Now it seems that Amazon has gotten on the bandwagon of downloadable original programming for kids. Premiering earlier this month was their latest series called Wishenpoof, about a little girl with the power to make her wishes come true. From Marketwatch.com: “Created by Angela C. Santomero (Blue’s Clues, Creative Galaxy, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why!), and produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises, Wishenpoof is an animated preschool series that revolves around Bianca (Addison Holley, Annedroids, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) as she solves life’s problems in her own creative ways because with magic, or without, we all have the power to make good choices.” Bianca’s constant companion throughout her adventures is a plushie known as Bob the Bear. Wishenpoof is available as a free download to subscribers of Amazon Prime.
And once again Disney Junior keeps marching forward with Goldie & Bear, a new CGI series that is coming as a downloadable app in September and then a TV series later in the year. According to the article in Variety: “Each episode of the new program, which will debut on Disney Junior in November, includes two 11-minute stories that show Goldie and Bear — reunited after an infamous ‘porridge incident’ — in the midst of escapades with their neighbors in Fairy Tale Forest, all of whom have roots in familiar storybook figures. The protagonists might help Jack and Jill get up a hill or ask the Big Bad Wolf to consider others’ feelings before blowing down the houses of those who reside within.” The article also features interviews with Disney Junior folks and a preview video.
The Walt Disney Company found great success with their Palace Pets app — a down-loadable spin-off of the endlessly-profitable Disney Princess line, this time for younger kids. The idea is that each of the famous Disney Princesses has a cute funny animal pet, and they (the pets that is) often meet up and go on adventures together. Well the success of that app lead Disney to now create Whisker Haven Tales, a series of cartoon shorts airing on Disney Junior. Check out the Disney Wiki article to learn more about it, or take a look on YouTube for one of several official uploads from Disney Junior.
If you haven’t caught the word, creators Yvon and Christian Tremblay have been running a Kickstarter campaign with the intent of creating the first new SWAT Kats animated TV episodes to be seen in 20 years. Also if you didn’t know: SWAT Kats — The Radical Squadron was one of the most iconic and popular anthropomorphic animated TV series from the early days of organized Furry Fandom. “The series takes place in the fictional metropolis of Megakat City, which is populated entirely by anthropomorphic felines, known as ‘kats’. The titular SWAT Kats are two vigilante pilots who possess a state-of-the-art fighter jet with an array of weaponry. Throughout the series, they face various villains as well as Megakat City’s militarized police force, the Enforcers.” The good news is that with only a few days left for the campaign, the brothers Tremblay have more than surpassed their original goal. They’ve reached enough to animate a 2-minute animation teaser for the new series (SWAT Kats — Revolution), and they’re hoping to make enough to animate a full 22-minute episode. The campaign web site has a video interview with the brothers.
And another article from Variety. The big news in animation this year has been China: Not only working on farmed-out animation for American productions, but actually hiring American talent to work on home-grown Chinese productions intended for international release (hello, Rock Dog!). China is having its biggest year ever for domestic animation. The film Monkey King: Hero Is Back (yet another adaptation of Journey to the West) has set box-office records for an animated film in China. In the midst of all this the Chinese animation house called Original Force have announced they’re opening an office in Hollywood with the intention of working with American talent to create new films. Cool thing is: Several of them are furry. “Original Force is currently in production on Duck Duck Goose, the story of an unlikely family, directed by Christopher Jenkins, who recently produced DreamWorks Animation’s Home, from a screenplay by Jenkins and Rob Muir. Voice talent includes Zendaya, Greg Proops, and Lance Lim. OldZilla and QQ Speed are in the early stages of production. OldZilla follows King Saurus as he starts to deal with his advancing age and urges his elder monsters to go on one last rampage. Bob Bendetson (The Simpsons) is directing, and co-wrote the script with Art Everett. QQ Speed is based on a popular online game and is a co-production with Tencent Holding, which is behind the game. The action-adventure follows a brother-and-sister racing team and their car equipped with a voice that sounds like their late father’s. John Eng (Rugrats Go Wild) is developing the project and will direct.”
More news regarding Disney TV Animation’s upcoming new Lion King spin-off series The Lion Guard, thanks to a recent article in Variety: “Disney will launch The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, a short prime-time movie focused on the son of Simba, the hero of the original film, in November on Disney Channel. The program will follow Kion, Simba’s second-born cub, as he and a team of animals known as ‘The Lion Guard’ try to keep the peace in the surrounding terrain. Disney intends to launch a Lion Guard TV series on Disney Channel and Disney Junior outlets around the world in early 2016.” In this new series, “Kion breaks tradition by forming ‘The Lion Guard’ out of a varied group of animal friends he thinks are heroic. Typically, only the bravest, strongest lions in the African savanna can be members. In the movie and the TV episodes that follow, the crew will learn how to use unique abilities to solve problems while introducing young viewers to new kinds of fauna.” The article includes a short video clip from Return of the Roar as well. See you in November!
According to Cartoon Brew, Lionsgate Features is set to release their next animated feature, Norm of the North, on January 15th, 2016 — which would put it in direct competition with the planned release of The Nut Job 2. Lionsgate, of course, is best known in animation circles for the Alpha & Omega films as well as (shiver!) the infamous Food Fight! movie. This time around they present the story of Norm, a polar bear who travels to New York City to try and save his arctic home from development… but winds up distracted by the glamour and glitz all around him. (Sort of “The Bear Who Fell To Earth”.) Directed by Trevor Wall, Norm of the North stars the voice of Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo). The article at Cartoon Brew includes the first trailer.
Clangers was a much-loved children’s TV series from the United Kingdom that originally ran from 1969 to 1974. It starred a set of little pink fuzzy creatures who most resemble elephants crossed with mice. They live on an alien world and speak only in swooping whistles — which were usually translated for the young audience by the narrator. Well now the BBC have brought back The Clangers for a much newer generation as part of Sprout, their programming line-up for children. Just like the old version, the new Clangers is created through stop-motion animation of actual fuzzy figures, and now the new episodes are narrated by Michael Palin (of Monty Python) in the UK and none other than William Shatner (!) for release in North America. Sprout has a special web site just for The Clangers so take a look to find out more.
The world of Virtual Reality entertainment keeps moving ahead. (By leaps and bounds, or by steps and stumbles? Depends on who you talk to.) Recently Cartoon Brew put up an article about Henry, “an Immersive Virtual Reality short”. “On the surface, Oculus Story Studio’s new 12-minute short film Henry is a sweet story about a lovable hedgehog who just want to make friends, but can’t stop spiking whatever he hugs. ” But actually, it’s one of the first animated films ever created for the environment of the Oculus Rift head-set. Once “inside”, viewers can either watch Henry’s story — as he attempts to hug flying balloon-puppies with disastrous results — or explore the levels and rooms of Henry’s tiny home. Or both. There’s a non-Oculus “making-of” video that explains it more.