Friday, June 24, 2005

bad boys II: everybody wants to rule the world

I continue to look at what my favorite cartoon TV villains fought for - but really, it's just an excuse to traipse down memory lane.

snake bites
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Cobra Commander was the head honcho of COBRA, who were constantly thwarted by the guys and gals of G.I. Joe. What does COBRA stand for anyway? Or did I just capitalize it for no good reason? Anyway, Cobra Commander wanted nothing less than global domination, executing plan after plan, and putting together a roster of lieutenants, lackeys and endless armies. Jaime B., creator of Cast, took to me task for not mentioning COBRA in my previous post:
I'm surprised you didn't mention Cobra from GI Joe. What with their "secret" bases that are usually in the shape of gigantic golden cobra heads on mountainsides (very inconspicuous). And the fact that they always had a brilliant escape plan (with those bubble escape pod thingies always ready somewhere). Maybe if they spent more time on the actual evil plot than on figuring out the escape plan, they'd be a bit more successful.

Then again, they are against an army whose main battle strategy is: "OK, let's come at Cobra with our tanks and copters then when we're just about to encounter them, let's all jump out and start punching them with our bare fists." Genius.

I wasn't sympathetic to Cobra Commander - but that all changed when he was transformed by Serpentor into a snake, outside Cobra-la (yes, it's true). Writhing away and hissing "oncessss a man, oncesssss a man" made him instantly more interesting.

The series appealed to my sense of "wow! massive roster!". And I bought a Jinx action figure, the ninja girl in red, when I was young. What can I say? I love ninja girls.

more than meets the eye
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Megatron wanted to gather enough energy (energon? enertron?) to go back home at all costs. The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, stood in their way. Because good guys are like that.

I always found Megatron's transformation rather lame. If he transforms into a gun and there is no Starscream or whoever to shoot him, well, he just sort of sits there (though, yes, I think he has "shot" himself). Even becoming Galvatron later on just didn't cut it.

While we're at it, I felt it was neat that the Decepticons could transform into fighter plans while the sickeningly good folk were stuck with land vehicles. I liked the first Transformers movie (the one with the svelte RC and the colossal Unicron I), and do a fairly credible Starscream impersonation ("Decepticons! Listen to me! I, Starscream, am your new leader!") - what a guy, I should have written about him instead. He's so much more ambitious than old Megatron. Soundwave was also pretty cool, along with his little pets.

Aside: The Megatron action figure was banned many years ago on commercial flights because of his "hey look, I can be a gun" transformation. Also, a new transformers movie is in production.

go, beast fighter!
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Prince Zardoz, as he is known to us Filipinos, hailed from Bozania and wanted to conquer the Earth - in part because he wanted to please his uncle, the Emperor, and also because he had all sorts of issues. As a villain, he was cool because he had a huge floating skull castle as a base of operations, had a seemingly unlimited budget for constructing beast fighters, and could fight hand-to-hand. He was a poor strategist though, leaving the day-to-day matters to the recommendations of his less-than-stellar support cadre (how could you not love Zandra?) and never just built an army of 100 beast fighters to beat the crap of humanity's lone defender, Voltes V. Later revealed to be the big brother of Steve, Big Bert and Little John, his story ended with a duel on ice.

This is was the seminal series for the kids of my generation, no ifs or buts. I would rush home to watch it, singalong with the Japanese intro and end songs - still burned in my mind is the "manananggal" episode, where Little John's Frigate was damaged and Voltes V had to fight as a flying torso. And it also had a ninja girl - Jaime Robinson, pilot of the Lander (trained by her corpulent ninja dad).

eat my magic yoyo
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The Black Giant was the gargantuan archvillain of the series Paul in Fantasyland, a 50-episode show that aired in the late 70's. It was one of those shows that I can barely remember, except for the fact that the Black Giant kidnapped Paul's girlfriend, Nina, and that the series was about Paul trying to get her back from the Black Giant's realm of Pakkun. What the BG wanted with the girl remains a mystery - come on, he's just too...big. Assisted by his teddy bear, who, at opportune times could freeze time and use his magic hammer to empower Paul's yoyo, Paul fought as best as a kid could, facing truly impossible odds.
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The song:
Against monsters and dragons
Paul will always triumph
Stopping time right on time
By using the most magical formula
He will overcome them all
The laser in the teddy bear’s eyes
The fantastic fantastic magical yo-yo

The series' original title is Paul no miracle daisakusen, and also affected a generation of Italians as Il Fantastico Mondo di Paul.

by what creeps, what crawls, by what does not,
let all that grows recede and rot

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Fast forward to the 80's and I'm not really a kid anymore. I turn on the TV and catch the first episode of Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light and I'm hooked. Darkstorm is the evil ruler of Blackdak, Lord of the veldt, Baron of Blackmoor and Satrap of Zangora, and the leader of the Darkling Lords. What does he want? Magic and technology to crush the opposition, led by Leoric, and rule unmolested. His motivation is quite interesting, given the premise of the series.
When the three suns of Prysmos align, all technology on the planet stops working. Two main groups are formed: the kingdom of New Valarak under Leoric, and the domain of Darkstorm. The two sides begin looking for something to give them the edge. The wizard Merklynn appears to both sides, and tells them that the Age of Magic has begun again. Those who can successfully reach his shrine will be rewarded with magic powers. Leoric, Darkstorm, and many others attend to his quest, but only 14 manage and are successful. Merklynn gives them what was promised.

When Merklynn came to Darkstorm's castle to inform him of the change in status quo from technology to magic, Darkstorm had the old codger thrown out. Only when he learned that his rival, Leoric, planned to reach the shrine did Darkstorm deign to go, accompanied by two retainers. Later, he came across a group of knights trapped by the castle's wards. In exchange for their loyalty, he set them free.

This was a really cool show. I liked this series, with it's creative use of dual personas, staff/totem avatars, magic/technology and happy rhyming power activations. It aired only 13 episodes, but was fun. For bonus laughs, try to find the Filipino dubbed version of the series that aired on Channel 2 a few years back: "Bilisan mo na, Darkstorm. Atat na atat na ako..."
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Some of the rhymes:

Darkstorm (Totem: Mollusk; Staff: Decay)
"By what creeps, what crawls, by what does not, let all that grows recede and rot!" and to revert back: "Power of rot, obscuring truth, what once was old, restore to youth!"

Lexor (Totem: Armadillo; Staff: Invulnerability)
"The arrows turn, the swords repel, let nothing pierce this mortal shell!"

Leoric (Totem: Lion; Staff: Wisdom)
"Whispered secrets of a shattered age, I summon you, renew this sage!"

Arzon (Totem: Eagle; Staff: Knowledge)
"A whim, a thought, and more is sought... awake, my mind... thy will be wrought!"

Cryotek (Totem: Bear; Staff: Strength)
"Three suns aligned pour forth their light and fill the archer's bow with might!"

Cindarr (Totem: Gorilla; Staff: Destruction)
"By nature's hand, by craft, by arts, what once was whole now fly apart!"

More Visionaries here.

Aside: The late Chris Latta was the voice for Darkstorm and Cravex, as well as both Starscream and Cobra Commander.


Blogger Unknown said...

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3:18 AM  

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