In the came-from-out-of-nowhere division: Animation Scoop has a review of a new DVD release, Wolfy, The Incredible Secret from France. Random Media (in partnership with Cinedigm) have now released it with an English soundtrack. “A story of political machinations, anamorphic animal hierarchy and gypsy fantasy – traditionally hand-drawn with a look that leans far away from photorealism. The convoluted English title (French title: Loulou, l’incroyable secret) actually refers to quite a few secrets, which unravel as Wolfy, an easygoing wolf, and Tom, his neurotic bunny pal, travel to Wolfenberg to find Wolfy’s mother. A gypsy has told them that she is the true princess as well as the leader of a rebellion against an evil usurper—a manipulative wolf named Lou Andréa.” Take a look at the trailer linked to the article. It won’t make much more sense, but it’ll give you an overall idea of the movie’s look and feel.
Sentai Filmworks have released Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the God — Complete Collection, bringing together all 12 episodes of the anime TV series based on the original manga by Sayori Ochiai. Here’s part of the review by Charles Solomon over at Animation Scoop: “For 15 generations, Makoto Saeki’s family has maintained the Inari shrine to the agricultural god Ukanomitama. Makoto lives there with her widowed father, a well-meaning, slightly befuddled man. Because her bloodline makes her the heiress to the shrine, teen-age Makoto has ‘the gift': She can see and converse with Gintarou, the resident fox-spirit who is a herald of the gods. Heralds traditionally live and work in in pairs, but his partner left many years ago. Gintarou is later joined by Haru, a much younger female fox spirit brought to Inari by Makoto’s friend Satoru… Gintarou functions as a sort of substitute father/big brother to Makoto. He’s gruff, cranky and lazy, but his façade of indifference can’t disguise his affection for her.” I like Mr. Solomon’s description of the fox spirit: “Gintarou has a scarred fox’s head stuck onto a burly human body. He looks like a macho delegate to a Furries convention.” So noted! The 2-disc DVD set is for sale over at Best Buy.
Besides the Oscar-winning animated short film Feast, one of the animated shorts that was making a whole lot of buzz during awards season was called The Dam Keeper. Here’s the description from Wikipedia: ” It tells the story of Pig, an introverted youth who lives in a windmill and keeps a dark fog from engulfing his town. Although socially rejected by his peers, he is befriended by the artistic Fox.” The Dam Keeper was directed by Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi, both art directors at Pixar (they worked together on Monsters University). Now comes this bit of news from Cartoon Brew: “Tonko House, the studio founded by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, is developing a feature film based on their Academy Award-nominated short The Dam Keeper. The announcement was made along with the news that Tonko House is partnering with First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan, to expand their short into a graphic novel series. The first book in The Dam Keeper graphic novel series will be released in 2016, picking up the narrative some years after the original story of the orphaned Pig and his quest to maintain the town dam. It will address two questions unanswered in the film: what happened to Pig’s parents, and how did his world come to be at the mercy of a dark cloud? ” No more details yet about a release date for the feature film, but the animation community will be watching closely.
Voting has opened for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards — celebrating all your favorite anthropomorphic movies, comics, TV series, novels, games, and more that were released in 2014. These are the annual furry fandom awards, chosen by YOU, the furry fans from around the world. The awards are presented every year in no less than 11 categories: Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series, Best Anthropomorphic Novel, Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction, Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work, Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip, Best Anthropomorphic Magazine, Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration, Best Anthropomorphic Game, and Best Anthropomorphic Website. Got all that? Here, take a look at what’s up for the awards in just the first two! For Best Anthropomorphic TV Series or Short:
- The Beach Bears
- Bojack Horseman
- Furry Force
- Littlest Pet Shop, and
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Then in the category of Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, there’s:
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- How to Train Your Dragon 2
- The Lego Movie, and
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman
And that’s just the first two categories — there are nine more to go! Visit www.ursamajorawards.org to find out how to get registered to vote. Remember, you don’t have to vote in every category — just choose the things you love in the categories you know! Hurry, because voting closes on April 15th — in time to compile the votes before the big Ursa Major Awards Presentation at MorphiCon 2015 (April 30 – May 3 in Columbus, Ohio).
Toonbox Entertainment (the folks who last year brought us The Nut Job) are starting to look as if they have a particular interest in furry characters. They’re hard at work on The Nut Job 2, but in the interim comes the announcement of Spark, a space adventure film currently in production and scheduled for release in 2016. Here’s what we got from ComingSoon.net: “Spark follows a teenage monkey Spark, voiced by Jace Norman (Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger), and his friends Vix, a battle-ready fox voiced by Jessica Biel, and Chunk, a tech-savvy warthog, as they embark on a mission to take back the besieged planet Bana from the power-mad General Zhong. Spark’s dangerous odyssey leads him to the farthest reaches of the universe, and to the secret of his true identity, with characters like the comically forgetful nanny robot Bananny, voiced by Susan Sarandon, and the noble, self-sacrificing Queen, voiced by Hilary Swank by his side.” Spark is being directed by Aaron Woodley. The film already has an official web site and also its own Facebook page.
Word has been spreading rapidly that Warner Brothers have put the mega-popular show Adventure Time on the fast-track for development as a feature film. Needless to say, many are assuming they were encouraged by Paramount’s success with the new Spongebob Squarepants movie. According to Cartoon Brew: “The animated film will be produced by Chris McKay, the animation supervisor of The LEGO Movie and director of the forthcoming The LEGO Batman Movie, and Roy Lee, one of 18 producers on The LEGO Movie. Adventure Time creator Pen Ward will have some involvement with the film, according to Deadline, specifically ‘in writing and producing the feature version.'” No word yet on a release date, but given how early in the project they are it’s a good guess it won’t be before 2017. The question on a lot of people’s minds then is: Will Adventure Time still be as big then, and bring as many people to the theaters?
If you haven’t caught it yet, word is spreading fast that Disney TV Animation plans to bring back 90’s cartoon favorite Duck Tales in a whole new series on Disney XD, starting in 2017. We first heard about it over at Oh My Disney: “When Marc Buhaj—Senior Vice President, Programming and General Manager, Disney XD—made the announcement, he said, ‘DuckTales has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history, it drew its inspiration from Disney Legend Carl Barks’ comic books and through its storytelling and artistic showmanship, set an enduring standard for animated entertainment that connects with both kids and adults. Our new series will bring that same energy and adventurous spirit to a new generation.’ The new series will star the same beloved characters as the old: Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Launchpad McQuack, Donald Duck, Duckworth, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica DeSpell, Poe, Ma Beagle, the Beagle Boys, Mrs. Beakley, and Webbigail Vanderquack.” Nothing more precise from Disney regarding a premier date yet, but Disney XD is starting to sound more and more interesting for animation.
If you hadn’t heard, one of Sweden’s most popular funny animals came to European movie screens in 2014. “Sweden’s most popular comic book character – the bear Bamse – now gets his first feature film. In Bamse Och Tjuvstaden (Bamse and the City of Thieves) the strongest bear in the world and his two friends Little Hopp and Shellman show that the best weapon against evil is -friendship (and a few drops of Grandma’s Thunder Honey of course).” After a popular animated TV series and several TV movies you can check out the feature film’s trailer over on YouTube. As usual, of course, there’s little chance we’ll be able to see this stuff anytime soon in North America — at least not translated!
Making quite a buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was a series of animated shorts made for television and the web, of all things. Animals is a black & white, minimally-animated series which “follows various New York City creatures as they get into awkward (and sometimes deadly) encounters with one another.” The series was created by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano, two employees at a commercial production house who took some time off to make little animals talk to each other. Check out the Animals web site to see what the fuss is about. (Here’s a hint: Click on the clouds!)