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March 2014

February 2014 Newsbytes archive

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Contributors this month include crossaffliction, dronon, earthfurst, Fred, GreenReaper, Higgs Raccoon, Kakurady, mwalimu, Patch Packrat, Rakuen Growlithe and RingtailedFox.

Voting begins as 2013 Ursa Major Awards ballot released

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Ursa Major Awards banner by EosFoxx Here is the final ballot for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards. The voting is among the five titles in each category getting the most nominations. In several categories, there are six finalists because of ties for fifth place. In the Best Short Fiction category, only four finalists are listed because of too many ties for fifth place.

Voting is now open. Due to a technical issue, nominators will need to acquire a new key. The deadline is April 30.

As is not unusual, there were so many nominations for the fourth, fifth, and sixth place nominees in most categories that one more nomination could have made the difference between a title’s getting on the final ballot or not. Please nominate next year.

The 2013 Ursa Major Awards will be announced and presented at a ceremony at the CaliFur X convention, May 30-June 1, 2014, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, 18000 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92612.

Video: 'Muppets Most Wanted' trailer

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Looks like we have an addendum to the addendum; but since this movie comes out next week (and our own beloved editor is apparently clueless about its existence), now is a good time to share the trailer for Muppets Most Wanted.

Muppets Most Wanted stars (besides the Muppets, obviously) Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell and is directed by James Bobin. It hits American theaters on March 21.

Review: 'Kairos. T.2/3', by Ulysse Malassagne

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Kairos, book 2 Kairos, volume 2 of 3, is out! (My thanks again to Lex Nakashima for making this review possible.) Volume 1 was published in France in April, with an animated cartoon trailer for the whole series by the author at his new Studio La Cachette. Niils and his mysterious girlfriend Anaëlle (whom he is trying to talk into becoming his fiancée) are camping out in the French countryside. She is kidnapped by anthropomorphic dragons dressed as Medieval soldiers, and taken “home” through a dimensional portal to the world that she apparently came from in the first place. Niils follows to rescue her, and is met in the countryside by two friendly inhabitants; Kuma, a dragon monk, and Koyot, a brown, beaky peasant.

Tome 2 begins with Niils, Kuma, and Koyot coming to a peasants’ market town, where a big political argument is in progress between the supporters of the dragon royal family and those who accuse it of becoming tyrannical, weak, and no longer in touch with the people.

Roubaix, France, Ankama Éditions, October 2013, hardcover €11.90 (64 pages; on Amazon.fr).

Upcoming symposium on Gef the Talking Mongoose

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In 1931 on the Isle of Man, the Irving family claimed that their farm was home to a spectral talking mongoose. Many British tabloids carried stories on Gef and various psychic investigators visited, searching for evidence of the creature. Was is a hoax, paranormal activity, or some combination of them?

The curious can attend a symposium on Gef at the University of London, Thursday 10 April. Tickets are £7, including light refreshments.

Animation: 'Sonic Boom' first look

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop has a first look at SEGA’s and OuiDO! Productions’ Sonic Boom CGI TV series, coming to the Cartoon Network (also French TV) later this year.

Sonic the Hedgehog is best-known as a SEGA computer game series, but this announcement – with a 2’50” trailer – shows what Sonic, Tails, and Dr. Eggman look like as fully animated CG characters.

'Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games' - marks for effort, animation still needs work

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (7 votes)

Alpha and Omega 3They're making these sequels fast; I think they've been working on them the past three years, ever since the first movie came out. Check out the trailer. [TheChriZ1995] The movie is in stores March 25; the Blu-ray & DVD edition is exclusive to Walmart and is currently offered for $18.96; it'll also be on iTunes for $14.99/$9.99 HD/SD.

While Alpha and Omega 2 had a very low quality, with a lack of shading and choppy animation, at least they tried to work on the issues for this one. It's a huge graphics upgrade from the second movie. Sadly the animation still needs work to be smooth like the first Alpha and Omega movie. Yet while the quality may not match up to the original, at least they are trying - I think it looks reasonable for what is essentially an extended TV show. For a company that isn't Pixar, they're doing a fairly good job at the moment.

I have a feeling some people on here may not like it, but this is for those who might want it, even if they never heard of it. It's great to have the fandom for this, though.

Review: 'Atomcat', by Osamu Tezuka

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Atomcat The last time I met Osamu Tezuka was at Daicon V, the 25th Japan National Science Fiction Convention, in Osaka on August 24-25, 1986. He was in a good mood, and told me through a helpful fan interpreter that he had just started a new manga that I was sure to like, considering my fondness for funny animals. It was a new version of Astro Boy – turned into a cat! “WHY?”, I asked. He chuckled and said something like, “Why not? It’s important to not take yourself too seriously.”

Tezuka had created Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) in 1952 and drawn his adventures until 1968, including the five intense years of the TV series (1963-1966, with production starting in 1962). After that, Tezuka was “Astro Boyed out”, and turned down numerous requests to create new adventures of the robot little boy. He had other stories that he wanted to develop in manga and anime. So, when he got a request from the children’s Smile Comics in 1986 to produce a new manga for young readers, why did he return to Astro Boy, but as a kitten; besides “Why not?”

Well, Atomcat never pretended to be more than a humorous trifle. It was a self-parody, and also a parody of all the talking animal comics where a human little boy or girl has an animal companion to help him or her out. In Atomcat, young Tsugio is the only human who knows that Atom the kitten is not an ordinary kitten, and Atom protects Tsugio from being bullied. Yet Tsugio is such a coward and crybaby that Atom, exasperated, has to take the lead most of the time. Tezuka was very proud of having worked out the English pun Atomcat = A Tomcat, since he claimed not to speak English. He probably also delighted in naming the school bully who always picks on Tsugio, “Gaddafi”. Atomcat was published in the monthly Smile Comics for seven months, seven self-contained stories, from July 1986 to February 1987. The last couple of stories lacked the freshness of the first stories. I suspect that Tezuka had lost interest in Atomcat and was just hacking out the last few stories; he was probably glad to end the series.

I “read” Atomcat in Kodansha’s 400-volume Japanese Osamu Tezuka Complete Manga Works around 1997; that is to say, I looked at the artwork. This current Atomcat edition from Digital Manga’s Platinum Manga has enabled me to read it in English for the first time.

Gardena, CA, Digital Manga Publishing, April 2013, trade paperback $12.95 (194 [+ 9] pages).

Animation: 'The Polar Bears'

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A 7’21” movie? Well, they don’t say “feature”. And it is produced by Ridley Scott, directed by John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda), and CGI animated by Animal Logic, the Sydney studio that produced the two Happy Feet movies and Legend of the Guardians: The Guardians of Ga’Hoole. This is supposed to reinvigorate the Coca-Cola Polar Bears, but at least it’s free of the commercial message.

IMDb and YouTube say that this was released on December 31, 2012. ADWEEK says that it was commissioned by the Coca-Cola Company through the Creative Artists Agency (adv’t agency) of Los Angeles for an online commercial. So this has been out for over a year, but I haven’t seen it mentioned on Flayrah yet. Let’s rectify the omission.

Rocket Raccoon gets his own comic book series

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Rocket Raccoon If you thought the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series from Marvel sounded interesting, but were disappointed at the gun-toting-raccoon-to-green-skinned-alien ratio, July will see that situation rectified. Rocket Raccoon is getting his own ongoing series.

The book will be drawn and written by Skottie Young, best known for his work on Marvel’s comic adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, along with cover work for many Marvel titles. He is known for his cartoony style, an obvious fit with Rocket Raccoon’s funny animal roots. Like Rocket, this will be Young’s first ongoing title as a writer. You can see uncolored inside art for the first issue at MTV News.

The comic’s title was originally Rocket Raccoon and Groot, but Rocket’s “personal houseplant/muscle” was demoted, though he’ll still feature prominently. The rest of the Guardians will mostly stay in their own book, though Rocket and Groot will remain a part of that book’s cast.

In case you somehow missed it, Rocket Raccoon will also, completely uncoincidentally, appear in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie hitting theaters August 1, directed by James Gunn, featuring Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.

Korean cinema: Toilet-paper Merlin turns pianist into cow, who's saved from incinerator by com-sat in robot girl form

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

Korean animation looks enough like Japanese animation that it is usually lumped together as anime. But I don’t think that even the Japanese have made an animated feature like The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow, directed by Jang Hyung-yun and released in February in Seoul.

Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop announces this South Korean release about a pianist (male), transformed into a cow (female) by Merlin the Magician in the form of an anthropomorphic roll of toilet paper, and pursued by a villainous incinerator that wants to incinerate him/her; while a communication satellite falls from space, becomes an Astro Boy-like robot girl, and saves the cow from the incinerator and its secret agents. It falls into the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it category -- and Jerry has the trailer, so you can see 1'22" of it.

Read more: Review at TwitchFilm.com