October 7, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Sailor V and The Bermuda Depths!

Hey you, you lucky reader, you! Welcome the heck back to the best source for all-ages comics for ya on the interwebs: From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays!

Before we get down to it this Friday morning, I just want to take a moment to reflect right now on the passing away of the great Steve Jobs at only the age of 56 this week. Steve was battling cancer for years, and though his death wasn’t unexpected, it was surely dreaded by everyone from Apple-fans to business leaders, and so forth. Steve revolutionized the way we do things around the entire world. He was innovative with the Mac making it one of the easiest and most user-friendly computers out there. He revolutionized the music industry with the iPod, making a change like the world never saw. Just when we thought Steve couldn’t do it again, he introduced the iPhone, unleashing a wave of smart phones like no others, again completely changing the way everyday people live. Surely if Steve had another 56 years, his creations would continue to change our world. Even you the comic book reader were affected: digital comics. Certainly we can admit if it wasn’t for the revolution of iPhones and iPads, something like the digital comic wave which hits a little harder month by month wouldn’t nearly be as huge of a reality as it is today. May your soul rest in peace in that great unknown as you are forever remembered here, Mr. Jobs.


Codename: Sailor V volume 1
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Writer/Artist: Naoko Takeuchi

Last week we reviewed the first volume of the re-release of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. This week we have another treat in the first volume of Codename: Sailor V. The manga tells the origin story and first adventures of Minako Aino, better known to Sailor Moon fans as Sailor Venus. Codename: Sailor V began publication in comic magazine Run-Run, and shortly after Sailor Moon would start publication in larger sister comic magazine Nakayoshi. Salior V would be published on and off during Sailor Moon‘s steady manga run, and the comic would finally wrap up publication shortly after Sailor Moon‘s publication (however, as mentioned it was really on and off, producing only two collected volumes versus Sailor Moon‘s twelve).

The story gives us Minako Aino, an average girl who loves to play at the arcade when she can and not study. One day she is given the power to change into a champion of justice named Sailor V, after the goddess Venus, by a speaking cat named Artemis. Artemis has awakened Minako’s powers to do battle with the growing evil known as Dark Agency, who are deploying a variety of henchmen (disguised mostly as pop idols and the like) to steal energy from humans for their evil purposes. As Sailor V battles for justice, the police have their own issues with her – Officer Wakagi hating V always showing the police up, and the police Inspector General being a closet Sailor V fanatic (complete with V-poster in her office closet).

The manga is an interesting piece and a pleasure to read for any Sailor Moon fan, and it’s the first time it’s been released here in the United States in English. In ways it seems to feel a little bit lighter then Sailor Moon, although it pretty much uses the same exact structure and character types for the minor characters; however, that may entice you to read it, being a lighter tone. Lighter tone aside, I think it is more graphic from time to time with depictions of the evil monsters melting and the like. This volume also confirms for me the suspicion that Takeuchi may be a Monkey Punch fan. I first thought this with the Lupin III reference in the first volume of Sailor Moon, but now after seeing the rivalry of Officer Wakagi and Sailor V, it’s totally a Zenigata vs. Lupin feeling. For fans we get the origin of the Sailor V arcade machine used in Sailor Moon and the like, and Sailor Venus is probably the most interesting Sailor Scout after Moon and next to Mars, so seeing an entire adventure all hers for story after story makes for an enjoyable read. Now, do you have to be a fan already to get into Codename: Sailor V? Nah, it’s a great average-girl-becomes-superhero tale that is sure to be an enjoyable read for most.


Something To Watch: The Bermuda Depths

It’s Halloween season here, folks, and so I wanted your something to watch this week to be cool, but have a slight horror-vibe, so what better to look to than Rankin-Bass productions? No, I’m not talking their Mad Monster Party film or episodes of Thundercats or Silverhawks they produced, or any of that lot, but their 1978 fantasy-horror film The Bermuda Depths, a flick which is both a ghost story and kaiju film in one.

Co-produced with Tsuburaya Productions (most famous for their numerous Ultraman TV series), Rankin-Bass (no strangers to kaiju, producing King Kong Escapes with Toho) gives us a fantastic film that tells the story of Magnus, a mixed man in his 20s who goes back to Bermuda to find out how his father was killed many years ago when he was a child. Upon returning and getting in touch with some old family friends from when he was a boy, he begins to get plagued (well, not really plagued, because he’s constantly locking lips with her) by visits from Jennie, a woman who as a child used to play with Magnus and a sea turtle on the lonely beaches of Bermuda. However, something is strange here; Jennie keeps swimming up out of the ocean and only appears at the oddest times when no one else is around. Some feel it’s all in Magnus’s head, while some say it’s the cursed sea siren of Jennie Haniver, a local legend that brings men to their deaths. At the same time, giant tracks appear on the beaches, done by something huge, bigger than a whale, even. Could this creature be the real secret of the Bermuda Triangle mystery? The acting is solid for the most part, and the music is great. There is a sense of tension and mystery with a good chunk of the film presented with a lack of dialog and just striking images. Finally, the giant monster, which is a huge beastly sea turtle, is pretty cool with great special effects for the time by the Tsuburaya team. I honestly think The Bermuda Depths is in the top best kaiju films ever made for being so unique and capturing the perfect tone of a kaiju/ghost story, and it is worth the watch, so check it out this weekend! The Bermuda Depths may be a bit harder to find in stores, but readily available online as it was released here on DVD by Warner Brothers DVD-On-Demand Warner Archive Collection; go there to pick it up.


That’s it for this week! See you next week, sending you some kaiju-love!!!

Drew McCabe



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