Posts tagged Optimus Prime
While there are some interesting adventures, Day 2 in Japan was mostly a work day. We got up in the morning and (after a late start) caught the train to head out to Tokyo Big Sight for the Tokyo Anime Fair.
Tokyo is a city of trains and monorails. While there are cars here, they are few and far between based on the lack of space in the city. Everyone EVERYWHERE takes the train.
Once we got to the event, we began having conversations with various companies and attending private events. One such event was a 3:00 PM business tea party where I learned something very very important: Being “Tom Croom” works in Japan.
(For my close friends reading this: Japan is not Las Vegas.)
Allow me to explain. Up until that tea party, I had been operating in a very reserved (read: Japanese) fashion in order to avoid being perceived as the “loud American.” I wore a suit to give a professional presentation and avoided being… well… me. During the party I got introduced to someone from the States who was also at the party. Out of sheer thrill, I went into “dude, what’s up” mode in order to properly convey the essence of my home state of Florida. After a minute of being pseudo-me (in a suit but in Converse All-Stars and talking like “me” again) a number of Japanese business men started walking into the conversation to present business cards wanting to talk to me.
A moment about the business card thing: it’s all true. 100% of it. I must have collected over forty cards doing formal introductions throughout the course of the weekend.
ANYWAY, it seems that my style of personality works because I was acknowledging the correct elements of respect: following custom, wearing a suit, bowing, etc. The cultural part (being reserved) is what they are used to here, but the idea of the “American personality” seems as interesting to them as the uniquely Japanese vocal patterns (especially in women) fascinates me. They like the larger than life American personality… as long as it is respectful.
Which I am (it would appear.)
Thus the rest of the trip I have been more of myself (with various local traditional adjustments) and it has worked out well.
My next test of acting like “me” again was at the Takara booth where I took this photo:
I spoke to the men running it and they both were thrilled that I was a big Transformers fan from America. I explained the voices of the characters they had on display (one of them recognized the name “The Rock” when I mentioned it as Dwayne Johnson; he was thrilled to translate the info to the other guy.) Needless to say, I was offered two business cards and they have requested I email photos of my “legendary” Optimus Prime collection in the office back at the States.
I walked around some more and saw the usual Japanese stuff. You know. Hot anime girls on cars:
After hoofing it for a bit, we opted to grab some food. Looking for something quick and easy, I walked the line of booths set up (just like any convention center) and grabbed what looked like “meat on a stick” for Marc and I.
It looked safe enough, but the consistency was a little strange. It tasted like good grilled beef… but kind of spongy. I noted this oddness to the Anime Expo team sitting with me and Rob quickly pointed out the answer:
“You’re eating tongue.”
Had he not told me, I could have finished. Sure, it seemed a little “off” but I was fine with it. It was just meat. Knowing it was tongue, though, destroyed by ability to finish (and Marc’s, too.)
THUS, I went back and bought this:
‘Cause you can never go wrong with FRIED CHICKEN in any country!
We left the convention center after meetings and opted to meet for dinner at a place complex (mall) called Aqua City. Inside there, we saw a couple of cool things.
First: they had an arcade dedicated to claw style “catch the prize” sort of games. Lots of anime statues and similar items as prizes. The coolest thing was a variation on skeeball from America. Instead of rolling balls up a row to get points, you get bombarded with small balls that you put into the mouth of a talking ramen cup. I have video (that will be posted later.) For now, here’s a photo:
As we walked around the mall, I got further insight into Japanese everyday life and culture. Anime and Sentai are a big deal. They go through as much trouble promoting these things in Japan as we do our Hollywood movies. Check out the awesome Ultraman display we found in the mall promoting an upcoming show:
After a long day of work and walking, we headed back for rest. I passed the McDonalds outside my hotel and saw the latest addition to the “Big America” line of foods they are promoting.
I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER had a cherry milkshake in America.
That’s all for now. :)
I am sitting at in the secret lair of Joey Snackpants deep in the mythical realm of Georgia flipping between Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2012 and CNN’s New Year’s Eve with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper.
As I type this, Lady Gaga is performing.
Here’s a random photo of my Optimus Prime toys.
I really don’t have anything profound to say. 2011 was awesome.
I plan on making sure that 2012 is even better.
Happy New Year, folks.
Merry Christmas and stuff!
This year was spent with the in-laws who drove down from the mythical land of Georgia to partake in a true South Florida Christmas. What, you ask, is a “true” South Florida Christmas? Well, I moved to Florida in 1988, and this year has been the warmest holiday I can remember since then. The temperature is about eighty degrees and, yes, I am wearing shorts.
Ho, ho, ho and and turn on the A/C.
Karma woke us up at 7:30 AM to open gifts because she believes that she is a human child and not a canine. This resulted in Shannon torturing her by making her wear a Snuggie made for dogs. (Photo of the act of evil taking place here.) The next few hours were spent opening the dozens of gifts that somehow found their way to our tree. A majority of my gifts were (as you see in the above photo) Optimus Prime related. My mother-in-law is a huge fan of Eeyore and (thus) her gifts were also acquired based on her fondness of a character.
Both characters, ironically, were voiced a number of times by the same actor.
So this year was a Peter Cullen Kind of Christmas.
Whether you believe in God, Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – I don’t care. What I do care about is joining in a celebration that promotes goodwill towards one another and peace on Earth.
Merry Christmas to my family, friends, fans, and even that annoying asshole who cut me off on I-95 yesterday. I’m am truly a lucky man to be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life.
- Ate a giant burger at The Vortex in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the beginning of my Man v. Food pilgrimage that would take me to eight different restaurants!
- Saw snow again for the first time in years.
- Blogged about bad service and got the attention of Ford Motor Company.
- Showed up on Fox 35 News in Orlando, Florida.
- Started watching Doctor Who for the first time in my life. (I figured I should go in order and should be “current” by 2014 at this rate!)
- Pissed off a bunch of BotCon (aka “BotFAIL”) fans.
- Saw a giant pyramid in Cancun, Mexico.
- Visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (before the grand opening.)
- Met Peter Cullen – the voice of Optimus Prime.
- Pissed off a bunch of BotCon (aka “BotFAIL”) fans… again.
- Made it to the top of Mount Evans in Colorado.
- Showed up in a silly webcomic.
- Saw Weird Al Yankovic in concert.
- Attended Gen Con and visited Indianapolis, Indiana for the first time.
- Got the greatest Battlestar Galactica dinner story of all time at Dragon*Con.
- Got heavily involved in social media and wound up the local newspaper.
- Attended Anime Weekend Atlanta again. Zaniness ensued.
- Started to digitally archive a bunch of old photos which (thus far) have resulted in some classic geek photos and some very Presidential ones.
- Attended NeonCon in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Saw the Grand Canyon… and almost died.
- Went to Dinosaur World. EPIC.
I read a lot of books, went a lot of places, and did a lot of things. Life, in my humble opinion, is meant to be lived like a video game. Each level should be more exciting than the last – so I’m looking forward to what crazy shit I pull off in 2011. InvaderCON is already going to be amazing. The Florida Anime Experience is already on deck to be epic (keep watching; we’re still making stuff “official”). Shannon and I are already discussing where to go for our annual anniversary trip in November.
My geek life will hopefully cart me off to some pretty amazing locales for some blog-worthy experiences.
This will be my ninth year writing about my life online for the world to read about me. If you’re still with me, thanks for taking the time to read about my boring ass life. I write to stay sane and to maek sure my grammmar skills stai intact. Hopefully the writing is entertaining enough to keep all five (ten?) of you still reading.
Have a wonderful and eventful 2011!
[SPOILER ALERT!] If you haven’t watched the five part Transformers: Prime story “Darkness Rising” and you happen to be into the whole robots in disguise thing, well, you may not want to read this yet. Plot points will be discussed that can be considered all spoilery and stuff. Consider yourself warned.
Here we go.
According to Google Analytics, my blog attracts a decent amount of traffic from people who read my posts about conventions, food, travelling and other nick nacks of personal knowledge. The one topic that seems to work as a lightning rod to attract a pretty hefty number of clicks, though, is the fictional(?) war between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons.
That’s right: I’m a Transformers geek.
My friend Joey Snackpants (and occasional guest host Tentacle Chris) and I present the (in)famous event “DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate” at a number of popular fan conventions. Thus, I try to stay up to date on the new shows that get churned out every couple of years.
This time around, Hasbro hooked up with The Discovery Channel to create a new cable station called “The Hub“. In a move reminiscent of the UPN/Star Trek: Voyager days – Hasbro took their flagship property and created an exclusive new show for their new television station:
Here, in no particular order, are the elements I took note of while watching the show. In true Interwebz fashion, I’ve labelled each with a “WIN,” “FAIL,” or “HUH?”. (The last one being not a good or bad observation; just an observation of interest.)
[WIN] THE WRITING
In the “DARE!” panel, we often remind some of the more ravenous fanboys that they remember their beloved childhood cartoons through rose colored glasses. The Autobots were the good guys; the Decepticons were the bad guys; and much of the story was guilty pleasure flavored cheese. There’s nothing wrong with that. Good cheesy writing is still good writing – just don’t look too deep for any substance beyond what’s there. Regardless of what a bunch of thirty-something year olds would have you believe, Transformers is a designed to be a kid’s cartoon.
That’s okay, though, because I love watching it with my “kid glasses” on.
In the original series, Spike and his dad were befriended by Optimus and the Autobots during a Decepticon attack in the ocean where they swam to safety. That’s right: Optimus Prime could swim. And surf.
But I digress… In Transformers: Prime, the writers did a great job of justifying story elements instead of just making them happen. How do the Autobots get saddled with three kids? The Decepticon drones see anyone allied with the ‘Bots as a potential threat who must be exterminated; they’re not in the business of trying to distinguish between robot and human for the sake of saving the human race. They’re the bad guys. (Duh!) Thus Arcee, Bulkhead and Bumblebee are assigned to protect the children who are now in harm’s way BECAUSE of the Autobots.
Kudos to the writing team.
[WIN] THE DIALOG
The best writing for children’s entertainment effectively balances storytelling that also caters to adults who are watching along. Just ask Pixar.
The dialog in the show is clever in two fronts. FIRST: There are lines that refer to adult topics and pop culture elements that kids might miss.
The first rule about robot fight club is that you don’t talk about robot fight club -Jack Darby
The series is peppered with a number of little nuggets thrown in there from time to time. Ten year olds aren’t going to necessarily giggle at the quote’s reference to a violent film about multiple personalities and soap – but parents and thirty-something year old fanboys will.
Writing bonus points go out, too, for the chuckle-worthy use of “scrap” as a Transformers swear word.
SECOND: There is a lot of fanboy placation going on in the show. Transformers Animated did this, too, but Transformers: Prime gets to do it with heavier guns in the form of the voice actors.
One shall stand. One shall fall. -Optimus Prime
Nope, I’m note quoting the awesometastic eighties cartoon movie; nor and I referencing Bayformers. That’s a quote from the fifth episode of Transformers: Prime.
[WIN, WIN and (did I mention?) WIN] THE VOICES
Peter Cullen is Optimus Prime.
Frank Welker is Megatron.
AND THEY BOTH SOUND AMAZING. Mr. Cullen could read a phone book with that intimidating bass in his voice and I am pretty sure he would keep a packed room captivated.
The other performances are all solid, too. Special kudos should go out to Steve Blum for creating an effective combination in the whiny/devious tone of Starscream’s performance.
Which leads me to:
Cliffjumper was only in the first couple of episodes, but he SOUNDED familiar. By the end of the five part mini-series though, I was still on a Cullen/Welker high so I never noticed who did the voice acting.
Once I looked it up, it all made sense: the grabbing of the horns comments; the bravado of a man ready for a fight; the sheer personality just oozing out of the larger than life attitude.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the voice of Cliffjumper. Old school wrestling fans who watch the episodes should enjoy remembering The Rock’s logo and the connection to the character. Check out the tattoo on his arm:
When did Bumblebee become the astromech droid of the Transformers universe? I’m not to sure how I feel about the beeping voice thingy they are doing with him.
[FAIL... MOSTLY] ANIMATION
In a sure sign that age is catching up with me, I really miss old fashion animation. Transformers: Prime would have, in my opinion, been better if it were a cartoon. Instead, the powers that be opted to go with computer animation.
The problem with computer animation in today’s age is that George Lucas put his McMillions of dollars into making Star Wars: The Clones Wars on Cartoon Network. That series is REALLY REALLY PRETTY and, as a result, any CGI television show is immediately going to be compared to it.
The animation in Transformers: Prime really bothered me for the first two episodes. By the third, though, I no longer noticed it. I became used to it.
Being used to something and liking something, though, are two different things. To the show’s credit the animation is watchable and has some great looking moments (usually NOT involving the human characters) Also, it’s nowhere near the level of headache inducing visuals that Beast Wars was.
Beast Wars sucks -Tom Croom
Just a reminder.
With that all said, I understand why it’s computer animated. It makes the robots looks cool; kids today, they love the computer animated stuff; and it links the series closer to the look of the Bayformers movie. There’s some solid work in the character design. This old man just misses his childhood cartoons that were “cartoons”.
[HUH?] THE AUTOBOT BASE
I like the moving of the Autobots away from Detroit (one of less than stellar decisions in Transformers: Animated) and into Arizona. That said, how the hell did they score Airwolf‘s old hiding spot?
I’ll be watching for a heavily armed black helicopter to appear in future episodes. Cool points shall be earned by the production staff if the damn thing turns into a robot.
[WIN] NO ORIGIN STORY
If you’ve ever talked to my pal Joey Snackpants about the LONG list of things that annoy him in storytelling then you know that one of the main elements of his frustration is the constant need for writers to feel like they are required to feed an audience an origin story. How many different ways do you need hear about how Batman became Batman? With comics, cartoons and movies the tale has been told a dozen times.
If you don’t it know by now, reference one of the numerous previous works to learn the story.
Transformers: Prime immediately passes go and collects the $200. How did the Autobots get stuck on Earth in Transformers: Prime? WHO CARES? We’re never told. We don’t need to know. We’re told only what is required to move the story forward:
-There are only a few Autobots on Earth.
-The Decepticons have been off the radar for a few years.
-The government knows about the Transformers.
No long, drawn out episodes retelling the story; just smart dialog and scenes to move the narrative along while educating the viewer about the mythology. Great move.
[WIN] MEGATRON’S GUN
For those of you that have been to a “DARE!” panel you know that my number one complaint that could have EASILY been fixed in the Michael Bay versions of Transformers was the lack of a B.F.G. on Megatron’s arm.
How hard would it have been to just slap a giant gun on top of Megatron’s space jet mode? I, mean, it’s an alien vehicle so it could look like anything -me bitching during DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate
I think someone from the Transformers: Prime production team must have sat in one of the panels.
MEGATRON HAS A BIG F***ING GUN ON THE TOP OF HIS JET MODE THAT RESTS ON HIS ARM IN ROBOT MODE IN TRANSFORMERS: PRIME.
Pay attention, Mr. Bay. You could learn from this show.
[HUH?] BATTLESTAR DECEPTICONS
So, if the Decepticon drones are Cylons – does this mean we get a hot blonde character and Al from Quantum Leap in later episodes?
In case you missed it, look at the the Decepticon drone’s faces and look at the modern Battlestar Galactica series. This is either a clever nod to a fellow science fiction franchise or just the lazy borrowing of another show’s character design. I’d prefer to think it’s the first one.
[HUH?] EVA UNIT 01
Since we’re on the topic of character design – is it me, or does Soundwave look like a mech from Neon Genesis Evangelion?
[HUH?] DECEPTICON ZOMBIES
“The Simpsons Already Did It.”
Okay – not the Simpsons, but the Decepticons have created a zombie army before. In Transformers: Masterforce (never aired in America) the ‘Cons reanimated a bunch of human corpses as a makeshift army in their unending need to wreak havoc on Earth. The zombies all wore Decepticon logo t-shirts. I’ve joked for YEARS about doing an obscure costume of this at a convention. My friend Lyn beat me to it and recently wore the shirt for our “DARE!” panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2010.
So it seems that the Transformers are jumping on the zombie bandwagon, too. I’ll keep an eye out for the episode titled “The Walking Robotic Dead” to air on AMC.
This could very well be the best Transformers series to get churned out of the Hasbo universe since G1. It’s following all the elements of the formula that worked in the eighties:
-The Autobots are the good guys.
-The Decepticons are the bad guys.
-Optimus Prime is the leader (and not working on some scavenger ship or something.)
-Peter Cullen and Frank Welker are the voices.
-The robots turn into cars and planes and stuff and they’re IN DISGUISE.
I’ll be tuning back in to The Hub in February. Let’s hope the series stays as good as these first five episodes.