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Virtual Reality

VR to the Next Level

We just learned about Shangri-La Frontier, a black & white manga written by Katarina and illustrated by Ryosuke Fuji. “Second-year high school student Rakuro Hizutome loves nothing more than finding so-called ‘trash games’ and beating the crap out of them. When he decides to change things up by playing a new, ‘god-tier’ VR game known as Shangri-La Frontier (a.k.a. SLF), he does what he does best: Min-maxes, skips the prologue, and jumps straight into action! Clad in nothing but shorts and a bird mask, Rakuro (player name: Sunraku) launches into the world of SLF. Things are going well at first as he takes down a goblin, a bunny, and even a python. But then Sunraku comes up against a huge, hard-hitting wolf known as Lycagon the Nightslayer. Will Sunraku’s years of ‘trash game’ experience be enough, or is he about to suffer a rude awakening just a few hours into his SLF adventure?” The series is available now from Kodansha International. What’s more, there’s already an anime adaptation series available on Crunchyroll — and YouTube has a preview.

image c. 2023 Kodansha International

The Annie Award Winners for 2018

Your humble ed-otter and his mate got a chance to attend the Annie Awards at UCLA’s Royce Hall recently. Presented annually by ASIFA-Hollywood, the Annie Awards are considered by many to be the Oscars for animation, voted on by folks who work in the industry. And once again, there was plenty of anthropomorphic content to be found among the winners. By far, the big winner of the evening was Sony Pictures’ Spider Man: Into The Spiderverse. The surprise hit from last December not only won the coveted Best Animated Feature trophy, but also took home the Feature awards for Directing, Writing, Character Animation, Character Design, Production Design, and Editing — winning all seven categories in which it was nominated. (Go, Spider-Ham!). Ralph Breaks The Internet had to settle for only one award in Feature Effects Animation, while the 2D animated sequence in Mary Poppins Returns got the awards for Animated Special Production and Character Animation In A Live Action Feature. Also taking home one award was Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs, which got the award in Feature Voice Acting for Bryan Cranston’s performance as Chief. Over on the TV/Broadcast side of things, the big winners were Hilda from Netflix (taking home awards for Best TV Series For Children, Writing, and Character Animation) and Disney’s Mickey Mouse (with trophies for Music, Storyboarding — tied with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — and Directing). In TV Character Design, the Annie went to a very anthropomorphic episode of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure called “Freebird”. Bojack Horseman did well, winning for TV Voice acting (Will Arnett as Bojack) and Best TV Production overall. Dreamworks’ Tales of Arcadia: Trollhunters won the trophy for Best TV Effects Animation. The award for Best Commercial went to “There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom” (produced for Greenpeace), and the first winner of the brand new Best Virtual Reality award was Crow: The Legend (which we’ve talked about before!). Finally, the Ub Iwerks Award for technical achievement went to the developers of the open source software known as Blender, which of course many furry creators have also used extensively. To see all the winners visit the Annie Awards web site — and remember, nominations for the Ursa Major Awards close on February 16th!

image c. 2019 Sony Pictures

Step into the World of Crow

Recently, we learned about a new 3D virtual reality film in the works called Rainbow Crow from Baobab Studios. The idea is to make a short film where the viewer can step into a different world and interact with animal characters as they tell you a story. In this case, it’s a Native American legend about how the crow saved his fellow animals from a harsh winter frost — and in so doing, gained his famously black feathers. Directed by Eric Darnell from Dreamworks (Antz, Madagascar), Rainbow Crow stars the voices of singer John Legend, Diego Luna, Constance Wu, and Randy Edmonds. A short preview film (about 4 minutes of the final 40) made the rounds recently at Tribeca and other film festivals. Road To VR has an article about the production of the film.

image c. 2017 Baobab Studios

Step Into The Cartoon

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.

image c. 2015 Oculus Story Studio

image c. 2015 Oculus Story Studio

Summer Wars Comes To DVD… Here!

In case it passed you by: Summer Wars is a very popular and successful Japanese anime feature film conceived by Mamoru Hosoda, written by Satoko Okudera, and directed by Hosoda.  It was produced by Madhouse, and released  in 2009 by Warner Brothers Pictures Japan. The basics of the story: Kenji Koiso is a shy and awkward high school math-wiz, employed part-time as a sysop for a massive virtual world game called “Oz”. The first problem — Kenji is falsely implicated in hacking the game. But then he and his friends stumble upon a much bigger conspiracy at work… and he, they, and all of their avatars must work together to keep the real and virtual worlds from colliding destructively! Why should Furry Fans care about this? Check out some of the avatars in the picture below!  That’s why! The good news is that an English-language version of the film has been completed for Blu-Ray and DVD release. Funimation Entertainment will be bringing the DVD/Blu-Ray edition to North America on February 15th, and Manga Entertainment will be releasing it in the U.K. in March.

image c. 2010 Warner Brothers Japan