Saturday, April 17

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.
K.I.A.: Dreamkiller

Agent K takes on an empire in HAI's K.I.A. story.

Honoel Ibardolaza is one of the best local artists and comic creators I've had the pleasure to know and work with, and he doesn't disappoint with his latest pages. Dreamkiller is the title of HAI's contribution to K.I.A., a story he both drew and wrote. I actually don't know too much about it except that Kai is sent in to infiltrate a hostile country to kill a king. Sounds like something epic. Anyway, he's sent us the first page, and by the looks of it, Dreamkiller's gonna be... well, KILLER! Heh.
I say it again... K.I.A. is gonna ROCK! WOOHOO!!!

Friday, April 16


Yesterday I and my old college crew The BLT attended the wedding of one of our batchmates. The ceremony was held in a lovely place known as Fernwood, which is a sort of special venue/mini-zoo/park. Since it was the middle of the week, me and my friend/fellow ad person Butch had to come from work in Makati. We took a cab ride through heavy traffic, the long trip allayed fortunately by fun conversations about the advertising biz, coming films and, most significantly, wrestling. Both of us were fans of professional sports entertainment even from our years in high school, remembering stuff like Hulk Hogan's lame finishing moves, how the Ultimate Warrior looked horrible without his trademark makeup, how cool the silent Japanese tattooed wrestler Hakushi was, and which of the popular wrestlers we knew then are dead now (such as Owen Hart, Mr. Perfect, Andre the Giant and Ravishing Rick Rude). Even the cabbie (who was apparently a wrestling enthusiast himself) was able to contribute to the conversation.

We got to Fernwood at about 7 PM, which was well after the wedding ceremony and into the photography sessions. Luckily, we arrived in time to wear our barongs, spruce up, meet the rest of the BLT gang and get our photos taken. After that, the reception gave us dinner, a performance by the singer Kaila, more food, and a hilarious garter and bouquet portion. We also marvelled at the various exotic fauna- swans, tons of carp in the pond, parrots and peacocks and brown-feathered ducks (their exact breed eludes me now). I would have taken tons of pics with my phone, but unfortunately I had forgotten to recharge it and the battery died soon after I took a few shots. Oh well.
Since there was still work the next day, after the final events on the itinerary, we had to say goodbye to the newlyweds. We capped the night with frappucinos at Starbuck's and that was that.

That leaves four of us in the BLT group left unhitched, with one seemingly on the brink. I can safely say I won't be tying the knot anytime soon, but who knows? We'll see. Hoho!

Thursday, April 15


Stuff we worked on at the office got approved! It's a funny campaign that should be something to see when it happens soon. Knowing that the clients not only liked the work but were actually laughing their heads off seeing our scripts and ideas makes all that hard work worth it. Kind of.
Of course it would be great if it just meant more billings and profit for the company, more fame and quality into our portfolios and more feathers into our caps, but it of course also means more work, more work and more work.

The Saga Continues...

I've just finished writing the script for Kunoichi Boy part three. It's a fun one-shot story that has quite a bit of everything- a battle between swords and muskets reminiscent of The Last Samurai, a handsome young nobleman, an opportunity to show off the opposite characters of series leads Jin Dragu and Mikoto, a night attack on a castle, a harem scene, a look at one of the series' main villains, more action and a nice comedic twist to the ending that should pay off nicely. I'll start work on it as soon as I finish the inks and renders of both the preceding chapter and my K.I.A. stories.
Anyway, it seems that Questor Extreme and it's parent/sister mag Questor are currently on hold, but it shouldn't be long before we see new issues on shelves. We'll keep you posted as we go along.

Wednesday, April 14

Local Comic News

The mega-popular Culture Crash comics magazine is now online! Well, it has been for some time but now finally the official site is up with story synopsis, galleries and even submission instructions for aspiring komikeros. Visit the site at Culture

There's a new comic headed into stores very soon. It's called Ignition Comix and it's being produced by GMA 7 and The Daily Inquirer. The talent behind the book includes the guys of Atomic Underground, now renamed Atomic Monkey. This group includes Marvin del Mundo and Michael Seludo, who have also conbtributed art for our upcoming K.I.A.
I was able to see an advance issue thanks to Vin. I haven't read through the whole thing, but there are 4 stories, one each for sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary and folkloric themes. The art and feel is decidedly more alternative rather than straight manga, so it should be something fresh to see. Congrats, guys! Can't wait to see your stuff!

Tikbalang Nation is the latest comic project from Baylans' Jason Banico and artist Ner Pedrina. According to Jayce, TN is a political satire hidden beneath a fantasy story starring a maned, horse-headed cast of heroes and villains. Check it out! Copies are available at Comic Quest.

Support Local Comics! YAY!
A brief pause.

Me looking around at the carnage-filled battleground which is my work week so far.

Me feeling myself for any fatal bulletholes or stab wounds.

Me finding none.

Me laughing maniacally, head thrown back, face reared to the heavens.


Ah. End of Pause.

Tuesday, April 13

Trailing the Bride

The full trailer to Kill Bill 2 is now up at's movie page, so check it out. This second half of the 4th film by Quentin Tarantino looks to be quite different from it's predecessor. The Bride is still packing her god-cutting Hanzo Hattori sword, but it looks like she's going to be in far more danger than she ever was in the first one as she takes on the remaining members of the Deadly Vipers Assassination Squad, Budd and Elle Driver (played by Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah respectively). Of interest will be a flashback to The Bride's training in kung fu, complete with a haughty, white-haired 'Old Master' kung fu teacher (played by Gordon Liu, who played Crazy 88 General Johnny Moe in Part One).
Early reviews of KB2 have remarked generally that the second chapter makes up for the trademark Tarantino dialogue that was missed in KB1. There will be a lot less kills, but count on the violence and action being a lot deeper and more visceral as The Bride meets The Man, Bill (David Carradine).
Kill Bill Volume 2 is slated for showing in the US on April 16. Here in Manila? Hopefully, soon.

Monday, April 12

Kunoichi Boy 2

The Holy Week vacation's over, and so is the pencilling stage for the second installment of Kunoichi Boy! Quite a lot of things happened to me over the course of the holiday (the Internet is such a great thing), and some of it bore fruit at least almost overnight. At the very least now it's onto inking and rendering for Jin Dragu's adventures.

The funny thing is, the pages have deviated a bit from the script- Yikes- but I think the overall pace and flow of the story is better and keeps the mystery of the character intact for a while longer. I hope it all turns out well when I submit the pages in.
As far as I know, the latest issue of Questor Extreme should be out by next week or so, and as I reported earlier it should have a preview of KB inside. I'll let you all know once I grab a copy myself.

Sunday, April 11


The MMORPG-based saga .Hack has it all- amnesiac heroes, pure-hearted heroines, weird monsters, mystery, intrigue and Player Killing.

I've just seen 28 episodes of the anime .Hack//Sign. I've known about this series for quite some time, though I've never had the chance beforehand to watch the whole thing.
.Hack is a series of anime TV series and OAVs set in The World, a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer RPG) where a mysterious phenomenom is causing players to be affected by the game even in the real world. In the 26-episode .Hack//Sign series (the first TV series), the focus is on Tsukasa, an amnesiac wavemaster (mage) who is apparently able to teleport from server to server and do things that he normally shouldn't be able to do. This marks him as a 'cheat' character and gains him the ire of the resident 'law enforcers', the Crimson Knights (also players). But soon, greater mysteries come to the surface, including the appearance of unkillable monsters, unexplained comas among players and the fact that Tsukasa can't log out of the game, and seems to be trapped within The World.
In the course of the series, the normally anti-social Tsukasa eventually makes friends like the energetic swordswoman Mimiru, the wise barbarian Bear, the crafty mage BT and the pure-hearted Subaru, the leader of the Crimson Knights.

The character designs for .Hack//Sign are by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto of Evangelion, so you can tell there's a bit of Shinji Ikari in main hero Tsukasa.

If Tsukasa is the series' hero, Subaru is the heroine. The leader of the Crimson Knights, Subaru stands for law and order in the virtual playing field of 'The World'.

I have to note that Animax messed up a bit, showing episode 26 before episode 25. Also shown were episodes 27 anbd 28- two filler episodes that happen after the events in the actual 26-episode series. Episode 27, entitled Intermezzo, is a flashback showing Mimiru's mentor from her earlier days in The World. Episode 28, entitled Unison, is the epilogue to both .Hack//Sign and the .Hack RPG games released on PS2, and shows the heroes from both the anime and the games finally meeting after the crisis and giving the whole .Hack series an upbeat ending, complete with warm reunions and even dancing in the streets!

Swordswoman Mimiru can't seem to keep away from Tsukasa even though they never get along until the end of the series...

The fatherly Bear is the wisest of the heroes of .Hack//Sign, despite his barbaric appearance.

.Hack//Sign is a very complex series, the story spread out between two TV series, several OAVs, and a series of PS2 games. And, as I've heard, it's more concerned with character relationship and plot rather than action or fantasy elements. The characters spend a LOT of time just conversing and talking, which may turn off anyone expecting to see a slash-or-spellfest. But even so, the series pulls you in with and pays off as the characters grow and mysteries are little by little solved (or not solved). For those with patience and an adequate attention span, .Hack//Sign is an excellent series that is rewarding in the long term. Highly recommended!

Battle scenes like this are rare in the whole .Hack//Sign series.

The next .Hack series on Animax, .Hack//Legend of Twilight, occurs several years after the end of the .Hack//Sign series and games, and is a lot more humorous and cute as opposed to the darker, more serious predecessors. If you missed the .Hack marathon today, get yourself the DVDs or VCDs and enjoy this series for some good, deep anime fun.
New Anime: Mezzo

Mikura's back with more action but less sex.

Anime enthusiasts will probably think of deadly schoolgirl assassins, pastel-colored handguns and kinky sex when they hear the title Mezzo Forte. Which is pretty fair since that was indeed what the anime OAV was all about. Starring a pretty, petite killing machine named Mikura, the original 2-part OAV by Yasuomi Uematsu was a sex-and-violence filled pseudo-sequel/successor to the more popular and darker Kite.
Basically, it was about gun-for-hire Mikura and her pals shooting it out with baddies in gunfights and martial arts fights and having schoolgirl sex in between- pretty nasty stuff. Anyway, the TV version, simply named Mezzo, is now out.
The series is about the colorful adventures of the D.S.A., or Danger Service Agency. The Agency's members are deadly sprite Mikura, tech guy Harada and senior dude Kurokowa. As in the OAVs, the trio live in a makeshift headquarters on top of a building and get jobs which often involve them taking on thugs and other baddies in blood-spurting, wall-smashing battles.

While Mezzo predictably has no kinky sex, the series revs it up with explosive action. The fight scenes are excellently animated and choreographed, with exaggerated effects like fighters being smashed through brick walls or thrown great distances by solid blows. It's also routine for high explosives and gravity-defying stunts every now and then. In short, it's a BLAST. Never mind that its never explained why a schoolgirl-type like Mikura has kung fu powers that would put Neo to shame- it's damn fun.
Stories are also pretty wild, and not always on the side of reason- in the first two episodes the DSA are hired by a ghost and have to fight an ALIEN. EH? Wild. Anyway, the action is fun, the animation is pretty slick and cool, and the bright colors are an eye-catcher. Mikura's a bit young for my tastes, but she's a hottie and the series looks promising. Check it out if you get the chance.