Southern Cross episode 9: Stardust

With Robotech’s version I always had mixed feelings about this episode. It feels a bit awkward, the character of George Sullivan, seemed a bit contrived or not drawn out long enough feel he was a real character that had depth or authenticity. The voice acting was a bit odd and almost lifeless in Robotech for this character. However the song in the Robotech version sort of grew on me. But this is about the original Super Dimension Cavalry version wasn’t it. He seems even more awkward in this one and his being a technical officer just didn’t fit in as well. In the Southern Cross of Robotech the GMP had reputation for  being a large bureaucracy. So, in Southern Cross original, George Sullivan is a technical officer, which doesn’t really explain much since he is thought by Jeanne to be trying to defeat the  Zor on his own. Yeah like that’s going to happen. Well his song Stardust, is a bit more lounge jazz oriented than the jazz pop-ballad in Robotech, I do prefer the Robotech version. “It’s you”.

A couple of points that this episode was improved on by Robotech script writers. For example when Jeanne is showering she says “so malienne that’s what Stardust was about, well looks like Jeanne won’t get to be a princess after all” talking about herself in the third person she says something like that. But Dana’s line is a lot more humorous and real : “Marlene hmmph! souds like some aging rock singer who wears too much makeup!”. What’s with Robotech and the name Marlene? There are three character of that name in Robotech.  Another issue with the direct translation in japanese shows is some things just don’t sound good being word for word translations. I know I’ve said this before. But Charles has another awkward statement I think it was Andresjz asks his condition during the batlle , and his response is “good, but what is good if you’re not dead”.

Basically, this was a pretty dull episode in both versions. Southern Cross episodes have been in some ways surprisingly identical to Robotech almost entirely. The alien leader’s Triumvirate or the three elder Masters have I think much more believable dialogue in Robotech. In the english remake the Robotech Master’s triplicate nature is voiced well the actors sound ominous, detached from emotion and to be working on nearly the same brainwaves, as seemingly finishing each others’  thoughts. They seem to be Speaking in almost stream of consciousness and calculated computer like processing of data, risks, estimations and statistical analysis of situations. The Master’s show relatively no emotion but have an ominous quality of self awareness of their  superiority and occasionally diminutive tone to the other clones and humans. As in when they are asked by a subordinate trio of masters if Zor’s implant will be detected by humans and they hastily retort “the humans’ primitive instruments do not have the ability to detect our device, the idea is preposterous”. That line always made me feel the ominous power and grand sense of superiority the Robotech Masters felt  about their entitlement to Earth and destruction humankind if we got in their way of retrieving their protoculture. Despite their claim that they have no intention of harming earth’s inhabitants, and only are trying to reclaim they’re protoculture, they seem hostile.  As their supply of it dwindles and their parasitic adversary, the amorphous race of the Invid approach, they seem more ready to eliminate any earth forces who intend to usurp the reclamation of their precious resource.

Another thing I have noticed that I really enjoy though it is odd at times, in Southern Cross, is that the music at times feels to not go with the scene. Still, it  somehow creates a nice contrast. At times the music is whimsical or light in nature yet the scene maybe be a serious one dealing with death, as in this episode when George Sullivan is taken by the Bioroid into the sky only to be blown up by an army member, there is more of the tropical, jazzy rock fusion playing. At times the music has a very strange kind of bell synthesized sound that has some kind of bright chime like effect it has a dissonant harmony going on, it is kind of unnerving yet attention grabbing. At times, I see in some scenes The Southern Cross music really works and does sound a bit alien like. Though, I still prefer the Robotech’s musical backdrop . In the Japanese original Southern Cross, I do really enjoy the episode preview at the end of each episode narrated by Jeanne’s voice actor.  There is always a”cute” line she says at the very end. I almost wish they did this in Robotech’s version since Dana’s voice to me was so fitting her character.

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Southern Cross: episodes: Labrynth and Metal Fire

Both of these episodes I watched over the last two days. I am beginning to see less and less changes in the plot and basic ideas conveyed in the dialogue from the original series to the Robotech releases of these stories. In “Labrynth” also known as”the Trap” episode in Robotech there is some of the 15th Squadron’s entrance into the ship that was edited out, in Southern Cross there is a skirmish upon entering the Zor?Master’s ship however, it really doesn’t change much at all from the storyline. It may make more sense that there was abattle as to not appear to be as obvious a trap for the Earth forces to fall into. There is a little more explanation of the two enlisted men that are left behind and then hovered over and noticed on the 15th’s exit. It made a little more sense to me now, I always felt those two soldiers laying on the ground was somehow a bit eerie. Another difference I noticed is the music that Musica is playing on the cosmic harp is more melodic in the Southern Cross, it sounds a bit more like the love themes you hear in Robotech, that being said, the “music” you hear Musica playing in Robotech to me, is more alien like in it’s atonal nature. Really a brilliant idea from Ulpio Minucci’s unforgettable soundtrack works in Robotech, he uses so much familiar melody that you would expect to hear some of that in Musica’s playing of the cosmic harp, but brilliantly no, it is very alien sounding music to our ears, even Louis mentions that at som epoint in their time inside the alien mothership.

Finally in “Metal Fire” I have begun to notice some improvements on the dialogue’s content. I prefer not to judge on literal translations as what sounds natural and conversational in one language may sound stilted in formal in another. However, Robotech’s characters and voice actors have conveyed a script that sounds more conversational and more what you would imagine people to be saying in these situations not “headstrong commander, we put our trust in you” or some such phrasing Andresjz/Angelo uses in Southern Cross. But, I have noticed quite a bit of Jeanne’s assumptions on the Zor being human to be based only on their visual appearance whereas it is more believable that Dana in Robotech has some sixth sense from her Zentraedi side. It makes the suspicions she has more plausible. Another bothersome part of Southern Cross’s content is some of the referring to Jeanne as a girl being a bit of a weakness or shorthanded disadvantage or inferiority by many of the characters. I know this can still be the case today with female officers and women in leadership positions but one has to think that these are humans in the distant future not as in Robotech where the story takes place around in 2029-2030. This Southern Cross is on a planet known as Glorie and humans have been left behind in space some have developed into advanced races, but these peopel are still thinking of a female officer as a “girl”.  Although Jeanne is very girlish, which is a nice part of her dualistic character in Southern Cross it is overplayed a bit and the writers have finally allowed her to go beyond complaining about not getting to wash her hair or have a bath. Once again, I see Dana Sterling as being an altogether more interesting character as there is more complexity and reasoning behind her actions and assumptions. Also she doesn’t have goofy lines like “this is like dissection of frogs” or something to that effect during the Bioroid analysis in the Southern Cross version of “Metal Fire”.

Retro Game Review: Castlevania Symphony of the Night.

Back in the 1980’s when two dimensional side-scrollers were the norm for action/adventure games. Castlevania or Akumajo Dracula as it was first known in Japan , was at the top of the most difficult, maniacally frustrating and showcasing unforgettable background music. Castlevania was the game that made you want to burn your NES and hit the glass screen of your tube television. Yet you kept coming back for more beatings from hunchbacks, skeleton armies and flying Medusa heads. It was one of the few games that was maybe even better to play at night with all the lights out in your room.

After several sequels on multiple generations of console gaming systems, some better than others, yet all seemed to be a solid reworking of the Castlevania concept finally a culmination of all the past success had been achieved as a crowning jewel to the story of the Belmont clan and Dracula. This episode follows Alucard the half-vampire son of Dracula.

In 1997 Konami released Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. This classic penultimate example of the side scrolling genre was a bit of a throwback since at that time game the market was flooded with sub-standard First Person Shooters. U.S gaming fans  didn’t appreciate 2-D side scrollers as much as Japan.Therefore that era will always remind me of some classic RPG’s but very awful First Person 3-D games for the most of the latter half of the nineties.  Symphony of the Night re-visited Castle Dracula and all the tradition of Castlevania’s legacy in what was one of the best games of that era on any system. One of the traditions of Castlevania has showcased superb music. Konami composer Kinuyo Yamashita a female composer who wrote a lot of the first music for Castlevania using traditional period music such as the genre of Baroque music in the style of J.S Bach and C.P.E Bach. As well as Romantic, Rococo and classical periods. But Symphony of the Night did review some of the old Castlevania’s classics like Bloody Tears and Wickedest Child though a few had a more Rock instrumentation.

Symphony of the Night added RPG elements to the franchise and solidified itself with the likes of Metroid for a very deep immersion in the game map. I mean in that the player truly feels they can get lost in the world constructed by the game. Dracula’s Castle is vast and has depth and a very highly detailed baroque or gothic atmosphere. there are multitudes of layers and expansive quality that can rival many of the best 3D environments even in today’s generation’s games. There are subterranean environments below the Castle as well as exteriors, brick sky-walks and even ethereal or seemingly dimension shifting areas.

The bosses of Symphony of the Night have so much detail some are quite repulsive. There is a giant rotting Corpse which is Beelzebub and a frightening room containing hundreds of corpses and souls that cluster in one sphere of tortured souls and attack.

Symphony of the Night is the ultimate Castlevania experiences it is thought of by many as being the culmination of all the series and is the peak of Castlevania’s legacy thus far.

Southern Cross: “Prelude”

In the aptly titled “Prelude” or “Prelude to Battle ” in it’s english Robotech version, there is a lot of waiting and tense yet calm resolution before a major assault is to take place on the downed enemy Battle Cruiser. We get to see some of the characters relaxing and letting off some steam before the important maneuver. The attitudes and actions of the characters seem to have real world authenticity with the waiting one would expect to feel before a major fight is to take place.

We get to see Jeane being a little protective with Bowie in allowing  him to be jailed after him being twice caught on the outskirts of town in a piano bar. Her actions show this big sister like side when it comes to Bowie so he will not have to fight and sit this one out in the brig. One can only wonder she thought he may be distracted by his ambitions of playing pia, however it doesn’t make too much sense that the millitary would see this as a danger to his concentration.

I am beginning to notice Jeanne compared to Dana her persona in the english version is a bit more flat or one dimensional a character. Dana has a constant inner struggle between her alien and human side that has more complexity to her psyche and behavior. Jeanne her Japanese version however, is only troubled by not being allowed to pamper herself with showers and ice cream and watching her figure. Though both characters are enjoyable I feel more empathy and intrigue into and for the dynamic and more introspective Dana Sterling, than the tough yet girlishly adorable Jeanne.

Half Moon and Trouble City

Today was another stressful day, trying to catch up with all the money I owe and trying to see if I can possibly get some kind of student loan, even though I have had to forgo finishing college to work full time and being out of a job at the time is starting to really take it’s toll on me. I was however able to escape and enjoy a few episodes of Southern Cross.

Today I watched Half Moon and Trouble City.

I am really beginning to enjoy the intro music: “Deja Vu” is becoming a really decent rival to Genesis Climber Mospeada’s awesome intro. The other counterpart to Robotech’s Japanese original series, Mospeada being the third and Southern Cross the second.

Since I have never seen the Southern Cross original it has been a totally new experience to see the characters I grew to love as a kid from the Robotech : the Masters series in a whole new light with new music and slightly different take on their story.

One difference that really stands out is the music for  Southern Cross being very different from Robotech’s mostly orchestral and a few synthesized ethereal backdrops by Ulpio Minucci, Robotech’s theme music composer. Southern cross has a funk/jazz rock fusion and an occasional pop ballad thrown in as well as some more lighthearted whimsical tunes that really seem a bit odd yet enjoyable. The credits or outro music  again, I am really getting to like the more I hear it, as am I enjoying the intro and outro animation. On to the episode Half Moon really has some serious pressure on Jeanne as in Robotech she has  a sense of guilt after having to leave Bowie to be captured by the Aliens. In the Southern Cross edition however she has I would think even more pressure seeing that her Chief of Staff Emerson is the actual father of Bowie not just his Guardian. The dialogue is a bit formal and rigid in this episode compared to Robotech, it lends itself more to the formal and polite culture of Japan, also the weight of decisions by officers and leaders seems to carry more shame with failure or mistakes and responsibility.  Jeanne has to make some serious decisions however she has a lighthearted and confident outlook in this episode as compared to the space mission of episode 3 which I didn’t review yet. The battle scene is played out decently very minor edits were made for the Robotech Half-Moon episode. It was not too slow of an episode and showcased some decent battle scenes. However in the Robotech version of this episode the scene where Dana finally rescues Bowie and thinks for a second of how much trouble she may be in always seemed a little awkward. However in Southern Cross, it is a bit more explained as when the animation goes to a still frame with some speed lines and a close up of Jeanne/Dana’s face and I can’t imagine why she would assume she would be in trouble or thrown in the brig for, yes ,breaking the rules and engaging the enemy under the guise of a training mission, but rescuing her commander’s son, would be an obvious save of face. However, in the Southern Cross her look of disbelief and the dramatic pause was done to emphasize her shock on how Zor/the red Bioroid’s pilot is still alive after taking damage to the head of the Bioroid. It made a little more sense.

Trouble City had a few more lighthearted moments however it’s Robotech counterpart had a few more edits that were minor there is a little bit more to the scene of examining the captured Bioroid. Still, the scientists are able to find somewhat the same insight into the Zor. They are able to understand that the aliens are using bio-engineered technology and that the aliens are essentially the same as humans on earth. They have the same misconceptions as in Robotech they throw around the same phrases of androids etc. However Chief of Staff Emerson in Southern Cross does have a more logical assumption instead of saying ‘no humans are capable of creating Robotech ships’ as in Robotechs version here when the possibility of space pirates is brought up, he assumes no humans have this kind of technology. That dialogue is a little more logical since human’s were reverse engineering and integrating robotechnology for years up to that point.

This episode is a bit lackluster in both versions with the trench run scene being a bit predictable. We get to see a few Bioroids blasted by HMT-1 Hoveretanks/Spartas. The energy weapons or particle rifles seem to have some serious damage on the bioroids, I think Robotech edited maybe a few quick bits here and there from this battle, not sure I would have to go back and see. But we do get too see some of the Bioroids taking heavy and fatal damage to their armor and fuel spilling out as cables are torn of the armor by the Spartas auto fire There are some more brief moments where we get to see the Tactical Airforce piloting phantom fighters against the the Zor’s Battleship.

however there is a funny scene at the end that puts a lighthearted girlish moment that is somewhat endearing to the female characters of Lana/Nova Marie Angel/Marie Crystal and Dana/Jeanne the episode begins with Dana/Jeanne shopping for a dress and after all the action is over she is finally able to purchase it much to the annoyance of Lana and Marie who seem to have a bit of feminine rivalry . In the Southern Cross version there is a bit more humor in the instance where Bowie enters the woman’s clothing store and is quite embarrassed when picking up a few items by mistake namely some girlish undergarments. It is reminiscent of the Macross Saga or the previous Robotech season where Rick Hunter is dragged into the dress store with Minmei only to be embarrassed seeing superior officers Lisa , Vanessa and Sammie from the SDF-1 in the store as he is crawling on the floor looking for something he dropped he is either worried about being mistaken for a voyeur or is just as embarrassed as Bowie. This scene has a cute yet not incredibly important moment which was omitted from Robotech , in Southern Cross Jeanne tears her dress while leaving on the Hover Bike much to the amusement o Lana and Marie. I have always enjoyed the last bit here where I think in the only instance of all three of the series of Robotech or it’s un-related foreign counterparts that characters face the camera and do some kind of sarcastic or intentionally zany wink. It is another funny yet unnecessary moment that lightens up the series and endears us to the female characters who have a feminine girlish side to their otherwise warrior/military duties and persona.

Labor Day Fires

Well, today started off quite bittersweet. Despite the great weather we’ve been getting I got some pretty bad news on the fires in Bastrop, Texas that have been going on for two days now. It is far from me here in San Antonio but hearing from the Boxer dog rescue group that I volunteer and have adopted three dogs from had some members who needed to evacuate the area, and hearing of other animal shelters and livestock that is in the area of the massive fires has really caused me to worry about this whole situation and everyone involved people and animals. As a result of our massive drought here this has been a possibility all summer, we can only hope some rain will come to shorten the length of these fires expected to burn for days.I managed to get some anime watching today. I started to watch the two first episodes of  Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross. This series was somewhat of a flop in Japan, however it was re-edited into the second Robotech series that I blogged about yesterday. There are some differences both subtle and major. I am actually really enjoying both the Intro music and Credits music, however some of the background music is quite interesting cross of jazz fusion and Pop songs. Occasionally, though it does sound a bit like generic stock music. As far as major differences between this and the Robotech version is the first episode”Dana’s Story” is actually made from Robotech Macross Saga flashbacks used to introduce the season’s protagonist Dana Sterling in Robotech or Jeanne Francois in Southern Cross  . While the Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross is actually the second episode of Robotech’s version. Half Moon both versions share the same episode title. I did notice that Jeanne or Dana’s character in Southern Cross is a bit more girlish as well as a bit more bratty and rebellious.

So far I am feeling there there is more depth to her Robotech version and her voice actor in english is a lot more memorable. The dialogue in the Japanese version is also a bit more rigid and formal and less personable or conversational. However the Japanese version does make up for the more polite mannerisms in the Japanese language by Jeanne being a bit more immature and slightly less serious. I haven’t noticed much scene editing other than Souther Cross version is able to show a slightly longer battle scene between Jeanne and the red bioroid in the second episode. Also there is not any footage yet of the triumvirate of clones in Robotech Masters that are seem to be the leaders or elders to  the invading aliens.  These guys have lots of material that shows the planning of this invasion of Earth. One part left out of Robotech I noticed in the second episode we get to see more of the Phantom non transforming Southern Cross fighter planes and we also get a shot of the Tactical Airforce body armor which is one body armor variation that is rarely seen if at all in the Robotech version. One of my favorite aspects of Southern Cross/Robotech:The Masters is the samurai influenced body armor used by the various Armies of the Southern Cross.

end of summer

Today was the first day in weeks that the temperature here in San Antonio didn’t go above a hundred. I was finally able to take my three dogs for a brief walk. I spent a portion of the day removing brush, tree limbs and even few small tree stumps to put out for the brush removal that is scheduled for this week. I did get a chance to watch two episodes of Robotech: the Masters. I watched the two episodes Stardust and The Outsiders. I am having more respect for the character of Angelo Dante and his voice actor Steve Kramer. Angelo seems to be one of the most realistic characters from the Army of the Southern Cross. He seems to act very rationally and skeptical. He has the persona of a real soldier and a down to earth personality that the script writers and the voice actor brought to life .