Quick Update

It’s been nearly four months since I’ve last posted on my blog; I’m simply updating to let everyone know I’m still around, and I plan to post soon. I’ve simply been dealing with depression and anxiety these days, and I’ve neglected my blog because of that; apologies to everyone for doing so. I’ll make sure to write a post this month; I might continue looking at Oda Nobuna, or maybe G Gundam. Oda Nobuna’s a fun anime, as it looks at the Sengoku Period, with the major figures of that era all women in the show; G Gundam’s fun as well, and Domon Kasshu is a cool protagonist. Again, apologies for not posting for so long; I’ll make a post as soon as I can!

GeGeGe no Kitaro (2018) Episode 4: The Wrath of Yama-Jijii

Episode four of the 2018 GeGeGe no Kitaro series features the young boy Yuta, who discovers GeGeGe Forest after traveling through a small tunnel; a human stumbling upon said forest is a rare occasion, as indicated by Sunakake-Babaa (who notes that the previous visitor, Torakichi, encountered the yōkai world centuries before). The fact that centuries have passed between Torakichi and Yuta’s respective visits illustrates that yōkai realm has kept itself fairly isolated from the human world – although yōkai can seemingly move freely between their realm and that of humans, human travel to the yōkai world is extremely rare. Kitaro tells Yuta to avoid traveling to the forest freely – this shows his reticence towards accepting humans into his world, echoing his statement to Mana about how humans and yōkai should not interact. Yuta exhibits a fascination with yōkai, having learning about them from his grandmother, which alleviates some of that concern Kitaro shows about letting humans interact with yōkai; people do not always display fear and confusion towards the supernatural, as shown with Yuta, who is genuinely interested in learning about yōkai and their realm. Yuta considers beings like Kitaro cool, rather than scary – even though he does initially show fright upon meeting the swamp monster, Yuta shows respect towards those beings he encounters in the forest and wants to learn about them. One scene in the episode shows him allowing Betobeto-san, a ghostly entity named for the sound they make while walking, to move ahead of him; he may have been scared initially upon hearing Betobeto-san’s footsteps, but upon learning who they are, he takes an effort to show deference to them rather than fear (which Betobeto-san appreciates).

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Animation in the 1970s: Selected Shorts

American animation’s “golden age” was effectively over by 1970 – Warner Bros. closed its animation department in 1969 (it had closed in 1963, and the studio contracted DePatie-Freleng between 1964 and 1967 before reopening their animation department for a brief time in 1967), and Disney had released only twelve shorts in the 1960s. Terrytoons persisted until 1972, as did Walter Lantz Productions (the latter of which released its final Woody Woodpecker short, Bye, Bye Blackboard, on September 1, 1972); DePatie-Freleng was active during the 1970s, releasing various theatrical shorts in the decade, including numerous Pink Panther productions. One key event that led to the eventual decline of the theatrical short in the United States occurred in 1948 – that year, the Supreme Court determined in United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. that the major studios engaged in a monopoly with their block booking practice. Block booking refers to a policy wherein the studios provided films to theaters in “blocks,” obligating theaters to accept a bundle of films in its entirety, rather than having the theaters decide which films they wanted to display; the 1948 case brought an end to that practice, which meant that animated shorts would now have to be presented separately from feature films. The studios continued to produce shorts, but by 1969 animated shorts had largely been abandoned altogether in the United States; the studios discovered that they could make a profit through having their theatrical shorts appear on television, however, and they sold them for broadcast in the 1950s.

The above paragraph only describes the state of American animation by 1970, however – this article will cover productions from various countries released in the the 1970s. To start off, Polish animator Piotr Kamler directed Delicious Catastrophe, a short released in 1970; this unusual film begins with a sphere bouncing up a flight of stairs. This sphere contains a mysterious flying contraption with wheels carrying a box – inside the box is a figure in a striped shirt standing on a platform inside a glass jar, with a clock on a chain around their body. An amorphous being interrupts the figure, who has been pressing their foot against an inflated balloon attached to some unknown object (possibly the pipe nearby, which produces droplets of a liquid) and playing a trumpet; the sphere reaches the top of the stairs, where a large block falls on top of it. The short ends with the glass container filling with liquid; the figure produces bubbles with his trumpet while floating in the liquid. Kalmer, the short’s director, has directed five additional works since Delicious Catastrophe, most recently the 2011 work Continu-discontinu 2010; he made one feature film, the 1982 stop-motion work Chronopolis, which contains narration by Michael Lonsdale (famous for playing Hugo Drax, the villain from Moonraker). Another short from 1970, Yak, was a segment produced by Al Jarnow for Sesame Street; the short, an educational work about the letter Y, features a talking yak. Al Jarnow worked on numerous shorts for Sesame Street; a more recent example is Floor Tiles, released in 1997. Polish animator Daniel Szczechura released Journey in 1970; the short depicts an unnamed figure’s train ride, and no dialogue can be heard during the short. Szczechura began his directing career in 1960 with the short film Conflicts – this work is mainly animated, but opens with a live-action scene, viewed by an audience in a movie theater, of where a man shoots another over a woman (and is then shot himself by the woman, who then commits suicide). The audience applauds, but three people seemingly disapprove of the segment, and thus the live-action scene is altered to have the man the woman is cheating on her husband with escape unnoticed; the three figures approve of this change, but the rest of the audience does not.

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Lupin the Third Part 1 Episode 1: The Legendary Thief Lupin

The 1970s was a pretty eventful decade for Japanese animation – with regards to animated features, Cleopatra (an X-rated production directed by Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto) debuted in 1970, and Belladonna of Sadness was released in 1973. Notable televised works from the decade include Mazinger Z (which inaugurated the Super Robot genre of mecha), Mobile Suit Gundam (the first Real Robot production), Devilman and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman; Lupin the Third, the first episode of which is the subject of this article, debuted in 1971. Based on a manga by Monkey Punch (who passed away in 2019), the series focuses on the adventures of the eponymous thief, the grandson of the French literary thief Arsène Lupin, who debuted in 1905 – this series happens to be Part 1, and six subsequent television shows in the franchise (one of which focuses on Fujiko Mine) were released over the years, with Part 6 debuting in 2021. Part 1’s first episode introduces the central character of Lupin and an associate, Jigen, as well as Fujiko Mine and Lupin’s adversary, an inspector named Koichi Zenigata; the inspector is descended from Heiji Zenigata, an Edo-era detective who first appeared on film in 1931. This episode features the villainous organization Scorpion, whose leader finances a five-billion-yen car racing track as a means of capturing and killing Lupin (which would, according to him, make all rival criminal groups crumble); this leader initially appears arrogant, assuming that his plan to kill Lupin will succeed, trusting his expensive and elaborate plan (which he explains to Fujiko Mine, whom he captured when she entered Scorpion Castle).

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Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 3: Kuwabara Helps His Friends

This episode focuses on Kazuma Kuwabara, a delinquent like Yusuke; Kuwabara has a few friends that he hangs out with, as illustrated in a scene where he and his group protect Keiko from other delinquents who try to extort her. This scene shows Kuwabara’s honorable side – he only fights when it’s to defend others, a contrast to those he fought (who desire money, and are willing to aggravate others to obtain cash). The teacher who confronts him and his gang over their behavior initially wishes to revoke the special work permission granted to one of the delinquents, named Okubo, but seemingly promises to not pursue that option if Kuwabara agrees to avoid conflict for a week, as well as the team achieving at least 50 points on an upcoming science test; he intends to expel Kuwabara, however, in order to improve the value of the school’s stocks. This demonstrates the teacher’s desire to abuse his authority for profit; Kuwabara and his friends, by contrast, wish to honor their promise, with Kuwabara upholding his end of the deal by refusing to throw a single punch when fought by the delinquents from before. Kuwabara also studies hard to fulfill the second condition; the teacher speaks condescendingly of him when observing him study in class, illustrating that he does not believe Kuwabara has the mental faculty to improve (Kuwabara got a 7 on the previous exam).

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Mobile Fighter G Gundam Episode 2: Fight Against Chibodee Crockett

At the start of episode two, a man describes the Gundam Fight that practically replaces warfare in the universe of G Gundam – every four years, colonies sent representative mecha pilots to a tournament (held on Earth) to determine who will get to rule space. This is a unique approach to conflict, as it eschews the traditional method of warfare seen in the preceding Gundam works; rather than having soldiers fight en masse on a battlefield, the colonies adopted a tournament emphasizing individual combat. A Gundam Fight occurs in the episode, between Domon Kasshu and Chibodee Crockett, the arrogant representative for Neo America – Chibodee wields some impressive physical strength as a boxer, which he demonstrates while injuring Domon in a boxing match that Domon interrupted. Chibodee emerged from poverty, as shown in a brief flashback to his days on Earth; as he mentions, he had no one to help him, and he sees Neo America as his opportunity to develop more strength and represent the States as a powerful Gundam Fighter. Unfortunately, someone from the Ministry of Defense, ostensibly assigned to protect the Neo America representative, cares nothing for Chibodee – the man outright states to an associate that he doesn’t care what happens to Neo America’s pilot if he wins the tournament, showing a rather cruel indifference towards the person he’s meant to defend. He even attempts to kill Domon at the end, luring Domon to Broadway without informing Chibodee of this; he thus comes across as opportunistic, willing to assassinate a Gundam Fighter to achieve his personal goals.

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Droopy Shorts, 1943-1949

MGM’s animation department, founded in 1937, produced animated works until its closure in 1958 – the popular characters Tom and Jerry debuted through MGM in 1940, and three years later, the same department released its first Droopy short, Dumb-Hounded. Droopy was the creation of Tex Avery, who worked for MGM at the time; the character starred in 24 shorts between 1943 and 1958, ending with Droopy Leprechaun. The aforementioned Dumb-Hounded, the first of the productions starring the dog, features an unnamed wolf who escapes from prison – Droopy is sent to pursue him, and the short eventually ends with Droopy emerging victorious (and winning a cash reward) as he hits the wolf with an enormous boulder. One clever gag in the short shows the wolf traveling in reverse; he attempts to elude his pursuer by traveling to a remote cabin, but discovers Droopy has somehow arrived there before him, and the film operates in reverse as he returns to New York. The following short, 1945’s The Shooting of Dan McGoo, features a cameo by Red, who was introduced in Red Hot Riding Hood – she appeared in nine shorts total, the final being 1949’s Little Rural Riding Hood. The Shooting of Dan McGoo includes a wolf antagonist, similarly to Dumb-Hounded; his lusting over Red (who goes by Lou in this short) is reminiscent of Red Hot Riding Hood. Droopy, in the role of Dan McGoo, ultimately shoots and kills the wolf when the latter attempts to abduct Lou, and a grateful Lou rewards Droopy with a kiss. The short’s opening credits notes that the story is based on a poem, “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” by Robert W. Service – this poem (first published in 1907) tells the story of a mysterious man who arrives at a saloon who seemingly has a grudge, and he and Dan McGrew kill each other.

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Assorted Animation from the 1960s

The 1960s featured two landmark anime both released in 1963, Astro Boy and Gigantor – the latter is particularly notable for being the first televised mecha series, with the eponymous robot being operated via remote (subsequent mecha featured units controlled via a pilot in a cockpit). In the United States, Warner Bros. dissolved their animation department, although it briefly revived between 1967 and 1969 – said department’s closure occurred as a result of a significant 1948 Supreme Court case that determined the studios violated antitrust law through their block booking practice. Terrytoons and Walter Lantz Productions would continue for a while, with both closing in 1972; television emerged as a new medium for animation, with studios initially providing their respective libraries to broadcast networks and TV-specific productions such as The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! debuting in the decade. The Soviet Union produced the popular series Well, Just You Wait!, which debuted in 1969; running until 2006, the work told the story of a wolf attempting to capture a rabbit. Numerous animated productions were released in the 1960s, ranging from the final classic Looney Tunes shorts (which ended with the 1969 Cool Cat work Injun Trouble) and the 1960 feature-length film Saiyuki (released as Alakazam the Great in the Unnited States); this post will explore some of these releases, showing some of the various international works that debuted at the time.

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GeGeGe no Kitaro (2018) Episode 3: The Mysterious Yokai Castle

Episode three of the 2018 GeGeGe no Kitaro involves the reappearance of a yōkai castle previously sealed away by humans; it also features three antagonists, motivated by their anger towards humanity to establish supremacy by transforming people into yōkai. They abduct children in order to restore the castle, which grants them the ability to regenerate; when Mana informs Kotaro of rumors regarding the abductions, however, he advises her to not get involved in yōkai affairs, as he believes a friendship between members from the two communities cannot occur. He explains that his group should remain feared by humans – despite his willingness to help humans in the previous two episodes, he feels that that the current social dynamic (where humanity remains socially distant from yōkai) should be maintained. This perspective is a bit harsh, one likely informed by Kotaro’s irritation with humans; as he explains in this episode, he has observed people’s general arrogance towards the natural world. Still, he does not tolerate the same attitude in yōkai, as shown in his fight with the antagonists; he recognizes terrible behavior, and would not want anyone to make the mistake of attempting of removing an entire group from existence for any reason. His victory over the three villains of this episode illustrates Kotaro’s desire to make the world a more peaceful place – he would punish fellow yōkai who threaten the planet, as they are no better than the humans they express anger towards.

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Zombie Land Saga 2: Impromptu Rap Battle

As the girls adjust to life as a zombie, Kōtarō provides more idol work for them in this episode; the venue this time around is the Shachi-no-Mon Public Concert, sharing the bill with four other acts. Mizuno expresses her hesitation with following Kōtarō’s idea to Sakura when she, Sakura and Junko momentarily leave the house; she shows reluctance to become an idol (as does Junko), as it’s a bizarre situation brought about by Kōtarō reviving six people for the express purpose of establishing a music group. Kōtarō himself doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, as he mocks Mizuno for her seeming lack of knowledge about Saga prefecture – he appears rather insistent on having the girls perform as idols, and his motivation for forming the group seems to be promoting Saga prefecture through the efforts of the girls. Sakura, however, remains optimistic – she describes her enjoyment of the previous performance to Mizuno and Junko, and she is motivated to continue singing as an idol despite the unusual circumstance of her having been revived simply to be recruited as a performer. She is practically alone at the moment in her perspective, however; the anxiety expressed by Mizuno and Junko show that they are not exactly on-board with the idea, an approach that Saki agrees with. Saki is more defiant in her attitude – her conversation with Sakura reveals this rather well, as she antagonizes Sakura for her “goody two-shoes” personality. Her rebellious behavior fits well with her identity as the former leader of a biker gang – she comes across as assertive and unwilling to take crap from others. It’s abundantly clear that the team is largely unconvinced of the concept of a zombie idol group, and Kōtarō must take steps to make the idea appealing to the girls; Sakura expresses her desire to follow Kōtarō, though, as her time in the spotlight reminded her obliquely of her own aspiration toward singing.

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