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 twin-images.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

temtemhandson-blogroll-1579029459614

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!”

Pop Dream: Liza

It’s that time again!

POP-Logo1

Pop Bottle

dumb-donald

“Um, lessee…a ‘POP’ graphic and a bottle of pop…..uh….no, I can’t figure it out.”

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.

Alphas

Alpha Males…and Females

For those not familiar with Animal Jam, here’s a (kind of) abridged synopsis:

Animal Jam Party

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 3

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.

Animal Jam Woods

Peace, love, friendship and harmony. We’re full of it.

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.

Taj_Mahal

“Lord, it’s gettin’ crazy up in here!”

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.

Alphas

“Here we come to save the dayyyyy!”

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.

Yada Yada Yada

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:

  • Overview
  • Appearance
  • Personality
  • Trivia Time
  • Conclusion

Got it? Good! Now, on with the Pop Dreaming!

Today’s Pop Dream is all about a heroic panda in a mystical land.

Po_from_DreamWorks_Animation's_Kung_Fu_Panda

“Skidoosh!”

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.

Alpha Masters 2 - Liza

“Ohm…..ohm on the Range…”

OVERVIEW

“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.

Unhappy_Liza

“Pfft! No comment!”

 

She briefly appears in several adventures, as a major character.

Liza 2

“Ha! Still got it goin’ on!”

APPEARANCE

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.

Liza_in_the_trailer

“Say, are you focusing on my hind paws? Foot-lookers! Cheeky monkeys!”

Liza

She normally carries a long wooden staff.

Donatello

“We should get together for a Staff Meeting!” What, so lame jokes are only funny when Mikey or Raph tell them??”

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.

liza_by_horribletroller-d9i3onr

“I attribute it to pure living and shaman magic. I also subscribe to Goop!”

PERSONALITY

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.

Liza 3

“I’m thinking of putting that on a bumper sticker!”

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.

Next Time Try the Train

Liza_in_the_trailer

“‘Foot?’ Dude, you’re focusing on my feet again! I’m flattered, but it’s kinda weird!”

Emmitt

“Animal feet! Heh, heh, he, yeah….animal feet, heh, heh, heh, yeah….”

zorak2

“I’m not touchin’ that one!”

Po 2

Yeah, uh….I was… kinda staring at her feet, yeah.”

TRIVIA TIME

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.

Animal Jam Panda

“Dear Liza, I’m thinking of Feung Shuei-ing my home, should I go with wooden wind chimes or metal ones?”

Liza 2

“I think you should eat lots of bamboo and take a nap!”

Animal Jam Panda

“Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”

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.

ElizaScidmore

You go, girl!

She is the most commonly seen Alpha/Shaman in Jamaa.

Liza_in_the_trailer

“I’m ready for my close-up, NatGeo!”

Her favorite color is pink according to her profile page.

Lola Loud

“Yes! Pink and Proud! Stay strong, sista!”

She was known as Liza, “the curious panda” when she was chosen to be an Alpha.

Liza_in_the_trailer

“What’s that all about??”

Her ears and hair resemble a typical Chinese hairstyle, buns.

Chun-Li_(CFA)

“Copycat!”

This could be a reference to the fact that pandas can be found in China.

no-shit-sherlock

CONCLUSION

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.

Liza 3

“Not to mention how pandas are freaking adorable!”

penny-ling-4

I was gonna say that!”

Next up is the Koala Alpha, Cosmo. Stay tooned.