Sunday, March 4, 2012

THE BEST (AND REST) OF KIMBA: Some Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my lengthy dissection of the Kimba series, both the high and the low points. For my part, I now have a newfound appreciation of just how gnarled and convoluted the show's continuity truly was. How hard it must have been for the Titan dubbing crew to put the pieces together "on the run," as it were. Though I certainly took my share of shots at the many holes in their jury-rigged construct, the fact that the Titanistas were able to make the progression of the series seem at least faintly plausible is no small achievement.

I haven't had that much exposure to Leo the Lion (Mushi's follow-up series starring an adult Kimba, which didn't make it to North American TV until the 80s) or the various efforts to "reboot" the original Kimba scenario, such as the 1989 version of Jungle Emperor. To learn more about those efforts, I suggest you pay a visit to Craig Anderson's fine Web site, a link to which you can find in my links list. I will note that, well-meaning though these efforts may have been, they never came close to winning my heart the way that the '66 series did. The "Americanized" Kimba may have been lighter in tone than Tezuka may have wanted, but it was a cut above the majority of American Toons of the day in terms of legitimate "Heart." Even today, the most affecting scenes of the series pack a substantial punch.

My respect for Kimba's ability to pluck the "Heart"strings becomes even more evident when you take a gander at my list of the Top 10 Kimba episodes. I must confess to having had a preference for eps in which Kimba, though challenged and forced to prove his worth as a hero both morally and physically, actually behaves like a hero. Eps in which Kimba acted in a "childlike" manner were wholly "successful," in my view, only insofar as Kimba was able to surmount some kind of challenge that forced him to exhibit some level of emotional maturation. In that respect, "Jungle Thief" stands as unquestionably the best of the "young Kimba" episodes, with "The Insect Invasion" taking runner-up honors. "Journey into Time," with its overtone of moral seriousness (the "race" issue) and imaginative use of original Tezuka source material, is a pretty easy pick as the series' very best ep, though the visual beauty and excitement of "Dangerous Journey" run "JIT" a close race.

10. "The Insect Invasion"
9. "Monster of the Mountain"
8. "Go, White Lion!"
7. "The Cobweb Caper"
6. "City of Gold"
5. "The Day the Sun Went Out"
4. "The Wild Wildcat"
3. "Jungle Thief"
2. "Dangerous Journey"
1. "Journey Into Time"

I'll continue to post the occasional Astro Boy or Flying House review on this blog as the fancy strikes me, but, for now, I'll "retreat to Duckburg" and begin to ponder how I'm going to fete the 25th anniversary of DuckTales, a task that I should begin to tackle sometime this Summer. My "debate" with Greg Weagle over the merits of "Duck in the Iron Mask" went well enough that I'm thinking of doing the same thing with the other DT eps, perhaps throwing in a few belated comments about GeoX's reviews while I'm at it. Any other suggestions as to how I might handle this task would be greatly appreciated.

13 comments:

Dan Neyer said...

I, for one, would really like to see you tackle Ducktales in the same style you did Kimba; detailed, episode-by-episode reviews. I've recently begun re-watching that show--a childhood favorite--and finding how little I can trust GeoX's reviews to fairly represent an episode (for instance, his panning of "The Right Duck" and the four-part "Catch as Cash Can" series, both of which I enjoyed immensely upon revisting them). Would love to see a more balanced and sympathetic treatment of the series.

Pete Fernbaugh said...

Hey Chris,

I've been meaning to backtrack on Kimba and start with episode one and work my way through your reviews. How does life go again? As time permits...

As far as DuckTales is concerned, I think you and Joe should revisit your reviews from your original DT guide. See how 20-25 years has affected your perspective on the episodes...

Just a suggestion.

Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Hate to tell you, Dan, but if those old Duckburg Times reviews are any indication, you're not gonna find Chris's opinions on "The Right Duck" to be any more "balanced and sympathetic" than mine were. :p

Dan Neyer said...

Oh well, I'll just have to remain the (lone?) champion of The Right Duck. Frankly, I liked it just as well as the similar Hero for Hire; I particularly enjoyed (although I recall you didn't) the business of Scrooge putting all his valuables in vaults in preparation for the Martian landing, as well as his conviction that the Martians were invading Earth just to rob him. Such amusing paranoia seemed very in-character to me; I can recall Barks' Scrooge working himself into a similar fit over the unlikely possibility of the ship's crew in the Menehune story turning out to be "fiends for spinach."

Chris Barat said...

Dan,

I should clarify one thing: The reviews that appeared in THE DUCKBURG TIMES were not MY work -- they were the work of both Joe Torcivia and myself.

I'll admit that I, personally, didn't much like "The Right Duck," but I think that the reviews in TDT, taken as a whole, are pretty "balanced and sympathetic." When DT whelped what we considered to be a dog, we identified it as such. We did, however, hand out far more praise than pans, simply because the series deserved it.

I have read only a couple of Geo's reviews and look forward to addressing the issues that he raises. In particular, I plan to use my retrospectives as a vehicle for raising Burger Beagle into the pantheon of classic "Duck universe" characters. Indeed, I intend to ring up Don Rosa and see if I can convince him to make a triumphant return to Duck comics with a sprawling saga tracing the birth, development, life, and times of Burger.
.
.
.
Kidding...

Chris

Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

HEART FAILURE BARELY AVERTED.

Yeah, alphanumeric characters are not adequate to express my feelings about ol' Burger. Though I recall that I did my damnedest.

Definitely looking forward to your thoughts.

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris (and Geo, Pete, and Dan):

Yeah, those were great times we had, reviewing DT – literally AS it happened! Sending correspondence back-and-forth via snail (only type there was) mail!

If you guys could only see the “Deluxe Version” that we did, covering the entire series – and more – with every entry longer and more detailed that the confines of “The Duckburg Times” would allow! We actually sold the darned thing back then, to whomever wanted one.

My lone hardcover copy is on a bookshelf, right behind me, as I write this. A pity the tech of the time did not allow for us to reprint it now. (Chris can give you more details on that!)

Chris, you certainly have my blessing to use “Our Old Work” as a springboard to new and bolder discussions and reviews of DT for your Blog. I’d love to see where you take it!

Don’t reprint ‘em entirely verbatim (too easy – and certain things should remain where they lie), but use quotes, concepts, and the general ideas we put forth, and repackage ‘em for the 21st Century!

…But only if you promise to write no more about Kimba! :-)

…Also “kidding”! (…or is he!)

Pete Fernbaugh said...

Hey Dan,

Chris and Joe's guide to DuckTales is outstanding. They are very fair when they hand out both praise and criticism, and they seem to understand that a TV series will produce some less-than-stellar efforts by virtue of the beast. Thus, when they criticize, they don't slash-and-burn everyone involved with the series along with their offspring, and they emphasize the pros of an episode more than the cons.

There are some (illegal?) scans of the guide floating around the Internet from when the first-season reviews were printed in "The Duckburg Times." It's worth checking out.

I, too, enjoy "The Right Duck," mainly for Scrooge's paranoia. I'd love to see a Scrooge story set in modern times where he's engaging in Glenn-Beckian doom-and-gloom as the world financial system collapses around him. Something tells me he and Beck would be soulmates, lol.

That, or Scrooge would start buying up countries...

Pete Fernbaugh said...

Chris:

I dunno...I've always had a soft spot for Bankjob Beagle...

Pete

Dan Neyer said...

Will the Life and Times of Burger Beagle explain why Burger talks in Bouncer's voice in the Robot Robbers episode?

Seriously, I actually like Burger and several other of the Ducktales Beagle Boys; while they don't compare to Barks' Beagles, their eccentric personalities actually makethem more entertaining to me than the pathetic "loser Beagles" in most non-Barks stories. If the B-Boys are going to be dumbed down, I prefer them to be more colorful than the Beagles in a story like "The Beagle Boys vs. the Money Bin"--in which Rosa makes them (in their anniversary story, no less!) more pathetic than Ducktales ever did.

Dan Neyer said...

Poor Kimba; the comments for his final Barat Blog entry have been taken over by a bunch of Ducks and Beagles. Chris, you've definitely discovered how to jumpstart discussion here, however.

Thanks for the recommendations of Joe and Chris's book, Pete--I will keep an eye open for it. Non-slash-and-burn reviews are just the type I like.

Gregory Weagle said...

@Dan: Actually; I did defend The Right Duck (sadly; I ranted on that episode before Hero For Hire and had to admit that I rated The Right Duck way too high). I thought it was fine until Doofus started crying like a baby near the end of it. And his speech didn't click with me either.

@GeoX: Of course Chris Barat is kidding. Praising and glorifying Burger is MY gimmick. He can have my gimmick in 2019 according to the Jim Cornette Seven Year Rule.

@Chris: I cannot wait for those reviews either. Just to see where you stand on the duck issue. I'm far left wing when it comes to Ducktales; GeoX is far right wing. We need a moderate view.

Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

...whoa. That's the first time anyone's ever called me "right-wing" in any context. I'm not sure how I should feel about that.