Waves ’98

I caught this on Mubi, a Lebanese short film (a Cannes Palme d’or winner) that’s mostly animated, but mixing in a few live-action/photographic elements. It has a dream-like or poetic structure, and so narratively I didn’t find much to latch on, but I really loved the visuals on show, beautifully animated.

Napping Princess

As I mentioned a couple of times on my blog, I’ve been looking forward to watching this (the Japanese title is Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari). I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed, and found it to be a delight — definitely in the vein of Summer Wars and Your Name, if you’re looking to compare it to something (but not necessarily has good as those movies). It’s a tale told in parallel (mixing fairy tale and reality), and it all works beautifully. Very much recommended (my wife enjoyed it as well).

Neo Yokio

I gave this a try when it was released on Netflix, and couldn’t get into it. I thought the idea of doing an artsy take on anime to be an interesting one, and I do like the Wes Anderson-like opening credits, which really clash with the bombastic openers we’re used to seeing in anime. But after watching the first 2 episodes, I was just plain bored. It’s supposed to be a sort of parody of anime, but it’s neither funny nor saying anything particularly interesting. It might be a series that finds its footing later on in the season, but I just wasn’t interested — or cared enough — to watch any more of it.

Big Mouth

This came out of nowhere for me (added to Netflix last week), as I had heard nothing about it. But seeing that Nick Kroll and a lot of other fun actors were involved, I decided to check it out, and wow, this series is incredibly funny. I’ve watched the first 3 episodes, and they’re deliciously crass in the way they handle kids going through puberty (with an honest-to-god puberty monster to cheer you on when you get erections). One of the funniest things I’ve watched this year.

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny

For my latest “Sunday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade,” I went through the Forces of Destiny shorts that have been released so far (viewable on YouTube). I liked the idea for these, a series of animated shorts that star a few of the female characters in Star Wars (including my favorite Star Wars character, Ahsoka Tano). Although the action-oriented sequences make for a good thing to cover in a short, I find the animation to be pretty weak — sure, I realize it’s produced for the web, but with the Disney/Lucasfilm machine behind them, surely they could have gotten a higher level of animation done, especially since they’re so short. Add some uninspiring characters designs, and these are a big disappointment for me. They’re set to release another set of 8 in the fall, so I can only hope they improve a bit.

Blame

I was quite looking forward to watching this film. I’ve never read the manga series it’s based on, but I quite like the stuff that Polygon Pictures has worked on of late (Knights of Sidonia, Ajin), and I really dig the cel-shaded CG they produce. I did quite like the visuals, but I somehow never managed to really get into it, and it took me a few viewing sessions to get through it — I was just kinda… bored. The setting is pretty bleak and lacks visual diversity, and there’s just not much that happens in terms of interesting storytelling. The action sequences are well done though.

Sunday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade (July 2017)

So even though I haven’t been posting updates on a weekly basis like I was doing, I have in fact still been watching cartoons every Sunday morning. My standby continues to be a couple of Mickey Mouse shorts (I just finished season 2, so from next week will be attacking season 3) and old Merry Melodies/Looney Tunes shorts. For the rest, I’ve been sampling a few things, including some old The Scooby-Doo Show episodes (the Scooby-Doo series I remember the most), but what I’ve watched the most is the old G.I. Joe cartoon, which I loved as a kid. I watched the 5-part “Rise, Serpentor, Rise” that kicked off the second season of the 1985 series, and this morning I watched part 4 of the 5-part “Operation Dragonfire,” that kicked off the first season of the 1989 series (which I didn’t see much of back then). Sure, it’s pretty awful, but I still get a fun nostalgic kick out of watching these. I did try watching some more Steven Universe at some point, but just wasn’t really feeling it. I did really enjoy the five Ant-Man shorts that were recently released, that have an old-school vibe to them.

South Park (Season 20)

It’s been years since I’ve watched any South Park (I’d say probably 10-15 years), but these past few days I’ve been playing the South Park Phone Destroyer game, and it got me wanting to check it out again, so I decided to jump into season 20 (the latest season that they have up on the Crave TV streaming service). I’ve watched the first 3 episodes, and man, I’m in for more. It’s still as funny as I remember it being, and the fact that I haven’t watched it in such a long time means it feels relatively new again to me. I don’t know if I’ll then want to go back and watch some more seasons, but for now I’m having a lot of fun watching it again.

Castlevania

I often complain about the lack of animation produced in North American aimed at adults that’s not comedy, and so not only was I extremely excited to watch Castlevania because of that, but also because it’s based on a game series I love, and more importantly, it’s written by Warren Ellis — who I still credit as being the first person who ever commissioned me to write something. We only get 4 episodes (with 8 more episodes already promised), but it was enough to get a good feel for the series, and I really like it. The animation, although done by a studio in the US, feels like a good anime, and the story is dark and interesting — with a good dose of black humor, as you’d expect from Warren. Can’t wait for the next batch of episodes.

Princess Mononoke

As I mentioned when I wrote about watching My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke is a movie I just never latched on to — and I often wonder why so many people I know seem to name it as their favorite Miyazaki film. I actually had a chance to watch it in theatres when it was released in 1997, during my first visit to Japan (by boat from China). I couldn’t understand any Japanese, so just went because it was supposed to be a big deal — I also don’t remember if it was the first Ghibli film I saw, or if I had seen some before, which is highly probable, but I can’t recall. But yeah, so I saw it not understanding anything about the story, and the visuals weren’t enough to capture my interest. I then eventually watched it another time with subs, but it still didn’t have much of an impact. Watching it again last night for probably the first time in 10-15 years, I can say that I enjoyed watching it, but it’s still far from being one of my favorite Miyazaki films, or even a favorite Ghibli film. I don’t find the story to be particularly interesting, and it’s relentlessly dark in a way that I don’t really like.