Reviews – Animation Scoop

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REVIEW: 19th Annual “Animation Show Of Shows”

On Tuesday, October 10th, I attended the ASIFA-Hollywood screening of Ron Diamond’s 19th annual Animation Show of Shows. The program presented sixteen films this year; fourteen new ones and two “retrospectives”. The sixteen were, as usual, widely varied in subjects and animation techniques, so each viewer will have different favorites. I enjoyed it all. You […]

Anime Review: “The World’s Greatest First Love”

Shounen-ai—literally “boy’s love”–is a curious genre of anime and manga that has no American counterpart. It depicts innocent romances between bishonen (beautiful young men), but it’s created by women for female audiences. Some people use the word interchangeably with yaoi. Others maintain yaoi involves sexually explicit scenes, while shounen-ai never does. The characters may kiss […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Noragami Aragoto: Season Two”

Times are tough for Yato (voice by Jason Liebrecht), the minor god of calamity who’s at the center of the broadcast series Noragami Aragoto (2015), the sequel to Noragami (2014). He’s still knocking around Tokyo in an old warm-up suit and busted boots, offering to grant wishes for ¥5 coins. Yato may be broke, but […]

Charles Solomon Reviews “Sing”

As it’s the 2nd talking koala movie, the 2nd juke box musical and the 11th talking animal movie of year, Illumination Entertainment’s Sing! suffers from a certain lack of originality. Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), an upbeat, if less than honest koala, runs a crumbling theater that he’d love to restore to its former glory. But […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Project Itoh: Harmony”

Harmony is the second of three films based on the fiction of Satoshi Ito (who wrote under the nom de plume Project Itoh). But the novel “Harmony” feels like an improbable candidate for animation. The book is an internal monologue by Tuan Kirie (Jamie Marchi, who carries the film as its de facto narrator), the […]

ANIME REVIEW: “The Empire of Corpses”

The first feature based on a novel by Project Itoh (the nom de plume of Satoshi Ito), The Empire of Corpses (2015) is a striking, if often baroque, zombie adventure. The plot seems far more complicated than it needs to be, but the cyberpunk designs, which bolster the film’s curious premise, are stunning. The Empire […]

REVIEW: “The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows”

On Monday, October 17th, I attended the ASIFA-Hollywood screening of Ron Diamond’s annual 18th Animation Show of Shows, at the DreamWorks Animation Campanile Theater at the studio in Glendale. The Show of Shows is different this year in that fewer films than usual are actual winners of an award at a previous international film festival. […]

BLU-RAY REVIEW: “Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season 2”

For those unfamiliar with Star Wars Rebels – the Complete Season 2 was released recently on blu-ray – this review begins with a friendly warning: watch Season One first. Season Two literally begins with a bang, and it’s helpful to know who’s shooting at each other, and why. The rebellion against the evil Empire is […]

ANIME REVIEW: “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin III”

Yoshiyuki Tomino’s mecha series Mobile Suit Gundam ranks among the longest-running and most successful franchises in animation history, encompassing more than three dozen broadcast series, feature films and OVA’s. Ironically, its initial run on Japanese television in 1979 earned such poor ratings, it was cancelled mid-season. The programs were recut into three theatrical features that […]

Charles Solomon Reviews “The Wild Life”

Although 2016 brought us Norm of the North and Ratchet and Clank, The Wild Life is the odds-on favorite for the Worst Animated Film of the Year trophy. Despite the title, it’s an uninspired, overly tame movie that would once would have been consigned to the direct-to-video bin. The story, credited to Lee Christopher, Domonic […]

Charles Solomon Reviews: “Kubo And The Two Strings”

Travis Knight’s Japanese-influenced Kubo and the Two Strings ranks as the best film the artists at the Portland-based Laika Studio have made, with a strong story, assured direction and strikingly original designs. One-eyed Kubo (voiced by a very appealing Art Parkinson) is a street performer in a seaside village, supporting himself and his widowed mother […]

ANIME REVIEW: “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”

Although he had worked as an animator and director on numerous TV series and three “Digimon” features, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was the first film to showcase Mamoru Hosoda’s talent as a director. If you were to ask her, Makoto Konno (Emily Hirst) would say she regards herself as a normal high school […]

“Assassination Classroom: Season One Part One”

Based on the manga by Yusei Matsui, the series Assassination Classroom has a premise that’s bizarre, even by the freewheeling standards of anime. An alien destroys 70% of the moon, leaving just a permanent crescent. He threatens to do the same to the Earth unless certain conditions are met. The creature insists on being made […]

Charles Solomon Reviews “The Angry Birds Movie”

Laboriously unfunny, tasteless and derivative, The Angry Birds Movie feels both unwelcome and overdue—like an obnoxious cousin who shows up for your parents’ 50th anniversary party a week late. Created by the Finnish company Rovio, the Angry Birds game debuted in 2009, became a huge fad, then, inevitably, faded. (How long ago was 2009 in […]