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Special Guest: Franklin Harris

   It usually starts with "Robotech," or at least it does for people my age. I was just entering high school at the time -- the autumn of 1985. It seems a lifetime ago, now.

   "Robotech" is one of those seminal television programs. It's like a junior-grade "Star Wars." It's a generational thing. And that it made such an impression even in its watered-down, Americanized form says something about both the integrity of the original and the sad state of American animation in the mid- and late-80s.

But all that is something for another time.

   I have earlier memories, of course: vague impressions of "Star Blazers," fleeting images of "Speed Racer."

   They were shown on a cable channel out of Nashville -- one I only got to see when I visited Grandma's house. Good television was hard to come by those days in North Alabama. A divorce later, and mom and I had moved in with Grandma. Cable TV was more than compensation enough for "dear old Dad."

You had to be there.

Then there was "Battle of the Planets."

   I sometimes wonder if there is a depth of Hell low enough to suffice as punishment for what Sandy Frank did to the Science Ninja Team when he brought them to America, gave them silly names and saddled them with R2-D2's drooling-idiot brother as a sidekick. Then I remember how much fun I thought "Battle of the Planets" was at the time.

   "Battle" even eclipsed "Star Wars" as the number-one playground role-playing game at my elementary school. I was usually Mark. My best friend was Jason. We had to make due without a Princess. The girls just weren't into it, and pre-pubescent boys don't do drag.

   I even, for a while, had this recurring dream involving the G-Force team -- but I think I've said too much, already.

   Until "Robotech," I never thought of anime or even of "Japanimation." "Battle of the Planets," "Star Blazers" and the rest were just cartoons I liked better than I did most of the rest.

   And, come to think of it, I never really cared much for "Speed Racer." I mean, what kind of fool name is "Speed Racer" or "Pops Racer," anyway? And only when MTV started re-running "Speed Racer" could I at least appreciate the unintentional humor in Spridle's sounding like a young Harvey Feistein.

   Later came "Voltron," in both its vehicle-force and lion-force incarnations. I preferred the vehicle force, but I seemed alone in that inclination. The lion toys were everywhere, so I bought a couple. I was weak; what else can I say.

   Along the way, I also encountered "Macron I" and "Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs." They were shown on a TV station so lowly the local cable company didn't deem it worth bandwidth. So I had to put up the old over-the-air antenna.

As it was, both shows were probably better with all the electronic snow.

Then came college.

   Somewhere along the line, I heard the name "Akira." It was some Japanese cartoon that was supposed to be really cool. So, I found a copy and discovered what the Japanese had been up to while I'd been training for a career crunching numbers in Washington, D.C.

   Well, "Akira" looked good and all, but it left me hollow. It seemed to be trying too hard. I wasn't sure what it was trying to do, but it was trying too hard to do it, whatever it was.

I think maybe it was trying to be obscure.

But, as I said, it looked great. It made you think, "Disney who?"

   I'd had this book, "Robotech Art I." I'd had it for years, in fact. It was nice. It talked about shows other than "Robotech." It talked about Captain Harlock, and a space faring mercenary named Cobra, and the mysterious Galaxy Express 999.

   I'd never seen any of them. I still lived -- live -- in Alabama. Fansubs weren't -- aren't -- easily found here. Harlock and the rest were just names.

   Imagine my surprise when all those names suddenly began to appear on video-store shelves. And new names appeared, too.

The timing couldn't have been better.

   I had, quite unexpectedly, settled into a job at a newspaper. And while the pay at newspapers isn't great, it does allow one to buy a few videotapes.

   Some tapes harkened back to childhood and adolescence. So, I purchased "Macross II" and "Macross Plus" and "The New Cutey Honey" and "Arcadia of My Youth."

   And I also purchased "Giant Robo" and "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and "Bubblegum Crisis" and others. Bless my soul, there was even "Gatchaman '94." All was right with the world.

   So, one day my employer decided to let me write a weekly column, and I decided to write about what I know best.

   My column, "Pulp Culture" deals with such things as science fiction, horror, fantasy and the like. And since so much anime is SF or fantasy, I am able to write about it as well.

   I picked a fight -- rhetorically speaking -- with a bunch of religious zealots who had decided to attack Hayao Miyazaki's film "Kiki's Delivery Service."

   Said zealots didn't like witches (like Kiki), didn't like Disney (the film's distributor) and were certainly suspicious about impressionable youth being exposed to cartoons from a non-Christian culture (that's Japan, folks).

So I let them have it. With both barrels. Right between the eyes.

   And here I am, asked by the Powers That Be here at Anime Turnpike to suggest some cool anime-related Web sites. I guess I have gained some modest amount of celebrity.

Well, we all get our 15 minutes these days.

On with the show!

Harlock's Arcadia
They come no cooler than Harlock, and Cristian Redferne's Harlock page is full of images, sound files and information on Harlock's numerous films, TV series and OVAs. There is also streaming video of a "Captain Harlock and the Queen of 1000 Years" episode for those of you with RealPlayers and a strong tolerance for Americanized anime.

Anime Internet Radio
Speaking of RealPlayer, you'll need it if you go to this site. There you can listen to the good, the bad and the ugly of anime soundtrack music 24 hour a day, seven days a week, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Still, the idea of netcasting anime theme songs interests me. I'm not sure it's legal, so check out the site before its owner gets sued.

The Gundam Project
This is the granddaddy of all sites devoted to the Big Cheese of all giant robot cartoons, "Mobile Suit Gundam." "Gundam" is a great show. Yeah, the animation is crude, but it was made in the '70s. The story, the characters and -- yes -- even the attention to scientific realism make "Gundam" a classic. I can't possibly gush more about the show's greatness without sounding like a PR man from Bandai.

Transmute! Gatchaman, BOTP, & G-Force
I looked around for truly great "Gatchaman" Web sites -- sites with lots of information on all incarnations of the series. This is one of the winners.

Gatchaman: Home of the White Shadows
This is another one. Drop by and say "hi!"


Franklin Harris is online editor for ",", in Decatur, Ala. He also writes a weekly entertainment column, "." He has also served "The Daily" as an editorial writer, education reporter and librarian. His free-lance writing has appeared in "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" and numerous other newspapers and magazines. He has several novels floating around in his head, where they'll probably stay unless the grant money shows up.

In 1996, Franklin tried his hand at politics. He was the Libertarian Party's candidate for the U.S. House, Alabama Dist. 6. He received 1 percent of the vote, beating out the candidate of the Natural Law Party. He spent about five dollars, all on photocopies.
When not writing about anime, Franklin concerns himself with such important topics as the literary genius of Neil Gaiman, the artistic poverty of all "Star Trek" since season five of "The Next Generation," and Alyssa Milano's nude scenes. Really.

His own "" Web site,, is still under construction at this writing.

Anipike not being responsible for Acts of God or the vaguaries of humans  ;)
this column will appear 'as and when' articles come in. New articles will
be announced on the  New List  page. (So original, da yo..^^)

Would you like to suggest a guest? Write Nikkou.

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Last Update: 10/26/98