nobody else hears the other participant, because of course armours talk to you telepathically. Iczel just flies Nagisa away. Can’t have her identity blown out. Nagisa and Iczel keep bickering about which way to fight, with Iczel not understanding what pro-wrestling is. Then we get the info dump about the forces of good and evil fighting against each other, and how Nagisa needs to be the next Iczelion as Chaos and Cross with their fighting machines called Gears intend to destroy the planet. The info dump is interrupted as Cross enters the scene and we’re given a scene change. Disco dancing time
This scene change serves as the point of showing that Nagisa is not alone. There are more than one Iczelion around with each one of them having their own Iczel as a partner. They’re all coloured coded too and as per super hero team standard, they all carry different types of powers.
Nagisa proceeds to lock Cross down, cracking her arm, but that doesn’t really help much. Shiina Nami, the Black Iczelion, enters the scene to beat Cross up in a very familiar manner.
And Black Type Iczel reprimands Nagisa’s Normal Type for screwing things up. Chaos lock Black Iczer into sub-space and throws a Chaos Gear against her so that Cross can beat Nagisa in another sub-space. Nagisa has faith in her wrestling moves for sure, but in this situation where those are not an option, she’s helpless and scared. Cross isn’t getting much fun from beating her up, until Nagisa just forces her and Iczel’s synchronisation off.
Hirano employed the same core dynamic with Iczel and Nagisa as with original Iczer-1 and Nagisa, where the two need to be synchronised in order to work and pull the most power possible. However, this Nagisa does not carry sadness in her heart or wish to revenge anyone, and is instead saved by Silver and Gold Iczelions. Looks like these three Iczelions have fought against Cross before, as they’re on familiar terms with each other, but as Chaos drops by and tells Cross to stop shitting things up as Voids want to fight too.
The episode ends with the three Iczels bantering and laughing, while Nagisa breaks the fourth wall and asks from the audience what’ll happen to her.
The second episode begins with a new Kawai trying to convince Nagisa to join them on their fight against Chaos and Cross’ forces, just as while the other Iczels are trying to convince Normal Type
to seek out a new partner. I can see the toy potential in these Iczels as characters that could split up to form either their own toys, especially when when they have that becoming-armour-gimmick going on for them. Kawai then proceeds to describe the origin of Iczels as beings created by Iczers to fight malevolent machine life form spawned from Big Gold that were spreading throughout the universe. Thus, allowing humans to combine with an Iczel would grant them the same power the Iczers wield, hence the name Iczelion. Nagisa, of course, won’t have any of that. Their chit chat is interrupted by Void attack, throwing them into sub-space and separating the two. Nagisa’s ass is saved by Gold Iczelion. The Voids are intend on killing Nagisa, but each one of them is stopped by one of the Iczelions. If this was a TV-series, Voids would’ve been the end-series upgrade to Gears. The same goes for the sub-spaces, as in the first episode they were twisted versions of the local space, but with Voids they return to the original OVA’s weird ones with one resembling a graveyard of sorts.
While the rest of Iczels are fighting the voids, Cross is after Nagisa. We get some nice character development for them during these fights, and one of them grows to giant proportions. Cross is enjoying the whole situation, but just like every Nagisa out there, she grows a pair when someone else is being threatened.
Because we are dealing with Awesome Nagisa, she proceeds to show thumbs down and drop kick Cross. Much like her predecessors, she pulls all the power there is, but unlike any other Nagisa she knows what she needs to do. Namely, grab Cross and back-drop her from the sky and explode Cross’ body. This forces Cross to merge with the giant Void. As Iczelions don’t have access to an Iczer-Robo, all of them do a combo attack that blows the combined giant up, most likely taking a few blocks with it.
Naturally, just like all sibling villains, Chaos goes all out and throws each and every Battle Gear under his command at the four Iczelions. The show ends in Nagisa telling her friends (and audience) to call her as Iczelion, completing her role as the character she was set up to be.
After the credits we see the four kicking the shit out of the Gears.
Probably the best bit of animation in the two episodes for sure
Iczer Girl Iczelion doesn’t stay its welcome, but it leaves wanting for more. However, it’s really nothing special overall. It doesn’t really fail at anything, but it doesn’t outshine anything either. It establishes characters that are not wholly archetypical and its main band is rather diverse. Not many magical girl shows have an adult stage dancer as one of its main characters next to schoolgirls.
The first episode establish how the series has stepped further away from the core of the original Iczer OVA, but that’s to be expected. It didn’t really have any good points to continue, and Hirano worked his ass off to expand on it and retcon things the best he could. Iczelion OVA doesn’t expand on how it’s linked to the rest of the franchise too much, but its radio drama does, but as an alternative world take of sorts. The animation quality is not terribly impressive, but for a 1990’s OVA it’s slightly above standard. Lines are well-defined and colours are reasonably rich. The music is pretty damn nice, even when it sounds relatively generic. There are some nice pieces spread across.
Nothing of original Iczer-1 remains in Iczelion, and around this time Rei Aran had rolled out his own remake in Lemon People. It’s a very enjoyable piece as a side story for sure, and I admit that I prefer this over Adventure! Iczer-3 any day. The whole pro-wrestling thing is just a bonus. Overall, it’s a very nice, short 1990’s OVA that does its thing well enough. It had some potential to become a full-fledged series, but that would’ve required some overhauling in some bits.
It seems that the series didn’t sell all that well overall and you can still pick up US VHS tapes shrink wrapped for ten bucks or so. In Japan it got the usual OVA treatment with VHS and LD release, a novelisation and was expanded with the aforementioned radio drama, but sales across the board were low in Japan too.
Iczer as a franchise never had true long standing staying power, and was always going to be a cult classic. Trying to force it into a mould it was never intended to conform into wasn’t successful. A franchise that started as a sexploitation comic about a space catgirl was most likely what defined Rei Aran to an extent, thou I’ve seen some signs that Patlazer-3 was originally his work of recognition. Iczer-1 just trumped over it with the OVA.
I don’t see the Iczer series having a new entry or a reboot any time soon, but we’re well past the time when it would’ve been relevant. The originals were production of their time, and the two sequels teetered out, lacking the punch the original had. Maybe, just maybe, if the upcoming Blu-Ray release sells reasonably well, something interesting could come forth.
With this, we’re done with the animated Iczer entries. We’ll see what I’ll cook up next month’s theme.
Adventure! Iczer-3, or as the old U.S. Manga Corps release renamed it, Iczer Reborn, takes me back with its old subtitle style and the use of M.D. Geist as their mascot character. Outside that, I feel that this series is just so damn unnecessary. It’s been a long time since I watched this, so maybe now I can reassess Adventure! Iczer-3 and give it a bit more credit.
It’s a six episode OVA, so unlike with Fight!! Iczer-1, I try to keep from going into details all that much. Unlike with the original OVA, the information I have on the genesis of Iczer-3 is lacking, but that’s mostly due to personal choice. Why?, you may ask and the answer to that would be because Adventure! Iczer-3 lacks almost everything that made Fight!! Iczer-1 a cult classic. It’s even lacking those two exclamation marks. The sound novel version would have that.
The show starts with an exposition fight between Iczer-1 and Neos Gold. Neos is a creature created by Big Bold’s core terminal, but how and when is not expanded on. What we know is that Iczer-1 is now on a planetary system busting in power levels and sports a redesigned armour. We never learn where her reality/time altering powers went after the end of the first OVA, but that’s the least of the show’s problems. It’s main problem is that it changes how the ending of the Fight!! Iczer-1 ended. Neos Gold refers Big Gold as being destroyed, but maybe that’s just Evil Alien propaganda working for you. As a side note, Neos Gold looks a lot like a random Lucifer Hawk from Silent Möbius when it comes to design. Maybe it’s just the design sensibilities of the time.
Maybe the opening shows some of the problems I have with the series.
The opening contains a lot of spoilers, basically showcasing all the minions, the return of Iczer-2, Atros and the return of a Nagisa. Sir Violet has also been replaced with Sister Grey. It feels and looks like a TV-animation opening instead of something out of an OVA. It sets a very different to tone series to the point of effectively abandoning the atmosphere of original OVA. Granted, let’s just allow it stand on its own. Despite that, the four minions look like something straight out of Sailor Moon, despite Iczer-3 bring older.
The show is set years after the death of Big Gold, and the humanity has moved further into stars. We had super technology already in the original, and now we’re even further out there. We see a spaceship being destroyed near Saturn’s orbit. Humanity has a space station on Moon, where Nagisa’s granddaughter, Nagisa, lives. In a surprising move, Neos Gold just announces her invasion intentions, and then proceeds to take over satellite weapons and shoots the shit out of Earth’s defence forces bases around the world with them while spreading alien insects. Alien invaders are pretty competent in Iczer series, but Neos Gold just ends up being petty and lets the lot of them live out of spite for Iczer-1.
The moonbase is soon after razed over, but unlike with Iczer-1’s body horror, Iczer-3 opts for straight up bloody massacre, but that’s pretty much it. Neos Gold then sets up a base on Earth, and the wounded Iczer-1 curses her. Sister Gray, a new character recommends sending Iczer-3 to Earth.
Iczers are artificial life forms, and there’s no reason to raise them. Iczer-2 was developed and built in matter of days, or overnight, the original OVA really doesn’t give any timeframe, but it is fast. It’s sort of twisted to make Iczer-3 this sort of little brat in size and looks, but aesthetics for the series mattered more for sure than making sense.
The moonbase is still being screwed over and Iczer-3 comes in just in time to save everybody. When she announces her name, Nagisa thinks she knows the name Iczer, which she shouldn’t.
The concept of child soldier who takes war and fighting as literal child’s play is a good one. Her introduction seemingly hits the right beats, her not giving a damn about anything, wrecking the place while going on a killing spree. However, it lacks any punch to it. As with the opening, all of it feels very TV-safe. Maybe if body horror had come back and Nagisa with her crew would’ve witnessed her slaying their old possessed friends while laughing manically as blood sprayed everywhere. That’s the whole show really, not bad in itself, just very, very safe in its execution and not doing anything special.
It doesn’t really help Iczer-3’s voice actor was a Joshiprowres named Cutie Suzuki. She was relatively popular in the early 1990’s and even has a Mega Drive game after her. It’s not very good. Iczer-3’s voice does grow on you, but in the end it just doesn’t cut it. Not to say the second episode has its moments character. Iczer-3 goes around destroying those satellite weapons, and accidentally punches one in the wrong place and causes it to shoot towards the battleship Queen Fuji Nagisa’s in, causing it to entry the atmosphere in the wrong angle and into wrong place.
We get some body horror in the second episode with the surviving people finding cocooned humans in the empty city they crash landed. Alien insects were using them as breeding caskets, but it’s very TV-safe again and less than explicit. The body looks something like from the Moomins. Another good moment for Iczer-3 is when she is sleeping next to one of the surviving soldiers, Rob, without any care in the world. The scene would’ve been nicer, if it wasn’t just exposition and plot convenience.
Much like everything else in Iczer-3, the episodes follow how a TV-series would pace its shows. Nothing really stands out from the animation or the like, though the new Iczer-Robo is reasonably well animated despite being a complex design.
Monster of the Week is killed with a renamed Get the Hell Out of Here! beam. I have to give it to them that they kept Nagisa nude in the new Robo, and despite her sitting inside a metal harness, it’s has influences from Aran’s cockpit design. The episode ends with Nagisa collapsing from powering Iczerio Bomber too many times.
If Adventure! Iczer-3 was a TV-show, we’d now spend about fifteen episodes adventuring around the globe and beating up MOTWs, but this being the middle point of the OVA, we’re introduced the the Rival character Atros being produced from energies from Iczerio Bomber. Before that we of course need a fever dream to explain how Nagisa remembers the name Iczer in form of a flashback. It’s really hamfisted, blame it on genetic memory or something.
Meanwhile Iczer-3 is running with animals and finds a stadium that was set up for her to fight against this week’s monster. No, seriously. Of course, she gets her ass handed to her, because this week it’s Nagisa’s turn to realise things while everyone else tells her not to. The whole battle ships arrives to the scene, and of course the enemies attack Nagisa & co., giving Iczer-3 a reason to fight better and goes toe-to-toe against the Boss of the MOTW.
Of course, Iczer-3 is almost winning, until the Boss’ pet sacrifices herself, giving the bad guy some humanity to her. Every thing’s fine and the Boss, Bigro, is now having a change of heart, which means Neos Gold kills her and her pet. Straight after we’ve introduced to Atros, the only real doppelgänger in the franchise.
At this point you may have noticed that the series, by its third episode, has set into a pre-established formula. Similar things would pop up later in Toshihiro Hirano’s TV works, and it feels like this OVA was supposed to be a TV-show originally, but for whatever reason it was turned into 6-episode OVA. Another reason is that this doesn’t look or feel like an OVA. There’s nothing explicit, nothing that stands out, no violence going over the top and even the animation quality is on-par with the higher budget shows of the time. Anyway, on to the next episode.
Atros is more mature than Iczer-3, further showing that Iczers can be pre-programmed with more mature disposition towards life. She’s the smug bastard for the time being to Iczer-3’s naivety. Turns out Nagisa just throws exposition out after their fight, mentioning how Iczers are born of something called Iczerio. A type of energy? Nobody knows, because this is the first time in the series and proceeds to function has a plot device from thereon. Nagisa’s kindness throws Atros into spastic headache like with all evil clones that really are good guys.
Atros’ self-confidence is lacking with the newfound confusion over what or who she is, and Neos Gold scolds her for that. She’s fallen into generic evil mastermind stature by now, and the last Boss of the four Heavenly Kings has what people can only call as Anime Hair.
This episode really is just all about exposition on the origin of Iczers, going how the Cthulhu have advanced technology, what’ the source of their power and the like. Rob shows some data screens on Iczer-3 and Nagisa really wants to ride him.
Queen Fuji arrives in Japan, we probably skipped about fifteen episodes of this was a 2 cours series. Queen Fuji and Golem do some fighting, before Iczer-3 meddles and gets her ass handed to her while Neos Gold laughs with her next plan.
Something had happened between episodes 4 and 5 in the production, as the quality jumps here and there in regards of the animation. This is very apparent in the fight between Golem and Iczer-3, and these two episodes feel very stretched. They could’ve shaved some off from both ends to shove them into one piece. Atros makes Golem retreat and tries to make Iczer-3 fight, citing that they are made to fight and that’s what weapons do.
This shows that the Iczer-3 we saw in the first episode, the fight-happy child, isn’t there any more. Her characterisation is an inconsistent, but can be attributed to her character growth, but neither writing or the voice actor really makes this clear. Nagisa’s face doesn’t really do any favours, and despite her trying to turn her side. Just like all confused evil clones, she runs away.
Iczer-2 is reintroduced in a very dull way, just pointing her Hyper Sword towards Golem. She’s not a copy or a clone, but a full-blown resurrection. her armour has a very slight update to it with new racing stripes and bigger, unsymmetrical shoulder armours. The light up pieces on her chest armour has been redesigned as well. She also got new boots!
Nagisa is also having those flashback dreams about the death Iczer-2. There’s a pretty damn neat moment right after, where Iczer-2 walks on-board Queen Fuji in the dark, just to greet Nagisa, and just proceeds to shoot a laser to Iczer-3’s forehead, throwing her on the ground. The two take it outside, just as Neos Gold’s deformed Macross Cannon defences begin to shoot around. While Queen Fuji is fighting Golem and Iczer-3 is fighting against Iczer-2, it’s Atros who picks up Nagisa.
The fight between Iczers is really damn nice, showcasing that while their power is comparable, Iczer-3 takes like a game while Iczer-2 is a seasoned veteran. In the end, she doesn’t play with the kid, first beam-gut punching her to the ground and the shooting a beam stright through her when Iczer-3 gets up. In the meanwhile, Atros has come to terms who she is and goes against Golem’s fabulous hair.
Iczer-2 doesn’t understand why an Iczer like the third one would be made, but we all know why; to become more human to experience life outside war. Atros didn’t really deal with Golem, and as she tries to kill both Iczers, Iczer-2 just blows her up. The episode ends in Iczer-1 getting back to the field after her fight in the first episode opener. She also flies faster than light, because we see her flying into our galaxy from incredibly far away.
The last episode sets clear that Iczer-2 has changed somewhat from her origin. She was always under Big Gold’s commands in the original, yet here she claims not to be anyone’s soldier. She just wants Iczer-1 dead. Atros’ character development is filled with her resurrecting Iczer-3 and changing sides completely. It’s not a bad moment at all, and is one of the better warm moments.
Y’know what’s been lacking in this series thus far? Sub-space, which makes its glorious return when Iczer-1 arrives to the orbit and gets challenged by Iczer-2 straight away. While the two fight, Queen Fuji makes approach towards Neos Gold’s defences. They manage to break through the defence parameters with difficulties, and I doubt I need to mention who sacrifices herself to make that happen. That’s what evil clones turned good are for.
Iczer-1 is well handled overall with her fight. When she becomes focused again, it’s clear that the difference that existed between her and Iczer-2 in the end of the original OVA is still there. She avoids, parries and moves from Iczer-2’s attacks and showcases her compassion, and ultimately, refuses to kill Iczer-2 again. If the animation quality was higher end here, this would be a crowning moment.
Neos Gold comes out with her upgraded body, and Iczer-3 just can’t touch her. The final battle starts with Iczer-1 and 3 fighting against her while Queen Fuji just sits there doing nothing. Just as Neos is going to kill the smallest Iczer, Iczer-2 steps in to save her and changes her sides. This shot also releases Iczerion, which allows the summoning of Iczer Robo once more. However, Neos can’t be killed here as she is using Earth itself to resurrect her form, a thing she does to spite Iczer-1 further.
So what to do? Combine all the Iczers’ power lift her from Earth and the blow the Neos to pieces with that combined power. Despite that, wounded Neos tries to escape, but Iczer-3 just uses her Iczer Bomb to tackle her body to bits.
Earth is saved and Iczers are going to return to space to destroy all the evil Big Gold has spread across space. Except, y’know, the entity known as Big Gold is part of Iczer-1, but that’s just one of the retcons. While Iczer-1 and 3 return to Cthulhu, Iczer-2 goes on her own path. Her tory is yet to be told.
With this watch, I reassessed what sort of show Izcer-3 is. It doesn’t have the charm or the atmosphere of the original, nor even the characterisation outside key scenes. Nagisa Kasumi is the granddaughter of the original Nagisa, but she couldn’t have those memories from her granny due to how the original OVA ended. There are little retcons like this in Adventure! Iczer-3. It also overstays its welcome just a bit too long at times, but it keeps things more cohesive and together than its predecessor. This is a guess, but it would seem like Icer-3 was supposed to be a TV-show originally, as Hirano had some troubles to get other Iczer related TV-shows off the ground, namely Iczer-4. You can check Rayerth’s 2nd season for some of the designs he was going to use, and Nova is essentially just a refurbished Iczer-4. She even uses the same swords made out of light.
Fight!! Iczer-1 was something with an attitude, whereas Adventure! Iczer-3 lacks in uniqueness. It established what a mainstream Iczer series would be like, but a mainstream Iczer series wouldn’t work because it would lack the edge. Someone described Iczer-1 as an OVA that was about horrific invading aliens and space lesbians. It’s not too far from the truth.
Iczer-3 is a fun watch, much more entertaining than what I want it to give credit for, and it’s a feel good series even if the Earth is completely fucked in the end. It’s not exactly what I’d call a successor due to how different it is, but maybe it didn’t really need to be. Deep Space 9 was a step away from the spirit of the original Star Trek and TNG, and that wasn’t a bad thin in itself, and I tend to view Iczer-3 the same way. I may not prefer it over the original OVA, but I am glad it exists to entertain those who like more than I.
Both OVAs appeared in Super Robot Wars L, and the way they handled the two series was simple; they were alternative universes to each other, which negated any problems between the two products. Honestly, that’s what I tend to think too.
Adventure! Iczer-3 wasn’t the last animated Iczer piece, however, and next week I’ll dive into Iczer Girl Iczelion and stop using ks sounds for a while because holy fuck writing and saying Iczer three weeks in a row is starting to feeling stupid.
There was also an audio drama for Iczer-3, but that’s a whole another can-o-worms in another continuity. Maybe I’ll open this up a bit when the Fight!! Iczer-1 BD releases
Seeing how Japan’s still buzzing about Iczer-1’s 30th anniversary with the upcoming Blu-Ray release and TV Kanagawa’s censored broadcast last Sunday, the theme for this month might as well be the Iczer series. I went through the conception of the franchise in the 30th anniversary post last year and then some, so may have some repetition. This will be spoiler country.
The original Rei Aran’s Fight!! Iczer-1 comic was a thirty page, two chapter story. Very tidy, very neat, very different from the OVA. It is by far the most exploitative version out of them all, with Aran’s THE ICZER ONE following in suit in the 90’s. Nevertheless, certain elements exist in the original comic that would appear in the comic, and other elements would be completely revised for the better or worse.
The first episode of the OVA is essentially retelling of the comic, having the same basic structure; showcase enemy base, moving to Nagisa having normal, then getting attacked and saved by Nyan/Iczer-1, ending with them two fighting against invading enemy.
The two versions are superficially similar when described that way. Of course, reading and watching the two is night and day, just like Nyan’s and Iczer-1’s designs.
I recommend you to look up a book called Robots and pretty girls Best Works Selection – Lemon People 1982-1986 as it has the original two-parter in it among other Lemon People goodies. I intend to go deeper into the original comic at a later date.
TV Kanagawa’s censorship brought up a comment that struck with me. It was something along the lines of How can anyone call this representative of Cream Lemon? It’s a good question, which also shows how the original OVA, or the first episode at least, stands apart from the rest of the OVA crowd. Much like Megazone 23, Fight!! Iczer-1 was one of the first successful OVAs, and both balanced between themes you couldn’t depict on television without troubles. Unlike Cream Lemon, which was porn through and through, Iczer-1 and Project A-ko were projects that were deemed to have a very different nature to them, A-ko seeing even further changes and removal of all sexual themes outside girl love.
Iczer-1’s edge is that it was one of the first of its kind in many ways for home release anime, or Japanimation as it was called at the time in the West. It had Cronenberg-esque body horror with Lovecraftian themes, it’s music was excellent, animation quality was a thing to behold and it hold you in its grip. It was serious enough with some rare moments of comedy and was handled superbly. It’s main mechas were one of the earliest cyborg-like hybrids, containing an organic being inside while clad in armour mechanics.
Let’s get into the first OVA.
The very first scene in the whole franchise is about a man running down the street as if he was being chased by something. He stops, and sees a silhouette of a golden-haired woman standing above him. His face becomes distorted, until it breaks apart and a red creature rips through his skin, only to be killed by a beam from the woman.
It’s an effective first scene.
After a short girl on girl love and establishing the invading enemy, the show continues from here to follow our second heroine and her morning routines.
Nagisa passes Iczer-1 on her way to school, where she’s just leaning to a tree. Nagisa doesn’t give two damns about her, thinking Iczer-1 is just some sort of cosplay deviant. At school she’s blanking out, until she sees a ball constantly bouncing up and down, with no one bouncing it. The ball flies towards her, breaking the glass and dropping her into a sub-space. Then, she sees her friend’s skin complex getting worse.
One of the main elements that keeps you on your toes in the first episode is that you barely know what’s happening. Much like how Demon in Devilman are able to posses human bodies, the Cthulhu in Iczer-1 take over a human host. They moult out of the human, ripping its flesh apart and sprinkling blood everywhere to show themselves for full mobility, and it seems they can take that shape back to some extent. It’s not just living things these Cthulhu can possess, but at least two houses are taken over as well. The scene above has a blue gradient to it, as the horror element adds another layer to it with sub-space, a space where the Cthulhu can freely travel to and from. It starts as a very abstract space at first, but then become a generic battlescape later on.
Nagisa’s being attacked, but the golden-haired woman saves Nagisa first with pure intimidation, then from falling to her death when her turned classmates ditch her from the roof. She runs from her saviour, only to be captured into the sub-space once again.
In the sub-space, Iczer-1 kills the Cthulhu and returns Nagisa home. Sir Violet, the leader of Cthulhu has a discussion scene with a the mysterious golden child in a sphere. What makes this scene effective is that everything looks organic and there is a constant heartbeat in the background.
Nagisa has a nice, normal night while Iczer-1 looks after her. Well, her last normal night, as in the morning during her family’s normal morning routines both of them moult. Even the house is being possessed, and Iczer-1 is fighting a Void, a high-class enemy trooper, inside sub-space. She manages to beat the Void just in time to stab the house and kill whatever spirit is being possessing it.
Enemy plans move onwards as Cobalt, one of the characters we’ve seen from the enemy side before, is being dispatched.
Cobalt and Sepia are directly lifted from the original comic, as is Cobalt’s demise. Cobalt walks around the city in her Delos Theta and taking down the military’s super weapons without any hassle. She takes it all in good humour, laughing at how weak humans are. Nagisa, who still doesn’t want to fight, turns her head around a bit, and is dragged into the fight by a summoning.
Iczer-1 doesn’t understand why Nagisa wouldn’t want to fight. She is her partner, and she’s facing their enemy. After they’re getting their collective asses handed down to them, Iczer-1 pushes Nagisa even further, making her recall her recent parents death she still hasn’t dealt with. With that she only seeks to kill everybody around. With Iczer Robo’s Get the Hell out of Here!–beam. Delos Theta is still functional after this, but is severely hurt. Nagisa, not Iczer-1, walks Iczer Robo next to it and punches through the cockpit, crushing Cobalt. The episode ends in Nagisa crying her eyes out in Iczer-1’s arms.
Second episode is all new material, starting with Cthulhu dropping their invasion pyramid Nova in the middle of city. Nagisa’s still in Iczer Robo and wanting out, and the invasion spreads to military bases.
However, one thing the OVA does right and garners a special mention is that it keeps the antagonists human. Cobalt, the pilot of Delos Theta that Nagisa and Iczer-1 defeated at the end of episode one, is lying dead in what essentially is an open coffin. We never see her face, or the lack of her head, but we don’t need to. We see the horror the cannon fodder enemies do in order to understand how shitty the situation is, but with moments like this we don’t need to see to what a character reacts. Sepia’s shocked expression is enough.
We return to Nagisa’s, with Iczer-1 giving her a bracelet that protects her and gives her access to Iczer Beam. While she dallies around, Iczer-1 fights a Void, one of the Cthulhu’s higher level peons, inside a sub-space that looks like a desert instead of something a Russian expressionists would paint. Meanwhile, Iczer-2is prepared to be born.
Nagisa has found a safe place with a little girl and her mother, all the while Iczer-1 now fights in another sub-space that looks proper, but then is thrown into Japanese painting with aninja. All this happening while the military fights against its own troops as well as against the fortress Nova.
There is a serious feeling of hopelessness about, Iczer-1 fighting to her best, humans essentially losing the war and now the little girl’s, Sayoko’s mother is being taken over.
Nagisa’s ring protect her and whoever is close to her for sure, but even it has its limitations. She manages to save Sayoko, but her mother is dead deal. At least Iczer-1 manages to defeat the second Void, but is then confronted by Iczer-2.
Iczer-1 and the main villain Big Gold are two sides of the same coin. The two share the same origin, whereas Iczer-2 has no such connection. She is built from the same basic blocks as her elder sister, but much more powerful. In straight up 1-to-1 fight, she would dominate with her power, but she is less experienced. Still, Iczer-1 is tired from fighting two Voids and while she is getting her ass handed to her, Nagisa is trying to protect Sayoko from possessed townspeople. She ultimately realises why Iczer-1 chose her as her partner and wishes for power to protect Sayoko, which summons Iczer Robo and devastates all the possessed people.
Iczer-2 takes this like a good sport she is, summons her own robot Iczer Sigma with Sepia as her partner and the fight is on! Well, in the third episode, the second episode ends in this screen.
The third episode was produced later than the first two, as OVAs were usually produced in batches of two in the 1980’s. It starts with retreading how Sir Violet was wondering through space, until she met with Big Gold. There is a clear change in animation and slight tweaking character designs, but the mechas are completely redesigned. Masami Obari had his hands all over this, and it shows.
There is much less horror elements in the third episode to the point of essentially having none. Sure, Cthulhus tentacles make an entry, but most of the episode is just mulling over events that happened, what it means to fight, why they fight and the occasional action scene. Iczer-2 loses the opening fight and understands that Nagisa is Iczer-1’s power source while the mankind fights a losing fight. It’s nothing new, and retreads what the first two episode was about in far more menacing way.
As such, the tonal shift from the two first episodes is completely intended. It goes from that depressive horror to a more introspective view and the horror of the situation is in lesser focus. What matters is what is the relationship between Iczer-1 and Nagisa. Nagisa finds her will to fight, and like all heroes of new century, she carries a great sorrow in her hear. Iczer-1 being a war machine, she doesn’t really get this. She loves a lot of things, but she’s all about killing Chtulhu.
It’s not until Nagisa is kidnapped and Iczer-1 fights to the point of exhaustion we get some sort of answer and a resolution to this. Iczer Robo essentially sacrifices itself to bring Iczer-1 to Nagisa inside the Nova fortress, where the she is forced to kill brainwashed Nagisa. This is the point where Iczer-1 realises what is that sorrow Nagisa was carrying. With her soul resonating with Nagisa’s, she pulls out one of the more iconic scenes from the OVA.
What synchro does did in Iczer Robo was that it powered the Robo up. For Nagisa, she could face her fears and fight, and for an artificial being like Iczer-1, full synchro allows her to see the world through all the emotions and push herself beyond.
Iczer-1’s and her little sisters fight after this is very short and to the point.
What follows after is that Iczer-1 flies to Big Gold, trades some words, accepts him/her/it as a part of herself, fusing each other and then returning everything to normal somehow, time travel or godly powers.
The third episode is also a full forty something minutes compared to first two’s 25min, and it drags itself. The first two episodes hold reins very tightly, but the third episode’s mangled plot resolution gives an unsatisfactory ending. It has a different tone and can’t really exist as a standalone piece. The first episode however is perfect as a standalone piece, and I appoint this to the fact that it was based on something. The original comic lacked any sort of horror element, and it’s a far more comedic romp overall, concentrating on how silly a psychic alien catgirl in heat was with some slightly serious things happening when aliens invade.
I doubt this post conveys how much I really dig the original OVA, despite third episode being slightly weaker overall. I’m sure you get the atmosphere this three parter has. What Fight!! Iczer-1 did to the direct-to-home and OVAs at the time can’t be underestimated. It did what you couldn’t do on television, and became a massive cult hit.
Sadly, its direct sequel, Adventure! Iczer-3 would essentially abandon and tone everything down. I need a week to go through that piece, haven’t seen it in years.
The series, for now, ends with a song called Eternal Iczer-1.
I don’t really have time or interest to attend local conventions. The biggest reason by far is that the overall offering within the programmes rarely have anything worth watching, and often are incredibly low in quality. Hell, even very specific programmes have been incredibly boring and misinformed to the point of being almost insulting. However, seems like I a new reason to add to the list; moral outrage for nothing.
When you think of Finland, one thing you might recognize as part of the cultural standard is how we bathe in sauna. Butt naked, sometimes with complete strangers and we whack each other with tree branches. To me, how we deal with sexual matters has been very reasonable. Nakedness in itself has not been anything to be ashamed of or to get mad about. Sea, river and lake beaches are full of people in bikinis and whatnot, sometimes topless. Doesn’t matter if its winter or summer, we still go for a swim.
I never saw anyone to have any problems with the human outside what we call flower headdress ladies, i.e. people who spread their own moral views to others in order to maintain certain level of moral cleanliness and how to live, often criticising erotica, pornography, alcohol use, smoking, dating, pre-marital sex and all kinds of musics.
When otaku sub-culture gained popularity across the globe, one of the first comics that was published here in this wake was Dragon Ball. However, in 2003 some parents and Korteniemi-Poikela of Family Federation were indignant of the rowdy humour it had. The aforementioned resented the way Master Roshi was portrayed as a pervert and how, and I quote “little girls are the object of men’s desire, who are taught to use their sexuality for their advantage,” essentially calling it as portrayal of pedophilia. Karhumäki compared the treatment of female characters in Dragon Ball to enjo kousai, compensated dating, a thing who has read Dragon Ball or knows even a little bit about it knows that its slightly racy humour is far from enjo kousai.
In reality, very few parents complained. In truth, only a very marginal amount of loud flower headdress ladies got their shit tight because something they didn’t like was sold on comic stands. Because of this, Dragon Ball was slated R-13 after the first few books, and re-releases would have censored panels.
As such, you can imagine how mad the fans were. For some years afterwards, there was a stigma that all Japanese material was perverted, and it didn’t help that series like Urotsukidouji, Adventure Kid, Devilman OVA were sold next to children’s cartoons in the same rack. People in charge had no idea what they had in their hands and blamed the products rather than the parents who bought these cassettes to their children.
It took some time for the otaku sub-culture to become slightly more mature than it was, and the current base here seems to handle most things with care and with taste. While some bad habits have been imported from elsewhere, there has been an overall quality on how things have been treated, and in a lot of ways the sub-cultured has blossomed and embraced its own oddities. After Dragon Ball we haven’t had any real debacle over anything, even comics have stayed uncensored, gore and all, and nobody has complained.
That was until last weekend in Yukicon Finland, where a cosplayer was asked to change clothes. There is a large post about the subject in Finnish in Facebook (archived) from where it has spread from. Do check the link for the cosplayer, if not for nothing else. The cosplayer had put on the outfit of Ryuko Matoi of Kill la Kill fame, which shows less skin that your normal bikini cosplay we see quite frequently.
The cosplayer had made certain that her own breasts would now show with the underboob and had opted to create relatively impressive fakes with foam and fabric. I’m not going to comment on the quality, because I am known to be less than nice to cosplayers when it comes to the quality of the outfit. Anyway, according to the cosplayer herself, the only people who threw glaring gazes at her and her fakes knockers was the security guard who would issue the outfit change. The cosplayer asked if she could take pictures of the outfit, and as she was outside in the freezing cold, another security guard demanded the outfit change as well.
The reason for the demand was that the convention was family friendly. Do note that their site especially mentioned the following;
Yukicon is mainly intended for teens and young adults but game and anime fans of all ages are welcome.
Note the point mainly intended for teens and young adults. If you intend to bring your small child to a convention that has a specifically targeted audience, you should be expecting content that is relevant for that age group, and the same applies to the event holders.
Is Ryuko’s outfit sexy? Yes. Is it anything out of ordinary? No, you see worse stuff on day time television on the streets, especially during summer. These conventions rarely have children under ten, and anyone older and into the sub-culture has seen worse and actively search for smut. These conventions have bikini laden characters cosplaying everywhere, like Black Rock Shooter, who actually has a more revealing clothing. Then you have the sales stands, where pornography is sold openly to minors, a thing that is counted as sexually assaulting a minor, and skimpy figures with barely nothing on are sold on the tables alongside Osakan love-me pillows i.e. dakimakuras.
The main reason why I’m writing this is because this comes from within the sub-culture. Thus far the sub-culture has managed to be open and admired anyone with enough guts to pull an outfit like this off. Sexuality was not repressed, and never was it sexualised as such. By that I mean how a person looks sexy with her look, just like person with an admirable body with the right clothing, but not sexualised as in Come and fuck me right here. That takes an effort from the wearer and the watcher, and I have seen this action taking place only in mutual fashion and extremely rare outside after parties. Seeing how the cosplayer felt confident, extremely so, about herself with the outfit, the only person who saw problems with the outfit were those who sexualised her themselves, i.e. the security guards, and that’s sad as hell.
Censorship works best when it comes from the inside, and when people begin to silence and limit each other. Then, whoever is in the power, only needs to sit back and let the fruits ripen. Ryuko Matoi’s character design is bold without a doubt, but it has nothing that wouldn’t fly in a family friendly convention about Japanese culture. Rather, a confident Ryuko could work wonderfully as a positive model in few ways.
Hell, the series makes fun of this sort of stupidly puritanical views to boot.
Really, their argument was what Helen Lovejoy is famous for saying.
In a convention specifically aimed at a teen and young adult audience? Give me a break
I thought we had handled this matter with the Dragon Ball censorship case, but history does indeed rhyme. I hope this will be the sole case, and that the organisers will see into this matter deeper and do the right thing. They’ve already lost a potential customer, but just like any service provider, they can always win me back. I doubt they will issue an open apology or even recognize the whole thing.
If we start to go the way of Sweden and Germany, I will cosplay as Hentai Kamen sometime and see if I can cause the security to force me cover myself up. Hell, I’ll ask somebody to wear Blue Snow outfit with me and spread smutty pictures around while laughing like maniacs.
I have to admit that I have personally grown tired of the term mecha. It’s way too broad and really encompasses anything mechanical. It’s an imprecise and unpractical term if you know what you’re talking about. Robot animation on the other hand is more precise, and we can be more precise with additional terms to this, like Human Robot animation (Tetsuwan Atom) or Giant Robot animation (Mazinger Z) and so forth. Westernfandom of course uses the mecha-term simply to note that the show is about some sort of mechanical robots. Then again, it seems that people are using that particular term as a sort of loophole to include bunch of series that have no giant robots to speak of, vetoing to the Japanese use of the word… which then really is anything mechanical. However, I do admit that I use mecha very freely in its western context, but for the sake of this post I’ll have to narrow it down to giant robot. Perhaps giant robot sounds too childish to some.
So, to be exact, I’ll be going over a bit more about giant robot animation designs this time. We’re going to check how giant robots changed at certain point from all-around cartoon characters to more industrial thing.
At some point in the 70’s there was a paradigm shift in giant robot animation, where the creators of these series began stepping away from the older style to a new, more modern direction. This paradigm shift introduced us industrial design in robot animation and comics, which has led to an increased numbers of gimmicks and details in every robot produced since then. The exact moment where this changed happened isn’t really easy to pin down, but I’d guess Combattler V is one of the first giant robots that was more a complete machine than a cartoon character.
We can assume that this shift was mostly due to the need of marketing robot toys to the children. Overall it’s much easier to overdesign something than keep it clean and simple. Mazinger Z is a notable example, and there’s a reason robots like Ga-Keen and Gouwapper 5 Goudam was forgotten.
Toy design is a branch of industrial design, so it’s not really anything special to note that when toy companies notices how well Mazinger and Getter Robo toys were selling, they wanted in. Thus, the amount of detail and attention on how the giant robots would and should function increased, and continued to increase further during the next few decades. Incidentally, this also lead into a certain level of isolation, where giant robo animation got its own stigma within the general fandom where every design began looking the same. For example, any design that followed the “real robot” principles laid down by Gundam looks different only because of its added details. This is actually rather large problem, as it just creates a large gray mass of robots where everything looks more or less the same without notable differences, which then translates into lack of interest from the general public who has more money than the core group.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Gurren Lagann became a sort of phenomena. Looking back at the show, it follows more in the lines of cartoony robots rather than what its age usually produced. It doesn’t stress the viewer as much to see acartoony robot as it does to see ahighly detailed machine hulking on the screen. The best example of this would be the live-action Transformers movies. To take amore objective approach to those, they really are some damn fine designs. The amount of attention to the detailing and how the Transformers move is astonishing and has no rivals. By all means this is the highest peak the giant robot design has achieved, but also shows the problem that this isn’t what the audience wants. They’re too detailed, there’s too much too see and keep track of most of the time. Personally, I have no difficulties on following them on-screen, but I recognize the problem. It’s the complete opposite to what Mazinger Z is, where all the shapes and details are rather simple outside the head, which is both the most important aspect of the design and the most difficult to get down just right. Perhaps this is where the super/real robot thing comes into play, as most “super robot” shows are more cartoony than those we call realistic. However, there’s a thin line here, and I still stand by the idea that super/real difference can only be done in Super Robot Wars games and within the show itself.
Cartoon/industrial is a troubling dilemma. On the other hand the older audience wishes to see more detailed robots both on screen and in model form. Then again, making too much details will make the animation harder, even if it’s through 3D modelling and producing more detailed toys will cost more. Then again dropping the detail level lowers the cost of both animation and production, but it also might not sell nearly as well. In addition, the older audience might not like more simplified designs, so the whole thing may change the target audience. Thus, it’s more important to know your target audience and design accordingly.
Then again, we have Mazinger Z, which has broken pretty much all barriers and could and should be enjoyed by all ages. This is another problem in addition to cartoon/industrial, where the designer is required to juggle between the themes and tone of the series the robot is meant to be in. This is where cartoony robots shine much more than highly detailed ones, as they can be pretty much anything when portrayed just right. Industrialised designs often start acting funny and strange, and even change proportions to add to the comedy, thus breaking the strict design they’re in. Mazinger Z can be very lighthearted, just like the original series was and it can be a full-out drama like Shin Mazinger Chapter Z is. Could Gundam be a comedy with it’s machines? No, it really couldn’t. All the comedy would come from the human characters. SD Gundam is Gundam with intentional design choices to change the show to make it a complete comedy. For Mazinger Z such changes are unnecessary as the design already allowed the design to be used in comedy.
While Combattler V can be counted where the industrial design took hold of the design where the giant robot genre would go with its designs, and Macross then stepped up the game even further with VF-1 Valkyrie. The reason to this is that often the toy of the robot was rather different than in the show if it had a transformation gimmick. If the transformation was simple, then it could be replicated in the toy, but for its time Valkyrie’s transformation scheme was complex. On top of that, the transformation was completely replicated in the toy. However, this also meant that Valkyrie’s design wasn’t a cartoon character in any form anymore, but an industrial design. After Macross, almost every giant robot afterwards was industrially designed, thus enforcing certain direction there shows went. There are high number of exceptions where the marriage of cartoon and industrial design is mixed very well together, like Xabungle, but to an extent very few series have been able to survive to this day.
We can also question the need of cartoony robot design nowadays. Animation has changed drastically since Tetsuwan Atom and Tetsujin-28, but even then we need to ask why haven’t these iconic designs been dethroned? Why is that there’s a statue of the original Tetsujin-28 rather than its FX version? I’m not the best person to give an answer to this, as I am not either Japanese or lived long enough to see Tetsujin’s evolution since its birth to the current day.
What Japanese animation (and my Little Pony) has proved that adult people are going tovalue awell-made children’s cartoon even thou they’re not in the target group. Overall, wouldn’t it be for the best to create designs that would appeal to all? Well, this is impossible to do. However, it would be for the best to balance between all possible target audiences within one design, and do more targeted design and series only occasionally. This is why a lot of giant robot show have been failing; it’s not that there’s audience to be grasped, but because these shows keep cannibalizing the exact same audience over and over. This isn’t the design fault really, but the whole genre’s overall. If the giant robot genre would be able become more broader once more, then things could look more bloomy. However, seeing how Japan’s birthrate’s are down, giant robot genre is in larger trouble than most.
To design a cartoon character is actually very difficult. Designing a robot through industrial approach really isn’t. Industrial design is hard only when you’re not really accustomed to draw within what I call function set-rules, which at its core is function before form, but after than all that follows in that design is to compensate the function with the form. Cartoon characters do not really need to follow this, because they exist in the rules of the cartoon world.
Personally I think that modern comics and cartoon overall have gone far too much into the realm of realism in many ways both in stories and how they look. Lately I have found myself enjoying older comics simply due to their appearance as opposed of modern look. The logic also functions a bit differently as well, and even the most serious stories manage to maintain their comic-like approach.
There’s something I often hear; the modern designs are more prettier and detailed, they’re more pleasing to look at. This is due to the paradigm shift, and how it has integrated itself to the general mind. Giant robots are not thought nor treated as characters in their respected series, but just another machine. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but it has made the genre far too homogeneous, where all machines are machines. In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, the main robot of the show, Machine Caliber Chamber, is more or less a character and is unique to all others in the series, but the machine itself is still industrially designed. There has been other interesting designs for some time now, but nothing what we could call new. I hope that during the next five years we will have a new breakthrough series that will not only bring in something new but also would slowly give way to a new paradigm that we’re sorely needing.
When a service provider takes critique with a positive attitude, you know that these people care for what they’re doing. My critique is in most cases a bit too extreme and that’s mostly the point, as I wish to showcase mostly opposite views while exploring other possibilities within certain limits.Often I look back at a post and wonder if I was too harsh, but then I remember the general attitude a lot of companies and organizers in general have. It’s a bit unfair to lump them all into one piece, but looking at these people in one general view creates a sort of competition to design better service. Then again, I do admit that I’ve been listening to Josh Hadley’s rants lately a bit too much and some of my intentions have been slightly adjusted to channel the passion that man oozes.
In that sense, you can be surprised that within eight hours of releasing my disappointment on the upcoming Desucon Frostbite I noticed that Antti Myyrä, the main organizer, had commented there and further explained the situation. At the time you’re reading this post the comment will havealready been deleted and moved into this post in order to open a transparent dialogue. Let’s see what the man writes back.
Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. The truth is, we actually don’t have a clue beforehand whether our GOH’s will give out signatures or not. Usually they do, but sometimes they just don’t. We realize how important getting an autograph from the GOH is to fans, and we have succeeded in negotiating with many who at first didn’t want to give out any. This time it was unfortunately a different story.
So, being in a situation where we can’t get everything we want, we could have of course cancelled the whole thing, but to whom would that do any good? I still believe fans can get a lot out of the visit, although getting a signature from Mr. Wakamoto would have been a highlight of the event (or even the whole year, for some).
As for communicating the thing, we didn’t release the information until we were certain that this is the deal we’re getting. Releasing incorrect information or just lying about it isn’t how we do things. We are of course offering a full refund on ticket purchase, if someone wishes to cancel their visit because of this.
Information is the most important thing when it comes to event organizing, but not just towards the customers. Having an open dialogue and clear set agreement between the organizer and the guests is highly important, as it helps in solidifying the overall structure of the event. Knowing well beforehand what will be, how it will be and at what time is extremely important. It’s far too common to have this sort of lack of dialogue and information between participants. Everyworking environment suffers from this from school to event organizing to whatever generic workplace we are in. The problem persists in our information era, even thou we have multiple sorts of instant messengers. Some things are in the human nature by default.
Uncertainty has been a downfall for few events that I’ve been putting up. That uncertainty needs to be removed with questions and answers from both sides, so no ambiguous assumptions are left open. This of course is always reflected in the information given to the customers. Leaving information allows the customer to assume what will take place rather than to expect what will take place. This is what you want to avoid as much as you can.
It’s understandable that we do not wish to release information that we are not certain on. However, then this uncertainty needs to be reflected on the released information. How this information is released is actually very difficult to achieve with the desired effect. Sometimes it may put the organizers in a position where they look incompetent, but with correct wording it becomes just a part of the information.
Personally, I’m glad to see that the organizers are willing to refund the ticket’s price for all who wish to that. While it’s “merely” 20€, you need to take account the travel and hotel expenses as well. The overall price of the visit is not 20€, but all those expenses added to it. Simply because of this good deed I’m still willing to participate in the event and further explore what do they have to offer.
We do have a version of the site in English (and an English Twitter account, @desukunENG), but the site’s currently not in use. This is actually a thing where we’d appreciate if you’d help us! We don’t want to put up a mirror site, because many things in Desucon Frostbite are completely in Finnish and we don’t want to make people believe that everything is in English at the event. So, we only want to publish the things that an international visitor might need or appreciates. Would you have any suggestions which things we should at least put to the English site? I promise we’ll have one before our summer event, Desucon!
When information on certain events is given in English, it always has to be made clear whether or not the event itself is multilingual. It looks like none of the Finnish convention practise English outside few selected programs, which is both a positive and a negative. While it offers everything to the local audience, it locks out the possible foreign audience. If we were to put an extremely overboard service, one way to open these events to foreign visitors would be to have a translator with a selected group, to which this translator would summarize programs and other matters. This sort of guided event translation service is usually rather expensive. However, the signs in the event could be bilingual and it would ask no extra effort.
Clear cut information is the key overall. A clear page design saves a lot of troubles later on. Mirroring a Finnish site into English would only be half the job, as the other half would demand that the information would be modified to serve the needs of foreign visitors. An English language site should always have relevant information for both local population who do not speak Finnish and information for possible foreign visitors. All the basic stuff from description of the event, history of the event, why and when… It’s all pretty clear overall. The same basic stuff as with any event site. However, English information site should also contain description of the city and a somewhat exhaustive collection of hotels, transportation timetables and maps for foodstuff, restaurants and if possible, a small review on each place would be extremely helpful. Knowing which place sells the cheapest pizza, or what store has the best selection, will always come in handy. Most of these are easily done with Google Maps most of the time, and many travel agency sites already offer this service, but having an exhaustive information package for the possible visitors saves their time, which then turns for the organizers favour on the long run. A happy customer is a returning customer.
The question What is relevant information? in this case it depends onwhat sort of event is being held. Newsfeed is always necessary, and while I do recognize how useful Facebook and Twitter are nowadays, the good old RSS feed on the site for new updates is still irreplaceable. Keeping both sites updated at the same time is also important, so thatneither side misses any important bits.
The event programme schedule itself needs to be translated as well, and further emphasize that all programs are in initially set language unless mentioned differently. English programs could also play part in the overall event, where certain set of panels or presentations are designed to be presented in English, or if someone would like to see the trouble going through, bilingual with subtitles. I’ve seen few well made presentations, where the presentation was held in Finnish, but a video was rolling in the background showcasing all the presentation with English subtitles. A lot of work, and if well made, really awesome way to present yourself.
This would be a good place for small customer research. If possible, I’d recommend doing a small inquiry among the foreign visitors what they’d like to see on the website. That, and visit hotels’ sites and other similar webpages to amass some material and patching a good vision what is needed to serve foreign customers.
On another note, it would be interesting to see if anyone from abroad would be willing to come here to arrange some sort of programme for the convention. We’d get some change through that. It would also give a chance for some adventurous person to wonder into Finnish wilderness called Lahti.
TL;DR We aren’t complete idiots, just suck at negotiating if you will
I like that bit. Negotiating skills grow only through experience, much like everything else.
P.S. I’m pretty sure you already know this but your readers probably don’t, so I’ll need to clarify: the organization behind Desucon is completely non-profit and all the work is completely voluntary. No one gets a salary, or any other kind of pay for doing this, so there’s no hidden scheme to make more money. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be criticism, but it should stick to the facts.
Our finances are actually open for everyone and the results for our fiscal year 2011-2012 can be found from here: http://desucon.fi/desucon/blogi/2011/12/luukku-2—desuconin-talous-julkiseksi (in Finnish again, sorry) The newest one was actually completed just before Christmas, and we’ll release it after Frostbite. If you’re interested in details, I’d love to go through them with you.
I admit going overboard with this a bit. However, non-profit or not, I see that there is no reason to not fully realize possibilities that event like this holds. Non-profit or not, it doesn’t matter on the long run. Naturally we can’t expect to have same level of service as in events run by companies that are after profit, but ultimately what only matters from the customers’ point of view is that they get what they get is the best possible outcome. If it would mean that salaries would need to be paid in order to lift the quality of the event, I’m all in. As always, there’s the fine line between doing the best you can, and the best your customers expect. Thou I have to admit, that sometimes the customers can be huge assholes with this.
If relevant in the future, I’ll take on mr. Myyrä’s offer and discuss on what goes into putting up an event like this. I’m sure that his point of views and experiences would be interesting to hear.
When I’m writing this blog I’m trying to write to larger audience in text. Then, there’s times when I let the part of me which is completely in the sub-culture rampage. You saw part of this when I reviewed the Finnish Game Awards last year, and from some of the âge related posts. I’m part of the fandom and part of the people whom with I share my hobby and interests. Then sometimes I see something that makes me boil, something that I wish to punch into the ground and ask WHY THE HELL ARE YOU ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN? I ask that whenever I watch Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise. So please hold on to your butts when I go slightly drunkard rage about local fandom that can go screw itself in the forest.
Now, with this second glass of 2cl whiskey and Christmas apple pop I read the event schedule for Desucon Frostbite 2013, an anime convention that is held in Lahti Finland. I don’t usually go to conventions unless I’m one of the workforce and having a panel of sort on my own. A panel two years ago bombed because my co-host ultimately only knew about Macross and Gurren Lagann, whereas I spend a lot of time talking about almost every show. Last year I held that OVA history panel. This year I’m aiming to have a panel about how companies succeed and fail at brand management in both visual and content department. See, I wish to bring some class, some actual content to the local event we have. My aim is to inform myself and others about things that matter more outside opinions. Facts can’t lie. Making a panel of matter that has been talked and debated thousands of times over is not good entertainment nor does it inform. Making a panel about one being uninformed and ignorant draws laughter from those who are wiser. In short, I just wish to bring a bit of professionalism to a sub-culture that is filled with idiots and ignorants that want to laugh and hump each other on the conference floor while wanking off each others’ egos about how nice their godawful cosplay is. The larger audience, the real people out there, do not give a flying fuck about us and will never regard this as a serious hobby as long as we keep having panels about fanfiction character relations shipping.
Yes dear reader, I’m mad as hell and on my fourth glass of whiskey at the moment. I ran out of pop. I’m going to tear this schedule a new ass to shit from. I’m sorry that it’s Finnish only, God forbid the people running this show to make an English mirror for their site when they have Norio Wakamoto on the stage and people from all over Europe are coming in. God I hate this level of stupidity.
So OK, Saturday morning panels are Tales of Whaa I’m sorry, if you’re having a Finnish panel then have your panel in Finnish and avoid using these godawful jokes in there if you’re not going to make a comedy panel. The panels is a joke from the get go; they’re going to concentrate on the characters and on the story rather than on the gameplay. Because of people like you the game industry is dying for God’s sake I need more whiskey. The panel this joke is going against is Drills, tits, robots and a little epicness- For the love of all that is holy what is wrong with these people? YES, Gurren Lagann became popular as the cheapest whore in a village consisting only of men, but do you REALLY assume that people in this fandom have missed Gurrel Lagann so completely that you need a panel to explain why its popular? This is a good example of a panel that could be replaced with fifteen minutes of googling or ten minutes of Youtube viewing. There’s no reason this kind of panel should be here; it’s repetitive, self-doubting and clearly aimed at somebody who has never heard of word anime in their lives. And every single time you describe something as epic I want to punch you in the mouth with a brass knuckles that have shotguns shells installed.
Next up are Good, bad and brainless? with You have a weird fliflap.
Now the former might actually be decent as it should dog up some really strange stuff, but I’m completely positive we’ll end up hearing of stuff like Dragon Half or bunch of 80’s OVAs. Hell, my blog alone has more obscure OVAs listed than half of the attendees have ever heard. Then we have the flipflap panel and I want to punch these people if they’re going to use original examples or foreign dubs. This panel shares a problem with pretty much every panel that I won’t be mentioning; it has a specific small group to cater to. If you’re not wanting to be a voice actor, or anally pained how the flipflap misses one millisecond on shows, this panel isn’t for you.
I’m not even going to touch DokiDokisomething, Ghiblipart of life (BWAHAHAHAHAHA!) and Cosplay and self-confidence (hint; if you don’t have one, don’t cosplay [Hint #2; Cosplay isn’t about suiting up like your character, it is about being the character. Get your shit right, cosplaying isn’t about being in a carnival.]) panels. They’re completely underwhelming by name and content description, and one can find the content they’re going to have with fifteen minute Googling again. But then, we have something that is wrong with the fandom; shipping. Now in general having a panel about the fandom related activity is a good idea, as most of these will go unnoticed by the larger crowd, like what goes into making a doujin comic. Then we have this kind of panels that talk about something that the panel holders themselves do and what is generally considered a degeneratory thing within the fandom. People, don’t have panels about your fanfictions. Nobody cares outside your own little circlejerk friends. Whoops there went through two or three panels.
Lesson #1; Design panels that are interesting to everybody and that is not offensive to anyone in any way. If you’re going to put tits in your panel name, then you better show be some goddamn good quality tits.
Now there’s a panel that I’m interested in, it’s called Anime’s adoption countries = cult series around the world. This sounds interesting, but then again this panel could be just another googling job. Depending what countries are handled, this could be the shining gem amidst it all. Then again, if they fail to mention how Goldorak is the only anime to get 100% viewership around the world when competing channels existed, they’ve failed. France is a gold mine when it comes to anime to the extent some people talk about euroanime. Then we have Interstellar relationship charts which goes through slew of character relations outside the school environment. Good job ignoring Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, [Editor; bastards] and if you’re not going to mention Muv-Luv then you can I need more whiskey to keep going.
Y’know, if you’re going to have a panel about Upotte, please, PLEASE make intellectual wankery rather than about why RK-95 is insane sadistlesbianmistress. It’s not funny, it’s not entertaining and I can’t masturbate to it in public. That would be a nice general rule; if you’re having anything with slightly touching fanservice to level of softcore porn, don’t use it. Otherwise make it a mid-night show and offer people tissues.
Homepropper’s ABC sounds awesome though, the only really interesting panel this far. While there are tutorials and such, this is really a subject that needs the voice of experience. I’m eagerly waiting for this one. The rest of the day is just unwatchable garbage, thou I’ll give the Chuu2byou a benefit of doubt. All other panels I never mentioned can go screw themselves. They bring nothing new to the table and offer no new information or experiences.
So, Sunday starts with with Don’t watch anime named Gundam-
The panel is how not to watch the Gundam series. This panel is example of all bad that is in the current fandom; plain ignorance and unwillingess to do any research. This panel is going to be so bad and I’m intending to go there and point every single error the guy makes. Y’know how to watch Gundam? GO to Wikipedia and check what has been made and start watching them as they are listed. It’s not that hard, it just demands three brain cells but knowing the generic anime audience these brain cells are already dead and the genitals do all the thinking. Also, I ran out of whiskey and now I’d drinking beer.
I’ll say it now; Sunday’s program is an atrocity against mankind and breaks all rules of the Geneve convention. But the worse is Pokémon vs. Digimon. Props for typing Pokémon with the é, but do we really need to go through a subject that was settled TEN YEARS AGO? Actually more than that. This panel is unnecessary, stupid and completely bullshit. We’re adults, right? We can do our own research to determine which is better. We can sit down and watch both first seasons of the shows and play the games. We can make our own damn decisions. Unless this is a proper debate, then the panel has no reason to be there whatsoever. It’s like having a panel on Galaxt Express 999 and Captain Harlock; the end result is that both of them are awesome.
I’m not saying that the anime fandom has grown in the last thirty years. Some people in the fandom have, and it’s understandable to see young people to have this kind of panels, but seeing this level is garbage year after year sucks all the fun in going to the conventions. There’s literally no program to the general public, only for selected audience in an already small group. It’s stupid. Sticking to one series to show WHY IT BECAME POPULAR is stupid. If you’re going to discuss one series, have a two hours lecture where you spend the first hour setting the series and introducing it while answering questions, and then the second going in depth about it. Opinionated panels are good as long as you’re admitting it and allowing the opposing views have their stay, otherwise your panel is bad comedy. Needs of the many outweight the needs of the one, and the one being the panelist/s. Seriously, if you’re up there having a show, then make sure that it’s quality from top to bottom and something that the audience finds interesting. Fuck what you think, you, the panels, they do not matter nor doyour tastes. Props to you if you manage to find a subject you find interest in.
And for the love of all loving Primus do your own research. Hell. I’ll give you some subjectsyou could do that would demand some research from you; Change of male/female character depiction from the 70’s to 00’s in selected genre; Effects of Star Trek to Japanese popular culture and how it affects modern anime; Manga, anime and games- how branding and franchising one series is alive in the Japanese culture; Midnight anime series and their evolution from adult humour to softcore porn; Evolution of design in anime, or how cylinders became cubes and then cubic cylinders and Mazinger Z and it’s effects on Japanese otaku culture.
Is it too much to ask forsome goddamn quality? Well, of course it is when it comes to these people. Well shit, I had to come to that conclusion after seven glasses of whiskey and a bottle of Asahi Dry beer.
Now, I’m not saying that don’t have fun. I’m not saying that you couldn’t provoke your audience with slightly misleading titles. I care about this hobby of mine enough to get mad at people wasting their time, other people’s time and my own. I’m sure that a lot of people will enjoy some of these panels and presentations, but when the offering is this bad from year to year, you kind of lose the sight of what’s really good. What I’m saying that these people, who are clearly amateurs, should put on their best effort to deliver content that would stay away from the negative stereotypes. Pretty much every single held event there is nothing short of piss easy googling and shows complete lack of enthusiasm to the overall scene outside their own interest. This sort of convention only enforces the negative view the rest of the nation has on the people who are into this sub-culture. Not only that, but you can see that these people have no intention of putting a good show. They’re making them just to make sure that they get in free. Well you do a bett– I’m the paying customer. I have no need to do any better. I have all rights the be there to say that this is piece of shit and not worth the 20€ I paid for the ticket. Anyway, I have done better, and I will make a better program than any of these listed here. Hell, my program last year was better than any program any of these people have at Frostbite, OUTSIDE one.
There’s exactly one panel that I’m sure it will be good, awesome, informative, entertaining and interesting. It’s called An invitation to Japanese comic studies which not only tells everything you need to know about the program, but also that these people might have a slight knowledge what they’re going to talk about. The again, they do mention yuri in the panel description, which automatically throws me into a spiral of suspicion. Why to separate it from other genres? Are they going to concentrate on it that much? If so, then they’re going to lose the credibility I have given here. Otherwise Frostbite is like in a mountain of shit there’s a small shiny gem, but if all signs show me right, the gem will only be covered in shit and only mentioned once in a bard’s song years from here.