I Don’t Not Not Know About This Not-Ending

I recently finished the Imagawa-directed 2004 anime adaptation of Tetsujin 28, and knowing that Imagawa played around with a lot of the existing material the source manga by Yokoyama had to offer, I began to wonder just how the original manga ended. I could not find any information on how Tetsujin 28‘s manga ended. So I thought, hey, I’ll start researching on Japanese sites, but then I stopped myself for a second and had to ask, why is it that there is so little information on how Tetsujin 28 ends? Or for that matter, something like Tetsuwan Atom?

I do know that Tezuka tried to end Atom a number of times and was forced to bring his most famous character back every time, and that Tetsujin‘s original manga isn’t exactly the most serious and serial of stories. And it’s one thing if something said, “This story never ended,” or “This story just kind of tapers off,” or even, “This story has a non-ending.” But there isn’t even that little. And I’m not condemning anime fans or anime researchers for ignoring this. It’s just that I find it incredibly odd that, despite Tezuka and Yokoyama being such big deals, somehow this information is not common knowledge, especially in this age where it’s difficult to go down two websites without tripping over ending spoilers.

Anyway, once I’ve found out this information, I’ll be glad to share it.

Oh!! That’s a New Year

Peter Fernandez’s Accolades are Well-deserved: Voice Acting of Old

Recently, I’ve been watching episodes of the original Speed Racer. Not Mach Go Go Go, and even if presented with the option, I would try to watch episodes of both. Speed Racer is one of those shows that attracted a lot of fans for a multitude of reasons, primarily the car, and having never really watched entire episodes of Speed Racer, I wanted to see what was, as the kids say, “up.”

In addition to the show aging surprisingly well, I noticed something somewhat peculiar about Speed Racer: its voice-acting is actually very good. These days, when the subject of older voice acting comes to mind, it’s usually the ridiculous dubs of 80s and 90s, or the transition away from Saban for the dub of Dragon Ball Z. Older dubs are associated with being poorly acted and often stilted, while newer dubs have a frequent problem of being too wooden or “sounding like anime dubs.” This isn’t the case with Speed Racer at all, and after seeing Peter Fernandez get congratulated so many times for his voice work as Speed,  I can finally see that he gets the credit he deserves, not to mention the rest of the cast including minor characters. It has the right amount of radio-show-style acting without going overboard like the old Symphony of the Night dub. Batman: The Animated Series’ voice actors were told to act out their roles as if they were in a radio show. Maybe there’s something to that after all, something that more dubs could learn to use.

I’ve seen a significantly older show receive a curiously impressive dub before in the form of Gigantor. Not a surprise to see that Fernandez had a role in the Gigantor dub as well. Is it just that he’s got talent and it bled through to everything else in recording? Perhaps, but there’s one factor which I think contributes to the quality of these old dubs, and it’s actually the result of a limitation.

In these old shows, especially with Gigantor which had a low budget even for its time. When Jimmy Sparks says a few lines, his mouth moves maybe 5 or 10 times. The voice actors did not try to match the lip flaps because that would have been impossible, and I think it’s this non-adherence to mouth movements which freed up the dubs to have more natural and vibrant-sounding characters, even if the dialogue itself was still kind of awkward in that stereotypical way everyone makes fun of Speed Racer for.

You can hear Peter Fernandez as a grown-up Spritle in that new Speed Racer cartoon, but I wouldn’t recommend watching it.

We Are Iron Men

Japanese and American comics have been cross-pollinating for a few years now, and it becomes easy to forget that once upon a time the two creative worlds lived in relative isolation. It’s all the more impressive, then, when common themes occur from stories which are decades old. One such example is the comparison between one Tony Stark and one Kaneda Shoutarou, two characters who are associated with the term “Iron Man.”

Tony Stark, hero of the Marvel Comic and recent film “Iron Man,” is a weapons manufacturer who dons a suit of armor to protect the world when he is made to realize that he can do far more good preventing war than being responsible for it. Kaneda Shoutarou, hero of Tetsujin 28 (Iron Man 28, aka Gigantor) is a boy who fights crime with the help of a remote-controlled metal giant, a remnant of Japan’s desire to defeat America in World War II created by his very own father prior to his death. Both characters are faced with artifacts of war, and both characters choose to re-invent their tools of destruction to try and achieve peace.

It’s not surprising that two stories which utilize an “Iron Man” would have such a similar theme of trying to learn from past mistakes, even when applied to different cultures. When speaking of periods of humanity, the Iron Age is always most closely associated with mankind. Golden, Silver, Bronze, and other such precious metals speak of easier, more innocent times, and neither Stark nor Kaneda have quite that amount of luxury. Iron, more than any other metal, is associated with forging and bending to human will, after all. That said, I should point out that their respective comics debuted in what amounts to the Silver and Golden Age of comics, respectively, in their native countries.