Aug ’18 – MMM: “By The Tail Of The Great Comet!” – Ulysses 35

Posted: August 25th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

Now cascading through the second half of the second disc, Agent Rob bears witness to some of the show’s finest visual moments in a star cluster of stellar episodes. Choice picks as ever those lovingly restored by Adam Adamant….

EPISODE 14

“You will experience exquisite sensual delight forever in death”

The episode begins with Yumi playing a beautiful, if haunting, melody on a flute, which she claims she heard in a dream. Suddenly an “unidentified flying object” is approaching the Odyssey. This stone coffin is from the wreckage of a space exploration vehicle and, recognising it too from her dream, Yumi uses the beautiful melody to open it. The body within is holding an electronic card and suddenly, by piloting via The Black Sun and the planet Sirena, Ulysses realises they can obtain a complete map of Olympus. However, the map is guarded by the mysterious Sirens….

On the surface of the planet Sirena they are captured by space pirates and Ulysses and Nono are sent to find the treasure, the children kept behind as collateral. And so Ulysses and Nono set sail, disappearing into the fog. Disconnecting Nono‘s hearing circuit Ulysses asks to be tied to the mast in an attempt to resist the Siren‘s call. This plan fails, however and he dives overboard. The children, having made their escape are close behind and must hope to save Ulysses, find the map and evade the angry pirates….

EPISODE 15

“Ooh! I could do with a swig of anti-freeze.”

The Odyssey orbits a planet like Earth (only of 200 million years ago) with a different polar axis. Ulysses, Nono and the children take a shuttle to the surface to investigate, narrowly escaping after being attacked by huge Black Firebirds. Taking refuge in what they believe to be a cave they happen to find a lift that takes them to a giant underground city….

As Shirka loses contact due to a “strong atmospheric disturbance” Yumi activates a hibernation chamber to revive Sauria, one of the planet’s inhabitants. It transpires that these slaves to the Gods took refuge in a huge ark to escape a great flood, waiting until it was over….

Unfortunately a second flood is now just beginning, leaving Ulysses and Nono to devise a plan to escape to the ark (and to avoid the invading Black Firebirds) in time. As Telemachus and Yumi help revive the rest of the planet’s inhabitants from their hibernation the situation worsens, a reverse polarization of the planet’s axis imminent….

EPISODE 16

“It least I know your face. I will remember you, Ulysses.”

After a another somewhat melancholy introduction – Ulysses and Telemachus thinking of their distant Penelope – our heroes fall into a deep slumber and the Odyssey enters an “unknown dimension A”….

With their spaceship held by an unknown force Ulysses takes a shuttle to investigate a planet they suspect could be Earth. Nono, meanwhile, encounters a mysterious energy cloud on board the Odyssey. Seeing the Odyssey suddenly head towards the planet surface Ulysses crashes his shuttle, meeting a forlorn character called Hermes who, so he claims, is the only member of his crew not captured and enslaved by Circe, “the enchantress who bewitches”….

With his companions turned into pig-people and set to work building Circe‘s tower of knowledge – the means by which she hopes to become more powerful than the Gods themselves – Ulysses comes to the rescue. On discovering his identity Circe promises to free everyone and to give them a video map of Olympus… on the condition that Ulysses promises to stay by her side and challenge the Gods. Ulysses agrees… only Hermes, now revealed as the messenger of the Gods, has other ideas and sets the Tridents to attack. Ulysses and his (momentarily revived) companions must try and escape, leaving poor Circe to witness the destruction of her beloved tower before the Gods pass judgement on her….

EPISODE 17

“Anyone who has gone inside the Labyrinth has never returned.”

The episode opens with Ulysses talking to Aegeus and, after consulting the Oracle, he is persuaded to follow their advice and seek Theseus, the son of Aegeus (for he alone knows the route back to Earth). Unfortunately King Minos is angered by the relationship between Theseus and his daughter, Ariadne, and so condemns him to the Labyrinth, where he will face the Minotaur. Ariadne defies her father and takes off in a spaceship, intent on following Theseus (in)to the maze….

This action puts her on a “collision course” with the Odyssey and, after a narrow escape, she is taken on board, the pursuing ships of The Kingdom of Minos duly defeated. By using her string of pearls to allow Shirka to track their “electromagnetic path”, Ariadne, Ulysses, Yumi and Nono enter the Labyrinth hoping to find Theseus….

As the walls of the maze suddenly shift, Telemachus, concerned at the loss of contact, takes a shuttle to the rescue, the ships of Mino‘s close behind him. Meanwhile Ulysses and Theseus must face the mighty Minotaur if they are to have any hope of escape….

EPISODE 18

“Ulysses, quickly! The universe is toppling over!”

The children are in the garden when Shirka announces there are “galactic ice flows directly in our flightpath.Ulysses attempts to resist the gravitational pull but Yumi, who feels the presence of something, encourages him otherwise….

Ulysses takes a shuttle into the ice flows and, with the aid of a mysterious other, is directed safely to where he can land. From there Ulysses descends a strange staircase whereby he meets Mercurius, the bubble-dwelling “grandson of the gods“. Naturally Mercurius has plans for Ulysses, hoping to use him to steal the jewel from the forehead of Atlas for the presence of any god would awaken this sleeping giant who holds up the universe….

The reward? Of course, it is a promise of the route back to Earth (and potential power over the gods for Mercurius). Ulysses and Nono climb up the huge static body of Atlas and when they reach the top Ulysses, by this time blindfolded so as to not look into the jewel for fear of death, attempts to prise the jewel free. Unfortunately Atlas begins to stir, his great heart begins to beat, and the universe is knocked off balance by the meddling of Mercurius. Can Yumi or Telemachus help Ulysses replace the crystal in time to restore the order and balance to all things….


Jul ’18 – MMM: “By The Cosmic Dust!” – Ulysses 34

Posted: July 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

And so we speed through the first half of the second disc, putting episodes 10 – 13 under the cosmic microscope….

EPISODE 10

A nice sedate, somewhat yearning opening to this episode, Telemachus watching the video memory of his mother. Again, an earth-like planet is detected in the Odyssey‘s path. It transpires this is a living museum and our heroes are pulled in and shrunk to suit by a magical prism. Landing the Odyssey in the sea, preferring the open water, Ulysses sets out to find the source of the mysterious transmission and is trapped in a giant clam….

The children set out in pursuit, traversing a graveyard of spaceships, in the hope of finding Ulysses. Both are separately swept up by the slaves of The Great Antipotese and end up within the museum itself, Ulysses‘s ship encrusted and mistaken for a pearl. Can our tiny heroes evade Antipotese (and his wild cat) long enough to use the prism to restore themselves and their ship…?

EPISODE 11

“…even in death you will find no peace.”

The Odyssey is passed by a remote control capsule which turns out to be an empty Trident Transporter. Ulysses follows it, hoping it will lead them to the base of the gods and provide clues as to the route back to Earth. Suddenly the Odyssey encounters and unknown energy zone and is sucked into a vortex, crossing into a new dimension, arriving at The Stairway of Olympus….

After continuing in the shuttle for some time, and having defeated the gods‘ ‘Immortal Army‘ Ulysses, separated from the children is given a choice – will he choose the armchair on the left or right, will he choose the route back to Earth over the children? The choice is an easy one, of course, the episode then ending somewhat abruptly (but not without Shirka mournfully echoing that they are “lost in the universe of Olympus. Lost. Lost….“)

EPISODE 12

“The crew. Save the crew.”

The Odyssey is drifting in deep space when it comes across a luminous object that is in fact “remnants of an old spaceship” from 2001 Earth. Hoping to find the route back to Earth on the ship’s computer our heroes stumble across a crew member in suspended animation. Before falling back into a deep sleep the captain warns Ulysses that the crew can be found on the twin planets of fire and ice….

Ulysses speeds to their rescue leaving the children to puzzle over the true identity of the surviving “captain”…. The Sign of the Trident reveals that he is, naturally, a tool of the gods and that Ulysses, his shuttle now trapped in a brilliant vortex between fire and ice – “…either way your fate is sealed…” – is in extreme danger. The children speed to his rescue while Nono tackles the creepy, Terminator-esque “captain”….

EPISODE 13

The children are playing hide and seek when Yumi suddenly declares that Zotra, “The White Planet” is coming. It is, in fact, a “meteoric object” that is approaching and Ulysses manages to just avoid it by carefully piloting the Odyssey. Yumi is convinced it is a part of Zotra and persuades Ulysses to follow it to be sure. The meteor leads them to a swamp planet and Ulysses and Umi travel down to the surface to investigate. Unfortunately they come under some sort of attack and static interference means the signal back to the Odyssey (and the anxious Telemachus and Nono) is jammed and eventually lost….

Ulysses and Yumi suddenly return to the Odyssey and order Telemachus to turn the transmitter off and to leave the planet’s orbit at full speed. Telemachus has his suspicions and, while his real father battles multiple copies of himself on the planet surface, he must evade this dangerous duplicate, switch on the radio and send a shuttle in time to save them….

Hmm, unlucky 13 for this episode as there seems to be a real dip in quality in terms of both the rendering of the characters and the animation, making for a pretty ropey experience throughout….


Jun ’18 – “By The Quantum Leaps!” – Ulysses 33

Posted: June 12th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

On and on we travel, drifting lifeless as stone through the second half of the first (and quite possibly the most consistent in terms of story quality) disc….


EPISODE 6

The Odyssey approaches a hospital planet belonging to a (long vanished) advanced civilisation….

While Ulysses and Telemachus investigate Yumi and Nono naturally take matters into their own hands and attempt to make use of the facilities to revive the lifeless Numinor (with predictably risky results)….

EPISODE 7

The Odyssey encounters “electromagnetic turbulence” and as such the companions of Ulysses are revived. Of course, they’re under the will of the gods and only Yumi‘s calming connection with the awakened Numinor seems able to save them from crashing into The Reefs Of Space….

An episode notable for some surprisingly moody rendering of the revived crew’s faces as well as a plethora of FX – lightsabers, Artoo Detoo and blaster sounds – nabbed wholesale (and somewhat surprisingly surviving to this release) from Star Wars….

EPISODE 8

Another great episode, as the Odyssey – I think a distinct pattern is emerging here! – is drawn to the planet of the Sphinx where Ulysses must solve a riddle to ensure our heroes successful release….

Unfortunately Hermione, the daughter of the Sphinx, has other ideas – boy does she want Ulysses for herself, and the gods are only too happy to nudge her along the way! – and tricks ‘the children’ into entering the door that leads to The Mirror That Always Speaks The Truth. Angered at the news of their (unwitting) intrusion the Sphinx allows her to subject Ulysses to her own challenge – perhaps seeing her true face reflected will help resolve matters….

Some nice atmospheric scene setting in this episode – the leery lizard strolling through the palace of the Sphinx – and the design of the Sphinx himself, being particular highlights….

EPISODE 9

“It’s time that’s the fatal trap, the sure way to death.”

The very best of them all? The Odyssey comes under attack from Trident spaceships and it seems there is nothing can be done to avoid destruction…. Only Cronus, exiled from Olympus by the gods, intervenes, transporting our heroes to The Kingdom Of Time, hoping to use Ulysses to bargain for his eventual freedom…..

‘The children’ are first placed in The Timelock then escape (accidentally) to the The Chamber Of Seasons, where they begin to age rapidly. It’s up to Ulysses to save both them and the lives of their companions from the ravages of accelerated time….

I first saw the latter half of this episode as a youngster and remember vividly the scenes of Ulysses scaling the great clock tower and, particularly, the looming, gloomy (and catchy) theme that accompanied it….


May ’18 – “By The Countless Constellations!” – Ulysses 32

Posted: May 29th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

….and onto Disc 1 of ‘The Complete Series’. Please note that TheAdamAdamant‘s episode running order differs from the UK DVD release – Agent Rob assumes it is the original French broadcast order, hence the difference in the numbering of some of the embedded titles….

EPISODE 2

In this second episode the Odyssey encounters the seventh satellite of Zotra – a ‘holiday’ planet remembered from Yumi‘s childhood – now to be found wandering in Olympus and ruled by a strange old witch. Is she as she seems…?

A good enough episode, most notable for the leery scene above (watch to find out)….

EPISODE 3

The Odyssey approaches an asteroid that is home to Heratos and Atina. Heratos tells our heroes of how, aboard Atina‘s ship – incidentally she’s a Zotran the same race as Yumi – he saw The Black Sphere of the title, itself a map of Olympus. Naturally he was then struck blind by the gods and doomed to his lonely existence….

Of course, with the gods meddling, Ulysses does not in fact head for The Galactic Glaciers as Heratos (wrongly) instructed but instead is diverted via The Graveyard Of Wrecks and Hulks where the Odyssey collides with Atina‘s original ship. Will Yumi beat the race against destruction to salvage The Black Sphere, the map back to Earth, in time….?

EPISODE 4

The Odyssey encounters a cyclonic disturbance that puts the ship’s gravitation out of control and ends up trapped by Aeolus, King of The Winds….

And thus, on his daughter’s birthday, Aeolus pits Ulysses, “the plaything of the gods”, against his guests, the NorthSouthEast and West Winds, in a series of deadly games – akin to Target, Chess, Pinball and Bowling. Will Ulysses be able to survive and rescue ‘the children’….

EPISODE 5

One of the true classic episodes where Sisyphus, doomed to a cycle of repetition following his attempt to uncover immortality, the secret of the gods, tries to cheat Ulysses into taking his place, forcing him to repeat the same thankless task while he commandeers the Odyssey to make his escape….

‘The children’, as ever, intervene with these plans and soon our heroes find themselves beneath the surface of the planet, bearing awed witness to the hidden machinery behind the downfall of  Sisyphus‘s….

An episode notable for an especially bleak opening – the reason why this disc alone of the 3 is rated Parental Guidance? – as we witness Sisyphus foraging desperately for food (before it spoils in the baking sun) as well as the general mood of despair and hopelessness that hangs over the proceedings, especially when Sisyphus discovers the truth behind his endless tasks and the gods mock him for his suspicious, selfish behaviour that prolongs his weary isolation….


May ’18 – “By The Great Galaxies” – Ulysses 31

Posted: May 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: A Proper Blog | Tags: | No Comments »

It’s not massively common for anyone associated with Braw Towers to fall into or for the (ever-expanding-wallet-shrinking) nostalgia trap, but Agent Rob has to admit that his admiration for Ulysses 31 is about as close as he’ll ever get to indulging this modern phenomenon. There’s no doubt that his young imagination was well and truly fired – just as it was with the similar-ish Star Fleet and 80’s Doctor Who – by these highly imaginative and memorable animated ‘space adventures’. Over the course of this Manga Month (and perhaps into the mythical near future) we’ll hopefully cover every episode of this cartoon classic in detail….

Yumi, Ulysses, Telemachus and Nono

“It is the 31st Century. Ulysses killed the giant Cyclops when he rescued the chilrdren and his son Telemachus, but the ancient gods of Olympus are angry and threaten a terrible revenge….”

“Mortals! You defy the gods!? I sentence you to travel among unknown stars. Until you find the kingdom of hades your bodies will stay as lifeless as stone….”

EPISODE 1

In this opening episode Telemachus, the son of Ulysses, is ‘spacenapped’ from their ship, the Odyssey, and is to be sacrificed to the mighty Cyclops. In prison Telemachus meets (the other central characters) Yumi and her brother Numinor of the planet Zotra….

The ‘spacebase’ at Troy

The Odyssey

In their attempt to rescue these three, Ulysses and Nono – the obligatory comic relief robot – destroy the Cyclops, thus angering and defying the ancient Greek god of Poseidon. As such their ship is banished to a black hole where they will undergo many trials in the dominion of Olympus….

Shirka, the Odyssey’s computer

The Cyclops

At this juncture, while Ulysses repairs the ship’s Iris (its main source of power) for Shirka (its central computer), he is sentenced to “wander among worlds unknown” and his companions are frozen – “their bodies will remain as lifeless as stone” – until such a time as they eventually (hopefully) find the Kingdom of Hades….

Zeus

Nestor and the lifeless companions

This first episode – and one that my little brother delighted in telling me about when I came home from playing football at the park and caught the ending, knowing I would have to wait until such a time as it was repeated to finally see it – is a good enough introductory tale, essential for the initial set-up of the overarching plot, the mighty Cyclops and his eerily faithful disciples. Worth noting that it only takes 6 minutes for one of the especially memorable and haunting themes to make an audio appearance, ‘Le Cyclope et Les Moines Aveugles‘ and that after 9 & 1/2 minutes we’re treated to yet another classic bit of the ’31 soundtrack, ‘L’Odysseus‘….

Episode 1 – Vengeance Of The Gods

Agent Rob‘s been watching these episodes on an historic 3 DVD set ‘The Complete Series‘ from 2004 but the lucky(?) readers of this blog can enjoy them courtesy of TheAdamAdamant‘s Youtube Channel. Adam has, over the past four years been diligently and lovingly restoring the entire series episode by episode. Indeed, all the beautiful, crisp screengrabs on display are sourced from said videos. I’ll be sure to link/share the very best of these restored Ulysses 31 episodes here….

Not content with his services to the obvious betterment of mankind, Adam Adamant has somehow unearthed the original 15 minute (decidedly) Japanese (looking) pilot of the show – the final 1981 series was a French-Japanese co-production – taking the time to dub it into English too. This intriguing curio is (his but) yours to view above….

Of course, for many people, myself included, much of the (enduring) appeal of Ulysses 31 is the tremendous original soundtrack – composed by Denny Crockett and Ike Egan (with Shuki Levy and Haim Saban)- comprised as it is of quietly brooding, highly atmospheric, proggy space rock. And, thanks to the dedication of French composer/musician David Colin/Parallax – who obviously knows quality when he hears it – you can listen to rerecorded excerpts here or indeed invest in a lavish variety of physical versions here. Agent Rob was lucky enough to grab a 10 track work in progress sampler of the very best tracks online many years ago and, IMO, the greatest of them all is this effort (AKA the aforementioned ‘Le Cyclope et Les Moines Aveugles‘)….

Ulysee 31 Soundtrack – La Malédiction Des Dieux