Bonus – Daryl and Gerald Saying Things About Robots

We don’t have a podcast of our own recorded yet, so we’re just going to abuse the Creative Commons here and post just our audio segments from the latest episode of the Anime82 podcast. We took so long to respond that just our “answers” take up 80 minutes of the approximately 3 hour running time of that episode, but if you’re into mecha then you definitely want to hear the responses from Jeff Tatarek of Lather’s Blather, Dane from Anime Pacific, Philip from Eeeper’s Choice, and the mastermind of Anime82 himself, Regan Strongblood.

Clarissa was absent from the recording since she has a real life, but worry not: she’s on the latest Anime3000 Panel to recommend spooky/thrilling/scary anime and manga titles just in time for Halloween along with manga grandmaster and the man whose life is the inspiration for Suda51’s Diabolical Pitch, Ed Chavez from Vertical Inc! In addition, Daryl was on the Greatest Movie EVER! podcast talking about another Golan/Globus work of art, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown. NOW DEES EEZ A CANNON FILM!

28 thoughts on “Bonus – Daryl and Gerald Saying Things About Robots

  1. As expected, thanks for providing some great podcasting content. A bit controversial, of course, though also a pretty informative and enjoyable effort. Regan himself also did very well by coming up with this format and finding a fairly diverse group of guests.

    I believe the mecha genre has changed, both for better and for worse, but then again it was never going through some sort of ideal golden age either. No, not even at the height of its popularity, as you’ve already proven by describing or referencing the problems found in Yoshiyuki Tomino’s works. Nevertheless, plenty of people were -and are- able to look past those flaws and enjoy them. To put it another way, I think that excessive cynicism, whether directed at classics or at contemporary productions, does far more harm than good.

    I might further elaborate on some of the particular aspects that didn’t always sit too well with me, if someone else brings up any of the relevant issues, but the short version would be…I think it’s still possible to find several modern mecha series both entertaining and interesting, regardless of what may or may not have been lost in the attempt to appeal to other target audiences.

    It’s easy to consider that as a negative because distractions and pandering are generally frowned upon, but ironically enough…sometimes this also provides room for taking creative, if not commercial, risks. At the same time, I’m also quite receptive and open to retro throwbacks that don’t open any new doors but simply try to be exemplary works within the genre.

    Not everyone has that flexibility and some might consider my taste lacking, but I really don’t care. The reasons I like Gundam Unicorn aren’t the same reasons I like Code Geass or Macross Frontier, but they aren’t the same reasons I like Giant Robo or Shin Mazinger either. Nor would I ever give them exactly the same ratings, numerical or otherwise.

  2. What’s needed on US DVD is Xabungle. America needs Xabungle.

    Giant Gorg would be a good second pick.

    Layzner (including OVAs) and L-Gaim would also be good.

    See? Question isn’t so tough. OTOH it’s impossible for this to happen given the market today, because Bandai America would never release them as 3-disc chunks for $19.99, they’d insist on $200 complete sets, and probably music crippled to boot.

    Raarrggh.

    • Kubo: Xabungle.
      Ueno: What?

      –from OTAKU NO VIDEO, shortly before she dumps him

      I’ve heard that there was some issue with GIANT GORG regarding the master tapes or negatives that had prevented it from being released here. Wasn’t there an LD box set in Japan in the ’90s? Mike Ebert, the art director of ANIMAG, bought all the import VHS tapes from Japan and was nice enough to lend them to me, even though I was just a kid he didn’t know very well–but that’s the kind of guy he was. By contrast, Japan Video would demand a credit card deposit on a rental (then as now, many teenagers didn’t have credit cards), even though they were only renting you a dupe of the actual import tape!

      • Yes, but Kubo was in a daze and unable to expound on the awesome of the show.

        I can’t recall if it was Giant Gorg or SPT Layzner but one of those shows was on track to be released but the masters handed over were blue. I mean color shifted to blue, as if one of the dyes had leeched out (I think that’s called ‘yellow layer failure’ but I won’t swear to it) and when the company called Sunrise about it they got “it can’t be helped!!” as the only reply, which was funny as there were beautiful sexy LD sets of both…

        I think Giant Gorg would have had a shot of doing OK but Layzner was doomed if they didn’t have that OVA that actually ends the show better than the series did. But then again I still hold that Dunbine could have done better if it had been handled differently then it was and it could find an audience with proper marketing and pricing, but blah blah blah, clearly I am mad.

      • “clearly I am mad.”

        Well yeah, I could tell you that much :3

        I’m a big confused by you assumption that people would like Gorg more than Layzner. I find that fans tend to get hooked with the initial set of episodes. From what I was able to see, Layzner is pretty solid from the beginning. If it was released in the normal style of the time, people would not know if the ending was disappointing until they got there. Yeah there’s word of mouth and such but most people will plow through given the chance.

        Either way they are both old mecha shows and we don’t have room for anything other than Transformers in America.

    • I think we must have gotten thrown for a loop because the question either mentioned the word “Blu-Ray” or we imagined it did. Certainly, some of those titles sprang to mind during the recording, but I couldn’t really advocate for a Blu-Ray release of Xabungle because that is TV-quality animation made for standard definition: not the sort of thing which typically benefits from a high definition presentation.

      Though from what I hear from videophiles, even the current Japan-only Blu-Ray releases of Macross: DYRL leave something to be desired. Really, I probably should have expanded my answer to just say “all of Macross anything” since even though almost all Macross simply does NOT lend itself well to the HD environment (and something like Plus would probably need to be re-rendered and composited), it’s just silly that such a big contemporary hit like Macross Frontier (the second theatrical film of which just came out on Blu-Ray) can’t see the light of day here for the same reasons we’ve been talking about for the last 20+ years.

      • There is no Blu-Ray for DYRL in Japan so I guess it not existing would leave something to be desired. There was an Amazon listing but nothing concrete yet. [I guess I was thinking of the HD remaster/upscale. –Daryl]

      • “but I couldn’t really advocate for a Blu-Ray release of Xabungle because that is TV-quality animation made for standard definition:”

        Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but wasn’t most anime shot on 16mm film? So any remastering where they scan that film would certainly look superior to a DVD release, as 16mm isn’t ‘standard definition’.

        It’s not like anime made in the digital era, where it was created at standard definition ratios.

        Unless I’m completely mistaken, which is possible.

      • Unless Sunrise no longer has the original film elements and it’s all a half-assed transfer to digital tape for archiving.

        OTOH I really don’t understand the sheer fanaticism behind the “IT’S GOT TO BE ON BLU-RAY OR NOTHING AAAAAAHHH” people. It reminds me of the early days of DVD when people actually believed that putting anime on DVD would magically transfer a TV series into a widescreen high-def almost motion picture event. Yeah. Mighty Atom was originally filmed in Cinemascope but Tezuka was forced to crop it for TV… yeesh.

        “Well, well, *snork* you can put so much more on BD*! *snork* They could put an entire series on one disc!*snorrrrok*”

        Yeah, maybe, but they WON’T. And since the POINT of BD is more room for less compression, I don’t WANT 25 episodes crammed on a disc thankyouverymuch.

        *And by BD I don’t mean the dude from Megazone 23. 🙂

  3. Gerald, could you explain what you meant when you said that watching Goro Tanaguchi’s shows was like watching work created by an autistic? You kind of let that drop without any explanation.

    • What I meant by that is that the shows he makes seem to concentrate very heavily on elements that, seemingly, no one else cares about. I mainly get this impression from Infinite Ryvius and some of the other works he was involved in. I know he was an assistant director on Gasaraki, which also lends itself to this moniker.

      I’ve always seen hard sci-fi as the realm of the sperglord: shows that are so totally in love with the idea of technology to the exclusion of good characters and an interesting story (Starship Troopers is a fine example of this). Infinite Ryvius seemed so in love with the idea of people living in space that it didn’t seem to care if you actually liked, or could even follow, anything else about the show. I’ve got the entire box set of the show sitting here which I picked up for about $10, but I’m unlikely to ever get back to it since the show seems to not care if I actually can follow it from one scene to another as long as there’s some TOTALLY SWEET and super accurate science going on.

      Gasaraki is another example. I’m laying part of the blame for it on him even though Ryousuke Takahashi was the director, but Takahashi’s other work was far more accessible than that show so I’m putting part of that on Taniguchi. The show cared so much about the intricate details of the machines, the price of corn and minute details about the politics of the world, but didn’t care if anyone actually WANTED to hear about it or would even find it interesting.

      Watching much of Goro Taniguchi’s work is sort of like having a conversation with someone about a fighting game, and all the guy wants to talk about is the intricacies of how someone is thrown while ignoring details like the fighting system itself or the characters, even if he’s told again and again that “how someone is thrown” is probably the least important element.

      • Taking previous precedents into account…I believe we will inevitably have to “agree to disagree” about this topic, particularly concerning the debatable suggestion that no one -let alone the director- really cares about the characters in Taniguchi’s shows, but it’s probably still worth presenting an alternative point of view.

        On the one hand, the interviews and liner notes for Gasaraki explicitly indicate Goro Taniguchi’s support role was akin to that of a secretary or make-up artist, who actually came into the project relatively late (the first episode’s storyboards were already in progress and the main story had been set in stone without his input). I don’t believe his presence significantly altered what Ryousuke Takahashi himself had in mind, because the veteran director specifically wanted to create something new and very different from his previous works. If anything, you might even want to consider that Takahashi’s Gasaraki-era interests may have influenced Taniguchi’s, in ways both good and bad, instead of the other way around.

        On the other hand, which is admittedly a bit more subjective than the above, I rewatched Infinite Ryvius a couple of months ago and did not have any significant problems keeping up with the story or, more importantly, its characters. And this is coming from someone who is not a real fan of obscure technobabble or hardcore sci-fi minutiae at all. Finally, it’s also been my experience that a lot of the people who enjoyed that show, as well as Planetes and even most of his pre-Code Geass projects, actually tend to appreciate the character drama, more often than not, as opposed to being narrowminded tech geeks.

      • It might just be a matter of my memory, but the thing that sticks out to me most about Infinite Ryvius has nothing to do with the giant robot (other than that it was extremely cumbersome) but the tensions between the characters from (mostly) being so young and having to deal with a constant state of crisis. The way I remember people describing it from the start was “Lord of the Flies in Space.”

        Now, at first I actually hated the characters because of how aggravating they could be, but I eventually was able to see that there was something to everyone, and that their “averageness” made them kind of compelling in a way. Ultimately what I think of when I think of Ryvius is the relationship of the two brothers and how their animosity waxes and wanes.

  4. I would be all about a “Build yo damned models” month.

    As it is I am halfway through a 1/144 G Gundam series kit I was experimenting with various paint and glue techniques. (Its not gonna be great but its a good learning experience on a model that’s completely cheap and disposable. Sorry Chibodee!)

    But my collection of kits is even bigger than I had on my blog back then: http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2009/07/more-evidence-of-why-i-am-slow-and-lazy.html

    And I would love to have some excuse and purpose to put one together.

  5. Hey now, we only have one avowed autistic contributor on CDX. Well maybe two but he mostly contributes to Otaku.CDX now.

    So when did it become in vogue to denounce anyone you disagree with as being autistic :3

    I feel like that’s a recent trend. [That is 100% a me thing so if it’s a trend I’m all for it; I started hurling that word around constantly once I started to catch too much heat for calling everyone “faggot.” If anyone finds this offensive, just pretend I’m restraining myself from using the “n” word constantly. Which I am. –Daryl]

    At the risk of further whacking the hornets nest I’ve been previously taking a beam saber to, I’d like to have one of you guys (or even Clarissa) on the Veef Show to discuss this further.

    Also robots having gimmicks? I know you may have misspoke Daryl, but oh man.

    Classic.

  6. Gerald – I said this on Regan’s page as well, but I want to thank you again for your mecha model building month idea. I was strangely inspired by it. I couldn’t wait to get home from work and dig around for my long-forgotten kits. Thanks to you, I’m stocking up on Tester’s and getting ready to start a 1/100th Missile Phalanx 15th Anniversary Macross kit. Invariably, I’ll screw it up, because I SUCK at models, but I cannot overstate my gratitude to you for making such a simple thing sound like a glorious moral imperative. Have you received feedback from others who are taking up this challenge?

  7. Replying to VF5SS because the comment threading stops short:

    I think Giant Gorg would MAYBE be a bit more popular than Layzner because:

    a. Shorter.
    b. Storyline, while a bit twisty, is still fairly linear.
    c. Animation is very consistent from episode to episode, and high quality.
    d. Yas. chara design.
    e. While the story is kinda about robots, it’s not ABOUT the robots, dig? Except for the special relationship between Yuu and Gorg.
    f. of the two, Giant Gorg had a better shot of being picked up by somebody for T.V. broadcast because of the episode count and what little editing that would be needed to meet broadcast standards.

    All my opinion of course and zero way to prove or disprove in any meaningful fashion. Except the Chara work by Yas, which is sheer awesomesauce.

    • Also, Giant Gorg has Reagan in it (since Anime 82 is about that decade, wouldn’t “Reagan Strongblood” be more appropriate?) which will mollify any conservative protests over content. If they dub it, Dr. Wave has to be given the full Woody Allen treatment–I mean, as GAIL thugs push their guns in his face, he’s gotta say “Don’t kill me! I haven’t read all of Kafka yet!”

    • Since when have TV stations ever picked up old robot shows with nothing to sell? Especially ones that don’t have any install base from the 80’s. Granted I don’t recall when these were supposed to come out but even in the late 90’s or early 2000’s we weren’t getting bleedin’ Votoms on TV. Being shorter is fairly relevant to DVD buyers, but fans put up with a lot more when they like something. Yas characters are old so nobody likes them here.

      Besides, SPTs are way cooler :3

  8. I was one of those that saw The Last Starfighter back when I was 7 or 8. I never did see Captain Power since hardly any station locally carried the show, nor had the toys but I knew both existed. I’ve read it’s coming out on DVD soon. Certainly the politics in mecha shows is one that I found annoying as well.

  9. Great stuf, mecha is the anime genre I am most obsessed with, so its always good to hear you guys talking about it.

    It sounded like from your comments that you guys haven’t seen much of Takahashi’s work other than Gasaraki and Votoms, which is sad. I’m not a huge fan of Votoms, but I LOVE Dougram. In a way its sort of like Gasaraki done right, there’s a lot of political details and intrigue, but it always feels interesting and like its expanding the plot. What I saw of SPT Layzner was also solid, and really well animated for the time.

  10. Daryl, how is your worst robot anime not Gundam Seed Destiny? We all remember episode three. Surely Destiny is worse than Southern Cross, for you?

    • Oh sure, SEED Destiny certainly makes me mad just thinking about it. And it’s been like 5 or 6 years. But Destiny was a show that could have very easily been great. Like I said, it has moments that are absolutely tremendous…which get undermined due to lack of follow-through, poor overall pacing, and questionable character emphasis. You can look back on certain moments that were meant to be emotionally effective and say “wow, they really knocked that scene out of the park.” The problem was repeatedly failing to capitalize.

      Destiny was bad in a very strange and specific way such that had they just done certain things at certain points could have retroactively made the bad parts either no longer bad or significantly less bad. As such, back when it was still airing in Japan such that nobody knew in advance where it was going, there wasn’t exactly a point in the show where you could write it off as un-salvageable beyond repair and just stop watching. For example, Shinn Asuka being a completely unlikable protagonist would have been fine…had he turned out to have actually been the villain. And there were several pieces in place suggesting that was PRECISELY what was going to happen; that we were in fact watching a story about a guy who originally meant well that gradually fell to the dark side because of his desire for vengeance. It’s only once you reach the end that you see “oh. It never did.” That they had chance after chance–the show itself, then re-doing the ending with an extended running time, then re-telling the entire story with alterations via compilation movie–and STILL couldn’t work out these fairly simple remedies is…frustrating. The original Gundam SEED TV series was a modernized take on the story beats of the original Mobile Suit Gundam film trilogy that smoothed out some of the rough edges so that things would make more sense. SEED Destiny tried to do the same treatment for Zeta Gundam TV and ended up being even messier.

      But as bad as Destiny was, it’s still memorable. There’s still a great soundtrack, sweet mecha designs, and characters with (unrealized) potential. But Southern Cross…I can’t remember Southern Cross! I can remember the events and names used in the Robotech version better than I can remember Southern Cross proper. In other words, it’s FORGETTABLE to me (because I’ve largely forgotten it!) even though I did watch it. That to me is worse.

      It’s not the WORST, mind you, because I can still remember and admire bits and pieces. Like I said in the show, the actual answer for “the worst” is something I’d have watched a lot of and just couldn’t remember anything of note at all. Meaning I’d be unable to name it.

      • As someone who recommended Southern Cross to others, wouldn’t it be easier to simply say that you (or Gerald) found it an unremarkable show rather than to get internet angry about it? I found the first season of FMP pretty forgettable but I don’t recall saying it was the worst thing ever. If anything you could ease up on parroting dead Uncle Carl’s notion that he made up his own story because he must’ve not told the writers who kept using plot points, dialog, and other things straight from the original source. Yeah they may have muddled up a lot of straightforward things (and destroyed a moon as a sign of their power) but we all know he’s not the genius visionary some documentaries make him out to be :3

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