Before Anime was King: Masters of the Universe
The 80s were a GREAT time to be a kid. Back then, there wasn't any Animax channel giving you 24 hours of anime. Heck, Anime itself was almost unknown except for Japanimation enthusiasts. But despite the lack of big-eyed cartoons, kids could look forward to the TONS and TONS of American cartoons that came out on TV. A fair number of the several hundred animated shows from the US made it to Philippine TV screens, giving kids reasons to hurry on home in the late afternoons, or wake up early on weekends. The best time was that glorious era known as the Saturday Fun Machine slot on Channel 9- great cartoons from 7:30 AM all the way to noon. Yep, there were crappy cartoons like Schmoo and Turbo Teen, but there was great stuff on offer as well. Too bad McDonald's eventually watered down the cartoons to nothing eventuallly.
Anyway, last night's dinner at Chili's with Vin, Jason and Ralph got us talking about those great 80s cartoons, and I thought it would be great to blog about them for a change...
"By the Power of Grayskull" was one of the most recognized lines of dialogue ever in a cartoon back then. Almost every kid knew it. It was all due to the original He-Man cartoon series by Filmation (which gave rise to a LOT of the best and worst cartoons then).
This fantasy-action series of course centered on the battles between archetype strongman-hero He-Man, who incredibly enough keeps a secret identity (Prince Adam) who looks EXACTLY like him, except for a tan, change of wardrobe and perhaps a bit of buffness. Unlike the recently-released revival, Masters of the Universe then was pretty tame; In true A-Team fashion, battles ended with no one ever dying or even getting injured. The rotoscoped animation gave rise to repetitive actions for everyone- they were realistic, yeah, but REPETITIVE. He-man walked the same way, entered the screen the same way, laughed the same way. It was also funny how Skeletor would always charge at He-man, get countered with a TEXTBOOK judo throw, and then land with the textbook safe roll... very cultured, these fierce warriors.
Episodes were, as was the fashion then, usually self-contained. The villains of Snake Mountain (Skeletor et al) would come up with an evil scheme, accompanied by the main baddie doing his familiar rotoscoped evil laugh with fists in the air. Of course, evil scheme would be eventually countered by He Man and his amazing friends (which ranged from the veteran Man-at-Arms to the really lame Mekanek and the moronic Ram Man). Battles would consist of a spell thown here, a judo throw and roll there. Everyone goes home and Orko the mascot magician gives us the lesson for the day.
Anyway, despite this, MOTU was pretty fun; plus the girls were sexy. DAMN, the Sorceresss was hot. Hoho...
These days, Masters of the Universe has been recharged and revitalized for today's kids. The animation is no longer rotoscoped Filmation, and the action is more akin to the hard-hitting Batman Adventures and anime. Battles are battles, spells blow things up and things can get nasty. Which is great, but where's the judo rolls? Ah, those were the days.
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