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Buried Treasure - Mysterious Cities of Gold


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Kenotic



Joined: 02 Mar 2007
Posts: 167

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:15 am Reply with quote
...and I was just thinking of this show when I was watching Erin after reading the review. I could see Beast Player Erin showing next to this and Belle and Sebastian back in the Classic Nick days.

I do remember it being a little dry towards the middle, so it was a good thing that I usually saw an episode once every few weeks. I also remember I could tell where it was in the story based on what Esteban was wearing....and yes, I know that's strange.

And it's a good thing I wasn't watching this when we got around to the actual Seven Cities of Gold in History class, I was having a hard enough time unlearning everything as it was.
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 12558

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:51 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Nostalgia makes everything better. Fast food, cheap perfume, and school lunch are all so much improved in retrospect. And so it is with TV and movies. Films I remembered fondly as a kid, more often than not, are unwatchable to me as an adult. TV series, especially cartoons, fare even worse: Transformers, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and most of the other cartoons that used to comprise my daily viewing would make me want to stab myself if I marathoned them today.


I stopped caring for TMNT, when I found out that even the Archie Comics versions had better writing than the show. TF didn't start sucking for me until they came up with the "genius" idea of having robots with human shells, thus defeating the whole purpose of the series. I never really liked He-Man, G.I. Joe, and Voltron much, outside of the toys, so I don't feel as "disappointed" by them 25+ years later as most people would be. Never liked Goonies, even when I was younger. It might have been a different story if it came out before the Wolfgang Petersen Neverending Story, but it felt like a movie where they were trying to pander to particular demos, without actually doing anything with the material. It might be a knock-off, but Monster Squad's the better movie. And Sandlot owns both of their asses.

Quote:
And so too I imagined, was Mysterious Cities of Gold, an early 80s Japan-France co-production that saw broadcast on Nickelodeon during its early days, but had somehow slipped past me.


Yer not the only one, dude. If it wasn't for the Internets, I wouldn't even know this show existed. And it's weird that it didn't get talked about that much, given that it probably paved the way for Carmen Sandiego and Ducktales.
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Kabuto



Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 7
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:54 am Reply with quote
I loved MCoG when I was a kid, and I was jumping with joy a few years back when I found the entire show on a private ftp. I had a marathon viewing, and it was just as great as I remembered.

I rewatched it again (when the DVDs were released, 8 months ago or something like that) with my girlfriend who hand't seen the show before, and she loved it as well.

Where most shows of the 80s today are too dated to enjoy as an adult (Transformers and Turtles? Dumb as fudge and unwatchable, loved it when I was a kid though) MCoG is nevertheless a good show and it's still entertaining to both young and old.
It might not be the greatest anime ever made, but it sure as hell is the greatest kid's show of all time; a classical adventure of epic proportions on par with the written classics of the same genre.

Esteban, Zia and Tau are literally driven to develop as characters, with Esteban in particular being forced to make some tough choices. One would think this means the show waxes melodramatic, yet the series never really slips into this, and manages to test the characters in ways not seen in anime or cartoons at the time. Even now, there are very few shows that will force the characters to think and act, rather than react and/or use strength and willpower alone.

Possibly the real star of the show though, is Mendoza. The Spaniard is an expert sailor and navigator, and is more than skilled with a sword. He is also very much a strategist, and there are numerous occasions when he thinks his way out of situations. Not only that, when he is off screen the viewer has an absolute certainty that he is not resting on his laurels, but is planning or acting somewhere to achieve his sometimes ambiguous goals. Anime in the 80s had not seen a character like him before, and this type of characterisation is still a rarity.

As far as adventures go, MCoG is one of the best, if not the best, out there. Given the fact that the series is over 25 years old it would be easy to think that I'm simply making this comment out of nostalgia or a sense of reminiscence.
I'm not since I've rewatched it twice as an adult, and to say it puts almost every adventure based anime out there to shame would not be an understatement. MCoG set the standard for adventure anime, and it's a sad fact that these standards have not been maintained.

The dubs are both very good as well. There are critics of the English dub, however I feel that this is unjustified. The English dub was far more ambitious than most people realise as, rather than simply enacting a "literal" translation, the actors were encouraged to add their own depth and vitality to each role. This is why the English dub is sometimes very different to what appears in the Japanese dub, even though the characters are still, effectively, saying the same things.


And for the record; I LOVE the musical score, I've had the tunes in my head ever since I was a kid, and they're all awesome.

It's actually one area where the series excels, even by todays standards; with it's creative, and sometimes inspired, music.
When watching this show one should keep an ear open for the differences in thematic music, especially with regards to each character. The music throughout the series reflects the South American (more Peruvian than Brazilian though), and Spanish themes upon which the story is based, and although much of it was done using synthesizers, the effect is still laudable for the little touches of authenticity the music brings to each character or scene. In addition to the thematic music, the OP is one of the catchiest in anime, and it may come as a surprise when you find yourself whistling or humming it for days after.

I have enjoyed this series as a child and as a man, and it is one of only a handful of shows that I would watch in my dotage. There was, and still is, a sense of realism from the characters that most anime would envy, and I consider this series to be one of the most underrated classics (and I do not use that term lightly), in anime to date.
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Jacut



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 119
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:06 am Reply with quote
"Les Mystérieuses Cités d'Or" is arguably one of the most well-known anime series in Europe, and especially in my home country France (obviously, since it was developped/produced in France and animated in Japan almost thirty years ago), where it runs non-stop for the past 3 decades on several TV channels. And as you say, it's also arguably one of the best adventure series for kids ever made in Japanese animation along with Nadia (probaby the closest series to MCOG). I've seen it tens of times and listened to the marvellous French OP hundreds of times and I don't seem to grow tired of this show more than twenty years after I watched it first.
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Brack



Joined: 15 Oct 2005
Posts: 145
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:17 am Reply with quote
As well as The King's Fifth, was 1975's Adventures of Pepero the Andes Boy an influence too?

I've not seen it, but synopses suggest enough similarities to MCOG - missing father, the search for El Dorado, a golden condor - that I'm wondering if it was in the creators minds when MCOG was made.
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Ralifar



Joined: 15 Jul 2009
Posts: 205
Location: League City, TX

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:27 am Reply with quote
This is going to have to remain in my fond childhood memories. I feel that if I were to watch it again after so many years I wouldn't exactly be able to maintain my delusions of it being that great of a show. I've already lost He-Man and Thundercats. I don't want to lose anything else. Razz

[Grammar is OT]
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Kabuto



Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 7
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:41 am Reply with quote
http://www.myspace.com/​citiesofgold

Thought this could be of some interest for the rest of you, some of the musical scores from MCoG.

Sacred Grounds, what an epic tune, such nostaliga it carries!
It sends chills down my spine Very Happy
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Iritscen



Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 790

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:53 am Reply with quote
Hmm, I was happy to see you focus on this series, Justin, but I think you did it some injustice. You failed to mention how remarkably realistic the writing is for a children's show. I don't mean the occasional fanciful Indian technology, but the basic approach to the story. The good guys often have the worst luck (their ploys usually only last just long enough to save their skin, and the bad guys are not easily fooled, always half a step behind them).

The bad guys are not broadly-drawn stereotypes like virtually every villain in every kids' show (also, Pizarro!). Mendoza is a source of tension, since he seems to care about the kids but is also using them to find the gold that he seems to lust for like a typical Spaniard, which is the same thing the bad guys want the kids for.

I'm disappointed that you brush off the educational segments, because they are neither dated nor silly, but surprisingly informative and often tie amazingly well into the story ("Didn't I just see that exact setting in the show?"). They address matters in an adult tone, not talking down to the audience (the first episode's segment focuses on human sacrifice!).

The pacing of the show is slow in terms of direction and plot advancement, but when has the latter ever been a problem for kids? I can think of a few unending series with no serious plot advancement that have sucked kids in; this one's over in no time by comparison. It's only because the actual direction is slow that it risks losing a modern audience, and that's a pretty poor excuse not to watch something that enthralled audiences back in the '80s. Besides which, this show is every bit as slow as classic animé from the '70s and '80s such as Harlock and Gundam.

Finally, the dialogue works, even when it's stilted, because the show takes place in the 1500s. This show was a refreshing break from the cartoons set in the modern-day with your typical "rad" 80s kids in blue jeans with their baseball caps turned backwards. These kids are tougher and more adult-like than modern kids, as you'd expect them to be. This is also one of the few shows I've seen where the actors will talk over each other naturally rather than taking turns, waiting for each other to finish their lines. If the dialogue didn't go so fast, the show would feel even slower, so this is a good thing.

The music is completely unconventional in a good way, and knocking Levy and Saban is rather foolhardy if you know their reputation and accomplishments. If only they'd composed more scores! The ones that are present are over-used, but hold up well because of their mystical, low-key nature.

In summary, shows like this don't come along very often. I'm currently rewatching it, and I don't remember how it ends (my childhood memories are completely blank on this show even though I know I loved it), but so far I'm pretty fascinated. If more people saw this series they would realize how low the standard is for most children's entertainment. We need to bring back this serious approach to storytelling!
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 3316
Location: Back stateside

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:54 am Reply with quote
I love that you call the late 19th century "antiquity" (in regards to Nadia). Speaking of which, didn't Nadia post-date this series? Did Cities of Gold have any influence on it at all? The mysterious pendant certainly bears an eerie resemblance.

I'm not likely to watch this series if it's only available with a bad dub. I'd love to hear the French version for a comparison, but I doubt that'll ever wind up on hulu. Sad
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Iritscen



Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 790

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:56 am Reply with quote
Btw, Justin did you even *watch* the educational segments? Very Happy Because I didn't know "Japan" had so many ruins and peoples that look exactly like the ones you find in South America!

Also, coming back to the dub a second, Justin probably was subconsciously turned off by the fact that the voice actors for the kids are clearly actual kids, not women trying to sound like kids. While you can't expect quite the same level of acting as you get from professional VAs, I'd rather take the authenticity over the feminine boy voices in modern cartoons any day of the week.


Last edited by Iritscen on Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Vicserr



Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 476
Location: Carolina, Puerto Rico USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:56 am Reply with quote
Then I would have stabbed my eyes out a couple dozen times already by your accounts Justin, because I can enjoy the anime and the cartoons of my wasted youth unironically (currently I'm rewatching Transformers Unicron Trilogy - Thanks to the TransFormers Cybertron ultimate collection wonky Disc 1 mess (it's missing about 7 minutes of footage from ep 4, Hidden, if it doesn't start like this, check here for details for an exchange) and TF G1, Voltron (Lion and Vehicle), and Saber Rider among other stuff, I do remember fondly another French-Japanese co-production Ullisses 31, although Nono the robot could get in your nerves sometimes.
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 3316
Location: Back stateside

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:19 am Reply with quote
Ah, poor Justin, look at the wrath of the fans thou hast unleashed upon thyself!
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KabaKabaFruit



Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 1287
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:40 am Reply with quote
Okay Justin, after this, you gotta review Monkey's Punch's Three Musketeers or Anime San Juushi. Wink
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Sven Viking



Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 517

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:14 am Reply with quote
MCoG fans: I recommend also checking out Future Boy Conan.

(Edit: Come to think of it, I recommend it for non-MCoG fans, too.)
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jgreen



Joined: 14 Mar 2005
Posts: 1324
Location: St. Louis, MO

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:17 am Reply with quote
Oh, man, this is one of those shows whose fond memories just kept increasing over the years--not only because of nostalgia, but also because I got to see it so rarely growing up, not having cable and all. I haven't gotten around to re-watching it yet...I'm kind of afraid of ruining the memory, although given this article and the other posts in the thread, it doesn't sound like I have much to worry about.

I do think it's a little unfair to call the show "monotonous and repetitive," though. It sounds like you gained that impression by watching a lot of the show in a short period of time, but I doubt the makers of the show ever imagined anyone would sit down at watch the show for 5 or 6 hours straight. Yeah, it's available on DVD now, but the show was created in an era when there really was no cartoon home video market to speak of--it was meant to be watched a half hour at a time.
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