Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Magical Revisited #4: Jem and the Holograms



In the past entries of Magical Revisited, we have taken a jump into the world of Anime's contributions. Though it can be said that Japan's contribution to the genre is the most prolific and memorable by many, but others can say the same about today's show. As we were speaking of Creamy Mami, a large plot point of the 80's was the fantasy of little girls or normal women turning into crazy and totally outrageous pop star idols. But as Creamy Mami was more of a one layered and confused sort of deal, our Magical Girl in discussion is a clear tale of duel personalities, romantic issues, rival bands, and the biggest hair possible.  So let's jump on into the rockin roadster and meet Jem and the Holograms


The story of Jem is one of a layered onion, to say the least. Beginning in 1983, Hasbro was looking to create a doll that would be a more profitable competition against doll giant Barbie and her new Rock N' Roll styled collection. Hasbro took inspiration from popular female rock idols of the time (Debbie Harry or Joan Jett), along with punk bands, and created the new doll line titled Jem. As the Jem dolls then became world wide successes, Hasbro decided to create a tag-a-long television series similar to their current hit G.I.Joe, but this time for the more female oriented demographic. Thus the Jem and the Holograms television series was born, and defined much of a generation.

Jem tells the story of Jerrica Benton, heiress to Starlight Records and Starlight House for Orphaned Girls. We meet Jerrica the night of her father passing and learn that competing businessman, Eric Raymond wants the rights to her father's company. Jerrica is then twisted into a mystery of her father's past and learns of the technology he created known as Synergy, a machine that could create any hologram with the call of it's name. With this, Jerrica, her sister Kimber, and their friends Aja and Shana, form the new band The Holograms, along with Jerrica transforming into her alter ego, Jem.

Jem as a character was the side of Jerrica that is more wild, confident, and out spoken. Though Jerrica featured a lot of those own qualities herself, it really was Jem that brought those to the forefront, especially when it came to the number one topic in her life: Rio. Rio is Jerrica's perfect purple haired boyfriend that is loyal as a loyal boyfriend can be. Rio would do anything and everything for Jerrica, until he met Jem, to which for him was sort of the forbidden fruit.


On the other hand, we have our "villains" or rival band of the series, The Misfits. These group of "rebels" were formed by Eric Raymonds record label, and with the ultra inspirations of bands like The Clash and The Dead Boys, created a much more complex and interesting band overall. Lead by green haired vixen Pizzazz, good hearted Stormer and past criminal Roxy, these three made a band that consistently was bizarre and yet somehow no matter how many times they tried to kill The Holograms (Yes, these were some intense situations) they never seemed to get arrested. 

Maybe its because these characters had a bit more depth and interesting inner demons then say a typical generic Barbie, or because these girls, regardless of which band, were definitely living an adventurous life, but Jem and the Holograms still remains a cult classic to many, and especially to me.

Sure, the animation is questionable and nothing stand out. Yes, the story lines much of the time now come off as cheesy and campy at best. But there was something about this show that no other had or has had for me since. Personally in my own right, I feel a lot of it has to do with the almost over the top antics that these characters would get into. From a decade that also born soap dramas like Dynasty, dramatic and over the top was the feel of the 80's overall, and maybe since I was a 90's baby I was still craving that sense of insanity, and Jem just happened to perfectly give me what I wanted from the decade prior to my existence. 

Another aspect that made this show memorable was the 3 new songs that would premiere per episode, with a special music video inspired sequence to go with it. Though later as the series went on certain songs were re-used, it was an element that no other show at the time had. Many shows have attempted to replicate a similar vibe, but not to the same incredibly awesome success. I will have to say, my absolute favorite is "Truly Outrageous", which includes Jem as a mermaid, princess on a unicorn, and traveling on rainbow clouds. And lets not forget that these sequences were specially animated by future Sailor Moon studio, Toei Animation. 



One thing that has always made me curious though was Jerrica and Rio's relationship, and how Jem effected it. I mean think about it from either perspective: Jerrica is seeing her perfect lavender haired god of masculinity going off with a girl that has a complimenting hair color and doesn't seem to give a crap about Jerrica's feelings towards their "relationship". But yet, for some bizarre reason, Jerrica is the one feeling guilty about lying to Rio that she is Jem? WRONG. Jerrica, if you go with the train of thought that you and Jem are different people then he is clearly doing something wrong on his end, and you are a beautiful girl even when you aren't a rockstar. I know this guy has been with you since the beginning of time, and has rocked that fantastic hair since then as well, and he makes your outfits ever so perfectly, but you need to get yourself a really loyal man. You even had a rockstar version of The Beast falling for you, so get yourself a real man honey!

But if we put these facts aside, Jem is a silly show for silly reasons and will always be memorable for those exact things. Its a product of its decade and I honestly find a hard time finding anything that was even relatively close to it in any sense. Sure there have been similar pop idol shows prior and after (case in point: This was around the same time as Creamy Mami) and it can easily be seen that many pop stars born in the 80's have taken influence, especially Lady Gaga and K-$-ha (Kesha), who literally look like modern day Jem and Pizzaz. Jem has even gotten enough of a cult status to have many of the Dolls and DVD box sets released in the last few years, along with tons of other amazing new merchandise! In a word it can be said that it is Truly Truly Outrageous!

But now begs the question, was there any other magical girl shows that came out in US? I know this might be one that stumps you, and because of this next time we are gonna exclusively speak about the mahou shoujo series you might have never heard of, forgotten, or wished you could watch again! Next time: The Other USA Magical Girls. Trust me, you might be surprised what you find. 




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