Category: special series

Uncle Walt-a-thon: Peter Pan

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Alice in Wonderland

Short version: it’s better than Cinderella.

Peter Pan is, simply, far more entertaining. The variety of settings goes a long way by itself, but there’s also a good deal of action, humour, and of course music. Even the plot is, by Disney’s standards, fairly complex, with multiple points of conflict, e.g. Wendy’s opposition to her father’s wish that she grow up, Capt. Hook’s desire for revenge against Peter, Tinkerbell’s jealousy of Wendy, and a couple others. Someone unafraid of a little overanalysis could even write a short paper on how the film’s like a cheerier version of Lord of the Flies, as the Lost Boys are quite the little lot of savages constantly fighting among themselves, and chasing after every novelty that comes their way, whether that’s acting like the Indians, joining a pirate ship, or following Wendy to London (as a side note, I’d watch a movie about the Lost Boys going to London). All Capt. Hook, clearly their leader’s greatest enemy, has to do to convince them to join his crew after capturing them is have his men put together a spiffy song-and-dance routine; it was a nice routine, I’ll admit, but show a little loyalty!…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Alice in Wonderland

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Cinderella

After the insipid Cinderella, a part of me dreaded what lay in store for the rest of this series; would the rest of the classic Disney films fare as poorly as this? Luckily, these fears turned out to be premature, because Alice in Wonderland is a contender for the best film yet.

The contrast between Alice and Cinderella illustrates Disney’s strengths. No Disney film has a complex plot, so a work like Cinderella which relies entirely on storytelling, though children may enjoy it just fine (which I realise is the primary goal), will almost always bore an adult audience. However, when plot is largely set aside and the animators are free focus entirely on their own craft, as in Fantasia or Dumbo’s “Pink Elephants,” the results are almost always spectacular.…

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Maynguh Memories of the Dropsies

I’m sure we’ve all met the type of comics fan who’s determined to finish every series he begins, no matter how long it goes, no matter how silly or overly convoluted the plot gets, no matter how bad the art deteriorates; he’s started this comic, and nothing will stop him from finishing. I can’t help but respect the completionists’ determination, but I can never count myself as one of them. Though money is sometimes of little object to me, time is too valuable for me to spend hours on something I no longer enjoy.

Sometimes, that line of when to drop a series is clear enough. For example, I read the first four volumes of MariaHolic, and though not outright bad, they weren’t very good, either; the jokes, art, and plot were all competent, but just barely. I don’t even know how long the series is, but when something hovers around that C- or D+ range, I feel comfortable just not bothering to seek out anything more of it.

A little more difficult are those disappointing series that start off strong. Very soon after I first started following anime and comics, I came across recommendations for KareKano. Most of the enthusiasm was for the anime adaptation, but a couple years ago roughly I came across the first volume of Tsuda Masami’s original comic and decided to check it out. I didn’t care much for the art, but the characters and humour drew me in and gave me high hopes for the rest of the series. As it happened, a local Half Price Books had a bunch of volumes available, so I bought a bunch of them – up through the ninth.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Bambi

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: The Three Caballeros

After a couple films in a row that I wasn’t really familiar with, we make it to a film I’ve seen many, many times with Bambi.

My first impression is that this film is beautiful. It’s one of the best-looking animated works I’ve ever seen. I’ve mentioned that some of the previous films‘ backgrounds are soft and reminiscent of watercolours, and that’s the case here, as well, but Bambi has probably the most elaborate yet. The character animation is, needless to say, fluid throughout, and I imagine it took a lot of work to get such a variety of animals to all look right. The animation doesn’t go into any of the weird, experimental stuff I usually like; the closest it comes to something like “Pink Elephants” is in Bambi’s fight with a rival deer near the end. However, it does remind me of Fantasia‘s Tchaikovsky segment with the lush colours and use of lighting, so I would consider this as a culmination of everything the studio had been working towards so far in animation technique.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: The Three Caballeros

<– Uncle Walt-a-thon: Fantasia

The Three Caballeros is another of the few Disney films on my list that I haven’t seen before, so I didn’t really know what to expect going in. What I knew of the premise, Donald Duck getting a tour of Latin America, didn’t sound especially promising, and the first part of the film gave me little hope, but a strong second half made the experience a pleasant surprise.…

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Maynguh Memories of a College-Age Delinquent

In the first Maynguh Memories post, I mentioned that I’ve long been more a comics than an anime fan, initially because I found graphic novels more affordable. Besides that, though, anime also consumed a lot more time, whether in finding a two-hour block of time for a film, or stringing together a series of times for a TV production. I could read a volume of a graphic novel, though, in about half an hour, and read it more discreetly than I could watch an anime. That was important because of a confession I have to make.

You see, at university, I was a juvenile grown-up delinquent.

Well, maybe not quite, but I did occasionally skip classes I didn’t enjoy, and like any other delinquent I’d hang out at Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, or the library. There, I’d often buy two or three volumes of comics, and read through them before going to work or to a class I cared about. I wouldn’t recommend doing that for those who care about their grades, and I didn’t skip class too often, but oddly enough some of the most enjoyable time I had in my college years was spent in a corner of the library or in the cafeteria reading through the latest volume of some comic.…

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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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