Saturday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade

I was thinking this morning — Saturday morning, to be exact — how I missed the event nature of Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid. Sure, it’s awesome to have everything on demand now — I never watch anything that airs live these days, unless it’s something that’s newsworthy or event-like (like when I watched the Oscars recently) — but there was something special and exciting about waking up on Saturday mornings and getting to watch a bunch of cartoons, at a time when you didn’t have 24-hour cartoon networks, or even much airing at any other time (I think after school cartoons started being a thing more in the late 80s and 90s). So I’ve decided to create my own Saturday morning cartoon block — the “Saturday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade” — in which I’ll rotate 4-5 shows that I’ll watch as a block on Saturday mornings. I’m not including any anime, because those shows tend to be more adult-oriented and not really the kind of thing I want to watch first thing in the morning — and besides, anime was never part of the Saturday morning cartoon experience for me. My launch lineup is going to be comprised of the following series: Samurai Jack, Star Wars Rebels, Tangled (which debuts later this month, but the TV movie that aired last week was great), Trollhunters, and The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show. Join me!

2017 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

Sure, who cares about the Oscars, but they are a platform for what is the biggest celebration of film during the year, and so seeing what constantly wins in the two animated categories continues to be an exercise in frustration. They seem to be treated as a purely technical award, and so whoever has the best tech on show tends to win, hence anything Disney/Pixar winning best animated feature for the latest 10 years or so, and then this year Pixar’s “Piper” winning best animated short. I decided to watch all of the shorts last night, and although “Piper” is indeed a technically wonderfully animated piece, outside of that, it actually feels inconsequential. I’d easily place every other nominee above it, especially “Pearl,” “Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” and “Blind Vaysha” above it — and that last one is absolutely the film that deserved to win, hauntingly animating a sad yet stirring tale of a girl who has eyes that see the past and future at the same time. Do yourself a favour though and go watch all of them, as they form a great collection of entertaining tales.

Cyborg 009: The Call of Justice

Although I’ve heard of the franchise, I’ve never actually read or watched any Cyborg 009. I saw that a new series just debuted on Netflix, and so decided to watch the first episode. So far so good — the episode does a good job of setting up the whole thing, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything even though I’m new to the series. Produced by Production I.G, it’s CG-animated with a traditional anime-look — sort of like what you see in Ajin and Knights of Sidonia, but I’d say not as successful. But it’s not to say that it looks bad, and I’m interested in giving it a few more episodes.

The Black Cauldron

I remember that back then, this was a low for Disney animation — it was a pretty big flop, in a series of animated flops for Disney, before it got its groove back with The Little Mermaid. But I remember liking this movie, although I’m guessing it’s because I liked the dark-ish fantasy setting. Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged well at all — or just was never really good. The story is uninteresting, and the animation throughout feels pretty weak.

Lu Over the Wall

I was so excited when I found out that we were getting a new film directed by Masaaki Yuasa this spring (Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome), and now there’s the news that, by the way, he has yet another movie coming out this spring. Here’s the trailer for Lu Over the Wall, which comes off as a an acid-like take on Ghibli’s Ponyo (although Ponyo itself is pretty acid-like in its own way). You’ll find more details in this Cartoon Brew post.

Daisuke Kashiwa

I really do need to make a point of highlighting every episode of Toco Toco TV here, because it truly is my favorite online video series. The episode before the latest (on Shinji Tsuchimochi) covered musician Daisuke Kashiwa, who has been composing the soundtracks for the animated films of Makoto Shinkai, whose latest film, Your Name, is now (or about to be) the top grossing film ever in Japan.

Favorite Media of 2016

Here it is, my annual post (here are the ones for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) in which I list all of the media that I most liked in the past year. This is not meant to be a “best of” list. This is a highly subjective look back at the stuff that I experienced over the past year, and that tickled my fancy the most. I do it as a fun exercise to reflect back on what 2016 provided me in terms of entertainment, and hope that it serves also as list of recommendations. I restrict it to stuff that was released in 2016, and usually allow myself to do updates through the rest of December and into January, as the act of making this list usually makes me uncover things I missed out on. Each category is made up of an alphabetical top 5, followed by honorable mentions.

Favorite Games
This is always a tough one, as there are so many games I want to play every year, and I can’t, or I try to be patient and wait a few months for sales — I wouldn’t be surprised if The Last Guardian ends up here (once I play it), or maybe even Final Fantasy XV, which I am still quite looking forward to playing. Also, I was debating whether to include it here as a game or not, but the NES Classic Edition is definitely one of my favorite game experiences I’ve had this year.

  • Firewatch (PS4)
  • Inside (PS4)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)
  • Virginia (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: Abzu (PS4), Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS), Far Cry Primal (PS4), My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (3DS), Oxenfree (Mac), Ratchet & Clank (PS4), Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Edition (PS4), Stories: The Path of Destinies (PC), The Witness (PS4), Tom Clancy’s The Division (PS4), Trials of the Blood Dragon (PC), Unravel (PS4), Watch Dogs 2 (PS4)

Favorite Mobile Games
Some years I include this category, some years I don’t. This year I found myself enjoying enough on mobile to warrant its return. And although I don’t include it because I lost interest in playing it fairly quickly, I must admit that for a few weeks, I was having a blast playing Pokémon Go outside with friends. I include a mention of the device that I mainly played the game on.

  • Bullet Hell Monday (iPhone)
  • Legend of the Skyfish (Apple TV)
  • Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.ipa (iPhone)
  • Pathfinder Adventures (iPad)
  • Super Mario Run (iPhone)

Honorable Mentions: Galaga Wars (iPhone), Hidden My Game by Mom (iPad), Reigns (iPhone), Triennale Game Collection (iPad)

Favorite TV
This year, even more than before, I found myself very rarely watching a series that airs weekly, as it aired — the exceptions are all in my top 5. Instead, I prefer to watch a show once a season is over, at my own pace (and I do most of my TV watching on Netflix).

  • Game of Thrones
  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Mr. Robot
  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld

Honorable Mentions: Ali Wong: Baby Cobra, Black Mirror, GameCenter-CX, House of Cards, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, Saturday Night Live, Star Wars Rebels, The Get Down, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Favorite Movies
Seems like each year I find myself watching less and less current films, which means that I’m not including a lot of really good stuff that came out this year, but that I’ll probably end up watching in years to come. That said, I REALLY liked this top 5.

  • Everybody Wants Some
  • Miss Hokusai
  • Rogue One
  • Sing Street
  • The Red Turtle

Honorable Mentions: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Branching Paths, DeadpoolKingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, The Magnificent Seven, We Are Twisted Fucking Sister

Favorite Anime
Despite the fact I’ve loved anime since I was a kid, this is the first time I include an anime category in my year-end list. I guess I’d taken a bit of a step back from regularly watching new stuff over the period that I started writing these (from 2010), but this year saw me get back into it in a pretty big way.

  • Ajin
  • Dimension W
  • Lupin the Third
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
  • The Great Passage (Fune wo Amu)

Honorable Mentions: Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture, Mob Psycho 100, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Favorite Music
When I was doing my Codex podcast, I’d also include a “Favorite Tracks” category, since I spent a lot of time selecting specific songs for the show, but since I haven’t been doing that, I’ll stick to favorite albums. Also, I feel like I didn’t really take in as much new music as I usually do. A lot of it had to do with me focusing on listening back to a lot of Japanese music from the 90s/2000s after I recovered some old archives, but also because I spend a lot of time listening to stuff from the “For You” page on Apple Music, which makes me happy because I’ve always had an issue where I don’t spend as much time as I’d like listening to older stuff (versus always being on the lookout for new music). I look forward to going through year-end “best of” lists and discovering albums I missed.

  • AIM (M.I.A.)
  • Bonito Generation (Kero Kero Bonito)
  • Jessica Rabbit (Sleigh Bells)
  • We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (A Tribe Called Quest)
  • Woman (Justice)

Honorable Mentions: Awake (Remixes) (Tycho), Cheetah EP (Aphex Twin), iii (Miike Snow), Epoch (Tycho), Motions (Best Killer Remixes and Produced Works by FPM) (Fantastic Plastic Machine), Skilled Mechanics (Tricky), The Hope Six Demolition Project (PJ Harvey), Puberty 2 (Mitski)

Favorite Comics
As with each year, my list tends to focus on the series I enjoyed the most throughout the year, and then at the end of the year I end up finding a lot of graphic novels I’d like to read based on the “best of” lists that pop up.

  • Batman (written by Tom King)
  • Billy Bat
  • Moonshine
  • The Black Monday Murders
  • The Vision

Honorable Mentions: Briggs LandDetective Comics, Green Valley, James Bond (written by Warren Ellis), Lake of Fire, Motor CrushOld Man Logan, OutcastSeven to Eternity, Southern Bastards, Southern Cross, Violent Love

Favorite Podcasts
Feels weird writing up this category and not including Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, which I’ve loved and followed for years, but this year found me taking a step back, only listening to a few episodes here and there — I still quite enjoy the interviews I do listen to, but still don’t end up listening to it regularly.

  • 8-4 Play
  • All Songs Considered
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • The Stack
  • Waypoint Radio

Honorable Mentions: CAGcast, Designer Notes, Glixel Podcast, Polygon’s Quality Control, Shall We Play a Game?

Star Wars Rebels (Season 2)

I know the show is currently in the midst of season 3, but I just recently watched the last few episodes of season 2, and enjoyed them quite a lot. I continue to think that adult Ahsoka is the coolest Star Wars character, and so it’s a joy to have her play an important role in the season finale (featuring an epic confrontation with Anakin/Vader). It’s got me hyped to catch up on season 3 now.