I had some friends over recently, both furry and dragon fans, to show them a retro and entertainingly stupid 1991 anime mini-movie called Capricorn. We poked holes and made fun of it. The following day, in a spirit of— amicable masochism I guess, my friend Dav treated me to the recent movie trailer for A Dragon Adventure:
Confused and somewhat alarmed by the quality levels, I started to look into where it came from.
I am well-aware that computer-animated films with talking animals are churned out all over the world, and most of them are of pretty terrible quality. The theory is that kids will watch anything. So if you believe that, then who cares about quality? Just work on a small budget and make money. What I hadn't done was to take a look down this particular rabbit hole. Now, having done so, I regret it.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up (aka Hataage! Kemono Michi) is new anime series being distributed by Funimation. In fact, it's one of two new anime series that might interest people in furry fandom, the other one being Beastars which will be airing on Netflix very soon!
Based on the manga by Natsume Akatsuki, Kemono Michi definitely doesn't take itself seriously. Shibata Genzo is a pro wrestler who's having the biggest match of his career against his opponent, Macadamian Ogre. Suddenly, mid-fight, Genzo is magically transported to another world, where a princess has ritually summoned him to be the hero to save her kingdom from demon beasts and their demon king.
Thing is, Genzo is a friend to animals, so he's not going to do it. He suplexes the princess, leaves his cloak behind, and escapes the castle (along with his little pet dog).
And now a rather different take on Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon universe, this time in a new Netflix TV series for young viewers. Animation World Network gave us the scoop: “DreamWorks Animation has just unveiled the high-flying trailer and cast of its new animated preschool series, Dragons Rescue Riders. This all-new chapter in the Oscar-nominated How to Train Your Dragon franchise follows the adventures of twins, Dak and Leyla, raised by dragons, who share a unique ability to communicate with them. The brother and sister lead a team of five young dragons, Aggro, Winger, Summer, Cutter, and Burple, with whom they spend their days rescuing other dragons and helping people in their adopted town of Huttsgalor. All 14 episodes of the new series debut September 27 exclusively on Netflix.” Check out the preview trailer as well.
Aggretsuko has launched its second season on Netflix. The first season won an Ursa Major, and the show has become a hit among the fandom with its theme of worklife in the modern era. Will the second season be able to retain its title?
In short, I personally found the second season to be a bit tamer than the first as far as content goes. The red panda, Retsuko, seems to have adapted more to her stresses in life and the duality of her underlying rage seems to have been numbed a bit. When she did do a scream-fest, it seemed more forced and circumstantial than prepared and thought out. It also looks to be that the season focuses on the social obligations outside the workplace this season. Items such as friendship, family, and the future of Retsuko’s life outside of work seem to be the focus of her stresses.
Given this, those that like the first season may have differing feelings of the direction of this one. My thoughts are a bit complicated. I think the first season was far punchier and excellently paced, whereas the second had good moments but also some questionable decisions on character usage.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) is the latest film in the HTTYD series, the first of which came out in 2010 and was followed by a second film in 2014. Now, after a four-and-a-half-year gap, we have a third one, presumably (?) the last, but even if DreamWorks decides to keep the film franchise going, The Hidden World feels like the completion of a trilogy, all of which have involved Dean DeBlois as screenwriter and director.
I'm going to try and avoid major spoilers, so I'll summarize the plot points introduced in the early part of the film. I won't be linking to trailers, because they give away some of the locations and scene gags that are better kept a surprise. I watched a 2D screening, and I haven't kept up with any of the franchise spinoffs or shorts. I'm not a fan of most of the dragon designs or of several secondary characters, but regardless, I've happily enjoyed Hiccup and Toothless' adventures together.
It's time to nominate the contenders for the 2018 Ursa Major Awards! You can send in your nominations until February 16, 2019. We'll see which of them get onto the final ballot in March, when voting opens, and the winners will be announced at AnthrOhio in late May.
If you really liked something in 2018 that had anthropomorphic content, either inside or outside the fandom, you can nominate up to five things in each category! Nominations are completely optional - you can even skip entire categories. All you need to do is go to the nominations page, click where it says "Enroll", and give it a valid email address. You'll be emailed a code, and you can use that to log in and fill out the nomination form.
2018 has been rough on many of us, so from everyone here at Flayrah, we wish you the best of the holiday season and a Happy New Year!
Here are some cute videos from previous years:
A 2017 ad from Very.co.uk, an online retailer.
A series of TV spots featuring squirrels, made for Russia's Channel One in 2017.
And from 2013, "The Bear and The Hare", an ad from the John Lewis department store.
This is a triple movie review! Three animated films for kids from 2017, all of them originally French, that have been dubbed into English (or soon will be): The Jungle Bunch, Sahara, and The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales. The last one is the best by far, but isn't available in English yet. Coming soon!
The Jungle Bunch
Original title: Les as de la jungle (literally "The Aces of the Jungle"; here's the trailer). When my nephew was little, I took him to see the Thomas and the Magic Railroad movie, because he loved the whole Thomas The Tank Engine thing. I knew it was a franchise with loads of characters, and the movie relied on familiarity. I know I watched it, but to this day, I have no memory of it.
Similarly, The Jungle Bunch is based on a lot of television episodes, plus an earlier movie or two. You don't need to have followed any of them to watch the 2017 movie, but it probably helps to connect with it more. Personally I didn't find the characters particularly deep, and they're not meant to be. I liked some of their designs more than others. It's a computer-animated film, and the animation and backgrounds came out well. Visually it looks very good!
Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf (Иван Царевич и Серый волк / Ivan Tsarevich i Seriy volk / trailer) is a Russian 2D animated children's film that came out in 2011. It's the 7th film produced by Melnitsa Animation Studio, and although it took 12th place that year in Russia's box office, 9 of the top 11 films were all foreign imports, so for a domestic film it did really well! It made back 8 times what it cost to produce, enough to get sequels in 2013 and 2016. I've not watched the studio's other films, but they've definitely got an in-house animation style down to something that works well for them.
A lot of foreign animation companies don't bother exporting their films into the North American market because it's expensive, although Netflix and other streaming services are rapidly changing that. Sometimes it's a case of whether foreign audiences will be able to relate to the content. Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf feels very Russian, culturally. I get the impression it's poking fun at a lot of fairy tales, and I have no idea what they are. Still, it was an ok watch.
"Well, we folks of the animal kingdom have our own version."
-Roger Miller, folk singer
Organized Christian theology has never really answered the question whether or not animals can be saved, but popular Christianity, as practiced by people rather than priests, has always seemed to think that salvation is available as much to animals as to humanity. A frequent way to tell the story of the Nativity is via the use of anthropomorphic animals. As a young child, I was at one time or another a lion and a firefly in various church Christmas pageants. Lions have traditionally been used in Christian art to symbolize Christ as King, though fireflies have never been very associated with Christmas in specific or Christianity in particular. I remember singing "This Little Light of Mine", anyway.
Which brings us to the original little light of Christianity and titular object of The Star. This is yet another retelling of the Nativity through the eyes of the animal kingdom, this time updated to slick CGI animated comedy. It's the same old story, but approximately 2.2 billion Christians around the world would attest it's a pretty decent story. So, it's got that going for it.
Sheep & Wolves (trailer) is an 85-minute Russian CG-animated movie that came out in 2016, also known as Волки и овцы (Volki i ovtsy). The writing and production took five years by Wizart Animation, whose earlier film had been The Snow Queen (2012).
Sheep & Wolves didn't quite break even at the box office, and received mixed reviews. After I watched it, I have to agree it's a middle-of-the-road film. It's not bad, it's not great - it's thoroughly so-so. On the positive side, the animation is good and very furry! But the writing... it's for kids aged six and above. There's not much in it to appeal to adults; it's what I call a "babysitting film". Plunk your tykes down in front of it and keep them distracted for a while. Still, I'd rank it a notch or two above Alpha & Omega.
"I guess I just sort of ... grew up."
— Ask Jappleack
It's been seven years to the day since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was first aired, and the geek world changed that day.
So let's talk about the 2017 movie. As far as the story goes, it's pretty bog-standard at this point for MLP:FiM. Bad guy appears (the Storm King, voiced by Liev Schreiber), three of the four magical alicorn princesses prove themselves worthless by getting instantly captured, so it's up to the fourth princess and series protagonist, Twilight Sparkle (voiced by Tara Strong), with her six friends - Applejack (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy (voiced by Andrea Libman), Pinkie Pie (also voiced by Libman), Rainbow Dash (also voiced by Ball), Rarity (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain) and Spike (voiced by Cathy Weseluck) - to save the land of Equestria with the magic of friendship. Which they used to be able to straight-up shoot people with, but they lost that ability back in season four.
A pair of trailers came out within hours of each other last week for future furry features; Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, a stop-motion animated movie featuring talking dogs, and Peter Rabbit, a live action movie featuring CGI animals who wear clothes in addition to talking.
I kept plugging it quietly in the background all throughout 2015 and early 2016 (and you guys thought I only covered Zootopia that year). I mean, what if 2016 had been a year where we had six wide release, fully anthropomorphic world movies ranging in genre from buddy cop, to martial arts, to backstage musical, to crime caper, to space opera, and also Rock Dog?
As it ended up, we got, by my count, one great movie, one good movie, one movie that was kind of meh, one movie that turned out to not exist, one terrible movie and also Rock Dog.