Can’t think of a better title than that, so why try? Several places on the Net (including Flayrah) have already made note recently of The Boy and the Beast. It’s the latest anime feature from Hosoda Mamoru, the man who brought us Summer Wars and The Wolf Children. As you can tell from those works, the man has an interest in anthropomorphic characters — and this new one just may be his most furry feature yet! The Boy and the Beast “… tells the story of a lonely young boy who strays into a parallel world inhabited by supernatural creatures, where a bear-like beastman becomes his companion and mentor.” It’s set to premier in Japan this July. No word yet on any planned release in North America, but most of director Mamoru’s works have made it over here eventually. Check out the article over at Twitch Film — it includes a trailer with subtitles.
Dreamworks Animation have released the first preview of their new How To Train Your Dragon tie-in TV series, Dragons: Race to the Edge. It’s coming to Netflix on June 26th. Interestingly, it’s all coming on that date: All 13 episodes will be available at once. In this latest iteration, “Hiccup and Toothless lead the Dragon Riders as they soar beyond the borders of Berk and discover the mysterious Dragon Eye — an ancient artifact filled with secrets that will lead them to new lands filled with undiscovered dragons. But the heroes find themselves pursued by marauding dragon hunters, who will stop at nothing to seize the power of the Dragon Eye.” Check it out over at Comingsoon.net. Meanwhile, just today came another Dreamworks announcement: Kung Fu Panda 3’s release date has been moved. Again. This time they’ve moved it up from March 18th to January 29th. We still gotta wait until 2016, but at least it’s coming sooner!
More news from Cartoon Brew: The first major-studio release of a faith-based animated feature film. “Academy Award-nominated director Tim Reckart (Head Over Heels) will make his feature directorial debut with faith-based feature The Lamb, Sony Pictures Animation revealed today in a late-Easter Weekend announcement. First announced in September 2014, The Lamb will be a fully CG-animated pic based on the Christian nativity story, telling the ‘inspirational story of a young lamb who will change the world’ with an all-animal cast.” Lest you forget, the last time there was a faith-based anthropomorphic animated film (independently released) it was Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie. Stay tuned for more information on a release date for The Lamb.
Over the past few days two gentlemen passed away. Two gentlemen with very different but both very interesting connections to furry fandom. Stan Freberg, 88, was a man who “wore so many different hats throughout his career that he may as well have been a hat-maker. Satirist, songwriter, comedian, commercial producer, recording artist, actor, puppeteer, and voice artist only scratch the surface.” Among the myriad of voices he created some of the most memorable might be Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent (in both the puppet and animated versions of Beany & Cecil), the beaver in Disney’s Lady & the Tramp, and (from a very young age) Junior Bear, the lunk-headed young son of short-tempered Papa Bear in a series of cartoons by Chuck Jones. (“C-A-T, dog… D-O-G, Rhode Island…”). Meanwhile Bob Walker also passed away, at the age of 54, apparently from a heart condition. Mr. Walker will best be remembered as co-director (with Aaron Blaise) of Disney’s 2003 2D animated film Brother Bear, but prior to that he had worked as a layout artist on numerous Disney animated projects including Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Mulan (1998), and Lilo & Stitch (2002). A native of Canada, Mr. Walker started his career working for Nelvana Animation on TV shows like The Raccoons. [Thanks to Cartoon Brew for providing this info.]
Richie Wu is an artist who spent six years working in the gaming industry, as well as teaching illustration on the side. He’s worked on feature films like Toy Story 3 from Disney/Pixar, and TV series like Ben 10 Alienforce from Cartoon Network. Now he’s aiming his artistic talents at a new outlet: A line of illustrated t-shirts based on his original canine comic creations. Dogs like Garlic the chihuahua, Booze the bulldog, and Mocha the German shepherd, among several others. Visit his web site, Bad to the Bone, to see the latest in his growing set of designs. Currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mr. Wu also has a permanent display selling his t-shirts at the Galleria at Sunset Mall in nearby Henderson.
Cartoon Brew has an article about the first teaser trailer for the new CGI (of course) feature film version of Blinky Bill. Wot, ye’ve not ‘eard o’ Blinky Bill? He’s one of Australia’s most famous animated animals: A young koala with an adventurous attitude and a strong environmental heart. “Blinky Bill first rose to fame in the 1930s in a series of lavishly illustrated and conservation-themed books by Dorothy Wall. A new generation of children… was introduced to Blinky through the classic 1990s animated series The Adventures of Blinky Bill.” The new CGI film features Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) as Blinky Bill himself, while other Australian voices include Toni Collette and Barry Humphries (“Dame Edna”). The film is directed by Deane Taylor, who previously was art director on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Interestingly, the same article makes mention of another upcoming film called Larrikins, in production over at Dreamworks Animation and featuring contributions by musician & comedian Tim Minchin. “Larrikins tells the story of an uptight bilby (a desert-dwelling marsupial), who has lived a sheltered life in the safety of his family burrow. When he ventures out and becomes privy to a dangerous secret, he finds himself launched on a musical adventure across the mystical and untamed Australian outback.” Larrikins was originally scheduled for a 2018 release, but there’s no word yet if all the recent shake-ups at Dreamworks will change that.
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.