There’s a tendency modern critics have to underestimate entertainment from the 1980s-90s. It’s true that on many aspects modern shows innovate by providing a larger representation of the audience and by introducing concepts previously thought untouchable. But does that make the shows we grew up watching shallow and of lesser quality? I am always happy when I see people who try to take a critical standpoint on the subject without deliberately trying to undermine the past’s strong points. MistareFusion, know for his reviews of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Batman and, most notably, Dragon Ball Dissection, is a great example of such a critic. Analytical and demanding, but always willing to provide credit where its due, he is here to share his thoughts and fanboy over the shows he loves..
Introduce yourself to us.
Hello. I am MistareFusion, aka Lance. I wear a lot of hats: theatrical technician, nerd, over-analyzer, lingerie salesperson, pole dancer, aspiring actor, aspiring writer, aspiring YouTube celebrity, aspiring destructor of gender roles. I swear I don’t normally introduce myself in this fashion…
Why MistareFusion? Is there a story or a meaning behind the name?
That actually is an interesting story. Honestly, it’s several interesting stories. The name MistareFusion originated when I was in high school, as most of these Internet handles seem to. I had joined the forums on a Back to the Future website and needed a user name, so it came from a combination of the Mr. Fusion Home Fusion Generator from those films (which itself is a parody of Mr. Coffee) and the way a group of friends of mine would corrupt the endings of words like “Mister” to sound cooler. And, yes, it is pronounced like a combination of “mist” and “air.” And when I happened to want to create a YouTube account a couple of years later, without really thinking about, I reused that name. Really, had I known at the time I was going to make an actual “channel” out of that account, I probably would have named it something different. Here’s the rather stupid, embarrassing part of this story. When the idea first came up to do a review channel on the Internet, I was in my early twenties, just out of college, and engaged to be married. And it was my fiancee’s and my idea for both of us to host a channel. In fact, one of my earliest reviews, Batman and Robin, most certainly contains some content and jokes we’d come up with together. Long story short, before I was able to get the idea off the ground, she left me. And I was all kinds of distraught, and my thinking was not necessarily logical. So I soldiered on with the idea on my own, but it was really important to me at the time to make sure she knew that I had. We were no longer speaking, and it would have looked really lame to directly bring it to her attention. But she was MistareFusion’s first (and at the time, only) subscriber, so I knew if I posted the videos on that channel, she would see them. And that’s really the only reason I stuck with that name, and the more I write about this, the more pathetic it sounds, haha! I suppose the only other thing to say about the subject is that when the talented doubleofive first created a logo for me, he took his inspiration for the word Fusion from Dragon Ball instead of Back to the Future. So the halves of the word are orange and blue because they’re Goku’s colors. And the halves lean in towards each other like that as if they are performing the Fusion Dance from Dragon Ball. Pretty cool idea, and this was before I was so largely known for doing Dragon Ball -related videos!
Let’s focus on the technicalities of what you do. What’s the process you follow when you decide to create a new video?
Ultimately it depends on what kind of video I’m doing. But unless I’m doing something totally unscripted, it always begins with, well, a script. With something where I’m off-camera, like Dragon Ball Dissection, it’s pretty simple because all I have to do is read it into a microphone and not really worry about anything beyond that. But when I’m doing an on-camera video with footage from the subject I’m talking about, I also have to decide what lines are going to be spoken on-camera (and have to be memorized), and what lines are going to be spoken on top of footage. Since I’m the only person working on it, I rarely have to write in any specific ideas into the script aside from the actual dialogue because I can normally interpret what it is I mean to do visually. That is, if I’m making some kind of joke where my dialogue is undercut or contradicted by what’s on screen, the script will just have the dialogue, and if you were to just pick it up, you’d have no idea what it meant because you’d only be seeing half of the joke, but I’d know what it means. I’m always of two minds about how to shoot things. On one hand, doing things off-camera makes it easier to shoot because I don’t have to worry about memorizing or how I look or how the lighting is. I don’t have to have takes of whole sections that are perfect. With just audio I can edit a take of one sentence with the take of another sentence. Or I can edit different takes of the same sentence together. Or in a few instances, I’ve had to mix one word from one take into another take. Doing things on camera is a bit more difficult to set up, and everything has to be perfect or near perfect and all come together in one take. So that’s something of a pain, but it does make the editing process quite a bit easier.
What inspired you to start sharing your thoughts on the fandoms you love?
As I said before, I had just finished college. Well, by the time my first review was up, I’d been out for almost a year. I was a theatre major, which also included a lot of film classes. So I’d had education in acting, film production and editing. But I was somewhat unsure as to how to proceed in my life. And around the same time, I was becoming a fan of Internet reviewers like the Angry Video Game Nerd, Nostalgia Critic and Confused Matthew, and I thought that would just be a fun thing to do, both because I love nitpicking and analyzing things and because I thought it would give me a chance to keep my college skills sharp.
It’s time to talk a bit about your most popular project, Dragon Ball Dissection (DBD). Considering Dragon Ball‘s popularity and the fact that there are many related resources online, what made you decide to focus on Goku’s adventures?
It certainly wasn’t something I had in mind when I started the channel. But by the time I had started Dragon Ball Dissection, I had made four other Dragon Ball-related videos, and most of them had done far better than most other videos I’d made. To be sure, my first Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box video gave me my first big (at the time) surge in views. So I’m sure that had something to do with it. When I was working on my Power Rangers/Super Sentai series, I would get ideas to gel by taking long walks, often very late at night. And I recall at the same time I was stringing together sentences in my head about Gosei Sentai Dairanger, I was also formulating ideas of things I really wanted to say about Dragon Ball. And that was in the summer of 2010, about a year and a half before I actually put out the first Dragon Ball Dissection video. And many of those thoughts I can recall having then I still haven’t been able to make public yet, even after all this time! It helped that the Dragon Boxes were coming out around that time and were really reinvigorating my passion for the series and forcing me to see it from a more adult and critical perspective. But I do remember where the inspiration came from, and that was actually from the same place the Power Rangers stuff came from, so it makes sense I’d be thinking about them at the same time. The comic book reviewer, Linkara, had started a side series in 2010 called History of Power Rangers. How that led to my own Power Ranger series is fairly obvious. He in turn, was inspired by SFDebris, who does, well, everything, but primarily Star Trek. So through History of Power Rangers, I became a fan of SFDebris. I liked their format of serious critique. I liked how Linkara tackled the franchise season by season and defended the idea of deep analysis for something that’s not really considered “high brow” entertainment. I liked how SFDebris encouraged people to like whatever they wanted to as long as they were thinking, and I liked how he handed out scores of 1-10, judging each episode in relation to other episodes. And it was just an approach that I really didn’t see all that often in regards to Dragon Ball. So it was really a combination of all of those things that formed the basis for Dragon Ball Dissection.
After three years of DBD, how satisfied are you with the result so far? Looking back, is there anything you’d change about it?
Actually, it’s been four years! And, as critical as I usually am with my own work, I have to say I’m quite satisfied with how Dragon Ball Dissection has come along so far. I mean, I feel I’ve certainly improved as I’ve gone along. The intros to each arc have gotten more intricate. The format has become a bit more standardized. I feel my editing of the manga pages has gotten a little more dynamic (although there’s not that much you can do with panning and zooming through still images). But it’s all part of the growth of it, and it’s fun to look back and see how it’s grown. I try my very hardest not to make mistakes, but there are a few in there, and that’s rather annoying, but, hey, nothing’s perfect. I’m just really lucky to have as good a resource as the website Kanzenshuu to fact check anything I’m not sure of. But I’m really proud of Dragon Ball Dissection, actually.
Regardless of your own opinion, what’s the feedback you’ve received?
I was quite worried about what the reaction to this series would be when I first started it. The YouTube comments section is not exactly known for its civility. And Dragon Ball in America is a very divisive subject. The lines are quite clearly drawn between the original Japanese and FUNimation’s dub. So I really expected to get a lot of negative feedback from certain sections of the fanbase. And while not every comment has been peaches and cream, I’ve been extremely surprised and touched that the majority of responses have been extraordinarily positive. When I do Dragon Ball Dissection December, I even have people tell me that it’s the best Christmas gift they get. And that really means a lot. I am truly thankful for the viewers that I have.
In DBD you often show how many flaws Dragon Ball has (providing no explanation for plot holes, ignoring already established characters, etc.). Do you think the series ultimately had the potential to be better than it ended up being or are these weaknesses part of its charm?
Yes. I think it’s both. I think anything has the potential to be better. But sometimes that’s part of the fun too. I mean, what reason would I have to do Dragon Ball Dissection if all I had to say was, “That was great!” Mistakes are a part of the history too, after all. That’s why you’ll find I’m more critical of mistakes that have been reprinted to be “fixed” than I am of the mistakes themselves. I don’t care that Toriyama changed his mind and made Gohan four instead of three. I’m bothered that that fascinating bit of information is all but lost.
American fans often underestimate the pre-Z era of Dragon Ball. Why do you think that happens? Are there any virtues one can find in early Dragon Ball that the more popular arcs, namely Freeza, Cell and Majin Buu, don’t have?
I certainly think there’s something to be said for FUNimation having all but skipped over Dragon Ball to get to DBZ first as being a reason. But that doesn’t explain why the “Z” portion is still more popular in other parts of the world. I think perhaps it’s more pronounced here but certainly not exclusive. And I feel the later parts of the story have things to offer too. That’s one of the great things about Dragon Ball‘s original run: it was always trying something new. And part of what fascinates me about the series is how you can take the first arc and the last arc and see an almost unrecognizable product, just because it’s evolved so much over time. But I do feel the earlier parts of the series have an irreverent grandeur to it. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but the world is just so fascinating. There are so many weird gadgets and beautiful locations. You never know what you’re going to find. All of a sudden there’s a giant tower with a wise cat man at the top. Stuff like that. Then when you get to Namek, every part of it looks exactly the same. There’s no weather. There’s no night. And then they get back to earth, and all of the animal people are gone, and the whole place just feels so… ordinary all of a sudden. And there’s still no weather or night!
If you could give properly utilize a misused Dragon Ball character, who would you chose and for what reason?
Oh, definitely Yamucha, the poor dolt! He was just such a funny, endearing, fascinating character when he was first introduced. There were countless directions Toriyama could have taken him in after that, but he just chose not to. Then, to add insult to injury, by the Cell arc, it wasn’t enough to push him out of the story, he had to besmirch his good name in a way that was totally antithetical to the character, just to ensure we’d be sympathetic to Blooma running off with Vegeta! Oolong’s one I’d fight for too, but at least he had some fun stuff to do in the movies.
I know you love Shunsuke Kikuchi’s work but I haven’t figured out your opinion of Bruce Falconer’s soundtrack.
I don’t really want to knock anyone’s hard work, but I have to say it never really appealed to me, even when I was 13, even before I got into the Japanese version. Looking back, I can certainly find some tunes that I can pick and say, “Okay, I guess I can see why people enjoy this,” and, because it is a part of my childhood, hearing it does invoke a certain sense of nostalgia in me, of running off the bus in 8th grade to catch the latest new Freeza episode. But it’s still not something I particularly enjoy, and it’s certainly not something I feel really fits Dragon Ball all that well.
I can really relate to the memories of your early days as a fan, when information was hard to find and you often had to make assumptions about a show you were passionate about. My question is, at what time do you think these titles entertained you more? During the “age of innocence” or now that you’re an adult?
I think “more” is a difficult attribute to ascribe. My fandom has evolved. It engages me in different ways. There is certainly something to be said about when it was new and fresh and mysterious. When the latest DBZ episode would come on, and they’d have a flashback to episodes of Dragon Ball that had never aired in America before, that fascinated me to no end. I was just dying to see these past adventures that I’d read about but never seen. But then again, I had friends at the time who wouldn’t let me tell them anything I’d researched because they didn’t want to be spoiled. But because I’d researched it to death on this new-fangled Internet, by the time I read a lot of the manga or saw a lot of the TV series, I already knew everything about it. Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot of misinformation out there. There were a lot of details that were fuzzy. So I still had a lot of surprises watching the show as a kid. But I never really had that full experience of seeing things unfold, completely cold. But on the other hand, it was so much fun piecing things together. And it’s still fun looking back on all the misconceptions I had then. Nowadays it’s more about figuring out which animation studio did which episodes, looking at things analytically. And that’s a lot of fun too. I really wouldn’t give either one of them up.
I’ve noticed that you have a very cautious attitude towards nostalgia. Are there are fandoms (not just arcs and spinoffs but entire franchises) that you’ve grown over because now you’re more critical of them? If so, would you care to name some?
I have nothing against nostalgia. I love it. There are so many things from my childhood I have nostalgia for. I only feel it would be disingenuous of me to claim, “I’m stepping back to do a more objective analysis and review,” only to go, “Ohhhh, I love this! It reminds me of when I was in middle school!” The wistfulness of nostalgia is a strong beckoning force, but it can blind one to seeing things as they really are. There are certainly many things from my childhood that I am no longer an active fan of. I used to have tons of Generation 1 Transformers toys, but I have yet to sit through any of the live action Transformers films. Outside of Linkara’s History of Power Rangers, Power Rangers is something I haven’t followed since about 1997. One of my earliest obsessions was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I can’t really say I’m into that anymore either. And that’s nothing against any of those. Well, maybe Transformers. I really think I was more into the toys than the series. I barely remember anything about the series. And I don’t think it has anything to do with my looking at them more critically because I really haven’t done that for any of those. It’s just the old story… I grew out of them. I remember I was 12 when I first got into Dragon Ball, and I was trying to pry some more blank VHS tapes out of my mom (I used to record everything). She argued that I was getting to the age where I was going to be outgrowing cartoons soon, so what was the point? I really don’t know why it is that I’ve never really fallen out of Dragon Ball as opposed to any of the others.
Most of the material you review is pretty retro. Even with franchises that remain mainstream, such as Batman, you focus on their older versions. Is there a reason for that?
Nostalgia, of course! I don’t know if that’s true, but, for the Batman example at least, I grew up watching the 1943 serial. I loved it! I really need to get back to making videos on that series… But even as a kid, I tended to like things that were older than me. I’d stay up all night on weekends watching Nick at Nite back when they were all shows from the ’60s and ’70s. I couldn’t get enough of that stuff! And I’ve always been someone who is preoccupied with the passage of time. That what was once new and shiny will become old and forgotten. That people who were once new and shiny will become old and forgotten. So I’ve always felt this responsibility to try to make sure I do my part to keep that from happening.
Watching your Power Rangers/Kyouryuu Sentai Zyuranger comparison videos I was wondering what is your opinion on American adaptations of Japanese shows.
People use the term “purist” like it’s a bad thing, but it’s a label I don’t mind having. But I’ve always recognized a difference between something like Power Rangers and Dragon Ball in terms of adaptation. Power Rangers doesn’t bother me. In fact, it fascinates me. That’s why I made a video series about it. Just the fact that stock footage could be taken and combined and rearranged to make something similar but an entirely different product just blows my mind. But I suppose to me the key difference is that if someone says they’re a fan of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, you know what they mean. And that holds true for Zyuranger. If someone says they’re a fan of that, you’re not going to confuse it with MMPR. They are wholly separate entities. FUNimation took a lot of liberties with the Dragon Ball properties back in the day (obviously not as far as the Sentai example) but passed it off as the same thing. And that’s not to say people can’t or shouldn’t enjoy it. But it does create a disconnect by not being true to its source that the Sentai/Power Rangers example just doesn’t. And it’s engendered a large amount of discord in the fandom that really needn’t exist, and this is long after FUNimation has gone back on a lot of those changes. Thankfully it is largely the standard now for dubs of anime to be as true to the source as they can. It’s just a shame Dragon Ball had to be FUNimation’s great experiment.
Are there any franchises you haven’t touched yet but that you’d really love to review?
I already felt I was taking a big risk by doing The Facts of Life! There was a time I considered doing videos on Boy Meets World, which I grew up watching. In fact, I wrote a couple of scripts and recorded some stuff for it back in 2013 (its 20th anniversary), but I never finished. I’m sure there are many other franchises too, but I also wouldn’t mind presenting things that are more personal or original rather than just talking about things other people have done. I always try to be cautious, though. I didn’t really plan to be so well-known for Dragon Ball. I certainly don’t regret it, but I am simply aware of the reality that the majority of my viewers are Dragon Ball fans and come to me to see Dragon Ball stuff, and I’m always afraid of alienating them by talking about an interest of mine that doesn’t seem to have a lot of overlap with the interests of Dragon Ball fans. Haha, even now, whenever I do a different video, there will be at least one person who comments, “So when’s the next Dragon Ball Dissection?”
What is a talent or skill most people would be surprised to learn you possess?
Hmm. While I’ve even mentioned pole dancing on my channel (and in this interview), I doubt most of my viewers know that I can sing. I love musicals, and I love performing in musicals. From actual jobs I’ve had, I know how to maintain an ice stage, including repairing the rubber pipes of antifreeze that run underneath the ice (it’s a lot like performing surgery). I know how to measure someone for a bra. And while it’s been over twelve years since I quit, so I’m probably very rusty, I did take Taekwondo for nine years and was a 2nd degree black belt by the time I stopped.
Is there a fictional character whose personality resembles yours?
Haha, Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
Last but not least, a question I always wanted to ask you. What would you transform into had you attended the Southern Transformation Kindergarten?
Lance, thank you for this great interview. Is there anything else you wish to share with our readers?
Thank you for interviewing me. It’s been a lot of fun. I guess I would say thanks to everyone who has followed me or will follow me. It’s a great privilege to have people who want to listen to my crazy opinions on things. And just do your best to have the courage to be exactly who you want to be, even if, or especially if, the world tells you you shouldn’t.
You can find MistareFusion on