Thursday, 27 July 2017

Dragonball Book 6: Bulma's Return

"That speed... That power... It's incredible" - Major Purple

This is my cut n'paste intro for my end of month indulgence (if I feel like it) as I make my way through all forty-two collected volumes of the enduringly popular and influential manga Dragonball. The series used to be split into the fantasy and whimsy filled Dragonball and the more serious, sci-fi orientated strip it became after sixteen volumes known as Dragonball Z, but now the series is being released under the one "Dragonball" title again; uncut and with a spiffy new translation.  The series first ran in the famous anthology magazine "Shonen Jump" from 1984 to 1995 and was written and drawn by Akira Toriyama (It has been translated here by Mari Morimoto and adapted into English by Gerard Jones, the western publisher is Viz Media) and pretty much set the standard for the similar shonen manga and anime that came after like Bleach and Naruto.  It follows the adventures of the kindly if somewhat sheltered and simple "Son Goku" as he trains, goes on adventures and enters competitions all with the aim of making himself a stronger and better fighter.  Along the way he accrues a colourful cast of friends and rivals in a world where humans live alongside anthropomorphised animals, dinosaurs never died out and tiny capsules can contain vehicles and houses to be easily carried around.

[Note:  This manga is "unflipped" so must be read from right to left]

Previously On Dragonball:  Goku made it to the final of the Strongest Under Heaven Tournament and after a long and valiant fight against his disguised master he was beaten.  Kamesen'in then told him that he had trained him as much as he could and now Goku must blaze his own trail.  Goku decides to search for one of the fabled Dragonballs, seven balls that when bought together, summon a dragon who can grant a wish.  The Four Star ball belonged to his deceased grandpa and because the balls fly off once the wish is granted he needs to hunt it down, his friend Bulma gives him the Dragon Radar that will help him locate the balls and he flies off on his cloud Kinto'un to start his search.  Unfortunately a nefarious organisation called "The Red Ribbon Army" is looking for them as well.  Their radar isn't as precise as Goku's though.  Goku first tangles with them when he finds the Seven Star ball, and his cloud is blown apart by a rocket launcher.  Using a plane he flies to the next location, a snowy village whose mayor has been kidnapped to force the townsfolk into looking for the balls.  Goku decides to ascend "Muscle Tower" which has a fight on each floor, to rescue the mayor. We left him in the middle of his battle against the idiotic ninja Sergeant Major Purple.  And now the continuation.

Facing off against each other, Goku armed with his Nyoi-Bo a stick that can telescope almost infinitely, Major Purple goes on the attack.  And Goku shoves the Nyoi-Bo right up his bum.  He yanks it back out and Major Purple rages that he'll pay for that humiliation.  But Goku then smashes Major Purple's legendary blade.   So Major Purple throws a boomerang shuriken at Goku which knocks him down as it returns.

Goku vs. Major Purple
But Goku isn't out and gets up angrily, chasing Major Purple into a hut.  After throwing tatami mats at Goku, Major Purple decides it's time to break out his ultimate attack.  And he splits himself into five versions of himself.  Four are an illusion so Goku has to guess which.   But as they press their attack Major Purple says the secret is "we are all real!!!"

But in a display of the kind of kung fu that saw him nearly beat his master Goku takes them all down bar one who makes his way to a creature in a cage who looks like Frankenstein's Monster.  He lets him out calling him "Mechanical Man No. 8".  He orders the Mechanical Man to attack Goku, but it says "it's bad to kill.  I don't like bad."  Major Purple yells at him that the Red Ribbon Army made him so he can't disobey.
Mechanical Man No.8
But Mechanical Man No. 8 stands firm, he will not fight.  So Major Purple pulls out a remote control saying he'll set off the bomb implanted inside him if he doesn't act.  Mechanical Man No. 8 responds, "if I have to be bad... I want to be blown up."  But Goku won't let that happen and manages to kick the remot out of Major Purple's hand and smashes it.  Then Goku delivers a hard punch to his face knocking him out.

Mechanical man No. 8 says he's happy and thanks Goku.  Goku says he should have defended himself, but Mechanical Man No.8 is resolute and admits, "I'm scared to fight".  He asks if Goku is here to save the village Mayor and Goku says yes, so he says he'll come with him.   Goku decides "Mechanical Man No.8" is too much of a mouthful so renames him "8-Man".

They climb the stairs, passing floor five which has no door to it, they reach floor six and enter the room.  It's the control room with General White and the hostage Mayor in it.  8-Man asks him to let the Mayor go.

General White: "So... the treacherous tinker-toy dares to speak does he...? I'll give you one last chance to cooperate!!!"

And he presses a button opening a trap door under them, dropping them into floor five.  Looking down General White demands the Dragonballs and the radar he has, but Goku says no.  So the wall opens and reveals a huge reptilian blob monster, called "The Jiggler".
Goku vs. The Jiggler.
Goku goes on the attack but just bounces off the Jiggler's body.   After a few tries, Goku realises his punches and kicks aren't working.  Then a huge tongue flops out of the Jiggler's mouth and wraps around him and then swallows him.  But Goku pries his mouth open from the inside and climbs out.  The Jiggler then fires electric bolts from it's antennae. Goku unleashes the energy attack, the Kamehame-ha.  But that bounces off the Jiggler as well.

However, Goku remembers how cold it was outside and decides this is the weapon he can use against the Jiggler.  He smashes a hole in the wall then jumps inside 8-Man's coat as a freezing wind blows in and ices the Jiggler up.   then Goku hits it hard and the Jiggler cracks into many pieces.  Then Goku jumps up and crashes through the floor where General White is.

Goku: "Now let that Mayor Guy go!!!  Or you're really gonna get it!!!"

Facing off, Goku starts beating General White up.  White ends up cowering behind a control panel thinking tha Goku is "some kind of monster."

Then he grabs his gun and holds it to the Mayor's head.  8-Man begs him to "stop doing bad things".    The Mayor yells that they can sacrifice him to save the village.  But when Goku takes him seriously he adds he'd prefer not to die if it's all the same.   So Goku is ordered to show his back to General White who shoots him with the "Hyper Gun".
Goku takes a bullet.
Goku topples forwards but when General White fires again, 8-Man takes the bullet.  And in a furious rage, punches General White hard in the face smashing him through the wall and out of the tower.  Goku isn't dead, he's just had the wind knocked out of him, and 8-Man carries him down into the village accompanied by the Mayor.

They all gather together for a hearty meal, Goku pigging out as usual.   Everyone is very grateful to him and 8-Man, and 8-Man reveals he had the Dragonball everyone was after all the time, he'd found it while out walking one day.  Sadly it's the two star ball not the four star, but everyone agrees keeping it in the village would be more trouble than it's worth so Goku keeps a hold of it.

The Mayor also invites 8-Man to come live with them, 8-Man says he's just an android but the Mayor tells him "you're a better man than most of the 'real' people I know".  8-Man is overcome with gratitude and he and Goku bed down for the nigt.  Goku checks the Dragon Radar ad discovers it got broken in one of the fights, so he's going to have to return to Bulma the teen genius who invented it to get it fixed.

He wonders how he'll get there now that Kinto'Un his flying cloud is gone.  But the villagers tell him you can't destroy a Kinto'un and so Goku calls it and it whooshed down to him much to his delight.   He bids everyone farewell and they all wave him off as he flies off to the city in the west where he'll find his friend.
Kinto'un's back!
Arriving in the city, Goku is immediately a bit overwhelmed. He starts asking random strangers where Bulma is, and of course he gets brushed off.  Realising he needs some money he comes across a martial artist challenging people to fight him, if they win they get 30,000 zeni.  So Goku challenges him and everyone is amused that a kid would try and fight.  But he dodges all the blows and punches at the fighter so hard he smashes a hole in the wall.  Fearful, the fighter submits and gives him the money.

Some robbers try and hold him up to take his money, but he beats them senseless. Finally someone advises him to ask a policeman and Goku does so.  The policeman searches for Bulma and finds her on his computer.  When he realises she's the daughter of the head of Capsule Corporation he is suspicious that Goku might be up to something so he takes Goku there on the back of his bike.

They arrive at Capsule Corp and the cop says she's probably at school, but then Bulma pulls up on her bike and has a happy reunion with Goku.  He tells her the radar is broken so she takes him inside to meet her parents.  Professor Briefs is her dad, and is a great character simply because he always has a small, wide-eyed black cat hanging onto his shoulder.  Inside the huge dome is a big garden for all his pet cats and dogs and dinosaurs.
Bulma, her dad and her dad's cute cat.
Bulma tells her dad to fix the policeman's bike while she and Goku go upstairs. He asks if they are going to make out much to her annoyance.  Actually she's going to fix the radar and when Goku asks her what "make out" means, she snaps that children don't need to know.

Elsewhere the Red Ribbon Army leader is checking his radar which only gives a rough idea where the Dragonballs are.   A photo of Goku is sent through to them, Commander Red tells his lackeys to have it faxed to all units, "kill him on sight!!! Got that?!"  He grumbles that Goku is having more success than they are finding the Dragonballs, and his right hand man says Goku must have a more sophisticated device for finding them.

Back with Goku and Bulma, she fixes up the radar, then she decides as it's the weekend tommorrow, she'll come with him. Goku says she'll just get in the way but she shows him a watch she's invented that shrinks her down to afew inches in height.   She demonstrates and gets trodden on by her mum.  She tells Goku that Bulma and Yamcha are are fighting right now because Bulma can't stand the fact he's popular with the girls. Bulma puts on her jacket and picks up a box of capsules and shrinks herself down so Goku can carry her on Kinto'un.  He calls it down and they speed off.  Unfortunately then Professor Briefs realises she picked up his capsules not hers.

While they travel to the ocean for the next ball, they are also going to bump into the sadistic General Blue who is also searching the area.  They land on the beach and Bulma gets out her capsules so she can pop out a boat.  Sadly it's only her dad's capsule and it's full of porn mags.  Goku looks with interest saying "how come they're naked if they're not having baths?"  A furious Bulma rips them all up.
Goku scouts the terrain out.
So Goku swims out to where the Dragonball is located, but it's down in a sea trench and he can't hold his breath long enough to get to it.   Meanwhile Bulma is attacked by some of General Blue's forces, they land their chopper and imply they are going to sexually assault her.  Leaning on the fourth wall Bulma says:

Bulma: "You mean those naughty things you aren't even allowed to describe in a comic book, don't you?"

Luckily Goku returns and smashes up their helicopters, saving Bulma.  She is somewhat impressed by what he did, even thinking maybe he went overboard a bit.

Goku then says they are not far from his master, Kamesen'nin, he'll probably have a boat they can use, so off they fly. Kame is pleased to see him and even more pleased to see Bulma when she returns to he normal height, him being such and old perve and all.  He says he'll loan then a boat but he wants to borrow the shrinking device in return.   Bulma says that's a relief, "I thought you were going to ask for something sleazy like you always do!"
Kame is happy to see Bulma as she grows to normal height
Cut to the Red Ribbon Army Commander.  They have tracked Goku to Kame's island, they figure he must have accomplices and that the island is their base of operations, so Commander Red orders General Blue to reconnoitre the area. Back at Kame's place, Bulma needs to use the toilet, so pervey McPerveson Kame shrinks himself and hides in behind the toilet so he can peek at her going.   But when she's done he slips off the cistern and into the bowl, she doesn't see him and flushes it.  He has to escape via the pipes to the outside.

Then a vehicle approaches, it's Kuririn and Lunch back from a shopping trip which ended in a shoot out when mild mannered Lunch sneezed and turned into her psycho alter-ego. They tell him why they are here and he says they might find pirate treasure down there.  Kuririn says it sounds like it'll be fun, so Kame grants his pupil leave to join them in their Dragonball hunt.

They fly off, and Goku realises he left the backpack with two Dragonballs in it back at Kame's place.   Kuririn says the invincible old master will protect them.  General Blue meanwhile is checking the island out, only Kame, Turtle and Lunch are on it. 

Goku and the other two land the hovervehicle onto the sea and then dive under. The radar shows the Dragonball is in a twisty passageway.  Goku, wearing scuba gear and with a communication radio swims outside the sub, helping to direct it to the cave entrance. Before returning inside

Meanwhile General Blue has also got in a sub and are following close behind, as Goku's sub reaches the cave, General Blue orders and attack and they fire missiles at them.  Goku grumbles that it's the Red Ribbon Army after him and both Bulma and Kuririn freak out at this news:

Kuririn: "Y-you've got to be kidding!!! You're being pesonally targeted by the world's most evil crime organisation!!!"
They manage to get into the cave before their sub is disabled, but the enemy sub is still on their tail. Fortunately the passageway narrows so the larger Red Ribbon Army sub can't get any further. Meanwhile  several Red Ribbon Army planes habe converged on Kame's island and they order him to surrender much to his bemusement.  And that brings this volume to a close.
A submarine race to the Dragonball.
I think it's safe to say this is my guilty pleasure.  Despite it's often juvenile humour their is a warmth to the story telling that renders it quite charming.  Goku's main superpower really is his kindness, his abilty to bring out the best in people and generally just get along with folk.  Although he's not at all worldly in any other way, when it comes to fighting he has few people who can keep up with him, even using cunning tactics like freezing the Jiggler when his fists and feet couldn't do the job.  He's no mindless brute, despite displaying fearsome strength in battle.  Akira Toriyama knows how to choreograph a fight scene properly, the fights are depicted in a thrilling and sometimes amusing way. Goku's true nature wont be revealed until many volumes down the line, but already his ability to shake off bullets without being wounded at all shows he is something more than human.  It's good to have Bulma and Kuririn back in the story, one thing I like is how Goku will drift in and out of their lives, but you always feel that they've been living and doing things when he's not there.  Every named character has a believable inner life to them and as Goku travels we get a sense that it's a strange world he lives in, very different from our own in many ways not just the animal people and dinosaurs.  So how will Kamesen'nin deal with the Red Ribbon Army?  Will Goku face down General Blue in battle and claim the next Dragonball for himself?  Find out sometime soon, at the end of the month, when I feel like it.

42 comments:

  1. Well... this was a blast from the past. I didn't read/watch Dragon Ball in ages (and way back in the Sailor Moon vs. Dragon Ball days I was pretty much on the Sailor Moon side). I'm not really attracted to the endless shounen as a "genre" (somewhat of a misnomer, most series like this will end eventually, maybe "fighty shounen" would be better? O.o)... which is profoundly strange considering my love of superhero comics (the two having similarities is not lost on me ^^;).

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  2. Is there not room to love both Sailor Moon and Dragonball? I must admit I am coming to the manga as someone who owns every single episode of DB, DBZ, DBGT and all the films on dvd. I'm a big fan. That said it's pretty much the only one of the lengthy shonen series I like, I quite liked Bleach, but One Piece and Naruto's charms are lost on me. I much prefer series like Full Metal Alchemist that have a proper ending planned and aren't just extended for the sake of it.

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  3. "endless shounen"

    Heh Malitia, I need your translation skills again. :-)

    "seven balls that when bought together, summon a dragon who can grant a wish"

    That seems a heck of a palaver. I'd just go on eBay and buy a magic lamp. Then you get three wishes.

    "Goku decides to ascend "Muscle Tower" which has a fight on each floor"

    Ooh, spot the Bruce Lee reference? In fact this story seems full of em. It's been a heck of a day so I'm going to nap for a bit, but I'll let this story sink in and see what else looks familiar. I like this, it's like a Japanese Alan Moore excercise.

    I also really enjoy the conversations you two have, so it'll be nice to wake up to some more of those.

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  4. Sorry. ^^;

    "shounen" is a demographic category in this case, means "for boys" basically. By extension "for girls" -> "shoujo"; "for men" -> "seinen"; "for women" -> "josei". There are distinct tropes and art styles that tell these apart, but occasionally the only real tell is the magazine that serialized it, or channel&airing time. (So for example: aggressively pastel magical girl series, is it shoujo? Probably. Oh it aired at "otaku o'clock (=late night)", welp, then it's seinen. ^^; )

    And it's endless because there is no ending actually planned (or if it is it's very vague, very far away in the future) it just goes on and on, if it's popular for decades. Generally martial arts adventure (like this one), or sports anime/manga fall under this, but it's not required.

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  5. It's perfectly possible to create "endless shoujo" like somehow making a time travel romance soap opera last for 62 volumes, and ongoing since the 1976. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crest_of_the_Royal_Family )

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  6. Malitia has explained it perfectly. I've done a Seinen manga before - Oldboy. And I am going to cover another seinen series next month. The audiences are not rigid though, a lot will have cross appeal. Full Metal Alchemist for example is ostensibly shonen but has a huge appeal to a female audience. Attack On Titan would probably be the most recent example of a shonen series with mass appeal.

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  7. Oh yes Alan, I just realised next month should be a nice one for you, I've got Providence, Alias, Squirrel Girl and Saga all ready to go :)

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  8. Thanks Malitia. That was both helpful, and very interesting. I like "otaku o'clock". I think Varalys had tried to drill the shonen thing into my head previously, but it's funny how tne terms didn't stick, or even go in. I have the same thing with eastern martial arts. I can never remember the terminology, so I have to use very descriptive translations.

    As to the topic itself, it's parallel to the more general discussion we were having recently about gender preferences in comics and periphery demographics.

    I can understand frustration with never ending stories. I don't mind specific narratives that don't have 'closure'. That can make them more realistic. It's ok to dip into a particular time period or series of significant events knowing that it didn't all wrap up neatly and there were ongoing consequences. Just that they're not going to be written about because the key stuff has been dealt with. That's how real life works. The repercussions of WW2 went on for 50 years, but it's fine to end a war film after VE day.

    But those 'and the journey continues' things remind me of TV programmes like the Hulk or Quantum Leap. Bruce Banner wasn't going to find a cure and Sam wasn't going to leap home as long as advertisers were willing to pay for a new series every year. You speak TV Tropes, so I don't have to explain Chris Carter Effect to you.

    Dragonball almost has that built in with the idea that the balls re scatter every time you use them. Hit the reset button and off we go again ad infinitum.

    This individual story was fine though. It's not something I'm particularly attracted to but I can see why people like it. It's a nice whacky setting, some interesting characters and themes. I liked the references to 70s Kung Fu movies (there seem to be quite a few) but they worked as homages rather than coming across as derivative.

    It's interesting to consider how Japanese media might view kung-fu tropes. It's easy for westerner perhaps to lump all East Asian culture together, so I'm conscious that theyre all actually very different. But in doing so I'd perhaps forgotten that there's no reason Japanese people might not be as hooked on Bruce Lee as much as anyone in Britain.

    Oh and I'm very much looking forward to those coming attractions. I enjoy the manga interludes. Especially now I've got more context from those recent documentaries on Japanese art and culture. But I see them in the same way I do figurative art. I can appreciate them on a technical level, and find them interesting to chat about. But they don’t draw me in on an emotional level. Although having said that I like Akira and Spirited Away, so it's not a blanket thing. And I'd still love a pachinko machine.

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  9. Well I am covering the three volume manga adaptation of my fave anime, so it's going to be my first look at how one medium has tried to cover something in another and the potholes it falls into. It's mainly an excuse to talk about my favourite anime though, the manga is just a handy focal point.

    Dragonball this early on was very much influenced by Hong Kong action movies Later when it moves into it's next phase it turns more into science-fiction, but for now it's out-and-out martial arts fantasy. Funny you don't feel emotionally drawn in, I always put my love of Manga as a logical out growth of growing up with b/w comics in the UK.

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  10. In fairness I probably haven't given manga enough of a chance. I remember the first time I encountered it. Forbidden Planet in London. Same year Blade Runner came out (there were adverts everywhere). It seemed really exotic. But it seemed like a novelty rather than something I could get into. I was in full on 2000AD mode then. I guess that was the golden age for that comic. Even on the cover of Time Out magazine.

    Funny though Brit comics lead me into the European stuff like Metal Hurlant and Moebius. And perhaps that's why I went down the Akira route? Even today I'm more into Luc Betton or that Tekken film. That sci-fi noir genre. The more surreal kawaii (heh, maybe I am a closet weeb) manga just doesn't grab me. Did like the look of Oldboy though. But I do seem to be a bit euro centric in my comic tastes don't I? I'll have to think why that might be. But I love live action Japanese films. Go figure.

    Been thinking about the artwork though. Those documentaries have really given me a new perspective. And I'm also thinking about a modern Japanese art style that my arty friend introduced me to, called Superflat. I think it all ties together somehow.

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  11. Welp, I am going to try and include a bit more manga in the new year as well as my on-going look at Dragonball which functions as end of month filler. The hard time is finding series that are short enough so they don't totally take over the blog for ages!

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  12. Doesn't manga mean 'irresponsible writing' or something, or did I just imagine that?

    How popular is manga and anime (in the genre sense) in Japan? Those documentaries suggested otaku culture is still a bit of a minority thing. But is that just because they're a bit focussed on it? Are there like 'mainstream' manga fans? I'm thinking like how Dr Who obviously has a devoted fanbase, but it's also just a popular TV programme generally.

    My arty friend did her masters on something similar. It contrasted 'Cornish culture' versus 'Culture in Cornwall'. That is to say she looked at all the 'traditional' things associated with Cornwall, like Flora Day and Maisey Day, and folk music and Mumming etc. Obviously a lot of Cornish people do enjoy that, but for the vast majority of people here culture was just watching X Factor and going to the cinema. There is a strong sense of Cornish identity here but it's not all pasties and steam fairs (well, that's what her masters suggested, a lot of our Cornish friends *are* total stereotypes)

    Does it help your enjoyment of manga that you know a lot about both the culture and the context? How did you get into it? I know you mention the natural progression from the stuff you already liked. Did getting into it feed your interest in the cultural context or were you interested in the culture anyway. I'm just thinking because you have an expertise in media anyway it might be appealing to look at the media of other countries. It's like I'm a law nerd, so I find comparative jurisprudence very interesting. Ironically I know bugger all about contemporary the Japanese legal system but I do know a bit about the Edo period. Admittedly a lot of that is from watching martial arts movies. :-)

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  13. Manga is popular you have to remember there is manga for everyone, there are like hundred volume epics aabout tennis and football or full on romances all stuff that never sees the light of day here.

    Anime was my gateway to manga. I saw Akira in the cinema in 1990 and loved it, but it wasn't until 1999 when a UK satellite channel showed Dragonball Z, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star and other stuff that I really began to splash around in the manga world as well. I don't own a huge amount manga compared to how much western comicbook stuff I own, as I say it's mainly shonen epics that get released here and Dragonball is the only one I'm committing myself to, I have all jillion episodes on DVD so it's interesting to see what the anime adaptation added as filler to give Toriyama time to write more (anime adaptations often run as a series is being written and drawn). My interest in Japanese culture definitely came after, browsing TV tropes allowed me greater understanding of what was going on and answered a lot of questions I had as a confused westerner!

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  14. Anime and manga is mainstream entertainment in Japan. Or more specifically manga is, there are manga magazines aimed at every demographic. Anime on the other hand, while still kinda mainstream, has prejudices very close to what we know in the west (as in "animation is for kids" and "only shut in nerds, who never get laid watch that"). This has to do with the fact that nowadays anime becomes profitable through merchandising... and guess which demographics are most likely to spend a lot on DVD releases (uncensored, you loser... I mean "dear customer"*), figurines, and whatnot. ^^;

    My anime/manga journey began with German satellite TV cartoon blocks. They had surprising amount of anime even before Sailor Moon / Dragon Ball... not that we know that at that time of course, but thanks to this my life's most influential series is Lady Oscar**.


    * There is a lot of fanservice anime produced incredibly cynically to that hypothetical "shut in nerd, who never gets laid" and whenever the overreaches of anime fanservice comes up somewhere and the protectors of it swarm the comment section I'm always kinda perplexed "why are these people protecting their own exploitation by cynical businessmen, from other fans who care?"

    ** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rose_of_Versailles
    Shoujo historical drama with crossdressing. :D

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  15. Yeah it's becoming hard to find decent new anime now there is so much moe blob otaku pandering going on. The most recent anime I picked up was the hilarious series called "Humanity Has Declined". It's brilliant.

    It's cool hearing about how people got into anime. It's sad there aren't the dedicated channels there was when I got into it. CNX marathoning the Cell Games saga was what finally dragged me in. Sailor Moon never made it to UK TV, but now the series is being rereleased I'll have to look into picking it up.

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  16. I've seen the rise and fall of the local (almost) dedicate anime channel. (2004-14 Rest In Piece) It was first called A+ and run by the local cartoon channel (to have something in late time slots) and RTL group. Basically RTL tested* stuff there, which meant the true runners didn't really need to do much, and there was stuff from Kaleido Star (circus flavored sport anime), to Slayers (D&D parody, classic). Then two years later Sony bought it and put it under the Animax umbrella. This went reasonably well for some years (gave me my other anime love Jigoku Shoujo / Hell Girl**), then 2008 recession hit and Sony retooled it again, mostly with filler "reality TV" stuff... it never recovered.


    * We have some very concerned moral guardians and overactive "censor" bureau. Okay, it's much more complicated than that. I actually think our rating system is fairly reasonable... just our media companies are companies and interested in making money, so they generally won't air a "cartoon" if they can't air it in a Saturday morning cartoon block, and some anime is really not fit for that.

    ** 26 episode (I've not seen the sequels yet) Japanese social commentary and meditation on revenge.

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  17. That's a good long run it had. CNX which got me into anime only lasted 1999-2001. DBZ got transferred to the Cartoon Network late night Toonami slot until it's run finished then that was that. I had to sit and twiddle my thumbs until DVD started picking up the slack as well as streaming channels I could get my fix of Bleach from.

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  18. Dragon Ball's Hungarian history is... turbulent.

    It started with our version being based on the French edition which was both edited and atrociously mistranslated at places. And then...

    DBZ was "banned" according to local free speech warriors.

    Actually what happened is that a "18+" rating was put on it (a bit of an overreaction if you ask me, but maybe "16+" wouldn't be that off), which restricted it to late night time slots, and the channel didn't want to air it that late.

    Also it didn't help that this happened after literally hundreds of episodes (all off DB was out, DBZ #121 was the last on TV in the original run). Then came VHS and DVD releases and finally some small cable channel not under the rating board (which only covers in-country broadcast TV) got it's hand on it some years ago and aired the whole thing for nostalgia's sake.

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  19. Dragonball suffered quite a lot in the US which provided the UK episodes. The first couple of sagas were cut to shit, with whole episodes getting the chop and much of the blood being painted out and going to rediculous lengths to say no one was being killed by Vegeta and Nappa. Also provided the notorious retcon of Hell being rechristened Home For Infinite Losers. It wasn't until the Buu saga that they finally started leaving the episodes alone and dubbing them properly and showing it in the evenings rather than trying to make it a kids show.

    Fortunately the DVD boxsets I own were redubbed, the original music left alone and no cuts whatsoever.

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  20. My favorite piece of the board's "censorship" was Digimon Tamers (also known as the trading card one that gets f~ing dark). That basically amounted to "Hey, you! You cannot air that... without a 12+ warning!" and the channel was "Okay." they put the warning on it and it run uninterrupted till the last episode.

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  21. I must admit I've never seen Digimon, Pokemon was more my jam back in the 90's. I even saw the 1st movie at the cinema! I have several Pokemon plushies, including my much loved 20 year old Charizard who sits on my Xbox 360!

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  22. Pokemon are the better games. I played them sooo much. Easier to get them too. Also less fanservice in them... there are so many questionable mon designs in Digimon. :/

    But I preferred the Digimon anime (not counting the movies... there are no movies as far as I'm concerned), because it wasn't episodic. One season/series generally told one self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end, each set in their own worlds (except the 1st and 2nd).

    Tamers was the 3rd series, and I think it was as dark as the franchise got... TVTropes has descriptions like "Neon Genesis Evangelion with mons," or "Serial Experiments Lain for kids". So yeah. ^^;

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  23. I do have a couple of Mon plushies too. I picked them up in a charity shop because I liked the look of them. One's a insect and the other a pink head with long ears. Otherwise that's pretty much it for my Digimon experience.

    I have heard good things about the anime, and apparently one of my fave films "Summer Wars" owes a great deal to one of the Digimon films. But I do love Pokemon. Getting a legit Mew from a Nintendo event in Bristol let me get a full Pokedex for my copy of Red, one of my prouder gaming achievements :D

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  24. And what I mean by questionable:

    http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/tagged/Digimon/chrono

    ...
    Whut?

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  25. Congrats for the full pokedex! :D I never managed even close to that.

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  26. *checks link*

    I'll second that whut!

    I only managed the full dex for Red. I had two gameboys and a link cable and a copy of Blue as well, so I traded in all the starters evolutions, Evees and unique to Blue ones. I actually made a special trip from Manchester to Bristol just to get a Mew. I had lived there a couple of years so I had mates in the city still and made a holiday of it. Funnily enough though, the very last Pokemon I needed for a full dex was Chansey, so long spent in the Safari Zone >_<. But she was worth it when I finally caught her she was pretty high tier for a while if you taught her Counter until she got nerfbatted.

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  27. Thank you Malitia and Varalys for the fascinating education. I'll have to do a Google for some of the other genre mangas. They sound really interesting.

    There's a great anime I really like called The Wind Rises. It's about the development of the Zero warplane. It's an amazing mix of historical accuracy and fantasy. I'll see if there are any mangas on similar lines.

    I loved the Escher Girls link. I like how they do the anatomical breakdowns on there. But, as I think we've covered before, it's that weird thing in art that reality is unrealistic. Like how busts and statues have to be oversized in order to look life size. One thing about the Turin Shroud is that the head to body ratio follows renaissance conventions rather than reality, which was a clue as to when it might have been made.

    Your Pokemon discussion is amazing. It's like eavesdropping on a foreign language conversation where I can only pick up on some of the English loanwords. Like listening to Welsh. I feel old now cos this is the second time I've not had a clue as to what Pokemon is about :-)

    The censorship facts are really intriguing. I can see how because it's 'cartoons' there's that thing of assuming it's aimed at kids. From what you're saying about some of the Bowlderisation attempts it seems like some of the broadcasters have also tried to force that assumption. Reminds me a bit of the ninja turtles. I wonder how many parents saw that their kids liked the cartoon and then bought them the original eastman laird comics?

    Heh, when I was a kid my parents had to sneak me in to watch Jaws (my mum did the classic thing of sitting with her knees drawn up). I loved the film and so they bought me the book. Don't know if you've ever read it but it's somewhat different in terms of the characters.

    "Mum, what's 'adultorous whore' mean?"

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  28. I mean it's not MegaTen game* level, but those are 16+ or 18+. ^^;

    * Behold the bondage Angel from one of them:
    http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090620223624/megamitensei/images/a/a2/Angel-P4.png

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  29. @Alan, heh I did think you might be following the Pokemon discussion with some confusion :D All you need to know is it's all about being the very best, like no one ever was. You catch monsters, raise them, breed them, fight with them, do shows with them. The franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and it's pretty much the only reason I keep updating Nintendo's handheld machines, so I can play the latest Pokemon games.

    If you want some more info on the sorry history of bowlderising anime for kids, Tv Tropes "Animation Age Ghetto" page is a pretty good start. Really DVD/Blu-Ray/Streaming was the best thing to happen to anime. When my mum stayed with me for a couple of months while she waited for the house she was buying to be finalised we watched a lot of anime. We were watching Full Metal Alchemist which is rated a 15 on DVD here but is a shonen series that means its considered suitable for older Japanese kids and younger teens. I had to explain that Japanese children are considered somewhat more mature than western ones!

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  30. I think there's a distinction (although I can see how it gets blurred) between the pure fanservice aspects of manga and anime, and some of the more arty eroticism.

    Some of my friends are involved with a thing called Cyberdog. That's a weird mix of retail outlets and subculture. As the name suggests there's a cyberpunk element, but there's also a lot of Japanese influence. They have stores over there and they live there quite a bit. The Japanese aspects incorporate both the traditional stuff (kimonos, art styles, minimalism) and the more techno orientated. It's wonderfully eclectic.

    When I was in London I was a member of something called Torture Garden. Tbh, I mainly just liked the music. But obviously it incorporated that whole BDSM vibe. There would be performances though and we saw a lot of Japanese bondage stuff. It was all very tasteful, almost like watching a tea ceremony. And you could see the evolution from all the highly complex and ritualistic stuff with elaborate silk rope tying through to the more contemporary reflections as epitomised by that bondage angel.

    Of course we mustn't lump all aspects of Japanese sexual expression into one homogeneous pigeon hole; it's as complex as any other society. But I think we also must be wary of making direct 'translations' and viewing with a western eye. Values dissonance and all that. Although I must say I do shudder a bit when neckbeardy types try to justify lusting after 10 year old girls with that "It's ok, she's a 500 year old dragon really" excuse.

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  31. @ Varalys

    Omg, that just sounds like dog fighting or bear baiting! :-)

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  32. Pokemon has been called virtual cock-fighting, I cannot deny this fact. For me it's more the "gotta catch 'em all" that appeals to me.

    And yes there are some creepy sexualisations of early teens and younger in some (though it's rarer than you think) manga and anime. It's called "lolicon" if it's girls and "shotacon" if it's boys.

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  33. The mons genre that Pokemon codified pretty much started with the MegaTen* series, but at that point it was pretty much unbuilt so those early games pretty much feel like deconstructions. (Q: What happens if you give supernatural beings to people to battle with? A: The world goes to shit!) It also built on real world mythology a lot.

    * http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei

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  34. Well if they're sentient and up for it I guess that's ok. Then it's just boxing. :-)

    The collecting instinct is apparently something that's innate in humans. It's why things like trainspotting are so popular. And how companies like Franklin Mint make their money with those plate series. Wonder what the evo-psych explanation is?

    I feel sorry for folks like yourselves who just enjoy anime and manga that it gets tainted by the association with the more dubious fraternity on the Internet. It's like I've seen a few MLP episodes and I really enjoy them. But I'm wary of mentioning it in case it goes all Brony "One of us!". That's not snobbery about cartoons, I'm more than happy to come clean that I love them, and 'kids' stuff generally (my IPlayer viewing is split between BBC4 and CBBC). I actually think a lot of kids stuff is better than the adult equivalent. Kids are far less forgiving about poor quality. But as I've mentioned on Mammoth, whilst I don't judge people's choices, the juxtaposition of "cartoon ponies" and "pornography" does make me go 'Hmm' a bit.

    Lolicon is an interesting genre. I'm guessing the name derives from Lolita? I suppose though it's only like that St Trinians vibe and school disco nights. Ironically the best thing about real school discos was it was one chance to see the girls not in their uniforms. :-)

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  35. Yeah Lolicon is derived from "Lolita Complex". We'll probably have some interesting coversations next month when I cover the manga adaptation of my fave anime which although ostensibly aimed at adult men, has a huge female lesbian/bi/pan following because it stars five teenage girls, no men and it's Yuri (lesbian) subtext quotient is very high indeed. Well I say subtext, it pretty much tips over into overt text by the end especially all the spin-off media that followed.

    I'm an obsessive collector of things in videogames. I remember the most insane one was shooting 200 pigeons in GTA 4. I spent five days solid just hunting down tiny pigeons across three huge islands. I could pretty much walk the streets with my eyes closed after that. So when I get a new game I'm always happy to find 100 random bits of crap that need finding or something.

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  36. Ooh I'm looking forward to that. I'll save all my ramblings about Sucker Punch until then.

    Heh, I would say poor pigeons, but I used to enjoy Duck Hunt, so I won't be hypocritical. I just loved the daft dog that kept popping up.

    I had a go on a driving game once that featured a really accurate depiction of London. You could actually drive up my street; they'd even got the one way system right. I enjoyed though just driving around, which is ironic because I hate actually driving in London in real life.

    (I think it's one of the Fast/Furious films that has a car chase in London. But it's just so hilarious that they're bombing round roads that are gridlocked even at three in the morning)

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  37. I know that game! I was The Getaway wasn't it?

    I did have to use a guide to find some of the pigeons. When I found myself having to stand on the prow of a boat firing rockets into a hole in the dockside which had a pigeon YOU COULD NOT SEE in it I knew the developers were taking the piss.

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  38. I believe it may have been, yes. It just amazed me how much level of detail it had. On a similar note, at the London Transport museum they have the simulators they use to train tube drivers. It's soooo hard to do. You get a real appreciation of the skills. There's only a throttle, a brake, and buttons for the doors, but just stopping vaguely in the station is hard enough, never mind lining up exactly with the platform. (Later design stations have the track on a sort of plateau so the trains slow down and accelerate easier. But I'd get into the station and forget to put the brake on so I'd just roll out again backwards).

    The nearest I came to needing those guides was when Doom came out. I wasn't much of a fan, some mates loved it though. Wolfenstein was fun though. There's a YouTube video that compresses game development into a few minutes with a timeline. I get 23 seconds into it (1988ish). Then there's a brief period of PC games like the lucasarts point and clicks, then I'm lost again. :-)

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  39. I have to admit the only driving in games I enjoy is arsing aroun in the GTA games. Racing games have never really appealed, even the novelty go-kart games.

    I used to write a lot of guides, I still have a page on gameFAQS with all my FAQs, cheats and reviews on it. But that was back when not so many guide writers were out there. Also my back problems stopped me being able to retro game enough for writing for more obscure games as well. Still now my blog fills my writing urges.

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  40. I remember Pole Position being quite a thing. It's one of those games with iconic sounds. I've got the start noise in my head now. But I'm not that much of a fan of real life driving. I like off roading; that's fun. And I enjoy driving around the lanes visiting places like standing stones. But I'd be quite happy if the vehicle drove itself if you get my drift. I also quite like driving at night listening to the radio, especially the shipping forecast. But again, that's more for the experience rather than the actual driving. I'm not like my petrolhead friends who get all excited about changing gear. I think that's the sort of person driving games are often aimed at.

    This makes me laugh though, it's so true

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/70/bc/bb/70bcbbb3aebb4dcdaec842afe59ef291.jpg

    I'm always amused by that "Drive it like you stole it" thing. Surely that would be very carefully so as not to attract attention?

    I'm glad you turned your attention to your blog, I really do enjoy it.

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  41. Phew, one of those days where I'm having to listen to Sabres of Paradise and do breathing exercises between confusing and frustrating phone calls to chill a bit. Ah well, all part of the fun. And tonight I have to attend a council meeting (potential defamation case) but not be noticed. So I'm dragging some poor girl along as cover.

    "So I have to look like the sort of girl who goes on dates to council meetings?"

    "Well technically tonight you *are* a girl going on a date to a council meeting."

    And they say romance is dead. :-)

    (I'll take her to the pub or something afterwards)

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  42. Ah a fellow Sabres fan, good man, good man.

    Your lady skills are to be admired, you must teach me your wisdom sensei :D

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