Batman: Soul of the Dragon


Batman: The Animated Series’ Bruce Timm is returning to DC for Batman: Soul of the Dragon, an animated film from Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment that takes the Dark Knight of Gotham City on a trip to the 1970s.

According to THR, Soul of the Dragon is not based on any previous source material. Instead, it’s an original story”[that] sees Bruce Wayne face a deadly menace from his past, with the help of three former classmates: world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva.”

Soul of the Dragon is executive produced by Timm and directed and produced by DC animation veteran Sam Liu from a script by Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge writer Jeremy Adams.

Directed by Sam Liu and executive produced by Bruce Timm, Batman: Soul of the Dragon stars David Giuntoli as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu as Lady Shiva, Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, James Hong as O-Sensei and Josh Keaton as Jeffrey Burr. The film arrives in 2021.

That Time is Now (Super Friends)

We are living in a different world to the 70’s. Now we have a cinematic universe of comic book films and a near bottomless source of super heroic media. In the 70’s, it was all about Super Friends (aside from the Hulk and Wonder Woman TV series), a family-friendly cartoon featuring the Justice League of America solving mysteries and averting catastrophes. The series ruled the Saturday morning slot and developed over time to include the Legion of Doom, an evil answer to the Justice League.

The short video for Cartoon Network builds upon the frankly lightweight material of Super Friends, turning it into a march of drama and heroics. It’s a great little short and one that solidifies my love for that goofy cartoon of yesteryear.

Ren & Stimpy Documentary Trailer Debuts

Via Collider:

Gravitas Ventures has released the first trailer for the Ren & Stimpy documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy, which explores the rise and fall of the cartoon’s controversial creator John Kricfalusi.

Directors Ron Cicero and Kimo Eastwood take a fair and balanced look at the troubling allegations surrounding Kricfalusi while also paying tribute to his greatest creation — Ren & Stimpy. The iconic animated series saw Kricfalusi celebrated as a visionary, and while his eccentric personality was certainly synonymous with the show, the fact remains that dozens of artists and network executives were just as responsible for its meteoric rise.

The documentary also explores the extent to which Kricfalusi’s reputation has threatened to taint the show. Suffice to say, it’s hard to separate the art from the artist in this case, and Ren & Stimpy is unlikely to be revived by a responsible network anytime soon. It’s a shame, because I grew up watching the show and reveling in its scatalogical humor.

As pop culture expert Chris Gore notes in this trailer, Ren & Stimpy went on to influence pretty much every animated series that’s currently popular right now, including Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman. So if you’re curious about what came before those two shows, and what brought Ren & Stimpy to an abrupt end, watch the trailer for Happy Happy Joy Joy below.

Gravitas will release the documentary on Aug. 14. If you need extra encouragement to check it out, click here to read Dave Trumbore‘s A-grade review out of Sundance, where we also had the chance to speak with Cicero and Eastwood. To watch that interview, click here.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero | There’s No Place like Springfield

I’m on furlough this week so I’ve been watching a lot of videos to fill the time. I stumbled upon a channel on YouTube screening non stop GI Joe cartoons and decided to endulge.

What I saw boggled my mind. I was halfway into the episode and Shipwreck had traveled 7 years into the future through what could have been a coma. Cobra was defeated and he enjoyed a married life with children. His memories were hazy at best and he suffered nightmarish flashbacks to being interrogated by Cobra.

He sees a pal at the local carwash, Roadblock, and tries to catch his attention but the fellow Joe turns into a puddle of purple goo. Freaking out, Shipwreck is apprehended by the carwash crew and brought to a secret locale. He wake up in a dungeon surrounded by fellow Joes who attack him, asking what he knows about a secret project. He can’t answer their questions and when he fights back they turn into… you guessed it… purple goo.

I was beyond puzzled by this absurd and mind-bending story (a two-parter no less) until I saw the writing credits. Steve ‘Howard the Duck’ Gerber was behind this madness. I had no idea that he contributed to GI Joe scripts and boy did it deliver.

The second part just gets crazier.

Check it out.

Blue Submarine No. 6 OVA

First published as a manga in 1967, written by Satoru Ozawa, Blue Submarine Number 6 was a hit when it was first released as an OVA in 2000. Set in a post apocalyptic world where the oceans have risen resulting in a worldwide catastrophe, the series focuses on two characters; Tetsu Hayami and Mayumi Kino. Kino is set to recruit Hayami for the Number 6 submarine as he has gone into seclusion against the world. After he joins the crew he remains distant and questions the validity of their war against Zorndyke, a man who has become synonymous with the world’s strife.

Blue Submarine No. 6 is an exciting and well paced series. The characters have plenty of room to breath even when they are restricted to the confines of a submarine. The beastial creations of Professor Zorndyke are terrifying and stop at nothing in their undersea skirmishes with the humans. The blend of computer generated animation and hand animation is a bit jarring at first but I soon got used to it.

If you are a fan of modern anime and are looking for a story that is entertaining without being too taxing on time, this is a good choice. Blue Submarine No. 6 is currently streaming for free on Amazon Prime.

Star Wars: The Phantom Apprentice clip


Maul goes through twisted lengths to draw out Ahsoka Tano in a clip from an upcoming episode of Disney+’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The final stretch of episodes for Star Wars: The Clone Wars are upon us, with the galaxy-spanning conflict now taking place on Mandalore.

In a clip from the seventh and final season’s 10th episode, titled “The Phantom Apprentice,” Ashoka Tano and Clone Commander Rex arrive at the aftermath of a disastrous ambush. There, Ahsoka learns from a gravely wounded Clone Trooper that Maul cut through his unit before taking a hostage and departing into the capital city’s underbelly.

Part 1 of the “Siege of Mandalore” arc saw Ahsoka rejoin the Jedi Order, reunited with her mentor Anakin Skywalker. However, while Anakin left to help Obi-Wan Kenobi drive back a Separatist attack from the planet Coruscant, he tasked his apprentice with helping the Republic liberate Mandalore from Maul’s forces.

Streaming on Disney+, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars stars Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex and the clone troopers, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan and Sam Witwer as Maul. New episodes arrive every Friday.

Space Captain Harlock

In the year 2977, humanity is apathetic. Robots farm resources on far off worlds and have them shipped back to Earth. The population ids lulled into a state of indolence by television programs which contain hypnotic waves. Far off in space, however, Captain Harlock leads his crew of rag tag ruffians aboard the star ship Arcadia. Harlock raids the supply ships, taking on the food and shifting the remainder of the stock into space. Harlock believes a time is coming very soon when humanity will have used up their food stocks and will be left with nothing. It is for this reason that he is stockpiling food for the future.

A strange object drops from a far off galaxy onto the Earth, causing untold amounts of damage as the streets are ablaze. The government does nothing to quell the flames as it interrupts their tea time. Only four individuals are interested in the object; Tadashi Daiba, his father, Proffessor Kusco and Captain Harlock.

Kusco translates the ‘pennant’ which reads in an ancient language tied to Mayan and Inca civilizations, “this is the second homeland of the mighty Mazone empire.” The government views the object as an oddity and wants to build an amusement park around it. Kusco determines that the sphere is emitting a signal to a far off galaxy as a marker for invasion which, given the state of humanity at the time, would be disastrous. But the Mazone have sent assassins to eliminate anyone who has figured out their plans including Kusco and Tadashi’s father.

With nowhere to go and the Earth government hot on his trail, Tadashi joins up with Harlock aboard the Arcadia. He is put off at first by the what appears to be laziness and playfulness of the crew but soon settles in after he sees them in action.

Written by Leiji Marsumoto (Star Blazers, Galaxy Express 999), Space Captain Harlock started life as a manga which ran from 1977 to 1979. It was adapted into an anime in 1978 and caught the imagination of a generation. A tale of rebellion and defiance, of defiance against corruption and impossible odds, Captain Harlock has captured the attention of viewers for years.

The series is full of poignant dialog and touching moments including the lyrics of the moving theme:

The sea of space is my sea
my limitless yearning
The song of Earth is my song
the homeland I don’t abandon
My friend, even though I know it’s a star without a tomorrow,
I’ll still fight to protect it 
I’ll throw away my life and live
The darkness of space is my darkness
my endless battlefield
The skull and cross-bone flag is my flag
The marker of the place I go to die
My friend, even though it’s become a star without a tomorrow,
You loved the Earth
I won’t cast aside this planet
The wind of space is my wind
my everlasting wandering
A ship that flies the skies is my ship
my uncontainable soul
My friend, because I know it’s a star without a tomorrow,
I’ll fight on my own
I’ll throw away my life and live
I’ll throw away my life and live

Space Captain Harlock ran for 42 episodes and several film iterations including a CG animated version in 2013. It retains a cult following to this day and has set a high mark for space opera and action adventure anime. The series can be found on DVD through specialty stores and the manga is easy to get ahold of. If you are looking for an awesome space adventure series look no further than Captain Harlock. It has it all!

Star Blazers

In the days of my childhood, when I was just a wee narrator, I was addicted to action packed cartoons. In the morning, I was left to my own devices and it was my responsibility to catch the bus to school. During my fifth grade year I missed that bus almost every time thanks to one program, Star Blazers.

Honestly, there was no contest when it came to responsibility over entertainment. Star Blazers was a series that combined action adventure, fantasy, high drama and space opera all in one. And there was a ticking clock and the stake were high. As the opening song proclaimed:

We’re off to outer space
We’re leaving mother Earth
To save, the human race
Our Star Blazers

Searching for a distant star
Heading off to Iscandar
Leaving all we love behind
Who knows what dangers we’ll find

We must be strong and brave
Our home we have to save
If we don’t in just one year
Mother Earth will disappear

Fighting with the Gamalons
We won’t stop until we’ve won
Then we’ll return and when we arrive
The Earth will survive with our Star Blazers

Star Blazers was an American translation of Space Battleship Yamato created by legendary director Leiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock). In the year 2199, Earth is at war with the far off planet Gamilon. The Gamilons are attacking the Earth with asteroids that are riddling the planet with radiation, forcing the population to live underground. The once mighty star fleet is reduced to just one ship commanded by Captain Avatar. A mysterious pod crash lands on Mars where a pair of soldiers find a capsule inside containing a message.

On the planet Iscandar, 148,000 light years away, Princess Starsha awaits the humans with a device that can cancel the radiation that threatens the future of the human race. Even with the restrictions and underground civilization, Earth has just one year left to live. Included in her message Princess Starsha included schematics for a wave motion engine making the journey possible. Using the new technology, an ancient battleship is refitted into a mighty spaceship, the Yamato (renamed Argo in Star Blazers).

The series focuses on the reckless and brave Derek Wildstar, the noble Mark Venture, the beautiful Nova and many more members of the crew such as the cold and calculating engineer Sandor. Each episode depicts another barrier placed in their way from Gamalon forces to spatial anomalies. The tension is always gripping and the pay off is always worth it.

The series ran for two seasons and a third was also made though it didn’t air in the US. A remake was released in 2012 and a live action film in 2010. An English language film has been in development for some time. Who knows if that will ever see the light of day, but the interest is there.

For me, Star Blazers is a touch stone of my childhood and judging from its ongoing popularity and legacy, the sane can be said for many other fans. The series can be found on DVD (it’s very pricey though) and on bootlegs. I highly recommend the original Yamato series with subtitles if you can find it. A saga like no other, Star Blazers left an indelible mark on my life. Blaze on, Star Force!