Wish Dragon (trailer) is a computer-animated film from the Sony Pictures Animation International Initiative, a fancy way of saying "international co-production", in this case between Sony and several studios in China. Concept art made the rounds in 2018, and they hoped to finish it in 2019. For whatever reason, it didn't get released until January 15, 2021 - in China - so this review is of the Chinese dub with English subtitles.
A little backstory. When Kung Fu Panda came out in 2008, it had so much artistic attention to cultural detail that China kicked their animation industry into high gear. In the twelve years since then, they've become a powerhouse of animation. Recently, there's been a slow-growing effort to make their films more exportable. Some efforts have fallen flat, like the sadly-overlooked Rock Dog; but with Mosley and Wish Dragon I'm optimistic that there'll be more co-productions to come!
100% Wolf (clip) is a computer-animated comedy film from Australia, released in mid-2020. Based on a 2009 book by Jayne Lyons, the adaptation was directed by Alexs Stadermann, produced by Flying Bark Productions, and it earned $4.6 million. IMDB gives it a score of 5.7 out of 10, and Rotten Tomatoes is similar. It's definitely for kids. Watching it as an adult furry fan, I have mixed feelings about it.
It takes about a quarter of the film's 96-minute running time to set up the story, so minor spoiler warning. There's a pack of werewolves living in modern-day society. Despite keeping it secret to avoid human persecution, on nights of the full moon they parkour around the city like superheroes to help rescue people. The youngest member of the pack's core family, Freddy Lupin, can't wait until he's old enough to become a werewolf too, and has a good relationship with his father, Flasheart, the pack leader.
Until things go wrong. Freddy loses both his father and the pack's sacred moonstone ring. Everyone is devastated. Fast-forward six years. I guess Freddy is being home-schooled? No sign of any friends, and his mother passed away when he was younger. Anyway, the pack still lacks a leader, or "High Howler", although Flasheart's brother, Hotspur, clearly thinks he deserves the position. For now, it's time for Freddy's coming-of-age ceremony, except instead of becoming a wolf, he turns into a poodle. Believing they've offended the Moon spirits, the family tasks Freddy with recovering the ring.
The Donkey King (trailer) is a computer-animated comedy film, and the fifth animated feature from Pakistan. Originally released in 2018 in the Urdu language, an English dub was released in 2020. It was written and directed by Aziz Jindani, and produced by Talisman Studios.
It broke box office records in Pakistan, though I'm mystified as to how, because to me it's not a good film. Maybe its target audience had different expectations, or there were cultural reasons, which, if any, have been lost in the English dub. Don't watch this movie.
The premise starts with King Khan, a lion who rules over a city of anthropomorphic animals. He wants to retire, but his son, Prince Shazad, wouldn't be a good replacement. Miss Fitna, his treacherous fox advisor, proposes that a new king should be chosen democratically in an election …which is not how monarchies work. Her plan involves deposing the king so she can manipulate someone in his place, specifically the film's protagonist, a donkey named Mangu.
Before we start talking about the movie, due to the pretty unusual circumstances still happening in the world right now, we need to discuss what options are available to watch it. (With apologies to our non-North American readers, for whom none of this may apply.)
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, streaming has been the obvious or only way to watch movies reviewed by Flayrah. Raya and the Last Dragon, however, isn't free to stream right now. You'll have to pay Disney+'s $29.99 'Premier Access' fee, or buy a ticket at a theater.
Currently, this reviewer recommends the Premier Access route. It's more expensive, but factoring in the ability to re-watch it, group watching, and ongoing pandemic concerns, it feels a safer bet.
Anyway, Raya and the Last Dragon is from Walt Disney Animation Studios; directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, it stars Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the titular last dragon.
Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor (trailer) is a 2018 computer-animated children's film. Produced in Pakistan, it's the country's third animated film, made by 3rd World Studios and directed by Uzair Zaheer Khan. Furry fans can skip this one. It's so-so, probably only of interest to young kids, who'll either need to understand Urdu or be able to read subtitles.
The story involves a young boy named Allahyar, creative but shy, raised by a single dad who works as a forest ranger in northern Pakistan. After his father gets knocked unconscious by a hunter, Allahyar rescues Mehru, a young markhor (a species of goat, the country's national animal) and sets out to return her to her family who live on a distant mountain.
Turns out that by showing bravery for a markhor and by having a pure heart, Allahyar fulfills the prophecy of being "The Protector", and gets the ability to speak to animals. They're joined on their journey by Hero, a chukar partridge, and Chakku, a young snow leopard. The hunter, Mani, is on their trail the whole time.
Fairly early on while watching this movie, I came to an epiphany: I really don't like Jerry.
Seriously, he's a jerk. I mean, it'd be one thing if he violently thrashed his onscreen partner, Tom, because, after all, Tom is a cat, and cats eat mice. It'd be self-defense. I don't hate the Road Runner when Wile E. Coyote gets squished yet again, even if do feel sorry for Wile. But Tom rarely seems to have any interest in eating Jerry. Neither is Jerry like Bugs Bunny, who doesn't go looking for trouble. In the old shorts, Jerry frequently attacks Tom first, without provocation.
Take, as an example, how Tom and Jerry meet in their latest movie, released this weekend. Tom is busking in New York City's Central Park, when Jerry rudely interrupts him. Now, Tom is not without his own flaws; he's pretending to be blind to attract more customers, which is not cool. But Jerry doesn't seem to be bothered by this; his beef with Tom is clearly that Tom is making money, and he's not. So, he tries to steal his crowd, and then, in a bout of inevitable slapstick violence, breaks Tom's keyboard, which is clearly important to Tom beyond just a means of money. I'm on Tom's side, here.
Well, anyway, Tom & Jerry is a movie about Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat. Jerry is a mouse. They starred in a bunch of cartoon shorts together starting in 1940, meaning that 2020 was their 80th anniversary. This movie was supposed to commemorate that milestone, but, well, COVID-19. It's mostly a live-action film; only the animals are animated (it wasn't submitted for consideration in the Academy Awards' 2020 Best Animated Feature category, which it would've qualified for under the extended "awards year", which implies the filmmakers consider it live-action). Besides Tom and Jerry (who are basically mute, and charmingly credited as "Themselves"), the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña.
Mosley (trailer) is a 2019 computer-animated children's film that showed up on furry fandom's radar about six years ago as Beast of Burden. Written and directed by American animator Kirby Atkins, it was a labor of love that had been in various stages of development for over 15 years. The movie was finally brought to life thanks to a collaboration between animation studios in New Zealand and China. I enjoyed it!
The story takes place in an alternative, pre-industrialized Earth, that includes "thoriphants", an intelligent, quadrupedal, elephant-like species forced into servitude by mankind to do labor like horses and donkeys. Fully sentient and able to talk, Mosley, along with his pregnant mate Bera and his young son Rue, are the property of a disgruntled farmer. When Rue discovers a cave with drawings of bipedal, anthropomorphic thoriphants, Mosley must confront the possibility that the legendary tales of the "Uprights" might be true. Soon he'll be on a quest to find out.
Dragon Rider (trailer) is a 2020 computer-animated children's film, a German production (Drachenreiter) whose UK English dub was recently released online. Adapted from a best-selling children's book by Cornelia Funke, it's the story of a young dragon in the modern-day world, searching for a refuge where dragons can stay safe from mankind. Short version: You can skip this one.
The film was directed by Tomer Eshed (Flamingo Pride) who doesn't seem to have worked on anything this big before. The production company, Constantin Film, appears to have outsourced the animation to several studios, so it's not clear if there was a unified vision. The screenplay was adapted by... John R. Smith? Who, according to IMDB and its scoring system, is the genius behind Gnomeo & Juliet (5.9 out of 10), Sherlock Gnomes (5.2), and The Queen's Corgi (4.8).
It was notably hated by Chuck Jones, an animator famous for his work on the original Looney Tunes shorts, though, to be fair, Chuck Jones pretty much hated anything Looney Tunes that he didn't do himself, and also about half of his own stuff. Joe Dante directed the next live action/animation hybrid Looney Tunes movie, Back in Action, and his stated goal was basically to direct the anti-Space Jam. Flayrah's own coverage of Back in Action was not pro-Space Jam, calling it a "disaster". On the beloved side of the equation, however, Warner Bros. will be releasing a very belated sequel to the movie on July 16 of this year (both theatrically and on the HBO Max streaming service), and they usually don't do that if no one liked it (and, seriously, you can probably find someone who actually does like Space Jam very easily).
But despite the fact that the original 1996 website is still up (with the following link, this article is now in compliance with ancient Internet law stating that all articles about Space Jam must mention the original website), there isn't really a good list anywhere on the Internet that provides the complete line-up of the members of the Tune Squad, the Looney Tunes basketball team in the film. Seriously, the Space Jam Wiki does not have a team roster. The IMDB trivia page for Space Jam has a bare bones roster buried half way down the page (and it's very incomplete). Well, that won't stand. Here's the full roster of every character (animated or otherwise), who played against the Monstars in the movie's big game.
As the world still deals with the Coronavirus pandemic, political turmoil, and the uncertainty of the future, we did come into the year knowing that a major change was coming to the fandom, which has since been overshadowed by these other events. Flash is going the way of the dodo, due to Adobe dropping support for their Flash Player plugin and browsers withdrawing support in turn; and with it a substantial piece of furry history will no longer function in most browsers as of 2021.
Luckily, some of the most famous, or infamous, pieces of Flash history are preserved as videos. Remember Foxy Fluffs are Everything? Someone did “port” it to YouTube (adult language/situations warning in case you haven’t seen it). But despite the animation being saved in video format, foxy fluffs being motion tweens may not amount for much in a post-Flash world.
Time is running out for those animations that are only playable with Flash on their original sites. They can however be downloaded as an SWF file to run on software that supports them. On SoFurry, Flash files already download directly as a file instead of playing in the browser itself. Soon enough it will probably be the only way to enjoy many classic pieces of furry animation from the earlier days of the fandom in their original format – if you can find a working player.
Disney announced some furry bait titles coming to a screen near you in 2022. One is Turning Red, a movie about a girl who is cursed to transform into a red panda when she becomes too excited. Along with this is a new animated series around the 2016 movie Zootopia, called Zootopia+, which was covered in Rod O’Riley’s In-Fur-Nation. It seems to be set up as a slice of life, reality format that will follow the lives of side characters.
But for Nick’s partner in crime, their voice may be missing from any side cast shenanigans. After showing symptoms for COVID-19, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister passed on. The wrestler had many roles in show business. They wrestled Hulk Hogan and were featured on Star Trek, but most furries would know them as the voice of the diminutive fox with an attitude that will “bite your face off.”
It seems 2022 can’t get here fast enough, and not just for the sake of furry films.
Cartoon Saloon is an Irish animation studio, and they're absolutely world class. They first gained world attention right out of the gate, when The Secret of Kells became a nominee for Best Animated Feature in the 2009 Academy Awards. It wasn't the first time a foreign movie made it on the list, but it was a surprise for many casual Oscar watchers.
Of course, if you actually watched the movie, it was a no-brainer; it not only deserved to be nominated, it's part of the reason 2009's list of Best Animated Feature nominees is still one of the all time best for the category. Since then, every feature by Cartoon Saloon has been nominated in the category; Tomm Moore, director of The Secret of Kells and now Wolfwalkers, was further personally nominated for Song of the Sea.
Both earlier films feature furry elements, especially Song, which deals with selkies (Cartoon Saloon is also responsible for the very furry, very good Skunk Fu! series). However, with Wolfwalkers, Moore and co-director Ross Stewart have created the studio's most furry-friendly film yet. The titular Wolfwalkers could be considered a variety of werewolf; but this time, they're the good guys.
Just today on Twitter, Disney Animation made the announcement that a new slate of original animated TV series is on its way to the Disney+ streaming service — and among them is a show called Zootopia+. Yes: Zootopia the series! According to other sources, the series will follow several characters throughout the multi-species city, rather than focusing exclusively on Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps. Here’s the bad news though: We’ll have to wait ’till 2022 to see it!
Hello there and welcome to September's episode of Digging Up Positivity. This month we have a lot of charity and animation, and our featurette is a coyote that really made her mark on our community [Ash Coyote].
In this third season of Aggretsuko, we move further away from the focus of the stress of work-life in and of itself and instead cover the fulfilment of one’s dreams through the side gigs adults do to try and find money in their passions. This season, the characters come to find that these new avenues may come with stresses of their own; work is still work.
Given this the office itself plays even less of a role than the prior seasons. Without going into too many details in this summary, the conclusion of this season is one that will probably strike an intense chord with furry fans given the passion that we have for our fandom “side gig”.
If you enjoyed the prior seasons then you’ll find enjoyment in this season. Spoilers ahead, so watch before continuing should you wish to go in blind.