Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

ANIME REVIEWS: Two Based on The Works of Nagaru Tanigawa

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Funimation: $64.98, 5 discs, (4 Blu-ray and one DVD)

Despite the series title, Haruhi Suzumiya (Wendee Lee) is hardly melancholy. She’s one of the prettiest girls in her high school, but also the strangest and the loudest. Haruhi dismisses normal people as “boring” (“What kind of fun does a ‘normal’ high school student have?”). She wants to meet “aliens, time travelers, and espers.” When she founds a club, The SOS Brigade, to aid her search, she cheerfully usurps a room, steals computer equipment and shanghaies members. Her first “volunteer” is Kyon (Crispin Freeman), the show’s long-suffering narrator.



See Sony Classics U.S. Trailer For “The Red Turtle” Here

Sony Pictures Classics has released their official US trailer for The Red Turtle – the highly anticipated first feature from animator Michaël Dudok de Wit. Co-produced by Studio Ghibli, the film won a special jury prize at Annecy – and will get a one week award qualifying run in LA (at the NuArt) and in NY on November 18th. A general release will commence on January 20th. Take a look:


FIRST OFFICIAL TEASER: Sony’s “Smurfs: The Lost Village”

Opening on April 7th, 2017, Smurfs: The Lost Village is an all-new, all-animated take on the Smurfs. No live action. Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2) directs – with a cast including Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson (as Gargamel), Jack McBrayer and Many Patinkin (as Papa Smurf). A very cool production blog for the film is located here.

Here’s the teaser:


TONIGHT: Disney XD Goes “Kapow!”

Warner Brothers animation irreverence makes itself at home on Disney XD tonight with the premiere of Right Now, Kapow, a lightning-paced animated sketch comedy series blending the eclectic, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks approach of TV blackout sketch comedy and the limitless canvas of animation.

Like Saturday Night Live, Laugh-In, All That and Key and Peele, the new series stars a “cast” of six comedy players, in this case being cartoon characters whose shapes match their identities: Dog, Candy, Ice Cream, Diamond, Plant and Moon. Here’s a preview:


The Voice of Beauty, PAIGE O’HARA: On 25 years of being Belle

This Tuesday, September 20th, the 25th anniversary edition of the classic from the new golden age of animation Beauty and the Beast is being released anew on blu-ray. Many know it won two Academy Awards, one for best song, the other for best original score, and was also the first animated feature to get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. What many don’t know is those inside Disney working on the film knew from early in the production they were creating something very special. This included the voice of Belle herself, Paige O’Hara. She has memories of a screening when the film was just coming together, when she saw for the first time they had made Belle’s eyes the exact color of her own. On behalf of Animation Scoop, I talked to her about that, and other recollections and experiences being the voice of the beloved Disney princess.

The animators transferred a lot of what they saw in the recordings of Paige performing as Belle into the film. I asked her what of her own mannerisms and quirks she saw in Belle.

“One thing is I often emote with my hands. I stretch them out, or cross them over my heart. I did that in the studio when I recorded and sand “I want adventure in this great wide somewhere”. Belle does that. Also the eyebrow raise she does looks exactly like mine. The thing is animators are actors with their pens. I think Belle is me, writer Linda Woolverton, and artists Mark Henn and James Baxter mixed together. We are all in there, for sure! The brown eyes are mine, of course. You have no idea how much fan mail I’ve gotten there’s a princess that looks like me, with brown hair and brown eyes. The first time I saw that she had brown eyes was also the first time I saw Belle actually animated and my voice coming out of her. It was the opening segment and I was actually taken aback. It was like watching a young me! She is the oldest, and they say she’s the oldest princess and in her early twenties where most of them are teenagers.”



Cartoon Network Animator and “Zorak” Voice – C. Martin Croker (1962-2016)

Clay Martin Croker, veteran animator and voice artist for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, passed away suddenly Saturday September 17, 2016 at his home in Atlanta. He was 54.

Croker was a mainstay of Cartoon Network since the cable channel’s very beginning in 1993. He did everything from writing to design to animation to voice acting on CN’s original programming like Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He will probably be best known as the voice of Zorak, and for reinventing him as the wiseass alien that eternally heckled Space Ghost at every opportunity.



Loyola Marymount Presents “Woody Woodpecker & The Avant-Garde”

A unique classic animation exhibit, Woody Woodpecker & The Avant-Garde, opens Sept. 22nd at Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery, reflecting the unlikely collision of people, art forms, political beliefs and wartime efforts. Varied elements of animator Shamus Culhane’s creative inspiration and productions will be explored in the exhibition. Paintings and watercolors by artists Jules Engel, Oskar Fischinger, Losar Feiltelson, Knud Merrild, and Byron Randall, which Culhane likely saw at the American Contemporary Gallery in the 1940s, will be presented. Similarly, there will be an ongoing screening of avant-garde films by Man Ray, Maya Deren, Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute. The exhibition will offer focused studies of several 1940s films from Walter Lantz Productions including The Loose Nut and the military training film The Enemy Bacteria.

A film still from The Loose Nut (1945) , Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All Rights Reserved.

A film still from The Loose Nut (1945) , Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All Rights Reserved.




Mondo Media and Six Point Harness Finalize Merger

The companies behind such massively popular digital animated series as Happy Tree Friends, Deep Space 69 and Dick Figures have officially joined forces, announcing today that the merger of Mondo Media and Six Point Harness has been finalized.

The newly formed company, Mondo Media, will be known simply as “Mondo” for all of its consumer-facing activities, including distribution of its series to digital and broadcast networks. The company will utilize the Six Point Harness brand for its studio and production services. Plans for the merger began late last year.



Trailer For Disney’s “Moana”

Here it is – the brand new trailer for Disney’s Moana. The film, directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, with usic composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i, starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson & Auli’i Cravalho, opens in theatres in 3D this Thanksgiving.


Neil Patrick Harris to MC Gala for The Walt Disney Family Museum

The Walt Disney Family Museum has announced its second annual fundraising gala benefiting the Museum’s ongoing initiatives to support the next generation of creative talent. The event will honor Marty Sklar, Disney Legend and Walt Disney Imagineering Ambassador, who, in addition to working directly with Walt Disney, has been a leading Disney creative force contributing to each of the eleven parks around the world. For more than half a century, Sklar has been instrumental in sharing the magic of Disney-themed entertainment with people around the globe.

Marty Sklar

Marty Sklar


David Daniels Strata Cuts New York

“Well, if they don’t want you as an animator, you can always be a camera man.” And with this bit of encouragement, David Daniels started his NY career at the Broadcast Arts animation studio. Daniels had just screened Buzz Box as part of his interview, and it was met with mixed results. Buzz Box (Daniels, CalArts 1985) is inspired by a childhood watching the Vietnam War on TV: by the incongruity of Walter Cronkrite reciting body counts and the capitalistic euphoria of intervening advertisements. On Saturday September 10th, at the Anthology Film Center in New York’s Bowery district, we were treated to a special Show & Tell presentation by David Daniels. There were lots of his old New York animation friends, in a packed house.


David Daniels giving away strata cuts to eager fans; source credit: non films

Midwell – 2






Checklist of U.S. Animated Feature releases in 2016

1. NORM OF THE NORTH (1/15/16) Lionsgate. D: Trevor Wall

2. MONSTER HUNT (1/22/16) Film Rise. D: Raman Hui. (Live action/Animation)

3. KUNG FU PANDA 3 (1/29/16) Dreamworks/20th Century-Fox. D: Jennifer Yuh Nelson; Co-Director: Allesandro Carloni.

4. SNOWTIME (2/19/16) Shout Factory. D: Jean-François Pouliot.

5. THE BOY AND THE BEAST (3/4/16) Funimation. D: Mamoru Hosoda. (anime)

6. ZOOTOPIA (3/4/16) Disney. D: Byron Howard, Rich Moore.

7. RACHET AND CLANK (4/29/16) Focus Features. D: Jerrica Vleland, Kevin Munroe.

8. THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE (5/20/16) Sony. D: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly.


10. FINDING DORY (6/17/16) Disney/Pixar. D: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane.

11. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (7/8/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney.

12. PHANTOM BOY (7/15/16) GKIDS. D: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol.

13. ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (7/22/16) 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Thurmeier.

14. THE LITTLE PRINCE (8/5/16) Netflix. D: Mark Osborne.

15. SAUSAGE PARTY (8/12/16) Sony. Sony. D: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon.

16. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Focus/Laika. (8/19/16) D: Travis Knight.

17. SPACE DOGS: ADVENTURE TO THE MOON Epic Pictures Group. (8/26/16) D: Mike Disa.

18. THE WILD LIFE Lionsgate. (9/9/16) D: Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen.

19. STORKS (9/23/16) Warner Bros. D: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland.

20. LONG WAY NORTH (9/9/16) Shout Factory. D: Rémi Chayé.

21. MISS HOKUSAI (10/14/16) GKids. (anime) D: Keiichi Hara.

22. TROLLS (11/4/16) Dreamworks – 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Mitchell.

23. THE RED TURTLE (11/18/16) Sony Pictures Classics. D: Michaël Dudok de Wit

24. MOANA (11/23/16) Disney. D: Ron Clements, John Musker.

25. SING (12/21/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Garth Jennings.

Release Dates TBA

• MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI – GKids. D: Claude Barras

• THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS – GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach


NOTES: Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with theatrical showings of YELLOW DAY, a faith-based live action/animation feature, directed by Carl Lauten, which opened in L.A. on January 8th 2016 via the Alabama-based Idyllic Entertainment Group. Funimation released the anime feature THE EMPIRE OF CORPSES, directed by Ryoutarou Makihara, for two days on April 19th and 20th. Momentum Pictures released the Korean produced BLING!, directed by Kyung Ho Lee and Wonjae Lee, to select theaters on May 6th. Aniplex America released anime feature CLASSMATES (Doukyusei) by Shoko Nakamaura on May 6th. Funimation released the anime feature HARMONY, directed by Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura, animated by Studio 4°C and based the novel of the same name by Project Itoh, for two days on May 17th and 18th. Shout Factory released the Russian made QUACKERZ, directed by Viktor Lakisov, on June 3rd. NUTS, a documentary by Penny Lane, that uses much animation to illustrate its true story, had its theatrical premiere in New York on June 22nd. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Fathom Events partnered to give BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, a special one-night big screen release on Monday, July 25th in select cinemas across the country. Shout! Factory Kids released the CGI Australian feature BLINKY BILL: THE MOVIE on October 7th in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Fathom Events partnered to give BATMAN: RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS, a special one-night big screen release on Monday, October 10th in select cinemas across the country.


FiveThirtyEight Oversimplifies the Animation Industry

Data-centric website FiveThirtyEight thinks it’s nailed down the Seven Ways to Become an Animation Powerhouse. Their analysis is incomplete though, and misses a few large factors that make animated movies successful.

For starters, their title is misleading; there are no seven ways listed in the article. Instead writer Walt Hickey merely analyses the performance of a few of the largest animation studios in recent decades. His conclusion? Illumination is the one that’s hit the sweet spot by churning out cheap films with mass appeal.