on 20 February 2014
I received this DVD on the 17th of feb and just finished watching it all today.
This is a great sequel to one of the most beloved cartoons from the 80s, I already own the first season box set and this carries straight on from there, there are even a few flashbacks throughout the series redrawn to tie it in more! I'm glad they kept it consistent in that respect rather than rebooting the series from new.
As for the new series, well, it's definitely a winner. Set in China rather than South America this time, the 3 intrepid children (Esteban, Zia, Tao) are searching for the next City of Gold, old faces and new friends are made and for the most part it works. First off the art style is GORGEOUS, its really very well drawn and animated (better than the 80s series in fact) and the touches of CGI are thankfully not overdone, the subtly updated character designs and small changes to the Golden Condor (their transport) gives the series a fresh lick of paint without detracting from the original series' style.
There are a few problems though. For a start the new voices are...terrible, I can understand why they didn't use the kids' original actors but Tao and Esteban sound way off and they surely could've reprised Mendoza's original voice actor? he sounds too different to really connect with the character, and while we're on the subject of Mendoza, his character is very different in this season, he's very cold and distant and always in a foul mood, definitely not the same Mendoza we came to love and know in the original series! And while the music evokes some classic themes from series one, they're too few and far between, it would've been nice to hear that gorgeous pulsating synth soundtrack from the first series.
The tone and violence is considerably lighter, the first series dealt with some very dark issues surrounding slavery, pillaging and even murder, there is very little hint of these issues in this series, and a lot of the fight scenes are comedy based and usually no one gets hurt. I'm not saying this should be a bloodbath but unlike series one when people are dropping like flies (usually offscreen but still) i can count only 2 deaths in this entire series.
Having said that, the ending....my god the ending! it totally makes up for it! they definitely saved the best till last and the tone drops, HEAVY, the last few episodes are like what we see in season one and not to spoil anything but the main bad guy is a very, very real threat.
Overall I am thoroughly impressed with this DVD, i wish there was some extra features though, but I'm just amazed this got made and released in the first place, you can tell it was such a labour of love that may have had some executive meddling, I just hope season 3 continues the darker tone we see at the end of this season.
on 20 February 2014
I received this box set on Monday, I finished it on Wednesday and I love it.
I watched the original series while I was a child, bought the box set of the first series last year for nostalgia's sake before remembering how good it was. Then I heard rumors about the second season and as soon as it was available on pre-order, I bought it.
The best thing that I liked about this new series is the attention to story detail and continuity and that they didn't try to "Improve" the series as I've seen with other 80s cartoon reboots but rather stuck with the original characters designs and background styles, only using CGI and it works.
If you grew up in the 80s and loved this series, you won't be disappointed.
on 18 March 2014
The 1982-83 series is my gold standard (pardon the pun) in terms of classic animated television series. A sprawling, mythical, adventurous story, sharply drawn characters, a beautiful soundtrack and – most importantly – no punches were pulled at any time. So my evaluation of this continuation can only hinge on one question: How does it compare to the original run?
Pro: This is a real continuation, not a reboot. Character design is consistent with the original, and the previous story is built upon expertly. There are even a few well-placed flashbacks to tighten the story. Tension builds up slowly, and the climax is unforgettable. The wait for the next series is going to be excruciating.
Con: The original could be quite grim at times, and was all the better for it. In the new series (especially the first half), the violence it is mostly cartoony. Comic relief is sometimes turned up to 11 and can be a bit hard to bear for older viewers, especially when it is supplied by Pedro, Sancho or the parrot Jar-Jar – sorry, Kokopetl – who, sadly, keeps interrupting the mini-documentaries at the end of each episode. Speaking of documentaries, it is not exactly kid-friendly to mix up fact and fiction. One episode the subject is Buddhist prayer wheels, and the next the (entirely fictitious) technology of the Flying Condor is discussed.
Pro: The art is stunning and the lush scenery comes across gorgeously in high definition. Go for the Blu if you have the equipment. There were only one or two unfortunate instances when the computer-generated art pixelated in close-up.
Con: The music of the original was an unforgettable mixture of Europop, synth and world music. The new music, however, is instantly forgettable. Around the halfway point, familiar motifs start creeping in – all-too-short and startling reminders of how great the music used to be.
Pro: At 26 episodes, this series takes its time, courageously defying modern storytelling aimed at those short of attention. It is also more tightly plotted than the original which at 39 episodes visited perhaps one too many temple.
Con: Much has been (unfairly) said about the changing of the voice talent. Let’s face it – the original kids aren’t kids anymore, and the Canadian actor who voiced Mendoza is enjoying his retirement. What’s close to unforgivable is that Esteban is now voiced by an adult woman who makes little effort to conceal that fact.
Pro: This finally, after almost 30 years, continues a story that cried out for closure – a closure for which no one who enjoyed the original series dared hoping. And it is done faithfully.
It is that final “Pro” that pushed the 4.5 stars I had in mind over to a 5.
And if you’ve never heard of “The Mysterious Cities of Gold” at all, don’t hesitate to first grab the original and then this. It’s breathtaking. Like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – only animated and more epic.
on 23 April 2014
Being someone who is old enough to have seen the Original series of Mysterious Cities of Gold when it was first transmitted on BBC back in the early 1980's for years I had mostly forgotten about the series apart from the odd times when I would recall moments from it but could not quite remember the name of the original series, then a few years ago I discovered the series again and after buying a set of pirate videos of the series from a guy in the states I watched the series once more and it bought the memories flooding back, later I purchased the DVD boxed set of the original series and watched through yet again....
The original series is an all time epic cartoon series, everything about it was amazing, the characters, the story, the animation (for the time) and the wonderful soundtrack, when the series ended they left it open with no hope of a continuation.... that is until recently?
By chance I discovered that a second season of MCOG had been made the other year and was now coming out on DVD so I was keen to get it to see what it was like compared with the original series, now I knew up front that some things would be different, and reading some of the feedback that others had left before I purchased my copy basically confirmed my suspicions about the new series, but until I watched it myself I would withhold my judgement, and this morning I watched the last couple of episodes...
The series has been bought upto date in the animation department but thankfully the new production team have remained faithful to the original animation style and aesthetic, the characters look much as they did in the original series but with a few tweeks here and there, CGI animation has played a large part in this series to good effect and with them now travelling to China the style of buildings and landscape has changed to suit, the story has followed on from the first with a few additions of new characters both ones they encounter on their journey and new companions they pick up along the way.
The two main gripes I have with this series are the Voice acting and the music? now after 30 odd years since the original was made, most of the original voice actors would probably be unavailable, so new ones would need to be used, I understand that, but I wish they could have found new voice actors that could have better emulated the original voices, they know what they are supposed to sound like? so it would not have been too difficult to get suitable copy-cat voices for the lead roles in this, of the main characters some are Okay'ish Sancho & Pedro sound fairly close to their originals and you could say that Zia's voice is much of a much ness, but Estaban, Medoza and most of all Tao they could have done a better job of mimicking these voices, however I will say that after the first 6-7 episodes or so you get used to the new voices and except them for what they are.
The other thing that they could have do a better job on is the music, Shuki Levy's original Synth score is the best thing about the original series, its sublime and quite easily one of the cartoon soundtracks ever made, now in this series I had hoped that they would use some of Shuki's original score but re-worked it with new arrangements, as they were travelling to china it made sense to have a Chinese flavoured musical soundtrack which is what you get for the most part, interspersed with some orchestral movements but apart from the re-worked main theme, None of shuki's music has been used, I'm sure there is a good reason for this, there are a few moments later on in the series where we got some Andia synth but for the most part the music is fairly generic and doesn't particularly stand out as anything special.
So my final thoughts on this series.... I'm pleased that they have made a continuation of this series and that the new story carries on from the original, for the most part this series does remain faithful to the original, they could have done a better job with the voices and music but that's just my personal opinion, again the story was left open ended, the next question is has this series been successful enough to warrant further continuation?
If your a fan of the first series then defiantly get this, if you have not seen any of this, I would suggest getting the first series first and watching that, as a stand along series its good enough so I would recommend this series to anyone.
on 3 April 2015
I really wanted to like this - I loved the original and was willing for this to be good. I fully accept things have to be changed, new voice actors must be found, some updates on animation style...
But this version went way beyond that. First of all the voice acting in the English dub is awful. I relied on reviews here that said it grates for the first 5 episodes, but then you get used to it...no, this was not the case. Because it is not just that they are ENTIRELY different from the original voices (so no consistency at all), but the acting is actually pretty bad. Esteban and Tao are voiced by women, and Esteban in particular sounds just like one. You can't escape the obvious fact that the character who is a young boy sounds just like a grown woman.
Tao's actor just about pulls off a boy's voice, but he is so irritating - everything exaggerated and said in the most babyish of ways. Tao had the deepest voice out of all three children in the first series, so this turnaround does not make sense at all.
Some have said Zia is fine and sounds pretty much the original - no, she does not. Actually, her super, over the top, girly high pitched voice was painful to listen to. Her laughter, which occurred almost the whole way through, was contrived and flirty - so she didn't even sound like a little girl, because the actor obviously wasn't.
Mendoza - the biggest loss really, given how brilliant Howard Rhyshpan was in season 1. This actor sounds like a generic american tough guy, who overly dramatises his lines and always sounds grumpy. There is no nuance, no wit, no intelligent, understated sarcasm, no warmth, no animated curiosity. All the intelligent, authoritative range that the original Mendoza had is lost.
On to the plot - there are some interesting twists towards the end. But there were too many unnecessary detours before we got there; not enough historical depth or poignancy; and you never quite engage with anyone's motives for the whole thing.
So they are travelling to China to find out the truth about Esteban's father - when he has already been told he is 'dead'? And what's in it for Mendoza and the other 2 sailors? No tension as we had in the first series, because they seem to be willingly tagging along with Esteban for the sake of it, with no personal motivation or greed.
There are forced and stupid conflicts between Esteban and Tao, which just made their friendship seem weak, and undermined their characters.
Zia has completely changed from an intelligent, caring, unpretentious and modest girl, to an extroverted flirt. Yes it's true, she was perhaps too often the damsel in distress in season 1, but her character change in this season is just weird. It is totally unrealistic given her incan heritage - she has had a ridiculously 'modern' makeover.
Annoyance awards, especially in the early part of the series, goes to Kokapetl and Pedro/Sancho. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING they do makes you cringe and ask 'why??'.
By the end of the series, some important twists occurred and there were, I suppose, 'emotional' pay-offs that carried on from series one - but I had completely disengaged by then. I disliked half the characters, the same ones I loved back in season 1. Quite a result! I am sad to say it would appear that much of the credit for the success of series 1 should go to the Japanese partners, who were not involved in this one. IT SHOWED. Everyone seems enthusiastic about this sequel, judging by the reviews here. If you liked it, good for you. But there are quite a few negative opinions I have come across, which simply are not reflected here or on MCoG fan sites. My review is just one of them - and if you check out French reviews (and MCoG is something of a national treasure for the French), this sequel scores far worse than it does here with the English fans. I do feel I wasted my money.
on 24 March 2014
Developing a direct continuation to what was an incredible 30+ year old animation is, without a doubt, a rather brave and surprising move. The original series is held in very high regard for its breathtaking soundtrack, sense of wonder and adventure, and likeable characters which drove a really intriguing storyline forward. Matching such a feat was never going to be an easy task. Though season 2 shines with several moments of greatness, its confusing audience targeting, poor vocal work and soundtrack, makes it an intriguing but ultimately flawed continuation.
As you may have gathered from other reviews, we need to first talk about the most obvious, and definitely glaring, problems with this continuation - the soundtrack and the vocal work.
The original soundtrack was a breathtaking mix of wonder, astonishment and mystery, elevating even simple scenes into something really incredible to behold. Unfortunately, none of the original soundtrack is present within season 2, and many scenes are left rather flat and devoid of life; the music that is used, sounding very generic and instantly forgettable. Strain hard enough, and you may hear some remixed cords from the original, especially towards the latter half of the series, as if attempts were made to satisfy original fans, but these are few and far between, and simply does not come anywhere near the greatness of the original soundtrack.
Unfortunately, things get even worse with the vocal work present within the season. The voice artists for Zia, Sancho and Pedro are perfectly fine, however, those chosen for Esteban, Tao - and to a lesser extent Mendoza - simply do not suit. Esteban and Tao are now very high pitched young girls, the resulting effect even more jarring for Tao who originally had such a deeply resonating voice. Whereas the original Mendoza had a deep spanish sounding tone which provided him with a sense of mystery, the new artist sounds more rough and generic. Though as a I mentioned before, this is definitely the least offensive of the three worst changes.
The soundtrack and vocal work was such a huge part of the original, which is why, even when you reach the final 26th episode, it is still hard to come to terms with.
The final issue that needs to be addressed is the rather confusing direction chosen for the target audience. Since this is not a reboot but a direct continuation to a 30+ year old animation, you would assume that the tone and pacing of the original would have been left intact. Unfortunately, it is not. Instead, the rather grim, and sometimes harsh, tone of the original is wiped clean and we are presented with a direction more suited for very young children, with incredibly over-the-top set pieces which usually revolve around Sancho, Pedro or Kokapetl. Comedy was usually sourced from Sancho or Pedro in the original, but in small doses whilst ultimately making them still likeable. Here however, the comedy factor has been dialled up to 11 and the two are now annoying and unlikeable. The slapstick 'Bulk and Skull' antics will leave you cringing, as well as any scene featuring Kokapetl, since you know he is about to do something incredibly silly. The direction is then suddenly dialled back in the final back episodes, returning to more of a tone of what you would expect, providing a much better balance between the drama, comedy and mystery (and making Sancho and Pedro more likeable again). However, the original question remains as to why such a confusing choice was chosen for the target audience, which would ultimately be, first and foremost, adults of the original.
So why the high rating?
Well, if you can stomach the quite drastic vocal changes, lack of significant soundtrack, and the tone for the first half of the season, then you will be richly rewarded. The animation is crisp, fresh, but deeply respectful to the original season, with all the styles and looks faithfully recreated. This follows through to the action sequences which benefit greatly from the new style. Seeing all the gang again is an incredible experience. You can still feel their sense of adventure and wonder, and this is carried through a really intriguing storyline that slowly builds throughout the season. There are some astonishing revelations, including developing the history and storylines from the original. With this does come some flaws (like the rather head scratching name change of the people of Heava into the people of Mu, or the 'child of the son' into the 'son of the sun') but again, get past this, and the development of the storyline will have you as intrigued as the original.
And come the closing moments of episode 26, I promise you, you will not be disappointed and it will have all been worth it.
I look forward to the third season and hopefully they can build on what they have done here, as well as incorporating feedback on the soundtrack, to continue this in a very high standard,
on 22 February 2014
I was happy to receive this a day before the official launch!
I absolutely love the first series and have to say that this series did not disappoint me. It picks up where we left off and goes on to explore the other cities of gold; this time in China.
The only thing that was a bit off was the voice talents for Esteban and Mendoza and a few of the other characters.
Apart from that the story is intriguing and enjoyable. However, what impressed me the most about this series is the animation, it is quite simply exquisite! Complete eye-candy from beginning to end.
This makes great entertainment for children and anyone who loves adventures.
I can't wait for the next series!
on 22 June 2016
When I heard that MCOG 2 was being released I could not wait to get hold of a copy. This brought back so many childhood memories.
I have to say that the the second series is not a patch on the first series. Don't know why, but I was expecting the voices of the characters to be the same as the first series. They are not, but close enough. Nevertheless, it was great to see the developers come together to bring back what I regard as the best cartoon series ever created.
Give your kids a proper cartoon to watch, rather than the computer-generated graphic cartoons they appear to produce these days.
on 16 June 2015
....i have looked on youtube first, it looks excellent, and brings back memories of my childhood from the late 80s .....however i must now continue in a more elaborate frame of mind.
So here goes.....For starters many of you would have no doubt expected to hear the music like that that of the original, however this is not the case, as since 30 years hence, the music is not recognisably synthesised, like the style of the time, apart from some updated examples of course, well this is properly to be expected as it is not the same score artist ( Shuki levy ...I think) and secondly the animation is very computer generated (also to be expected), however it follows the spirit of the original and the story also, which I think personally is important, and the character designs are also faithful to the original, perhaps most important of all, y'know that semi anime style typical of that time.
Many of you of whom remember nostalgically , the original, are now, like me in your 30s have perhaps introduced your own children to your childhood favs, the new and the old, even, they of course see it anew, we of course remember how it was, and look on wishing we could be that age again watching it on a Saturday morning eating crunchy peanut butter on toast after Philip Scofield introduced it on BBC when he didn't have all white hair ( or is that just me) ah memories!!!
So I recommend this continuation of that childhood favourite, even if the wicked soundtrack is different from the original......still not as good as the first, of course.,
on 15 March 2014
Of all the kids shows I watched when I was a kid, this is the one that always seemed to cry out for a sequel, and here it is, so near to a quarter of a century after it was last broadcast on the BBC. I had real fears it would not see an english dub, or a DVD release, but again, here it is. I am delighted to say that it really works, it had me hooked from the start, as with the first season, I couldn`t wait to see what happened next, although I had to take my time, as work and other things stopped me watching too much in one go. I think it has succeeded in capturing the spirit of the original, while there is some character development, as before the characters are not just two dimensional stereotypes, although there are some hissable villains, it is possible to at least understand most character`s actions, and a real story to be told, much as with the original, it was an ongoing story, rather than just a series of self contained episodes, like some of the other kids animations of the time. It is well thought out and well done, not just some rushed botch job. True, it took a while to get used to the new voices, especially Esteban and Tao, but I began to accept it; It is sadly unrealistic to expect the same cast so far removed from the first series, but it remains really involving like nothing I`ve seen in the cinema for many years and fantastic to look at too. To me, it surpasses the Lord of the Rings films, the Star Wars prequels and even the last Indiana Jones film, in that it has retained the look and feel of the original, something these last two did not do entirely successfully, and indeed this series tips it hat to these three film series` I have mentioned on occasion. The only thing that is a little lacking is the music, it is serviceable, but seems to lack the thematic, distinctive style of that for the original season.There are some minor discrepancies between the two seasons, but they have not affected my enjoyment overall. Well worth the time and money, roll on season 3!