Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Space Battleship Yamato For Dummies

Editor's note: this piece was written in 2009, before we'd seen SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO RESURRECTION and the live-action SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO film and before we had any idea SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199 was on the horizon, let alone SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2202. However, we feel in the interests of bringing SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO knowledge to a wider, perhaps unknowing world, that this article still serves a valuable purpose. 

As we all know, after 16 years there's a new SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO film coming out. On Dec. 12, the film SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO RESURRECTION premieres in Japanese theaters, and even across the Pacific we can feel the excitement. Whether you ran home from school to catch the latest episode of "Star Blazers" in 1979 or you discovered the series on DVD last week, we are all breathlessly awaiting the new adventures of the blue and red space battleship and its intrepid crew.

What's that you say? You've never seen "Star Blazers" -- OR SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO? Well, don't worry. We here at Let's Anime feel your pain. That's why we've created this handy list of crib notes that will allow you to hold forth on YAMATO and YAMATO-related concepts at any gathering of anime fans you may find yourself in. Now you can fool the pros and make everybody think you too wasted your youth watching cartoons on TV when you could have been outside - you know, playing sports! THIS GUIDE IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. Warning: contains spoilers for 30 year old cartoons.

Yamato - Imperial Japanese battleship destroyed in World War Two and rebuilt in 2199 as a super space battleship in order to journey to Iscandar and retrieve the Cosmo Cleaner D from Queen Starsha in order to remove the radioactivity that is slowly destroying all life on Earth. Also involved with the destruction of the Comet Empire, mysterious planet destroying activities in the Greater Magellanic Cloud, an invasion of Earth from the Dark Nebula, certain events involving the interstellar war between the Galman Empire and the Bolar Commonwealth, and the diversion of the innundation of Earth by the water planet Aquarius. All this is helpfully transcribed in record albums, storybooks, video tapes, DVDs, model kits, toys, and other historical documents.

Kodai Susumu / Derek Wildstar - determined, hot-headed young deputy captain of the Yamato, this wild young hellraiser soon settles down and by the third time the Yamato's had to save Earth, he's become the boring captain the new young guys rebel against. Before they die. Finally consummates his marriage to long-suffering girlfriend Yuki Mori in the last reel of FINAL YAMATO, depending on which version you're watching.

Younger Yamato crewmen must know where their reproductive organs are at all times.
Captain Okita / Avatar - Captain of the Yamato, this grizzled space veteran leads the way to Iscandar, inspiring his subordinates and saving the Earth. He is such an inspiration that Kodai even talks to his ghost on a few occasions, which is a good trick since we learn in FINAL YAMATO that Captain Okita didn't actually die at the end of the trip to Iscandar, but was secretly put into suspended animation and revived for the purposes of making the script to FINAL YAMATO a little stupider.

Shima Daisuke / Venture - Yamato navigator and general second banana. Occasionally gets into disputes with Kodai. Worries about his kid brother, falls in love with Trelaina/Teresa, and is killed in FINAL YAMATO for the purposes of making the script a little stupider.

Yuki Mori / Nova - Yamato's chief nurse, all-space radar operator, required female character, and very patient fiance of Susumu Kodai. Is the only female on board the Yamato, except when she isn't. Deflowered in a bizarre sequence excised from later prints of "Final Yamato".

True love waits.
Time Radar - interesting device on board the Yamato which allows operators to look back in time and see previously occuring events, including Tokugawa using a corner of the engine room as a urinal.

Tokugawa / Orion - Yamato's chief engineer. Totally does not care where he takes a whiz. His son, also named Tokugawa, becomes assistant engineer, but does not share his father's lack of regard for proper toilet training.

Sanada / Sandor - his arms and legs are bombs.

Argo - we can't put a show on American television named after a WWII battleship from a country we were fighting! What's another name for a ship? Um... "SS Minnow". "Titanic". "Edmund Fitzgerald." No wait, "Andrea Doria". "PT 109". No, those won't do. What's that ship those Greeks were on in "Jason And The Argonauts"? Give me a minute, it'll come to me.

ARRIVEDERCI YAMATO - another title for "Farewell Space Battleship Yamato Soldiers Of Love", a film in which the Yamato is completely destroyed. This didn't stop the Yamato from returning in a TV series sequel "Yamato 2", which you saw as the Comet Empire series, and in which the Yamato was not destroyed.

Arufon - Dark Nebula lieutanant assigned to seduce Yuki Mori and find out the location of the secret Earth Defense Command base in the film BE FOREVER YAMATO. Does he succeed? Hey, at least he's in there trying, unlike some other guys we could mention who are too busy saving Earth to pay any attention to their supposed fiances.

BE FOREVER YAMATO - seemingly endless film in which the Yamato must travel across time and space beyond the Dark Nebula to deactivate a bomb which is somehow instantly triggered across five hundred thousand light years, from a command post on a fake Earth that may or may not be populated by machine people. Stick around for the amazing "Warp Dimension" trick if you catch this one in a theater.

Beemera - aptly named planet populated by bee people. Hint: don't try the honey.

Later, that same bee...
Black Tigers - space fighter planes carried on board the Yamato, these distinctive black and yellow ships can operate in outer space or in atmosphere. Apparently there is an unlimited supply of these planes.

Comet Empire - properly named "Gatlantis", this huge intergalactic colony vessel is the home of a green-skinned race of space invaders ruled by Emperor Zordar, who in the American version is demoted to "Prince" and whose consort Sabera ("Invidia") is given a nice Oedipal twist and becomes his daughter. When you blow up the Comet Empire a super space battleship comes out of the wreckage, and then you have to blow THAT up. If you're in the movie, you must sacrifice yourself and the Yamato, but if you're in the TV series then the mysterious Teresa from planet Telezart will use her awesome space powers to save the universe, which she could have done at any time, really, but nobody wants to watch a TV series of the Yamato getting its decks painted.

Operators are standing by. Call now!
Cosmo Cleaner D - aka "Cosmo DNA", this machine can remove the radioactivity caused by years of Gamilon planet bombing, and thereby save Earth. A team of "Star Blazers" called the Star Force undertakes the perilous mission. But can they travel to Iscandar, 148,000 light years and back, in just one Earth year?! I bet they can.

Analyzer / IQ-9 - a genius robot with the mind of an 8 year old boy.

Programmed for sexual harassment, apparently
Dr. Sado / Dr. Sane - potato-head chief medical officer on board the Yamato. A heavy drinker and always drunk, but a super excellent medical doctor. So they say.

Ota / Eager - Star Force crewmember in charge of looking at the radar screen and saying "Missiles approaching!" in his hayseed voice whenever enemy missiles are in fact approaching the Argo.

Cosmo Zero - also known as the "Super Star" fighter, this sleek high-tech space fighter plane piloted by Susumu Kodai when he feels the need... the need for speed. The number of Cosmo Zero planes carried on board the Yamato varies widely according to which studio is animating this week's story.

"Derek Wildstar" - why yes, we DID write the American version of this show in the late 1970s, why do you ask?

Leiji Matsumoto - manga artist and WWII buff whose attention to detail and obsession with the Pacific War made SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO much more interesting than it would have been originally. Other works include GALAXY EXPRESS 999, SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK, and, uh, SEXAROID.

Yoshinobu Nishizaki - producer of YAMATO whose other works include BLUE NOAH and ODIN and various weapons and narcotics violations.

BLUE NOAH - Nishizaki-produced anime series about a space battleship defending Earth against invading aliens. Any resemblance between it and YAMATO is purely coincidental. Known in the United States and worldwide as "Thunder Sub" and also the name of the Earth Defense Command flagship in SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO REBIRTH.

Wave Motion Gun - super powerful weapon that fires from the nose of the Yamato, just where the Imperial chrysanthemum was on the original WWII Yamato, thereby symbolizing the godlike power of the Divine Emperor destroying the enemies of Japan. I mean, the Earth.

Planet Bombs - Slightly more destructive than "plant bombs".

Desslar / Desslok- This blue space dictator is a sex machine to all the chicks. When he's not executing subordinates for laughing at their own jokes he's waging interplanetary war, surviving being blown into the vacuum of space, teaming up with the Comet Empire strictly for revenge and then switching sides, and watching his home planet get blown to bits. Though he spends most of his time pining away for Queen Starsha, he's not above gettin' busy with other space ladies on occasion. Just don't ask him for child support.

Ask to see his "Desslar Gun."

Gamilas / Gamilon -this volcanic hollow planet is a twin planet of Iscandar, an altogether more appealing world. Both are in the solar system of Sanzar in the Greater Magellanic Cloud, one hundred and eighty-six thousand light years from Earth. Once ruled by Desslar, Gamilas was destroyed in a mining accident involving non-union workers from the Dark Nebula, and Iscandar was destroyed after being blown out of its orbit by the same explosion. Not a good day for Desslar, really.

Talan - the moustache man. Desslar's second in command, trusted confidant, and general all around go-to guy. Talan's moustache is admired by all.

Psychological profile of Talan by "Kaoru Sotorin"

Garuman / Galman - the ancestral home of the Gamilas peoples, this planet near the Galactic Center was conquered by the Bolar Commonwealth. And then one day Desslar showed up and conquered it right back.

Skee-Ball - Desslar's favorite carnival game.

Starsha - queen of Iscandar, this impossibly skinny woman is not only the last survivor of her planet, but must deal with guiding the Star Force to Iscandar so that they can get the Cosmo Cleaner D out of her basement, while at the same time fending off the increasingly insistent romantic advances of Desslar, the dictator of the planet next door. He's only going to buy that "I'm doing my hair" excuse so many times! Eventually falls in love with Susumu Kodai's brother, an altogether more pleasant fellow.

Iscandar -this largely aquatic, peaceful planet is home to Queen Starsha and not much else, all of her subjects having died of a mysterious space disease. She sends her sister Sasha/Astra to Earth with the plans for the Wave Motion Engine so that the Yamato can come to Iscandar and retrieve the Cosmo Cleaner D. Involved in a complicated orbital arrangement with Gamilas. Destroyed by Queen Starsha to keep it from being exploited by the Dark Nebula.

Sasha - daughter of Susumu Kodai's brother Mamoru and Queen Starsha of Iscandar, she's first seen as an infant in the climax of YAMATO THE NEW VOYAGE. Two years later in the film BE FOREVER YAMATO she's a 16 year old girl, using her mysterious space powers to invent the concept of "moe".

Star Blazers - American version of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, comprised of a 1979 release of the first two YAMATO television series and a 1985 re-syndication of the show with an added 25 episodes taken from the third SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO series, dubbed by a completely different cast.

Star Dipwads - parody dub of ARRIVEDERCI YAMATO produced in 1989 by two Georgia teenagers. Rewritten plot involves cornbread that makes your stomach explode, a Comet Empire composed entirely of copulating sheep, and repeated use of the "Klondike Bar" jingle. Sequels: THE MAKING OF STAR DIPWADS, A STAR DIPWADS CHRISTMAS, and STAR DIPWADS II: THE METAL YEARS.

Earth Defense Command - organization in charge of commanding the defense of Earth. Also the name of the 1980s era Yamato/anime fan club operated from the Dallas Texas area, charged with defending fanzines and video tapes. The EDC maintains a gigantic fleet of space battleships which are all destroyed whenever Earth is threatened, paving the way for an inspiring last-minute save courtesy the Yamato.

Aquarius - planet made up of mostly water which tools around the universe raining on other planets. Occasionally there is too much rain and planets get completely destroyed. Sometimes evil races of outer space people use their enormous colony ships to warp Aquarius into the path of other planets and deliberately drown them just for kicks, as seen in the fine documentary film FINAL YAMATO.

Teresa / Trelaina - rail-thin last survivor of planet Telezart, her mysterious space powers enabled her to "master the secret of anti-matter." She used this power to end a civil war on her planet. Unfortunately she did this by killing everybody else on the planet. Her lonely space vigil is interrupted by the arrival of the Comet Empire and it's her warning to Earth that spurs the Yamato into action! She and Shima have a long-distance relationship, and like most long distance relationships it ends soon after they meet.

Teach me more of this Earth custom known as "clothing." Also, "sandwiches."

Captain Saito / Sergeant Knox - commander of the Space Marines, a rough-tough gang of two fisted fightin' men who love to fight and stuff. Rescued from a Comet Empire advance force by the Yamato, the Space Marines show their gratitude by fighting with Yamato crewmen until they can be deposited on planet Telezart where they can fight Comet Empire tanks. Fight fight fight.

Domel / Lysis - Gamilas general with a huge chin, called in to finally take care of that blue and red space battleship once and for all. His complicated plan involves fleets of space carriers, teleportation devices, and a missile with a giant drill on the front. He and his huge chin are blown to bits in a fairly meaningless attack on the third bridge.

Third Bridge - this curious structural appendage to the hull of the Yamato was added to give the design something interesting looking on the lower half. It's constantly being blown to bits, so if you happen to find yourself assigned to the Yamato, make sure your duties keep you out of the Third Bridge. In the new film it's painted blue, apparently to confuse attackers.

FINAL YAMATO - Otherwise known as "Space Battleship Yamato -the Concluding Chapter", this 1983 film was the absolute last outing for the Yamato, never gonna be another YAMATO, nossir. Except for YAMATO 2520.

the Yamato we pretend doesn't exist

YAMATO 2520 - we don't talk about this one.

The Yamato Bike

Yamato Bike - this amazing child's bike was sold in the wake of the 1978 success of ARRIVEDERCI YAMATO to impressionable youngsters who, judging from the kid in this ad, completely failed to appreciate how awesome this bike was and how lucky they were to be able to own one for their very own, instead of being arrested for stealing the Yamato Bike on display at the Showa Era home exhibit at Tokyo Decks in Odaiba. Not that that happened.

exhibit "A"

Well, we hope this guide has been helpful to you and your self-esteem in regards to knowledge of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO. As to why your self-esteem should be tied up in trivia about a space cartoon... that's another story. YAMATO - TAKE OFF!!

-Dave Merrill

I guess this about wraps things up, seeing as how this is Yamato wrapping paper

Thanks for reading Let's Anime! If you enjoyed it and want to show your appreciation for what we do here as part of the Mister Kitty Dot Org world, please consider joining our Patreon!

Monday, November 23, 2009

you're all winners

That's right, everybody who reads "Let's Anime" is a winner. But in a different, more correct sense, only the people who sent in Prince Planet fan art are the REAL winners here. If only all of the conflicts afflicting mankind could be solved with Prince Planet fan art! The world would certainly be a more surreal place.

At any rate, here are the champions of the Great Prince Planet Fan Art Contest Of 2009, Sponsored by Let's Anime and MGM Digital Media in association with Hulu and YouTube! All Rights Reserved!!

Our first entry was by Guy, who won us over with his energetic heavy metal portrayal of Prince Planet.

When he's not drawing Prince Planet, Guy writes about anime at the Guy Hates You blog!

Next past the goalpost was Dylan, AKA "Ninjatron", with this great sepiatone depiction of Bobby and Diana.

Dylan is the man behind the Astro Boy World blog, your one stop shop for all your Astro Boy news.

Salvatore M. of Philadelphia PA came through with a peppy B&W illustration!

Meanwhile Larry C, who writes a great obscure world television blog, worked up this slick color piece that I like very much!

And not to be outdone, Sarah M. brings her "A" game with this swell watercolor illo!

I know the cut off was five entries, but I got this drawing from Emma which has the only Warlock representation here, so I'm going to share it with everybody even though I am clearly violating my own rules.

Thanks to everybody who participated and you will all be getting Prince Planet T-shirts in the mail at some point in the near future. I'm being vague about the time frame because I have to go out and buy envelopes and do all that stuff, it's not like I can just have the Let's Anime Mail Room guys do this, because they're really busy. Also because they don't exist.

All artwork is (c) its original creators. Prince Planet is (c) MGM. No rights are given or implied without express consent of Major League Baseball.

Next time at Let's Anime; something completely unrelated to Prince Planet in any way, shape, or form!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

contest is over!

The great Prince Planet contest is now over, I've gotten five entry drawings. Thanks to everybody who participated! We recieved some great art and we'll be posting it right here in a few days, so check back with us soon.

Remember to head on over to Hulu and watch some more Prince Planet! Thanks again to MGM Digital Media for making this all possible.

You can also visit the Mister Kitty site and hear the American and Japanese Prince Planet theme songs and a mashup of Prince Planet audio!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Prince Planet Is Back!!

It's exciting news for Prince Planet fans! Starting Monday November 9th 2009, 46 episodes of Prince Planet will be released on Hulu and YouTube. It's been thirty years since Prince Planet last aired on American television. Now, after years in MGM's archives, this fondly remembered series is zooming out of the vaults and onto your monitors in a new, digitally restored version! All your favorite characters are back - Dan Dynamo, Diana, Pops Worthy, Adji Baba the Arabian wizard, Warlock the Martian Magician, Krag the Master Of Misery, and that guy on Radion who was always asleep at the switch whenever Prince Planet needed more juice -they're all just as you remember them, and now you don't have to fiddle with the UHF antenna. Aliens, robots, monsters, gangsters, alien robot monster gangsters - all the excitement of Prince Planet is returning just when we need him the most.

Prince Planet Pastels!

We here at Let's Anime are really excited about this. Probably too excited. Anyway, thanks to MGM we have some promotional goodies to give away - T-shirts! So we're going to have a contest. Here are the rules.

1. Employees and staff of Let's Anime and their relatives are not eligible for this contest. Since we do not have any staff or employees I do not see this being a problem.
2. The first five (5) people to send Let's Anime their original Prince Planet fan art drawing will recieve a Prince Planet T-shirt.
3. Drawings must be of Prince Planet and one or more of the following: Diana, Dan Dynamo, Adji Baba, Warlock, or Krag. Your choice. Color, black and white, whichever you prefer. If you want to draw Bobby instead of Prince Planet it's OK.
4. Drawings must be ORIGINAL - this must be your own work. I know how to use Google Image Search too, smarty.

Prince Planet art by Meg Evans

5. Digital media is fine.
6. Drawings need to be scanned and saved as a .jpg file, 72 or 100 dpi, at least 400 pixels wide. Please don't send any files larger than a meg or so.
7. If you don't have a scanner, take a digital picture of the drawing and email that.
8. Email image files to: terebifunhouse@gmail.com
9. Include your NAME and your MAILING ADDRESS. This information will NOT be given to anybody and will remain a top secret of Let's Anime.

Prince Planet art by John Gaydos

10. Contest is open to United States and Canada residents only. Sorry guys, my budget for this stunt does not cover shipping stuff around the world.
11. I will post the winning drawings in an upcoming Let's Anime blog post.
12. Contest ends at 11:59pm MONDAY NOVEMBER 16th 2009.

The t-shirt looks like this!

Remember, email those drawings to terebifunhouse@gmail.com and watch Prince Planet on Hulu and YouTube starting November 9th! Special thanks to MGM for making this all possible!

IMPORTANT NOTE - I have now recieved 5 entries and the contest is now closed. There's some great artwork and I will be posting it at Let's Anime in a few days. Thanks to everybody who contributed! If you want to send fan art anyway, please feel free to do so.

More Meg Evans Prince Planet fan art

Prince Planet, of course, was first broadcast on American television in 1966. Dubbed by Copri International, this 52-episode television series was released by American International Pictures, the same outfit that provided us with gems like THE WILD ANGELS, DIE MONSTER DIE, RIOT ON THE SUNSET STRIP, BEACH PARTY, GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW, WILD IN THE STREETS, and much of Roger Corman's ouvre. AIP's Japan connection includes anime titles like ALAKAZAM THE GREAT, live-action hero shows like JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING (or GIANT) ROBOT - which is also now available on Hulu! - and films involving big Japanese stars like Gamera and Godzilla. AIP was bought by Orion, which was in turn absorbed by MGM. So the question is, what influence did Prince Planet have on North American anime fandom?

possibly unauthorized Usei Shonen Popi metal click toy from the 60s

In the years between 1966 and 1979, Prince Planet became a fixture in the minds of many of America's television generation kids. Of course the 1960s was a wild time for Japanese cartoons - the term "anime" had yet to be coined and instead the favored catchphrase was "terebi manga" - and instead of a constant barrage of magical schoolgirls and giant military robots, the nascent anime field was experimenting and finding its way with a wide variety of shows featuring a wide variety of characters. This is the era that gave us Astro Boy, Marine Boy, Gigantor, Eighth Man, Speed Racer, the Amazing Three, and other series less known in the United States like Cyborg 009, Cyborg Big X, Ken The Wolf Boy, Attack No. 1, Princess Knight, Skyers 5, Kamui the Ninja, Ninja Sasuke, Sally The Witch, Pirate Prince, Rainbow Soldier Robin - a bewildering variety of programs produced by an industry just finding its way. Usei Shonen Popi enbraced this "anything goes" aesthetic as a freewheeling adventure show willing to do anything. Robots, tiny aliens, gangsters, monsters, spaceships, death and destruction, frankly bizarre characters like Warlock and Krag, and a series-long story arc that might have been the first of its kind for any animated series anywhere all percolated in the minds of impressionable youngsters, and as these youngsters grew up and found out there was a thing called "Fandom", naturally the concept was applied to Prince Planet.

flyer for Prince Planet Foundation

In the late 1980s, armed with a C/FO membership directory that listed fans by their interests, I set out to get in touch with everybody I could find who expressed any interest in Prince Planet. The result was a loose network of pen pals and tape traders. We swapped copies of Prince Planet episodes, wrote fan fiction and drew fan artwork and cartoons, and even published a few fanzines.

Meg Evans cartoon from the Prince Planet Foundation fanzine

When I started the print Let's Anime, one of the earliest articles was a feature on Prince Planet. Throughout the 1990s I continued to get emails from people desperately looking for Prince Planet episodes. Although several unauthorized releases were being sold through grey-market channels, we continued to hope that MGM would one day legitimately make Prince Planet available to the general public. And now they have, so I suppose we can get back to where we were as children and simply enjoy the thing.

Which is what I intend to do, and I highly recommend you all spend a little time watching Prince Planet on Hulu and YouTube!

This post is approved by the Great Seal Of Prince Planet!

Artwork in this post is (c) its original creators.

By the way, Prince Planet now has a Facebook page. Naturally.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jack And The Early Morning Witch

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!! The wacky tripped-out Toei anime film JACK AND THE WITCH, which we have enthused about elsewhere on this very blog, is running tomorrow, October 31st, Halloween, at 8:00am Eastern Standard Time on the THIStv network. I encourage you all to tune in and enjoy this film in the comfort of your own home, preferably with the sugary breakfast cereal of your choice. Thanks to frequent commentator Sobienak and his announcement on the Anime Hell blog: http://animehel.blogspot.com/

Check listings here: http://www.this.tv/index.php?day=31

Stay tuned to LET'S ANIME for more new news about old cartoons! Seriously, I do have some news coming up in the next few days, I ain't kiddin'.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Honey Honey's Wonderful Adventures

Can a European teenager and her cat find love and happiness while being chased throughout the world by a mysterious thief and four ethnic stereotypes in the wild and wacky days before World War One? That's the question asked every episode of HONEY HONEY, the show that kept many of us glued to our cable TV sets in the early 1980s!

HONEY HONEY began as a manga success from the pen of shoujo mangaka Hideko Mizuno - perhaps the only female resident of the famous Tokiwa "manga apartment house" in the Toshima district of Tokyo (other residents included Fujio-Fujiko, Shotaro Ishinomori, and some guy named Osamu Tezuka). She would later go on to critical and commercial success with FIRE! But before FIRE! there was HONEY HONEY. Or as we like to call it, "The Wonderful Adventure Of Honey Honey".

Honey Honey and Phoenix share a manga moment; Flora fumes

Honey Honey's manga appeared in "Ribon" in 1966 and ran for several years; Mizuno's Tezuka influence is obvious but there's stylish, breezy fashion to her pen line, moving away from the rounded kiddy look and towards the more ornate style we'll come to see as "shoujo". Though HONEY HONEY is set in the early 20th century it's not slavishly devoted to the period; Honey's 60s' bubble hairdo is kind of a tip, but the series itself refuses to take ANYTHING seriously. Animated in 1981 by Kokusai Eiga-sha and broadcast on Fuji TV, the cartoon emulated its star by making its way around the world and onto American TV sets.

Honey Honey children's book based on episode 6

Honey Honey herself is an orphan, working in a Viennese restaurant just trying to make ends meet. One day while serving a gigantic roast turkey, a white cat leaps into the restaurant and into her life - chased by a gang of cops, royalty, and various stuffed shirts! As it happens the white cat happened to be hanging around outside the royal palace where Princess Flora was entertaining suitors with her fabulous new gem, the Star Of The Amazon. Annoyed by the constant parade of weak-chinned Euro-trash, Flora stuffs the ring into a fish and hurls it out the window, proclaiming to one and all that whoever finds the ring shall win her hand in marriage. Well, when you're a hungry cat and a fish falls from the sky, you eat every bit of it, including the ring inside. Hence the gang of well-heeled cat chasers, and the white cat's furious leap into Honey Honey's face, and the trajectory of the giant roast turkey as it is delivered with more than customary speed. And thus we begin the Wonderful Adventures Of Honey Honey.

Far from the typical shoujo soap opera of tragic romantic misunderstandings, HONEY HONEY refuses to take itself seriously. The bumbling, pompous, stereotype suitors, the hair-trigger temper Princess Flora, and Honey Honey's willful troublemaking as she careens wildly across Europe make for fine viewing. Pulp adventure is represented by the Makio "Harlock" Inoue-voiced Phoenix, the mysterious masked thief who swings in to rescue Honey Honey just when he's needed most (we'll be seeing more of his type of character later in "Sailor Moon"). Is he just after the Star Of The Amazon, or does he harbor feelings for Honey Honey? This enrages Flora, who lusts after Phoenix herself and can't understand why he won't come to his senses and propose to her.

Furious Flora, Herr Gustav

Geronimo, Oil Dollar, Pika Pika: The Stereotype Squad

In the meantime Flora has to deal with Herr Gustav, King Pika-Pika, Sheik Oil Dollar, and Native American tribal leader Geronimo, who chase Honey Honey around the world and occasionally double cross each other trying to find that white cat so they can get married to Princess Flora. Honey Honey herself, though voiced by CANDY actress Matsushima Minori, isn't a typical shoujo heroine. She'd rather bum around Europe than be a princess, won't stand for cruelty or injustice, and woe betide anyone who dares to threaten her beloved Lily. Paying lip service to the Mauve Decade time period, HONEY HONEY never lets historical accuracy get in the way of sight gags, culminating in a King Kong-referencing final episode complete with 1970s skyscrapers.

Phoenix breaks the fourth wall

The journey begins as Honey escapes Vienna via balloon. Landing in Venice, she helps a young couple elope and winds up in Rome, thence to the Swiss Alps and a William Tell adventure. Then to Munich. Heidelberg, Amsterdam, Brussels. Paris, Orleans, Arles, and the Grand Prix in Monaco. Escaping by boat through the Mediterranean she arrives in Barcelona and hurries to Madrid, Toledo, Gibraltar, Lisbon, and London, where she meets both a long-haired guitar group and Robin Hood. 

Herr Gustav's Dream Wedding (Ring Bearer Phoenix and Flower Girl Honey sold separately)
It's also in London where, with the assistance of the King, the Star Of The Amazon is removed from Lily. Hey, that's the end of the show, right? Wrong. Kidnaped by Vikings - yes, Vikings - and taken to Norway, Honey learns she is actually heir to the throne of Priscilla, a tiny nation overthrown by the usurper Slag when Honey was an infant.

The evil Slag

Far from being a thief, Phoenix is really a secret agent working to restore the rightful rulers to the throne of Priscilla. Kidnaped by Slag's ninja-style raiders, Honey is taken to his secret castle in Russia. Escaping with the help of a flying saucer (used as an explanation for the Tunguska Explosion in Siberia) Honey travels to Moscow and south to Constantinople, where both she and Phoenix are sold into slavery. Phoenix is bought by Princess Flora, and Honey is left to become the latest addition to a sultan's harem.

I Dream Of Honey

It's not so bad for Honey because she gets to dress like Barbara Eden and help with magic tricks, and she gets a flying carpet which takes her to India and Japan and Los Angeles and finally to the show's climax in New York. By the time the series ends three different groups are chasing after Honey Honey for three different reasons and when the show wraps with a giant ape climbing a skyscraper holding Princess Flora, we take it all in stride.

I don't think anybody saw this coming.

Plenty of boy cartoons are watched by girls, but HONEY HONEY may have been the first girl cartoon watched by boys, in America anyways, after the show somehow made it into English and onto Pat Robertson's CBN cable network. Dubbed by "Sound International Corp." along with LEO THE LION, HONEY HONEY was broadcast in the vital Sunday noon timeslot that, unless you're sports, is ignored by all. The offices of "Sound International Corp" are now occupied by a chemical company. At the time I happened to notice LEO in the TV listings and the family VCR was sitting idle waiting for somebody to re-run STAR BLAZERS. Why not check it out? I was pleasantly surprised to learn LEO was the sequel to KIMBA THE WHITE LION (the first episode I saw helpfully featured a flashback to Leo's younger days) and, relaxing in the afterglow of my viewing discovery, decided to check out HONEY HONEY. I knew of an anime called CANDY CANDY, maybe this was a re-titled English dub? No sir, HONEY HONEY was its own thing. At first I didn't give it much attention, but after a few weeks the anything-goes style and Perils Of Pauline melodrama had its hooks in me.

Western-style Flora and Slag menace Honey in the manga

Comparing the original comics to the TV series, we find the anime begins faithfully but takes a sharp left turn somewhere in the middle of Europe. Blazing its own trail, the story is sometimes dicated by the writers and sometimes by the show's early cancellation - an extended American sequence involving Hollywood, Old West cowboys and Indians, and Chicago gangsters was excised. The storylines where Honey Honey becomes a judo champion in Japan and Honey's adventures on the Titanic also got axed. Thankfully, the manga's original ending among the jungle tribes of Africa also did not surface to embarrass us all on television.
The Great Honey Honey Dynamite Chase

The animation itself is a mixed bag. Kokusai Eiga-sha ("Movie International Company") produced animation utilizing a wide variety of sources involving a wide variety of skill levels, from beginning students to seasoned veterans. A list of their series reads like a secret history of Japanese animation - the J-9 series BRYGAR, BAXINGAR, and SASURAIGAR; the treasure-hunting ancient astronaut series ACROBUNCH, highspeed robot sportscar GALVION, Mission Outer Space SRUNGLE, ecological disaster robot series BALDIOS, Greek mythology comedy LITTLE POLLON, motorcycle racing drama FUTARI DAKA, robot boy comedy DOTAKON, and their own version of Little Women, FOUR SISTERS OF YOUNG GRASS. Like most other Kokusei Eiga-sha series, HONEY HONEY is now available for distribution from Enoki Films. HINT HINT EVERYBODY, RELEASE THIS SERIES ON DVD ALREADY.
episode 22 Honey

HONEY HONEY itself is typical Japanese animation television; clunky in parts but zippy when deadlines and budget allow it to flourish. Episode 22, "Snowbound Castle", was the high-water mark for the show; character designs are kawaii-ed up, animaton becomes fluid and expressionistic, and things just get cartoonier in general.
Yes, it's sharp.

After its CBN broadcast HONEY HONEY vanished into the mists of time. Sony Home Video reportedly released the first four or five episodes on VHS, along with other 80s titles like Curious George and "Video 45s". I've only seen evidence of the first episode myself. More than two decades later the Sony release remains the only legacy of HONEY HONEY in the United States (it was more popular in Europe, as are all Japanese cartoons). In Japan the show failed to capture an audience; perhaps a little too old fashioned for a 1981 audience, who probably asked the question we have asked, why is a 1966 manga JUST NOW getting a TV anime show? What's the deal with that? As anime fandom grew in the United States few remembered HONEY HONEY; unless you were paying a lot of attention to basic cable on Sundays in the middle of the 1980s it simply did not register. Even LEO THE LION got a few public-domain home video releases in later years, but nobody wanted to deal with HONEY HONEY. "Sound International Corp" disappeared, my letters of inquiry unanswered.

As a matter of fact I do own this cel.

In this era of total availability, where everything has DVD box sets or torrents, it remains an elusive quarry. But in a way, that fits the series perfectly - we're still chasing HONEY HONEY.

Episode guide: some of these are from the American titles and some of these are translated or transliterated from the Japanese. If you have every episode of the series in English with the title cards intact, please drop me a line.

1. The Cat Ate the Diamond
2. Much Ado About Water
3. See Naples and Escape
4. SOS Alpine Express
5. The Red Arrows of Berne Forest
6. Hamelin is Full of Cats
7. The castle of Lovely Cats
8. Windmill Vane Phoenix
9. Only One Can Be our Sun Princess
10. Cinderella Tonight
11. The Witch House of Orleans
12. Circus Rooster
13. The Blue Hurricane of Monte Carlo
14. Cathedral Bells Ring
15. Smile, Madrid
16. Fortress of Gibraltar
17. World's Best Sponge Cake
18. Lily's in Big Trouble!
19. Honey Run! 20 o'clock
20. Secrets of Honey
21. Honey Kidnapped
22. Snowbound Castle
23. The Great Science Fiction Chase
24. Prince Menace
25. Lily Sold
26. Magic Departure
27. India Flying
28. Flora's Great Flowers
29. Hello, Goodbye, New York (last episode)

special bonus: Honey Honey in Hollywood! Spot the cameos.

Honey also visited Japan. Trigger warning: white girl in kimono

-Dave Merrill

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