Nostalgia Saturdays: Once Upon a Time

Since I am already on the subject of fairy tales this week, I thought I might also write about Roberto Gavioli and Rolf Kauka’s movie, Once Upon a Time. It came out in 1973 and was forgotten until I’ve found it a few months ago. I was meaning to write something about it on here but I simply forgot.

It was a west German musically animated film much like Disney’s style only more hilarious and more reminiscent of the short cartoons you’d watch Saturday Mornings. The character designs reminds me of the Rocky and Bullwinkle fairy tale shorts they’d show in between the main story and that brought back a great amount of nostalgia. Fractured Fairy Tales were what they were called and they’d always end the story differently form the original for comedic purposes. Great stuff!

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I don’t really care much for the music, but some of the scenes are beautifully designed. The amount of detail on some scenes still baffle me. And of course, taking into consideration that this was the 70s, it wouldn’t be appropriate unless it was really colorful, like really. The only song I can seem to remember is the “Maria” song sang by the prince which just repeats so it’s hard to leave your head. And there was also the chorus sang by the little children towards the end that was somewhat catchy.

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One of my favorite characters has got to be the shoemaker and his desperate attempts to get a beautiful wife. The role of the priest was also hilarious. The scene where the king and the prince sits at opposite ends of the long table with servants in between to relay their messages was so hilariously genius that I had to laugh at how no one has done it before. It was a great comedy and I think that was what a lot of children needed- to laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, Disney is great. But they’re not exactly known for their comedy. If anything I find their live action movies much more hilarious than their animation. I am, I have to admit, a fan of the golden age of Disney live action films.

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It was somewhat similar to Cinderella, only better. The movie certainly wasn’t all around beautiful, but I think that was what made it a great comedy. There’s this feeling that you shouldn’t take it too seriously because it never got really dark and deep with its message or moral. It’s just good guys win and bad guys lose and those who don’t learn anything from their wicked ways don’t grow.

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It was a movie that wasn’t intended to be taken seriously and it manages to be special on its own standing. It was a fun romp to watch and it leaves you feeling good, so what’s not to like? The stereotypes are there but they’re not unbearable. And overall, I still think you should watch it because it’s being genuine.

A lovely person has decided to upload it on Youtube and I couldn’t have been happier to have found it. I hope you can enjoy it too.

Nostalgia Saturdays: Thumbelina- The Magical Story

It’s always odd but the story of Thumbelina wasn’t ever really told to me as a child. As children, we all sort of knew it existed, but our teachers never really talked about it as much as they did Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, etc. It was the Disney movies that were always shown in class and rarely much else. Maybe it was because she wasn’t a princess…not until she married the fairy prince so wouldn’t that make her….you know what, never mind. Basically, no one talked about it so I’m here today to talk about it. Or at least the version I watched anyway.

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This cover is somewhat “amazing.”

I remember how there were always story books stored away in boxes in the classroom about the mainstream fairy tales we grew up with. And once in a while an author would have the balls to rewrite it into something gross and twisted and those were the ones I grew to love. I got really bored of the average princess storybook because it was the same tale written over and over again, illustrated by different people with no imagination. And I never identified myself with a princess anyway. I might have dreamed of princes and horses, but I was never really a princess myself. I used to be a transforming power rangette on a bomb squad!

The story of Thumbelina is about a girl, not so strong and not so brave, but it was an adventure far from that of a fairy tale. She was as small as an ant and yet she journeyed far and wide and that was what made the original great.

We’re not here to talk about Don Bluth’s and Gary Goldman’s version today, sadly. We’re here to talk about the anime movie which wasn’t actually a movie but a series that the English dubbers shortened by turning it into a movie. Cut, copy, paste…

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This Thumbelina movie was more of a spin-off but it doesn’t end in romance because our heroine is actually a ten year old child who gets sent to another world as a miniature girl to learn the values of life. It was more children-based and had a lot more action-packed adventure. In all honesty I loved this movie, but it’s sad how it was originally a series and not just a movie. That’s why some parts are glued together so awkwardly. And the scenes are noticeably roughly transitioned at times.

The style reminds me of a Ghibli movie, the cheaper version anyway. Or kind of like the style the early animated Sanrio films had, no surprise since it came from the 90s. I am not a huge fan of the English voices, it sounds awkward on occasion, but I gradually got used to it. Some parts didn’t come together so well especially toward the ending which felt greatly rushed, but at least character development was apparent so I guess they settled for that.

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In all honesty it wasn’t that great of a movie, but it definitely had the potential to be…if only they kept it a series. I guess it’s the style and the storytelling which takes me back to my childhood so I think back on it fondly when in reality there could be much more improvement.

I don’t think I have the patience to watch the original Japanese dubbed series now, but it’s nice to know it exists. Besides, it’s hard to find English subs for some of the more obscure children’s series.

You can watch it here by a kind person who has uploaded it up on YouTube:

Nostalgia Saturdays: Sky Dancers

Ten years later and the theme song is still stuck in my head.

Sky Dancers is one of those shows that no one except me remember from my childhood. I haven’t talked to anyone about it. It’s almost like how no one I know talk about Winx Club. We all know we watched it at one point in our childhood, but we don’t ever talk about it. It’s like an embarrassment to admit, but well, it happened so we have to deal.

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I had a VHS tape when I was five or six and I rewatched the two episodes on it over and over because that was all we got on VHS back then. I remember the tape was bright pink and it contained the episodes “Sky’s The Limit” and “On Wings of Song” which were episode 1 and episode 2 respectively. I never really got into it, but it held some nostalgic value for just being in a part of my life.

It was a show with only one season and twenty-six episodes that aired in the 1990s, specifically 1996 and was pulled from air after some educational regulations were passed. I guess you don’t get to stay on air for children if you weren’t educational enough, but take a look at all of the shows we have now that have horrible ways of portraying morals to children and with horrible and utterly lazy animation to boot. I question your decisions, America. I really do. Pickle and Peanut, really?

And of course, if you’re mainstream enough and have connections and you’re raking in those views, they’ll keep you around.

I never went back to watching the rest of the series. It never got me interested enough for that, but I do know that most shows were either created by or for a toy line so it’s not like this show was clean of that guilt either. This is one reason why I still love Arthur. It’s fun, educational, and there wasn’t a commercial every five minutes about wanting to sell the merchandise.

But the show Sky Dancers was created due to the popularity of those whirligig toys girls used to play with back then. You know the wind-up toys things that you pull a string and it flies up in the air then crash-lands down on your face. Yep, those things. I was surprised the series lasted for so long, but damn that intro song sure was a keeper. In fact, the song is probably the only thing worth talking about.

Nostalgia Saturdays: Barbie and the Rockers

It’s too hot to do anything and since today is supposedly the end of the world I decided to write an entry on the one animated Barbie movie no one really remembered except for those in the era before the CGI ones.

Most of us know Barbie from her dolls and toy line, but I didn’t grow up in love with the dolls or anything. I thought they were nice and thought it would be cool to play dress up with them. It wasn’t something I necessarily had to have. As a girl growing up in a poor neighborhood, my parents could really care less about what I liked so I grew up with a bit of everything which made me a tomboy. I was more into the techie stuff anyway.

My very first Barbie movie was Barbie as Rapunzel and in all honesty, I didn’t think much of it. I liked Barbie growing up because she didn’t annoy me and the adventures were decent so that passed the test of a kid’s standards. But while we’re on the topic of her older movies, let’s just say that the older the better. Barbie of Swan Lake was probably one of the darkest movie out of the whole series, the atmosphere that went into design was pretty alright for scaring a five-year old kid. But there was also something that was more “deep” about the older movies that the newer movies just don’t have anymore. The animation was always…sketchy and rough I might say, but it’s not horrible. I binge-watched every movie one summer and I noticed that as the years progressed, the movies just got lazier and lazier. Barbie and the Three Musketeers and Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses are my favorites still. The soundtrack for The Princess and the Pauper movie is also a favorite.

The Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse series was pretty alright because it was a satire of the franchise in general. It had some good jokes and made me laugh, but then again, to people who don’t understand it, it might not seem all that appealing.

But as I was rummaging through Wikipedia looking at Barbie movie titles I found a special called Barbie and the Rockers.

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In fact, someone has been kind enough to upload it up on Youtube as where most old TV specials go these days for those in search of nostalgia.

It was so strange seeing this anime-ified Barbie from the 80s singing tunes that would have probably been playing on the radio back then. The animation was so different from what we’re used to seeing with Barbie because she’s a doll so the plastic look was always just the go-to for animating her. It was a pretty alright piece of work coming from the eighties. It reminded me of Sky Dancers which I unfortunately only saw two episodes of from a VHS I once owned.

It was a 25 minute special and the voice acting was funky at times, they tried to fit as many songs in as possible, and the plot was out of this world, literally. But it was quite fun to watch. It serves to remind us that we don’t get stuff like this anymore. I mean, we get weirder things now. Then again, the world has always been a bit weird.

You can watch it here:

Nostalgia Saturdays: Chirin’s Bell

Not many of us remember this little gem of a movie. It came out in 1978, a time when my mother was a teenager. It wasn’t hard to find considering it’s an older movie and many older movies tend to go under the copyright and removal radar unless it was a “mainstream” old movie. That’s a different story.

Chirin’s Bell was a movie I had found by chance on YouTube when I was still in elementary or middle school, I don’t specifically remember which. I was on the prowl for free children’s movies people had so kindly uploaded to waste some time. This was a simpler time when YouTube wasn’t all about the monetary value of uploading and people just shared movies they loved simply because they wanted others to see. I thought it was going to be a cute movie since we got a splashscreen of “Sanrio Films” before the intro. I looked it up and sure enough, this Sanrio is the same one we all know and love as the producer of Hello Kitty and friends.

I mean, it’s a movie about a tiny little lamb. It’s bound to be fun and innocent.

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What could go wrong if the producer is the same one as Hello Kitty? This is bound to be a cute movie, right?

Wrong.

Chirin’s Bell went on to become one of my favorite animated movies that I’ll never watch again. Why? Because though it may seem all bright and happy and started off fairly corny, it got dark and it got hard to watch. Though they saved the toughest part to sit through for the end I supposed that helped but not really.

I had to watch it in English because I was uneducated in the ways of Google and I didn’t know if an English subbed version existed online. It was a fairly short movie, not even reaching an hour on the clock but it felt like a lifetime. It wasn’t horrible in a scarring way, but it made you think for a very long time and that’s one of the reasons why I could never forget it.

Take Charlotte’s Web the animated movie that came out in 1973 and take a look back at all the times that we’re allowed moments of silence for a gentle song or take a look at the atmosphere of Charlotte’s death and I’m reminded of Chirin’s Bell. There is a style that is really similar in both movies. No surprise, they came out in the same decade. They were fairly dark even though it was aimed at children and both ended ambiguously. I won’t talk about Charlotte’s Web 2…that movie didn’t exist to me.

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The story of Chirin started out fairly simple, but turned rather complex midway through. A baby lamb who is oftentimes too adventurous for his own good wears a bell about his neck so his mother can locate him if he happens to stray. One night, his mother is killed by a wolf who lives in the nearby mountains while she attempts to protect Chirin and Chirin, being a child, does not understand why she had to die. This traumatic experience instilled within Chirin the desire to avenge his mother and so we follow his steady descent into the loss of innocence and the birth of darkness. He journeys into the mountains to ask the wolf to take him on as a disciple and in the end, overcomes the old wolf and kills him, leaving Chirin ultimately alone. He had lost his only father figure in his greed for vengeance. And he became the one thing he sought to destroy in his quest for justice- a monster.

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It’s no surprise that this movie was banned in many countries. Children are mostly permitted to watch a lot of brainless animation and films, I must say. This movie might have given them the wrong idea perhaps. It would probably scar a few hearts and break a few minds, but there are always worse things you can expose your child to- such as the internet.

By the end of the movie, rather than thinking this was some evil creation that should be shunned I just felt sad because ultimately it is a movie that makes us question our decisions and it makes one think about the upbringing or lack thereof of others. It was a film that ended with loss and loneliness and the “hero’s journey” ultimately yielded nothing but an unfavorable result.

Chirin, who always questioned why the weak had to die at the paws of the strong had just committed the crime that he had questioned all his life. This broke him and so he chose to vanish.

So now you can understand why I would never want to watch it again in its entirety. It’s just a very hard to digest movie, like Grave of the Fireflies but unlike Grave of the Fireflies. Only after your heart has been broken so many times and you have grown numb to the world, can I sit down and watch this movie again.

Nostalgia Saturdays: Only Yesterday

Twenty-five years ago the Studio Ghibli that created so many of our movie-going memories released a film titled “Only Yesterday.” Now in 2016, we are finally getting an English dubbed release for DVD and the fans are going crazy again. Studio Ghibli may currently be on hiatus but there are still many hopefuls out there waiting for its grand return.

Some think this is a new movie, but sadly it is not. It is, however, a movie that deserves to be watched all the same.

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A few years ago I downloaded the movie and had it on my to-watch list for the longest time, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. There was never enough time or I wasn’t in the mood and it sat waiting for me for an eternity in my backup flash drive. So in honor of its release in English I decided to finally sit down and watch the original in Japanese. And I’m glad I watched it now rather than back then.

Some movies can only be appreciated when you watch it at a certain point in your life after experiencing certain events and evaluating certain decisions. “Only Yesterday” was one of those movies. The 19, now almost 20, year old me finds this sort of movie moving, but if I had watched it when I was an adolescent I think it wouldn’t speak to me as much.

The main heroine is a 27-year-old working woman who is going on a trip to the countryside to harvest safflower during the summer. During her journey, she thinks back to the days of her fifth grade self and reminisces of all the good and bad events that took place that eventually shaped her into the woman she is today. It was a beautiful walk down memory lane, understandable because so many girls and boys alike grew up with awkward phases in between the transition from childhood to adulthood. Especially when it came to sex education. I think that was my favorite part of the movie. How similar it was to the flawed way sex-ed is taught now. And how wonderfully funny it was back then when the girls first learned they would get blood dripping down their legs. And the boys never having any clue what it meant.

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The movie captured an innocence that we lost when we were younger. After childhood, all that is left within the heart are the memories that mattered most or those that caused certain levels of traumas. It embraces and celebrates life as it is. I do believe that it is catered to the more adult audience because it does delve pretty deeply into psychology at one point, but other than that I think all age groups can enjoy it because it’s highly relatable. Even more so if you’re older and the type to reflect back on life very often.

From puppy love to conflicts in the home, sibling rivalries and parents’ approvals, expectations and failures, desires and obstacles, this movie delivered a simplicity of living that so many still struggle to convey to this day. And it does it in the most truthful way.

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Imagine growing up watching so many fairy-tale-esque ghibli movies in your pre-teen and teen years and then watching a slice-of-life like this out of the blue when you’re finally an adult. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t have it any other way since I grew to love the slice-of-life genre more than most. I actually crave for slice-of-life since so few can make a durable series without adding any drama to it other than psychological struggles. The only better time I could have chosen to watch this movie is when I turn thirty.

Watching it sure did bring me back though. To a simpler time. Elementary school wasn’t the best, but it had its moments and I think when I turn twenty in six months I’ll still think back to it occasionally, about the people I spent time with and where they are now.

What could have happened and what never did. Such is the path we must continue to lead.

Sayuri Nigori Sake

More on alcohol this week. I decided to review this little beauty since I just finished the very last drop of it a few days ago. It’s been hot here for the past few days and drinking something chilled after dinner makes my stomach a little more happy.

I’ve been wanting to try out other flavors of sake for the past couple of weeks because I’m the only one in my group of friends who is entrusted with drinking responsibly. Therefore I have parents who allow me to drink so long as I’m wary of portions and so long as I share.

I drink about a shot glass to a half a day and sometimes top it with wine on the rocks if I’m still feeling full after an hour.

But anyway, I went out to my local market and found this great looking bottle of nigori for five dollars which advertised itself as sweet and fragrant and being a fan of the more fruity flavors I thought why not.

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The larger bottle costs about twelve dollars at the same market but since this is my first time with it, I bought the smaller one. It’s alcohol content by volume is 12.5% as stated on the Hakutsuru Sake website. This is double what I drink in wine so I was a bit worried it might’ve been too strong, but at least it won’t kill me in one shot like say vodka or whiskey depending.

I haven’t tried regular filtered sake yet but I’ve definitely fallen in love with the creamy richness of unfiltered sake like these. On the same website I did my research I learned that Sayuri stands for “little lily” and if anything, the flavor of this “pure” drink was to cater to the average woman’s tastebuds.

The aroma was stronger than the Homare Strawberry Sake and had a bite to it. It was delivered in a way that was fresh and it didn’t come off too strong. I just had steak for dinner and it paired well with the more filling meals particularly meat and poultry. The first sip was bitter and it stuck to your tongue. It was somewhat dry but the second gulp went down smooth leaving the throat warm and infiltrating the nose with the undeniable goodness of sake smell. I think it would make a great winter drink. My mother complained it was too bitter but I was fine by it. English breakfast teas tend to be more bitter in my opinion.

It’s definitely not something a newbie should try in cupfuls. I suggest taking two to three small sips when starting out like in the traditional sake cups. One is enough for the beginner. When I had it the following night it tasted sweeter than it was originally, crisp and smoother, probably because I had gotten used to it.

Drinking it on its own was kind of boring so playing the part of a bartender I mixed up my own concoction. I added a third of the Sayuri sake to my shot glass, topping it off with some homemade strawberry wine my mother made from the strawberries I gathered at a farm. This made it taste sweeter, heavily aromatic, and strongly reminiscent of the Homare Strawberry sake only more bitter and packing quite a tangy punch to it.

Then for the following nights I followed the same process but with fruit juice. I added the nigori and then topped it off with some dark cranberry and pomegranate juice and it tasted like a creamy fine wine and my mom who loves fruit juice more than alcohol also fell in love it.

I guess I’m a natural at mixing. Who knew.