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01

Aug

An Interview with Alex Hirsch — Happy Gravity Falls Season Two Premiere Day!

Celebrate the return of Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls TONIGHT (Season 2! Season 2!) by reading the A.V. Club’s interview, season one in review, with show creator and voice talent Alex Hirsch!

via GreetingsfromGravityFalls.tumblr.com

31

Jul

Ping Pong The Animation

Ping Pong. It’s not normally a sport that’s associated with drama. It doesn’t get much attention in anime compared to the bigger sports such as Baseball, Soccer, Basketball and the like. In fact, it doesn’t get much attention at all.

But here we have an adaption of a ping pong manga from the 90s (1996-1997) in the year 2014. Now, for those of you who don’t understand how the anime industry in Japan works, here’s a simple fact for 90% of anime adaptions of manga: they’re only made to advertise the manga. Therefor, they’re generally only made during the time that the manga is currently being published, as that’s when a manga is at the height of its popularity

But here we get an adaption of this work nearly 2 decades after it’s completed. I was incredibly curious. I asked myself, “why does an anomaly such as this exist?”

After watching, I think I found my answer.

The story and characters of Ping Pong: The Animation are timeless. The story is a means to propel the characters forward. The characters themselves feel natural, realistic, and, dare I say, human?

The characters are comprised of some of the most standard sports anime archetypes there are. You have the character who is talented but never trains, the one who always plays but doesn’t seem to be that good or have any passion, the one who has no talent but overcomes that fact with intense training and practice, etc.

These are standard shounen sports cliches/archetypes, and honestly, they DO make for fun watching, even if one can easily guess what’s going to happen next.

But Ping Pong portrays these archetypes in a way only a very small amount of manga/anime in general do. They portray them more realistically. They portray them as human.

The manga was originally written by Taiyou Matsumoto, who has since published many more works. He’s still active in the manga industry even today.

The director for this anime is none other than Masaaki Yuasa, who is famous for directing works such as The Tatami Galaxy, Mind Game, and Kaiba. His signature directing and animation style is in full force for Ping Pong as well, as you can see in these gifs:

image

image

Masaaki Yuasa isn’t one to conform to the standards and “safe” ways of the Japanese animation industry. While his shows don’t generally sell well, they always get a cult following for their unique animation, directing, and stories.

At its heart, Ping Pong The Animation is a character drama with ping pong used as a means to further it. It is a fantastic watch, and deserves any and all acclaim it receives.


You can watch Ping Pong the Animation legally and for free on FUNimation’s website here.

-Josh

30

Jul

A chat with David B. Levy

One of our writers (Mason to Animation) recently caught up with David Levy, a Cartoon Network alum and the current head of animation at Disney Publishing Worldwide. Read more on our Facebook page

- Mason to Animation

29

Jul

Mekakucity Actors

This past Spring season, one anime caught my attention - Mekakucity Actors. Studio SHAFT has blown my mind once again. With their unique style and “over the shoulder” trademark, they’re an easy studio to pick out. 

But what is especially different about Mekakucity Actors, is that it is not adapted from a manga or even an original from the studio. It’s based on Japanese “pop stars.” 

Vocaloid is an electronic voice synthesizer program, with multiple different installments. Each installment, has a different voice - the most famous being Hatsune Miku. First the voices were given names and then personifications. Their music has skyrocketed and even gone to live concerts. Watch Miku perform here. Miku and her many counterparts are world renowned, especially among the Otaku Community.

In addition to live concerts and world fame, Vocaloid produces music videos… of a different sort. Kagerou Project is a Vocaloid song series about a group of teenagers who acquire supernatural powers after near death experiences. You can listen to and watch the Kagerou Project music videos here.

So Mekakucity Actors - I was hooked. I’m pretty sure I watched the first six or seven episodes on the first day. With lovable and generational chatacters, it was easy to relate to this ragtag group of friends. Heart warming and heart wrenching. With arrangements of the songs included in the soundtrack, it provided a real and believable interpretation of the story.

More than anything, I was stunned with SHAFT’s ability to portray trauma and psychological tension. I have no words to justly describe it. Packed with action, drama, and comedy, I would highly recommend Mekakucity Actors to anyone looking for a short, mind-bending animation.

-Ellen

LAIKA (studio behind creepy greats ParaNorman and Coraline) has been getting some love lately as animation fans eagerly await the fall 2014 premier of The Boxtrolls. San Diego Comic Con provided some more excitement around this “hand-crafted” storyteller when LAIKA president/CEO Travis Knight revealed interest in a fully traditional animated film in the future.

According to SlashFilm.com, LAIKA’s current films have all had aspects of hand-drawn animation in them, so switching from stop motion to traditional may not be so out of reach for the incredibly detailed work the studio is already producing.


Look at the storyboard samples at the top of this post, originally posted on their nearly brand-new Facebook page — seriously, I was the 100th page follower, which is unbelievable to me because they deserve so many more fans! — but look at David Vandervoort’s storyboard above and you can see the depth and beauty this studio would bring to traditional animation.
"Just do it, son," I imagine is what Knight’s dad, a founder of athletics brand Nike, would have to say on the matter. 
- Courtney (HarmonicaCave)

LAIKA (studio behind creepy greats ParaNorman and Coraline) has been getting some love lately as animation fans eagerly await the fall 2014 premier of The Boxtrolls. San Diego Comic Con provided some more excitement around this “hand-crafted” storyteller when LAIKA president/CEO Travis Knight revealed interest in a fully traditional animated film in the future.

"Coraline" still, from Laika.com

According to SlashFilm.com, LAIKA’s current films have all had aspects of hand-drawn animation in them, so switching from stop motion to traditional may not be so out of reach for the incredibly detailed work the studio is already producing.

Stop motion pre-production, from Laika.com

Look at the storyboard samples at the top of this post, originally posted on their nearly brand-new Facebook page — seriously, I was the 100th page follower, which is unbelievable to me because they deserve so many more fans! — but look at David Vandervoort’s storyboard above and you can see the depth and beauty this studio would bring to traditional animation.

"Just do it, son," I imagine is what Knight’s dad, a founder of athletics brand Nike, would have to say on the matter. 

- Courtney (HarmonicaCave)

25

Jul

The [Legend of how] Legend of Korra was NOT cancelled

Yesterday, it was reported that Nickelodeon was pulling the final five episodes of Legend of Korra: Book 3 before they aired. To calm the swelling agony that ensued,co-created Bryan Konietzko posted the following image on his tumblr.

Soon after, the official Legend of Korra Tumblr posted this:

"Hey Korra Nation! Phew. Some of you may have heard versions of this news elsewhere, but here’s the official word. After this Friday’s on-air premiere of Episode 8 “The Terror Within” at 8/7c, all remaining Book 3 episodes will move to a digital rollout. That means two things: 1) Korra is NOT cancelled, 2) the remaining episodes will roll out weekly on Nick.com and the Nick app beginning August 1, as well as on platforms like Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and Hulu.

Thousands of you have been asking to watch this incredible show online, so hopefully this news works in your favor. Mike and Bryan created a breath-taking season for us all…so get ready to watch it all go down!!!

Thanks for being the BEST fans in the industry and see you at Comic-Con.”

Now that my mini-heart-attack has subsided, part of me is wondering if this move to digital is actually a good thing for the series. The entire first half of season 3 was not available for stream on the Nick website after the television air and for the people who didn’t have cable, such as me and the many fans who shared their outrage on the Korra Facebook page, this made it nearly impossible to watch or rewatch unless through illegal means. While I get that online viewership doesn’t have the same pull as on-air ratings, inaccessibility in this digital age might have hurt the show’s viewership overall. [Nosy editor’s note: YEAH! Because who wants to start watching a show if they can’t catch up with the episodes they missed?]

It also didn’t help that Nickelodeon had done a poor job with promoting this season. We didn’t even get an premiere date until a few weeks before the premiere and only got a trailer a few weeks before that. While the ratings this season had been low (Episode 1 being the highest at 1.5 million), some which came from the general “meh” reception of the previous season, Nickelodeon certainly didn’t do a lot to help The Legend of Korra: Book 3: Change get the ratings I think it deserved. And I’m not the only one that has enjoyed this season.
Hollywood Reporter review
IGN review
In any case, all I can think of is #notcancelled.
- Ron (awakenthetrees)

(GIF via Flameo-Ferret)

P.S. if you haven’t heard, you can follow along with Korra Nation this afternoon (1:15 PST) for a live feed of all that’s going down on at TLOK Comic-Con panel. 

22

Jul

Video game developer Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 video game will be getting a CG animated series! The announcement was made during Anime Expo on July 5th.
The series has an announcement teaser trailer, which you can watch here, and the official youtube channel has provided a synopsis:"The story focuses on BECK, a weak transforming combat robot, who was made to fight in a combat robot league as a part of the MIGHTY NUMBERS, the strongest robots in the world. When Beck is the only robot spared from a virus that forces his teammates to destroy mankind, he has to find a way to overcome his own inadequacies so that he can stop them"
Any fans of the new game excited by this announcement?-Josh

Video game developer Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 video game will be getting a CG animated series! The announcement was made during Anime Expo on July 5th.


The series has an announcement teaser trailer, which you can watch here, and the official youtube channel has provided a synopsis:

"The story focuses on BECK, a weak transforming combat robot, who was made to fight in a combat robot league as a part of the MIGHTY NUMBERS, the strongest robots in the world. When Beck is the only robot spared from a virus that forces his teammates to destroy mankind, he has to find a way to overcome his own inadequacies so that he can stop them"

Any fans of the new game excited by this announcement?

-Josh

17

Jul

YouTube looks into original programming of its own

According to a report Monday by Fox Business, Google-owned video site for the masses might want to get a piece of the lights, camera, action enjoyed by Netflix, HBO, Hulu and now even Amazon (through Amazon Prime) and their original programming.  

This is not to say that YouTube will be producing original content. They’re just thinking about it, like how a rich person might think about going to their own private island for vacation but might later decide on a trip to the French Riviera again.

Still, it seems pretty inevitable that YouTube will contribute programming of its own to the site sooner or later — and I have hope it won’t just be live-action if/when it does. After all, Netflix and friends are not just producing insanely popular dramas as their original programming; they’re also producing original animation.

Beginning with TURBOFast, Netflix and partner Dreamworks Animation have gone on to produce animated shows King Julien, Puss in Boots and VeggieTales in the House and, in 2015, will introduce Dinotrux, an adaptation of a book about dinosaurs who are also automobiles. I don’t know. 

Netflix has also produced an original anime, Knights of Sidonia, which until a few minutes ago I would have argued was a song by Muse. 

Meanwhile, Amazon Prime is introducing several computer animated shows this year — created by guys like you through story pitching program Amazon Studio, where greenlit ideas receive $10,000 to bring their stories to the small screen.

Some such shows include the computer animated kiddy program Creative Galaxy, stopmotion-esque Tumble Leaf, and Annedroids, a live action show with practical and CG effects. Please don’t watch the trailer here. Another animated original, Wishenpoof, is also for very young children, but certainly someone with good stories will make it through Amazon Studios sooner or later. (Fully live-action junior high sitcom Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street seems the best thing yet to come out of Amazon’s original family programming).

Whether YouTube will team up with a studio, adopt others’ ideas for pilots, or keep doing what they’re doing is yet to be seen. 

- Courtney (HarmonicaCave)

16

Jul

Trailer for Master Jiang and the Six Kingdoms.

This Chinese feature is coming out in 2016 in China, and hopefully the rest of the world soon after. According to Gizmodo, the cel animation is done by just two animators, Li Wei and Pei Fei. It looks epic and beautiful. Waiting for this is going to be agony.

-Chris

Can “We Love Wednesday” be a thing? Either way, we’re definitely loving this collection of Winnie the Pooh-themed bottle stoppers and coasters made by Oki Sato/Nendo for Walt Disney Japan.
A glassware collection for Walt Disney Japan, based on Winnie the Pooh and his friends. The basic glass cup and bottle shapes are complemented by silicon lids that recreate some of Winnie the Pooh’s more famous activities: climbing trees, putting his head in a jar of honey and hanging from a balloon. We also designed silicon coasters that complete the scene when placed underneath the glassware: the door to the house, honey on a branch, the clock in Pooh’s room and Pooh stuck in a hole. Rather than focus our design attention on the glassware, we chose to redesign the coasters and lids. (via Nendo)
Artist's statement: Pooh + Bottles
- Courtney (HarmonicaCave)