Monday, May 23, 2011

Capsule Reviews: Japanese TV

This time out three TV series from the 1950's and 60's from Japan that I saw on DVD via unsubtitled episodes.

This TV show started out as a manga by Astroboy creator Osamu Tezuka. It was turned into a 26 episode TV series a short time later. The series concerns a young man who comes to Tokyo from his village where he gets work doing animation for Osamu Tezuka. The twist in the whole thing is that he is really a vampire (though the notion of being a vampire here makes him more like werewolf). On the basis the first four episodes I saw the series is an interesting misfire. What is interesting is the fact that the werewolves and all the special effects are animated. The integration is hit and miss, but for the most part it works (not always well) but well enough to create it’s own unique feel. The real problem with the series for me was that the episodic nature of TV doesn’t allow it to build a real head of steam. Things begin to build only to find that they are over. Even allowing for the fact that things get picked up in part in the next show the rhythms are all off. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t see the show, you should, especially if you are interested in Comics, animation or just off the beaten track TV shows.

Tetsujin 28
Odd ball live action version of the cartoon and comic best known as Gigantor in the US. This is the original series about a boy and his giant robot. With characters dressed to approximate the characters in the cartoon, the series is a game attempt at doing the impossible on the cheap. It doesn’t work because the cheapness of the robot costumes is so silly as to be laughable. I wasn’t giggling I was laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. Does it make it a bad viewing experience, no, it makes it a barrel of laughs. Sadly you kind of feel bad at laughing simply because the producers were trying as best they could. It just didn’t work. It was a good idea, unfortunately they probably shouldn’t have moved forward with it. Still if you love cheesy productions you really need to jump at the chance of seeing this because it is a great deal of fun.

Marine Kong
Off the wall giant monster TV series about a giant robot that looks like a giant monster and is used to try and take over the world. At least thats what the wiki entries and the messageboard posts I've read have said about it. I can't tell for certain since I watched three non-subtitled episodes, none of which seemed connected. Being a fan of giant monster movies in general I found the series to be a blast. The monster suit is very clearly a suit.

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