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!
April and the Extraordinary World [trailer] is the English dub of a 2015 French animated film, originally titled Avril et le monde truqué. There was a limited North American theatrical release in April 2016.
Furry-wise, it's borderline: a likeable talking cat sidekick, plus a little extra anthropomorphism that I can't discuss without spoiling. Its main appeal is for steampunk fans. If that's your thing, it's definitely worth a look!
The new Chinese 100-minute animated feature Big Fish & Begonia now has a music video as well as a trailer for promotion. Directed by Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun, and produced by their B&T Studio, the hand-drawn/CG hybrid feature will be released July 8 throughout China. No word on a U.S. release yet.
Klaw is a French comic book series that will soon be available in English from Magnetic Press, so this is a good time for a review! It's a young adult superhero/action comic with anthropomorphic content. Will it appeal to furry fans? Possibly. Bonus points if you're a fan of tigers. It's written by Antoine Ozanam and drawn by Joël Jurion.
Angel Tomassini is a kid in early high school who gets bullied a lot, even though everyone (except him) seems to know that his father is the head of the Chicago mafia. Within the space of a particularly bad week, Angel learns the truth about his dad, is questioned by the police over the suspicious death of another student, is attacked by ninjas, goes on his first date, and finds out he has the power to turn into a powerful, muscled were-tiger.
Seriously, I have been looking forward to April and the Extraordinary World for five years, when the first in-production news appeared and then its “coming soon” trailer was on YouTube as Un Monde Truqué. They didn't say anything about a talking cat, which is why I didn’t announce it on Flayrah then. YouTube has had to take that trailer down. This new one isn’t nearly as good, but it does have the talking cat in it.
In a steampunk alternate world’s 1941, when Europe is united in a Triple Empire under Napoleon V and its three capitals of London-Paris-Berlin are connected by cable car, scientists have been disappearing for decades. The earlier trailer was about the disappearance of the child Avril (April) Franken’s parents. This new trailer is about the adult April’s hunt for them, with her talking cat Darwin and her companion Julius.
The 105-minute movie, co-directed by Persepolis animator Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, was released in France on November 4th. GKIDS has picked up the American rights for a 2016 release, in both dubbed and subtitled versions.
The Hollywood Reporter has announced Paramount Pictures Corp.’s forthcoming animated features from its Paramount Animation division for the next four years, 2016 through 2019. All of them include anthropomorphic characters.
First up will be the already-released-in-Europe French feature adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 classic The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). It has already been filmed around the world as live-action features and animated serializations as well as dramatized as audio recordings, radio serials, an opera, a ballet, etc. Saint-Exupéry’s story is not long enough for a feature film, so the movie, directed by Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda), presents it as a flashback within a new story about an old man (the Aviator) telling the story of long-ago crashing his plane in the Sahara desert and meeting the Little Prince, to a Little Girl raised to be a strictly materialistic “scientific” child prodigy, bringing fantasy into her life. The movie is a combination of computer graphics (the modern story) and stop-motion animation (Saint-Exupéry’s story as a flashback), by Mikros Image in Montreal, Quebec. The anthropomorphization? The Little Prince meets a talking fox, snake and flower. It was released in France on October 7th, 2015. Paramount Animation will release it in the U.S. on March 18th, 2016, in an American voice dub with Jeff Bridges, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks and Bud Cort.
The Finnish-French theatrical animated feature Moomins on the Riviera will be released in the U.S. on December 4th in one theater; the Laemmle Royal Theater, 11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, (West) Los Angeles 90025, for one week to qualify it for the 2015 Best Animated Feature Oscar at next year’s Academy Award presentations. It will also become eligible for ASIFA-Hollywood's 2015 Annie Awards.
Les Moomins sur la Riviera is an 80-minute 2014-2015 co-production of Pictac Cie. in France and Handle Productions in Finland, co-directed by Xavier Picard and Hanna Hemilä, in honor of Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday. It’s an adaptation of the “Moomins on the Riviera” sequence in her and her brother Lars’ Moomin 1954-1975 comic strip, produced in cel animation in her signature art style. The entire Moomin family of forest trolls, and all their friends, go to the French Riviera for their vacation. Their unity is threatened as Moominpappa is drawn into the sophisticated world of Marquis Mongaga, and Snorkmaiden (Moomin’s girlfriend) is toyed with by playboy Clark Tresco. They ultimately are glad to get home to Moominvalley.
Whee! We’re bringing you announcements from Cartoon Brew of lots of international animated theatrical features that will probably never come to the U.S. This time it’s a French movie, variously Evolution Man, or, How I Ate My Father or Animal Kingdom: Let’s Go Ape, that is being released theatrically in Britain this month.
Is it anthropomorphic? Surely, if you consider pre-homo sapiens primates to be animals. Otherwise? Hard to say from this trailer (which is one of two), but there are at least lots of animals presented in a manner that furry fans should enjoy.
From Variety: “Wrekin Hill Entertainment has acquired all North American rights to Christian De Vita’s 3D animated feature Yellowbird from TeamTO and Haut & Court. The film… is written by Antoine Barraud and Guilhem Lesaffre with Cory Edwards and based on artwork by Benjamin Renner (Ernest and Celestine).” Seth Green (Greg the Bunny, Robot Chicken) stars as the voice of Yellowbird, “…a teenage bird so scared to venture out into the world that he nearly misses the fun of discovering who he really is.” Other voices include Dakota Fanning (Charlotte’s Web), Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Jim Rash, and Christine Baranski. The distributors have been slowly trickling the film out to North American theaters, so take a look around for it — or else visit the Yellowbird Facebook page. Meanwhile, the English trailer is up on YouTube.
More from MIPCOM. Aurore Damant is a former Gobelins student (if you don’t know who they are, every animation fan should!) who is now a professional character designer and art director. His latest project is called Zip Zip, produced in France by Go-N Productions. The premise is simple: A group of forest animals see that human civilization is encroaching on their habitat, and they figure if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And so they conspire to disguise themselves as regular domestic house pets using zip-up costumes. Easy, yes? The show has debuted in France and it’s currently looking for international buyers to distribute it. Mr. Damant has several screen shots up on his blog to see.
The European artist Peyo (real name, Pierre Culliford) is well-known (or is it infamous?) as the creator of The Smurfs. But he also wrote and illustrated the adventures of a cat, known simply as Pussycat, for Spirou comics magazine. Now Papercutz (well-known as the publisher of Geronimo Stilton) have brought together Pussycat’s comics in one full-color hardcover collection. “This cat isn’t exactly the noble hunting type– he’d rather play a game of kickball with the resident mouse than chase after him– and most of the humor originates from his clever, yet often foolish ways of trying to get what he wants (e.g. milk and snacks).” You can pre-order Pussycat over at Barnes & Noble, and look for the book to hit stores this coming February.
This is a review of the original French edition. My thanks to Lex Nakashima for getting and loaning it to me.
The young Alfred Bigoodee is only an assistant when he embarks on the seaplane of Lady Rozenbilt, the fabulously rich woman with tastes as fantastic as they are dangerous. This voyage will forever change his life.
A complete story about the man who will become Captain Bigoodee, one of the most striking characters of the series District 14, the prize-winning series of the International Comics Festival of Angoulême. (French blurb; my translation)
The French publisher’s American subsidiary in Hollywood has published the English translation, The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt, almost simultaneously with the original edition, but has declined to send me a review copy; so this review is of the French edition alone.
This 124-page hardcover album starts out as a prequel, so to speak, of Pierre Gabus and Romuald Reutimann's District 14, Season 1, which I described in my review as:
a Ridley Scott Blade Runner megalopolis (Reutimann’s art convincingly portrays a huge but crumbling early 20th-century city) with Humphrey Bogart as the cynical private eye; and the inhabitants, each of whom has a dark secret, divided roughly into one-third humans, one-third anthropomorphic animals, and one-third outer-space immigrants in their flying saucers.
The humans are the upper classes of society, but that doesn’t mean that the humanoid animals are not at least as active when it comes to really running things.
One of this world’s supporting characters is the mysterious cat-man Captain Bigoodee; American- or English-accented in the French edition or French-accented in the American edition. This is the story of his youth, and of how he loses his innocence.
Paris, Les Humanoïdes Associdés, October 2013, hardcover €15.99 (124 pages).
I don’t know what’s going on, but wow!
Three years have passed since Season 1. As before, the main character is the mysterious Babar-esque elephant immigrant known as Michael Elizondo, with his recently made best friend, the reckless investigative reporter Hector McKeagh the beaver.
Season 2 continues the elaborate comic-art “crime noir” mystery set in an early 20th-century steampunk version of New York City populated with humans, anthropomorphic animals and flying-saucer aliens.
Translation by Anna Provitola, Los Angeles, Humanoids, Inc., January 2014, hardcover $39.95 (358 [+ 1] pages).
Spanish writer Juan Díaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido met while working at an animation studio in Madrid in the early 1990s. After both moved to Paris, they met again and agreed to collaborate for the French comics market on this anthropomorphic crime noir/hardboiled detective series set in America in the 1950s, featuring feline private investigator John Blacksad.
The first album, Somewhere Among the Shadows was published by Dargaud in November 2000. The multiple prize-winning comics series has been published in 23 languages. So far there have been five 56-page cartoon-art novels, set in Hollywood, Chicago, amidst the Red paranoia/nuclear bomb-shelter craze, New Orleans and now the Midwest.
Paris, Dargaud, November 2013, hardcover €13.99 (56 pages), Kindle €9.99.
Joann Sfar is probably best-known in the furry community as the author of Le Chat du Rabbin/The Rabbi’s Cat (art by Antoine Delesvaux); the 2003-2006 five-album bandes dessinés, and especially the 2011 animated feature which he directed, released in the U.S. in 2013, featuring a talking cat in Algiers in the 1920s.
Sfar has written other unusual anthropomorphic comics drawn by other artists, such as the 2003-2009 three-volume Socrates the Half-Dog/Socrate le Demi-Chien with art by Christophe Blain, about Héraclès’ semi-divine dog in mythological ancient Greece. In Jeangot, Sfar has begun a new, all-funny-animal cartoon-art series, drawn by Clément Oubrerie, that carries “bizarreness” to a new extreme.
Paris, Éditions Gallimard, November 2012, hardcover €14.50 (54 pages).