Jayce And The Wheeled Warriors Vol. 2 More Nostalgic Fun For 80s Animation Fans

 

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The 1980s was one of the last great eras of children’s cartoons.  It was during this era that animators and networks gave kids shows the likes of The Real Ghostbusters, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so many others.  The list could go on for days.  Something interesting to note of the 80s is that among all of the great children’s cartoons spawned during that era, many of those greats were forbears to what are today, examples of the de-evolution of anime.  Some of those great classic anime cartoons include:  Thundercats, Transformers, and the focus of this review, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.  Fans of today’s take on anime likely don’t even know about these and other classic anime cartoons.  But if not for these and other classics, much of the empty hulks that call themselves anime today might not even have existed.  Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is proof of that.

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors only lasted for one season with a total of sixty-five episodes.  In early 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment released the second half of those episodes in the second volume of episodes from this classic.  The second half of the show’s sole season sees Jayce and his friends continuing their journey to find Jayce’s father and rid the universe of Saw Boss and his minions.  The show’s writers largely do a good job with this final set of episodes.  Though, it should be noted that the series’ final episode does turn out to be rather anti-climactic.  Of course that is linked to the failure of the toy franchise on which this series was based.  Had the toy franchise succeeded, audiences might have gotten better closure.  Regardless, the show’s writers did craft some interesting episodes that its original audiences will enjoy just as much today as they did when they watched the show as children.

The scripts for Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors provided some pretty entertaining stories for the most part within each episode.  Just as interesting to note here in the second half of the show’s sole season is its continued similarity to certain other cartoons of its time both stylistically and musically.  Audiences that remember the original Thundercats, Transformers, and to a lesser degree, The Real Ghostbusters will see some similarities between those cartoons and this one, stylistically speaking.  The colors and forms are very similar when put next to one another.  Being that they were both creations of DiC (now Cookie Jar TV), the similarities between The Real Ghostbusters and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is not so surprising.  There is even a similarity between the music in the pair.  Both being from DiC, they obviously shared those elements.  What is interesting is the comparisons to the likes of Thundercats and others of that ilk.  Anyone that is a fan of the Dragonball franchise will even see some very blatant similarities between certain characters from that franchise to the design of Saw Boss.  Both Dragonball and Thundercats are both from different companies than Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and The Real Ghostbusters.  It goes to show even more the influence of this classic cartoon.

There is one more factor that fans of this short-lived classic should take into account that makes it more fan friendly.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  Mill Creek Entertainment has maintained the standard of packaging discs in its multi-disc sets in separate standard paper CD/DVD envelopes.  There are those that have chided Mill Creek for this standard.  The use of standard envelopes is slightly problematic.  But it has its positives.  The use of envelopes allows consumers to carry single discs with them instead of an entire box if they want to enjoy the episodes with their friends and family.  Perhaps something that Mill Creek should consider for future releases is the use of envelopes with padded backing so as to better protect the discs in their releases.  That aside, it is still a much wiser way to package DVDs than other companies.  And because of that, it’s one more positive overall to this classic cartoon’s release.  Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors Volume 2 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/jayce-the-wheeled-warriors-volume-2-33-episode-set.html.    

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Fans Will Delight At New Digimon DVD Boxes

Courtesy:  New Video Group/Flat Iron Film Company

Courtesy: New Video Group/Flat Iron Film Company

Saban’s Digimon: Digital Monsters is one of the biggest hits among anime fans since the original Pokemon series.  It’s been roughly a year since the first half of Digimon’s first season was released.  Now fans of this show finally get the second half of season one in a complete eighteen episode, three-disc set.  The second half of Season One sees the “Digidestined” as they were called through many more battles and more dimensions.  At one point they have to fight to get out of the digital world when it’s blocked by an evil digimonster.  Also revealed in season two is the revelation of a hidden eighth “digidestined.”  That fans had to wait roughly a year for the continuation of season one makes it that much more worthwhile for true hardcore fans, even with only the American version being included.

The continued story in Volume two is just one part of what makes this set impressive for real fans of the anime genre and of Digimon.  The bright, vivid colors help to keep viewers’ attention.  There are those who might discount something as simple as coloring.  But the reality is that something as simple as colors can play a very pivotal role in keeping audiences engaged.  It’s purely a psychological issue.  Had the digital world been full of dark colors, then that would have created a foreboding feeling, and thus giving the characters’ journey a whole different meaning.  And it would have given audiences a whole different feeling in watching the show, too.  It makes the show less “scary” for lack of better wording, and thus more suitable for viewers of all ages.

Digimon Season 2Just as season one ends, fans of this hit anime have even more reason to celebrate as New Video Group and Saban have released the Complete Season two alongside Season One: Vol. Two.  Season Two picks up four years after the end of Season One.  Audiences get a whole new team of “Digidestined.”  There’s also a new threat in the digital world for this new group.  The writing is just as impressive for audiences as the animation.  It manages to live up to the expectations built from the show’s debut season, which would explain why the show went on for another three seasons after this one.

Season two comes in a full fifty episode, eight-disc set.  Among those fifty episodes is a handful that was banned from U.S. television following the events of September 11th, 2001.  That included the show’s landmark 100th episode, ‘Duel of the WarGreymon.’  That episode is here, as is the holiday themed episode, ‘A Very Digi-Christmas.’  Fans of the show will appreciate that those episodes previously banned from U.S. TV are included in this set.  Also to be appreciated just as with Season One Vol. Two is the set’s packaging.  Even with eight discs, those responsible for assembling it could have gone the old route with multi-disc packaging.  Instead, all eight discs are placed on either side of their own plastic insert.  This protects each disc, and preserves space on one’s DVD and/or Blu-ray rack.  New Video Group and Flat Iron could have easily gone another route and placed the discs one on top of another as other companies do.  The company could also have gone the slim package route in which discs are placed partially on top of each other.  Neither of these packaging fashions makes much sense.  Luckily for fans, New Video Group and Flat Iron went neither route.  The companies went the much smarter route, thus making one more reason for fans of this modern classic anime cartoon to be happy.  The same applies with its companion, Season One Vol. Two.  Together, the packaging, animation and writing make both Season Two and Season One Part Two of Digimon good companions for one another and equally good sets for any hardcore fan of this modern anime classic.

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Cookie Jar Cartoon Collection A Great “Treat” For Any Kids’ Halloween Party

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Halloween is officially just over a week away.  That means lots of parents and kids are getting geared up to go trick or treating.  Just as many might be looking to host their own kid friendly Halloween parties.  What kid friendly Halloween party is complete without something safe for the kids to watch?  Thanks to Cookie Jar TV and Mill Creek Entertainment, parents have yet another option for their kids.  That option comes in the form of the new Halloween Cartoon Collection courtesy of Cookie Jar and Mill Creek Entertainment.  This single disc compilation of Cookie Jar cartoons offers episodes from some of its most beloved cartoons that are a perfect fit for this time of year.

The compilation kicks off with a trio of episodes from The Busy World of Richard Scarry.  In “The New Neighbors”, the kids meet a pair of new neighbors who happen to be twins.  So the kids think that there’s only one, and she is appearing everyone at once with magic.  And it just so happens that the twins are dressed like witches.  So the kids instantly think that something’s afoot.  But soon they learn a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions and judging people.  This episode alone is a triple hit for audiences of all ages.  Not only does it boast a Halloween theme, but it’s family friendly, and it teaches some very valuable lessons in the process.

That opening episode of The Busy World of Richard Scarry is great for the whole family.  It’s just one part of what makes this compilation great for everyone.  Older audiences are offered not only entertainment but also education with a Halloween themed episode of the classic 90’s Fox Kids cartoon, Where On Earth is Carmen San Diego?  Audiences learn in the episode, “Trick or Treat” the real origins of Halloween.  According to the mini-history lesson taught here, today’s Halloween traditions go all the way back to the Celtic people.  They would actually wear masks and costumes to scare away evil spirits.  And they actually worshipped a god named Samhain.  There’s even a little tidbit about the origins of the jack-o-lantern.  And as always, Carmen ends up getting away in the end, even playing a trick on Zack and Ivy.

Cookie Jar Halloween Cartoon Collection offers audiences lots of great classic cartoons.  Most come from the 1990’s.  There’s even one from the 80’s in The Littles.  For those who want something a little more modern, young audiences are offered a pair of episodes from Cartoon Network’s hit show, Johnny Test.  In the first of the pair, Johnny and his sisters have to help their agent friends develop a machine so that they can win a trip to Fiji.  His sisters create a helmet that lets the wearer bring inanimate objects to life.  When it turns out that they can’t get the helmet off of Johnny, all kinds of havoc ensues.  Audiences can find out for themselves what happens when they pick up this DVD. 

The second episode from Johnny Test is more of a generic holiday episode.  But it’s still entertaining in its own right.  It’s one more of the enjoyable episodes culled for this compilation for audiences.  There are also episodes of other Cookie Jar Cartoons including: Archie’s Weird Mysteries, Mona The Vampire, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Sabrina The Animated Series, Mummies Alive, and Bump In The Night.  Every one of these shows offers something enjoyable for the whole family for those Halloween parties.  It’s available now in stores and online.

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Fleischer’s Superman Flies Higher Than Ever In New Blu-Ray Re-Issue

Courtesy: Gaiam

Superman is flying again.  And this time it’s thanks not to DC, but to a little company called Gaiam.  Thanks to Gaiam, Max Fleischer’s classic Superman cartoons have been restored and made available once again to the public.  These classic cartoons are an example of everything that was once right with animation.  And now not only can the generation that grew up with these classics enjoy them once more, but so can a whole new generation.  At a time when DC and Marvel are increasingly going toe to toe with one another, churning out feature after feature (both on the big and small screen), this double disc collection is a welcome breath of fresh air for comic book fans the world over.

While there may have been only a grand total of seventeen episodes of Superman created by Max Fleischer between 1941 and 1942, those seventeen episodes are some of the finest animation to ever grace any television screen.  As with so many early pieces of animation, Fleischer and his team of nearly six hundred (yes, nearly six hundred) animators gave Superman its own identity through their work.  This is something that has so sadly been lost in today’s “animated” features.  Being that so many “cartoons” are created via computer, they all look alike.  They’re sterile.  They have no real identity, compared to the likes of Superman.  Sure, older cartoons such as these took massive amounts of time, money, and staff.  But the end result is well worth it.  That is evidenced here.

One might ask how it’s known that Fleischer used nearly six hundred animators and large amounts of money to create Superman.  The answer to that is simple.  The commemorative booklet included in this double disc set gives a full in-depth history lesson on how Fleischer came to ring one of the greatest superheroes of all time to the small screen.  Dr. Thomas R. Reich, Ph.D. explains in the culled information that the shorts collected in this set were the result of discussions between Paramount and Fleischer Studios over a Superman movie.  Because of the costs that the movie would have incurred, the two sides agreed that instead of a Superman movie, Fleischer would break up its movie proposal into what is now one of the earliest of the Superman TV series.  Dr. Reich explains with excruciating detail how the series eventually came to life, and just as soon came to its end.  There are also discussions on Fleischer Studios’ early days creating the likes of Gulliver’s Travels, Betty Boop, and even Popeye.  The bonus booklet even includes a full episode listing with equally in-depth synopsis for each episode.

The bonus booklet included in this new Superman Set offers loads and loads of trivia for audiences.  The story of how these seventeen shorts came to be is enlightening to say the least.  Just as enlightening is the revelation that it’s Fleischer and company who are to be credited with the now famous lines, “Faster than a speeding bullet” and “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”  This is just one more example of the value of this set to audiences.  Valuable information such as this, along with the equally impressive animation and storylines make this Blu-ray re-issue of Max Fleischer’s one of the best kids’ releases of the year.  It also makes it one of the year’s best in the category of general DVD’s and Blu-rays.  It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, October 30th.

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“Summer Adventures” offers lots more laughs from The Garfield Show

Everybody’s favorite orange flabby feline is back.  That’s right.  Garfield is back again.  And he’s brought Jon, Odie and all the others along in the brand new dvd,  “Summer Adventures.”  This brand new dvd presents six more episodes from the most recent Garfield television incarnation, The Garfield Show.  This time out, Garfield helps pizzeria owner Vito save his business as it competes with a mega pizza chain.  He also helps his mouse friend, Squeak, in an original episode.  And in another throwback to the original Garfield and Friends series, Garfield gets some not so good luck when he returns a pot of gold to a leprechaun.  There’s even a bonus episode that will also take viewers back to the original Garfield & Friends series in “Fame Fatale.”

“Perfect Pizza” is the first of the six episodes contained on this single disc compilation.  Much like many of the episodes in The Garfield Show, this episode is a near direct throwback to Garfield & Friends.  It starts off with Jon ordering a pizza for Garfield.  Thinking the pizza is from his favorite pizza place, Vito’s, Garfield is surprised at how terrible the pizza is.  He discovers that the pizza is in fact not from Vito’s.  Rather, it’s from a new competitor, Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace.  The new business has set up shop right next door to Vitos, and is taking customers away from Vito’s thanks to huge deals and coupons.  After finding out how Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace mass produces its pizzas, Jon declares that he’s going back to Vito’s.  Mama Meaney (who happens to be a man) tries to lure Jon back with lots of coupons.  But it doesn’t work.  They go back to Vito’s. 

When they go back to Vito’s Eddie Gourmand calls and orders one of Vito’s pizzas.  He tells Vito that if he likes the pizza, he’ll tell all his viewers about it and tell them to buy his pizzas.  So Vito gets Jon to take the pizza to Gourmand.  Jon has to avoid Mama Meaney the whole way to Gourmand’s place.  In a chance mishap, Jon accidentally carries one of Mama Meaney’s pizzas to Gourmand who tastes it and declares how horrible it is.  But then Garfield gives Gourmand Vito’s pizza.  Gourman tells Vito how great it is, thus saving his business, and putting Mama Meaney’s Pizza Palace out of business.  As a reward, Vito tells Jon that they can have free pizza any time they want.  Garfield immediately takes full advantage of that, and digs in.  When Vito asks if Garfield will ever stop, Jon tells Vito, “Sure.  He’ll hit anchovies some time.” 

Long time fans will recognize certain similarities to two classic Garfield & Friends episodes in this one episode.  It combines elements of two episodes from the show’s fourth season in “Supermarket Mania” and “Mamma Manicotti.”  Garfield and Jon have to save a small independent business from a mega-conglomerate in both episodes.  The coupon element comes from the prior of the two classic episodes, while the competing Italian restaurant element comes from the latter of the pair.  Both are equally impressive episodes.  And combined, they make for a fun new episode for The Garfield Show.

“Perfect Pizza” is an enjoyable episode from The Garfield Show.  But it’s not all that makes this compilation of shorts so fun.  In a more original episode, Garfield and his friend Squeak go to Eddie Gourmand’s World of Cheese in the original episode, “It’s a Cheese World.”  This time out, Squeak and his friends see an ad for Eddie Gourmand’s Cheese World theme park.  They beg Garfield to take them.  At first, Garfield declines.  But when Jon finds one of Squeak’s friends eating a piece of cheese that he was going to eat, that becomes an excuse for Garfield to get the mice out of the house.  But to get them into the park, he first has to get them past his friend, Harry.  He tries to hide them under an overcoat, in a pizza box, and even uses an old Looney Tunes style bit that ends up working.  The irony of the mice trying to get in is that Gourmand’s park is failing because it’s made entirely of cheese.  And all the cheese is going bad real fast.  Thinking he’s lost everything, Gourmand isn’t sure what to do until a land developer offers to buy the park.  Gourman agrees, but doesn’t know how to get rid of the buildings until Squeak and his friends offer to take care of it for him.  That leads to a happy ending for all involved.

In one more of this new compilation’s collection of fun episodes, The Garfield Show throws back once again to Garfield & Friends with “Lucky Charm.”  “Lucky Charm” sees Odie discover a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  Odie brings the pot back to Garfield.  But, he’s not alone.  The leprechaun that owns the gold is close behind.  When Garfield gives the gold back, the leprechaun grants him any wish that he wants.  Garfield wishes for good luck.  At first Garfield’s luck doesn’t seem so good.  But then he wins the lottery and becomes rich.  It could be argued that this is a throwback to the Garfield & Friends episode, “Fat & Furry.”  And the concept of whether Garfield’s luck was good could be argued to have been taken from the episode, “Curse of the Klopman.”  Getting back to this episode, though.  At first, being rich seems great.  But when he has to endure a pair of cats claiming to be long lost relatives, salesmen, and even an IRS agent, Garfield has to find the leprechaun who put the “Good Luck” spell on him so he can get it undone.  The leprechaun does.  But then he himself is hounded by the same IRS agent.  It’s a hint at “The Curse of the Klopman.”

The episodes listed here are just a small sampling of the laughs that fans will get from this brand new compilation.  However, all six episodes contained here make for more than enough laughs for both kids and kids at heart.  It’s a great introduction to the world of Garfield for younger viewers.  And it will take parents back to the days of Garfield & Friends.  While the compilation is titled, “Summer Adventures”, it’s a great addition to any family’s home library for the whole family all year long.

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