It’s that time again!
It’s time for another installment of Pop Dream…ya big dummy!
This Pop Dream spotlights the world of Animal Jam, specifically Animal Jam‘s Alpha Masters.
For those not familiar with Animal Jam, here’s a (kind of) abridged synopsis:
Animal Jam is an online virtual world launched in 2010 by WildWorks in partnership with the National Geographic Society. It takes place in a fictional area known as Jamaa, with various different biomes and customizable animals. New players create an animal with a name composed of three simple words, such as “Awesome Coolclaw.” From that point, players can customize and move around with it in the gameplay environment. The original six virtual animals that could be created were the panda, rabbit, tiger, wolf, koala, and monkey. (Hint-hint at what’s to come…) Many more animals are added following the six, giving players a possibility of seeing one of their favorite animals in-game.
Jamaa was once home to hundreds of animal species of all shapes and sizes. These animals spent their days playing games, going to parties, building homes, and living together as friends.
Mira and Zios, the guardian spirits of Jamaa, gifted each animal species with a Heartstone, a special jewel that contained the essence of that species and held the secrets of its magic.
For many generations, all the Heartstones were kept together in a vault beneath the Lost Temple of Zios. Every animal could visit them and see the unique gifts that each species brought to Jamaa.
But as time passed, things changed, Animals began to fear and mistrust other species. Some animals stopped living together as a united community. Soon, all the feelings of friendship in Jamaa were gone, and the animals built new villages for their kind only. Koalas lived and talked only with other koalas. So did rhinos. And crocodiles.
Before long, all the animals in Jamaa stopped working together to make Jamaa a happy and vibrant place. Worst of all, many animal species took their Heartstones from the Lost Temple of Zios and hid their Heartstones in their new villages.
It was during this time of division that the dark Phantoms first appeared, leaving a trail of destruction. (Boo! Hiss!)
Remembering how much they had accomplished when they lived and worked together, the remaining six species gathered their Heartstones, left their villages, and returned to the Lost Temple of Zios. As the tigers, monkeys, koalas, pandas, rabbits, and wolves of Jamaa gathered together for one last stand against the Phantoms, Mira and Zios saw that it would not be enough.
In desperation, the guardian spirits of Jamaa searched other lands for six leaders who could wield the power of their entire species. They even looked to our world, and it was here that they found six extraordinary animals and brought them to Jamaa: Sir Gilbert the regal tiger, Cosmo the knowledgeable koala, Graham the inventive monkey, Greely the mysterious wolf, Liza the curious panda, and Peck the creative rabbit. These were six remarkable animals with different personalities, but they were united in their strength of characters and their respect for the natural world.
Mira and Zios chose well, and these very different animals soon formed a family. To help in battle against the Phantoms, Mira and Zios gave the new leaders Alpha Stones, six special jewels that focused the strength and abilities of their entire species. With these stones, the six chosen animals became Alphas, the heroes chosen to save Jamaa in its darkest hour!
One epic battle later, millions of animals now live in peace and happiness in Jamaa. The Alphas continue to explore new lands, and whenever they are able to drive the Phantoms out of an area or reclaim a Heartstone, the animals of Jamaa celebrate that they have new lands to play in and new animal friends to play with!
Many years have passed since all of Jamaa was nearly lost, but now some of the Phantoms have returned, and they are once again trying to ruin the peace and joy of Jamaa.
Now hopefully everyone’s up to speed.
-BTW, I should probably point out that the Alpha Masters were originally going to be the subjects of the very first Pop Dream, but Mattel released the Barbie and her Sisters Puppy Adventure video around the same time, and I figured more people were familiar with those characters, so I did that one first. Then I was so taken by Jason’s What The Funny concept (his initial installment was on Rocko’s Modern Life — good choice!) that I decided to do a WTF of my own (specifically a breakdown of Freakazoid!), pushing this Pop Dream back even further, but no more delays; now we’re doing this thing!
By now, those who’ve been following Twinsanity know how these things go: I’ll be geeking out on this set of characters in succession, going across the usual five categories. One slight difference this time, though: since as of this writing Animal Jam doesn’t have a TV show or a web series, I can’t do any Funnier Moments, so for this installment that category will be replaced by a new one called Trivia Time, so for this Pop Dream the categories are:
- Trivia Time
Got it? Good! Now, on with the Pop Dreaming!
Today’s Pop Dream is all about a heroic panda in a mystical land.
Ah, no, a different heroic panda. I’m talking about a graceful, caring, nurturing, hippy-dippy panda shaman. Today’s Pop Dream is all about…Liza.
“I am Liza, the panda Alpha. I will be your guide as we travel.”
Liza is the female Alpha of the Pandas, and the chief leader of the Alphas. She is an adventurous explorer and normally comes across new lands including Coral Canyons, Mt. Shiveer, and Appondale. She formerly greeted jammers when they first joined Animal Jam, however, it was later updated to Peck.
She briefly appears in several adventures, as a major character.
Liza is the Panda Alpha who stands upright on her hind legs. She has bright neon purple eyes with long eyelashes. She has a triangular black nose. Her ears sit on top of her head, with gray swirls in the middle, and almost looks like a part of her hair. Also, three aquamarine earrings dangle from each ear. Her hair is in a long braid that falls down her back. She wears an aquamarine dress with a golden lining, which is connected by lace at the neck. and a jewel-encrusted belt. She wears black gloves and has a golden ribbon tied around her right ankle. She also has a golden toe ring on her right foot.
She normally carries a long wooden staff.
Over time, Liza went through a make-over. Originally, she was quite bigger and looked older. But today, she is thinner and has a younger-appearance.
Brave and powerful, Liza values exploration and intellectual pursuits, and has personally mapped a great majority of Jamaa. She is proud and determined in her manner, and she lets nothing stand in the way of her latest expedition to a far off land. Liza doesn’t stand still for long, and never has much time to talk before having to dash off. She created most of the exploration-based challenges in Animal Jam and she presses all animals in the world to document Jamaa. She has a kind, motherly manner about her; very encouraging and very gentle. She believes that anyone can do better, and reach higher.
It is noted by the Animal Jam Insider’s Guide that she along with the other six original Alphas (excluding Peck), came from Earth. It is most likely that she lived in China, which is the only place where Pandas live in the wild. Liza was found by Mira and Zios and was asked to be an Alpha because of her personality and nature. It is noted by the Daily Explorer that she traveled to Jamaa by foot, instead of accepting a ride from Mira.
During the Beta days and early 2011, there was an interview with Liza called “Liza’s Answers” where Jammers were able to send in questions and Liza would answer them.
She is named after Eliza Scidmore, an American writer, photographer and geographer who visited Japan many times. She was the first female board member of the National Geographic Society.
She is the most commonly seen Alpha/Shaman in Jamaa.
Her favorite color is pink according to her profile page.
She was known as Liza, “the curious panda” when she was chosen to be an Alpha.
Her ears and hair resemble a typical Chinese hairstyle, buns.
This could be a reference to the fact that pandas can be found in China.
I was looking forward to this one, as Liza is my favorite Alpha Master, tied with Peck. I’ve always had a fascination with the Far East and Eastern culture and sensibilities, as well a fondness for mysticism and nature. All of those things made Liza a natural favorite of mine.
Next up is the Koala Alpha, Cosmo. Stay tooned.
Not too long ago, Phelan Porteous (Phelous) presented a video review of Our Friend Power 5 (a Korean movie made to promote a toy line that unnaturally mashes up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Voltron, and must be seen to be believed).
This got me thinking about the types of roles that parent characters usually play on shows tailored for kids. I know that this is the type of thing that most people don’t even notice or care about, but I usually notice because I’m a weirdo.
I’ve noticed that in most Eastern (Japanese, Korean) shows that focus on kids going on amazing adventures, doing science fiction-y stuff and so forth, it will often be the father who has a secondary role in the proceedings, such as the dad being a professor or some type of scientist who will assist the kid protagonists in their adventures, while the mother will usually just be a happy housewife who has no connection to the fantasy side of the show other than being related to and living in the same house as the kid protagonist(s). Some examples include:
The Mifune family (from Speed Racer):
Mr. Racer – A former wrestler turned owner of the Go! racing team franchise.
Mrs. Racer – Subscribes to Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day.
The Taylor Family (from Dinosaur King):
Dr. Spike Taylor – Archaeologist who assist the D-Team and sometimes directs the kids to that mission’s location.
Aki Taylor – Artist. Housewife. Makes a mean tuna casserole.
Now, my first thought is that something like this would never fly in an American kids’ show. If us yanks ever tried to have a formula like the one aforementioned, there would the inevitable cries of…
Most likely American kids show producers would deal with this issue by simply omitting the mother character altogether, which I don’t like. At all.
Now don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I prefer it when mother characters are active characters who do things, such as Phoebe Calisto from Miles From Tomorrowland, who’s not only a crew member of the Stellasphere, but she’s the ship’s captain!
…but even if the mother of the main family is basically Susie Homemaker, I’ll take that over the total absence of a mother from the household.
Personally, I haven’t seen any anime or Asian kids where the parents roles are reversed. That is, where the mom is the scientist/adventurer who helps the kids and the dad is just the dad. Mind you, I don’t watch a lot of anime, so if any such examples do indeed exist, feel free to enlighten me.
I know that this character isn’t a mother, but I want to give an honorable mention to Nintendo’s character Pauline.
In the course of the character’s history, Pauline went from being Mario’s one time helpless (and blonde) girlfriend who existed solely to be captured by Donkey Kong…
…to the mayor of New Donk City in Super Mario Odyssey. Not the Mayor’s aide or the Mayor’s secretary, but the freakin’ Mayor!
You’ve come a long way, baby!
Lola Bunny made an appearance on New Looney Tunes. Specifically, the short “Hare to the Throne”.
Some fans were wondering what Lola would be like if/when she were to show up on New Looney Tunes, the athletic but bland Space Jam version or the kookier Looney Tunes Show version? Because of the HIGHLY divided opinions regarding this character, I was reluctant to post this at all, as I didn’t want to restart that lame, annoying “Which version of Lola is better?” argument.
Furthermore, I have no desire to re-ignite that tired debate again. Anyone who’s planning to vent about Lola in the Comments section is SOL, ’cause I won’t be engaging in that discussion, nor will I allow this place to devolve into a stupid Lola Bunny debate. I’ve had too many ridiculous arguments about this single cartoon character on message boards, and now that I’m retired from message boards, I’ve officially washed my hands of that whole thing, so the Lola Wars ain’t happening here.
I will say that Lola here appears to be composite of the 2 main versions we’ve gotten so far: appearance-wise, she resembles the TLTS version, but with a more focused and aggressive personality (though it should be noted that this short seems to be something of a Game of Thrones sendup, so it’s possible Lola may be spoofing someone from Game of Thrones. (I’ve never seen a single episode of GoT, so I couldn’t name any character from it; the only thing I know about GoT is that There Be Dragons.)
-Ditsy, aggressive, they’re both good choices, whatever floats your boat. I personally don’t care. As long as Lola’s not portrayed as a bland, unfunny cipher, I’m cool with any version.
We’re living in an interesting time right now. While some things are just plain awful, there are some things that are definitely cool. For one thing, last year Disney launched it’s reboot of DuckTales.
This reboot is an improvement over the original in several ways, not the least of which is that the reboot includes the return of this guy: Donald Duck.
Not only is Donald part of the main cast (as he should have been from the get-go – Carl Barks’ original comics series has always focused on Scrooge, the nephews and Donald), but he’s back as his old slapstick-y self, engaging in the wacky cartoon hijinks that made him famous. Viz…
Yeah, now that’s the stuff, man!
Having Donald around as a main character fits in to the new DuckTales perfectly. I even have an easier time accepting supporting characters such as Launchpad McQuack and Fenton Crackshell (Gizmoduck) this time around, because here they’re not serving as stand-ins for Donald.
Then on the Warner Brothers side, we have New Looney Tunes (formerly known as Wabbit! here in the U.S.) with it’s new old take on Daffy.
Here. in the States, we have to watch the series on Boomerang’s online streaming service because Turner doesn’t air the show on Boomerang U.S. for some unfathomable reason. Anyway, in New Looney Tunes, Daffy is back to being certifiably insane rather than Bugs’ greedy, jealous rival. Take a look:
I don’t need to elaborate on this much, since Damon has already covered New Looney Tunes and it’s take on Daffy both here and here. So basically, I’m going to echo what he said (and not for the first time): While I like the selfish, greedy, egotistical version of Daffy OK for the most part, the above has always been the version of the little black duck that I’ve always preferred, and this version was long overdue for a return. I sincerely hope that crazy Daffy sticks around for a while for future Looney Tunes projects, as this version of Daffy has been sorely missed.
Yes, it’s definitely a good time to be a fan of cartoon ducks. Hit it!