Real Valentine - One Man’s Story of His True Loves (We’re talking about Anime and Power Rangers, duh)
Hello, Internet. Gosh, you look smart today. Have I told you how smart you look lately? You must have been reading when I walked in because you look absolutely learned. Yeah, that’s right, baby, I said “learn - ed”. Two syllables. I dabble in Shakespeare. First Folio, Bad Quarto, Oxford Edition, you know… poetry.
So. Valentine’s Day. Bummer, right? It’s cool, I know all about it. You have quite the negative history with Valentine’s Day, what with you being the entire Internet and all. I understand that the names day of a Christian martyr who was beaten with clubs and stones and then beheaded doesn’t fill you with romance. That’s cool, baby, that’s what I’m here for. Come sit closer to the jpeg of a fire and I’ll tell you what love is.
When I was a wee lad I had many loves. Recess was spent running from girl to girl to boy to girl to boy. It was strenuous work, but being the playground Red Ranger was a labor of love. Yes, Internet, when I was five years old Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers made it’s debut and, yes, Internet, I was the one who beat out everyone else to be the Red Ranger.
See, you weren’t around in the early 90’s, Internet. You don’t know how impossibly important it was to be a Power Ranger at that age. You didn’t walk outside and say, “I think I’ll play Power Rangers today!” No, you walked outside to a schoolyard full of wannabe Rangers and you began to lay down a string of decisive kinetic and verbal victories over those five year old posers. Some snot-nosed punk yells out “Mastodon,” you smack his power coin from his hand. Some little fart whips out his mega sword to fight “Gold Guy,” you unleash the Power Sword, fell him and his fake enemy, and lead your friends against the actual Goldar. By the end of the day you had a posse of color-coded friends to back up your claim and by God if you didn’t have the jungle gym secured as your own private Command Center.
Me at age five.
I loved the Red Ranger. So much so that when my friend was tired of being the Blue Ranger I gave him the Red Ranger title, and made myself the Grey Ranger. I piloted a Stegosaurus. And wouldn’t you know it? That little twerp turned evil and became the Green Ranger and I had to pretend to impale him with his own Dragon Dagger after he had wiped out my whole team. Then he insisted he was still the Red Ranger and led a new team of Power Rangers set up by the swings. I loved something and I gave it away and when it came back it bit me in the finger. I lost a good friend that day.
Damn you Jason David Frank! (shakes fist)
Sorry, Internet, didn’t mean to frighten you. It’s ok. You can snuggle in close again.
That’s fine, girl. And by girl, Internet, I mean Genderless Imitation of Real Life. Now let me tell you a long story so that I can tell you another story afterwards… about love.
Power Rangers instilled a lifelong love of all things Giant and Robot. Then, at a very tender age, I was introduced to anime. It wasn’t Pokemon, it wasn’t Sailor Moon, in fact it wasn’t even Dragon Ball. My first two anime were Ninja Scroll and Ghost in the Shell. Maybe not as culturally important as Akira, but they had a huge impact on the popularity of anime. And they were violent. Boy howdy were they violent. Imaginative, beautifully animated, full of complex ideas. I had a taste for the best in anime and have stuck to it ever since.
My particular anime sensibilities make me less of a completionist and more of a connoisseur, or to be honest, a snob. I don’t need to watch Bleach, I already saw Rurouni Kenshin. (Editor’s Note: Kenshin was MY first true love. ~ AJ) I don’t need to watch Naruto, I saw it the first time when it was called Dragon Ball Z! Violence Jack? I read and watched Berserk. Don’t waste my time.
(side note: don’t watch Berserk. It’s fantastic, it’s skillfully crafted, it’s violent, and it will absolutely ruin your life. Berserk is like when you have a close childhood best friend who moved away in second grade only to come back in high school with a drug habit and completely ignores you. It hurts.)
Amidst all of the rubbish anime, back in 2000, I came across my beloved. Fox Kids aired a dozen episodes of EscaFlowne and I was in heaven.
Gorgeous. Gorgeous animation for the time. It was full of huge mecha and swordplay and honor and villainy. There was nothing I disliked about this show save for the fact that the second half remained unaired in the US. I had to borrow VHS tapes from a friend to finally finish the series.
See, Internet, back in your youth, there was not such a thing as YouTube. Remember Napster? LimeWire? Yeah, we had no legal way of obtaining obscure anime in the states and DVDs were still a new concept. We had to order two episodes at a time on VHS for twenty five bucks apiece plus shipping. Gundam Wing cost damn near five hundred dollars to completely own. You had to pray that the episodes of Dragon Ball Z you spent birthday money ordering were the ones with actual fighting in it. God help you if you bought two episodes of just talking and powering up.
So I loved anime and I loved Escaflowne and I particularly enjoyed the character of Dilandau Albatou. Dilandau was out of his gourd. Dilandau would slap people mid-sentence. Dilandau had some gender issues which complicated things. I friggin love Dilandau. He may annoy the piss out of everyone else, but me, I look for the Dilandau character in every anime I watch. He’s the Starscream of the show.
Quick, somebody draw me Dilandau piloting Starscream. I’ll post it on our tumblr and give you all of the nerd cred. ALL OF IT!
So here’s where my second story starts, Internet. Thanks for sticking with me. I know you have a lot on your mind (porn) and it’s hard to stay focused (porn) on just one topic, (porn) Internet. Let me give you a little something to hold you over.
The Internet loves the D.
Anywho, in college I began to explore Universal Century style Gundam. I was always an After Colony guy, but a friend turned me over to the plight of Amuro Ray versus the Principality of Zeon. I played my game of Distinguish the Dilandau in the show, Garma Zabi by the way, and carried on to other series, 08th MS Team (Ginias Sahalim), Gundam Double O (Aber Rindt), To my delight I realized that Gundam had it’s own recurring character theme with the person of Char Aznable.
Char has as many iterations of himself as he has clones in other series: Edward Mass, Casval Rem Deikun, Quattro Bajeena, Full Frontal, Zechs Merquise, Master Asia, Mr. Bushido. All of them are either Char himself or versions of his character in other shows. Give him a mask, paint his mobile suit Red and give him a distorted quest for vengeance for his family and you have a Char clone.
Only no other Char is quite as perfect as the original.
I know it’s silly but he’s my favorite. I love Char. I’m not picking out curtains or anything but I damn near well named my cat Casval after the guy. He’s the main antagonist without being the main villain. You side with him more than you do the heroes of the story. The guy dropped an asteroid on the earth, killing untold millions, and you STILL kinda want to see him come out on top. A man so badass that he changed his name to Char to hide his identity, continued to change his name again and again only to be discovered and accused of being Char, the name he gave himself. A man so badass that when he was stabbed in the face with a rapier all it did was break his mask. In the course of the series the main bad guy element, Zeon, return several times, like the Empire resurfacing in Star Wars. Nobody bats an eye. A man arrives and is called the Second Coming of Char Aznable, and everybody poops themselves! Char isn’t a villain; He’s no Vader or Joffrey or Megatron. He’s a hero, just fighting on the other side. The only difficulty I have with Char is deciding which Mobile Suit he pilots that I like the best: The Sazabi or the Sinanju.
Char is a character so badass that even saying his name makes you badass.
So yeah. I’ve got a thing for dudes in masks who pilot enormous red mecha. What?
Oh! Internet! You look a little warm. Let me show you my dual indoor swimming pool and inside joke.
I swear I don’t watch porn
@SeanLenhart was vetoed when he opted for the name Casval for his kitten. He now has two cats, one named Captain Malcolm Tiberius Fitzbattleaxe Reynolds, the other The Dread Pirate Ophelia, aka the Poopsmith. Please feel free to tweet him out of jealousy. Tweet him out of spite. Tweet him out of hunger, he really doesn’t care. Poor man just wants a tweet.