Somali and the Forest Spirit
Golems protect and care for the forest. One day a Golem discovers a four or five year old girl. She is alone and starts calling the Golem Father. They are travelling to find other humans. This is the story of their travels, interactions with other creatures. We also learn the history of humans in this world, how they treated others and how they were treated. Beautiful animation, brilliant writing, excellent voiceover work. An exquisitely beautiful story that surprises you at every turn. A lot of deep philosophical messaging in this. Racism, intolerance, and greed are shown in all their ugliness as well as redemption. Definitely going on my best of list.
Fourth Graders with fowl mouths living in a town in Colorado. Strange things happen and the kids fix it. They try to use this as a vehicle for social commentary and satire. First couple of seasons were not too bad. The sh*t show was a far deeper than many people gave it credit for. The later seasons got to be more a vehicle for potty humour and kids doing inappropriate things than serious satire.
Film Board of Canada. Beautiful abstract short with music by JS Bach and Glen Gould and abstract water-colours about moving spheres. Mesmerizing and meditative.
Spice and Wolf (Ookami to Koushinryou)
Amusing but not great. This is clearly set in Europe, not Japan. Craft Lawrence, a travelling merchant hooks up with Horo a Wolf Spirit. He agrees to take her back to her homeland in the north. Along the way they get involved with lots of dealings and actual criminality. There are two big companies in town that are competing and the two of them are caught in the middle. Unfortunately the company names are so similar it’s sometimes difficult to which one is doing what. It’s also the story of their growing relationship. The animation is average. The writing is not bad. I just had some trouble getting into the characters. Lawrence seems to drift from shrewd trader to clueless novice. Horo is at times, a wise spirit, glutton, or spoiled child. Also there are gaps in the action where Lawrence stops to explain his dealings to Horo. If you’ve ever seen the cartoons “By Word of Mouse” or “Heir Conditioned” or “Yankee Dood It”, where they tried to use cartoons to teach economic theory you understand how boring this can be. At some points I just wanted to yell ‘I get it already’ at the screen. Just not interesting enough to bother with Spice and Wolf II.
Spirited Away (Movie)
(Miyazaki) A little girl and her family move to a new town and on the way stumble into a Spirit Bath House (we would call it a spa). She has to survive, make friends, and rescue her parents who have been turned into pigs. In the process she grows up from a whiny child to a confident adult. The description of this fairy tale does not do it justice. It is stunningly beautiful, moving, and deep. Not just the best animated film I have seen. I think it is the best film of any kind I have ever seen.
Strange creatures live on an island. They are the result of horrific genetic experiments. Some are recognizable: a gorilla with a pony head, a rhino with two legs, a cat head on 8 tentacles, and some are so mixed up that it’s hard to tell what they were. They live, and play, and generally do amusing things. It’s not high art but it is fun, even if it does rely on slapstick and bodily functions humour a lot of the time. The transitions are done with panache, the whole show has a fun tongue in cheek style. While it started out rather silly, over time the inner subversion came out. It’s actually quite well written and very enjoyable. I get the same feeling from Spliced as I did from Dave the Barbarian.
A sponge who is an idiot. His friend the starfish that is even dumber. His neighbour the octopus is arrogant and pompous. His boss is a miserly crab. His friend is a squirrel in the diving suit. The list goes on and on of the strange inhabitants of Bikini Bottom. The whole effect is completely stupid, utterly moronic, and without anything to interest anyone over age 9. Inexplicably, it is fun to watch. Look for anachronisms. For example, why are their are waves on the beach when Bikini Bottom is under water. How do they light fires. It’s surprisingly fun.
There is a theory that you do not need fine art if the writing is good. The cartoons of Callihan are the best example. I can also point to several shows that were graphically impressive but were just bad. The film Antz for example. Squidbillies is about squids living among people in some remote hick town in the mountains of northern Georgia. It has almost unintelligible graphics. It also has forgettable, painfully obvious writing. Crass for the sake of crassness. Unfunny, uninteresting, witless dialogue. The plot, such as it is has little to keep you interested. The situations are stupid, the characters are unsympathetic and the interactions are uninteresting.
A throwback to an older style of animation. A family lives with their talking screw up of a pet squirrel. Lots of slapstick and silly comedy. OK but the humour is juvenile enough that I do not catch it much. It also has the same problem that Fosters has. The main character (Rodney the squirrel in this case) is just really annoying.
A kid wakes up with amnesia and tries to figure out what is going on. Lots of anime tropes, giant robots, fights, monsters, school life, misfits, a bit of female empowerment handled clumsily, its just a mish mash. The stories were kinda’ predictable. Oh it is five minutes from the end of the episode, there’s about to be a fight. The fight starts, Gridman is winning, surprise move and he’s about to lose, but he manages to win after all. The end tries to have some deep meaning which is fine. But it’s handled like some educational after school special. Overall I was not impressed with this mediocre series.