The year 2009 brought about a seismic shift to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: after twenty-five years as a mom-and-pop property–albeit a ridiculously successful one–the intellectual property was sold to Viacom, and more specifically Nickelodeon, an entity that would not, and did not, waste any time capitalizing upon it. Only an entity like Nick could have been able to take a cartoon series that lasted six years and almost a hundred and fifty episodes and make it seem like a footnote in TMNT history, but that’s precisely what happened; with the turtles once again in comic book stores, tv screens and movie theaters, the last few years have been like 1991 all over again.
However, this is not, in fact, 1991, a time when Eastman and Laird were willing, if not always happy, to let almost anyone play with their toys: Nickelodeon appears to keep the turtles on a much shorter leash. Even when characters like Karai get radically reinvented, it feels like a boundary exists; the turtles must not pass this point. They can’t be radical, just Radical (TM). Therefore it is not surprising to see that April is once again and three times over, a white woman.
More interesting for the purposes of this series is the fact that IDW Publishing’s license to create and publish TMNT books gave them the ability to reprint the old Mirage and Archie material, and that the company has thus been making books that were out of print for decades available once again. More interesting still, the reprinted Mirage material, much of it originally in black and white, is being recolored, meaning that various colorists have been tasked with looking at the various looks of April O’Neil and drawing conclusions about just what it was the original creators intended, and deciding whether or not they’ll stick to that original intent.
So yeah, lots to cover here. One note before we begin, though: these images are organized in more or less chronological order, and while that’s easy enough to establish with the books, I’ve had to rely on some educated guesswork when it comes to the images relating to the cartoon and film. So there’s that.
(Content Note: Misogyny, Slut-Shaming, Rape Culture)
So Tony Harris is an artist whom I usually had a lot of time for. He did a lot to make Starman what it was, and I tend to think that his art in general is fantastic. Unfortunately, it turns out that artistic skill and the ability to be a decent human being don’t always go together. Today, he posted this on his Facebook page.
(Content notes: Violence, depictions of rape)
So today I’ve learned that the English versions of the new Berserk movies will feature the return of the cast who originally worked on the series. It’s the best news I’ve heard all week.
Note: For the uninitiated, here’s a quick and dirty (and severely abriged) Macross-to-Robotech dictionary. Japanese terms to the left, with Harmony Gold’s names at the right .
Super Dimension Fortress Macross –> Robotech
Hikaru Ichijou –> Rick Hunter
Misa Hayase –> Lisa Hayes
Lynn Minmay –> Lynn Minmei
Lynn Kaifun –> Lynn Kyle
In case it wasn’t obvious from my previous post on the subject, I’ve been thinking a lot about Robotech lately, rewatching the entire series on DVD and consuming whatever additional material the internet machine can provide, including material from its source material. Among that is Macross Flashback 2012, the charming OVA featuring Lynn Minmay’s final concert before her departure from Earth in the SDF-2 Megaroad 01. It’s cheery and optimistic, and it presents some interesting contrasts between the approaches Tatsunoko/Studio Nue and Harmony Gold’s took to the character.
While Macross and Robotech both tell the same basic story, the come at it from different places, and both take different things from it. While determining these differences presents some difficulties when they both share the same footage (although not impossible—see “protoculture”) it becomes a bit clearer when you look at what each company produced afterwards, particularly as they relate to the character of Minmei.
For the bulk of both series, Minmei is characterized is the brave, cheerful, inspiring woman whose spirit proves to be greatest single factor in the transformation of the SDF-1’s civilian population from a collection of refugees to a vibrant community, and whose fame helps bridge civilizations and end the war between the human and the Zentraedi. Without firing a single shot, Minmei became as great a war hero as Max Sterling, Lisa Hayes, or Henry Gloval.
“Back in MY day we localized the hell out of Japanese stuff. We took three different shows, jammed them together, called it “Robotech”, and we LIKED it!” — Youtube commenter TheGreatLordZedd
Robotech is easy to appreciate but hard to like. On one hand, it’s a decade ahead of its time, featuring a level of complexity, realism, and ambition that Western Animation wouldn’t even begin replicating until Batman: TAS and which still hasn’t been equaled in some aspects. On the other hand, it’s hard to deny that it’s held together by nothing but duct tape and passion, and a level of amateurishness permeates the whole production, which prevents me from calling a lot of it “well-made” a lot of the time.
But damn if I don’t love it anyway. It’s got charm and guts and heart, and the way it came about was so unlikely that I can’t help but be impressed. Here’s a story composed out of three completely different–yet thematically similar–anime, stitched together to form an overarching narrative. And it works. Oh, sure, you don’t need to look very hard to find the (many, many) seams, but if you squint just right, it’s a fantastic story.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead)