Saturday, April 9, 2011

Time Jam: Valérian and Laureline

Last month I discovered and posted about the long running French comic Valérian and Laureline with mention of the French/Japanese cartoon. Since then I've had opportunity to view several episodes from said series. And I'm in love. Again, the entire series is freely available on YouTube at the time of this post.

The first impression of Time Jam is that it is definitely a Japanese anime in appearance and animation. It could easily be a product purely from Japan, but I believe the French sci-fi element is clear. The alien creature design is refreshing. The artists provide a wide variety of humanoid aliens as well as creatures that come from the far corners of one's imagination.

The show is pure space opera pulp. Many of the things I enjoy visually were also triggered (or developed) by the Star Wars franchise. The technology levels are pretty much the same. Perhaps many of the tech in Valérian is beyond Star Wars. A Long Long Time Ago... seemed like the galaxy was past it's peak. There's so much variety in Valérian that some stories capture that past peak feel, while others are set in worlds at their prime. One aspect that Time Jam: Valérian and Laureline has as an advantage over the Star Wars milieu is we can enjoy that sci-fi tech level, but still retain the social commonalities and customs of our real world where Star Wars was separate and any modern catchphrases or English text has no place in that setting and is poor continuity or cinema error. Valérian enjoys this freedom like Star Trek does.

Another point of higher quality is the incidental soundtrack. With Japanese anime, music is often top of the line. As anime becomes more and more recognized as a serious medium, higher quality becomes the norm. Still, there have been more than a couple of times where I note that the music in this show is often just great. There are points in the music that are reminiscent of John Williams or other similar musicians (taking something for Star Wars would probably be OK considering... see last month's post).

I'm very glad to have such easy access to the series. I only wish there were more available comic book-wise. As I compose this post I realized that I do, in fact, have two English language copies of Valerian comics published in the later '90s from Fantasy Flight- Heroes of the Equinox. It seemed that their book never really took off, but I recall talking to the Christian about the series, not appreciating it until almost a decade later.

Time Jam is not the first time there was an attempt at making an animated Valérian and Laureline film or show. The first was tried in 1973, but didn't get much further than notations, etc. Next, Mézières created concept art for one episode in 1982 entitled Asteroids of Shimballil, but the show was never made. In 1991 a three minute pilot episode was created but nothing came of it. Another attempt was made in 2001 and again, nothing came of it. Finally, Time Jam debuted in France October, 2007.

My brain takes a tangent considering what RPG system I'd use if I wished to run a game like Valérian and Laureline or something like it. I noted that the initial premise of the series, not necessarily the cartoon- at least not 8 or 9 episodes in, but traveling through time and space and visiting alternate timelines lent itself to GURPS Infinite Worlds. I wonder if the Valérian and Laureline is a bit too space opera or pulp for the likes of GURPS, though. On the other hand, the show doesn't glorify guns-a-blazing. There'd be more roleplaying which I think would be supported by the system better than other more tactical systems. Obviously, GURPS Space would be heavily used and maybe a dash of GURPS Tales of the Solar Patrol.


My own suspicion is that the newest rendition of the Doctor Who franchise's companion- Amy Pond was created with Valerian's Laureline in mind. Watching Time Jam the Laureline character reminds me of Amy Pond quite often. Not only in appearance, but also in attitude and mannerisms. Both characters are the sidekick to a traveler of time and space. This idea is based on nothing I've read or seen other than both shows and the similarities noted about each.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for your great review. I've been a big fan of Valerian & Laureline for more than 30 years (collecting all the books) and I loved the animé as well. Like you I especially appreciateded the soundtrack though sometimes found it a bit repetitive. Lots of action-packed fun, adventure, mystery and passion here. The French dubbing was excellent. Clearly one of my favorite animated series. L.

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  2. Thanks for the kind words. I'm a fresh fan and loving the series. Just watched the episode 'Tea Time' today with my kids (the one where they switched bodies). I adore this show!

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  3. as a fan of the comics for .. 20 years i thinks.i have to disagree with about the anim.When they first teas it ,I was very exited about it...
    but I find him very disappointing.
    it mights be because i not a huge fan of japanimation(except some exception) . anyway they change the main characters in some pre adolescent with a bad love story wich was never like this in the comic...
    One of the things I love (in the comics) was the fact there were a couple and interact as a couple ,not some fake superman/lois lane relationship "i love you andi know you love me but i can't tell because i'm a bad ass kid"
    the other thing i love on the comics was the story ,who was denatured in the anim ,and is way more dramatic ,with depth and make you think
    .
    the final thing i love about it was all the SF stuff that was typically with a french touch ...

    the main argument i should reproche ,i think is that the show was aim to children , surely for money raison...but it result a crapy random show who can be easily forget...

    AS i was re-reading again some of my valérian comics, i realize why i love doctor who: some episode reminds me of valérian or have the spirit of it.. the fun mixe with adventure ,wonderfull sci fi stuff and some melancholy about home planet who disappear... and the obvius spacetime travel and like u said hero with his girl compagnion..

    Amy remind me too of laureline, that must be why i like her and kip watching Doctor who ... because the new doctor have until now,very few good episode (just the steven moffat and neil gaiman are good)...

    anyway; good post:More people know valérian the better(but i prefer thel to know the comics ;b)

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