Happy Flashback Friday! Where GateCrashers look to the past to find the things they’re enjoying today.
Cells at Work!
Submitted by Patrick Dickerson
Remember Osmosis Jones? What if I told you there is an anime with a similar premise, an extremely loveable and wholesome cast of characters, and surprisingly accurate information about our bodies. Cells at Work! is an anime series from Japan’s David Production whose first season premiered in 2018, with a second season airing in 2021. This show is incredibly funny and cute, with different cells in the body represented by humanoid characters, including red blood cells, the various white blood cells, platelets, and more. Each episode sees a different threat to the metropolis-like body; these threats meet resistance from neutrophil white blood cells, T cells, B cells, NK cells, macrophages, and even some particularly spunky red blood cells too. This show, despite constantly splattering the characters in blood as they fight major threats to their lives, is surprisingly wholesome and a ton of fun, as the characters go through their day-to-day in the surprisingly dangerous world of the human body (Fair warning though, cancer cells play a major role in a handful of episodes in both seasons, and those episodes can get heavy.) What is most surprising about this show, however, is just how much you learn watching it. The regular functions of the cells, the way the body’s systems work and interact with one another, and the effects of infection are all regular topics with scientifically accurate medical information. Whether you want to learn or just enjoy a good show, Cells at Work! is a great choice!
Cells at Work! is available on Crunchyroll (subbed and dubbed) and Funimation (subbed and dubbed). For a darker, more adult version, check out Cells at Work! CODE BLACK on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (subbed and dubbed).
The New Batman Adventures: Over the Edge
Submitted by Ian
Before I dissect this amazing episode of animation, I want to add the preface I wasn’t a young man when it made such an impression of me. In the summer of 2005 around the release of Batman Begins, what happened in the UK was a random TV channel would run countless episodes of Batman the Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures in the school holidays. As the cartoons were ran way too early in the morning for an 18-year-old, I would record them on VHS and watch them when I finally surfaced out of my bed.
From this point in, it’s pretty much all spoilers. The episode draws you in from the first seconds. Playing to one of comics’ best tropes of the story starting with the hero where they would least like to be. In this case, running from gunfire. That is immediately ramped up 100% when we see it is Jim Gordon and the GCPD doing the shooting! The episode is so well written by Paul Dini that after the explosive opening, all you are asking yourself is why? And how? So even when Batman begins narrating his flashback of events, the mention of The Scarecrow doesn’t fully sink in. When Dini wants to hit viewers full in the face, he certainly doesn’t pull his punches. I mean, why just end Batman’s legacy when you can burn down the entire mythos? The symbolism of Batman and Gordon both falling to their deaths after being hit by the Bat signal is lost on no one. Both Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Bob Hastings (Gordon) are treating this thing like Shakespeare and rightfully so! How many other writers would be brave enough to pen the end of Batman and not involve The Joker?
When you see images like the first Robin costume torn apart by gunfire, the destruction of the best Batmobile, and Batgirl taking a 40-story sky dive into the hood of a Police car, it is like losing a part of your soul – or to put it another way, it is like having your childhood ripped from your clutches. For me, it is Tim Drake I feel most sorry for. I would really like to know what happens to him after we see him for the last time, running off into the night, tears streaming down his cheeks. Despite all the doom and gloom, there are some great lighter moments in this episode. Bullock calling Alfred Jeeves will never not be funny. When Nightwing turns up to help try and turn the tide of events, it is pure joy. Dini even takes a small interlude to look at how the criminal underworld is reacting to the news. It was right at the height of the ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim,’ and he taps into this perfectly.
Lots of great writers have had rightfully lorded runs on the Batman mythos. Whether that be redefining a member of the rogue’s gallery, really dialling into the detective element, or shaping his love life, they have all left a mark. But how many have told the ultimate story they all want to tell: the end of Batman? Only one and that is Paul Dini’s ‘Over the Edge.’
The Show 21
Submitted by RJ Durante
My father signed my up to play baseball as a precocious 5-year-old, and I stayed with the game until my 14th birthday. I had given up weekends and summers to America’s pastime, and as an entering Freshman, I decided that a social life was more important than cleats and mitts. My love for Baseball remained, but at a distance, as I would infrequently catch Phillies games or check out the latest video game showcasing all the players. My habits have stayed the same, but when checking out the PS Store’s Deals section, I noticed MLB The Show 21’ was offered at a discount, I figured ‘why not?’ Well, I’m here to say that there is immense enjoyment in playing the game that tortured me as a child, when you are not the one hitting and running.
To start, I went right for the franchise option and built my team from the ground up to try and capture that elusive World Series title. The game mechanics are relatively straight forward IF you are familiar with Baseball and the various situations that can arise from pitch to pitch. Now, a casual player may find the game tedious at times (I know, 9 innings is long,) but there is definitely enough to keep you interested. My jaw hit the floor when I realized I could add ‘Legends’ to my team, which are simply the best players over the past century or so. Watching Cy Young pitch a splitter to Mookie Betts, or see the hotdog guzzler himself Babe Ruth pitch a ‘No-hitter,’ I felt like a kid again.
There are definitely options when it comes to Baseball games (the 2K series, Mario series, etc.), but I would put MLB The Show at the forefront. Did they bully themselves into that position by ensuring the names and rights to the players likeness? Yes. Am I still wearing sweatpants while I’m throwing a 98mph fastball and calling a CPU an idiot for missing it? Also, yes. I am still keeping the rest of Baseball at arm’s length, especially after the proposed strike, but I will admit that this game made me miss those sandlot days of my youth. Not enough to join an adult league or anything like that, but enough to make me want to enjoy some Big League Chew while playing as Hank Aaron.
Now Comics’ Speed Racer
Submitted by Luke W. Henderson
I picked up the first two volumes of Speed Racer comics from a Dollar Store in college which I read fairly quickly and uncritically. Recently feeling a bit nostalgic about them and childhood watching the different iterations of the character, I picked up the entire series at the beginning of this year. Being more of a comic fan now, I have a new appreciation for the series and the company that made them.
For those unaware, this series was originally published in the late 1980’s by a now mostly unknown publisher, but was later reprinted by IDW. NOW Comics, the home of this version of Speed Racer, started as a one-man operation, but quickly exploded over four years. However, in that fifth year, the comics swiftly faded after the company was forced to file bankruptcy, and though many tried to reboot NOW for over a decade, it never truly made a comeback.
These Speed Racer comics came during the middle of this combustive success in 1987. Immediately, readers will notice its unique style of line work and coloring. The pencils are incredibly clean and imitate the style of the original manga to a scary degree. Such great artists, like The Sandman’s Jill Thompson, got their feet wet within this series and the wide swath of creative teams show who was a budding talent at the time.
Unlike Marvel and DC’s dedication to four-color artwork, NOW’s work is a wash of rainbows and took some incredible liberties with depicting the tone of a panel over photorealism. Many panels have detailed pencils topped off with heavy two-colored gradients deviating largely from a typical comic. It wasn’t always good-looking, but when it was effective, it’s magic.
The comic also experimented with panel design, using crooked boxes or panels that wrap around a circle to depict tense action and the motion of the race. Making static images of cars has always been a crutch for the comics medium, so the efforts by NOW Comics are greatly appreciated.
Beyond the creative art, the stories in these volumes are just plain fun. Speed does everything from fight ninjas to race against zombies. It’s the kind of wacky antics any lovers of older comics will enjoy.
That being said, the books were not perfect by any means and one can see how the quick success of NOW may have pushed them to cut corners. Speed Racer featured frequent changes to the creative team and is not subtle about the transition between them. Art styles and coloring schemes change drastically between issues, sometimes even the same artist will confusingly draw in a different style than their last story.
In one severe instance, issue #13 has no letterer credited and the balloons appear to be drawn in advance with cutouts from a typewriter hastily pasted on top. The massive dip is incredibly frustrating when previous stories have looked gorgeous.