Fairly Odd Parents
A rather cute story about a kid who has a pair of Fairy God Parents to grant his wishes. Flashes of inside jokes and references. Some of them get a little heavy on the “Educational” stuff but most of the shows are a lot of fun. There have been several movie length episodes. Channel chasers was quite entertaining and took jabs at the drek that appears on TV. The second was Schools Out, The Musical. The songs were gratingly unpleasant. Syrupy and condescending at the same time. Later years added characters like Poof and a dog. They were OK.
A series of shorts with the full power of Disney animation. Beautiful but it felt dated. Honestly I liked Fantasia 2000 better. But that’s the one I saw first.
Fantasia 2000 (Movie)
(Disney) A series of shorts with the full power of Disney animation and superb music behind them. They range from flying whales that are completely surreal, to a flamingo with a yo-yo that is one of the funniest scenes ever animated, to a volcano and Stravinskys Rite of Spring that literally left me in tears. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
TV Sitcom stereotypes on parade. Incompetent dad, cloying mom, misunderstood little sister, bumbling big brother. `Hey lets make it `hip`. Lets give the baby a oedipal complex and want to kill his mom, and let the dog talk.` Stupid does not cover it. The show is terrible.
Final Fantasy Unlimited
Based on the Final Fantasy game it started well but grew tedious soon. A couple of kids travel to a strange land to find their parents. The animation is typical Anime, except for the bad guys that are drawn in an odd Edwardian Fairytale style. The writing is average. That is except for the obvious bits: The peace loving girl is Lisa Pacifist, The werwolf is Lou Lupus, the leader of the bad guys is Earl Tyrant, and so on. My biggest complaint is that they were lazy and used stock footage over and over. In most episodes you could count on Kaze firing his Demon Gun at least once which had a 2-3 minute assembly-loading-firing clip. The sub had a stock clip whenever they were going to fire their main gun. Chobi had a stock clip whenever it transformed into the super-Chobi. It got to the point where I’d check the time and say to myself “well, they are 13 minutes in, Kaze is going to fire his gun soon”. I found the first few episodes interesting. By the last few I was just gritting my teeth to get through. For the final episode they tried to do something operatic in scale but it came off as clichéd and manipulative without a clear resolution. The voiceover says in the tag “What happened to the travellers? Well you’ll find out when we meet again.” Not bloody likely.
Finding Dory (Movie)
(Pixar) A sequel to Finding Nemo. this time Dory, the blue fish with the memory problem from the first film, starts to remember. She remembers enough about her parents to want to go find them. This leads to another adventure, this time from the coast of Australia, they go to the coast of California. The action is interspersed with Dory’s flashbacks, something I suspect might confuse the youngest audience members. A bit heavier message of empowerment and perseverance than the first film, and the part in the Marine Sciences Institute reminded me slightly of The Penguins of Madagascar series. Overall, fun though.
Finding Nemo (Movie)
(Pixar) Nemos mom and siblings were killed before he was hatched. His father is overly protective and is not handling his son going to school well. Nemo is rebellious and wants to explore the world. Nemo gets picked up by a diver and plopped into a fish tank in a dentists office. Nemos dad embarks on a journey to find him and get him home. Along the way he picks up with a very dippy blue fish (Ellen DeGeneres) a nutty pelican, and others. It is a quite enjoyable film.
Finias & Ferb
Two brilliant brothers build incredible things in the back yard. Their pet Platypus, Perry, is really a secret agent. Silly fun from Disney. A couple of running gags: Their older sister Candice is always trying to get them in trouble for their antics but something always keeps their mother from seeing whatever it is. Perry’s nemesis is Evil Dr. Dufenschmertz, who’s astoundingly inept. Also nearly every episode has a song. These are hit and miss. Some are hit-the-mute-button saccharine sinus headache painful, others are quite catchy. The Mexican-Jewish Cultural Festival is a brilliant piece of social satire. Not sure how that one got past the Disney sensors. The more I watch this one the more I like it. There’s a lot of subtle and hidden references and jokes that go way over the head of the ersatz target audience. A really great show.
The first time around I just did not get FLCL, pronounced Fooly Cooly. It is about a kid living in a town in Japan. His adults have something to do with cartoons and the show every once in a while switches into a still frame Manga format. His best friend is a disturbed dropout who may think she is living in a video game. His housekeeper, who ran over him on her Vespa is psycho with a gas powered guitar who may be working for someone, possibly alien. Strange things happen in his town and robots or other creatures grow out of the kids head to stop them. The story is strange but I like a lot of strange stories. Actually I could not figure FLCL out and was not sure I liked it. After catching it a couple of times I am starting to get inside the show.
Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends
Small children often have imaginary friends. What if they were real? Then when the child outgrows the imaginary friend it would need a place to live. Enter Fosters, a place where unwanted imaginary friends can live until they are adopted by other children, presumably those without enough imagination to make them for themselves. The friends are emotionally at the age of their creators and the place is run by Herriman, a large white rabbit with a British accent and a very officious attitude. Bloo annoys him continuously along with his person Mac. There are many other amazing characters some reoccurring some created for single episodes or even single scenes. The whole effect is cute and enjoyable but after a while it dawns on you that Bloo is really annoying.
A geeky kid in a very weird town. His dog gets killed and he figures out a way to resurrect him. Chaos ensues. Lots of references to classic horror, monster, and thriller films. It had major problems though. The animation was mediocre. They were trying for a classic black and white monster movie look. What the got was clunky Rankin Bass, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer level “Anamagic”. The writing was also fairly predictable. Worst of all the story and characters just didn’t grab me, I wasn’t engaged by the film. It felt like a retread rather than an homage.
Short film about three cyborgs rescuing an Artificial Intelligence from a sadistic corporation. Quite good. The title is a play on freeware software and the idea of liberating the software AI.
A hugely powerful evil but inept alien being is intent of destroying the earth, much to the ambivalence of his superior. It gets everything wrong that Metalocolypse gets right. Badly written drivel.
From The New World
This is a sneaky one. Very well written with lots of bits and hints that you don’t even notice until they become critical later on. It starts out with kids going to school. You find out that they have powers, telekinetic abilities, and they are learning to use them. But over time stories appear. Of the adults sending giant cats to kill children. Of their memories being rewritten so they don’t remember them. Of a history they are not allowed to know. As the story goes on, and it skips ahead years at a time in places, an underlying dark current takes over. Of Spirit Demons and Ogres, and other monsters. Of the Monster Rats, who are the servants of humanity. Where did they all come from? It turns very dark toward the end. A strong message about prejudice, and privilege. Very well done all the way around.
A nice story about growing up and believing in yourself, misunderstandings and forgiveness. Gorgeous animation well done voice work, and the music is quite good. Overall though I’d give it a B. First the messages and meanings are a bit heavy handed. Then it’s a musical. Not that I dislike musicals, but the songs felt more like set pieces dropped in and not integrated into the story. This improved as the film went on but at the beginning it was quite clumsy. Lastly, the writing is formulaic and often predictable. I’m sure I saw similar scenes in Tangled, and my wife was saying dialogue before the character did, even though neither of us had seen the film before. Frozen is good, but not great. Another Disney Princess movie. I enjoyed it but I’m glad I rented it rather than paying full price.
Full Metal Alchemist
I caught several of these and I just could not get into it. It had all the stylistic bits that I like in other shows and the writing was fairly good, but it just did not work somehow and I stopped watching it. I tried again a few months later. The series had been refined, the characters were a lot deeper. We learned the reason why they ended up with one having a mechanical arm and leg and the other as a disembodied soul in a suit of steel armor. There was an effort to fill in the history and back story. After a slow start it has developed into a reasonably good series. The end is quite good.
Future Boy Conan
Pros: It’s a very early work by Miyazaki, from before he founded Studio Ghibli. You can see the themes, hints of characters, character designs, all sorts of things that he used later. It reminded me especially of Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke.
Cons: It was made in 1978. The animation is very crude compared to what they make now, the story is weak, and the “comedy” violence is just disturbing by todays standards.
From the mind of the man who created The Simpsons this is what he can do without the limitations of Fox and their family values. Fry accidentally gets frozen and wakes up in the year 3000. His best friend is a robot, he is in love with a one eyed mutant, and he works for an interstellar delivery company. This gives the creative team the ability to get into a huge variety of situations. It is a lot of fun. Fox never really gave this show a chance. Their loss.
The Future is Wild
I’m a time travel geek so this one hit a bit of a chord with me. C.G is from 10,000AD. An ice age is threatening humanity and she has been sent by her father in a flying time machine to look for a new home in the future. She picks up Emily, Ethan, Luis from the 21st century and Squibben from 100MYAD and they explore the future to find a new home for humanity. The CG animation is decent. The creatures are directly copied from the original Animal Planet special except for the usual children’s show type of changes. They can talk to each other for example. If the measure of a good show is if you wish there was another season and you find yourself wondering about how they made out in the end, this is a good series. By the last few shows, Queen of the Squibben is the peak, the characters are well developed, the writing seems to flow naturally, and there are authentic emotions. Best of all they got the complexities of time travel right. See The Deeper Look about The Future is Wild