Category: special series

Uncle Walt-a-thon: Fantasia

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Dumbo

I’m fairly, but not entirely, sure I saw Fantasia as a child; however, I have almost no recollection of it, so going into this film I had very little idea of what to expect. Having seen it now, it’s easily my favourite Disney film yet, which shouldn’t surprise those who’ve read my thoughts on animation in general because Fantasia is easily Disney’s most experimental work outside of Dumbo‘s pink elephants. Its seven shorts, each introduced by a live-action presenter with the whole film bookended by an orchestra setting up, are set to classical music and each intended to complement that music. They vary wildly in style, from abstract to fairly traditional. They also vary in how much they draw in one’s interest, and the film may have benefited from cutting out one or two.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Dumbo

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Pinocchio

When I was a child, Dumbo was possibly my least favourite Disney film, so I wasn’t much looking forward to this one except for one particular scene. I’m not sure why I didn’t care for it. I possibly just didn’t like the elephants, Dumbo included; the gossipers are intended to be annoying, and the animators succeeded there. As a child I also didn’t connect much to the mother/son relationship, which, being the whole point of the film, is rather critical.

Watching it now, I’ll again applaud the quality of the animation, though if there’s any change in quality between this film and Pinocchio it’s marginal. It has lots of bright, primary colours, even compared to Snow White and Pinocchio, especially in the character designs, which fits the circus setting, and the backgrounds are again detailed and generally softer-coloured.…

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Maynguh Memories: In the Very Beginning

As I mentioned in my Anime Autobiography series, when I first became interested in anime in high school, I couldn’t really afford much of it. However, I could afford the graphic novel versions of these shows. Since this was 2005/6, Tokyopop had standardised the $10 price point, so for the cost of one anime DVD, I could get two or three volumes of the graphic novels.

Once again, I’m not sure how I first encountered this stuff; I’ve always been an avid reader, though, so I probably stumbled on the ‘Manga’ section of a bookstore, and went from there. In any case, one of the first books I picked up, around spring 2004, was Megatokyo, by Fred Gallagher and (for the first couple volumes) Rodney Caston. Yes, I know it’s not Japanese and thus outside the scope of my retrospective here, but it is a starting point for me. After reading the dead-tree version, I started following the online updates. From there, I joined the forum in November after lurking for a while, where I still post occasionally as ‘Wavebird_Ocelot’, and it was in that forum that I started reading about what shows and comics were popular.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Pinocchio

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Snow White

So, after a brief delay the Uncle Walt-a-thon continues, this time with Pinocchio. Like Snow White, it’s a technically impressive film with the art, animation, and music. The character art, in particular, improved noticeably. In the older film, characters sometimes stood out against the background due to a simpler colour palette and less texture, like they were obviously animated separately from the environment they were in. Here, that wasn’t a problem at all.

I mentioned last time that Snow White is almost an animation showcase, but Pinocchio is much more story-oriented. It ain’t Les Miserables, obviously, but a lot actually does happen in this film, along with legitimate character growth, which makes it more interesting and satisfying than Snow White. I will say, though, that the Stromboli and Pleasure Island segments are a lot creepier to me now that I’m old enough to know what “human trafficking” is.

Another thing that didn’t occur to me as a child is that Jiminy Cricket is totally useless through the whole movie. I’m pretty sure the only reason he got to be Pinocchio’s conscience to begin with was that the fairy found him amusing, and decided to humour him.

Finally, something I did notice as a child is that they use the word “jackass,” which is pretty cool for a kids’ movie, but it helps drive home the main point, namely, a boy who isn’t good may as well be made out of wood, and if you really act like a jackass – you might just turn into one!

Uncle Walt-a-thon: Dumbo –>…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Snow White

This past weekend, I started an Uncle Walt-a-thon. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be watching every major animated Walt Disney film. First up was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Overall, it was quite good, primarily as an animation showpiece. The background art was done with a soft colour palette, similar to water colours, which gives it a childlike, storybook feel. It reminds me somewhat of last year’s Wandering Son. There’s also a nice variety in the settings; the evil queen’s castle, the dark part of the forest, the dwarves’ cottage, and the mine all have their own colour schemes and very different atmospheres. The character animation was very fluid – this show has almost constant movement, which modern animation often lacks (granted, this applies mostly to TV shows).

The plot can be explained in its entirety in under two minutes, but plot seems to be mostly beside the point. The ending, for example, is nothing more than the prince, who doesn’t even have a name, just showing up, kissing Snow White to bring her back to life, and the two of them riding off. Instead, we mostly just get a sequence of individual scenes, usually with music and singing. It’s all well directed, the songs are catchy, and the simple humour makes it a “family film” in the best sense of the phrase.

On a side note, I’d like to say that Grumpy is the best dwarf, by far. Mainly because he’s the only one to ask the obvious questions, like “Who is this girl to boss us around in our own house? What’s she doing here in the first place? Isn’t it kinda risky to hide someone a powerful witch desperately wants to kill?”

Uncle Walt-a-thon: Pinocchio ->…

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Anime Autobiography – In the Modern Fashion

<– Previous: Anime Autobiography – Endless Delinquency and Despair

In 2010, my university career ended with a whimper, and I entered the “real world.” Actually, I just continued at the job I already had and spent most of the next year or so wondering what to do for a career. It was a somewhat depressing time, in a way, but hey – I still had my Japanese cartoons.

Now, at this point I’d seen enough that fewer and fewer shows offered really new experiences for me. Most of the shows I saw in 2010-11 stood out because they excelled at something that I’d already seen elsewhere. I also find it difficult to say much about some of these shows because they’re so recent that I can’t quite contextualise them yet. After reflecting on how to go about sharing my experience from these years, it occurred to me that the most significant event is probably a shift in how I watched anime. So here we go – how I watch anime in a modern fashion.…

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Anime Autobiography – Endless Delinquency and Despair

<– Previous: Anime Autobiography – Into the Bowels of College

Sometimes, one discovers the right show at the right time. In high school, I found Azumanga Daioh, early at university I found Genshiken, and early in 2009, the second half of my junior year, I found Welcome to the NHK!, about a seemingly hopeless shut-in who dropped out of college. Having already noticed a pattern in the shows I watched, I thought, “Is this what I have to look forward to?”…

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Anime Autobiography – Into the Bowels of College

<– Previous: Anime Autobiography – Anime Clubbin’

Going into 2007 and ’08, the combination of university, work, and commuting between them destroyed the vast amounts of free time I’d enjoyed in high school, though having my own car and a decent income for a college student did take some of the sting off that. My hobby of collecting hobbies, though, had to go. I dropped the time-consuming video games, especially the RPG’s I liked, as well as my attempt at learning to play guitar. Literature remained, and though I did as much leisure reading as I could manage, as a literature major I got most of my fill of that in class. Most of my leisure reading, in fact, consisted of graphic novels.…

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Anime Autobiography – Anime Clubbin’

<– Previous: Anime Autobiography: A Rental Hobby

I began university in Fall 2006, and lived on-campus the first semester. Very quickly, I joined two clubs – the Newman Club, where I’d spend most of my time, and of course the anime club. At the time, I don’t think I realised just how little anime I had actually seen, and though one of my roommates was also a fan, he was just a casual fan like me. So, now able to watch several different shows a week, my experience with anime would expand rapidly.…

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Anime Autobiography – A Rental Hobby

<– Previous: Anime Autobiography – serial experiments lain

Moving into 2005, though lain had inspired me to seek out more anime, I faced a couple roadblocks that prevented me from fully immersing myself right away. First, I lacked time. Though I had loads of free time in high school, I’ve long had a hobby of collecting hobbies, so anime had to compete with comics, video games, literature, guitar, film, and whatever else grabbed my interest.

Second, and more critically, I lacked funds. This was 2004-6, and most anime series came out on multiple discs, each costing at least $20, and I just could not afford spending that much, especially sight unseen. Many would’ve just pirated what they wanted to watch, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable with piracy. Besides, it would’ve been difficult to justify using up that much bandwidth on the family computer.…

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