Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Right Stuf’s Anime Today Podcast Features Interview With Fred Ladd

And We Take Offense At Some Things He Has To Say.

Due to the potential offensive nature of a comment Fred Ladd made during the interview, we caution readers before they click the link below to read this. Fred states in the interview that he in no means is demeaning anyone, however we feel we need to restate this just in case fans miss it in our transcript posted below or when they listen to the podcast. We at Moon Chase! would like to state that we in no way believe that any nation has a specific way of thinking about the cartoons that they make, especially when it comes to the nature of violence in a cartoon. Our staff is multi-culturally diverse and we are the last people on the planet to demean another culture or race over anything - especially over the cartoons that they make. We are only stating what was said in the interview.

Now in it’s third year, Right Stuf’s Anime Today podcast brings fans the latest news and reviews about anime, manga, and Japan. In their 53rd installment, they included the second part of an interview they had with animation legend, Fred Ladd. Fred Ladd has been in the animation industry since 1958, directing, producing, consulting, writing and editing cartoons. He was a pioneer in the development of cel animation, supervising the first colorations of Looney Tunes and Betty Boop, as well as colorizations of the old black and white Popeye and Merrie Melodies. Now, how did these black and white cartoons get colorized? By using a new technique at the time that required tracing of film frames that had been blown up to cel-sized proportions. Back then there were no computers to do the work for them, so this was all done by hand. However, in the 90s this work was all lost as the coloration was done by computers. Fred served as creative consultant on the first two seasons of the show.

However, most of the staff here took offense to a few things that he said. We thought that it was wrong of him to call Sailor Moon the "most violent kids show I have ever seen in my whole eyes". We can think of many kids cartoons that were more violent than it. We also think that he’s a bit of a hypocrite when he says that considering he has worked on other productions such as Gigantor, The Incredible Hulk and MASK. Just a few minutes later he does a complete 360° praising the characters for their warmth and humanity. And then there was a comment at the end which really struck a nerve "...but there were other scenes of violence and cruelty that I can’t imagine - it almost sounds racist but I don’t mean it to be - but I can’t imagine anyone in the States - in American arms - we just don’t think that way." We understand you don't mean to offend in a racial way Fred, but if we really tried , we could name several American cartoons before and after Sailor Moon that are more violent, or just as violent - Looney Tunes, Batman: The Animated Series, Ninja Turtles, Batman Beyond, Spider Man, South Park, and to a certain extent The Powerpuff Girls, The Simpsons and Family Guy. Those were only naming a few, but if we mentioned all of them we’d probably run out of space. We here at Moon Chase are pretty offended with this comment - and we think Fred needs a reality check.

Try as we might have to make this transcript 100% accurate, there were some parts where it was hard to decipher what words he was saying. Also because Fred had such a passion about his answer, it was difficult to discern the ends of sentences as he was talking so we apologize for the incorrect punctuation. We tried our best. Fans can listen to the podcast here, and can skip ahead to around 26:20 to listen to Fred talk about Sailor Moon.

Female Interviewer: And now back to the second half of Mr Ladd’s Interview.

And you’ve managed- you’ve stayed involved in the industry and worked on projects since then too that was one thing a lot of people I’m not sure know that you’ve done.

Male Interviewer: And one of the things in particular I’m sure a lot of people don’t realize is that you have some involvement in the original release here of Sailor Moon, can you talk a little bit about that?

Fred Ladd: Yes, Sailor Moon, yeah. Uh I will tell you, the first thing I’ll tell you about Sailor Moon - uh and it was only after I got into it - Sailor Moon I will tell you is the most - this is gonna surprise you I’m sure - is I talked about violence - Sailor Moon is the most violent kids show I have ever seen in my whole eyes. I have never seen anything - I couldn’t believe it. When the series was first offered to me, and I’m going back now to 1995 - I was busy when that was first offered I think DiC studios bought it in - DiC was doing Strawberry Shortcake and a lot of other little cute cartoons, Inspector Gadget was out of DiC, so they were doing their own shows, and they had no experience in bringing in a Japanese show. Which Sailor Moon is also called that in Japan, Sailor Moon. It became a phenomenon in Japan. It was a wild success in Japan being drawn at that time for a manga, for comic books by a young gal who was at that time 27 years old, and she became an overnight millionairess. Her name escapes me too at the moment, but if I’ll have to think about it, I’ll think about it. But she was a gal, 27, became suddenly wealthy, and Sailor Moon did it for her. Well when I was first offered and I was tied up with other stuff and I thanked the guys at DiC very much, guys who were old friends of mine, knew’em. They said Fred, we need your help on this, it’s Japanese and we thought - we do our own shows and we thought this was going to be formatted like our own shows so we went ahead and bought it, and it’s coming in and it’s not what we thought! We’re not sure how to handle this could you give us a hand? I said fellas I’d love to but I’m working on this and that and so forth and I turned them down. In fact I recommended another guy to do it, he did the first 3 or 4 shows and it wasn’t working. And finally I got an SOS from DiC, Fred, we tried so hard and this isn’t working, Fred, you gotta help us with this, it’s not what we thought... Fred you gotta help us. Again I said look, I can’t, and they said will you come over and take a look, before you say no - in all fairness to yourself - come over and we’ll speed a couple of shows and see what you think. And whatever speed a couple of shows, I was flipped, oh I said this is great this is charming. The characters were so warm, and so human and this 27 year old artist - boy she understood people. Because the humanity of these cartoon characters the warmth I mean they were delightful I was charmed - by these five young gals who come to earth from outer space, they come to earth because they are being driven away from outer space by the evil forces of the negaverse. They are sent by their parents the same way as superman first comes, do you remember superman? Comes from a dying planet, sent by his loving father. So the same idea, that these five girls come floating from other planets, hence the name sailor, they all wear little sailor suits and they sail down to earth where they meet each other - just to meet each other because of their outer spacey origin. They even look human, as human as all of us except me, and they were just delightful characters. I said well, alright, I’ll try a few, let’s see if you like my approach. I said listen, before you want me for the series, let me do a few and see what you think. It stretched the whole series. We wound up doing 65 of them, it was a joy to do, I just loved the characters. The warmest, cutest of them - we had so much fun doing it. When I say violent, there were cases here where the violence was such that I just said my God what! Uh Sailor Moon, the young girl that is nicknamed Sailor Moon, she’s called Serena in our English version, the Japanese called her Usagi - which means rabbit - bunny rabbit which means bunny in Japan, you’ve heard of bunny. So we called her Serena and uhh again she awakens one day with no recollection really of her outer space origin. She thinks she’s just like other kids in junior high she is a 14 year old girl - Sailor Moon is a 14 year old girl. And all the other girls that she meets that come from outer space they’re all 14 years of age and they are in high school. Well the charm is that they are like her - they start falling in love, they are on the phone, they like talking about boys and it’s just so cute with pajama parties and stuff like that. It was just a lot of fun. Now one day, a plant - a plant - a veg- just a flower comes in, it arrives one day and no one knows exactly where it came from , but she has the courage let’s keep it here, oh what a beautiful plant! One night, Bunny, our Serena, is walking around - she passes the plant, and the plant flower suddenly becomes a face you can see a face in the petals and you see an evil smile. And the long leaves - petals they become like arms and they grow grow grow and the leaves they combinate, they take the girl Serena, they wrap around her like a boa constrictor like a python and they begin squeezing and lifting the girl up in the air towards the sky to the point where her eyes unfortunately blackout - I said My God What? That’s gotta go, that’s gotta be cut. So that’s one scene of violence, but there were other scenes of violence and cruelty that I can’t imagine - it almost sounds racist but i don’t mean it to be - but I can’t imagine anyone in the States - in American arms - we just don’t think that way. So as I say when I called the cartoon violent, I began to see increasing violence, I said what the heck is goin’ on, it’s gotta be cut. Of course, it’s gotta be cut. Now once you cut things, again you wind up with a short show, I wind up with a show that’s too short. So we had to figure out how to tackle that and all. So I like this show because of both of the challenge and the warmth and humanity of it. So I have a special warm place in my heart for Sailor Moon.

And then he went on to talk more about Astroboy. He later said he was glad that he took the show on after all and that it was fun.

We’re going to open it up to you all now, so feel free to discuss Fred’s comments below!

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