Why do you still watch cartoons?

A lot of people ask me: why do you still watch cartoons?

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“Why are you still watching those kids’ shows?”

The first thing I wonder is: should I not be watching cartoons? Should I spend my free time doing something “serious?”

And you know, I have been thinking lately: why do I love animation so much? Earlier this week, I poured my heart, soul and life into my “Top Ten Studio Ghibli Movies” list. Everything I wrote about my love for those films magically appeared on the page, as if Totoro himself took a bag of scrambled words and gracefully placed them there. Sometime after I finished the list, I was home, completely engrossed in the humor and wonder of the shows Steven Universe and BoJack Horseman.

Have I always been this way, have I always seen animation as something more than merely entertainment? Yes, yes I have.  I like animation because it is clearly not reality, but the degree of this unreality varies depending on the work.

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Top Ten Studio Ghibli movies (5-1)

Here is part two of my Studio Ghibli films ranking list (5-1)! Click here for part 1.

Mei and Satsuki hanging out with the lovable and carefree Totoro, whom they see to escape the realities of their own lives.

5. My Neighbor Totoro

As children, didn’t we all want to leave behind our daily worries and live in our own fantasy world? Young sisters Mei and Satsuki are very imaginative and happy girls. However, their mother faces a dangerous but unspecified illness, which worries them and their father. In order to to cope with their mother’s illness, the sisters find solace by having adventures with totoros (fuzzy bear/cat-like creatures). This animated movie may look visually cheery and bright, but it can be interpreted as a deep and complex allegory on the loss of childhood innocence and the methods of childhood coping.

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Top Ten Studio Ghibli movies (10-6)

So here it is: a top ten ranking of Studio Ghibli’s films. The famed anime studio has produced more than 10 films, but I singled out the best. This list is based on personal preferences, story and character quality, and overall lasting impact. Part one features films number 10-6. Here we go!

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Sophie and Howl from “Howl’s Moving Castle,” a fantasy film for the ages.

10. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is a very troubling film. On one hand, it is a very beautiful fantasy about the preciousness of youth, but on the other hand, it gets so wrapped up in its complex and dense labyrinthine story structure that it often feels bogged down and over-long. This might be the most gorgeous looking Ghibli film, containing stunning visuals and an emotional soundtrack. Howls contains some of Ghibli’s most memorable moments, namely Sophia and the Witch of Wastes’ journey up a deceptively endless staircase and the destruction of the moving castle. The fact that this amazing film is number 10 says a great deal about this studio.

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“Guardians of the Galaxy” cartoon has release date

Once again, the channel Disney X D has picked up a great show. The “Guardians of the Galaxy” cartoon will air on September 5 on this year. It looks like it follows the same vein as the film, which is a very good thing. Check out the short promo:

According to the Marvel Animated Wiki, the series was first announced at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con. Since then, there has not been much news, but it is great to now have a release date.

Although the promo is not very long, it does show enough.

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Pensive about Pixar: Ending Credits Outtakes

Pensive about Pixar is a series of musings observing what separates the studio from many others.

Once a film is over, there should be plenty to think about (especially if the film just viewed was a good one) : what did that character really mean? What does the open-ended finale imply? Or, what does this film say about society? Pixar films often make viewers think about these questions, but they have a little fun at the end too.

Roz from “Monster’s Inc” plays an old-fashioned scare prank on Sully, featured in the film’s credits. Scenes like this humanize Pixar’s animated characters.

Beginning with A Bug’s Life and continuing in Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Cars,  “outtakes” role after each of these Pixar films are over. In these sequences, the characters flub their lines, occasionally say things related to their personal lives, and prank each other on the filmset. This clever idea implies there are actual film crews on location in Monstropolis (Monsters Inc), Radiator Springs (Cars), among other places.

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Disney Live-Action: the epidemic

No animated Disney film will be left untouched by the live-action adaptation epidemic. Within the next year, people will have a difficult time trying to think of an animated Disney film that has not been adapted. The most recent victim has been The Sword in the Stone, based on the 1963 film.

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The live-action adaptation epidemic is quickly spreading through the kingdom. What to do?

In the early days of the epidemic, (circa March 2015) it seemed the majority of victims were Disney Renaissance films such as Beauty and the Beast and Mulan. Then it seemed no one was safe: Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Night on Bald Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, and Pinocchio soon followed. It’s just too much.

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Tuesday Shorts Talk: “Runaway Brain”

Tuesday Shorts Talk is a weekly discussion of an animated short film, featuring classics and lesser known works.

Only one of five theatrically released animated Mickey Mouse shorts over a period of 60 years, “Runaway Brain” is something of an anomaly in the Disney shorts cannon. After the theatrically animated short basically died away in the mid-1960’s in favor of animated television, any animated short was a rarity. Shown in 1995 before A Goofy Movie, viewers were treated to this:

From the opening scenes of the short, what immediately stands out is the high animation quality. Very rarely does traditionally hand-drawn animation look this good.

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Crash Bandicoot animation surfaces

In the early days of Playstation, Crash Bandicoot was a mascot for Sony’s video game system. As a cartoony animal who embarked on adventures collecting crystals, he was something of an ideal video game character. His 1996 debut game showcased Playstation’s 3D rendered graphics capabilities. Recently, the game producer, David Siller, unveiled what could have been the game’s cut scenes, which are not 3D, but hand-drawn animation. Check out the video:

Siller posted on the video’s YouTube page that this test animation had the potential to be a cartoon series in addition to being included in some of the games. For some reason, this never happened. Did Sony miss an opportunity?

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Satoshi Kon Central: Distorted Love

This is a series of articles discussing themes present in anime director Satoshi Kon’s works. Kon was an auteur with a unique sense of style, time and reality.

Director Satoshi Kon was a great anime director and innovator. He only left us with 5 anime works, but each one is to be cherished. “Satoshi Kon Central” will recognize the themes present in his works among other observations.

Satoshi Kon is my favorite anime director of all time. With only five works to his name, his status as a director is sometimes overshadowed by larger studios’ work and more prolific directors. However, each of his works are some of the most unique creations not only in anime history, but in cinema history overall. He died at the age of 46 in 2010 and left behind great anime works. In this series, each piece will likely contain full spoilers, so if you have not yet seen the work(s) I am discussing, tread lightly. You have been warned. 

The first point of discussion in “Satoshi Kon Central” is the theme of distorted love. This theme occurs when a character possess a warped sense of love and/or attachment to another character or the idea of a character. This is featured prominently in three of Kon’s films: Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers. 

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Aladdin prequel announced (The Stuart Little 3 Syndrome)

It happened: there will be a Disney live-action prequel to an animated film. The Hollywood Reporter announced that a prequel to the 1992 animated classic, Aladdin, is in the works. The film will be about the origin of genies, and is simply titled Genies. There is no set release date.

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An image from “Stuart Little 3,” which was inexplicably animated after the first two films in the series were live-action. No, Stuart, I will not give you a thumbs up back. If “Stuart Little 3” never should have been animated, then the “Aladdin” prequel should not be live-action. Simple as that.

Earlier this year, Disney shocked the world, announcing a string of live-action films adapted from Disney animated classics, such as Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Winnie the Pooh and others. (Read about my case against the “Night on Bald Mountain” live-action adaptation, another announced film). However, Genies is the first announced live-action prequel.

Which honestly does not make any sense at all. If a prequel or sequel to a film is made, it makes sense to keep it in the same medium, meaning– if the first one was animated, the prequel should be too! There are some great movie prequels out there. For example, The Godfather Part II. What if Francis Ford Coppola decided to animate that? That would not be cool.

The same goes for sequels: if the first one is live-action, keep the second one that way! (same goes for animation). Only one example that defies this rule comes to mind: Stuart Little 3.

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