Animation Scoop – Page 2 – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

ANIME REVIEW: Takahata’s “My Neighbors the Yamadas”

Although it’s technically a feature, Isao Takahata’s droll My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999), which is receiving its first release on Blu-ray, plays like a collection of comic sketches. It’s based on Hisaichi Ishii’s “Nono-chan,” a popular manga that may remind Americans of “Hi and Lois” or “Baby Blues.”

Blandly middle income and middle class, Takashi (James Belushi) and Matsuko Yamada (Molly Shannon) live in Tokyo with the their son and daughter, Noboru (Daryl Sabara) and Nonoko (Liliana Mumy), Matsuko’s cranky mother Shige (Tresse MacNeille) and Pochi, their lump of a dog.

Gkids Acquires Three Features by Masaaki Yuasa for 2018 US Release

GKIDS announced today that it has acquired the North American distribution rights for a slate of films from internationally acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa. The deal includes the cult classic Mind Game as well as Yuasa’s two new feature films, Lu Over The Wall and Night Is Short, Walk On Girl. GKIDS will release all three films theatrically in their original Japanese language, and will also create a new English dubbed version for Lu Over The Wall, which is slated to premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.

A Merry Jerry Christmas!

Some people take the holidays off – I, however, enjoy Christmas vacation by spreading classic cartoon joy all over my Southern California home base. On Christmas Day, December 25th, I will be back with another one hour radio broadcast at 6pm on KPFK (90.7 FM) Southern California. I call the show CARTOONS IN STEREO, and I play a selection of vintage music from the 1930s through 1960s that are from cartoons or inspired by cartoons. It’s a heck of a lot of fun. Listen live, or check back here (I’ll post the broadcast here after it airs). Tune In, Turn On, Toon Up!

BOOK REVIEW: 20 Years of “Zits”

Twenty years ago–July 7,1997–a lanky blond teenager slouched down to breakfast; his father and mother bid him good morning (“Did you sleep well, Sweetie?”). His reaction: “As usual, my parents were on my case.” Comics readers discovered “Zits,” written by Jerry Scott and drawn by Jim Borgman, a genuinely funny new strip that combined the clever, focused writing and exceptional drawing.

The mid-90s were a dark time for newspaper comics. Two iconic strips had ended: Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” in 1994 and Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” in 1995, leaving gaping holes in the page no one seemed able to fill. Many strips seemed to be endlessly recycling the same material. Who could get excited about Garfield complaining about Monday for 1,000th time or Cathy shrieking “acckk!” for the 5,000th time of or Mr. Dithers throwing his 10,000th tantrum at Dagwood?

Most comic strip kids are either smart alecks or idealized versions of the artists’ children. In his baggy jeans, loose shirts and over-sized sneakers, Jeremy Duncan was and is a believable teenager. He suffers through the uncertainties and dissatisfaction real adolescents experience. He’s often moody and unresponsive. But the artists make it clear that beneath the jokes, Jeremy and his friends are decent, sensitive kids who love their parents, even if they drive each other crazy.

TRAILER #2: Aardman’s “Early Man”

Set at the dawn of time, when dinosaurs and wooly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of how one plucky caveman unites his tribe against a mighty enemy and saves the day! Prioduced by Aardman Animation, directed by Nick Park and starring Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams and Timothy Spall, a new full length trailer dropped today, just in time for Christmas. Looks hilarious. Lionsgate opens the film in the US on February 18th, 2018. Take a look:

Charles Solomon’s Animation Year End Review 2017

Although he wrote them in 1859, Charles Dickens might have been thinking of animation in 2017 when he penned the celebrated lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

Once again, animated films accounted for a disproportionate share of the domestic box office. Once again, animated films failed to get the respect they deserve from the greater film community–although more and more studios seem eager to cash in on their popularity.

At a time when filmgoers and filmmakers have called for the greater inclusion of female and minority voices, The Breadwinner and Coco offered models to the rest of the industry. Written and directed by female artists, Breadwinner depicted the oppression of women under the Taliban. After decades of Speedy Gonzalez and Baba Looey, Coco treated Mexican folk culture with care and respect. Viewers who had never seen an ofrenda learned about Day of the Dead traditions.

Ron Clements & John Musker To Receive Art Directors Award For Championing The Art Of Animation

Ron Clements and John Musker, Oscar-nominated Walt Disney Animation Studios filmmaking partners behind such animated features as Moana and The Princess and the Frog, will receive the William Cameron Menzies Award from the Art Directors Guild (ADG, IATSE Local 800) at the 22nd Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards on Jan. 27th at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. The award recognizes their innovative artistic work on numerous legendary Disney animated features. Today’s announcement was made by ADG Council Chair Marcia Hinds ADG and Awards Producers Thomas Walsh ADG and Thomas Wilkins ADG.

The ADG’s spotlight of the duo’s animation achievements is particularly significant this year. The guild will debut its new award category Excellence in Production Design for an Animated Feature Film in recognition of the growing importance of animated features.

(L-R) Director John Musker and Director Ron Musker. Photo By: Araya Diaz. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.



Checklist of Animated Features Released in the U.S. in 2017

1. YU-GI-OH! DARK SIDE OF DIMENSIONS (1/27/16) Screen Vision Media. D: Satoshi Kuwabara.

2. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2/10/17) Warner Bros. D: Chris McCay.

3. ROCK DOG (2/26/17) Summit. D: Ash Brannon.

4. THE BOSS BABY (3/31/17) Dreamworks-20th Century Fox. D: Tom McGrath.

5. SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (4/7/17) Sony. D: Kelly Asbury.


7. SPARK: A SPACE TAIL (4/14/17) Open Road. D: Aaron Woodley

8. ANIMAL CRACKERS (4/21/17) D: Tony Bancroft, Scott Christian Sava.

9. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (6/2/17) Dreamworks. D: David Soren.

10. CARS 3 (6/16/17) Disney-Pixar. D: Brian Fee

11. DESPICABLE ME 3 (6/30/17) Universal (Illumination). D: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon.

12. THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS (7/21/17) GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach

13. THE EMOJI MOVIE (7/28/17) Sony. D: Tony Leondis.

14. BLAZING SAMURAI (8/4/17) Open Road. D: Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier.

15. IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD (8/11/17) Shout! Factory/Funimation. D: Sunao Katabuch.

16. THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE (8/11/17) D: Cal Brunker.

17. LEAP! (8/25/17) The Weinstein Company. D: Eric Summer, Éric Warin.

18. NAPPING PRINCESS (9/8/17) GKids. D: Kenji Kamiyama.

19. THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (9/22/17) Warner Bros. D: Charlie Bean.

20. LOVING VINCENT (09/22/17) Good Deed Entertainment. D: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman.

21. WINDOW HORSES (09/29/17) National Film Board of Canada. D: Ann Marie Fleming.

22. MY LITTLE PONY THE MOVIE (10/6/17) The Weinstein Company. D: Jayson Thiessen.

23. THE STAR (11/10/17) Columbia Pictures. D: Timothy Reckart

24. THE BREADWINNER Gkids. (11/17/17). D: Nora Twomey.

25. COCO (11/22/17) Disney-Pixar. D: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina.

26. BIRDBOY: THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN Gkids. (12/15/17). D: Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero.

27. FERDINAND (12/15/17) 20th Century-Fox (Blue Sky). D: Carlos Saldanha.

NOTES: 2017 Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with ONE PIECE FILM: GOLD, directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, on January 10th via Funimation. Studio Ghibli’s 1993 TV movie OCEAN WAVES, directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, got a U.S. theatrical release via Gkids on January 13th. Similarly, the 1993 anime feature SAILOR MOON R THE MOVIE, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, was also a limited U.S. release by Eleven Arts on the same date, January 13th (in Los Angeles at the Theater in the Ace Hotel). Denmark’s 2010 feature THE TROUBLE WITH TERKEL was given a token theatrical run in several U.S. cities on February 3rd, via Indican Pictures. BUNYAN AND BABE, directed by Tony Bancroft and Jim Rygiel, was given a limited NY/LA theatrical release by Cinedigm on February 3rd. Fathom Events, ELEVEN ARTS, and Aniplex held a one night theatrical for SWORD ART ONLINE THE MOVIE: ORDINAL SCALE, directed by Tomohiko Itō, on March 9th. Viva Pictures opened Spanish family film OZZY, directed by Alberto Rodríguez and Nacho La Casa, on April 21st. GKids and Fathom Events did a one-day 350 theatre nationwide release of MUNE: GUARDIAN OF THE MOON, Directed by Benoît Philippon and Alexandre Heboyan, on Saturday, August 12th. Warner Bros. and Fathom Events presented a one-night nationwide cinema screening of BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN on August 14th. Lionsgate theatrically released DEEP, directed by Julio Soto Gurpide, on August 25th. Viva Pictures released the Mexican made TOP CAT BEGINS, directed by Andrés Couturier, on September 29th. Fathom Events released the anime feature NO GAME NO LIFE ZERO, directed by Ishizuka Atsuko, for nationwide theatre screenings on October 5th and 8th. Eleven Arts released A SILENT VOICE: THE MOVIE (directed by Naoka Yamada) on October 20th. Fathom Events released POKEMON THE MOVIE: I CHOOSE YOU, directed by Kunihiko Yuyamait, on November 5th. And finally, Lionsgate released the Chinese produced HEDGEHOGS (directed by Jianming Huang) on December 15th.

IN ADDITION: The following features were given a token theatrical run in Los Angeles to qualify for a 2017 Oscar nomination: CINDERELLA THE CAT (Italian, directed by Directors: Ivan Cappiello, Dario Sansone, Marino Guarnieri and Alessandro Rak), ETHEL AND ERNEST (British, Directed by Roger Mainwood), MARY AND THE WITCHES FLOWER (Japanese anime, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi), and MOOMINS AND THE WINTER WONDERLAND (Finland, directed by Jakub Wronski and Ira Carpelan).

Click for more information on 2016 animated feature releases – and for further information on all U.S. Animated Feature releases since 1937 Click Here.


Warner Animation Group Names Abbate and Leahy As Senior Creative Team

Warner Animation Group, the animated film production arm of Warner Bros. Pictures, has announced the appointment of two senior-level creative executives: Allison Abbate has been named Executive Vice President, and Chris Leahy has been named Senior Vice President. Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Pictures shares oversight of Warner Animation Group with Courtenay Valenti, President, Production and Development, Warner Bros. Pictures.

TRAILER: Universal’s “Woody Woodpecker”

One year ago we posted the Brazilian trailer for a live action/animation hybrid Woody Woodpecker feature. Well, “Guess Who?”… that feature makes its US debut on DVD on February 6th 2018, via Universal. Filmed in Vancouver and directed by Alex Zamm (Inspector Gadget 2), the movie stars Eric Bauza (Ren & Stimpy, Puss In Boots, Lego Star Wars) as the voice of Woody. Here’s the English language trailer:

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Television to Premiere Six Original Series in 2018

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Television are set to release six new original series in 2018 beginning with Trolls: The Beat Goes On! premiering Jan. 19, 2018, exclusively on Netflix. The new slate includes series inspired by DreamWorks’ beloved animated films as well as classic properties including an all-new She-Ra. From executive producer Noelle Stevenson, the new She-Ra series will present a modern take on the ‘80s girl power icon for a new generation of young fans.

2018 series include (unless noted, premiere dates to be announced): Trolls: The Beat Goes On!, She-Ra, The Boss Baby: Back in Business, Harvey Street Kids, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, Trollhunters (Part 3) and 3 Below. Here’s the trailer for the 2D (hand drawn) Trolls: The Beat Goes On!:

Bill Plympton’s “Your Face” Global Jam

In 1987, Bill Plympton burst onto the animation scene with the debut of his short Your Face at the Annecy Festival. After winning numerous awards and garnering a nomination for an Oscar, Plympton has gone on a 30-year career as “The King of Indie Animation”. To commemorate three decades, producer Ken Mora commissioned a special tribute for 2017, gathering independent animators from around the world to create a Your Face ‘Jam’ – both as homage to Bill and to the film itself – and to celebrate his world-wide influence. Ken Mora has just released the film on You Tube – and its almost as much fun as Plympton’s original. Kudos to everyone who contributed:

2017 Golden Globe Nominees

The infamous Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominees today – and included in the mix were their choices for Best Animated Feature. Animated entries were also represented for Best Song, with Pixar’s Coco, Blue Sky’s Ferdinand, and Sony’s The Star being recognized there. The Golden Globes will be awarded in a ceremony from the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 7th. The 75th Golden Globes will air live at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on NBC.


DreamWorks Animation LLC; Twentieth Century Fox

Cartoon Saloon / Aircraft Pictures / Melusine Productions; GKIDS

Pixar Animation Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Blue Sky Studios; Twentieth Century Fox

Breakthru Films / Trademark Films; Good Deed Entertainment

INTERVIEW: “Porky Pig” Voice Bob Bergen

He’s been the voice of Porky Pig for 27 years now, with so many credits he ranks #4 of the All-Time Top 100 Domestic Box Office Stars. Yet the one thing animation fans have never asked Bob Bergen is, how many kinds of ‘Porkys’ has he voiced?

BOB BERGEN: That’s a really good question, because if you look back at the classic Looney Tunes shorts, every director from Chuck Jones to Friz Freleng to Bob Clampett, each had their little fingerprint, their own version of the characters. They each played a hand in developing them.

So, when I first got the job playing Porky, some people at Warner Bros played me a reference recording of Mel Blanc before every session. It was about 7-8 minutes long, with a little of Porky from 1938, and a little of Porky from 1946, and a little of Porky from 1954. —and I would say to them, “Which Porky do you want?” They asked, “What do you mean? They’re all Porky.” I said, “Yeah, they’re all Porky, but the character evolved.’

Early, early Mel Blanc Porky was very different than, say, Robin Hood Daffy’s Porky. Honestly, the people at Warner Bros were looking at me like I was speaking Chinese. By the way, that kind of messed me up hearing that because I was confused. Personally, my favorite version of the character, or the sound that I try to emulate the most would be mid-50s Chuck Jones Porky, which is Drip Along Daffy, Duck Dodgers, Robin Hood. To me that is the epitome of this character.