Thursday, March 31, 2011

Godzilla vs. A Big Dog

Here's an obscurity for you. How many of you folks remember the Harvard Lampoon People Parody from 1981? I got a copy new off the stands, but it has subsequently disappeared/fallen apart in the intervening 30 years. As a result, I can't tell you a lot about it.

One enduring memory I DO have is that one of the fake movie reviews is for the non-existent GODZILLA VS. A BIG DOG. There was even a Godzilla photo, which was one of the familiar post-1954 shots (I can't tell you which one off the top of my head). All I remember with any degree of certainty is that the primary gag of this review was that Roger Moore took over the role of Godzilla in the film. I seem to recall that it credited him with injecting Bond-like quips into the part, such as "I'd like mine plane!" as he chowed down on a jet.

It has been ages and ages since I've read this magazine. An online search for "Godzilla vs. A Big Dog" came up empty. I don't recall this coming up in Godzilla fandom (though I am sure it must have at some point during the last 18 years). Does anyone out there have a scan of the "Godzilla vs. A Big Dog" movie review?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

I was listening to the radio the other night when Great White's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" started playing. I've always found that song confusing, because my opinion of Great White is that they were really nothing special. However, I couldn't deny that "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" was a great song. How did they pull that off?

When the song ended, the D.J. mentioned that it was a "cover of the Ian Hunter song", and it sounded a whole lot like he wished he had been playing that one instead. Wait, Ian Hunter? Former lead singer of Mott The Hoople Ian Hunter? "Cleveland Rocks" Ian Hunter? Yes, that Ian Hunter. But not just Ian Hunter. Mick Ronson, too. The same Mick Ronson who is considered one of the truly great guitar players.

I found the Hunter/Ronson "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" on Youtube, and well...Ronson's solo alone probably blows away anything any member of Great White ever did in their musical careers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Exit Roy, Enter Steve

I'm still in the midst of my ongoing reading project of tackling all 7 volumes of Essential Avengers. I am in the middle of Volume 5 right now, and the 1970s are well underway. Perhaps even more important than the change in decade (which actually happened in Vol. 4), however, is the change in writer. You see, Volume 5 includes the end of Roy Thomas' long and storied run as regular scribe of The Avengers.

It's kind of funny, but I was a little sad to reach this point in the run. It's not as if I didn't know it was coming, but it still felt somewhat bittersweet. As I've mentioned in prior discussions of this project, Roy's run on that title includes one of my favorite single stretches of any comic book series. The man took over sometime during Volume 2's issues, and it takes until Volume 5 for him to leave the book. That's an impressive run no matter how you look at it.

I have to admire Thomas' approach to his departure. He could have wrapped up all his plot threads neatly, but he chose not to do this. Instead, he left at least two (Quicksilver's disappearance and the Grim Reaper's offer to the Vision) unresolved for his replacement. When you consider that Thomas KNEW he was leaving (he was editor-in-chief by then, and he titled his last story "With A Bang And A Whimper", so...), that's either a generous or maddening move for the guy that had to fill his shoes. It drives the modern day Chris mad, with his desire that the Thomas era end cleanly, but I have to applaud it as a sure-fire way to keep the kids reading even with a new name in the credits box.

That new name turned out to be Steve Englehart, and he was never quite as effective in telling his stories than he was in this timeframe. Those early issues have some growing pains that show, such as the Black Panther lapsing into a wholly uncharacteristic speech pattern for at least one issue. It's also a bit of a jarring shift to see heroes transition from Roy's dialogue to Steve's. Still, Englehart gamely grabs the baton and runs with it. His resolution to the Grim Reaper/Vision story may not have been Thomas' original concept (given the bait and switch, I suspect not), but it's pretty clever all the same. It even manages to incorporate inventory story pages from Captain America into the narrative! And while the ambition that would mark Englehart's storytelling is not quite in evidence yet, it helps to know that it is lurking just around the corner. For instance, I'm still a few issues away from the debut of a certain lady named Mantis.

I may be taking a breather after Volume 5 to read DC's latest JLA Showcase book, which also happens to be a Volume 5. I've already read over 100 issues, and nearly 10 years worth of The Avengers. It's a fascinating evolution, to be sure.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Velvet Sultriness

It was only a couple of months ago that we took a look at a commission of Shelly Ericson by artist "velvetluck". Now, here's a shot of Sultura that she pulled from her sketch book! I'm diggin' it, and I hope you are, too.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Definitely Tired And Poor

I was driving last night and I saw something that struck me as so bizarre as to be hilarious. It was a person (too far away to determine gender) walking along with their shoulders slumped and a sign tucked under their arm. Their body language indicated that life had totally defeated them.

What's so bizarre about that? Well, usually you don't see such a person dressed up as the Statue of Liberty. Though with that added context to the story, it's clear why they might feel that life had defeated them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yes, This Is Magical

Let's lighten the mood a bit with some sentai goodness!

There are a lot of people who know that the first season of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS makes liberal usage of footage culled from the super sentai show KYORYU SENTAI ZYURANGER. Now, by the very nature of the two series, there was a lot of ZYURANGER footage that never found its way into POWER RANGERS. In some cases, this was a downright shame.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Writer's Brain

I haven't been here for a couple of days, as you might have noticed. I've been writing though. Oh man, have I been writing!

See, I developed a plot for a story not too long ago. It was an idea that had been kicking around for a number of months, and now I had something more defined to go with rather than just that simple idea. The more I thought about it, the more I felt as if I HAD to write this story.

There's one problem - I'm not sure what I can do with this story. For reasons I'm not inclined to discuss, I can't exactly post it here. Should I turn it into another book? This is workable, and I'm weighing my options there. However, even this course of action is one that might not be feasible beyond a limited audience. And yes, I mean more limited than my current audience! The story is done, and I'm fairly happy with the results, but it's bittersweet.

If I knew all this going in, why did write it? See above - I had to. It wouldn't leave my brain otherwise. There hasn't been any posting here because I was focused on completing this story, just so I could know that I had expressed it in some form. I've had a lot of difficulty sleeping recently, and I chalk that up to how much I've given to finishing this story. That's right, a story that probably will not be read by a lot of people.

As I said, the story is done now. I have one or two trusted folks that will definitely get to read it, and I'll be listening to their opinions on both its merits and its future. For now, however, I am just looking forward to getting some sleep.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Actual Conversation

C. Elam: Whitney, I do not wanna dance with you.
Gonzo Rev: She wants to feel the heat with somebody...
C. Elam: Should talk to Bobby Brown. It's his prerogative.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let's Go, Kamen Rider!

Thank you, Igadevil, for finding this picture on the Tokyo Sports Webpage. In this time of crisis in Japan, it is somehow reassuring to me to see Kamen Rider standing tall, having withstood both earthquake and tsunami. It helps me remember that Japan itself will withstand this disaster and rise again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Number Zero In Pictures!

We launched the week with the exciting news that Captain Satellite: Number Zero had been published for a world that didn't even know it wanted it. Would you like to see the actual contents of the box? Of course you would.

If you'd like your own copy, you can visit the link above, or use this handy button!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

But wait! There's more!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's Up, Batman and Green Arrow?

"Oh nothing, just hangin' out."

Art by Jim Aparo, from The Brave and The Bold #130 (October 1976). Image & characters © DC Comics.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Without The Beatles

Remember when we talked about solo hits of the Beatles? I did some further research into the matter on the "Old Radio Shows" site. I can't say it cleared up things, but it did address some stuff that I wasn't quite sure I understood.

"Sally G" is the aspect that confuses me. It was the flip side of "Junior's Farm" and reportedly got a fair amount of airplay. My sources all seem to agree that it charted separately from "Junior's Farm". Trouble is, this isn't reflected in the AMERICAN TOP 40 shows of the era. I only found ONE show (January 11, 1975) which included "Sally G", and it was played when they reached the position occupied by "Junior's Farm" (#3). Even though two weeks of the time when "Sally G" was supposed to be on the charts were given over to the year-end countdown, I still find this mystifying. Was "Sally G" on the charts separately or not? If it was, why didn't AT40 acknowledge it?

Speaking of confusion, the AT40 Index on the site clarifies a point that troubled me the last time we discussed it. According to it, AT40 shows did not always use the chart for the week they aired. Sometimes, they were a week ahead! I only have the site's word for this, but it does explain why his date was off for the 1971 we spotlighted. Though maybe it is the Premiere Radio Network that is off? Egad, why is this so difficult?

Anyway, to get back to the original point of this business, there were definitely THREE shows where all 4 Beatles had solo songs in the Top 40 simultaneously. They are:

December 14, 1974: "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" - John Lennon (#40), "Dark Horse" - George Harrison (#32), "Only You" - Ringo Starr (#18), "Junior's Farm" - Paul McCartney and Wings (#10)

January 11, 1975: "#9 Dream" - John Lennon (#35), "Dark Horse" - George Harrison (#15), "Only You" - Ringo Starr (#6), "Sally G" (in the position of "Junior's Farm", flip) - Paul McCartney and Wings (#3)

January 18, 1975: "Dark Horse" - George Harrison (#33), "#9 Dream" - John Lennon (#29), "Only You" - Ringo Star (#12), "Junior's Farm" - Paul McCartney and Wings (#7)

For the record, I did check February 1, 1975, and there's no "Sally G". So that AT40 has three Beatles instead of all four.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Disaster In Japan

Though I briefly mentioned it on Twitter, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the disasters which befell Japan last week. This is being written in advance, so I'm not sure what the latest developments have been since I put this entry together. However, I do know that what we've already seen has been devastating, unbelievable, and gut-wrenching.

No disaster is more "important" than another, but it's hard to not be affected by what's happening in Japan if you're someone like me. I have a deep affinity for that country, which is probably obvious considering I gave this very blog a Japanese name. Japanese pop culture opened my imagination, and that led to an interest in the real world place that shaped those films and TV shows.

That's important to remember in a time like this. Japan is not a fantasyland, but a real place that is filled with both good and bad. We do all of ourselves a disservice if we forget that distinction. There's a Japan that exists just like the world outside your window, and it only has the vaguest connection to tokusatsu, or anime, or manga, or any of the other dozens of hobbies we pursue connected to that country.

I find everything that is happening especially poignant considering my interest in Japan was born through Godzilla. Obviously, what's happening is far more nightmarish than anything that could have been conceived in a movie studio. And you know, it's not even a monster movie that bobs to the front of my consciousness; it's a particularly dreadful movie called PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS. In that one, one disaster after another keeps getting piled on, and you think it just has to end sooner or later.

I mean, it does, doesn't it?

I haven't donated money yet, though I fully intend to do so. I am waiting a little bit until things get sorted out. You know there's going to be a need for all kinds of aid for months, and probably years, to come. However, if you would like to make a donation that will go directly to Japan, my friend Igadevil has some links over on his site you should investigate. Iga is not only a fellow fan, but he lived in Japan for a time in the affected area. So this hits closer to home for him than your average person.

I don't have a wise wrap-up for this entry. Let's just all do our part, and show a little compassion and empathy for the country that is the home to some of our favorite pop culture diversions. They can sure use it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Captain Satellite: Number Zero

What was in the box? Why, my first copies of a little thing I decided to title Captain Satellite: Number Zero. Now that I've seen them, it's safe to officially announce this project to the world.

Captain Satellite: Number Zero is a 64 page black & white comic book size prose collection. I want to stress that this is not a comic book, despite the fact that it has comic book dimensions of 6.6 wide x 10.2 tall. Rather, this is a collection of text material coupled with illustrations by Kayleigh Lebak (better known to OWARI readers as Kabuki Katze).

Captain Satellite: Number Zero is obviously a packaging of material connected to the Captain Satellite universe. Though much of it may seem familiar to readers of this blog, everything has been revised and updated. Plus, there is some exclusive material available only in the book. The goal is to make this book the definitive resource for the "Owariverse", and to lay the groundwork for future appearances of these characters. That's both online AND (hopefully) in more books.

Captain Satellite: Number Zero is now available for order from Lulu at $9.95 for print edition and $3.95 for file download. I realize those prices are in no way cheap, but I assure you, I'm not going to get fabulously wealthy off this project. I'd appreciate any support you can offer for this endeavor. It's very exciting, and I'd like to get this book into the hands of as many people as possible.

A big thank you to everyone that has made Captain Satellite: Number Zero possible. Special thanks should be made to cover artist/illustrator/all-around swell gal K. Lebak, for her huge above-and-beyond the call of duty contributions in making this book look as excellent and "snazzylicious" as it does. Do you visit her blog or her gallery regularly? You should! You might even be able to read more about this book on them!

Below you will find the back cover, which is just as good as the front. Below that is a button that will allow you to add Captain Satellite: Number Zero directly to a Lulu shopping cart. This doesn't affect anything with your order; I've merely added it for your additional convenience.

Oh, and if you're still not convinced, why not check out the free lo-res preview on the book's page?

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Also Sprach Kirby

Jack Kirby's 2001: A Space Odyssey

I came across this marriage of Jack Kirby's comic adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Deodato's hit arrangement of "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)" on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. But honestly, it's too good not to share here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Super Girls Project (2007)

Remember back in this entry, when I said that 2007 Firegirl collaboration by Sara and Kabuki was a test run for something bigger? Well, the "something bigger" turned out to be what I can only term The Super Girls Project. Basically, Sara pencilled all new pictures of Shelly Ericson, Firegirl, Amazing Girl, and Muscle Woman, and then turned them over to Kabuki. Kabuki then colored them digitally in much the same manner as the earlier Firegirl picture.

The difference with The Super Girls Project was that this time, these new pictures were then turned into buttons and magnets (not shown) through Kabuki's Cafepress shop! Why? Well, I blush to admit it, but it was a birthday surprise for yours truly. As you can imagine, I was bowled over and completely delighted by this gesture of friendship. I still prize my collection to this day.

Kabuki converted all four of these interpretations of my female heroes into wallpapers, which are posted below. Fair warning: the captions for most are a little saucy. I don't think you'll mind that, or that "Firegirl" is written as two words and Muscle Woman is identified as "Muscle Girl".

Thank you again to both Sara and Kabuki, for creating such a wonderful gift back in 2007. Meanwhile, though Kabu's Cafepress is now defunct, you can still buy goods from her via her Zazzle store!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

ROJ Episode 13 Notes - Finally

AT LAST! I have been working on the Notes for Episode 13 of Return of Jetman off and on since August 2009. Now, they are online, and I can finally figure out the next bit of content for that site.

You can see the full version of these Notes (and they are pretty in-depth for such a thing) by clicking the above link. Here's a preview:

  • The "international scientific team" is composed of scientists who are named for foreign actors who appeared in classic Japanese science-fictions productions of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. There was, for example, a REAL "Franz Gruber"! "Conway" is named for Harold S. Conway, "Hughes" for Andrew Hughes, "Dr. Ito" for Jerry Ito, and "Dr. Yusuf" for Osman Yusuf. Look those names up if you're curious about their many and varied roles, as listing them is beyond the scope of these notes.

  • "Nein" is the German word for "no".

  • Three months have passed since the end of Episode 12, and a lot has happened in the interim. This is the second such "jump" in the ROJ narrative (the first occurred between Ep. 7 & 8), and it was crucial in getting the darn thing completed in a timely fashion.

  • One of the consequences of the jump is that Etsuko and Kei have become fast friends after the events of Episode 12. Making a direct line from "hating each other" to "best friends" made no sense to me, so the gap allows their friendship to develop off-camera. By this point, they are comfortable enough with one another to be playfully teasing.

  • Another consequence of the jump was that the Reiko and Gohan relationship that was blossoming at the end of Ep. 12 became much more established while we've been away. I've always disliked fiction that rushes relationships unrealistically, so I wanted to give these two time to solidify their romance.

  • "MOROBOSHI DAN NO..." is a snippet of the lyrics to the theme song from ULTRASEVEN.

  • Ken's webpage was last discussed in Episode 8. It didn't go over very well with Etsuko.

  • Gohan's Tiger Burai excerpts return and reach a conclusion. As before, there was an attempt to tie the Burai story into the happenings in the main plot.

  • The crack about Godzilla in relation to Mt. Mihara is quite appropriate, as I utilized that particular volcano specifically because of its key role in THE RETURN OF GODZILLA/GODZILLA 1985. However, what I forgot at the time is that Mihara is located on the island of Oshima. As you may recall, "Oshima" is also the name I attached to Michiru, thereby giving certain events in this story a subtext I hadn't really intended (but will happily embrace).

  • African vulcanologist Dr. Roland is named for Chico Roland (Rolando?), yet another foreign performer in Japanese movies. The nation of "Wester Island" is a callback to his role in the 1970 film GAMERA VS. MONSTER X (GAMERA VS. JIGER). Meanwhile, the ambassador Dorsey is my tribute to Willie Dorsey, one more foreign actor in Japan. This character mirrors the real Dorsey's role in 1974's PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS (THE LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH). And finally, the Roland/Dorsey scene drew inspiration from Roland's part in Shochiku's GENOCIDE (WAR OF THE INSECTS).

  • The Japan Astro Development Center is a very specific reference to THE X FROM OUTER SPACE, as the notation of the JADC/FAFC complex should clarify. I don't spell out that FAFC is the Fuji Astro-Flying Center seen in that film, but the implication is pretty blatant.

  • Amazingly, this episode was Dr. Masaru Komyoji's first speaking role since Episode 1! He gets us up to speed on Jet Phoenix's condition, and maybe lets Green Wyvern off the hook a little. I admit that I did some backpedaling here to lessen her culpability as far as Phoenix's condition.

  • "Jiro, Ichiro, Mari - they're all androids and yet they're more 'human' than most people." - In the discussion of Jet Phoenix's identity, and whether he was a "person" or not, it seemed fitting to name check the three best-known androids from the KIKAIDA franchise. In order, they are the alter egos of Kikaida, Kikaida 01, and Bijinda.
You can read more - MUCH more - at!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TV Test Pattern Classics

Due to work on some stuff that will be going up for THURSDAY (at least, that is my hope) and circumstances beyond our control here at OWARI HQ, I only have a link to offer you right now. But! It's a fun link! It's TV Test Pattern Classics. And it makes me smile every time I look at those screens from bygone days.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nighthawk's Complaint

GMB-7SL 2011 - Nighthawk by ~celamowari on deviantART

My buddy Lewis Smith is running his seventh annual contest over on his deviantArt account, and this is my entry. This is his character Nighthawk, and I chose to make play of the fact that this guy shares a name with a Marvel Comics hero. There are several in-jokes for those of you familiar with Kyle Richmond. I think the crumpled piece of paper reading "HI BEAK NOZ :)" may be my favorite.

My past entries for this contest can be found in this folder.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Orleans - 2, Baton Rouge - 1, Thibodaux - 1

I found a great site this evening called Walt Bailey's Old Radio Shows. Among other things, it has something I have been seeking for a couple of years - a listing of all the songs played on episodes of AMERICAN TOP 40. Happiness! Now, I can explain some of my stories about the rebroadcasts better!

Like, for examples, take the episode from February 27, 1971. I noticed as I was listening that three consecutive songs (10, 9, 8) all mentioned real cities in Louisiana. What's more, they're all classic tunes!

10 - "Me and Bobby McGee" - Janis Joplin

9 - "Mr. Bojangles" - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

8- "Amos Moses" - Jerry Reed

Such good stuff, and sort of fascinating to put them in the context of their era. One thing though, and this is definitely a personal quirk of mine. As much as I love "Mr. Bojangles", it bothers me inordinately that it refers to New Orleans as having a "county jail". Jerry Jeff Walker, you should have known better.

EDIT: Speaking of knowing better, I checked my notes and have reached the conclusion that Walt's date for the above show is wrong. It's not Feb. 20, 1971 as listed on his site (and in this entry originally), but rather Feb. 27, 1971. This latter date is corroborated by the rebroadcast's announcement and the chart debut of the Bloodrock song "D.O.A.". How that affects other dates is an open question.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Odds & Ends From The Comic Shop

1) Detective Comics Classics is a standard format comic book reprinting older Batman stories. It was originally included with this action figure set, but DC released it on its own a couple of weeks ago. They must have printed a lot of these books, as I think these are all from the same printing as the ones that came with the toys.

The Riddler story has some clever twists, and boy, the Riddler comes across like a sad sack in it, no matter how clever he might be. The Batgirl solo outing has gorgeous Gil Kane art and is mildly sexist. The prize, however, is the Robin/Batgirl story that ran in Batman Family #1. It has some fun character bits and an utterly loopy story where the ghost of Benedict Arnold menaces our heroes. The art is by Mike Grell, a talented artist who (I am discovering now) sometimes drew characters with really odd proportions.

Rounding out the book is Bat-Mite's profile from Who's Who. Why? Because they made a figure of him for that set too, silly!

This isn't exactly the cream of Silver and Bronze Age Batman, but it's light, undemanding fun.

2) I haven't actually read Marvel Vault: Doctor Strange #1 yet, but I wanted to spotlight it in this entry anyway. You see, it's a leftover story from the late lamented Marvel Universe series of the late 1990s. The whole run of that title got reprinted recently as Invaders: The Eve of Destruction, so it's really cool to finally get this "lost" story. What's even cooler is that this book is both something old and something new. What do I mean? Buy it, read it, and discover it in this untold tale of Doctor Strange.

3) It was somewhat inexplicable when Gemstone recently announced a one-shot return of the venerable magazine Comic Book Marketplace. It makes a little more sense when you realize that it's all meant to tie into an exhibit pertaining to Atlas/Seaboard at Geppi's Entertainment Museum. Even then, the coverage barely qualifies as justification for a magazine.

Understand, the Atlas/Seaboard story is colorful enough to fill an entire issue of a magazine. Heck, Comic Book Artist #16 did that very thing! And CBM was once a great magazine about comics. But this one-shot? It is a mere shadow of the CBM of the past. The articles are pretty skimpy and superficial. Several pages are given over to nothing but a cover gallery of every single Atlas publication. While this is undeniably cool to see, it reduces the content of what's already a 32 page publication (24 subtracting ads) even further.

Basically, though it gets a well-deserved plug, there is really little in this magazine that can't be found on The Atlas Archives. There is some ink devoted to the current revival of Atlas Comics, but not as much as I would have expected. The one thing I did learn was that, in addition to standard-bearers the Grim Ghost, Phoenix, and Wulf the Barbarian, there is one other classic Atlas character featured in this first wave of books. No, not the Destructor, or Morlock 2001, or Tiger-Man, or even Ironjaw. No, it will be frickin' LOMAX - NYPD!!!!!

C'mon guys, call him.

As for this revived CBM, it's...well, it's OK. It's pretty blatantly intended as a pamphlet for the museum exhibit, and the thought seemed to be, "Wait, let's see how many we can sell on the market, too!" I can't imagine it'll be a lot considering how out of the blue it is, but maybe it'll offset some of the expenses a mite. I sure hope patrons of the museum get a discount on the darned thing, if it isn't free.

One final note on this one-time CBM reappearance - it came out the same week that would have had the latest issue of Wizard - if Wizard hadn't recently been abruptly and unceremoniously cancelled. I found that fascinating for some reason.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dance For Me, Batman

I have been sick the entirety of this week, and I'm officially postponing any more regular blog posts until I definitively feel better. However, you're not getting off easy. I dug way back into my archives for a link to share. You can thank me later.

Remember when YTMND was all the rage? The one that has stayed with me forever is this Batman one. It gladdens my heart to know that it is still online some six years after it first entranced me. And yes, I checked.

Click at your own risk. Of awesome.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gokaiger vs. Return of Jetman

I've now seen the second and third episodes of GOKAIGER, and found them to be pretty satisfying. I like the direction that is being mapped out for the development of the plotline and characters. I'm unsure how the inevitable "extra senshi" (a.k.a. Sixth Ranger) will be incorporated into this structure, but Toei has already proven to be fairly ingenious in their handling of their tokusatsu properties over the last decade.

During the promotional build-up for GOKAIGER, I had a couple of friends who thought I might be a little upset with the depiction of Chojin Sentai Jetman in this show - especially the gender-swapping implied in the promotional material. Nah. Actually, to take the latter point first, the females assuming formerly male identities (and vice-versa) doesn't much faze me. It's just another gimmick, and apart from the snickering arrested adolescents (which, admittedly, are legion), I don't see why anyone should think it's a big deal.

The larger factor is that, despite my thinking CHOJIN SENTAI JETMAN is one of the better sentai series, I don't hold any particular kinship for those characters over any other sentai. I know this sounds strange coming from a guy who will now and forever be linked to Return of Jetman, but hear me out. When Lewis Smith and I latched onto JETMAN in the mid-1990s, neither of us had seen a whole lot of full episodes of ANY sentai. JETMAN was cool not only because it was good (and it was!), but because we could follow along with the story.

Well, I've seen a lot more sentai since the birth of "Return of Jetman" almost (*choke*) 16 years ago. In the context of that larger tapestry, well...JETMAN is still pretty good. However, it's not quite as awe-inspiring as it was when I first discovered it. I've learned more about the shows that preceded it, and there have been quite a few that have appeared since. There is less of a mystique to JETMAN than there was back when I was still a relative newbie.

So, I no longer view CHOJIN SENTAI JETMAN as the pinnacle of sentai? Heh, I'm not sure I ever did. But realistically speaking, each sentai series is just one aspect of a larger whole, and some will work better than others for each viewer. I still love JETMAN and all its many characters and quirks. But honestly, I probably love the members of HIMITSU SENTAI GORANGER more. And Big One from JAKQ. There's even a chance a couple of the Gokaigers could reach that status someday (yes, I'm really digging it).

Now that I have seen GOKAIGER, I really feel like I finished ROJ just in the nick of time. One of the great difficulties in putting together sentai fiction is the urge to try to compete with what Toei is putting on the screen. After all, your imagination should be able to surpass what can be done on a limited budget. The chief reasons to do fanfiction (to me) are 1) romance/sex stories and 2) wish-fulfillment. ROJ was always about "2" far more than "1" (at least in terms of pre-established characters). ROJ was also the time-honored "fan sentai" (see also: fan Ultra, fan Rider, fan Space Sheriff, etc.), so it got to be a hybrid of both types of sentai fiction.

The trouble is, competing with Toei is hard. As I alluded to above, they've shown a willingness to do "impossible" things lately. Extended parallel world stories seemed unthinkable in 1996; in 2011, we've already seen KAMEN RIDER DECADE. The single biggest original "hook" that ROJ has is that it's a second generation sentai. Will Toei try something similar in GOKAIGER? I wouldn't bet against it.

It would be hard working on ROJ now that something like GOKAIGER is out there. Granted, the show will probably not deal with JETMAN stuff as much as I did. I also doubt it will have featured roles for Masaru Komyoji and Johnny Sokko! Still, it's sort of difficult to get behind "wish fulfillment" stories when those wishes have, in fact, been fulfilled. Do people write fan stories where Superman meets Spider-Man and they have an adventure together? Maybe, but I doubt it happens a lot. Why? Because we've seen that story - several times, in fact.

What I'm saying is that it's hard to sit down and try to imagine what's "impossible" in a world where ALL RIDERS VS. DAISHOCKER already exists, and the next Rider movie will feature Kikaida, Kikaida-01, Zubat, and Inazuman. This is a world where Tackle has returned, and it looks as if every single sentai hero will get at least a token cameo in one series. Those are the kind of wild pipe dreams that fueled our "what if?" scenarios once, and now they're real.

I remain proud of all the work everyone involved with ROJ did, and am sort of amused by how we anticipated the future in some respects. However, I'm even happier than ever that the story itself is finished. I don't relish the idea of trying to match wits with Toei on their own turf anymore. The challenge is just too much. Those guys are tough!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome to Major City

One of the fundamental aspects of my superhero Owariverse is Major City. We've talked about this not very long ago, in fact. Recently, I had reason to have the always awesome Kabuki Katze create a poster celebrating this non-existent but real sounding city. We puts our heads together to try to make a skyline that was distinctive, interesting, and Not The Real New York.