dyr Extra #2 : VHS still has a place

In this age of high definition 1080p, 4K 2160p and HDR we are all getting the sharpest, cleanest and maybe at times, a bit too much color rich home video entertainment. Bigger and more powerful is always better, right? And of course if it is new it has to be an improvement, right? In some ways yes, but the message in terms of content for these streams of visuals is usually the same. The movie or TV show is still the same thing just maybe little, or for VHS a lot, grittier. But hey, sometimes gritty is good. Any fans of punk rock out there?

Anime on VHS is something that came back into my life and it came back hard. Of course when DVD came out slowly the tapes I once had, not so much of anime, eventually went away. And by about 2012, everything became full circle. During a time when I had some lay-off time between changing jobs, VHS came back to me. And, my VCR was glad to be of service once again. Finding cheap tapes of properties that I did not have or did not even watch before was a good way to experiment. But eventually it grew into what I may say is the most proud collection I have. And why? Because I see something of value that most people will just snub off. It may take up space, but a library will always have space for those who wish to have the knowledge.

But there is a power to having certain properties on video cassette, because at least in North America, IT’S ALL WE EVER GOT! Let’s see (and this is according to August 2016) in my collection I have examples such as: Dangaioh, Ai City, Leda: Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, Godmars: the movie, Baldios: the movie, Lensman, etc. Of course I know some of these either you have not seen, or heard of, or maybe you may not like them. These are only examples to make a point that a lot of older titles have been released here, though be it a while ago.

And in terms of loving what are now called retro video games (Retro? How about classic?) how many of you enjoy playing these games on the original hardware instead of emulation? It is kind of like that with playing anime on VHS. I mean Dominion Tank Police on VHS, on a CRT TV feels just right (Love your tank like a brother?!). This is the way you watched your anime back then, unless you were really a fancy pants and had Laserdisc player. But on VHS you have no chapter skips, you have to rewind when you are done and sometimes adjust the tracking. It changes the way you watch something on disc, at least I think so.

But what about reliability? After all VHS tapes are not that good? And again as long as you take care of your library, as old man McCoy from Area 88 says, “It will last you a lifetime.” Every tape I have (in relation to this 2016 posting) is a minimum of about 15 years old. Off course many are as up to 25 to 30 years old. AND THEY WORK! Sure there have been a few that I have come across that have been duds, maybe a 1–2% ratio of failure (I like those odds). True it is not a perfect format, but it is a robust one.

While it is true you can download or buy digitally practically almost and I mean almost everything ever released, be legal or not, it does not hold the weight as having a physical copy. So long as what you purchased is used it has value to the user. And VHS still has value in my library… as long as I keep the tape heads clean in my player!

Now… time to find some other oddball titles on VHS. Do you still use and or love VHS?

 

 

dyr Extra #1 : Your first time(s)?

My first time ever watching anime? When did I lose my supposed anime virginity when it came to watching animation that originated in Japan? It may sound similar to many of you, but no one ever has the exact same experience. So as for my first time(s)… here we go.

I was at the right age when Voltron first aired in 1984, I was five. And then of course the next year Robotech really cemented a life long curiousity. And though there are those who really poo-poo both shows for westernizes edits, they were both products of where the industry was at the time. Give credit that we had an opportunity to see these properties without all the hype that surrounds anime today. There was no stigma, good or bad, about the genre. They were just shows I loved. Though to be honest I may have been a little young for Robotech, but the fact I was watching a show that did not talk down to me and had a little more substance than just beat the bad guys this week resonated the six year old me very hard. Plus another factor to consider is the fact that many of the shows that were on were if not original to Japan, they were animated in Japan. And that patina rubbed off on Transformers, Thundercats, M.A.S.K. and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. Even Rainbow Brite was animated at TMS and had Osamu Dezaki on staff. Move over Sailor Moon, Ms. Brite was my first exposure to magical girl genre.

24da5cacf964abfc000668bf4ef214b4There were other television shows that came to market as well, but I don’t remember seeing them. Of course there were movies and three I do remember very well. The irony is from TV I learned to love mecha, but from these three films I gained an appreciation for Shoujo anime. Gender marketing knows no bounds when it comes to good storytelling. The first that comes to mind is the Little Mermaid. No not the Disney adaptation with red headed Ariel, but Toei’s 1975 version with blonde Marina. And where Disney’s adaptation virtually relaunched the company after a decade and a half of not much large success, the Toei version sticks closer to Hans Christian Anderson’s original. In the end she gives her life and does not live happily ever after with the prince. I still, as a grown man, cry over this and consider it one of the most beautiful tragedies all off time.

1980animeOzAnd number two, how about an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. I know of two, a series from 1986, which is cute, but I am here to talk about another adaptation. Let’s look at the 1982 feature film that was not released in Japan until 1986. 1986 again? OK. And again our heroine has blonde hair so if you are used to Judy Garland, expect a little change. The dub is a little goofy and features a few well known names of the time: Aileen Quinn from the film adaptation of Annie and long time Hollywood actor Lorne Greene to name a few. Its fun and for a child it is a good alternative, but I will admit I think the 1986 TV series edges out this movie (my opinion), but I still think it is worth a watch.

PCQObGpAnd number three, how about Toei’s Swan Lake from 1981. Oh good lets rock some Tchaikovsky. From what I know it has been dubbed twice and the one I am most familiar with is the one with Christopher Atkins, Pam Dawber and David Hemmings (if you have seen old 60s films like Blow Up! and Barbarella, he should be familiar). The much beloved ballet which tells the story of a girl enchanted by an evil sorcerer and the prince who saves her. As generic as that is, what makes it fresh is of course the music of Tchaikovsky and the look, which is very familiar to the Little Mermaid and Voltron as all three were Toei productions of the 70s/early 80s. This is one I would like to have a physical copy of. Oh and I forgot… our leading lady Odette… has blonde hair. AGAIN! I see a trend here?

So who has seen these three? Did you catch them on TV back in the day or did you rent the tape? Ah… VHS, though you don’t have the best video quality, I still love you.