JULIEN BRITNIC & ANDREI NICOLESCU THE ADVENTURES OF REMBO AND THE EASTERN KID—THE ANIME SWITCH
Put together by Julien Britnic and imagined visually by Andrei Nicolescu, the third episode of The Adventures of Rembo and the Eastern Kid marks a switch. In its newest rendition, Voltron meets Moldavian monasteries and one-dimensional societies, futuristic anime meets Rembo, the over-protective soldier, and Candy, the wide-eyed girl.
It’s the summer of 1993 in Piatra-Neamț, a small town in the northeast of Romania. It seems it will always be like that. Not long ago, I befriended a pumped-up action hero called Rembo at a movie projection at the city’s cinema, who now follows me everywhere and helps me with what he can do best: muscles and ballistics. I’m 10 years old, surrounded by bullies and annoying adults, how could I refuse him?
Imagine this. It’s a lazy, sunny afternoon. Somewhere nearby, a neighbour’s audio speakers blast a mix of Michael Jackson hits and folklore-pop music. You’re in your room doing your math homework while Rembo, sitting in a chair next to you, is grinning in delight, watching a documentary about the Gulf War on national television.
At that moment, your father comes inside the room like a thunder and says with the voice of an avenging god: “Boy, we now live in a one-dimensional society. We are lifeless beings consuming media which alienates us from our human potential to create and be imaginative. It’s a dangerous distraction from real life, it’s opium for the masses. From now on, it’s time for you to take a break from this. The future belongs to those who think in a clear manner without being manipulated. I will put the TV set somewhere safe.”
It was shocking news. Rembo, in his super-soldier mode, slowly took out his arrows with exploding heads and looked at me for a sign of confirmation. I shook my head to say no to him. What could I do? I didn’t understand a thing from my dad’s sermon but it was an order and I wasn’t the rebel type. He put the TV in a box and went away.
The painful thing was that I believed that the future belonged to those who would own and command a robot lion and, together with other four friends who do the same, would combine their animalistic machines to form Voltron, a mighty super-robot, the Defender of The Universe. I was really addicted to this Voltron anime series about the adventures of five brave pilots who were doing their best to protect their planet Arus from an evil king.
I knew that, in the year 2000, when the science of robotics would mature, Rembo would be the first friend who would operate a robot lion, the other three being my parents and my little brother. Together we would form Voltron and we would do normal things that we were normally doing using our communist-era old Dacia 1310 car: visiting Moldavian monasteries at the weekends, travelling within seconds to the golden sands of Mamaia during the holiday, where Rembo would help us walk into any luxury restaurant and get out of them without paying, going to Bucharest to ask my dad’s boss for a raise, admiring the Carpathian forests with a bird’s eye view. But, following his recent inhumane reaction, my father was out of the team. I would replace him with a rich uncle that always covered me in sweets every time we met. Well, my obsession with Voltron was chronic: there were popular contests for skilled hands that would build a robot from cigarettes packages; I participated and I put inside every carton a small plastic action figure that, in my mind, would be the ones that manoeuvre the robot but, sadly, nobody would get the reference.
Well, to follow this futuristic anime I needed to find a solution. I got out in the street and I looked to my left: a row of houses just like mine. I looked to my right and I saw another row of houses. And also Rembo frightening the middle-aged postman that left all his letters and ran in agony. That was it.
In the evening, 10 minutes before Voltron began, Rembo and I went to one of the houses. I rang the bell gently and when the neighbour opened the door, Rembo silenced him quickly with a gag. We walked into the living room with our hostage near us, enough to make everyone quiet. But everybody was already quiet. They were watching something on TVR 2, the other national television channel, a new anime series about a pig-tailed, green-eyed blonde girl with freckles. I wanted to change the channel with the remote controller but just by seeing her I felt something weird in my body, maybe not-yet-butterflies in my stomach, but definitely caterpillars. Slowly, the eyes of everyone watching the TV became teary because the protagonist was facing a break-up with a guy named Terry. Even Rembo was drying his tears with his red bandana. And that’s why, with the flick of the wrist, I forgot all about the future and I fell for Candy, the wide-eyed girl, who was there in the present. At the end of the episode, the hosts hugged us showing empathy for the poor girl’s misfortunes.
We continued this series of ‘house TV visits’ in the neighbourhood for a while, following the fantasy world of my beloved Candy even if I felt Rembo was jealous of my current crush.
Soon, the neighbourhood football matches started and, in the face of my need to show-off my budding dribbling technique, Candy, as the mighty Voltron before her, vanished somewhere at the back of mind.
Julien Britnic is a copywriter and a cultural remixer (whatever that means), physically based in Bucharest, Romania, and mentally all over the place. He is most known for his classic book covers remixes. But recently he also tries to fill the inside of the book covers with something that resembles words in a pleasing order.
Andrei Nicolescu is an architect and visual artist. His work focuses on experimentation in the visual arts. The dialogue between the different visual arts and their recombination are the basis from which he starts in his approach as an artist or architect, with the objective to define an integrated framework for combining the arts.