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Baidu India promotes World Environment Day with 'The Last Conversation'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (5 votes)

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. It is on Sunday, June 5 in 2016. This year’s theme is: “fight against the illegal trade in wildlife”, with the slogan "Go Wild for Life”, and some search engines are getting on board:

#TheLastConversation, featuring Foxy and DU bear Baidu’s India office will launch a new social campaign named “The Last Conversation” to raise awareness of wildlife depletion. The campaign will feature Baidu’s mascot, the “DU bear”, having a final conversation with different endangered animals through a series of posts on Facebook and Twitter, with the goal of urging people to avoid products that cause harm to wildlife. (Baidu India’s 31 May press release)

Baidu's campaign, which started June 1st on Facebook and Twitter, shows the ultra-cute DU bear interviewing critically-endangered species living in India, such as the Himalayan brown bear, as well as other popular species of lesser concern, such as the Bengal fox.

Review: 'The Boy and the Beast', anime film

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A bear and a human boy stand dramatically in the street.The Boy and the Beast (aka Bakemono no koEnglish trailer) is a 2015 animated film from Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda, who directed the film Wolf Children in 2012. Both are of furry interest; this one even more so!

Ren is a 9-year-old boy who runs away to the busy streets of Tokyo after his mother dies. He has no way of contacting his father, whom his mother divorced, and has no love for his mother's relatives who want to take him in. Angry and upset, he wanders by accident into a parallel Earth, the beast world, where everyone is an anthropomorphic animal.

In the city of beasts, the current Grand Master (a rabbit) intends to transcend and reincarnate into a god, with two possible successors: a bear named Kumatetsu, or a boar named Yozen.

Two more anthropomorphic animated features

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

theboyandthebeast.jpgThe Cartoon Brew website has just announced two new animated features with anthropomorphic animals coming later this year.

Last year’s Japanese cartoon animation The Boy and the Beast (Bakemono no Ko), directed by Mamoru Hosoda, will be released on March 4 “in selected theatres” by Funimation, in both subtitled and dubbed versions. It’s about a Japanese homeless boy, Kyuta, who goes into “the beast world” and becomes the apprentice of Kumatetsu (“Iron Bear”), a martial arts warrior. Tickets will go on sale on the Funimation site on February 5. The Cartoon Brew announcement includes the new American theatrical poster.

Review: 'ROAR Volume 6: Scoundrels' edited by Mary E. Lowd

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

roar6.jpgMary E. Lowd takes over the editing helm of the ROAR series from Bad Dog Books, taking on the theme of "Scoundrels" for this year. The 28 stories in ROAR volume 6 explore scoundrels from the light-hearted to the most dire.

Ms. Lowd went out of her way to look for writers who hadn't written for the furry fandom before and quite successfully brought back gold (along with fan favorites like Kyell Gold).

By the way, the table of contents is slightly off. There's a story out of order and the page numbers get a bit off. Considering the wayward story is about a dog being chased by his future father in law, you might say that he's trying to do this.

FurPlanet Productions, July, 2015, trade paperback $19.95 (294 pgs.). Edited by Mary E. Lowd.

LionsGate releases information about upcoming animated furry movies

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (5 votes)

LionsGate Entertainment, best known, at least furry and animation-wise, for Alpha and Omega and its various direct to video sequels, has released a trailer for its January 15, 2016 theatrical movie, Norm of the North, which features a polar bear taking a trip to New York City to save the Arctic ice cap.

At least the scene where titular polar bear Norm meets a man in a polar bear suit is interesting from a furry standpoint.

Perhaps more exciting than the trailer itself is the announcement of the release date, which sees the movie go up directly against The Nut Job 2; it seems release date power plays aren't just for superhero movies, anymore. It may be interesting to see if either movie "flinches" in this cinematic game of chicken.

Update (8/8): A Cartoon Brew commenter has pointed out Nut Job 2 has already apparently flinched; its listed IMDB release date has changed.

Review: 'Ted 2' will haunt your dreams

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Ted 2This movie gave me a nightmare. I'm not kidding.

I watched it last night, then decided to sleep on it before reviewing it. And I had bad dreams about watching a mostly plotless movie that kept interrupting itself with boring distractions, and it just wasn't funny at all. When I woke up, I didn't realize at first that Ted 2 was the inspiration for this bizarre dream. But, what else could it be? Actually this dream interpretation site I randomly Googled says it could mean I am:

... attempting to protect [my]self from [my] emotions and/or actions. Viewing them on a movie screen projects them onto another person and thus makes those feelings and actions seem more distant. [My] subconscious is trying to protect [me] from experiencing them directly.

Alternatively, it could mean:

To dream that [I am] watching a movie suggests that [I am] watching life pass [me] by. Perhaps [I am] living vicariously through the actions of others. Consider also how the movie parallels to situations in [my] waking life. [I should] observe how the characters relate to [me] and how they may represent an aspect of [my]self.

Well, that is incredibly depressing; I'm just going to continue on with the theory that watching a movie late in the day may cause me to dream about watching movies at night.

The Boy and the Beast

Can’t think of a better title than that, so why try? Several places on the Net (including Flayrah) have already made note recently of The Boy and the Beast. It’s the latest anime feature from Hosoda Mamoru, the man who brought us Summer Wars and The Wolf Children. As you can tell from those works, the man has an interest in anthropomorphic characters — and this new one just may be his most furry feature yet! The Boy and the Beast “… tells the story of a lonely young boy who strays into a parallel world inhabited by supernatural creatures, where a bear-like beastman becomes his companion and mentor.” It’s set to premier in Japan this July. No word yet on any planned release in North America, but most of director Mamoru’s works have made it over here eventually. Check out the article over at Twitch Film — it includes a trailer with subtitles.

image c. 2015 Toho Studios

image c. 2015 Toho Studios

Two Bears, One Boy, and a Big World

Amber Victoria has both written and illustrated a new novel for younger readers, Twins European Adventures. It’s the first in a planned series of books about the exploits of a pair of orphaned bears who are befriended by a young human named Thomas — and then, adopted by Thomas’ family. It so happens that Thomas’ parents have jobs that require them to frequently travel the world, and of course this leads our ursine young pair to adventures in many far-flung places.  This first story, as you might guess, follows the bears and their new human family to Europe, where a series of mishaps finds the bears separated… and scrambling on a variety of trains and buses trying to find one another again! Find out more at the Twins web site, and find the book on Amazon and Createspace. The llustrations are also available as black & white prints.

illustration c. 2015 by Amber Victoria

illustration c. 2015 by Amber Victoria

Goodbye to a Couple of Bears

Over the past few days two gentlemen passed away. Two gentlemen with very different but both very interesting connections to furry fandom. Stan Freberg, 88, was a man who “wore so many different hats throughout his career that he may as well have been a hat-maker. Satirist, songwriter, comedian, commercial producer, recording artist, actor, puppeteer, and voice artist only scratch the surface.” Among the myriad of voices he created some of the most memorable might be Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent (in both the puppet and animated versions of Beany & Cecil), the beaver in Disney’s Lady & the Tramp, and (from a very young age) Junior Bear, the lunk-headed young son of short-tempered Papa Bear in a series of cartoons by Chuck Jones.  (“C-A-T, dog… D-O-G, Rhode Island…”). Meanwhile Bob Walker also passed away, at the age of 54, apparently from a heart condition. Mr. Walker will best be remembered as co-director (with Aaron Blaise) of Disney’s 2003 2D animated film Brother Bear, but prior to that he had worked as a layout artist on numerous Disney animated projects including Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Mulan (1998), and Lilo & Stitch (2002). A native of Canada, Mr. Walker started his career working for Nelvana Animation on TV shows like The Raccoons. [Thanks to Cartoon Brew for providing this info.]

Physics? Feh!

Benjamin Bear gets his way — Often by methods that are quite unusual but somehow they work. Now he’s back in his latest full-color book for kids, Brain Storm. Check it out over at the Toon Books web site: “The out-of-this-world outlook of a down-to-earth bear! Benjamin Bear can always surprise his friends, whether it’s by walking on his hands during a snowstorm or by using a tree as a parachute. His zany approach to life has earned him two Eisner Award nominations and bestseller status among kids everywhere. French star author Philippe Coudray continues to delight readers by bending the rules of common sense and breaking the laws of physics.” Also look out for the other Benjamin Bear comic books in hardcover, Fuzzy Thinking and Bright Ideas.

image c. 2015 Toon Books

image c. 2015 Toon Books

They Grow Strong in Scandinavia

If you hadn’t heard, one of Sweden’s most popular funny animals came to European movie screens in 2014. “Sweden’s most popular comic book character – the bear Bamse – now gets his first feature film. In Bamse Och Tjuvstaden (Bamse and the City of Thieves) the strongest bear in the world and his two friends Little Hopp and Shellman show that the best weapon against evil is -friendship (and a few drops of Grandma’s Thunder Honey of course).” After a popular animated TV series and several TV movies you can check out the feature film’s trailer over on YouTube. As usual, of course, there’s little chance we’ll be able to see this stuff anytime soon in North America — at least not translated!

image c. 2015 Tre Vanner Productions

image c. 2015 Tre Vanner Prod.

More Bear, More Marmalade

The film adaptation of Paddington has become, world-wide, one of the biggest box office successes of all time for a “family film”. Now come the word (thanks to Cartoon Brew again) that Studio Canal (the French film creators who brought Paddington to CGI life) are fast-tracking a sequel to the 2014 film — once again to be produced by David Heyman from the UK. In the meantime, the studio is busy distributing another oh-so-English property: Aardman Animation’s Shaun the Sheep Movie, which premiered in Britain last week. No word yet on a release date for Paddington 2, but you can bet it will be sooner rather than later.

image c. 2015 Studio Canal

image c. 2015 Studio Canal

Review: 'The Awareness', by Gene Stone and Jon Doyle

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

The Awareness"Every now and again I sit back and wonder what it would be like if other animals could really fight back against the egregious violence to which we subject them in a wide variety of venues ranging from research laboratories and classrooms to zoos, circuses, rodeos, factory farms, and in their own homes in ours and in the wild. This thought experiment takes life in The Awareness and reflects their points of view, and it's clear they do not like what routinely and thoughtlessly happens to themselves, their families and their friends. By changing the playing field Gene Stone and Jon Doyle force us to reflect how we wantonly and selfishly abuse other animals and the price we would pay if they could truly fight back. This challenging book also asks us to reflect on the well-supported fact that we need other animals as much as they need us. It should help us rewild our hearts, expand our compassion footprint, and stop the reprehensible treatment that we mindlessly dole out." - Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado (quoted blurb)

Suspense/terror/horror stories in which all animals, or all of certain species, turn against mankind go back at least to Arthur Machen’s unreadable “The Terror” (1917). Probably the best-known is Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds” (1952). I recently reviewed Steven Hammond's Rise of the Penguins (2012). In movies, the terror-animals have ranged from rats to all of the giant mutations like Them and Night of the Lepus.

How successful any of these are usually depends on two factors. The skill of the author (or the director) in building a mood of terror, and the plausibility of the reason given for the animals to turn against humanity. In The Awareness, both of these fail.

NYC, The Stone Press, March 2014, paperback $14.95 (ix + 221 [+3] pages), Kindle free.

Review: 'All Tied Up in Knotz', by Andres Cyanni Halden

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (4 votes)

All Tied Up in Knotz This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher's advisory)

This is a M/M adult novella, but not in FurPlanet’s “Cupcakes” series. FurPlanet has rated it NC-17 for “graphic sexual situations”.

Synopsis: Carson really likes meeting guys over Knotz, his favorite smartphone app. He has little patience for conversation and even less for the idea of a relationship. However, after a hot bear quite literally knocks him off his feet, it seems there might be more to life than his job and searching for one night stands. (publisher’s blurb)

Carson, as the cover by Soro shows, is a young male red fox (usually more dressed in public) who works in a bookstore in St. Marx. He meets Peter Belov, a handsome and ridiculously rich Russian black bear, when the latter’s expensive car knocks over his bicycle in a minor traffic accident. Carson’s cell phone, ruined in the crash, is frozen on Knotz, a gay erotic site, so there is no doubt as to his sexual orientation. Peter offers to drive him home, and since Carson’s preference is obvious, Peter proposes a gay date.

All Tied Up in Knotz is well-written, but it is 100% for the gay male eroticism market. St. Marx appears to be a city inhabited entirely by handsome gay male anthros looking for friendly sex with no long-term attachments. Females and even families with children appear later, but the reader sees things from Carson’s point of view, and he notices little but the roving gay males.

Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (105 pages).

Speaking of Bears… *Ahem*

What features the likes of Prozac Bear, Crack Bear, Lech Bear, and Death Bear, among others? Why it’s Bear Nuts, a full-color on-line comic strip by Canadian artist Alison Acton. Surprisingly nice for their many… quirks, these odd bears live in a magical realm where they all learn to get along… and not disgust the neighbors.  It’s all part of Studio Dooomcat, an on-line art collective (with prints, t-shirts, and more) started by Alison and Jim Charalampidis. Check out their web site, and follow the links to find the first two volumes of the collected Bear Nuts, available from DMF Comics.

image c. 2014 by Alison Acton

image c. 2014 by Alison Acton