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Fur your Consideration: 12 animation short reviews for 2023

Edited by GreenReaper as of 15:38
Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

UMA recommended When writing this article for 2022's works, my thought was to help present short furry animations in a way that’d promote organic discussion. I enjoyed doing it, so will try to make it an annual tradition. As I was going through the Ursa Major recommended list, I found these entries had become a bit longer than last year; there were also more of them, so they took more time to review, but for most it was well worth the time.

These are the eleven I felt were most worth a view, plus a bonus, lightly-viewed short not on the Recommended list that I felt worth talking about.


A Fox in Space - Fixing a Hole

This is pushing the boundaries on what should be considered a ‘short’ at around 45 minutes. But when watching it the time does melt as this is quite a wonderful fan product. The second episode in an independently produced series, this episode of a Fox in Space takes the most neglected Nintendo IP of Star Fox and tells the story of James McCloud’s mission to confront Andross on Venom before the Lylat wars when the games take place.

Each character is a character, and their interactions are quite genuine. The story takes its time to convey its atmosphere. It’s not afraid to hang around and let you draw it all in. This allows the times when things get tense to allow the tension to thrive, to the point where a simple statement that James McCloud can understand sign language appears bad ass.

Most of the conflict is of a political intrigue in nature. You really feel as if you’re with James on a mission to a planet where a psychologically manipulative ape is about to take the whole system down under his heel in order to strike vengeance on the planet he was cast out from.


Infurnity 2023 Opening Animation

As promotional material for the convention, I think few could express how hard this one went. It’s rare that an event will create an animation such as this for their gathering. It’s even rarer that it has a professional anime quality about it.

The animation also expresses a universal feeling of how in our lives of trying to meet with each other in our spaces, the early 2020s threw a curve ball. The disruption and recovery convey that feeling of landing after being thrown off one's feet from the disorienting punch.


Lackadaisy Pilot

The most well-known property on this list, this is a tale of cats and speakeasies. The animation follows a team of felines as they try to extract a hidden shipment of liquid gold for their establishment. However, a mysterious group is also after those goods causing a conflict that requires a high amount of action with car chases, gunplay, and survival.

It’s all wonderfully animated and immersive, and it absolutely deserved the fandom it has garnered from this.

The only critique I have on this one is that in the earlier section there are some drafting artifacts on the characters that are clearly visible. This includes circles in the head and torso. These do get better as the animation goes on. It’s very noticeable in the start because the opening is atmospheric so the eye gets drawn to those kinds of things. But, hey, rather artifacts of the human hand art to prove it had humans involved these days, huh?


Record Highs


I recommend watching this one before reading my take on it, as it's most effective going in blind to the overarching tale being told.

This animation starts as what seems to be a simple take on animal olympics, but morphs into something far more ominous in the end. The title’s double meaning lends to its clear play on the “frog in a slow boiling pot” metaphor that is used to describe the situation. It can also be seen as representing how we can use competition and sport to sometimes distract us from the dangers and problems that are bubbling up in the world outside.


BOLAVLK/WEREAWOLF

This is a very uniquely stylized animation. The content can be disturbing (in a PG-13 kind of way), but a necessary discussion point, and a pointed critique at exploitative aspects that furry fandom culture can sometimes find within itself.

It follows an artist who is being pushed by their client to draw them more realistic private parts on their animal character. This is despite the character being a bit uncomfortable looking up references online, so they try to acquire it another way and find themselves injured from the experience.

Its messaging is quite meta of fandom concerns, and so a good conversation piece about boundaries within furry fandom. It’s also the first fandom piece that I’ve seen show a relatively positive reception of the art talents by the outside world versus within the fandom itself. A teacher sees the art she was doodling in class and overlooks it, rather than scolding. It turns expectations and narratives on its head; showing the world at large being respectful of the furry artist, while their furry fan customer continually punishes and pushes the artist into areas that are uncomfortable.

The ending when the artist learns that they will not be released by the demanding client after it sounded like they were satiated and would leave them alone is explosive and haunting. A bottling up of emotions that I’m sure many artists can relate to in the fandom.


Wing It!

This is like a longer version of last year’s Fossils: a cat has a dream, and a dog has a similar dream but doesn’t show the care needed to pull it off. Instead of digging up bones, this time it is trying to launch a space shuttle. The dog’s blundering distracts the cat, causing an unplanned launch.

Since this is in a way an advert for Blender, there is a section at the end that shows the processes of how parts of this short were made using it.


DKC: Return to Krocodile Isle

The creator of these animations just can’t get enough of the K. Rool. And honestly these animations are always a fun romp. This one covers the Kremlin leader as he dreams of vengeance on the Kongs. But is he losing his edge?

If you like corny villain songs, this one will scratch that itch.


Rat Snacks

This one is a trip. No really. The premise starts out simple and— well… expect the unexpected. And then even that won’t come. It’s so out there with the direction the story moves it feels like they threw concepts in a hat and drew them out and were then forced to animate and make a cohesive story.

The animation is also impressive. I particularly liked how the rat remover that was called arrives on the scene by stepping through the divider between the characters and the stretching done to do it.

In the end I was simply left to wonder: why did he not use the mayonnaise after being begged to do so?


Love Louder

Suggested to me by a person who views my content on YouTube, Love Louder is in essence a furry music video by a group calling themselves the Meeps. Interestingly, I don’t see much content by this band. Given that, the production value of this music video is impressive. The animal characters of the band consist of a tiger, sheep, moose, giraffe, and Arctic fox.

The animation utilizes Los Angeles cityscapes as its setting and has impressive choreography of the band members. It very much feels like an organic music video by an animal character band. My hope is that this wasn’t a one-off, but since I can only find the single made by them, it probably was.


Love Langauge

A paper animation of a young puppy who is left at home with what appears to be her crocodile step-dad. The style of this animation sets it apart. The story is heart-warming and deals with overcoming family changes that can be difficult and giving people a chance to go into your life.


Pokémon Trumpet

This one works better if you put it on a loop, but this was an impressive meme that went viral earlier in the year. It isn’t the first time the artist did the ‘character plays a horn to exhaustion’ bit. The previous one was also well liked from 2022, where he had Wolf Link playing a trumpet heavy theme from Link to the Past. And this may have gotten inspiration from the Trumpet Boy meme of 2018.

However, this Pokémon version is superior in conveying Lucario becoming more fatigued, and even used a gap in the song’s need of the horn to pass the character out, before seamlessly looping. The drummer clearly showed concern for his wind instrument colleague.


Catch


As a bonus this year, I wanted to mention one more piece. One of the things I like about reviewing these is the exploration and possibilities of seeing interesting things no one else has. And YouTube recommended a video that was animated this year that was only viewed 4,400 times on a channel with only 115 subscribers called Catch.

The name of this animation holds a clever double meaning. The animation is also emotionally powerful in its message about catching others when they are going through a tough loss. It’s also good to show this, as there was a distinct lack of ‘feels’ animation like last year’s Ursa Major winner “Horns”. This low-viewed entry fills that spot nicely.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Werewolf: a probably-unanticipated result of the now-settled Incognito-mode class-action lawsuit. That ending, though! Would probably put that first, then DKC: Return to Krocodile Isle - then maybe Wing It! or Love Language? It's hard because they're all very different. Fixing a Hole is an awesome achievement, but at that length it's a short film.

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Your strike against "Fixing a Hole" in the short film category is that it is a short film?

Okay, but the kicker is, according to Academy Award rules, it's 20 seconds too long, and is officially feature length! 40 minutes is the cut-off. (Not that the Ursa Majors does or should follow Academy rules.)

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My strike against it for the Short Work category is that above 40 minutes is a short feature film, aka Motion Picture. Of course it is not in fact 45 minutes but 40 minutes, 20 seconds, which seems like it could be interpreted as either.

You could even argue that it is properly part of a Dramatic Series. But then, the guidelines say "specific episodes of series", so I guess it is a long Short Work. The bad aspect of this is that most fan animation effectively gets pigeonholed into this one category by dint of not being able to compete with feature films and not being able to put out enough episodes in a year to honestly qualify as a dramatic series, unless they are very short.

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And I'm making fun of you for using your words bad:

but at that length it's a short film.

I'm assuming you just forgot to type "not". I don't care about your argument, silly; I'm pointing out your funny typo!

Unless you're using the word "film" to seperate "features" from "shorts", which is just using those terms wrong. Both "features" and "shorts" are "films", at any length of time. Time is just not a factor in determining whether or not something is a "film"; a 30 second piece and a two month long piece are both "films" (though probably neither one is very good). "Shorts" and "feature" are how you divide films by time, but you've already linked to the Wiki article on feature films, so I don't think anybody needs me to explain why this came about.

So, your statement as written is incorrect to express the opinion you meant to. It would be more correct to say "Fixing a Hole" is either not a "short film" or that it is a "short feature film". (I think the first is better, because using "short" as an adjective meaning "not long" could cause confusion with "short" as an adjective meaning "not a feature"; which is basically the problem with your sentence as written.)

So basically you said "this short (as in 'not long') film is not a short (as in 'not feature') film". Which of course is funny to me.

However, as "Fixing a Hole" is already in the Recommended List as a Short Work, then it would seem the ALAA has already deemed it a Short Work, so I don't know why penalizing it for being longer than the others is fair. As we both point out it's literally right on the (rather arbitrary) dividing line between "short" and "feature", and if you take out credits and content warnings (which traditionally do count for run time, but let's be real, nobody actually watches unless they want to see their own name pop up), it shaves another couple minutes off.

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I don't think most 'shorts' should count as 'films' - not least because most never touched film! As for recommendations: as I understand it, it works like nominations - it just gets put where it's (most) suggested, unless it's blatantly incorrect. In an ideal world being a feature wouldn't be penalizing, but history suggests fan-made films aren't given much slack.

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Yes, setting aside the word "film" also has roots in processes for the most part not actually used anymore, I'd say this feels a lot like debates about what is "cinema". "Cinema" and "film" (and "movie" and "picture") all describe the same thing which has nothing to do with "length" (in your argument) or "quality" (in Martin Scorsese's arguments). Your argument is basically "category fraud" and my response is "cool, yeah, whatever, but you used the word 'film' wrong." And you continue to do so.

But, fine, whatever, if you want to vote for "A Fox in Space" for Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, okay, sure, but the dividing line between "feature" and "short" is arbitrary and also is based on an outdated system where a longer movie (the "feature") was paired with shorter films ("shorts") in a theatrical system that not even movie theaters use anymore, so I'm not sure how that actually applies to a YouTube series episode that is actually putting out episodes slower than fucking Star Wars (and I mean the main movies, not the pseudo-TV shows on Disney+), so is it really a series at this point? So, I'd say it's not "blatantly incorrect" to call it a "short work", because it, well, is.

Setting aside the ALAA, the other person to ask would be the creators, and the people behind Bitter Lake marketed and even to a certain extent "campaigned" it as a full-length movie (perhaps a less generous way to say it is they intended to make a feature-length movie, then failed to reach that scale in execution), to the point that I forgot it was actually only forty minutes long itself. Which actually is a pertinent point to bring up (except actually you didn't, you only kind of hinted at it, and then vaguely and maybe even accidentally), and I got side-tracked on your misuse of the word "film" (just to be clear, using that word wrong, that's what you're doing).

Okay, that paragraph came out meaner than intended with all the mean parenthesis, but unless the makers of "A Fox in Space" actually come forward and say they intended it one way or the other (unlike Bitter Lake, where the intention was clear), we can only guess. If it feels like Bitter Lake was an intended "feature" that failed to reach that goal, then it feels like "Fixing a Hole" is a "short" that got out of hand. Remember, episode 1 of "A Fox in Space" was only 13 minutes long. I feel like "Fixing a Hole" was intended as much shorter, but it kind of mushroomed (partially explaining the seven years between episodes; to reiterate, literally four Star Wars movies have come out since episode 1) or even was intended as multiple shorts. In hindsight, perhaps Bitter Lake should have been "campaigned" as a short, but that was definitely the creator's call; the creators of "Fixing a Hole" don't seem to be actively campaigning the work, so it can hardly be seen as active "category fraud", at least. Furthermore, the "short"/"feature" dividing line of forty minutes is both arbitrary and outdated (if a studio tried to release a movie to theaters under an hour today, it would be probably actually be seen as insulting), so this is an area where it feels like, well, what it "feels" like is okay, and "Fixing a Hole" feels like a "Short Work".

But also, if "Fixing a Hole" is considered an Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, is it really that disadvantaged? At the very least, you've got a very small sample size of "fan films" there. You're saying it hasn't been a good category for fan created content, I'm saying the one time fan created content tried, it got nominated, no problem. Like, seriously, it got nominated with four major Hollywood studio productions, including three Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature including the ultimate winner.

And the trend has been towards "fan works" or at least smaller, independents at the very least, in other categories (Best Anthropomorphic game was ruled by big studios, like Pokémon ruled the roost for most of the categories life, but the more recent games can't even get nominated; if you're not an active member of the furry fandom, you're not winning the literature and comic categories). This trend is mirrored in Motion Picture, which is the last holdout of non-furries, and Disney and DreamWorks have won the last two years, but the nominees are getting smaller, less Hollywood, more "indie" on the whole, and some of those type of nominees have won (Isle of Dogs, Wolfwalkers). I mean, the main reason Motion Picture remains the major holdout from total "actual furry made by furries" domination is because it's the one area where furries have not created anything other than Bitter Lake (which, as I already pointed out, got nominated).

That being said, no, I don't think "Fixing a Hole" would win, or even get nominated, but that's probably because Bitter Lake's arguable "overperformance" was due to being one of the few times anyone has actually campaigned for an Ursa Major (and, not to bring up bad memories, but I think we all know how much influence a very simple campaign can have on the awards), and it doesn't look like Fredryk Phox and co. have any interest in actually doing that. And, I mean, subjectively, A Fox in Space was fun, but, no, it still probably shouldn't beat Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Yeah, the trendlines are the trendlines, but it's not there yet.

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I just think it's a bit odd that we have a fan-run and funded award for a category of work that doesn't "need" it - even on the fan side. I mean, sure, maybe it helps people who are on the edge of whether to see a certain movie, and it gives those who are direct fans of a particular property a reason to [ask people to] nominate and vote for it, and maybe they'll do other categories at the same time. But actual promotion? We're not quite back in the day where you had to mail off or even go to the movie store and rent or buy something to check it out anymore.

While it's possible some staff at such companies know of the Ursa Majors, I doubt it motivates the creation of or effort towards furry movies. That might be slightly more effective if the category existed solely for works by smaller studios - "Best Indie Movie", whatever that means..

I do hope we'll get to the point of a fan-made movie actually having a realistic chance of winning, but I think it'll take quite a while. That's why sports have amateur and professional categories, after all - the difference in resources available is so vast.

And yes, the Star Fox entry would be more obviously a short if it took out some of its pauses. Some are for dramatic effect, of course. I'm guessing it actually was available to supporters in smaller chunks on Patron and the like (which goes into the whole "Patreon is paywalling the fandom" argument, but I guess few can dedicate their time without some reward along the way - if we actually get a viable movie category candidate I expect it'll be there or otherwise crowdfunded first).

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Well, don't think of it that way; I honestly probably wouldn't vote for any other categories if Motion Picture was gone. It's a fun category to vote for; people like movies, and it's easier to be aware of the winners and even have an opinion than any other category.

I don't think of the category as promotion of furry movies; I'd say it's using popular furry movies to promote the Ursa Majors.

(Also, while I'm here, good on Sonious going through and at least making it to the second year this time around. I kind of vocally doubted his resolve earlier, but so good job making me look like an idiot. Beat me to my top ten list, actually. Got it written, just need to add in the links and stuff ...)

Your rating: None

Ironically, while the Motion Picture category is the most voted on, it's the one I usually have no opinion on because I usually saw one (if any) of the nominees.

The categories I usually do are non-fiction, game, short film, illustration for nomination suggestions.

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a project coordinator and Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, writing and finance