This should come as no surprise, but Roger Ebert was a personal hero of mine. The man lost his voice years ago, but he was still able to speak clearly as ever in his writing, especially the movie reviews that were his main job. He died earlier this year.
I was reminded of a line he occasionally used during Blue Sky Studios’ Epic during a scene where the villain has captured the comedy relief sidekicks and is telling them stories of his son. One of them exclaims, “Your stories are boring and torturous!” As Ebert would point out (as he did for Jason X), the movie just reviewed itself. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Epic features some really wonderful animation, great special effects and what I’m sure would have been remarkable use of 3D technology if I’d bothered to watch the movie that way, but none of it really matters, because the story is, well, boring and torturous.
Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine) is a 2012 children's animated film from Europe about a friendship between a mouse and a bear. It hasn't had a widespread English-language release in North America yet, but when it does, I recommend it. It's charming! (Trailer, with English subtitles.)
The two main characters exist in different worlds, and are both victims of circumstance. Ernest, the bear, is a musician who lives alone in a cabin in the forest outside a large town, an outsider. If not for the cabin, he'd be homeless; he runs out of food during the winter and must resort to busking and begging, and eventually theft, because busking is forbidden and his musical instruments are taken away.
Unico, the talking baby unicorn, was the last major character created by Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989). He was inspired to design an adorably cute character by Sanrio Ltd, the merchandiser of girl’s products, in 1976. Sanrio had just created “Hello Kitty” in 1974 as an idol to sell handbags, earrings, etc. to young girls. Unico was to be a companion to appear in serialized adventures in Lyrica, Sanrio’s monthly girl’s manga magazine, as well as a series of animated theatrical features that Sanrio was planning at the time. Even minor Tezuka is worth reading, and Unico is full of the magic and color of the world of the imagination, with enough talking animals to please any Furry fan.
Unico was conceived in the U.S.; Tezuka was visiting Sanrio’s Los Angeles animation studio in 1976, where the animated feature Metamorphoses (Hoshi no Orufeusu) was in production. Metamorphoses was designed to look “cute” (if you never heard of it, it’s because the feature bombed so badly that it was pulled from theaters one day after its release), and Tezuka was inspired to draw a cute baby unicorn. Sanrio was planning to publish Lyrica, and the company quickly commissioned him to write and draw Unico’s adventures for serialization. This became a typical example of Tezuka’s prolific output; Unico appeared in chapters of over 30 pages per monthly issue for most issues of Lyrica, from its first issue in November 1976 to its final issue in March 1979.
Suddenly everyone is talking about Sanjay and Craig, a new animated TV series on Nickelodeon. It stars the voice of Chris Hardwick (comedian, bowler, and head honcho of The Nerdist Channel on YouTube) as Craig, the best friend of a young suburban boy named Sanjay. Craig, it turns out, just happens to be a talking snake. The Nerdist web site has more details, and you can check out the glowing review at Gerry Beck’s Animation Scoop, also. The series is up and running on Nickelodeon now.
Kairos, volume 1 of 3, has just been published in France. It was announced here last month with an animated trailer from Studio La Cachette in Paris that had me salivating for the album! (Ankama’s catalogue lists a volume title that does not appear on the volume; “His Kingdom”.)
Now the book is here. Is it worth the hype?
(My thanks again to Lex Nakashima for making this review possible.)
Oh, yeah. This first album is both disappointing and tantalizing, only beginning to show the world in the trailer; its first scene, where the dragons emerge at night to kidnap Anaëlle, does not come before page 23 in the album.
Tome 1 ends with Nills, Koyot (the short, brown, beaky character), and Kuma (the big, green dragon? with short chin whiskers) walking towards the castle. Much is to be revealed in t.2.
Sorry for the delay, folks; I know all five of my regular readers were on pins and needles (hi, mom!). See, GreenReaper emailed to tell me that Fred had linked back to my Cinderella review on the new Cartoon Research site, and just like the time he emailed me about some video game site which quoted my Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 review, my computer died. Obviously, there's some connection here. Anyway, it's all their fault. Shame on you guys.
Q: Could you give us a brief introduction?
Chris: [...rattles off storyboarding, animation, writing and directing credits for shows noted in his Wikipedia article, including Rocko's Modern Life, Ren & Stimpy, Dexter's Lab and The Powerpuff Girls...], written a few episodes of My Little Pony, which is probably what some of you care about - it's so cool to see people who appreciate what you've done; we're so sheltered by TV, we never get to see you, so for all of you, the full house.
Ursula: Ursula Vernon, artist and author; did finally finish the webcomic Digger, which won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Series . . . I do a series for children called Dragonbreath, 8-12ish, I also do a lot of art, I do furry art, I go to furry conventions, I love you people man . . . *applause* . . . and that's sot of what I do.
Sprout: So Chris, you've done a lot of awesome TV shows, so what exactly have you done for each of those throughout your career?
Even if it was not anthropomorphic, how could we ignore an animated TV commercial for Oreos from Studio Animal (Barcelona), to a lively tune by Owl City?
Fortunately, the 1’30” Wonderfilled Anthem, directed by Martin Allais, is very anthropomorphic, with the Big Bad (Blue) Wolf, the three pigs, vampires, sharks, baby seals, squids, and more. Cartoon Brew’s Michael Ruocco has the story.
Jerry Beck at Cartoon Scoop has posted on Frank Tashlin’s 1946 children's book The Bear That Wasn’t. In case you are unfamiliar with the famous story, a bear in a forest goes into a cave to hibernate for the winter. He emerges next spring to find that a human factory has been built around him. When a foreman orders him to get to work, and he protests that he is a bear, not a man, everyone tells him, “Don’t be silly! Bears are in the zoo, not in a factory! You are just a silly man in a fur coat who needs a shave!” So he becomes a factory worker, until the next winter when he has to hibernate again.
The moral was not new. It was one of President Abraham Lincoln’s favorite jokes.
“If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?”
“Four, because calling a tail a leg don’t make it one.”
Animation Scoop has the first trailer for Blue Sky Studios’ Rio 2, out next April. It’s anthro birds, birds, birds!
I just got through reviewing the coffee-table The Art of 'Epic' for Animation World Network. (My review should be posted in the next day or two.) In it, director Chris Wedge says that a major reason for Blue Sky to have made Epic is to evolve the studio away from hard-edged, bright computer graphics like in the Ice Age movies, Robots, and Rio. and develop a softer, more dense look, such as that needed for the realistic forest in Epic. It sure hasn’t taken them long to get back to the brightly-colored Rio!
The voting for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic literature and art of the calendar year 2012, is now closed. Voting took place from March 15 to May 15. 1,696 registrations were received, but only 1,113 people actually voted.
Registrations were received from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the U.S.A., Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam. This includes the large number of registrants who did not in fact vote.
This is definitely one for Crossaffliction’s proposed MST3K for bad anthropomorphic movies. Ehrbar reviews Foodfight! as, “It is truly one of the worst animated films ever made.” That is evident from the 1’44” trailer alone, which is included in the AS review.
Animation Scoop’s Jerry Beck announces two new crowdfunded animation projects, both anthropomorphic.
One is Ghost of a Tale – a video game featuring a mouse warrior-bard in a medieval world, by Lionel “Seith” Gallat, a former supervising animator or animation director at DreamWorks and Illumination. Gallat’s Indiegogo site shows he has raised €28,407 toward a €45,000 goal, with 12 days to go.
The other is Dogonauts – Enemy Line by Justin Rasch, a stop-motion animator on ParaNorman and lots more, mainly video games. Rasch has been working on Dogonauts for four years and has finished the production, but needs money for the post-production: score, mixing, 3D post and color correction. He has a 2’21” trailer (which frankly looks like another variation on Fredric Brown’s 1944 s-f novelette Arena) with his pitch, and has raised $12,383 toward a $14,000 goal with 21 days to go.
One week left to vote for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards; 2013 Recommended Anthropomorphic List now openPosted by Fred on Wed 8 May 2013 - 22:22
Voting for the 2012 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic literature and art of the calendar year 2012 in eleven categories, closes on May 15. If you have not voted yet, you have a week left to do so on the Ursa Major Awards website.
All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, short fiction, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, other literary works, magazines, graphic stories, comic strips, published illustrations, games, and websites) first published during 2013, plus miscellaneous items. This List is often used by fans to nominate in the next year's Awards.
The Ursa Major Award finalists for 2012 are . . .