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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My Neighbor Totoro has always been my favorite Ghibli film, and having just watched it again this morning (for the nth time), it remains my fave. I just love everything about it, from the atmosphere, the depiction of children, the magical surrealness, all weaved around a dead simple (and at times sad) story. Think I’ll watch another Ghibli movie today, possibly Princess Monohoke, which on the opposite end I’ve never liked much.
I didn’t get a chance to post my regular Sunday morning cartoon round-up last week, so I’m combining two Sundays in one. The big news is of course that Samurai Jack‘s new episode run is now over, and what an ending that was. I’m so thankful to Genndy Tartakovsky for producing this amazing extra season of the show, and giving the series a proper ending. I loved seeing Jack and Ashi’s relationship truly blossom in the final two episodes (despite the dark turn it takes) and I really wasn’t expecting to see something so final. I’m of course sad that I will no longer be getting new episodes of Samurai Jack on a weekly basis, but at least I got this lovely 10-week resurgence.
I’m still watching the second season of Mickey Mouse shorts, with last week’s shorts taking the form of “Eau de Minnie” and “O Futebol Classico” (which was by far the stronger of the two), and this week watching “Down the Hatch” (I loved the bit where they play hard rock with Donald’s vocal chords) and “Goofy’s Grandma.” For last week’s Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies short, I watched the still incredible “Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a Half Century” — still one of my favorite Looney Tunes settings. Today I watched “Speedy Gonzales,” which acts as the intro to the character.
For the last thing, both last week and today, I decided to start a re-watch of the old The Scooby-Doo Show — I’ve watched tons of Scooby-Doo series in my life, but that’s the one that I remember the most (the episodes originally aired in 1976-78, but I probably watched it in the 80s as reruns). I’ve watched the first 2 episodes, and it’s pretty fun, although the stories are incredibly dumb — they barely try to make the mystery interesting. And I’d completely forgotten that this series had a laugh track, which comes off as weird. But it’s been fun, especially since it’s been so long since I’ve watched anything from Hanna-Barbera.
I thought this week’s Samurai Jack was a bit on the weak side, but I did enjoy the coming together of Jack and Aki — yes, it was bound to happen, but it was still satisfying to see them embrace at the end. Tangled was Tangled (I like the series for the animation more than the story), and then I kicked off the second season of Mickey Mouse shorts with “Cable Car Chaos” and “Fire Escape.” For this week’s Looney Tunes short (or Merry Melodies, rather), I watched “Duck Amuck” (pictured), which is definitely one of the all-time classics — it’s just so deliciously meta, and feels quite avant-garde. I capped things off with some Ren & Stimpy, in the form of “Robin Hoek,” with a little Powdered Toast Man mixed in.
This past Sunday’s cartoon session kicked off yet again with another fantastic Samurai Jack episode — I really don’t know what I’m going to do when the season is over (and there are only 3 episodes left). After watching another episode of the Tangled series, I capped off the first season of Mickey Mouse shorts with “Third Wheel” and “The Adorable Couple” (pictured). Next week I’ll kick off the second season of shorts, but it also makes me sad to think that there are only 2 seasons to watch. These shorts are just so great. I then finished my morning viewing with another classic Looney Tunes short, this time “Buccaneer Bunny,” which so-stars Yosemite Sam as a pirate. Fun stuff.