Hey, everyone, long time no see… 🙂 This is still not a website update (sorry…)–I’ve been keeping a little too busy as of late, like to the point that I don’t even turn my home computer on more than a couple of times a week these days. I’m very eager for things to settle down soon.
But I did want to post some fun finds from around the web…
Firstly, a series of international PoDW openings on YouTube: Las Piratas de las Aguas Negras (Spanish), the Swedish intro, A Sötét Víz Kalózai (Hungarian), and ~???????? ???????? (Japanese–this hilarious pop song intro by Hironobu Kageyama that will now be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. By the way, check out the “international” tagged posts to get more info on the Japanese version of the show).
Also, this great comment, from Tumblr user nijireiki –
Man, I really wanna do a rewrite comic of Pirates of Dark Water.
Like, CLEARLY there were some executive meetings to make Ioz nicer, curse less, and stop referencing whorehouses; to make Niddler less of a racial critique and more of a buffoonish stereotype; to make Ren paler, less “femme,” and more competent as a leader (rather than a naïve lighthouse boy who assembles a relatively equal TEAM); and to make Tula sweeter, more helpless/less competent, less creepy (ecomancers have… side effects that come with their skillset), less revolutionary, more “femme”/scantily clad, paler, and all-around healer/mystic/team girl. (AND to make the bad guys less threatening, though, interestingly for a ’90s cartoon, death— even onscreen death— was not phased out of the show entirely.)
I think it would just be awesome to restore some of that stuff, you know? A lot of worldbuilding clearly went into Dark Water, and it’s a damn shame the show never finished and so few people know about it. :/
You know, I did wonder about whether all ecomancers’ legs sprout (or transform into) roots and branches, the way Teron’s did. He didn’t have the incandescent lightning effect that Tula did, so my assumption was that it’s a little different for everyone–kind of an organic manifestation that depends on the person.
But anyway, that bit aside, the rest of the commentary is spot-on: the characters did change rather dramatically throughout the series. I’d even argue that the three main chunks of the series (released in 1991, 1992, and 1993, respectively) show noticeable differences: episodes 1-5 are the most solid and balanced representations, episodes 6-13 are definitely more watered-down and geared towards kids, and episodes 14-21 trend towards the darker and/or more grown-up side with some of their themes and action sequences.
Though, then again, a woman with a 17-year-long obsession over a man (and then that man’s son) who died a horrible death by melting into a pool of Dark Water was in that middle block of episodes, as was a wizard being killed by his own ghastly creations after using his magic to kill many people in order to steal their gold (but yet again, that episode also has the monumentally awful and OBVIOUSLY watered-down line, “You fight like your captain, Swar–not very well!”)…but that whole block of episodes did focus more heavily on moral themes, and you can derive very clear ones from each episode.
But then in those last 8 episodes, Ioz’s temper towards Tula waxed and waned (raging at her one minute, then grudgingly acknowledging that she was capable and worthy of respect, and asking Ren not to tell Tula that he had admitted he was “a greedy fool”), Tula became a bit more badass again (though still watered-down by her obvious interest in Ren and her jealousy over him expressing interest in other women–but tempered by the fact that she really stole the show when she fake-betrayed her friends in order to protect them from the Delpha Warriors and to try to secure the Eighth Treasure of Rule), and Ren made some tough moral decisions (not leaving Bloth to die when he could have, learning greatly from his own experience of being transformed into a dagron) and grew a lot in the process. (Note that I’m not saying a word about Niddler, because I’m really irritated that he was such a great and multi-dimensional character in episodes 1-5–embittered and damaged by his service to Bloth, but a loyal and true friend with deep convictions and moral fiber–and then was relegated to the irritating, selfish, childish comic relief after that.)
Also, it’s interesting, but I guess not that surprising, that pretty much the entirety of the character development happened with the protagonists. It was still a show from the era of wanting to proper delineate good and evil, so the bad guys were simply that. They had backstories and motivations and personalities that were uniquely theirs (especially in episodes 1-5–Mantus’s cool “Of course, sir. When you let the enemy think he’s in charge, it’s easy.” line still is pretty freaking cool), but at the end of the day, they were The Bad Guys. Period.
Okay, enough of that for now. It’s nice to reflect on the show in terms of the era in which it was conceived, and in terms of more “grown-up” sensibilities (I’m now older than Ioz! haha). And it’s great to have conversations with people who continue to rediscover and reflect on the show in their own ways. I do appreciate how enthusiastic you all are–the e-mails and comments have been wonderful and I’ve seriously enjoyed the discussions we’ve had over the years. Thank you for your lasting support over all this time. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll actually update the site one of these days (weeks? months? years? sigh), clean it up, and integrate the bulk of the info from the blog, and make it up to you!