Monday, March 31, 2008


Well, I had planned on writing up a post for you guys all about how you shouldn't watch Richard Williams' The Little Island (even though someone was nice enough to put it up on Youtube), but that I would watch it for you (seriously, after the first five minutes, I skipped ahead to the end just to see if anything actually happened) and describe it, mainly because I wanted to make fun of it. Even though it won a BAAFTA (Timothy Spall won one, too, but not for animation). But first I was at work all day, and then I went to the movies with one of my friends after work. And when I came home, I wanted to catch up on livejournal and Gaia, and stuff, before I started on this post. And since I had the first disc of the first season of The Critic from, I decided to put that on as background while I did my other stuff. And that was where my plan went downhill.
I'd never seen the show before tonight (other than random clips here and there), and I devoured it. The only thing preventing me from watching all the episodes on the disc tonight is the fact that I have my library internship tomorrow, so I can't stay up too much later. Which is also why I'm not posting my original post. Which I will do soon. Probably tomorrow, but we'll see.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Creating mythology, part one

I was reading a post on Maclean's the other day about the mythology of TV shows, that is, the stuff in the background that informs the story. As the guy put it, "a Batman story is about him fighting a bad guy, the Batman mythology is all the stuff about his parents and his childhood and various lovers/sidekicks/wards."
What I found interesting was his comment about how shows without a "real" mythology (one created by the writers) will often get one filled in by the fans, and I instantly though of Fanon. To quote one more time, the fans "extrapolate from individual episodes they've seen and apply these mythological elements to the characters and the whole series."

Reading that, I can't help but think of all the things I believe about any given series without having anything to back it up other than a line or two, or even just a feeling. Like, on Sushi Pack, I can easily see Maguro being the one who encouraged Tako to paint, or that the events in Deep Freeze happened after a big fight between Mochi and the other members of the Legion, where she accused them of not understanding her. Or my theory about how there are actually three sets of Care Bears in existence at any given time, simply based on the AiCaL line about Grumpy having a "Grandma Grumpy."

Oddly enough, this also got me thinking about The End of Flutter Valley. I've written about how I got slightly obsessed with that storyline, but what I wrote there was only part of it. Based on what little the writers gave us the viewers, I put together my version of what the Bee Society must have been like, both before and after the events in the episode(s). At one time I intended to write it up as a semi-epic fanfic, but in the end I couldn't put it all together, and then I lost my inspiration. But because it never really left my mind, here was my general plan:

(This took a lot longer than I thought, so I've decided to split this treatment into three parts: what came before TEoFV, what happened immediately preceding and following it, and the far future.)

It all starts with the initial incident between Flutter Ponies and Bees. No one knows what it was anymore, and I never really came up with a good reason, either, so I figure it was probably something stupid between the two queens. But whatever it was, the Flutter Ponies banded together and kicked out the bees and that was that. One of the assumptions I'm making here is that all the queens are named Bumble, and that they gain a title after their reign is over, usually caused by their death (I wouldn't have mentioned this explicitly, but that is how I see it). Anyway, after the initial conflict, I jump ahead a few generations, so that none of the bees or flutter ponies (whom I see as having a longer lifespan than the bees, but again, that's not really dealt with) remember the catalyst, but merely that there is bad blood between them. The main story I pick up on deals with Bumble from TEoFV as a young princess and her mother, the current Queen Bumble. Naturally there are the seeds of who Bumble would become as an adult, mostly shown in fights with her mother, who is attempting to bring the kingdom back from the disaster her own mother, Bumble the Vindictive (who spent her lifetime fighting to regain Flutter Valley, which ultimately lead to her death), left it in, which mostly manifested as trying to trade with nearby towns and forbidding her daughter from visiting Flutter Valley. Meanwhile, I'd also introduce the young Sting and Pointer, with Pointer being the leader of the younger bees, still being trained in Bee things, like flying and building hives and making honey and stinger fencing and stuff like that. And Pointer is always going after Sting for not being good at flying, and Sting goes off by himself and gets really good at fighting (this is important later on), and somehow there's a late-night mission where Sting finds out that Pointer is afraid of the dark and the two make an unfriendly truce: Pointer lays off Sting as long as Sting keeps his secret.
I did actually write out a part where Bumble attempts to run away from home and the Queen explains why they have nothing to do with Flutter Valley, but it doesn't really flow well. Later, the Queen goes on a short trip to negotiate with a large kingdom, but does not return (it wouldn't be mentioned in the story, but her party met up with bandits who killed them all). In the interim, Bumble takes advantage of her mother's absence and has a number of things set up strictly for her amusement, including a tournament. After a few in-air rounds, she decided it would be easier to watch on the ground, which leads to Sting both participating and winning (of course), and on a whim, she made the winner her future right-hand bee and bodyguard. This was the start of things getting more tense between Sting and Pointer (since Pointer obviously was the runner up, and thus made future captain of the guard, also on Bumble's whim).
Once it was obvious that the Queen was not returning, Bumble became fully-fledged queen, and made good on a childish promise to only do what she wanted once she was queen, which lead to the state that Bumbleland is in during The End of Flutter Valley. And her mother would surely roll in her grave if she knew that her daughter destroyed the trade agreements she worked so hard at creating! For in my version, the bees reputation for being mean and tough comes from the fact they routinely sack and loot the nearby towns.
Speaking of her mother, later on she's referred to as Bumble the Clever, which is actually a bit of a misnomer, for while she did do a lot of good for the kingdom, she was very no-nonsense and not creative at all, mainly evidence on the names she gave the bees (in my version, the current queen has to name all the bees she births; Bumble the Vindictive named all hers after tough-sounding weeds like Gorse and Mugwort, and apparently Bumble the Clever named hers without any thought. I mean, really, Sting, Pointer? Makes you wonder what the others were called...)

Next: What happened after Bumble reformed, and how the events in The Magic Coins affected Bumbleland and Flutter Valley

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gaia Story - Freakin' Fantastic!

Do you know who I am? Well, do ya, punk? This feeling coursing through me... This is power, awesome power as yet untapped. It is definitely the cape. Just remember, this is where it all started. Play your cards right, and you'll be in a favorable position in the new regime.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sushi Pack - But is it Art? and Wassup Wasabi?

Special for Easter: These are the very first eps of Sushi Pack, and boy do they feel like it. There are some slight variations in characterization, like Maguro being a little more motherly and higher-pitched. These eps won't be uploaded for a while, because the only version I have available was unfortunately taped on the same day as a snowstorm, so the bottom of the screen is covered with information about closings and parking bans. That means no screenshots either, sorry.

The first story's lesson is all about Pride Goes Before a Fall, making it one of the oldest ones in the book.
But is it Art? - "A genius never tidies. It's beneath him. Or her."
This ep starts at the Wharf City Art Museum with Sophia Tucker talking to the curator about the new exhibit, opening tomorrow, showing off both old classics and new stuff from local artists. The curator is not very funny, sorry to say, but both he and Sophia are appalled by one of the local artist's pieces. Which artist? Funny you should ask, as we cut to...
Tako, making noise, art, and a mess on his latest canvas. Unfortunately, Maguro was in the line of fire and ends up covered in red ink. Tako calls for silence while he creates, but Maguro uncharacteristically loses her cool and yells at him for the mess. Tako, however, doesn't see it as a mess, but as art. Ikura comes out of hiding to make a snappy remark, and Tako leaps into action, appearing to spear Ikura with a paintbrush, but missing him at the last second and applying a tiny pictogram of himself to the canvas as a signature. He proclaims it done and calls for all to bask in his greatness, but instead, Maguro calls for him to clean up his mess. He refuses, and Maguro has to call on all her inner strength to keep herself from pummeling him.
Later, Kani examines Tako's paintings and Tako pops up to get her opinion. Although she says she likes it, Ikura points out that she's a total deadpan, and she blames it on her crabby nature. While cleaning up Tako's mess, Ikura asks Maguro how she got the curator to accept Tako's paintings. Maguro admits nothing, but we see a flashback of her using her mind-control powers to brainwash the curator into hanging Tako's stuff. Tako's so excited about tomorrow that he breaks the fourth wall, coming right up to the TV screen to tell us that soon the world will see him for the genius that he really is. Ikura blames Tako's self-centeredness on Maguro, and, seeing him prance around like a ninny, accepts the blame. Also, Tako fails at maniacal laughter.
The next day, as the Pack heads to the art museum, Ikura notices a crowd, which Tako assumes is there to meet him. Until the police show up, that is. Inside the museum, the curator bemoans the stolen paintings, but Tako is relieved that his paintings are still there. The curator clarifies: all the GOOD paintings were stolen. Tako runs through his many thoughts (including a line I particularly like, "I must not let the juices of shame seep from my eyeballs,") at hearing this--could he really be a bad artist? The rest of the Pack figures that Tako will chill out now, but no, he summons all his powers of denial and insists that his art is supreme. Meanwhile, Kani finds a clue: a pebble from a rock found only on the coast. Hearing this, Tako demands they go and find out why whoever stole the paintings left his behind.
After the break, the Pack lands on the roof of an opulent mansion and Ikura jumps out, ready for action. But Tako stops him, saying first they have to teach the thieves a thing or two about art, since he's been wronged here. His decision is final. Ikura asks who died and made him king, and aren't they supposed to be getting the art back to the museum? Kani and Wasabi concur: there's more to this than just Tako. Maguro reminds him that they're all a team, but this is really just an excuse to hand out color-coded strategy plans. Wasabi just eats his, and Tako and Ikura leap into action with barely a glance.
The Pack bursts into the mansion, but Kani walks across the walls for some reason. This is the only instance of her doing this, btw. The Pack finds the paintings easily enough, but Maguro warns against taking them in fear of ruining the perfect feng shui of the room. Kani disagrees, but Wasabi is quick to point out that the central figures from each painting is missing. Where could they be? Why, right behind the Pack, somehow fully animate and able to shoot energy beams. They attack the Pack, but Tako is too consumed with finding out why they were stolen and his art wasn't (I'm guessing because it was abstract, hence no figure to bring to life), so much so that Maguro has to swoop in and save him (shippy moments even from the beginning!). Driven under a chair, Ikura wants to attack, but Tako warns him not to harm the artwork, despite the fact that the art is trying to harm them. Tako claims his right as an artist to handle the situation.
The girls are cornered, so Tako leaps in and tries to reason with the artwork, but to no avail. Suddenly, heatlamps lit up overhead! Seeing the girls losing their cool (and their powers), Tako realizes that he's only been thinking of himself and that prevented him from seeing the trap for what it really was. Meanwhile, Kani and Maguro are so melodramatic that one might think this whole thing was staged just to make Tako stop being so annoying. But this is not that case, as a mysterious voice sends the artwork back to their canvases. An organ rises from the floor, revealing a guy who is really ugly despite having a monocle. In Bond Villian tradition, he addresses the Pack civilly and introduces himself as The Collector (real original there ¬_¬). He tells them of that he found a way to bring art to life (although he doesn't elaborate on how he did it), and details his plot to control all the great masterpieces in the world.
While he's monologuing, Ikura and Wasabi make their move. Before we can see it, Tako again demands to know why his paintings weren't stolen. The Collector cooly informs him that he is indeed a bad artist, and Tako wilts. Meanwhile, Ikura and Wasabi make it onto the Collector's organ and hop around until they find the note that controls the heat lamps. Ikura turns the lamps off and Wasabi turns up the AC, and the Collector calls for his art zombies to attack! A semi-epic battle ensues between sushi and art, but it is only Maguro's forcefield that keeps the art at bay. Tako, still stung by the Collector's words, once again retreats into his mind (which means he isn't helping with the fight) to berate himself for his foolish pride and for forgetting that the important thing is helping the others, just as the others demand his help. Tako asks why they put up with him, and Kani replies that they have no choice; he's part of the team.
With Tako's head back in the game, he easily sees the answer: get rid of the organ! While Ikura, Maguro, and Wasabi keep the Collector occupied, Tako and Kani destroy the organ, and the art zombies go back into their respective paintings. The Collector tries to make a break for it, but is successfully detained by Tako. The Collector goes to jail, Tako makes a bad joke, and there's a scene transition just for the Pack to do the Ending Pose.

Rewatching this episode after so long, I was surprised at how much of a pretentious ass Tako was. He still kinda is, mind you, but here it just overflows. Now it's clear that he just needed to learn his lesson, but back then, how were we to know he wasn't like that all the time? Just not the best choice for a first episode is all I'm saying.

Wassup Wasabi? - "Do you know what you must do?"
This ep starts with a Sushi Pack/Low Tide face-off right off the bat, but no banter. Later, Sophia Tucker reports from the scene about how the Sushi Pack prevented the Legion from messing with the city's electrical grid, and openly fangirls over Wasabi. Tako takes offense at this, since the rest of the Pack's part in saving the day was belittled as a consequence. Ikura makes fun of how Sophia called Wasabi "so cute!" and Tako and Kani comment a little on this, pointing out that technically wasabi is a condiment, not actual sushi. All this hits the way-too-sensitive Wasabi right where it hurts, and he runs off crying. Although the rest of the Pack calls out after him, he leaves the Green Donut entirely. Ben shows up to accuse them of teasing, even though if anything, it was only Ikura who did any actual teasing, and gives them the aesop of the day: everyone has feelings. Amusingly, the animators have everyone look contrite, except for Maguro (who made no comments during the earlier discussion), who looks smug instead. Heh.
Wasabi, wandering the streets, howls like a wolf and is instantly noticed by Titanium Chef (first appearance, yeah!), who spies on him via periscope. He makes an "opportunity knocks" comment to the other members of the Legion, and then gives a fake call for help. Wasabi, like a dummy, rushes right into the sushi restaurant that he really should recognize as belonging to his archenemy. Unless the Pack doesn't know where the Legion's hideout is? Could it be like in Dokkoidda?!, with the Pack and the Legion living across the street from each other and never knowing it? No, wait, Mochi knew where the Pack lives in Deep Freeze, so yeah, Wasabi's just stupid or naive, or both, and is captured immediately.
The rest of the Pack are currently flying around, trying to track Wasabi's mustard spice level, but so far, nothing. Maguro seems to be the one the most touched by this, though. Back with the Legion, Wasabi is inside an ice cage, while Titanium Chef explains that while the other Pack members lose their powers in the heat, Wasabi is affected by the cold. He also cruelly places a photo of the Pack that he just happens to have in front of Wasabi to further break his spirit. While he waits, he pulls out the book of Chum Chop (described as Ancient Sushi Recipes for Mayhem and Chaos here) and prepares the recipe Bunque a'Rouix Bunk Aru (according to the closed captions, anyway), for duplication and deception. The most important ingredient is essence of stone toad, to remove feelings and emotions (aren't those the same thing?). Meanwhile, Maguro worries about Wasabi, but Tako tells her to relax, Wasabi is probably fine. Falser words could not be spoken, as Titanium Chef snags a piece of Wasabi's flame and adds it to the pot, laughing maniacally (see, Tako, that's how it's done!). An exact copy of Wasabi climbs out, and everyone bows. Titanium Chef tells the others that the copy has no emotions whatsoever, and the real Wasabi freaks. There's a bit of banter, and then Titanium Chef orders the Legion to go back to the power plant, and they head out, except for Unagi, who tells Titanium Chef about a bit of spinach caught in his teeth. And the Legion is off!
The Pack unknowingly picks up on the copy Wasabi's signal, and head for the power plant. Back at the restaurant, Wasabi shivers in the cold while Titanium Chef rubs the Pack's impending failure in his face. Once he leaves, Wasabi sheds tears as he looks at the photo and remembers the others telling him they love him. This gives him strength! After a few false starts, he gets his flame back to normal size and bursts free of his bindings. He torches the restaurant door (I hope Titanium Chef has fire insurance...) and heads out.
The Pack follows a radar straight to the copy Wasabi, who immediately opens fire. The Pack takes cover and assumes that "Wasabi" is still mad at them. They come out, all contrite, but before Copy can attack again, the real Wasabi shows up and starts attacking his clone. The rest of the Pack is suitably surprised at seeing two Wasabis, but have no clue how to tell them apart. The two Wasabis fight, but they are too equally matched. Maguro calls on Tako to think of something, and so Tako goes into his multi-head thought process, but gets distracted by his good looks. But he gets it together and comes up with a solution: they need to apologize to Wasabi! The rest of the Pack is surprised by this, so Tako explains, and even imitates Ben, that if they apologize for hurting Wasabi's feelings, the real one will be touched. So they step into the fray and get both Wasabis' attention. Everyone adds to the apology, and indeed, the real Wasabi bursts into (happy) tears, leading to hug time all around. The Pack, whole again, gets ready to lay the smack down on the copy Wasabi, but before they even leap, the copy starts to disintegrate. This isn't made very clear, but after watching this a few times, I think what happened is that Wasabi's tears hit the copy, and that's what destroyed it. Maguro comments that "without feelings or emotions, it didn't stand a chance," but I don't really get why... No matter, the rest of the Legion shows up to finish their earlier job, but are beaten even more easily than at the start. They make a run for it, and Titanium Chef, watching through old-fashioned binoculars, gnashes his teeth so hard that he cracks one.
Back at the Green Donut, Maguro lays down a new rule: no more teasing (Ikura and Kani don't seem to jibe with this, but that could just be the animators). Wasabi says something, so Ikura comments "Wasabi, you really are amazing," and Maguro maintains that they'll always stick together from now on, and then it's time for the end pose!

I've come to the conclusion that any summary I write that involves Titanium Chef is instantly ten times as much fun to write. Although in this one he's definitely more schlocky than he usually is (again, why it feels like a pilot). Also, it appears that Tako's many-headed thinking routine was going to be a regular thing, and while it has shown up a number of times since, it's hardly in every episode.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Two SSC thoughts

Over here, my recent viewing included two Strawberry Shortcake DVDs, Big Country Fun and Berry Fairy Tales. Neither was all that great, but I do have a few things I want to say about them.

Big Country Fun:
  • I'm super-annoyed that there was a distinct lack of Raspberry Torte. Mostly because the summaries online promised she'd be the second main character, but it was Angel Cake instead. And Angel Cake is like the exact opposite of Raspberry Torte and my least favorite of the core five.
  • The new style actually looks better in animation than in the other art. Not quite sure why, though.
  • It's nice to see a bit of continuity crop up here and there, such as Angel Cake's competitive streak, as seen in Play Day Surprise.
  • Okay, so if the writers can add in not one but two never-gonna-be-dolls characters here (Annie Oatmeal and Candy Corn), why can't they add some boys? Furthermore, why couldn't Plum Puddin' be a boy again, huh?
  • Speaking of Plum Puddin', why didn't she use her intellect to save the day, huh? I mean, she could have mastered her pony and used her brains, too.
  • I was all set to hate Annie Oakley because of her terrible accent, but then she sang that song in such a weird country-opera mix that I had to give her props.
  • Banana Candy, what happened to your hair! It looks like a terrible streak job ;_;
  • Question: Why did the Pieman want Candy Corn's farm, really? I mean, he'd already built the park (which looked fun, btw). Did he really need a parking lot that bad?
  • Also, Candy Corn was kind of asking for it by not locking anything.
  • And the county fair song was dumb, but at least it had some Raspberry Torte in it.

Berry Fairy Tales:
  • Sheesh, the way those fairies act, no wonder Margalo didn't want to go back.
  • Like Annie, I didn't think too much of Margalo until she sang that crazy song while attempting to channel Tina Turner.
  • The last thing Strawberry Shortcake needs is a higher pitched voice. Just saying.
  • It's kind of disconcerting when bad animation makes a character smile while foretelling the doom of fairyland. Unless it's a subtle jab at how nasty all the fairies are and thus why should Sherri care if they're saved. But I doubt that's what's going on.
  • And I'm simply appalled that in these PC times, the animators got away with making the meanest fairy a chunkpot when all the other fairies are total willows.
  • Also, that's a fairly good idea, having different classes of princesses, for a world where everyone is a princess.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's funny every time

Remember back in November, when TLC was showing Enchanted commercials left and right? No? Well, if you had a "What Not to Wear" obsessed sister and mother, you would. Anyway, every time that the commercial came on and showed Edward (James Marsden) getting run over by the cyclists, my sister would say "That's funny every time!" Every time, seriously. And today Enchanted came out, and since there's a special Redbox promo going on (shop at a Stop and Shop or Giant Foods? Contact me for the codes!), I rented it, and we watched it after dinner. And of course, during that scene, it was even funnier in context. But later, I was reading an article about Enchanted that included the picture above, and my sister saw it over my shoulder. "And it's still funny," she commented.
"Even funnier than the real thing?" I said.
"Yes," she replied, "because it has a latent energy in it." And then we both laughed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just sayin'

Tequila rose is awesome. I know it's not media related, but I just felt like saying that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sushi Pack - Shocking discovery!

Okay, I've been googling all evening, trying to figure out who is what on Sushi Pack (aside from the few credits listed on the IMDB), and it's suddenly come clear that Chiara Zanni is Kani. The reason this is so shocking (to me, anyway) is that Chiara's biggest role (probably) to date is the titular character on Hamtaro. That's even weirder than finding out Scott McNeil (Funshine Grumpy on AiCaL, among many others) is both Wasabi and Fugu.
Edit: Funshine is actually played by Ian James Corlett.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sushi Pack - Give Peas a Chance and Chemicals Made From Dirt

I've wanted to do these eps since I saw them, since they both have the common theme of Ben not being the perpetually laid back Aesop-giver. The first story is kind of weak, but the second story has lots of Kani cuteness. You know, it's odd that Kani started as my second least favorite Pack member, but has become my second favorite (my favorite and least favorite, Tako and Wasabi, respectively, have not changed).

Give Peas a Chance - "He was wrong; feelings of others are more important than donuts."
Starting with a montage of peas being harvested and processed for sale in a supermarket, there's a throwaway line about how the crops were planted on a toxic waste dump. Skip ahead to The Green Donut ("What's good for the one is good for the hole"), where Ben gets a call from Officer Flume (ah, her name does get used again), updating her donut order. Meanwhile, Kani and Maguro are playing chess, only Wasabi tries to emulate that scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and rides the knight. Maguro sends him on his way, and he interrupts Tako working on a canvas, complete with smock and beret. Tied in knots, Tako also sends him away, and Ikura doesn't even look up from his squirrel fighting game while brushing off Wasabi.
Back in the kitchen, Ben finishes taking down Officer Flume's apparently very long order just in time for Wasabi to show up. Ben warns the mustard glob that he's busy, but Wasabi pays him no mind (probably because he knows Ben can't understand him) and creates a kitchen drumkit cacaphony with pots and pans. The vibrations threaten a large bowl of flour, and Ben's attempt to save it only send it flying, covering him with flour. In a rare moment indeed, Ben loses his cool and yells at Wasabi to get out of the kitchen and never come back, a shout that resounds around the world, or at least the Sushi Pack headquarters. Wasabi does leave, dejected, but not in tears, as I thought he would.
Later, the Pack is watching TV when they see a report about frozen veggies holding customers hostage at the local supermarket. At said market, the veggie leader, a pea, hence the title, leads the other veggies in some chanting while the hostages shiver in the chill. The Pack shows up and starts a run of catchphrases, but Wasabi is still bummed out about Ben yelling at him. Nevertheless, they head in. Tako tries ordering the veggies to let the hostages go, but they just throw cookies at him. Maguro has two plans: A, they try to talk them down, and B, they attack in detailed order (although giving these details all but guarantees their failure). Wasabi is still all bummed out, and Tako is not sympathetic. The Lead Pea starts talking about his demands, which include freezing Wharf City solid.
Hearing this, Maguro starts to come around to the Peas' way of thinking, after all, being sushi, they like it cool, too. She even goes so far as to tell the others to "give peas a chance." A viewer from Chicago, already tired of the cold puns the Lead Pea has been throwing around, chucks his ice cream cone at Maguro's head, bringing her back to her senses. So it's time for Plan B. The Pack leaps into action, but the veggies have the advantage. Wasabi, the key component in the plan, just can't cut the mustard, so to speak. Tako and Maguro comment on this, blaming Ben completely for Wasabi's lack of luster. Ikura and Kani point out that Plan B isn't working, so Tako calls for Plan C. Unfortunately, there isn't one. So there's no choice but to retreat. Truly a sad day for the Pack. The Frozen Veggies boast of their frozen superiority.
Back at the Green Donut, apparently the rift between Ben and Wasabi has ruined Ben's latest batch of donuts, so he goes to apologize, unaware that the Pack is off on a mission. Seems the Pack left in such a hurry that no only did they not tell Ben, but they left the TV on, too. Sophia Tucker is still reporting on the case, and, being a self-proclaimed Wasabi fangirl, mentions that Wasabi's "fabulous flame" has faltered, meaning all hope is lost for the Pack. Ben, putting two and two together pretty quickly, reacts like this.
Back at the store, the Pack once again inform us of the fact that Wasabi is bummed out because Ben yelled at him and thus isn't up to fighting, and once again all the blame goes on Ben. I'm guessing this is because Ben actually doing something other than being laid back and giving them advice that they don't follow until it's too late is simply unheard of. Although, if they don't follow his advice most of the time, why should they expect him to follow it, either? Anyway, that's why they keep harping on it. Maguro, hoping for a quick fix, tells Wasabi to express his feelings, but we do not get the bawlfest that such a request would usually elicit from Wasabi, because Ben steps in, wearing a non-matching mustache, but otherwise just the same stuff he always wears. This is his way of keeping his connection with the Pack a secret, he says. I wasn't under the impression that their connection was secret, but okay. He admits to being a jerk earlier, and the Pack (minus Wasabi) agree just a little too quickly. Way to be gracious, guys. Ben goes with the full apology, and even starts to tear up by the end of it. He and Wasabi tearfully make up, and even the rest of the Pack has to pull out hankies. Ben gives up the lesson of the day: "Grown ups make mistakes, but no mistakes should hurt anyone's feelings." Um, wait. Ben, are you somehow under the impression that you're an adult? 'Cause seriously, you're barely out of adolescence. But no, this scene was too cute, but at the same time unintentionally hilarious.
With the apologies taken care of and Wasabi's flame reingnited, the Pack is back in action! They launch a full out attack on the veggies, save the hostages, and day as Wasabi literally runs rings around the veggies. With everything wrapped up, the Pack asks Chief Flume what to do with the veggies, and she, wanting to get to the annual Police Picnic on time, tells them to do whatever they want with them. So they bring them back to The Green Donut to clean up the kitchen (no, really!), and even make them do the episode end pose.

I'm slightly annoyed by how much the Pack rags on Ben for blowing up at Wasabi. Sure, it was unexpected, but what about Wasabi's part in it? Ben didn't yell for no reason, after all. But the Pack just kept on and on about it. "He should have known better." "But he didn't." And even Ben himself keeps bringing up how he was a jerk for yelling at Wasabi.

Chemicals Made From Dirt - "Pins and needles, needles and pins, it's the mellow crab who grins."
This episode opens at the Legion of Low Tide's headquarters, which is also a Sushi Restaurant that I've just noticed is across the street from The Green Donut! Does that mean that the sushi that became the Sushi Pack was made by Titanium Chef?! I really wish we'd get the origin episode already. The animation in this ep is bad, bad, bad, which is annoying because Titanium Chef has a big part, and having him badly animated is just wrong! Anyway, Titanium Chef is cooking, but not more sushi as you might expect. In fact, not even the Legion knows what he's making, just that all the pots on the oven are heating up the whole place, which is no good for perishable sushi such as themselves. Titanium Chef pulls out the book of Chum Chop: Ancient Recipes for Mayhem and Chaos, last seen in Wassup Wasabi, and reads the recipe for Inki-Dori, the mystery of burning ice. The ingredients sound questionable, so Fugu wonders if he's making a poison douchebag potion. However, Inki-dori is actually a shoeshine. The Legion questions this, since a. the Sushi Pack don't wear shoes and b. nobody shines their shoes in this day and age, anyway. But Titanium Chef counters that this is no ordinary shoeshine. It makes people cool, literally! He pulls the lid off his concoction and a wave of cold air washes over the Legion. But, as he explains, the cold is just an illusion. Toro suggests selling the stuff for a ton of money, but Titanium Chef maintains that they can only use the recipes in the book for power, not money. He outlines his plan: the Legion members will shine people's shoes, who will get cold and turn up the heat, bringing down the Sushi Pack once and for all!
That night, while the rest of the pack snoozes, Kani reads from a self-help book, chanting a mantra from the book. Maguro hears this and goes to see what's going on. Kani explains that she's trying to stop being crabby and start being mellow. Maguro doesn't really see why, but Kani says that "people" don't like crabs. Maguro can't think of anyone who doesn't like Kani, but Kani says that everyone will like her more if she's mellow, and then she summarizes the book's plan:
1. Smile.
2. Dress mellow (Maguro starts getting intrigued here.)
3. Live mellow (Maguro mentions meditating.)
4. Speak mellow (the hardest step for Kani.)
5. If all else fails, repeat the mantra.
Kani also mentions that being a crab isn't cool, but Maguro insists that Kani is cool just the way she is. But Kani still wants to be mellow, although she expresses this in a most unmellow way (as she said, step four is the hardest). Now, I wonder what this ep's lesson could possibly be?
The next day, the Legion is hard at work advertising "cool" shoeshines, and finally a construction worker, wanting to be cool, gets a shine, setting off a chain reaction of people lining up to get their shoes shined and leaving all cold, but with sparkly shoes. One kid, after getting his shoes shined, decides he wants to shine shoes, too, so Mochi Mochiato arranges their first franchise. Which couldn't make Titanium Chef, watching from a nearby rooftop through high-tech binoculars, happier.
At The Green Donut, Maguro takes a moment to talk with Ben about Kani's identity crisis. She worries about Kani trying to change, but before Ben can break out the advice, Kani herself shows up, dressed in powder blue and saying stuff like "Lovely day, isn't it?" Tako and the others also show up to discuss Kani with Ben, unaware that she's shown up. Although nobody asked, she points out that she's wearing a beret, although it looks more like an elf hat to me. Her mellow facade is cracked as the others ask if she's okay and express their worries, and she snaps at them, before storming out while chanting her mantra.
Finally able to get a word in, Ben advises the others to let Kani "find herself" and that new clothes are a-okay. (Especially a cute outfit like that ^_~). Then he gets set to make some deliveries and leaves them with the cryptic line: "Sometimes it takes a change to discover how to be happy with who we are."
Riding his bike down the street, Ben is nearly blinded by everyone's shiny shoes before being accosted by the Franchise Kid to shine his shoes and be cool like everyone else. Ben, surprisingly, succumbs and gets his shoes shined. Now, when I was watching this ep for the first time, at first I thought that Ben would be immune to shoeshine because he never leaves the shop. And then I thought he'd be immune because he, being the advice-giver, would obviously not fall for the line of "everybody's doing it." And then I thought he'd be immune because he wears sneakers. But no, he succumbs and somehow the kid shines his sneakers, even though this shouldn't work at all. However, if it had been a Legionnaire and not Franchise Kid, Ben probably wouldn't have fallen for it.
Meanwhile, Kani isn't convinced by her powder blue duds, and decides to switch to yellow. Also meanwhile, Titanium Chef revels in the shiny city, proof that his plan is working. "Soon the world will see I'm not a so-so sushi chef," he crows, "I'm a so-so evil genius!" Meanwhile again, Ben returns to the Green Donut, freezing cold, and turns up the heat. The Pack is confused this, since a. it's hot out, and b. Ben knows they're perishable. Tako is blinded by Ben's shoes and Kani (now in a yellow dress, so cute) runs from the shiny shoes, proclaiming they're "not mellow at all!" Wasabi points out everyone outside dressed for winter, but why? To find out, the Pack turns to TV, which just happens to turn onto a news report about the sudden cold spell. The cameraman helpfully pans down to show Sophia and the mayor's shoes, leading the Pack to figure everything out. Realizing what this means for Ben, they rush to his aid. Maguro uses her telekinesis to remove Ben's shoes, and Wasabi burns them to ashes. With the shoes destroyed, Ben comes to his senses and turns down the heat. Unfortunately the A/C dies, and Ikura freaks out. Tako wonders why, but not for long. It's obviously the work of the Legion of Low Tide! (and not any of the other recurring villians :p)
Tako orders Kani to get the Sushi Craft ready, but Kani demurs; fighting isn't mellow! (Don't give me that look, you all knew this was coming.) Tako points out that if they don't do something, they'll perish, and Maguro adds that everyone in the city will die of heatstroke, since they think they're cold. Faced with these facts, not even the mantra can save Kani's outfit, which she rips off in a crabby rage. With that, the Pack is off! First, they go to beat up the Legion of Low Tide. The Legion tries to run, but is cut off at every turn by a Pack member, ending with Kani. While she takes care of the Legion, Tako and Maguro gloat that Kani is back to normal, "just the way we like her." Coupled with the looks they gave each other in the previous scene after Kani ripped up her clothes, these two seem to be more manipulative than previously thought. Hm...
Seeing his minions defeated, Titanium Chef wonders if he shouldn't try another career. The city makes public announcements for everyone to remove their shoes, which are then hauled to the city dump. Back at the Green Donut, everyone tries to figure out just what the heck lesson this episode had. Ben thinks it's about peer pressure (and rightly admits that he should have known better), Kani thinks it's the warped aesop of Don't try to change yourself, although she bases this on the fact that nothing blue is cool. Tako, of course, takes offense at this, but instead of confronting Kani, he teases her instead. Ben tries again with "It's better to be cool than to feel cool," (um, what?), and Kani adds that it's better to be happy with yourself. Maguro, however, has the real lesson, "Everyone makes mistakes." Tako, needing the last word (or perhaps building rapport with Maguro) adds "And learning from our mistakes is cool." And that's that.

I've been wondering this all day: where did Titanium Chef get the book of Chum Chop, anyway? That seems to be what fuels his designs at being a villain, but how did he get a hold of it and not somebody else?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake - Berry Blossom Festival, or Why I Love Raspberry Torte

What is this? Am I actually posting a summary of a Strawberry Shortcake DVD? Well, let me tell you, I blame this all on Raspberry Torte. Somehow, she won me over, and now I have to post about it. This is her 2D debut, and I have to say, she is one of the few characters that looks better animated. Of course, the animation has gotten a lot better since the first few DVDs, but still.

I'm really only doing the first half, since that's the part with Raspberry Torte. As is, it starts on a random spring day, with Strawberry admiring all the blossoms on her myriad of strawberry plants, which reminds her of the Berry Blossom Festival. She remembers it fondly, but Custard can only recall the near-disaster that occurred (which actually happens in the second part, so I won't get into here).
About a year ago, maybe two (who can tell?), the buds were huge. Stuff is happening, but because there's no Raspberry Torte, it's very boring. Finally Strawberry comes up with the idea of having a Berry Blossom Festival, and Custard predicts the usual mishaps. Strawberry disregards Custard's warnings and calls together the usual gang. Huck was busy, so Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Meringue, and Raspberry Torte take his place. Strawberry outlines her plan, and everyone has ideas of what to do. Blueberry suggests having a Queen of the Festival, which inspires Angel Cake to throw a super-fancy tea party. She and Blueberry leave together to plan it, and everyone else goes off to get to work, too.
We see Ginger Snap and Orange Blossom working, and then everyone gathers to watch Strawberry hang up the first poster for the festival. Since everyone is all together, Angel Cake hand-delivers invitations, advising them all to wear something fancy. But no one except Blueberry actually owns anything fancy, so they all go to her place to borrow clothes. The next scene opens with Raspberry Torte, late as usual, jogging up to Blueberry's place, and thus begins a mini-fashion show. I note that we don't see Raspberry try anything on. Hm...
Angel Cake notes the time and starts freaking out about the party, and Ginger Snap hems and haws as only she can before admitting that she doesn't know any really fancy manners. Neither does anyone else, though, so Angel Cake offers to teach them all at a pretend party. They all relocate to Angel Cake's, and she starts instructing them in the ways of good manners. But since it's pretend, they have to imagine everything, including napkins and forks. Everyone jibes with this, except Raspberry Torte. Especially when Angel Cake starts going after her for talking with her mouth full, even though the sandwiches are imaginary. Angel Cake also makes the mistake of making a claim she can't back up, that Manners Matter. Raspberry dares them all to prove it, and nobody can think of anything, so she starts to storm out. Strawberry stops her, and tells her that they'll have two parties and she can go to both. Raspberry doesn't see the point, but Strawberry just cryptically tells her that she can pick which one was better. Raspberry still doesn't get it, but agrees, and finishes storming out.
Once Raspberry is gone, Strawberry lets the others in on her plan: two parties, one with manners and one without, are sure to prove to Raspberry that manners make everything better. The girls aren't completely sold, but since Strawberry is the main character, they go along. And now comes the part that made me fall in love with Raspberry Torte. On her way home, she sings a song that basically outlines her worldview and is horribly catchy to boot. The main points being that manners don't feel real to her, and she mostly just cares about herself. And she just has so much fun doing it, too. After her song, she heads to Strawberry's house for the (unbeknownst to her) no-manners party.
Custard has been let in on the plan, and she relishes her part, being rude and unhelpful as Raspberry tries to get some info on the party out of her. Eventually Raspberry just knocks on the door, and gets no response, of course, until she bangs on the door. When Raspberry gripes at Strawberry for not telling her when the party was, Strawberry not-so-subtly tells her that it's because they're not using manners. Raspberry doesn't get it, though. And she still doesn't get it, even when she finds out that everyone was supposed to wear pink, and no one saved her a seat. So Strawberry just spells it out, and Raspberry's thrilled! Until everyone grabs all the food just as she reaches for it. And everyone makes these faces that are supposed to be sneaky, but just make them look stoned (no wonder they're eating all the pastries). And then they hit her squick points: spreading jam with their fingers, drinking juice off of saucers and straight out the pitcher. Once the party is over, Strawberry just slams the door in Raspberry's face, and even she has to admit, it wasn't a good party.
Raspberry dejectedly makes her way back home, and finds an invitation to the second party in her mailbox. At the second party, everyone except Raspberry is good mannered to a fault. When questioned, Raspberry tells them all that she prefers this party to the previous one, but only because she got more food. In fact, she does a spit take when she learns that everyone was using super-good manners, and reacts hostilely when Angel Cake brings up Manners Matter again. She walks out of the party in a rage, leaving the others dumbfounded. On her way home again, Raspberry fumes about the others and all their manners talk. She stops to talk to a bird, telling it how she had a fine time at the first party, even though she didn't get that much to eat. But then she remembers the other party, and she starts to realize that maybe, just maybe, manners really do matter after all.
So she goes to Strawberry's and apologizes, even busting out the waterworks to ensure Strawberry's forgiveness. And of course Strawberry forgives her, even going so far as to offer to teach her, and the kids at home, all about manners. This is boring, and annoying, so I'm skipping it. Except to note that Raspberry acting like she has manners is both totally cute and kinda creepy.
The next day (I think), in a tent in a field, Angel Cake finishes setting up for the tea party just as the guests arrive. Now, I want to know, who thought it was a good idea for Blueberry to say "absolu-oot-ly" to stuff? Thankfully she only says it once here, but it was that horrible catchphrase that nearly made me swear off this series entirely, since the first DVD I checked out was her debut, and she said it almost every sentence. Anyway, everyone is at the party except for Strawberry Shortcake and Raspberry Torte, making for a total Pygmallion moment when they show up, with Raspberry actually in a dress and her hair all bedecked with little flowers. Raspberry shows off her newly-learned manners, and then it's time for a song! The best part of which is that Raspberry gets a verse all to herself, and sings just off-pitch enough to be both awesome and strangely in-character. Seriously, I *love* the way she sings "Thanks, be mine, too," in the second chorus. After the song, Raspberry makes a speech about how she's learned her lesson and will be good-mannered from now on. And Strawberry and the others thank her for making the effort. Strawberry also reminds the kids at home to be good-mannered from now on, too, and the story ends with everyone saying completely random generic good manners phrases.
Now, how hilarious would it have been if at the end, Raspberry had been so completely good-mannered that it creeped everyone out and they demanded the old, unmannered Raspberry back? I guess that's what I really love about Raspberry Torte. She has such a definite personality, especially for someone outside of the core five. And I just love her voice. Most of the voice acting in the series is absolutely horrible (although, like the animation, it has gotten slightly better), and while Raspberry isn't spectacular, her voice actress somehow makes that work to her advantage. It's hard to describe, really.

By the way, does anyone know what the middle line in the first chorus of Man Oh, Manners is? I turned on the subtitles, but for the song, they just said "Singing," "Girls Singing" and "End." From what I can tell, the line goes something like "I tell ya, manners don't matter/It's much too much to deal." But I can't quite tell.

Not very fancy
Ginger Snap is nervous
What are you looking at, Raspberry?
Strawberry being sneaky
Her friends are Hoity Toity
If she feels like slurping, who's it gonna hurt?
She'll eat with just her fingers
No cookies for Raspberry
No fun at a no-manners party
Raspberry is squicked
Raspberry's house
Is it just me, or did Raspberry look jealous in this scene?
Confiding in a bird
So cute for the party!
Strawberry has a pie
Raspberry gets a solo
At the party

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sushi Pack - Poached Salmon

To celebrate the fact that I finally got a few eps of Sushi Pack up on youtube, here's a new post.

Poached Salmon
This ep opens with Ikura practicing his fighting techniques, in particular a new move he calls The Super Salmon Slip. Unfortunately, the execution of said technique leaves the area he's practicing in (and Tako and Maguro) covered in orange balls (Tako's wording, not mine). Tako and Maguro yell at him for this, and Ikura accuses them of not being alert enough to avoid his attacks. Maguro tells Ikura to think before he acts, but will he listen? I think not. Will this be important later? As in, before the commercial break? Oh yeah.
Kani demands they all see what's on TV, and Ikura leaps into action, accidently landing on the remote, changing the channel to the Bear Channel (all bears, all the time), which freaks him out. Kani chastises him for not looking before he leaped, and starts to explain about the special she was really watching (and Ikura freaks out again, thinking she meant the Bear Channel, and Kani facepalms): apparently White Oleander, who is a returning villain, even though this is her first appearance, is busy throwing dinner parties. On TV, Oleander delays her Lard Trough How-To in order to give some exposition on her plan plug her latest shindig. She also gives us the names of her guests: the mayor, police chief, and Wharf City Courier editor (Hack Martin, Jenny Flume, and Dale Wheat-Skibbing, respectively), which is odd, since they usually aren't addressed by name. Heck, I don't think the editor has shown up since. At her latest soiree, she plans to serve nothing but turkey, giving Tako the chance to inform us all about tryptophan. I've heard that it's just a myth, though. For some reason he uses a juggling clown to illustrate his lecture.
Before the end of her show, Oleander not-so-subtly tells the Sushi Pack to stay away from her shindig. Ikura takes offense at this and is all fired up to go take her on, but Tako tells him to chill. Maguro theorizes that Oleander plans to use the turkey dinner to capture the mayor, police chief, and editor, once they fall asleep after their meal. But Kani points out that Oleander's "all about eating and eating us," so what's her real plan? Whether she has a plan or not, they should go check out her studio, says Tako, although he only seems to be concerned about the mayor. So it's off to the studio!
At the studio (where the parties are not only held, but televised), there is no audience, just the three main guests snoozing away, tied to their chairs. Tako wants to play it safe and starts devising a plan, but Ikura takes off on his own to rescue the mayor. And falls right into Oleander's trap: sticky honey all over the floor! Oleander shows herself, and I never noticed until I started this snark, but when she's on TV, she has a completely different voice, all sweet and homey, unlike her regular voice, which is gravelly. It makes sense that she'd do that, but I just never noticed before. Probably because this is the only episode where we've seen her on her show. Anyway, she addresses the now-hiding members of the pack: Give themselves up and nothing will happen to the mayor and the others, but if not, she'll deep fry Ikura! She even ties him up and sets him on an eggbeater that slowly cranks him ever closer to the hot sesame oil, complete with an hourglass to show how long both Ikura and the mayor and the others have left.
While Ikura's in a bind, the others gripe about how he brought this on himself by being so headstrong. Kani even comments, "I could just pinch him! ...very gently." XD! But they still think up a plan to save him, while Mission Impossible-type music plays and there's a kinda cool semi-circular camera pan around them. Also, Tako uses, "Wasabi and I," to end a sentence. Is this the writers' fault, or is it just showing that Tako's pretty pretentious? Which he is, no doubt about it, but is it intentional? We may never know, as the scene shifts back to Ikura, who laments the fact that he's about to become just another saturated fat-filled treat. And he has his epiphany moment where he realizes that plans are a good thing and he was really, really stupid for not realizing that sooner. And I apologize, Ikura, but I found this scene terribly amusing.
His almost-emo soliloquy is interrupted by Kani, who tells him she's about to cut the string. Ikura is not very enthusiastic about this plan. But it's okay, because Maguro uses mind over matter to move the fryer lid into place before Ikura hits the oil. However, Oleander was merely waiting for such a rescue attempt, and she's ready to strike. Until she's distracted by Tako and Wasabi, that is. She wards off their attacks with oven mitts and a pan lid, causing Wasabi to flare up in anger, and despite Tako's efforts to cool him down, he has a meltdown, literally! Maguro does not relish the thought of cleaning Wasabi up.
Oleander advances, and the rest of the pack attacks, but she reveals her secret weapon: a switch that will open a trapdoor under the mayor and the rest, dropping them into a vat of chocolate mousse! For some reason, Wasabi brings up macrame, and Ikura suggests they come up with a plan, much to the others' amusement. Ikura summarizes the lesson he learned: "It's dumb to do anything without thinking about it first." Wasabi pulls himself back together, and Ikura comes up with a plan...
While Oleander stands poised at the switch (sweating for some reason. Is she nervous or just hot?), Maguro uses her telepathy to lift a pitcher of water and spill a stream so Ikura can use his new technique from the beginning of the episode. He ends up shooting a stream of roe at the ceiling fan, sending a never-ending barrage right at Oleander. Wasabi heats up the switch to the trapdoor, so much so that when Oleander tries to throw it, it burns her oven mitt right through. While Oleander's distracted, Kani and Tako get the mayor and the rest out of the studio. There's more fighting and Oleander accidentally hits the switch and nearly falls into her own vat. It looks like she's safe, but Kani sneaks in and pinches her foot, causing her to fall into the mousse. Not such a bad thing, since it's made with Belgian chocolate.
Later, the mayor thanks the Sushi Pack for saving him and the others, and comments on how they probably should have thought twice before accepting Oleander's invitation. Which just begs the question, what did she do in her debut? I thought she just went up against the Sushi Pack, but if it was something that the mayor knows about, but obviously didn't take seriously (and neither did the network, since she still had a show...), then who knows? Ikura pronounces that he's learned his lesson again, and the mayor gives them all a medal. A big heavy medal. A medal so heavy, in fact, that the Pack has to give themselves a pep talk in order to pose with it. Which they do.

I don't know what it is, but something about Oleander rubs me the wrong way, which is weird, because the idea of a foodee villain really intrigues me.