Archive Page 2

11
May
18

Under Construction -See How It Tweaks-

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If my blog changes in any way that affects how you oglers and readers interact with it, let me know.

I’ve changed the Contact Me email connection; see how that works.

I changed the Blog Icon, which I thought was the same as profile image; so now I have a lightning bolt in one spot and the Flash image in another.   ‘Hope that’s not confusing.

I’m not the most comfortable with change.   I have a low tolerance for glitches.  And, I’m trying to work this site out because I’ve been having problems.  I suspect being here as long as I have has some transitional issues.  Starting something that long ago, maybe the “joints” get rusty.

Hopefully, this will be a refreshing experience and not cause new problems.

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08
May
18

Attention Readers: Found Any Fighting Fantasy Books?

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If you happen upon a used bookstore that has one or more Fighting Fantasy and/or Sorcery! (a spin-off of the F-F pick-a-path books) books, let me know.  And, if possible, which books you find.  I am typically interested and hunting a few particular editions/copies.

I know of one British bookstore that has provided me with some, already, though shipping is a bit much, and–to be honest–I was a lil disappointed with some of the conditions (of the books).  Yet, there was one gem in the bunch, a first-edition American copy of Sorcery! 3, The Seven Serpents which looked fresh and unused.  I treasure it as much as I treasure the copy of Sorcery! 2 I got from my sister.

On that note, here is a short shopping list.   And, I’m going to be specific about cover art just because there are so many editions!  [I won’t mind one with a different cover if it’s in good shape, just for reading purposes.  But, the best covers are worth finding.]

@ Sorcery! Book 1:  The Shamutanti Hills (the natural green-white cover with the manticore looking a bit sketchy, orange spine and back cover, with or without the black and orange trim.)

@ Sorcery! Book 4:  The Crown of Kings (same as the above, orange spine, cartoonish/sketchy wizard on the cover holding the crown overhead on the castle balcony.)

@ Freeway Fighter (American <I presume> cover with the rope/vine border and Mad Max-ish action scene with the chopper and other vehicles after the red car.)

@ Caverns of the Snow Witch (For this one, I actually prefer the 200X cover with the raven-haired witch in the long white coat leaning forward, and the metallic, embossed title; it just looks better than the other versions I’ve seen.)

@ City of Thieves (The <American rope/vine> cover with the grim reaper-like skeleton in the middle of some kind of stone structures with a knight and some other shaggy thing to his left, a reptilian pelican-like thing to the right and red smoke rising along with the long neck of some other lizard/serpent behind the stone structure.)

@ Starship Traveler (The <American rope/vine> cover with the male and female space travelers fighting off the aliens in the foreground, the robot in the upper right corner, while standing on some kind of planet with a yellow-orange moon and a spaceship in the background.)**

@ The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Now, this one has so many covers/editions and is the first and possibly most memorable; but the one I favor has the warlock (or wizard) casting a spell upward from the bottom with the coiling dragon up top AND THE TITLE IN THE MIDDLE <have to be specific because there’s another cover with the title on top of them both>…though I seem to recall another cover that had the dragon peeking through a doorway with a blue beetle-like thing attached to its back or head…if I could find that cover, I’d be ecstatic.)

@ Midnight Rogue (any cover/edition will do as I haven’t seen more than one; it’s just the one I recently got in the mail looked like someone pooped on it…and the return/exchange process was more than I cared to follow).

@ Tower of Destruction (This one might be the original/British cover with the nice floating tower at a tile firing fireballs at the land below; it looks interesting.)

@ Beneath Nightmare Castle (The one with the interesting female monster character clawing at the reader; again, ‘looks interesting.)

@ Citadel of Chaos (The <American> one with the armored figure centered among large worms and a gorgon woman in the background, holding his glowing sword overhead; great cover design!  Just like my favorite Deathtrap Dungeon cover.  Now that I mention it…)

@ Deathtrap Dungeon (The <American> cover with the guy in red standing to the left of the doorway, revealing an array of monsters in the dungeon; I currently just have a copy of the one with the slug on the cover.)

@ Sword of the Samurai (One of the most Uninspired titles; yet I am partial to Far East tales…which is why I am looking into this Lone Wolf Books ninja series; no particular favored cover.)

@ Scorpion Swamp (Another interesting title I have not seen, yet.)

@ Legend of the Shadow Warriors (One version, at least, has the intriguing cover with the pumpkin-headed figures lurking toward the reader; ‘looks interesting.)

@ Nightdragon (The black dragon on the cover I see reminds me of the “blue sword” mini-series I read book 2 of in elementary school, The Hero and the Crown.)

@ Return to Firetop Mountain (Book 50; one of a number of continuing stories in the series, which was also interesting compared to other pick-a-path collections; there were places and stories that reappeared in other books, keeping the mythology going; this had mixed results, as I saw with the Deathtrap Dungeon/Trial of Champions/Armies of Death story.)

@ Any of that Lone Wolf/Way of the Tiger ninja series (Though I’d like to see the first book before considering any of the others, just to be sure it’s worth following.)

There may be more.  But, this is what I came up with for now.


 

A little history…….

I used to have many of these books but foolishly gave them up for quarters when I was desperate to save up for Nintendo games, way back when a new game cost $50 and you knew you were crazy to invest in that 8-bit stuff when the next system was on its way.

Probably since 2001, when I started considering actually picking up a book and reading it (versus all my school years of being assigned reading), I found myself looking back at the fond memories I had of paging through those works by Steve Jackson (not the Lord of the Rings movie guy) and Ian Livingston (or LivingSTONE, depending upon where you find his name, apparently).  Not all of their works were great.  Like the Dungeons and Dragons series, some had lousy titles and repetitive scenarios with just different items to find and different doodles on the pages.  But, there were a few that crossed my desk and captivated me, inspired me to be creative with my own books…which, at the time, were like long comic strips and short comic books.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I started writing my own pick-a-path book, doing my “darndest” to pay tribute to the books I had enjoyed paging through (despite some of the grim, gruesome and frankly scary imagery which I do not support) while infusing some of my own creativity and steering away from the grim stuff that told parents not to buy these books for their kids unless they were twisted adults themselves.  [You know, the kind of adults that live in houses of Halloween stuff and think it’s cute their little ones want to play zombies and vampires or worship scary “rock gods.”]

So, a few years ago, I picked up copies of about a dozen of the old books, including a few “reprints” which came out around 2003.  I appreciated the fresh pages but missed the old cover art.  If you’ve seen some of these (American) covers, you know what I mean.  It’s just fabulous fantasy stuff (again, even if some if not most of it looks a bit freakish and grim, which I do not like).  I particularly liked the cover for Deathtrap Dungeon with the game master standing beside the dungeon door while all the creatures peered out and some escaped toward the reader.  [The British/original cover seems to feature just a little slug-like thing on a pool of slime; not as impressive.]

I’ll confess…  I never took the books too seriously and have yet to actually venture through one completely by keeping all of the notes and using the dice.  I simply enjoyed reliving certain scenes, hunting the seven serpents and imagining some of the creatures in the shady field-stone buildings and wilderness where you found them.

**The robotic/space books in the series, from what I’ve seen so far, were a bit dry and boring in comparison to the grittier dungeon and monster ones.  Maybe the authors had less interest or scientific knowledge to put into the books.  But, I still paged through a few because I was looking for glimpses of something to incorporate into my own work.  I remember drawing the characters from the one cover for Rebel Planet and then, more recently, trying to turn the same poses into other characters/creatures, sort of like using one image as a mandala.  There’s just something about getting staging and poses right that can conjure wonders.

I remember the infamous “red-eyes” that paralyzed you when they looked your way and the striped cats that could disappear into the bush…the golden Buddha-like statue with jewels you could take and the pillar of laughing faces…the serpent disguised as a boatman who offers you a ride before sinking you to the bottom of the lake.  I remember the floor with hands and stars that required a special path to cross…the massive T-Rex turning toward you as you entered the arena…the leprechaun testing your memory with the door/jewel puzzle before he gets struck by a crossbow’s arrow.

I remember working on book reports and donning a harpy costume one year.  For me, these books were my Harry Potter (which is rather sad when you think about it because these were a far cry from that effort at writing).  Fighting Fantasy was light on text yet inspiring enough to fuel so many projects of mine.  Looking back, I wonder how I got anything out of what I read.

Writing my own, I find myself putting so much more text to the page to describe feelings and locations as if I expect no one to have any imagination like the imagination I must have had paging through these F-F books.  My efforts are more like novels broken into alternate endings than short passages about turning a certain direction in a dungeon maze, the result of casting a spell with the wrong item or a very brief clash with some monster.  And, I’m not sure which is better.


 

You know what’s crazy?

Every time I write something like this, I end up doing an online search.  And, sure enough, a new version has just appeared.  [This just happened when I was writing about Cutey Honey, too.]  Apparently, Scholastic Books has been working on/putting out yet another edition of the F-F books with new covers as of last year (2017)?  I guess I need to hit the bookstores, again.  [But, I’d still like to hold some of those older editions, too.  Ya know?  Only then can we feel like kids, again.]

When I previously thought of these books, back in the late 90s, suddenly there were computer and video games based on them.  Then when I thought about them again, there was the 2003 re-issues I completely missed because–again–I am not a genuine bookworm!  I don’t follow the bookstore “feeds.”  I don’t run into people who talk about this stuff.  It’s like they all hide in a closet with candles and dice; and, if you find them they scurry like mice or bugs.

What I don’t quite yet understand, though, is how they say they’re writing a Port (or Portal) of Peril book for younger readers.  Seriously?  I don’t think there was one book in that series that was remotely kind to younger readers.  And, by that, I mean kids under 10.  [That’s why that other pick-a-path series–which was a bit thinner per volume and without the need of dice or note paper–seemed more popular with my classmates.  I only found one book in that series that scared the crap out of me; it involved a robot that took you apart if you made a mistake.  It was either Choose Your Own Adventure:  Your Very Own Robot or the Dungeons and Dragons title Robbers and Robots.  DO NOT PICK UP THESE TWO BOOKS IF YOU HAVE LITTLE KIDS!  I can still see the sinister look on that robot’s face.]

I was rather young when I paged through those books.  I can honestly say they were safe enough for me to tolerate them.  [Though, I had to buy them with my own “scrimping and saving.”]  So, why the worry?  But, again, some of the artwork and grim descriptions…it’s a bit much.  Thankfully (I guess), I was looking at them before I had my “religious epiphany” which turned me away from some of the books and probably explains how I lost track of the series after about book #30 or so.  Thus, I have no interest in owning the whole series.  I just favor those which inspired me and might still inspire me and/or rekindle some fun reading moments of my youth.

The new covers look like cool comic books but still quite scary…scarier than some of the original works.

I also was just tipped off to a website that a comment pointed to a Lone Wolf series about ninja?  This looks VERY interesting.  And, had I read some of those as a kid, I would definitely have been a much bigger fan of Ninja Gaiden and the like (which I already favored, minus the scary evil bits).

Now, if only I could identify and locate the series about dragons that started with a book about a guy with a bolt stuck in his neck.  If you removed the bolt yourself, you died.  You went on a quest to free yourself via magic.

Here is a collected image of many of the original covers, not the ones I remember most with the rope borders.  You can see for yourself how some were rather frightful and not suited for young readers (or for me, actually).  So, I became and still am selective; and I’m working on some adventures/puzzles of my own that are not so frightful and/or grim.  The scariest thing you’ll see on the covers of my books will be a nurse with a dripping needle; and that’s plenty scary to me.  😛

fightingfantasy-series-collected-1


 

Here are some other pick-a-path books I’ve read/paged through you might like, if interested.  [And, if you want more info about the ones listed above, I’m sure you can find it online; but feel free to ask me anything.  :)]   These are sure to be less frightful than the Fighting Fantasy series, if you want to share them with younger readers and not have to worry about the kids getting nightmares.

@ Dungeons and Dragons:  Endless Quest:  Mountain of Mirrors  (Nice cover art, a very chilling setting and one freaky, scary, cool talking doorway.  I also recall reading a few of the other jewel/dragon books in that mini-series, including Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons, but this one was slightly more memorable…slightly.)

Choose Your Own Adventure(s):  [These can be read in a short time like bedtime stories.]

@ #17 The Race Forever (‘Recently re-read this one; decent story/layout; you get your choice of a few cars and paths through varying terrain to take, pairing up with different co-pilots.)

@ #30 Chinese Dragons (This one tugged at my interest in the Far East; it reminds me of the Oregon Trail game in how you are leaving home to undertake a long journey and questioning the strangers you meet along the way.)

@ #17 Pirate Treasure of the Onyx Dragon (A decent pirate adventure for kids of which I am presently blanking though I can see the cover.)

[I picked up an Indiana Jones pick-a-path not too long ago which was very disappointing.  I think you had to make no more than three decisions throughout the 100 page segments; the rest of the story just had you moving from one page to a distant one and then back again.  A far cry from the complexity of the F-F series and not even as interesting as some of the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  I think there has just been an ongoing interest in pick-a-path books though it’s like finding a needle in a really big haystack of teen monster fiction.]

So, in short, if you ever have the chance to exchange or give gifts to yours truly, and you like sharing books, a pick-a-path book is often a good choice (for me).

 

08
May
18

F-Book Stalking and Reliving Old Wounds

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So, it’s like this.  I don’t use the site/service I prefer to call F-Book.  You know what I mean.  The place you profile people, poke them, stalk feeds, etc.  I’ve heard enough agonizing, annoying stories about the place.  So, I keep my distance.  And, for the most part, so does my family.  Yet, there are those who find their reasons and do all…that.  They may not have their own “page,” but they’ll still dig into the pages of others, of people they used to know just to see where they are now.  And, if people actually thought to look for me?  Well, too bad, so sad, you won’t find me there.

My sister decides to show me pictures of people we used to know when we were kids.  If these are former classmates of hers, I’m okay with it.  But, I still think it’s wrong if she’s not actually reaching out to these people.  That’s just stalking…or ghosting.

But, when she shows me people I shared a class with…people I used to think of as love interests and/or friends…people I lost touch with…who have now moved on, married, had kids…….

It’s like I’ve been in prison all this time.  It’s like I missed out on life.  It’s like I’ve lost them all over again and multiple ways.  It’s hard to just brush it off and say I’m not bothered or discouraged.  I’ll likely need time away from seeing more of…that…to forget about it, as aging is likely to afford.

In  a very small way, I suppose I should be happy these people, at least, appear happy.  And, the girl I thought I’d eventually marry…at least she has a kid with a name I would have agreed to give the child.

I don’t know which is worse.  Or, I do and don’t want to admit it.  If I had done the searching, I might find myself wanting to get lost in a bottle of booze I dare not touch.  But, I didn’t open the box.  My sister did.

…..

How much can one guy like me take?

I just needed to vent, to process this a bit and now have to let it all go.  So many falling stars.  So many beauties I’ve come to adore running off with other men.  I’m just too slow.  It’s my fault.  But, I’m better off not letting them get to me.  Let them go.  And, where I fall I fall.  Just tune out what I cannot hold or control.  Wait for my moment.  My moment will come.  Or, I’ll die a hermit in good service.  I’ll be like a monk or prophet.

 

26
Apr
18

Digital Painting Sampler 4-26-2018

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I’ve been painting up a storm since I purchased Clip Studio Paint Pro (which is the closest software I’ve found to my previous, glorious photo editing program from the turn of the millennium, Photo Studio 2000).  [On that note, I still miss the ability to make text transparent with ease.  If it can be done with CSPP, I have not figured out how.]

I’ve been contemplating opening a separate portfolio/gallery space/account for my personal artworks.  But, I can’t seem to resist sharing a quick sampling.

These two were simpler pieces composed with silhouettes I honed.  The lines are result of a “burst” tool.  And, the rest is from an imaging/paintbrush tool (and text).

Can you guess who the following famous face and TV/movie characters are supposed to be, even if the gender may vary?  [Or, in the case of one image, a famous face posing as a movie character.]  In all of these cases, there should be adequate clues.

 

*****

Previous to the above, I have been taking my fashion design skills to the next level by upgrading my old MS Paint boot designs.  Here’s just one of the many.  I went all out with the old GI*Joe action figure package back, too, so buyers (should these ever get made into a fashion line) can have collector cards for all of their purchases.  Yeah.  😛  Or, it’s a fun way to advertise the details before purchase.

classified-GIJoe-metalhead-knee-boot-shag-sharpshooter-anklet-profilecard-2-ap-CSPP-8501100-11CJ

26
Apr
18

Office Chat Comics

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OfficeChat-comicpage-hatmalfunction_ap-CSSP-11501400-1

*OfficeChat-comicpage-hatmalfunction_ap-CSSP-11501400-2

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As usual with picking names, I couldn’t settle in on just one.  Which do you prefer for the name of the female assistant with long hair adorned by a flower and the steaming mug?

26
Apr
18

Nature’s Tattoos

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I’m sure I’ve said it more than once. I don’t need any tattoos. I can be quite “judgy” about them on other people. I’m an artist who likes tasteful art in good places, not emotional outbursts carved into one’s temple like graffiti. A lousy tattoo is like marring a desk in school or defacing an old sculpture.

Let it be known to those who only see the judge in me, there ARE tasteful tattoos which I don’t mind as much and might even approve. I’ve seen women with gorgeously painted arms and cute star patterns on their shoulders. [But, I still think a woman will age and change her mind and not look at those tattoos the same way, later. And, I think women should be natural, even if they choose to groom a bit…or a lot.]

But, these are all just scattering thoughts clouding my original reason for putting fingers to keyboard, like a swarm of “river fleas” (as I call the little flying things that swarm near rivers when the air is warm enough).

What I aim to discuss is how nature provides plenty of tattoos, and that is one reason I don’t need someone to put one on me. What are nature’s tattoos you might ask? I’m talking about the “scars” we acquire from living, having accidents and picking up new skills/trades. Here is a short list of nature’s tattoos you might not have considered.

@ GENERAL SCARS from scrapes and/or surgeries. [Unless they heal or can be repaired some other way, they kinda stick around.]

@ BONE REPLACEMENTS AND REPAIR COMPONENTS that may show beneath the skin when you flex a certain way. [And, as your skin thins, they become more apparent.]

@ HAIR LOSS. [Yep. It’s kind of like a permanent waxing job without the wax]

@ PLUMBER’S BUTT CRACK. [Just another tool of the trade. When you decide to kneel and take a look under the pipes to see how things work, you seem to acquire this depletion of backside coverage. Apparently, this counts as certification in the field.]

@ WRITER’S BUMP. [This one is actually temporary, provided you take enough time away from using a pen or pencil. It’s the hard knob that typically forms on one side of the middle finger when you write enough.]

@ GUITARIST’S or SEAMSTRESS’ CALLUS. [Sort of like becoming desensitized to horror and/or violence, you might pick this one up while practicing one of these skills, gradually diminishing any pain you might experience.]

@ CROW’S FEET and other wrinkles. [Those little arrows of wrinkles near the eyes that look like a bird stepped on your face. Sure, there are ways to soften, mask and potentially even undo them, but they can stick around like a dimple in your cheek or chin.]

@ MOLES and “CHERRY ANGIOMAS”. [The latter, for those who don’t know, are the technical term for the red dots that appear on skin which can grow to become knobby like some moles; the redness is from gathering blood vessels, similar to a knit garment forming those little fuzz balls or bumps that some pick at or shave off when they are hasty. Potentially removable by *cosmetic* surgery. Potentially hazardous when exposed to sunlight among other conditions. And, they’re not usually nice to ogle. Thems be one ugly sort of nature’s tattoos.]

@ FRECKLES. [The typically nicer alternative to moles which can sometimes complement someone’s good looks. I particularly like them when they form a bridge across a woman’s nose and cheeks. They can make interesting patterns which seem to carry some hidden messages from the cosmos. Still, some may change into hazardous things; thus they must be monitored and protected.]

 

So, you see, with all of those to either steer away from or endure, who needs tattoo artists? And, how might the garden of an “inked” tattoo look different if it was violated by one of the above “weeds?”

 

If you can think of any I’ve missed, any “tattoos” from aging, accidents or certain talents/trades, let me know and I’ll add them.

 

 

20
Apr
18

The Honey in My Closet

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CuteyHoney-TF3-closeup-gawaruwayo_90s-cuteyhoney-ep-1-148

Gawaru wa yo!  [I’m going to change.  Or, so it is translated into English subtitles.]

Ever since 1997, I’ve been a bit consumed by the concept of Cutey Honey. [And, if I’ve said it before here, you’ll just have to put up with me. I go through these periods of indulging an episode or two. I’m about to go through my history with the character(s) and my interest in creating a new series, at length, so get comfortable and prepare to read if you are curious to know.]

There is just something about this gorgeous, loving android and her magical ability to change her appearance while battling a variety of monsters, some just as lovely as her, that enchants me (while some of the monsters she faces and some of the language in the series rattle me). If you are familiar with the recent Teen Titans cartoons, Cutey Honey is like Starfire with more brains and a wardrobe that seems limitless. The artists are generally good with retaining the loving energy and heart-shaped imagery that are associated with the character, similar to how Spider-Man/Peter Parker can say something in an aside and have a form of the hero’s webbing or mask appear behind him. And, no, if you think it’s about the “boobs,” you’re wrong. It takes more than that for such a character to last as long as she has, even if you’ve never taken notice of her. If given the chance, I have a few ideas for giving her a decent, solid story that would satisfy more fans and get her out of the perverse closet.

 

Originally a Go Nagai manga (black and white comic book series) and then 1970s anime, Cutey Honey (or Cutie Honey, depending upon the series) is a female android, created by a scientist named Dr. Kisaragi who lost a daughter (Honey) and who made the automaton in her image, programmed to blend in with the human population and protect them from the evils corrupting their world, including armies led by characters known as Panther Zora, Dolmeck and Sister Jill.  The android has the special ability of changing her appearance rather frequently, replacing damaged clothes, skin and hair with materials drawn from the air by the “airborne element fixing device” which the enemy pursues incessantly when she interferes.  Honey acquires strength from those she befriends/loves which ultimately helps her overcome adversity and repel the darkness.

The concept has had a number of incarnations over the years though it has never earned the American fame of similar characters like Inspector Gadget and Mega Man; instead, she remains like a closet craze, enduring solely by the interest of her fans who put up with the cheeky, flirtatious incidents that continue to unfold in the life of this breathtaking beautiful warrior. I think, if the conceptions were not so littered with “fan service” and had a strong, consistent and understood plot line/origin story, Cutey Honey WOULD be as popular as Wonder Woman. And, if you want a “cleaner” heroine story with a similar flair, you can check out The Adventures of Lady Bug (currently part of ClickTV) and any number of anime that feature similar “magical girl” heroines without the flashes of nudity and exaggerating breasts.

———————-

Breaking down my problems with (various incarnations of) the concept:

1) JAPANESE GIRLS ARE NOT BLONDE (NOR REDHEADS). First of all, this is a Japanese character with BLONDE hair when she doesn’t adopt another color, including RED for her warrior form.  [Though I’ve seen images of the older series in which she has dark hair?  See the image on the right in the above cluster.]   Last I checked, there are no blonde Japanese girls. And, while I get this is an anime staple and typically associated with “ascended” and/or “pure” characters (like the empowered individuals of Dragon Ball Z fame), why can’t Honey Kisaragi be a native Japanese girl with BLACK or, at least, dark brown hair? Or, why can’t Honey be from a different country and retain that lovely blonde hair she flashes? Even if Honey adopted other hair colors and styles to simply complement the outfits she donned (like some Lady Gaga or Katy Perry), her civilian form would not have such a strikingly bright head of blonde hair unless she had lost her hair and wore a wig all of the time; and a dye-job just doesn’t say “purity” as well as a naturally colored head of hair.

2) WORLD DOMINATION DOESN’T STAY WITHIN A SINGLE CITY. The stories take place in some vague city which is consistently the focus of some evil force bent on taking over the world. [Okay, so far, this is nothing new and, thus, boring. Even in The Adventures of Ladybug, everything seems to unfold strictly in Paris, France. Why can’t these world-conquering villains make appearances in various parts of the world and have the protagonist travel there “on a mission” or something similar? Or, why can’t there be some greater reason for attacking only one city?]

3) THE ON-GOING DEBATE OVER “FAN SERVICE.” I just want it to stop. For whatever reason, the concept was given a certain measure of “sex appeal” by consistently using Honey’s assets as a distraction and, occasionally, a comedic touch to her trials with defeating the forces of darkness. From what I’ve seen, there are the occasional instances that push the envelope a bit (at least, for my personal tastes) and probably, rightfully, bother some people enough to say something about them.

If it was up to me, I’d take out some of the more lewd and “S and M” bits and limit the “fan service” to embarrassing and/or compromising moments in which Honey’s assets are exposed and/or involved in some sort of accident. Keep these instances more subtle and suggestive (less “in-your-face”). For example, if she loses her top, she covers herself while flushing witnesses tumble like dominoes around her; no need to be explicit with the nudity, have men bleeding from their noses or include any form of (whipping, tentacle, rape, etc.) torture. [‘No need to remove her assets because they ARE part of her charm; just like people associate Wonder Woman with being shapely versus some pencil-thin warrior maiden with one or no breasts.]

And, it’s because of this “fan service” debate that the story gets pushed into the closet…yet it endures and keeps being re-invented like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which have had…how many series now? Yeah. How many times can we tell the origin story of that group? Apparently, plenty. And, each new incarnation isn’t really all that disappointing…just, occasionally, a bit different. We know the history behind the characters even though April changes from a TV reporter to some girl who was an alien experiment and develops telekinetic/psychic powers. Which brings me to my next point.

4) LACKING CONSISTENCY AND CLARITY OF CONCEPT. Maybe it’s just my own difficulty with following the story; maybe it’s a matter of cultural differences? But, I have a hard time understanding why certain characters change from series to series though a continuity of some sort is suggested, as if all incarnations form a single story.

Well, as with the Legend of Zelda video games, that’s not what I see. While tweaking the origin story may refresh interest, it would really help if more was explained sooner than later. [This is also why I am not too fond of re-inventing the Marvel Comics universe as recent cartoons have done, turning characters you might know and love for fitting together one way suddenly becoming very different people with different relations to the protagonist. Yet, I guess, this opens the doors for more people finding a version they like.]

If there is no intended continuity, then I will just have to accept this and sort out who everyone is and how they fit together in each version. [I’ve survived every version of TMNT to air on local TV. I have seen the movies and recent reboot but truly only liked the original Inspector Gadget series. I like both the original and the new Duck Tales. I have tolerated various (not all) versions of Mega Man and even grew to like the “Network” concept/series a bit. I flinched yet gave Iron Man a chance when he became the creation of a younger inventor who shared the technology with his teenage? friends (in an incarnation not related to or part of the more accepted “Marvel universe”). I turned a blind eye when someone decided to give Link earrings in one or more of the Legend of Zelda games. I can decide which Cutey Honey I do and do not like so much.]

This is more of a personal complaint, but I had a small fit when Mikey had his nunchakas replaced with a grappling hook-ish weapon in the TMNT series/franchise (because the latter was less likely to result in harming anyone?). I have had similar reservations when I see Honey’s weapons take on new and/or different abilities. At some point, I begin to feel like I’m watching one of those kid fights in which “no backsies” or “infinity” solves everything. Part of what makes Honey enduring is working with her limitations. When you start making her weapons limitless, you start looking like those other characters that keep upgrading themselves. I understand the reasoning or what might lead to such changes. But, it does get tiresome/repetitive. [Does anyone complain that Wonder Woman consistently relies on her strength, lasso, bracelets and tiara? Do those items ever really change?]

And, the outfit Honey Kisaragi wears consistently as her civilian attire, personally, looked great in the 1990s version, with the pink and white combo. The original yellow-orange dress was rather flat. And, the blue and white dress with that weird curving design somehow painted around it…that just doesn’t sit right with me (though the shade of blue and white work nicely together). [Maybe compromise and replace the pink portions of the 90s outfit with that blue color…or the orange of that original dress? Or, here’s a novel idea, DON’T LIMIT THE MAIN CHARACTER TO ONE EVERYDAY OUTFIT. Hmm? Maybe she has an actual closet of choices.]

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MY PERSONAL HISTORY WITH CUTEY HONEY

My first taste was the short-lived 1990s OVA mini-series. I had watched a trailer for the concept at the start of another anime video I had purchased. And, within thirty seconds or so, I was hooked. I was red-faced. I was overwhelmed. Never had I seen such quality artistry given such flair, appealing to my personal interests in superwomen with alter egos and fashion design. Yet, all the trailer really showed were a few costumes and that magical melting of materials that sold the package. I had no idea who exactly she was or what she was fighting other than a few creepy characters that made brief appearances. I wasn’t even sure she was just one woman. I began purchasing and cautiously watching the mini-series on VHS.

 

 

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Because of this initial exposure to the character, I’ve compared all other incarnations to it and found each a bit lacking in quality.

I’ve seen images from the original 1970s cartoon and even purchased a DVD collection, recently, but have yet to watch any episodes. I can see how I might have taken to it in its original form back then, but, looking at the old cartoons now, the original seems a bit dated and awkwardly cartoonish, like my childhood days of watching shows like Fangface and Teen Rod. The artistry is primitive in comparison (to the 90s OVAs) though the 60s/70s fashion sense isn’t all bad and, as cartoon concepts go, it was groundbreaking for the time. While there may have been other robot stories coming into existence, how many involved a female android with such a crafty system of producing costumes and weaponry?

Then there was “Cutey Honey Flash” which came around the turn of the century and involved a slightly different protagonist with a second “Honey” who adopted a blue costume and hair. I have yet to see more than a few images of this version, as well, but I have not been entirely drawn to the exceptionally slender and “starry-eyed” artistic style of that series, either, which seems to be the first to result in the creation of dolls.

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Cutey Honey F (Flash)

Next came a live-action movie (and a lunch box) which honestly is a sad Power Rangers-ish joke compared to the animated series. While I could see how a superhuman android designed by a human scientist might be dumber than a “smartphone”–and that might make a good angle for future stories about robots built by mankind if it hasn’t already been used to death–seeing Honey as a dumb blonde (with a really bad dye-job given to an actress with naturally dark hair), fumbling through her day and night jobs, ruined my enthusiasm for the character. Had she done a better job of pretending to be dumb in public while reserving a more serious, intelligent persona for her heroics, I might have given the film more credit. [Of course, I would have picked a different actress, too, who would sensibly fit the color scheme. See my list of flaws with the concept.]

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My thoughts, exactly, Eriko Sato.  Huh?  What are you doing looking like that?

[I recall how Blondie, the famous wife of the old comics character Dagwood, was portrayed as a sort of dumb blonde who wasn’t as dumb as you’d expect from the name, and how Marilyn Monroe might have been a bit air-headed at times from appearances but often enough proved she had more wits under the surface.]

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Movie Natsuko on the left.  Kisaragi disguised as policewoman on the right.

While the new Natsuko lacked something in terms of personality, making the acting appear rather poor, she was a refreshing alternative to what I’ve seen of her and had a somewhat believable friendly, somewhat more than friendly relationship budding with Honey. Given a better script and acting, this might have turned into something great for future “chapters.” [Natsuko could be like “Chief” in Inspector Gadget but have moments of intimacy in private with the robotic hero(ine) while maintaining a more professional persona when in public or around other agents/officers.]

I thought that movie might be the end of her (at least, for a while). But, like Godzilla, she rises, again, sooner than you might expect.

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I discovered an animated series (or mini-series?) in which Natsuko reprises her movie role as the stern yet charming government agent working alongside Honey (whenever they run into each other, at least). I’ve only watched bits of it, so far, so I can’t speak for the whole story or character design. The animation is decent yet more comical–like the original Inspector Gadget–when compared to the first version I saw (the 1990s mini-series). It’s not as dated as the original nor as “starry-eyed” as the “Flash” or “F” series. It feels fairly “fresh” and has a certain 60s live-action Batman feel to it with a touch of Tank Girl’s relationship with Jet.

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And, before I can even get back to looking at more of what I just mentioned, I discover an even newer series. [Or, mini-…just what are each of these incarnations supposed to be? Trials of something bigger that just don’t quite make it for whatever reason? Fan fiction?]

In Cutie Honey Universe, Honey is a student at some school shared by Natsuko (who is a very youthful and somewhat naïve alternative to the previous incarnation and–I am assuming without seeing any episodes–closer to the character from the original 70s series). But, Honey also is linked to some sort of city police force and runs off to fight the forces of Sister Jill who quickly takes on a new twist by becoming a police chief who is killing off her own army of “panthers” and is apparently sly enough to keep her two identities separate though she has less of a disguise than Honey, looking more like Clark Kent/Superman who hid behind a slightly different hairdo, suit and a pair of eyeglasses. [How dumb do we have to be not to notice the chief resembling Jill?]

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The more youthful and naïve Cutie Honey Universe Natsuko

I’ve watched the first two episodes (as of writing this article). And, while I like the throwback to the 70s style (namely the rather Charlie’s Angels wardrobe and posing of “Breast Claw”) and the same fresh animation that I saw in the previous incarnation–with some new “techno-flair” thrown in during the battle scenes–I am once again bothered by Honey Kisaragi’s “uniform” (not the school one), the abuse some characters face and warrior (Cutie) Honey’s wide array of new weaponry which still seems a bit like the creators are working toward an insanely endless number of abilities which could overwhelm the enduring spirit of the character.

I noticed they also cut back on the foul language and nudity by having Honey change within a sort of bubble (reminding me a bit of the “Network” Mega Man). And, that’s okay…but it does mess with the head a bit when you come to expect the artistic quality of that 1990s mini-series (which, seriously, seems hard to top though the language, blood and nudity pushed the envelope a bit). [It was just so moody, organic and three-dimensional which is saying something when you realize how much 3D animation is computer generated and metallic-looking these days. You could feel the fabrics forming around the heroine instead of watching pixels come together like some video game. Not to mention the video-game-like text that appears (backwards?) when Honey calls upon one of her abilities/weapons.]

The second episode makes an effort to reprise the origin story, which helps.  And, the way Jill claims her “Claws” with roses is decently done.  But, this battle dimension that the show uses makes the whole thing feel more like Mega Man Network than the warrior of love defending the city in the raw, destructive way she was portrayed in the 90s.  [I am guessing this dimension idea was inspired by the battle with Yasho/Yasha in ep. 6 of the “Shin” OVAs (direct to video releases), in which a sort of illusionary field falls over the city, restoring an old park full of mannequins which are then brought to life to fight.  When the fight ends, the illusion falls, and the city is restored, minus the casualties.]  And, there is no explanation for how Honey goes from knowing nothing about herself–even that she’s an android–to suddenly having the ability to pull out an arsenal of weapons to fight enemies she is meeting for the first time.  The new theme music isn’t terrible though loyal fans of the previous series don’t approve of much change.  It’s the poorly cut cinematics of the intro and closing that, to me, seem more rushed and in need of improvement.  There is potential in both, but they need to hone it.

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IN SUMMATION: MY NEW PACKAGING/OUTLOOK ON A FUTURE CUTEY HONEY (SERIES/MOVIE):

1) RECLAIM THE OVERALL APPEARANCE OF THE 1990s MINI-SERIES, giving Honey that same weighted athleticism, feathery hair and mature figure with all of its shading, dimensions and that pink and white outfit, keeping the moody settings, as well, but reducing or limiting the amount of nudity and other “fan service” (including no lengthy and/or oddly placed abusive scenes with whips and tortured cries) to more suggestive instances that still tease viewers but aren’t explicit enough to provoke them into freezing the video frame-by-frame.

I’d also go so far as to say the concept of the drug/capsule distribution could be retained because there was something underhanded about it that seemed to relate to the on-going drug businesses we hear about and had infinite possibilities for variation.

And, while the nudity may have been a bit much, there was something so genuinely satisfying–even occasionally lacking–in how organically those looks Honey had came together and blew apart versus just giving viewers some quick flash of light and/or changing “room,” which also made the character/artistry unique.

2) REPRISE THE 1970s ORIGIN STORY ABOUT HER CREATION (AND FATHER)–if it’s still valued–or create a new one that sticks and is explained soon enough to educate new viewers as well as those of us who’ve seen more of this character story. Do not just play out events and randomly insert bits of a new explanation for why things are the way they are over a lengthy period of time. Maybe start the new series/movie with that backstory…even though that can delay the enjoyment of the new plot. [Or, if nothing else, should a new movie be made and eventually released on some format like DVD, include the origin story as a bonus feature on the disc to inform new viewers.]

3) RETAIN PANTHER ZORA, SISTER JILL AND, MAYBE EVEN, DOLMECK AS MAJOR VILLAINS, along with the assortment of nameless henchmen (which sort of look like Carmen Sandiego’s nameless gang from the DIC 90s cartoon series of that franchise) and a mixed crop of “panthers” (which might go by a different, more general name) from the various series. But, if you reprise these roles, be sure to give sensible explanation for their (re)creation/existence, especially if we are to believe they were ever destroyed. [Perhaps, they come from and return to seeds when they are defeated, able to regenerate in some distant future time if given the proper “fertilizer?”] I’d suggest having the three primary villains either be related or hatched from the same “pod” of some dark origin, possibly a “force of destructive nature” in contrast to “the light of creation.” It might be difficult to conceive all three working together at once unless they have a collective mind, sort of like the Borg of Star Trek fame or those multi-faced judges you see in cartoons like the original Transformers. Maybe they stay in contact but each try taking over different parts of the world? You know, somewhere other than Cosplay City or whatever you call it.

4) OTHER THAN THE ABILITY TO CHANGE APPEARANCES (WITH THE DESIRED COLLAR/DEVICE), LIMIT HONEY’S ARRAY OF WEAPONRY TO HER SWORD, ARMOR MODE** AND BOOMERANG AND EXPLAIN THEIR ORIGIN. Heck, you could even cut her down to just the sword, and I’d likely be okay with it because her only other assets would be the ability to disguise herself and whatever strength is built into her robotic body. Although, can someone explain from where she draws the sword? At the moment, I cannot remember if it comes out of her leg in the 90s mini-series. Even with that magical collar of hers, there’s never an instance where she produces a weapon by drawing matter from her surroundings into her hand; the weapons just seem to appear when she twirls around. While I sort of like the new “shield” or “block” technique she uses in the latest stories…and that DOES complement her having a sword, I suppose…I think she could get by just as well using her wits and whatever is handy (as shields). If the Hulk or some other superhuman character can deflect an attack with a car or street sign, so can she. If you up her array of weapons, it’s just never going to end, and older fans may go mad (not in a good way).

**In regards to the armor mode, let’s keep it closer to an Iron Man suit of armor and less like a lady knight with her chest exposed, even partially (as it appeared in the 90s version). Here’s a concept, what if the intended origin of Cutey Honey was some sort of valiant lady knight of light who had armor, a sword and a shield? Then, she COULD call upon one or all of those as her accessories (or her warrior costume), and there would be a story to them, similar to She-Ra’s sword and its history with Etheria. The armor wouldn’t even have to be an actual suit of armor; maybe her classic red and blue costume could be fortified to repel attacks like the armor and strengthen her punches/kicks with some sort of “accelerator” internal energy source.

5) EITHER GIVE HONEY’S CIVILIAN FORM DARK HAIR OR CHANGE HER NATIONALITY. Especially if you’re going to make another live-action movie. Or, the actors should all wear wigs of crazy, unnatural colors, so there are characters with hair that’s blue, green, pink, etc. Ditch the dye-jobs that just don’t work.

6) RETAIN NATSUKO, CHOKEI AND/OR THE MALE REPORTER/COP CHARACTER AS CLOSE FRIENDS AND ENSURE AT LEAST ONE HAS AN INTIMATE AND FAIRLY PRIVATE RELATIONSHIP WITH HONEY. Decide whether Honey is bisexual (because she genuinely wants to love everyone) or heterosexual (for obvious reasons) and do not tease at every angle about the relationships she keeps. Granted, by not having her become genuinely involved with any character, it is left to our imaginations what they might do together if circumstances were different. But, it is repetitive torture to see a character sigh or speak of a desire to be more with Honey and never have that. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. If there is a serious, intimate relationship with one or more of the above characters (because she might share intimate moments with each of them, discreetly), it doesn’t have to be very apparent. It might just be mentioned under the breaths of the characters between interactions with others.

[For example, Natsuko mentions what she enjoyed about Honey’s company the previous night, and Honey mutters something about meeting up again to reprise those roles another time just before the two women meet with some police or government official who wishes to speak with them for whatever reason. We know they are intimately linked without seeing them doing anything together. And, if there is no intimacy with a particular male character, for another example, who claims an interest in Honey, she might clarify her indifference with a playful excuse to do something else with her time (rather than date the guy).]

The reporter/cop is clearly mature enough to have that job and adult notions. Though, you could turn him into a kid, I suppose, getting photos for a school newspaper/magazine. As for Natsuko and Chokkei, they could be portrayed a number of ways, depending upon how old they are. I only give this any thought because of how Natsuko has changed in the various versions; and I was rather partial to her late-teen persona in the 1990s version which reminded me a bit of the original cartoon April O’Neil.

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So, maybe Natsuko is a girlfriend of Chokkei who is not quite so young that he can’t have a reasonably legal relationship with Honey, and Natsuko occasionally gets “jealous” of Chokkei’s apparent feelings for Honey not unlike Lum and Shinobu would get about Ataru chasing other women in Urusei Yatsura. Or, Natsuko is a mature neighbor/roommate of Honey’s while Chokkei lives in a nearby house/building and regularly runs into the two women who have an intimate relationship while keeping Chokkei at a friendly distance, trying not to hurt his feelings. Maybe Honey and Chokkei have a genuine relationship they keep discreet; maybe he knows her secret(s) and still interacts with Natsuko, a coworker, classmate or neighbor who can be a bit nosy and maybe take photos…like a reporter (hmm?), working in that angle, sort of combining characters. Or, maybe, Chokkei is lucky enough to have a respectable threesome situation, sharing his time with both Honey and Natsuko who understand each other and how a guy like Chokkei could not choose.

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Now, after saying all of that…and I wrote quite a bit on the subject, I am making this ultimatum. Either I get the chance to work on a future Cutey Honey project and make these adjustments (and any other adjustments) that suit a wider audience (not “mainstreaming” the concept or radically changing major components in a desperate effort to draw a new crowd and offend the older fans) and please me personally to my core…or I will go forth on my own and do one or two things.

1) Write my own Cutey Honey fan fiction (and maybe find a way to create a movie and/or cartoon) that suits my interests.

And/Or,

2) Create a similar story with an original cast of characters which may resemble or tip its hat to Cutey Honey but move in its own direction toward something more sustainable. And, if it surpasses Cutey Honey in longevity and/or fame, it’s just a shame I couldn’t do more to keep the spirit of Cutey Honey alive (as silly as the name might sound to some unfamiliar with the concept).

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And, like I said about what happened after the (first) live-action movie, this character rises from the ashes, AGAIN!  I just discovered a new 2016? 2017? film titled Cutey Honey -Tears- which I just finished viewing.  From the trailers and first ten minutes, it looks like a vast improvement on the previous film!  There have been a few changes I am concerned about at the moment (not including the radically new costume).  And, I’m not sure where they are going with the villainess and the reporter? cop? agent?  Whatever Hayami is in this version.  [For the moment, he’s a reporter.]  I’d be a lil more than just shocked if a wealthy businesswoman lifted me off the ground.  Yet, the film looks and feels essentially like what I’ve been aiming at for Honey’s character.  I’m somewhat excited to see where this goes.  Again, these incarnations pop up under my radar!

Cutey Honey -Tears-

Okay.  So, in short, I give the film 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Possibly 3 stars.  The biggest failings are the fight scenes, but there are also a few odd moments, “traditional” Cutey/Cutie Honey slips (moments when things appear or disappear without explanation) and some poor subtitle translations/grammar.  The actors could have benefited from some choreography lessons.  [Try watching Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, for example.]

On the plus side, Takahiro Miura is a GREAT Seiji Hayami (even if his haircut is a bit crude, not stylish like the cartoon character).  He brings so much to the film; my heart went with him throughout the film.  Mariya Nishiuchi (Honey Kisaragi) is cute, for sure, not the ideal Honey but closer to a Japanese character than the previous Honey incarnations.  She has a wicked, enchanting smile and can just as well give you sick chills when she scowls.  Nicole Ishida is one scary, scrawny villainess, Lady Jiru.

This isn’t anywhere close to the classic Cutie Honey, not very colorful or flirty.  There is nothing supernatural about the enemy; no Panther Zora reincarnated surprises or capsule/rose transformations.  The henchmen are reduced to a drone army and one gun-toting assistant.  Honey’s fighting costume is “toned down” from the original and skimpy on flair, including the tiny hearts which I think could have been bigger.

But, what lacks is replaced with a raw, gritty story that hits home with environmentalists.  This is a sort of wake-up call to hasty garbage management, air pollution and what can happen if we put computers in charge of everything.

The movie touches nicely on the origin story.  Yet, there is no explanation for how Honey learns to change, how she acquired the ability (other than mention of the “condenser”).  The special effects used for the changes are decent if not impressive.  But, the changes themselves are not very impressive.  [And, though the weapons might not be crucial, Honey seemed a bit naked without her sword.]

Thankfully, there is a moment during the rather emotional ending in which we are given a glimmer of hope (for a sequel).  But, it doesn’t make much sense after what just happened.  [Unless I am misunderstanding what just happened, including how Honey/Hitomi wins the fight against Lady Jiru after Seiji enters the room with a laser gun.]

Overall, it’s watchable and worth a second look.  Yet, I see room for improvement and have ideas for how to achieve it.

 




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