Category: special series

Uncle Walt-a-thon: Sleeping Beauty

<- Uncle Walt-a-thon: Lady and the Tramp

In some ways, Sleeping Beauty is a revised version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, since both adapt fairly simple fairy tales that don’t seem to lend themselves to a feature-length film. Disney has covered wide variety of subjects in his films so far, so it’s sometimes difficult to compare them, but these two lend themselves to comparison.

Of course, Sleeping Beauty does offer better animation than its predecessor. The backgrounds are gorgeously detailed, and the first part of the film has an unusual, flat look to it from the lack of shading, making it reminiscent of simple storybook illustrations. Snow White is also visually appealing, but the extra two decades of refinement shows in the newer work.

The main difference between them, though, is in how they attempt to fill out an eighty-five minute run time. Snow White did so mostly with music. This kept the film entertaining without trying to pad out a very simple plot, but does have some drawbacks. We know next-to-nothing about the world outside the dwarves’ cottage; all we know about the prince, for example, is that he’s handsome, has a good singing voice, and isn’t afraid to kiss a girl while she’s asleep.…

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Uncle Walt-a-thon: Lady and the Tramp

<- Uncle Walt-a-thon: Peter Pan

Maybe I should’ve saved that “still better than Cinderella” line for Lady and the Tramp instead of using it with Peter Pan. After all, Peter Pan is a different kind of story; it’s an adventure story, whereas Cinderella and Lady are “watch the characters not do much of anything except [in Lady‘s case] eat spaghetti and chase a rat” stories.

Now, I’ll willingly grant that perhaps I’m not being entirely fair; perhaps it is largely my fault for being bored because there’s not enough action. As I’ve said before, my main interest in animation is animation, and with a few exceptions I don’t have much patience for works that don’t play to the strength of their medium. Besides, I’m outside the target audience for these films, and I did like Lady and the Tramp alright as a child. I certainly can’t fault the quality of the animation, and there’s nothing major wrong with the plot, it’s just not interesting to me as an adult.…

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Maynguh Memories of a Long, Long, Long Time

belldandyBack in high school, ten dollars for a volume of manga (or mayn-guh, as I and many unfortunately pronounced it) was a pretty good deal for my precious allowance money. I could certainly afford more of it than I could American graphic novels, and it was also cheaper per volume than anime DVD’s. However, manga did have one drawback in that they could get very, very long.

I remember looking at the first volume of Ranma 1/2 in a Bookstop outlet, knowing it was popular and liking the first couple chapters I read in the store, and hey – I could buy two or three volumes at a time! At that rate, I’d finish the whole thing  in about a year, and spend over three hundred dollars. For that money, I could buy a new game console, and some games to go with it!…

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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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