Our story begins with Maya, a girl with big dreams and a gift for peacemaking and organization out on a school field trip to the magnificent Clover Tower. Me lucky charms! By her side as always is her best friend and vice-president Rachel, who is doing her best to help. While there, they meet a strange young man who offers Maya a shining golden charm, free of charge because he thinks she’ll enjoy it. Unbeknownst to Maya, it is a magical Glitter Charm, which gives her the ability to turn into Glitter Heart, a member of the prestigious Glitter Force, a team of girls committed to restoring peace and harmony to the people around them. Maya is joined by her best friends Rachel, who becomes Glitter Diamond, Clara, who becomes Glitter Clover (which sounds way better than Glitter Clubs… yes, their personas are based on the playing card suits), and finally, teen pop star Mackenzie Mack, who is Glitter Spade. What is it with these people and glitter?
The four girls travel around their city rescuing people from the minions of King Mercenare, a wicked being who thrives on bad attitudes and poor spirits. Seriously? Mercenare, king of the bad attitude? Lord of the cranky? If his minions can inspire these in people, he gains power and causes their hearts to turn into monsters called Disdains. The Glitter Force can purify the hearts and cure bad attitudes, defeating the monsters and repairing the damage they cause. While fighting the monsters and villains, the girls also race to find and rescue the princess of the magical kingdom Splendorious, (wut?) Marie Angelica, who is the only one who can defeat Mercenare once and for all.
In the second season, the Four suits become a royal flush with the addition of Glitter Ace, a serious girl who teaches them about the five rules that govern the Glitter Force. Joined with Glitter Ace, the girls are now ready to take on Mercenare. But can they defeat him?
Like the original Glitter Force series, Doki Doki praises the virtues of friendship, hard work, working together, determination, and courage. The girls are selfless heroes, placing themselves in harm’s way again and again to save innocents from King Mercenare and his cronies, ultimately saving the King of Splendorious and a former enemy, Regina, from the curse of selfishness. Marie Angelica is a capable warrior herself, and confronts the darkness that haunts her world at the head of her warriors, ultimately choosing to sacrifice her life for her kingdom. Marie’s fiance, Jonathan, is also handy with a sword, and his help is never blown off by the ladies as a respected member of the group. He is ultimately elected to the presidency when the people of Splendorious embrace democratic leadership. Can you imagine that on a postage stamp? The “Splendorious Republic”?!
Spiritual/magical content is really odd in this series. While the original Glitter Force played on traditional superhero and fairy tale tropes this show takes a whole different tack. The monsters the girls battle (Disdains) are created out of the darkness and selfishness in people’s hearts. Love-hearts fly from people’s chests and are transformed into monsters. It’s a rather graphic and surprising metaphor for what selfishness can do to people. The only way to break the spell is for one of the girls, usually Heart, Spade, or Ace, to fire a magic blast at the monster and turn it back into a flying love-heart. These themes of love and friendship being opposites and antidotes to selfishness come up throughout the series.
Violence is limited to the magic blasts fired by the girls at the Disdains or the cronies of King Mercenare. The Disdains deliver damage to their surroundings, but this is magically reversed once they are purified. The one exception is when the girls must prove to the guardian of a treasure they are worthy to take and use it to save their town and Splendorious. In this adventure, the girls battle a dragon, but of course there is no real harm done.
In all, this glittery outing is not as good as the original. There’s a lot in here that is very confusing to Western audiences and makes a lot more sense in Japan. Or maybe it doesn’t, I don’t know! So while Glitter Force Doki Doki won’t harm your child in any way, it just may be the best use of your kid’s time. Better shows include the original Glitter Force and My Little Pony.
You may ask yourself: You mention your brother, did he have any fun collections, like you have? Yes, in fact he did! His favorites where Legos, Transformers, and superheroes. Unfortunately, none of my brother's superhero collection survived a house fire, but I do have his trusty Transformers collection that he collected from the age of 10 forward. And you may also wonder, did you play with him? The answer is yes, and our games with them and other toys taught us all about storytelling.
Before we get to the awesome pictures, I'd like to present you with some clips and music videos from our favorite versions of the show.
First, the penultimate battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron from 1987's "The Transformers: The Movie."
A music video of the "Beast Wars" series, which starred several favorite characters.
One of my brother's favorite characters is Wreck-Gar, the haplessly helpful and clumsy garbage truck. Both this song and Wreck-Gar's voice were preformed by Weird Al Yankovic. To this day you'll hear a cry of "I am only good for one thing: GARBAGE!" when something goes haywire.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum personality wise is one of my brother's other favorites, Dinobot. The raspy voiced dinosaur, similar in temperament to Star Trek's Commander Worf, had a complex moral code and relationships with other characters, resulting in an interesting combination of factors for a children's cartoon.
My favorites were always the characters who stood up for what they believed, no matter how much people made fun, no matter the personal cost. One of them was Silverbolt, a character whose honorable actions inspired many of my own characters.
Another such character was Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots. No matter the personal cost, even his life, Optimus would do what was right.
In any case, on to the toys!
Disney’s live action remake train chugs on, this time with Beauty and the Beast, a movie which has been lauded as one of the finest animated films of all time. Because we have literally seen this movie before, let’s dispense with much of the plot summary and hit the highlights.
Belle, a girl with an inventive mind and a taste for fine literature, takes the place of her father as the prisoner of a fearsome Beast. The Beast, who is really a prince who was served the just deserts of his decadence and cold-heartedness, is mean and rude to Belle, but she puts up with none of his nonsense. Slowly, the Beast changes his ways in an attempt to win Belle’s heart, but trouble comes in the form of Gaston, a boorish war-hero (what war, we’re not sure) who wants to marry Belle for the simple reason that she’s pretty. It’s a classic tale of romance, redemption, and comedy that has rightfully become beloved by generations.
Beauty and the Beast is a fine movie (though I still think the cartoon version is a lot better) extolling the power of love, friendship, and the ability to see beyond what a person looks like to who they really are. The new songs introduced in the film are OK, if a bit of a departure from the original as far as tone, but made for a nice update.
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering about that whole LeFou controversy thing. Let me tell you that it was a mountain from a molehill. The “exclusively gay moment” much trumpeted and panicked about was no more than a gag that goes at least as far back as vaudeville. Milton Berle was doing the same thing in the late 40s on TV. Much ado about less than nothing.
Other factors include some violence, such Gaston shooting the Beast several times in the back, (without reloading. Is that a sub-machine flintlock pistol?) and leaving Belle’s dad tied up in wolf infested woods in an attempt to get him to give Belle to him (obviously he didn’t think that through). Most of the other violence is slap-sticky in keeping with the original. There is also some minor swearing, and mediocre singing on behalf of Emma Watson.
Yeah, the CGI Beast was good, but he would’ve been better as practical effects. A lot of the other characters are somewhat ill-designed. Lumiere is basically a tiny brass man with fire for hands; frankly, not very creative.
The dialogue wasn’t as pithy as the original, either. They could’ve given Cogsworth and Lumiere more lines, but instead they decided to waste their time on lengthening Gaston’s musical number and developing LeFou of all things!
In all, the live action remake of the 1991 classic was… meh. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again when there are other adaptations that are much more creative.
Ok, I lied. My special for my action figure lovers will be next week!
I make no secret of the fact that "Aladdin" is my favorite Disney movie. Admittedly, "The Little Mermaid" came first, but "Aladdin" was the movie that made a Disney fan for life. For me, the magical combination of an exotic locale, wonderful music, and memorable characters that made this film stand out.
Princess Jasmine spoke to me as a child with her kind but tough personality. She was like no princess before her, unafraid to speak truth to power, unafraid to approach volatile situations with a smile and understanding, unafraid to take what steps were necessary to defend herself, her home, and her people from whatever threat came up. She was the only one of the princesses I could see being a great queen one day. Quite frankly, I still am of that opinion.
Before we get to the toys and memorabilia, here are some favorite clips from the movies and TV show, handpicked by my brother and I.
First up, the iconic love song "A Whole New World".
Deleted scenes from the Genie, released after Robin Williams' passing.
To this day you will hear a cry of "All units, we have a CODE RED!" echoing though the Wilson house.
Watch for Genie's transformation into Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
"Bad Mood Rising" demonstrates Jasmine's commitment to the good of her people and even strangers.
A little 90's cheese here, but I loved the pairing of Genie and the Genie of the Bottle, Eden.
The incomparable Ron Perlman lent his voice to the sympathetic antagonist Arbutus in "Garden of Evil".
On to my Aladdin/Jasmine collection!
I'm T.K. Wilson, Read my blog for great information and stories about dolls, toy restoration, Christian Fantasy and so much more! Blog updates Mondays and Fridays.