Batman Ninja

This movie is insanely good, and by far the best animated Batman film I’ve seen. Created entirely by a Japanese staff, it’s a Japanese take on the Batman mythos, but with tongue lodged deeply in cheek, and with stunning visuals that although CG feel more like they were taken from traditional paintings (well, inspired by them at least). The whole story is batshit insane (you can quote me on that), and seriously fun — Batman and friends, and villains, are all transported to feudal Japan, and in the climax we have giant robot battles. We get Sengoku Batman even. This was just so much fun to watch, and a treat for the eyes.

Mazinger Z: Infinity

The Mazinger Z that I watched when I was a kid was in fact the Grendizer series (that I watched in French as Goldorak), and so although I’m not really familiar with the entire Mazinger series, I was pretty excited to watch this new movie. The main character ends up being Koji Kabuto, who was the pilot of Grendizer, so it did feel somewhat familiar — and it was fun seeing my wife sing along with the theme song at the start, as she was a big fan of the original series. The story here is pretty forgettable — and close to nonsensical — but I was in it just for the robot battles, and those at least were well done. I especially like how despite the modern look of the animation — with robots rendered in CG — all the evil robots still kept the crazy color patterns they had back in the original shows. Not a great movie, but it has its moments when the action happens.

Aggressive Retsuko

I didn’t think this would really be for me — I remember finding the premise of the character (an office lady who loves death metal) pretty funny, but didn’t think much of it beyond that — but I got curious when the animated series popped up on Netflix the other day, and I gotta say that I had a pretty fun time watching a few episodes (which are very binge-able, at like 10-15 minutes in length). Warning though, if you’ve worked in an office in Japan, this may trigger some PTSD.

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.