Un-Whimsical Disney Adventures

A little over 15 years ago, Disney Animation Studios found inspiration for a new film from their most forgotten work. The new movie was Atlantis: The Lost Empire, a steampunk adventure led by Milo Thatch, a man anxious to find the fabled city his grandfather swore existed. The forgotten film that inspired it was The Black Cauldron, a dark fantasy known for its often un-Disney tone. Unlike many Disney films, Atlantis and The Black Cauldron are not afraid to expose the bleaker side of adventure.

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The most important animated films (part 2)

Welcome back to my most important animated films list! As mentioned in Part 1, this is not a list of the greatest animated films ever. All here would qualify for that, but these films are here to illustrate their innovative nature and major impact still felt in the industry today.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

roger rabbit
Eddie (left) and Roger Rabbit (right) catch in a disagreement. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” helped restore studios and audiences faith in the medium of animation after years of disappointments.

In the mid-1980s, animation was struggling. The industry craved for its impressive past era after reaching a critical and commercial blow with Disney’s The Black Cauldron in 1985. Something needed to be done. 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? showed that if done right, animation could return to its glory days. The wide variety of classic cartoon characters in the film must have led people to strive for the days of classic animation, and they succeeded. What followed was The Disney Renaissance, a return to form that greatly impacted the entire animation industry. Other studios followed suit, creating great works for theaters and television alike. Thanks, Roger Rabbit!

Akira (1988)

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The most important animated films (part 1)

In the history of animated films, there have been many milestones, benchmarks, and undeniably important films. By important I don’t necessarily mean best, I mean films that have paved the way for others to come; the pioneers, the giants, and the challenging. This list features the innovations that shocked the world and the films that gave birth to new eras of success. They are in chronological order only, because each one is arguably as important as the next.

Pinocchio (1940)

With “Pinocchio,” Disney showed the world that he was no one-hit wonder.

Walt Disney’s second feature showed the world that his success in feature-length animation was no fluke. Disney didn’t have to make an excellent movie after the success of Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, but the studio did more than expected, making one of the greatest and most-beloved animated films of all time. Almost everything about this piece was an improvement over Snow White: the music, the animation quality, the characters, the themes and the story line. A legacy was born, and we’re all still wishing upon that star.

Fantasia (1940)

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The hope for new Spongebob?

Earlier this year, it was announced that Spongebob Squarepants series creator Steven Hillenburg will return to the show for the first time since leaving in 2005. He was recently a main story writer for the 2015 film, Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water, which definitely felt like more to a return to the series golden age (1999-2004) than ever before.

With “Spongebob” creator Steven Hillenburg more involved with Season 10, will the show return to its “Is mayonnaise an instrument?” days?

Hillenburg is set to be very involved with the creation of new season 10 episodes, but there is no set release for season 10. So in this waiting period, this question must be asked: Will Spongebob return to its glory days? Will the humor be clever and quotable as it once was? Will “No Patrick, mayonnaise is not an instrument” type material return?

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Anime Review: “5 Centimeters Per Second”

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“5 Centimeters Per Second” protagonists Tono and Akari wandering through the snow.

As people, we are both consumed and created by memories. There is always a moment we never want to let go, be it happy or sad, that we mentally replay so it will not disappear with time. Anime director Makoto Shinkai’s 2007 film, 5 Centimeters Per Second, explores the positives and negatives of clinging onto such moments.

As the film opens, the viewers are presented with the significance of the title. It refers to the rate at which a cherry blossom petal falls to the ground.

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Random anime review: “Video Girl Ai”

Video Girl Ai is a six-part anime OVA (original video animation) produced in 1992. Although this short mini-series is well lost to time among the heaps of OVA’s released in this era, it is worth looking into for its memorable blend of romance, sci-fi, and 1990s technology paranoia.

ai and yota
Yota and Ai exploring a night in the city together in the 1992 OVA series, “Video Girl Ai.”

The series surrounds Yota, a high school boy frustrated by his unsuccessful romantic endeavors with Moemi, a girl in his class. Yota soon meets Ai, a virtual reality companion become flesh after she literally emerges from Yota’s television screen. The series follows Yota and Ai’s relationship as he introduces her to the world he knows, typical anime style (aka normal human boy must show being from other realm/planet/dimension the ways of Earth).

Things get complicated when Ai realizes she has a limited time on Earth before she must return to the Video Realm– a real damper on Yota and Ai’s relationship.

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Traditional animation vs CG (part 2)

As promised, here is part two of Traditional animation vs. CG. Each form has its pros and cons, so let’s review them, shall we?

Traditional Animation Pros

Each frame is physically touched by a human hand. I see this as more of an artistic achievement, whereas I see the actual animation of CG films as a technical achievement. Traditional animation has many styles, where CG is limited in its unique look. For traditional, there is anime, cartoony Tex Avery style, rotoscoping (hand drawing over frames of live-action film), bright, dull, lush, etc. CG animation has yet to prove its diversity in styles (although The Book of Life looks a little different visually). This is mainly do to the fact that CG films are almost exclusively created for a childhood audience, and since since these films are marketed to that demographic, brighter colors are usually used.

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Traditional animation vs CG (part 1)

The debate is relatively new, but it will continue for ages: traditional animation vs. computer generated (CG) animation. Traditional animation is created using hand drawn techniques: pen, pencil, ink and paint. This originates to the very early 1900’s. CG animation involves creating works on computers, using software to animate. This was first used in early 1980s films such as Tron, and became more popular in the mid-1990s and early 2000s after Toy Story‘s and other Pixar films’ successes.

Both techniques have their pros and cons, but the inevitable question remains: which is better? The answer: it depends on the situation.

For example, if a work or franchise was originally traditionally animated, its future works should be as well.

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Anime review: “Now and Then, Here and There”

now and then here and there
Shu and Lalaru (another protagonist) watch the sunset amidst all the turmoil in “Now and Then, Here and There.”

I’ve wanted to review “Now and Then, Here and There” (NTHT) for quite some time. I’ve know about this anime for quite some time, but only watched it last December. At first, I was turned off by many reviews who stated that the show was great, but too sad to bear. Well, yes, NTHT is a sad show, but it has such a powerful sense of purpose; it does not wander and it’s hard hitting for a reason.

Plot Summary: Shu is an ordinary middle school boy with ordinary problems. He is a standout Kendo fighter with his eyes on a certain girl in his class. He doesn’t quite have the nerve to talk to her, but he hopes his rising popularity will increase his confidence. After school one day, he notices a girl sitting atop a smoke stack in his neighborhood. Intrigued, he climbs the structure and speaks to her. Soon, Shu is battling a dragon-like monster and is transported to a dystopian military-based dictatorship in which children are forced to fight wars. What follows are incredibly heavy themes associated with what you would expect in a children’s war: death, sorrow, repression, rebellion, lust, betrayal, confusion and imprisonment.

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