Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Dino Riders

“Promotional quotes that lend nothing to your view of the product, useless for 100 years, are back” -FiddleTwix

Plot: See Breakdown.

Breakdown: Dino Riders is a show about an alien race called the Valorians traveling through space and time to prehistoric earth. Following them are their enemies, the reptilian race, the Rulons. They use their telekinetic abilities to communicate with and befriend the dinosaurs of the land while the Rulons do the same, except using mind-control devices called brain boxes.

They outfit the dinosaurs in high-tech machinery, gadgets, lasers and missiles as they fight battle after battle in their never ending war to conquer the other.

…..Did you get that? Aliens control the minds of dinosaurs, outfit them with high-tech alien weaponry, including missiles and lasers, and battle each other.

I don’t think I need to say anything else. Everyone good? Kay. Put up the verdict card.


Okay, for those still curious enough to keep reading, I first caught onto this show after watching one of the Nostalgia Critic’s commercial reviews. He was talking about one of the commercials for the Dino Riders toys of which this cartoon is based off. He was just as blown away by the concept as I was, and I couldn’t resist seeking out the cartoon. Of course this series was released in 1988, one year before I was born. Damn my inability to control what year I was born.

In all honesty, I am overplaying this series just a tad. It is awesome to see battles between raptors, pterodactyls, triceratops and even T-rexes outfitted with lasers and missiles, but I can’t deny that the foundations are kinda weak. We don’t really know why the Rulons want to destroy the Valorians so badly, they just do. The idea that pea-brained dinosaurs can be reasoned with so easily just with telepathy is a bit farfetched (but, honestly, who cares? And the alternative is mind-control hats) and it is just a flat out, 80’s brand ‘We’re two factions at war….pew pew.’

But it is still a lot of fun, and there is so much room for possibilities that, sadly, probably won’t get realized because this series somehow only lasted 14 episodes. Captain Planet gets six seasons. Dino Riders get 14 episodes. Rip. Off. I definitely would’ve been more invested in Captain Planet if they used laser equipped dinosaurs to kill polluters…..Actually…..easily befriending even the fiercest of creatures with telepathy and heart?…..Is Ma Ti a Valorian?

Not to mention we have some top-notch voice work here. Frank Welker (because he’s under contract to be in literally everything) Rob Paulson, Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee in the 80’s Transformers series) Charlie Adler, Townsend Coleman and Peter friggin’ Cullen – Optimus Prime!

Even the animation stands up very well for being a late 80s cheap cartoon based on a toy. And yes, I’m including both GI Joe and Transformers there.

Anyhoo, Dino Riders may be a short-lived series with a one-dimensional story…….but DINOSAURS WITH ALIEN LASER WEAPONRY IN BATTLES AGAINST REPTILE CREATURES…..COME ON!

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Alien Nine Review


Plot: Aliens invaded the earth some time ago, and now schools are tasked with selecting three people from each class to be Alien Fighters. The Alien Fighters are given borgs, frog-like aliens with wings and drill-like cables that sit on their heads and act as their protectors.

Yuri Otani, the world’s biggest crybaby on the face of the planet, is selected as being one of the three Alien Fighters for her class, because they just wanted to pawn the job off on her, along with Kumi, a strong independent fighter who is the mature one in the group, and Kasumi, who couldn’t be more excited to have the job. While much of their job is seen as busywork, the aliens do pose a threat far greater than they’d ever imagined.

Breakdown: This is one of those shows that starts off rocky but ends up leaving you wanting so much more.

I first thought this series to be some parody of alien apocalypse anime since this plot seems so odd to be a serious invasion story. Aliens invade, and instead of military involvement, police or anything, they assign three kids from various elementary school classes to take care of the aliens and roam around the school grounds armed with rollerblades and giant winged frogs that sit on their heads and attack with snake-like drill cables. However, it wound up surprising me with how serious and dark it got.

Despite the dark nature of the story, they’re not allowed to kill the aliens. Well, they are allowed, but they’re strongly urged to merely tranquilize the aliens and bring them into some pen at school. The reasoning is that they’re living beings too and they should respect their lives, which I totally get, but they’re a bit too strict with it in circumstances where the aliens are clearly trying to kill the girls or other innocent people.

In some extreme case, they may kill on accident. When a borg senses that their master is getting too scared of the threat and believes that they will die, the borg freaks out and kills the threat. Allow me to introduce you to the person who triggered that reaction twice, Yuri.

Yuri is our main character, and I swear to god if you thought Shinji from Evangelion was a whiny twat, you’ve never seen Yuri. She does nothing….and I mean nothing….but whimper and cry and say she’s scared. 99.9% of her screentime is that. I’m not even kidding.

You may see her smile once or twice, but it’s that awkward smile where your brow is still furrowed and it seems like you’re fake smiling to fit in. Even when she’s not on alien duty, even before she got picked, even when she’s just having fun on summer vacation with her friends, she was a whiny little cry baby.

I give Shinji and Yuri some leeway because they’re kids who were thrown into very dangerous situations and told to fight aliens who may very well kill them and their friends. However, there’s only so far I can go with that, and Yuri crosses that line so, so, so much. Considering she was this way before she even got selected, I give her even less leeway.

What’s worse is that, by the end, she’s not much better. She watches one of her friends getting attacked and does jack about it because she’s too busy whimpering. The only reason she does whatever minute thing she does at the very end is because Kumi was quite literally holding her hand.

She’s such a detriment to the team that I really wonder why no one will let her quit or even just purposely kick her off the team. The only times she ever gets anything done is when her borg tries to protect her and sometimes kills the enemy when she gets too rattled. Give Shinji some credit, at least he fought when he had to most of the time.

I loved the hell out of Kumi because she was the only one willing to be completely blunt about how much of a crybaby Yuri is. She’s a little cold, but she lightens up by the end.

Kasumi was pretty okay in the first half, but working my nerves in the second because of how happy-peppy she is and how she constantly says “NYA!”

Miyu, Yuri’s best friend, was also a good character though she had little in terms of personality.

While this show started out seemingly lighthearted, especially considering the artwork, it gets pretty dark, particularly the final episode. I was pretty surprised by the sudden turnaround from “being an alien fighter means you get to skip homework!” to sudden alien massacre, psychological warfare and conspiracies.

I won’t spoil the ending, but it is a great advertisement to read the manga. That’s basically what this whole series is, just a sneak peak into the manga, because we learn quite literally nothing of what’s actually going on.

We don’t know who’s sending the aliens, why the teacher and principal seem to have something to do with it, why they seem to have borg-hair, why the Yellow Knife was sent, what he meant by “It was your fault” and, I’m going to give two major spoilers here, so fair warning;

At the very end, we don’t know if the Kasumi we see is actually Kasumi or something the alien made. And we see that Kumi, during the end credits no less, suddenly got attacked by something and supposedly murdered in the library. What the hell happened to her? And why was she on alien duty anyway if her borg was out of commission?

End of spoilers.

I do dock it a little bit for that ending and for Yuri. She is one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve ever seen. If they made her grow some semblance of a pair near the end, it wouldn’t have been as bad, but nope.

I plan on reading the manga because I’m really interested to know what happened, so here’s hoping the manga does explain it.

Art and Animation: The art is………good, barring the faces of the people. They have huge eyes, which is usually fine, but they’re even big for anime standards. The eyes themselves also don’t look well-drawn, they’re craggy and awkward. They have small noses when seen from the front, but when you look at them from the side, no noses. Their ears are also huge. Barring that, however, the art is pretty good and the animation is very well done.

Music: The ending theme was nice, the OP was forgettable. Nothing much to say about the BGM.

Voice Acting: EnglishEveryone was great in their roles, even whiny Yuri. I will say I was distracted by Rachel Lillis, the voice of Misty from Pokemon, playing Miyu. Veronica Taylor, Ash and May from Pokemon, also plays their teacher, Megumi, but I honestly didn’t catch on that that was her. Miyu was sporting Misty’s voice clearly, however. I really only note this because I found it funny that Rachel Lillis was playing in an anime with a character named Kasumi. Kasumi is Misty’s Japanese name.

Bottomline: At four episodes, it’s definitely worth a watch, but Yuri was seriously pushing it with her whining and crying. It does end with a lot of questions left unanswered and even has a cliffhanger that basically forces you to read the manga, but I still think it’s worth it.

Additional Information and Notes: Alien Nine was based on a manga written by Hitoshi Tamizawa, though he doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this OVA. The OVA itself was directed by Yasuhiro Irie, director of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Code:Breaker, and Jiro Fujimoto who directed some episodes of Wagnaria!!3, Samurai 7, Kaze no Stigma and The Familiar of Zero. It was written by Murai Sadayuki, who also wrote the screenplay for Steamboy, the script for Perfect Blue and even some episodes of Cowboy Bebop.

Alien Nine was produced by JC Staff, and is currently licensed in the US by Central Park Media.

Episodes: 4

Year: 2001-2002

Recommended Audience: Some dark themes, blood, blood and gore on the alien’s side (meaning pea-soup green gore and blood) a little nudity, but you don’t see anything, technically. It is full frontal, but they do the Sailor moon thing with it. No nips, no naughty bits. No sex, some swearing here and there, but no f-bombs. 14+

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Space Family Carlvinson Review

Space Family Carlvinson

Plot: A theater group made up of aliens crashes into another spaceship that made a grave error while warping. They head down to the surface of a planet to see if the passengers are still alive, but all they find is a baby in a pod and two bodies that are presumed to be the baby’s parents. The authorities refuse to take the child, so the group decides to make a new life on the planet while raising the baby girl they have named Corona, waiting for the day that someone who knows her will answer their call and reunite with her.

A fairly rare title, this is a 45 minute OVA, and it’s a pretty cute story. It’s heartwarming to see the lengths that the group has gone to in order to ensure that Corona lives a life as close to the one that she would have on her home planet, which I assume is Earth, but I can’t be certain.

A little purple puffball who could easily be related to Grimace has taken the role of mother, and seems to only have Mother as her name, which suits her perfectly since she’s been the key authority in the theater group. She deeply cares for Corona like her own child, but still sends out messages every day to see if anyone’s looking for Corona so that she can be with her actual family.

Then we have what I find to be the funniest character in the show, Father. He’s a robot with two very funny traits. First, he’s not very intelligent, which is odd for a robot. He takes many things too far and misunderstands a lot, though he’s always willing to do anything for Corona.

Second is his growth capability. Somehow, Father can continuously grow in size and create additional parts on himself to make jets, medium sized mecha and giant mecha. He seems to do this whenever he’s spurred by something involving Corona. Thus, he’s constantly destroying things to make Corona happy, ironically.

Then we have a character who looks human-ish called Beruka. She has taken an odd role as Sheriff, I guess to ensure that Corona lives in a safe place. I thought she’d be somewhat central in this movie, but she’s really not.

This movie is pretty cute, touching and it gets pretty funny at some points. The characters are likable, and Corona’s a believable cute little kid.

The only real problems I have with this show are character development and the ending.

Since this is only a 45 minute OVA, none of the characters are developed much beyond Mother and Corona. Father has no real character to develop, and Beruka is pretty generic. We don’t even know what their theater troupe really was.

The ending also kinda weirds me out. Spoilers, of course. An alien sends messages to Mother’s radio saying that they’re coming for Corona, but Mother doesn’t know what to do about it. After getting upset with Corona about being out too late, Corona runs off into the forest where she’s taken into a weird spaceship. She’s given cake and candy by some weird alien who has been sending the messages.

She says she heard the message about Corona not having parents and wanted to have a child around to eat the sweets she makes because she can’t have kids of her own. Either this is creepy in a sad/sweet way or very creepy in a Hansel and Gretel type of deal.

As Mother, Father, Beruka and others search for the spaceship, they arrive just in time to see it leaving. Mother believes she went off with the person from the messages, but sees Corona waving goodbye to it. Corona is reunited with Mother and we see that the alien apparently has a catalog of books containing parentless children to try and kidnap. Okay, she seems to be somewhat sincere about this stuff, and she did let Corona go happily, but still, what the hell?

Fear not, though, giant mecha Father blows up the spaceship while looking for Corona, which is alarming seeing as how she could’ve easily been on that spaceship. Way to commit murder on someone who could’ve easily been incredibly nice but creepy, Father!

Corona said she didn’t go with the alien despite promises of candy and treats because she did indeed have a family in the theatre troupe, and she and the others go home.

One other thing that bugged me was the fact that Beruka seems to hint that she has some kind of special power earlier in the movie, but we never learn what it is. Her eyes glow and her features get catty for a minute and then she’s interrupted and it’s never brought up again.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are somewhat dated, but it’s still pretty good and holds up fairly well.

Music: The music is good. Nothing particularly memorable to me, but still good.

Voice Acting: Japanese –  Everyone was great in their roles. Corona didn’t even get on my nerves, and that’s pretty rare for a child character.

Bottom Line: It’s a cute family OVA that you won’t regret watching. While the ending is a bit odd, it’s still funny, cute and at times heartwarming.

Additional Notes and Information: Space Family Carlvinson was directed by Kimio Yabuki and was written by Michiru Shimada. It was produced by Dogakobo.

Runtime: 45 Minutes

Year: 1988

Recommended Audience: The ending can easily be construed as creepy. Corona’s parents die, a couple of the characters have perverted, but not very perverted, fantasies, no nudity, no swearing, no sex, no gore or violence. 5+

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