Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They're so articulate

At the recently concluded Summer 2011 Wonder Festival (or WonFes 2011S), CM's Corp* displayed 1/6-scale Classic DP figures, specifically the "TV version" (no release date or price was given).  What is unusual about these is that they have articulated joints, making them "poseable"!  The set will also apparently include a somewhat diminished Nammo (making this, I believe, unique) and a greatly reduced Mughi as companion figures.  The only other articulated figures ever made available (at least commercially) were the 6" pair, based on the comics version, designed by Eightball Studios back in 2003.  [Thanks to JDennis007 for giving me the heads-up on this.]

*these are so new, they're not even on the group's site page yet; you'll find them on their blog

If we then cast our minds back to the previous WonFes (Winter 2011), we find a different 1/6-scale Classic pair, these executed by "Chinnen-san" (and sorry, but I've only been able to locate the one tiny pic thus far).  They appear to be based on a promotional illustration that was made for the 1994 laserdisc box of the 26 "TV episodes" and the 10 OVA episodes (a poster image is shown here); the illustration was also printed on a banner (shown below), presumably available in one of the giveaway lotteries often held by the anime magazines.

...and I suppose we may forgive the anatomy here,
which makes the Angels around a dozen heads high.

At that same WonFes, FrameOut Models displayed a 1/220-scale model of the TV version of the Lovely Angel, 16 cm. (over 6") in length and having a 30 cm. (nearly one foot) wingspan.  (I will have to dig up the images I found of the roughly one-meter wingspan model of this ship that was presented at conventions several years back...)

A bit o' personal history

I won't say just how old I am, but one of the first animated series that captured my youthful attention was Rocky & Bullwinkle, the redoubtable moose-and-squirrel team of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota (little could I have suspected then that I'd ever end up living anywhere near there...).  In one of its story serials, the object of quest and contention is the Kerwood* Derby, which makes its wearer the smartest person in the world!

*or maybe it's "Kirward" (a play on the name of a then somewhat famous announcer, Durward Kirby) -- it gets pronounced either way...

What it was doing on Earth is part of a long, tangled story (as are all R&B tales), since it was originally fashioned by the court wizard, Kirward (or is it Kerwood?), to the former King of the Moon People, in order to boost the intelligence of his dim-bulb heir, Prince Nosmo (or is it Nozmo?).  During the time of the story, King Nosmo the One Hat, reigns over Luna, as the residents increasingly find themselves affected by events among those annoying creatures on that blue planet over there...  (Their frequent emissaries to Earth, who often meet up with R&B, are the pair Gidney and Cloyd.)

It might be mentioned that the "King Nosmo" gag (swap the words) goes back at least to the 1940s.  At the time (circa 1961), I thought they were saying "Nozmo" and adopted it as a psuedonym, which I continue to use at times to this day...  I was delighted to discover recently that the full origin episode of the Kerwood (or however it's spelled) Derby is available on Youtube.

King Nosmo of Luna,
sporting his (absolutely essential) crown, the Kirwood Derby

I am not the only person who liked this name -- you will find a band of some note called Nozmo King** who play, in their words, "jazzed-up, funkified groove rock".

** or maybe it's "Nosmo King":  you'll find them on searches under both spellings

More on the Origin Story

Recently, I turned up a comment at David Kelleher's excellent site on A. Bertram Chandler which helped me in possibly clarifying some details about how all this got started.

A(rthur) Bertram Chandler (1912-84) was a science-fiction author of some renown, who was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1956.  His main line of work was in service as a merchant marine officer, during which time he crewed or commanded a number of ships of various sizes.

He wrote quite a number of short stories and novels, mostly during the '60s and '70s.  He is best known for his "Rim World" series and his numerous stories centered on his recurring protagonist, John Grimes, beginning with his career as a starship officer in the Galactic Federation Survey Service.  Chandler's writing was quite popular (in translation) in Japan.

At the Tokon VI convention at Nikkei Hall in the Otemachi district in Tokyo, during 14 - 15 August 1976, Chandler won the Seiun Award for Best Foreign Language Short Story for his "Wet Paint".  The convention chairman that year was one Takachiho Haruka, a co-founder of Studio Nue (in 1973) and soon to make a reputation for himself with his Crusher Joe light novels.

The next Japanese national science fiction convention, during 27 - 28 August 1977, was HinCon I in Yokohama, at which Chandler was the Guest of Honor.  Takachiho, not needing to act as chairman that year, would certainly have had some time to take the honored guest around to see the sights in the area.  So it seems most probably that this was the time during which he was brought to Studio Nue and thence to the women's pro-wrestling match, at which Chandler made the "Dirty Pair" remark that set into motion Takachiho's train of thought.

The timing fits with other events of the period.  The famous Beauty Pair, that the Nue contingent came to watch do battle, was at the height of their popularity.  Satou Naoko and Ueda Maki had begun as a team, won, lost, and regained their WWWA title during 1976 and had recently released the first of their musical recordings, "Frolicking Youth" (yes, they were singing wrestlers).  The team disbanded in February of 1979.

Another of the inspirations for the Lovely Angels was the idol duo, Pink Lady (Nemoto Mitsuyo ["Mie"] and Masuda Keiko ["Kei"]), who also began their performances in 1976 and were still rising toward their peak in 1978.  (I have included a photo of them in their costumes for the song "UFO".)

So it may be safe to say that we can pin down the "birth" of the Lovely Angels to a date around the end of August of 1977.  Their "Great Adventure" first appeared in print, in SF Magajin, eighteen months later.

Chandler continued to write and publish on into the last year of his life in 1984.  He was Professional Guest of Honor (writer) at the 40th World Science Fiction Convention, ChiCon IV, held in Chicago during 2 - 6 September of 1982.

cover of the program book,
by Professional Guest of Honor (artist),
(Frank) Kelly Freas,
with Commodore Chandler perched on the Galactic Rim

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lookit us -- we're icons!

Well, yes, the Lovely Angels has popped up in cameos in anime series all over the place, either as themselves, or with slight disguises (to say nothing of the numerous redhead-bluehead female character duos over the years).  So why not one more?  Here's a Japanese blog page noting some interesting costume selections available in Virtua Fighter 5 (go there for more pix!).

Cosplay Legends

"MasterLupin03" recently unearthed some of his videocassettes* and uploaded to Youtube a couple of sketches from the early days of anime conventions, featuring the fabulous Forrester Sisters**, Lauren (as Kei) and Leslie (as Yuri), and, on the same bill, Lisa "Honey-chan" Nelson (Kei) and Beth S. (Yuri), at the 1991 AnimeCon:

They also appeared in a segment of a 1993 Japanese TV show, apparently called Naruhodo The World.

*OK, I know some readers are gonna say, "Videocassettes?!  Oh yeah...  I heard o' those...  How old are you again?"

**not the contemporary performers: they're 'one-R' Foresters...

These are from the days when American anime fandom was becoming large enough to need to break away from their niche in science-fiction conventions and have their own gatherings (many of which are now easily as big as the biggest SF cons).  Translated video was still pretty hard to come by then, but DP could cross the metaphorical bridge across the Pacific, since the series wasn't heavy on dialog, had lots of action, and few storylines where details of plot hinged on subtleties of language.

That ease of transoceanic transition made it one of the series that American fans, starting in 1986, could pick up on easily.†  Many of those fans went on to found companies that brought over and translated more anime -- a process that soon underwent runaway growth.  It also led to DP continuing to be a perennial in anime catalogs for 25 years†† (thus far, as witness the blog entry below for 2 July...).

†Soon afterwards in Europe, DP was dubbed for French television (as Dan et Danny) in 1989 and into Italian (as Kate e Julie) in '92.

††if you start counting from listing of fans "duping" VHS tapes...  (yeah okay, I am old -- you gotta problem wi'that?)

Here's some pix -- the Forresters above, Beth and Honey-chan below them: