Player Two Start!: The Jellyfish Pirates

To say that Guilty Gear is a very strange fighting game series with very strange lore and very strange characters with very strange moves in a very strange setting is like pointing out that there’s sand at the beach, but as weird and wacky as the Guilty Gear games are, some of its’ various elements, music, gameplay, moves and characters are odd but also oddly beautiful and fascinating. One such group that falls into the latter category for me are the Jellyfish Pirates.

Smile in the face of danger. Yo-Ho!

This wild ‘n’ woolly band of air pirates (’cause sailing the sea is sooooo last year!), led by the charming and charismatic pirate king Johnny

“Lemme be yer Johnny-bear!”

Traverse the skies in their fish-shaped airship, doing the Robin Hood thing: robbing from the rich, giving to the poor…

…And occasionally stopping for bitchin’ beach barbecues.

There are two interesting things to note about the Jellyfish Pirates: One, that each crew member is named after the month of the year that they joined (that plus the name ‘Jellyfish Pirates’ is very Japanese, and I love it), and two, aside from their captain Johnny…

…Nearly all of them are attractive young women! Rawr-Rawr!

But who are all of these not-so-irate pirates, anyway?

“Jellyfish Roll Call!”

Janus – She’s a cat. A black cat, in a red pirate’s hat, who’s a member of a pirate crew. I told you this game was weird.

Febby – Wears a pink hat and does the laundry.

March – The youngest member of the crew, with pink hair covering one eye. She’s kind of an adorable li’l hot mess: when she first joined the crew, she couldn’t even speak, and loves to see people getting tortured. She goes around barefooted and is rarely seen without her penguin plushie. Her role is Communications, somehow.

April – May’s adoptive sister and best friend. Acts as the ship’s Navigator. Now with glasses!

May – The spunky First Mate and the only Jellyfish Pirate who’s a playable character (technically 1 of 2, but we’ll get to that). She’s young looking and never seems to age, despite the game series spanning across years. Utterly devoted to her captain Johnny, and she’d like to get closer to him in more ways than one. (It’s just a crush. Clean up your minds!) She fights with an anchor and can summon dolphins!

June – Purple hair, pink hat. In charge of Deck Management.

July – Combatant. Rocks an eye-patch. She’s also very well-endowed, wears short-shorts and a top which exposes her stomach. (Bom-Chicka-Wow-Wow!)

Augus – Another Combatant. Brown skin, white hair, purple hat, white top, gold rings. Along with July, rocks the sexy.

September – Medic. Blue hat, brown hair, white shirt, but with an apron in front. We only ever see her smiling with her eyes shut, so her eye color is anyone’s guess.

Octy – The Lookout. Has excellent eyesight, despite her eyes perpetually being covered by her green bangs.

Novel – Mechanic. Red hat, white shirt, yellow tie. Sports goggles on her hat.

Leap – The Chef and Administrative Director. Unlike the other Jellyfish Pirates members, she is much older than the rest of the crew. She is the chef of the group and a maternal figure to them, with them referring to her as “Auntie Leap”. While she isn’t named after a specific month like the other Jellyfish Pirate members, her name comes from a leap year.

Side Bar: This is weird to admit, but I freaking love Leap’s design. Her plump, round, dumpling shape contrasts beautifully with the more svelte and slender looks of the younger pirates. Like the other Jellyfish Pirates members, she joins May in her in-game battle pose and her Instant Kill. She is also featured alongside May in her outro in Guilty Gear Xrd and -Strive-. She is the one who causes the final blow due her weight and size, and I love that. Apart from Leap and Granny of the Looney Tunes from Space Jam: A New Legacy, I seem to be bombarded and mesmerized by little old lady characters lately. Is that weird?

“Hey, don’t knock older women ’til you’ve tried ’em, homie!”

End Side Bar.

Now you may have noticed that I didn’t list a December Pirate; well, they had one for a time, but she’s…not around much these days. No longer with the crew is their Administrative Coordinator Dizzy, the only other playable Jellyfish Pirate character.

Dizzy’s been…elsewhere occupied after her momentary stint with the Pirates, and given that she’s an insanely powerful half-Gear with a tail and sapient shapeshifting wings, Necro and Undine, and has more baggage than L.A. Airport, that’s probably for the best.

Did I mention that Guilty Gear is weird??

Nerdvana: The Miguzi Gang

Today, Nerdvana looks back at Miguzi.

miguzilogo

For the uninformed, Miguzi was an afternoon comedy/action cartoon block that aired on Cartoon Network from April 19th, 2004 to June 1st, 2007, replacing Toonami after the latter got booted off weekday afternoons and relocated to Saturday nights due to parental outrage.

Oh Wont Somebody Please Think of the Children

Sves

Speaking of which, does anybody remember the Saturday Video Entertainment System (SVES) that CN did briefly in 2003? It was supposedly a ‘middle ground’ for action cartoons that didn’t quite fit on either Toonami or Adult Swim, but did you know that it also served as a testing ground to see how well a Saturday night Toonami would fare? Now you do.

Miguzi_Wheel_of_Gooz_Promo

So yeah, Miguzi was basically a lighter-toned, more family-friendly Toonami, basically Toonami‘s more innocent younger sister. Folks who grew up watching Miguzi are undoubtedly familiar with the block’s roster of shows; everyone has shows they liked better than others and some which were their personal favorites. However, today’s Nerdvana is not about the shows that aired on Miguzi; the focus of this Nerdvana is the set of wraparounds for the block. (Note: I had originally considered doing this as a Cartoon Couch, but since this is about the bumpers and not the shows, I decided to do it as a Nerdvana instead.)

ANYHWHO….

Erin

The animated hostess of the block was Erin, a young 13-year-old CGI girl with black hair, green eyes and a yellow jumpsuit (voiced by Jessica DiCicco; Miguzi was my first exposure to Ms. DiCicco as a voice actress; I think she also voiced the title character on a Disney show called The Buzz on Maggie around the same time, but I never saw that show and based on what folks on the net have told me about it, it doesn’t sound like I missed anything great) who, at the start of the block, was transported underwater and into a sunken alien spaceship by an enormous mutant red fish with multiple eyeballs. (More on this later.)

Miguzi Gang 2

There, she chills out and watches the shows along with a group of mutant sea creatures and robots, none of whom speak but all of whom have rudimentary personalities. Between the shows Erin and company would indulge in cute, goofy slapstick bits o’ business.

I enjoyed the shows on Miguzi enough, but I have to admit that these wraparounds were among the major selling points for me. Don’t get me wrong; no one’s denying the awesomeness of Tom…

toonamitom2

‘Sup?

…SARA and the Absolution…

SARA_v2.0

“On Toonami.”

…but the Miguzi bumps struck a chord with me, because they were closer to my tastes in entertainment and humor. Cool is definitely cool, but cute, funny and silly have their place too.

Trivia Time: I liked the Miguzi bumpers so much that when we were trying to come up with a name for this site, one of my suggestions was ‘Sunken Spaceship’ in honor of these bumps.

Granted, this premise posed numerous mind-bogglers, such as:

conspiracy_nut

How exactly did this kid come to know about this submerged alien spacecraft in the first place? How did she gain these aliens’ trust? And what was the aliens’ deal, anyway? What were they doing on Earth, why did they come here and how long have they been down there? Were the aliens stuck down there at the bottom of the ocean, or could they leave whenever they wanted? Was the ship damaged? Or was it just the propulsion mechanism that was busted, since other devices inside the ship seemed to work just fine? Were all the aliens from the same planet, or were they from different planets? Several of them were tricloptic (as in 3-eyed); did they mutate while underwater, or were they born that way? And what was the giant mutant fish’s deal? Didn’t Erin’s parents worry about her spending her afternoons at the bottom of the sea with a bunch of aliens? Did anybody else know about the sunken spaceship? Inquiring minds want to know!

-OK, enough over-thinking things. It’s probably best to just chalk everything up to ‘cartoon logic’ and not focus on the logistics too much. The point was to have fun watching the Miguzi gang do wacky stuff. Erin herself seemed to fall into the ‘spunky tomboy’ archetype, enjoying sports and the like, with a playful, mischievous side, while the extraterrestrial bunch she hung out with were colorful to say the least. Because I have too much time in my hands, I’ve categorized the Miguzi Gang into 2 columns: Organics and Robotics. The spaceship’s inhabitants consisted of:

ORGANICS

Big Stalks

Big Stalks: (or just Stalks for short) The big, lumpy green alien with 2 spoke-like antennae sprouting from his head. As his name implies, Big Stalks was the largest one of the group, and also the strongest. He wasn’t the brightest or most graceful creature in the galaxy, but he seemed to have kind of a swagger to him. He also tends to eat whatever’s not nailed down, such as Erin’s game controller, or in one case, her math homework.

Flip

Flip: The short purple alien with the flipper hands and feet (hence his name) who’s third eye stood at the end of his single antenna. He seemed friendly enough, if a tad slow on the uptake.

Miguzi Gang 1

Curly: a blue octopus-y thing with 2 long tentacles for arms and a third sprouting from his head who rode around in a small tank-like containment suit of some kind, with a bubble-shaped see-though helmet. (It’s unclear if he needed this to survive or if he could safely exist without it, as we never saw him not wearing it. In one ‘We’ll Be Right Back’ illustration we see Curly eating a sandwich with the helmet removed; that’s as close as he ever came to removing the suit.) Curly seemed to be a tad smarter than the other ship members, if a bit on the stiff side (though this could be attributed to his being stuck in a tank thingy), as such Curly was a frequent butt of the gang’s slapstick, such as one bit where Erin draws a mustache and glasses on Curly’s helmet with a marker.

Miguzi04

Tre: a small green, tentacled stump-like being with multiple stringy protrusions with an eyeball at the end of each. Tre seemed more like a pet than the more sapient creatures aboard the ship, as evidenced by one bump in which Erin is seen bathing Tre in a sink like a household dog or cat.

Miguzification_03a

Yoke: A later addition to the cast, Yoke was the result of a “Make a MonsterPiece” contest was held on cartoonnetwork.com from November 22, 2004 to January 15, 2005, in which viewers could enter for a chance to have their drawing appear on Miguzi. Hundreds of entries were submitted and a panel of judges selected the winning drawing that was then turned into an animated character. Yoke was the winning submission, drawn by Kyler Spears.

Yoke

Yoke himself was a small, green, slimy looking alien who was contained inside a egg-like flying mini-spacecraft type mechanism, where he sat in a pool of some unidentified green ooze.

TMNT

“Been there, done that!”

No on-air explanation was given about Yoke’s sudden arrival onto the ship, it just happened. One day he wasn’t there, the next day he was. It was like magic. In-universe, Yoke was revealed by Erin to be Curly’s younger brother (though how she figured this out was anybody’s guess, since the 2 looked nothing alike), and indeed, Yoke seemed more like a kid than the others. Yoke also possessed telekinetic powers (activated by a light on the antenna on his head), so a lot of the jokes involving him showed him levitating things around while the others stood agape. (Erin once asked Curly if he could do telekinesis, and he seemed miffed by the question.) My brother Jason said that he wasn’t too crazy about Yoke as he came off like a canon Marty Stu, as he had a super power and no one else did, and I see where he’s coming from, but I also counter with this:

Yoke 2

The dude had no limbs. If Yoke had arms or legs, they were buried under all that ooze and he couldn’t use them. Unlike Curly, no part of Yoke’s body was outside of his mini-ship device, so he couldn’t reach for, touch or grab anything; his t.k. powers were actually kind of a necessity for him.

ROBOTICS

Monitor

Monitor: a self-aware TV monitor who had the most important job of all: he showed the cartoons the gang sat down to watch. He would also sometimes communicate via words that appeared on his screen. He was usually stationery, but in a couple of bumps he was shown to have robotic arms and legs.

Miguzi05

Remo: a self-aware TV remote with a single antenna on his head as well as arms and legs. Since he could move around on his own, he would sometimes get lost, in one instance he was spotted floating around outside the ship.

Bass: a self-aware speaker, also with limbs and a pair of antennae. His most famous appearance was in bit in which Bass is playing corny elevator music (or alternatively corny country music) and Big Stalks comes along and kicks him on the butt, changing the music to something more funky.

Miguzi01

Tweet: A tiny robot (he’s pictured there at the top left), with a spherical black orb head. As his name implies, Tweet communicated by tweeting sounds. As the smallest thing on the ship, a lot of the gags involving Tweet dealt with the problems he encountered due to his diminutive size, such as the time he nearly got eaten by Big Stalks since he was sitting by a bowl of popcorn on the couch.

One thing I liked about the Miguzi Gang was how there was no caste system on the ship. Everyone, organic or robotic, had equal status among the group and no one was treated any different because of their color, or whether or not they have powers or how many eyes they had.

Hippie

“That’s beautiful, man!”

Of course it wasn’t all gravy; I did (and still do) have some minor gripes. It always bugged me how Erin was the only character capable of speaking English; it was like Larry and a whole crew of Darryls. And it really annoyed me how all of the spaceship’s various members were guys. Not one girl! Then CN has a contest for fans to draw a new character and the winner is yet another dude? What the actual what??

-But minor nitpicks aside, I still enjoyed the antics of Erin and the Miguzi Gang. They were probably the coolest gang of spaceship dwellers.

red-dwarf

-OK, the second coolest.

Nerdvana: Magical Island Groove

cute-cartoon-eyes-illustration-isolated-on-white

Long time, no see!

Hey there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

-Before we begin, I just to keep you guys abreast of what’s been going on with us. As those who’ve been following us know, last year we planned to stop blogging and switch this site over to visual media (videos, online comics, etc.); those plans have not been abandoned (we’re writing up scripts, taking notes and saving up for the necessary equipment and tutorials even as I type this), but at the same time, we’re not content to just sit on our hands and do nothing while we prepare to make that jump. We’ve been fairly active on Tumblr (that’s twinsanitycomedy.tumblr.com for those who are interested), but we’ve been compiling ideas since then and we still have a creative itch that needs scratching. So, while we in the process of transitioning, Jason and I will continue to make the occasional blog post here until then. It’s not going to be at the pace it has been years ago; our current schedule and priorities won’t accommodate that, but ideally we’d like to put up at least 1 or 2 blog posts per month until we’re ready to start making videos full time. Now, on with the silliness.

Donkey Kong Islands

One setting/oeuvre that I’ve been digging these past several months is the tropical island setting, in particular Magical Islands. Those tropical paradises where it’s always sunny and funny and exotic creatures and magical phenomena abound. Today’s Nerdvana will be spotlighting some of my favorite magical island settings/shows/stuff.

First, I’ll be giving an honorable mention to Jaama, the setting of Animal Jam.

Jamaa 2

While I’m indeed enthralled by Jaama, I won’t be covering it at great length here since I’m currently doing a Pop Dream on Animal Jam (which I do plan to continue this year, I promise!), so anything I’d say about Jaama here would be redundant. I’ll save my thoughts and feelings on Jaama for the upcoming Pop Dream installments. Also, like many of these Nerdvanas, these won’t be in any particular order, so I won’t be numbering them.

Let’s do this, people! Smiles, smiles!

FANTASY ISLAND, Ricardo Montalban, Herve Villechaize, 1978-1984

“Welcome to Silverstar’s Rambling, Pointless Fantasy Island!”

Kick it, gang!

I love that song. Now, on to the meat: some of my favorite enchanted island settings.

DONKEY KONG COUNTRY

DonkeyKongCountryReturns

Like many folks who played games in the late 90’s through early ’00’s, I loved the Donkey Kong Country series. Putting DK in a sprawling jungle island setting and giving him a ton of new friends, enemies and areas to explore was a stroke of genius.

Dk_island

Plus it’s shaped like DK’s head. Now that’s branding.

Donkey Kong Island 2

One thing I love about Donkey Kong Island (NOT Congo Bongo, BTW!) is how it houses several different and radically diverse areas and climates within it: forest, dessert, grassland, brambles, ocean, beach, frozen wasteland, bayou and of course rain forest.

Plus, the DKC games gave us the Brothers Bear. I love the idea of multiple siblings with names that begin with the same latter and each of them has their own personal quirks and shticks.

Brothers Bear

Hmm, I wonder if Banjo is related to these guys. Distant cousin, perhaps?

-You know, that could be a separate Nerdvana unto itself. Hmmm…..

YABBA DABBA DINOSAURS

Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs

Dino-Mite!

Jason already covered this show on Brain Candy, so I’ll keep it brief; I’ll just say that Warner Bros. Studios are fools for giving up on this idea so quickly.

YDD! 2

Yeah, the art style takes some getting used to (Mark Marek wouldn’t have been my first choice for the designs, and I’m definitely not feeling the long pants on Bamm-Bamm) but how could anyone not love the idea of a savage land filled with wild, dangerous dinosaurs existing just adjacent to Bedrock? If you ask me, YDD! was just the shot in the arm the franchise needed.

YDD! 3

People are free to disagree with me, but I thought the running gags involving Dino running for the hills at any given opportunity and the Wikipedia spoofs with Pebbles were funny.

Captain-Caveman-Hanna-Barbera

Plus after 2 failed attempts, the studio finally found a way to work Captain Caveman into the Flintstones mythos that actually made sense. Make Cavey the Tarzan of The Crags. Making him a jungle wild man would finally explain why he looks and acts so differently from the civilized citizens of Bedrock; obviously if he spent his entire life in The Crags he wouldn’t be straight-laced and civilized. Come on, guys, it’s right there!

CRAIG OF THE CREEK

Craig of the Creek

Yeah, I know I’m late to the party with this one; I’ve only recently discovered this show, but it’s good, despite not getting the press or attention of CN’s other current shows. No, it’s not a multi-layered, hyper-emotional, grand sprawling epic like Infinity Train or Steven Universe, but every show doesn’t have to be that. You don’t always need a 5-course turkey dinner, sometimes just a nice burger and fries will suffice.

Like Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs, one thing I like about Craig of the Creek is how there’s this crazy wilderness area just beyond the safe, peaceful, quiet suburbs that the kids all live in, and no matter how wild and crazy things get at the Creek, they can always just go home at any time. I like how the Creek boasts several different tribes and factions of kids of all types and colors, co-existing more or less harmoniously, such as:

Horse Girls

…The Horse Girls, a tribe of girls obsessed with horses (a tad sterotypical, but stereotypes have to come from somewhere…)

Tabitha & Courtney

The Creek Witches, Tabitha and Courtney (in actuality a same-sex couple of Goth teenagers, and no, that’s not a joke; they really are a couple.)

Sparkle Cadet 2

A black Magical Girl from’outer space’ named Sparkle Cadet (where’s it carved in stone that all magical girls have to be white or Asian?)

You know, Craig, as the Creek’s resident map-maker, has already compiled a detailed list of these Creek Kids, so I won’t have to:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Craig’s best buds: Kelsey,

Kelsey

I admit she’s already a favorite character of mine; she’s basically what I’d be like if I were a short, white, Jewish girl.

And JP:

JP

He’s hilarious. That’s all I need to say!

I only have one real nitpick about this show: I think, despite the premise, the show’s a tad too grounded in reality. If it were my show, I’d spice things up a little:

Why not toss in some actual monsters?

Forest Monster

“Say, um, are you white meat or dark meat??”

And while we’re at it, why not toss in some talking animal mascots a la Terry Dactyl from The Funny Company?

terry-dactyl-the-funny-company-4.65

I guess you can tell I really like this idea. Was my nonstop yakking about the animal people from Dragon Ball and Animal Jam a giveaway?

Craig-of-the-creek-family

-Side bar: another element of this show that needs to mentioned is how the titular character and his family are African-American without them being ethnic stereotypes. Yes, Craig’s family is black, but the producers didn’t set the show in the ‘hood, the family isn’t broke, mean or cheap, the slang and music on the show aren’t super-funkay, and the neighborhood the family lives in is ethnically diverse without race ever being an issue or the topic of conversation.

Alexis

Craig’s older brother Bernard has a white girlfriend (Alexis), and everybody’s cool with that! Nice legs, BTW.

I applaud this. Truly good mixed casting is something we could stand to see more of on kids’ shows (shows in general, actually). It’s more honest, more interesting and a positive example for the kiddos. It’s one thing to get up on a soapbox and preach about folks getting along and respecting people different from you and not treating them differently because of their skin color or ancestry, but it’s another to show your lead characters simply living this way as if it were the most normal and natural thing in the world. Example can teach just as well as any platitude, perhaps even better.

This is the kind of cartoon I’d like to make myself one day: the ‘ultimate kid-centered domestic comedy’ starring a family consisting of 2 parents, some kids and some pets, featuring people of color and a range of ethnicities without race ever being a big deal. There’d be a gimmick of course, but the characters’ skin color wouldn’t be it.

SUMMER CAMP ISLAND

Summer Camp Island

Another CN show that doesn’t get talked about very much, this one is a cute but odd little show about 2 best friends, an anthropomorphic elephant-y thing named Oscar and a  hedgehog-y thing named Hedgehog…

Oscar & Hedgehog

Wow. Must’ve been up all night dreaming up that name.

…Who are sent to stay at, you guessed it, a summer camp on a magical island.

Summer Camp Island Location

Say, did you know that in-universe this island became a haven/sanctuary for monsters and magical creatures in 1972, after they became distrusting of ‘normals’? Well, now you do.

Said island boasts such unique things as giant monsters, a moon and clouds with faces…

summer_camp_island witches 2

…3 counselors who look like cutie-pie “popular girls” but are actually witches, magic powers, pointy hats, flying broomsticks and all.

Summer Camp Island Witches 1

Generation Hex

Alice

My personal favorite of the 3 is Alice, she’s the cute one who likes to make everything around her cute….

Betsy

Second favorite is Betsy, the nice one who sleeps with a sentient tree…

Werewolf_Betsy

…And she’s also a werewolf. ‘Kay…

Also on the island are ice cream mountains, confetti mines…

Confetti Mines

Mine your own business

…Monsters…

Monsters

Rumor has it that they came to do the Monster Mash.

…an alien kid something-or-other named Puddle, who flies around in a tiny UFO and hails from unnamed alien planet that resembles a Lisa Frank illustration and is love with his alien king (no, that wasn’t a typo)…

Puddle

…And a living, talking set of Pajamas, aptly named Pajamas.

Pajamas

Cocaines a Hell of a Drug

Summer Camp Island 2

The show’s cute, and I like the concept of a magical island with a summer camp on it (otherwise I wouldn’t have listed it here), but I think it might be a little TOO ‘out there’. I don’t dig that all the characters are animals; heck, they don’t even look like animals; they look like lolicons with animal noses. Did the cast need to be anthros on a show with monsters, witches, aliens and assorted stuff? Given that, do we even need a distinction between the ‘normal’ world and the ‘strange’ island? The entire show is strange; it’s full of animal things with human anatomies! Plus, I can’t over-emphasize this, one of the characters is a sentient pair of pajamas!

zonker

“Gah! Head rush! I’m comin’ down too fast! I need some relaxing smooth jazz music and some orange slices, stat!”

TESCO BREKKIE SQUAD

Brekkie Squad 2

If you live in the UK, you’ve likely seen these. Originally created for the Summer Olympics (hence the sports motif), these characters are cute jungle animals who live on a jungle island and adorn the cereal boxes at Tesco. They don’t always have to be complicated.

TEM TEM

tamtam-samuraishodown4-remake-artwork2018

“My blood, er, um…my SWEAT bubbles for battle! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Ah, no. Not Tam Tam, but TEMTEM. The new steam game that mimics Pokemon, but in a good way.

Temtem 1

Temtem 3

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Pokemon_Trainer_SSBU

“Gotta catch ’em all…no, wait…”

TemTem is set on a set of floating tropical islands (which is why it’s on this list) called the Aiborne Archipelago.

Airborne_Archipelago

Consisting of Deniz, the Floating Sea, Omninesea, Myrisles, Tucma, the End of All Things, Kisiwa, the desert jewels, Cipanku, misty hills and hypertech metropolis and Arbury, land of rain and book, in case anyone was wondering.

Temtem 5

The TemTem themselves, in addition to being super-cute…

Temtem 10

TemTem

…Come in a variety of types: Fire, Nature, Water, Electric, Mental, Earth, Wind, Crystal, Digital, Melee, Toxic and Neutral.

TemTem Type_wheel

Temtemexamples

So it’s a Pokemon clone…with a tropical island motif. I dig it.

Temtem 9

Plus, I just plain like the name: TemTem. It’s got that cool, native-sounding jungle island ring to it. Not unlike Jaama.

And there you have it. Some of my favorite magical tropical island imagery.

Gilligan

“Nah, hard pass. I’ve had my fill of island life. I spent years stuck on a deserted island, and when we finally managed to get off of it, we ended up stranded on a deserted planet! yeah, life’s fair!”

Nerdvana: Respect the Splits

In February 2019, Warner Bros. Television Group’s Blue Ribbon Content announced that it is producing a film version of Hanna-Barbera’s The Banana Splits.

Banana Splits 2

The film will venture into a horror-like setting, scheduled to be released through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and to air on Syfy in the United States in 2019. According to the synopsis, a boy named Harley is spending his birthday with his family at a taping of the TV show. The outing takes an unexpected turn that involves a rising body count.

So basically it’s like Five Nights at Freddy’s

five-nights-at-freddys

…but with the Banana Splits.

thumb-down-smiley

Do. Not. Want.

I’m generally not a nostalgic person, but I’d rather not have some folks’ initial exposure to this franchise be some Asylum-esque abomination. So in response to the announcement of this thing, I’m devoting today’s Nerdvana to the Banana Splits. The REAL Banana Splits.

Banana Splits 3

Trivia Time: In his autobiography, Joe Barbera said that the show was to be called The Banana Bunch, but they could not get permission from the author of a children’s book by that title.

I can’t think of a better way of kicking things off than with that earworm of a theme song. Drop it!

 

Awww yeah. That’s the stuff!

The Banana Splits starred in The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, an hour-long, packaged television variety program featuring the Splits, a fictional rock band composed of four funny animal characters. The costumed hosts of the show were Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects). The group were created to be reminiscent of The Monkees.

The Monkees 2

Figure out for yourself which one was supposed to be Bingo.

In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid Krofft and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968 and ran until September 5, 1970, and in syndication from 1971 to 1982. The series’ sponsor was Kellogg’s Cereals.

The show’s live-action segment Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, a part-live action, part-animated series consisting of only four episodes, ran alongside the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers. Actors Jan-Michael Vincent (billed as Michael Vincent) and Ronne Troup appeared in the live-action component Danger Island. All the live-action material filmed for the series’ first season, including the Banana Splits and Danger Island segments, was directed by Richard Donner.

But we’re here to discuss the show’s main attractions: the Banana Splits themselves. Break it down!

FLEEGLE (voiced by Paul Winchell)

fleegle-the-banana-splits-23.2

Fleegle the beagle was the only Banana Split who was a domestic animal rather than a wild animal and the only Split who didn’t wear sunglasses, but he acted as the de facto leader of the group. His distinctive lisping madcap voice was provided by legendary ventriloquist and voice actor Paul Winchell.

-Did you know that Disney animation voice actress staple April Winchell is the daughter of Paul Winchell? Well, now you do.

BINGO (voiced by Daws Butler)

Bingo

The cheeky gorilla and resident cut-up of the Splits was voiced by animation voice legend Daws Butler. His giant grin could never be duplicated…except by one other musician.

bootsy-collins

“Banana-Licious, baby!”

DROOPER (voiced by Allan Melvin)

Drooper-Head

Drooper the lion’s laid-back Southern drawl, provided by actor Allan Melvin, is said to have been based on that of The Monkee’s Michael Nesmith.

Mike Nesmith

So Drooper was partially based on my favorite Monkee? Just one more reason for me to like these guys!

SNORKY (no voice actor)

Snorky New Style

Snorky the elephant never spoke, communicating only via beeps and honking sound effects. He’s cleaned up considerably since his original appearance…

Snorky Original

…When he was considerably shaggier, looking more like a woolly mammoth. But hey, it was the late ’60’s, lots of folks back then went through a hippie phase.

You would think that Snorky’s inability to speak (which automatically meant that he couldn’t participate in any verbal humor) would mean that he was less popular than the other Splits. But no…

Coldplay Paradise

…The band Coldplay clearly remembers Snorky well. Check out the pachyderm on the far left. Look familiar?

In addition to engaging in wacky sugar-high levels of slapstick, the Banana Splits also performed pop music. The show’s theme song, titled “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)”, was written by N.B. Winkless, Jr., who also wrote the the “Snap, Crackle, Pop” jingle for Rice Krispies cereal, among other things. The song was released as a single, attributed to the Banana Splits, and peaked at number 96 on Billboard’s Top 100 in February 1969.

The Banana Splits’ bubblegum pop rock and roll was provided by studio professionals, including Joey Levine (“I Enjoy Being a Boy”, “It’s a Good Day for a Parade”); Al Kooper (“You’re the Lovin’ End”); Barry White (“Doin’ the Banana Split”); Gene Pitney (“Two Ton Tessie”) and Jimmy Radcliffe, who provided his songs (“I’m Gonna Find a Cave”, “Soul”, “Don’t Go Away Go-Go Girl”, “Adam Had ‘Em” and “The Show Must Go On”) but did not contribute vocals to Splits recordings.

Here’s a sample of the Bananas’ music prowess.

 

Admit it, if you didn’t see the giant felt mascots frolicking around, you’d swear that was Cream or Donovan or The Association.

The Banana Splits even spawned a dance craze, or they tried to, anyway. Here they are busting a move with their rivals, the Sour Grapes Bunch.

 

In 2008, Warner Bros. announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts and music videos; this debuted on Cartoon Network starting on September 2, 2008. The relaunch included a live show and a website, as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs, released by Universal Records. In addition, a child-themed area named Banana Splitsville was placed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s Hard Rock Park rock-and-roll theme park, which later became Freestyle Music Park before closing permanently in 2009. (So it went splitsville. Sorry, couldn’t resist.) For the new shorts, Fleegle was voiced by Bill Farmer (yes, for a time, Fleegle and Goofy had the same voice actor), Bingo by Frank Welker and Drooper by Carlos Alazraqui.

Comedian Portraits At The Ice House - May 20, 2010

Yes, the man who voiced played Rocko, Deputy Garcia on Reno 911! and the Taco Bell Chihuahua was once the voice of a Banana Split. I told you these guys had celebrity cred.

 

 

Now you’re free to disagree with me, but I thought these were pretty cool; they captured the original series’ manic glee and joyful goofiness perfectly. Years back I posted an idea for a Cartoon Network program block called HBTV, which was basically DC Nation but for Hanna-Barbera properties, and these shorts would’ve made great filler segments for said block. Pity nobody at CN is willing to try this.

The Banana Splits proved popular enough for H-B to try to repeat their success with lame knockoffs like The Cattanooga Cats

the-cattanooga-cats-1969

…And The Skatebirds.

Skatebirds

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HARD PASS.

Seriously, GTFOOH with those poseurs and wannabes. There will only ever be one set of Banana Splits.

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RESPECT THE SPLITS. RESPECT THEM!

Nerdvana: Year of the Pig

CrescentMoonbyracependleton

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!

You know what I like about the Chinese Zodiac? How it uses animals to represent each year.

chinese-zodiac-animals

Tiger, Goat (or Ram or Sheep), Snake, Monkey, Dog, Pig, Rat, Horse, Rabbit, Rooster, Ox and Dragon. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Grumpy

“Oh, wow. It’s another animal thing. Imagine my joy!”

Why? According to one legend, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from Earth. Only 12 animals came to bid him farewell. As a reward he named a year after each other one in the order that they arrived. First came the Rat, then the Ox, the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Thus we have 12 signs today.

The More You Know

And this year is….The Year of the Pig!

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Amelia_Transparent

“Now that is Some Pig!”

OolongWMATEp17

“Oh, yeah! That’s right! It’s my year! Shower me with praise and riches, and give me all of your Nudie Magazines!”

 

Pig Talisman

Fun Fact: In the cartoon series Jackie Chan Adventures, the Pig talisman possessed one of the cooler powers: heat beam eye blasts.

Those born in the year of the Pig possess all the most desirable traits of human nature — they are loving, trustworthy, loyal, gentle and faithful.

Porky_Pig

“Aw, g-g-g-gosh, fellas!”

Pigs are modest and unassuming, and so their excellent qualities may not be readily apparent on first acquaintance.

zodiac-pig

“You sayin’ I’m fat??”

They prefer a quiet life of comfort and financial security and while shy, they can be quite lively with close friends.

Amelia_Transparent

“PAAAAAAAARTYYY!”

In romantic relationships they are very vulnerable and they become quite involved emotionally.

zodiac-pig

“Be gentle, I’m fragile!”

Their compatible signs are the Rabbit, the Ram (or Sheep) and of course, the Pig.

Oinkoink

“Make it with a sheep? Ah, no. Buddy, I’m a perv, but even I’ve got standards!”

Year of the Pig

So here’s wishing everyone born in the Year of the Pig a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year. Celebrate by taking a pig out to lunch.

Baked-Bacon

Just don’t order anything with bacon in it.

zodiac-pig

“Dude! Not cool!”