Marlene Sharp is the proud proprietor of Pink Poodle Productions. Previously, Marlene served as Director, Production at LEVEL-5 abby, home of YO-KAI WATCH and other hit video game-based franchises. Formerly, as Producer, TV Series, at Sega of America, Marlene worked on much more than the Teen Choice Award-nominated cartoon SONIC BOOM. For example, her Hedgehog duties took her to the heights of nerd-dom as an official San Diego Comic-Con 2017 panelist. As a freelance journalist, Marlene concentrates on popular entertainment for buzz-worthy online fan destinations, such as DOGTV, ToonBarn.com, and Geekified.net. As a short film auteur, she has snagged prizes at the Canine Film Festival, the San Luis Obispo Film Festival, and many more. As a screenwriter, her professional stamp is embedded in lots of merchandise-driven cartoons – such as SNACK WORLD – and in her original, award-winning creations, such as BORN IN LA, MASCOT MAYHEM, and THE GIRL WHO LOVED NOSES. She is the winner of 2019 LA Shorts International Film Fest Script Competition (an Oscar and BAFTA-qualifying fest), at which her backdoor sitcom pilot received a staged reading by The Groundlings. And as a human being, basically, she loves dogs. For proof of the aforementioned, please see her website www.pinkpoodleproductions.com.
I am perfectly prepared. I am 100% ready for this. – Seiya, SAINT SEIYA
Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close-up. – Norma Desmond, SUNSET BOULEVARD
Me, too! (In terms of close-ups, I mean . . .) – Marlene Sharp
Before one attributes a recent thunderous explosion to holiday fireworks, one should realize that the Internet broke 4 days ago. It was loud. On Thursday, December 1, YouTuber Ray Mona dropped her 90-minute non-fiction magnum opus entitled THE SECRET STORIES OF SAINT SEIYA (PART I): TALES OF THE LOST (SSSS). At 73,000 views (and like snow), this film doesn’t show signs of stopping. It’s another win for ‘90s nostalgia, Japanese content, toys, and other ancillaries, plus savvy storytelling from authoritative echelons of fandom.
Full disclosure: The author is also a contributor to the aforementioned toy and ‘toon centric documentary. Quick but convoluted backstory: Four years ago, and in passive aggressive protest to my uncredited interview for a 2018 online anime expose, I released a dormant demo reel from my tenure as a child(ish) prodigy employee at Renaissance-Atlantic Films.
My former for-hire role had required that I curate clips from iconic vintage, Japanese merch- heavy kids’ fare, such as POWER RANGERS and BIG BAD BEETLEBORGS. SAINT SEIYA, a sometime rebooted, dubbed, and subbed manga-inspired media and consumer products empire, was also part of the Renaissance-Atlantic hit parade. Onto the demo reel it went. To my knowledge, said demo reel never saw daylight until 2018 .
On the aforementioned low res compilation tape, SAINT SEIYA was featured in live-action, re-titled form as STARSTORM. Upon the demo reel YouTube debut on my personal channel, eager fans ripped said clip. Since then, pirated copies abound under the banner of ‘the lost American SAINT SEIYA adaptation.’ In the last four years, enthusiasts have whipped themselves into a frenzy to find the long-form source of that 20-second cut. Sadly, I don’t have the source material. But that didn’t stop me from saying my piece, and then some, in Ray Mona’s fact-based SAINT SEIYA origin movie.
Cut to summer 2022: Canadian filmmaker and niche culture savant Ray Mona randomly messaged me on Instagram. Through the nerd culture grapevine, she had heard of my former employ with Frank Ward (founder and principal of dearly departed, Beverly Hills-based, Bandai-adjacent Renaissance-Atlantic Films). She asked me to participate in her motion picture about the elusive fifteen-minute SAINT SEIYA live action pilot. I obliged. The result is my headless talking head pontification of what it means to be queen geek . . . in terms of finessing mostly foreign boys’ action properties for the screen. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, YO-KAI WATCH, and other beloved universes receive ample mention. (You’re welcome!)
Snark aside, Ray Mona’s cinematic achievement is considerable. In four days, this feature-length, high quality, humorous Netflix-worthy work has generated nearly 600 YouTube comments. It has attracted thousands more subscribers to Ray’s channel (Ray Mona) and has spawned multiple watch-along live streams. SSSS viewing parties are something of their own phenomenon; many originate south of the (USA) border and have heaps of devotees (per YouTube analytics). The breaking SSSS story also has snagged press coverage via Anime News Network and Catsuka.
Ray Mona probably is not finished with her excavation of buried treasure. Consider this fresh thread [edited for brevity] from her Twitter feed:
RM: There’s so much Renaissance-Atlantic lost media that it’s actually pretty mind-boggling. It’s not that surprising though when you think about the partnership they had with Bandai and Toei, but in an alt universe, Renaissance [-Atlantic] would have been the number 1 anime importer in the USA.
Fan: There has to be a lot of lost media about Tokusatsu (POWER RANGERS, MASKED RIDER) in North America and more. Maybe in a future, you can look at it?
RM: For sure, I’d be interested!
Godspeed, Ray Mona, and please take me along for the next ride!