This year’s Disney Licensing

Disney is on the roll this year with purchasing very big names into their business. First there was the acquisition of Marvel for $4 billion , and now just very recently, Lucasarts also for $4 billion.

Earlier this year, there were some hopes for this merge, as stated in the site back in February: And it’s good news for Marvel, which can use Disney’s muscle to become a bigger presence outside the U.S…The deal, says Marvel icon Stan Lee, “gives Disney a library of literally hundreds of unique and colorful characters that have the potential to make great, high-concept movies and long-lasting franchises — and nobody knows how to play in that ballpark better than Disney.”

Then there are concerns as said in an article about Lucasarts; Disney appears to be turning into a monopoly of sorts, meaning they are probably more concerned with milking more money for the companies to benefit from. And with all of these famous names with well-known franchises, there is even more doubt in whether they will exhaust any of their money supply into more original projects instead of spin-offs/sequels anytime soon.

I don’t think they’re joint ventures like Disney is with Pixar, so no Leila or Vader wearing a Mickey Mouse hat (or will there?), but I am a little worried about its direction in the future. I mean, I am also already worried with the release of this latest animation trailer here under Disney too (which is filled with poor choppy/uncanny animation and characters a lot of the times appear rotoscoped or traced straight from the Avenger’s movie, with no artistic expression or visual flow).



“Murder” by Yang Tzu Ting

“Not only the flesh, but the soul will be perfectly identical…”

This animation really emphasizes the possible consequences of playing God, and it starts with William Cooper, a scientist who was working on a cloning machine with his twin brother. After his brother was murdered by Tyler Smith, William wants to “revive” his beloved twin brother by cloning himself in a machine since they are one and the same in terms of personality and appearance. Notably, he does not appear to have any intention to seek direct vengeance against Tyler; instead he just wants his brother to be alive again, but also as a scientist see if cloning humans would work.

When William finally clones himself however, what he sees is a “monster” that holds similarities to himself (or his brother). An interesting string of events occur from there: he goes and kills his “twin” without any hesitation, as the blue skin and swirly eyes indicate that this clone is not sane. As he buries this clone however, it seems that he has started to reflect on his actions and true nature as he started seeing himself as the same image as the clone and by extension, the murderer Tyler.  In technicality, clone or not, he kills a part of himself in the process regardless.

As for the ending (after the end of the sequence before it goes back to him sitting on the chair)…I honestly don’t know how to interpret this from here. Is William in actuality Tyler Smith under a different alias? Did the clone actually win and take up that name? What do you guys think?

Paperman 2012

A black and white animated short scheduled for release on Nov.7, in theaters w/Wreck-It Ralph. This piece produced by Disney mixes 2D traditional elements with CG; it is made with the vision of exploring the way CG can be used in animation without giving it the usual “photorealism” treatment found in 3D. Judging by the appearance of the poster and some screenshots, it appears that the male protagonist will try sending love letters to the woman he loves via throwing paper airplanes into the air and then let fate have it land on her hands.

Video previews and tweets about this upcoming animation will be found in this storify post!

About the classic “Western/anime comparison discussions”…

EDIT: Starting next week, I’m going to post more than just reviews of shows I like; for a while now, I wanted to do a couple of Western/Japanese animation comparison posts, out of observation of all of the shows I have watched, but also explore what fandom says and does about both of them. (Originally I was going to post them this week, but I am still gathering my sources to use for these articles.)

(In this context Western animation will be a broad semantic term to describe animations in the west that includes countries like America and Britain, and Japanese anime is a more specific term regarding one country, because the latter has a very particular art style that is simultaneously unique when comparing to other countries’ aesthetics but somewhat monotonous in terms of character design within its own country. More about it in a future post).

This desire to write these kinds of posts is inspired in part by people (especially art teachers) around me still saying one type of animation is more “superior” than the other in terms of aesthetics and storytelling ability. Though a large number of people will say it’s not true and that both are equal, I’d like to get into the nitty gritty and explain in detail why both are just as effective in conveying their message to their audience as the other, if not just exploring the differences of why people would indeed prefer the other.

Live2D: Interactive 3D animation of 2D images

The concept idea in making any traditional drawing “move” and have it follow wherever your finger touches on the screen is very fascinating. This animation technology Shizuku Talk is actually available for download on mobile devices as well as the iPad if anyone is interested in seeing how it works.

Though it appears that this kind of technology would make animating a much quicker process in the future, the movements of hair and clothing for instance is still very automated and stiff looking to consider applying to advanced 2D animation. I think it would be great for visual novels however where only character talking heads are focused on while the dialogue boxes do their talking for them.


Gravity Falls: “Summerween”

(First off, I want to apologize for my lack of updates for this week, or at least for the week quota for my Emerging Media and Communications class. I recently got a wisdom teeth extraction on Thursday and I’m still recovering a bit. Hopefully after this post, I’ll be able to post every Tuesday and Thursday twice a week.)

The thing about Gravity Falls is, even though it airs on Disney Channel (albeit, on the night slot of 8pm here), there are some references in several episodes that some people in younger generations would not get (but will still be funny regardless), and it actually induces a great amount of nostalgia when anyone notices it. It is in all seriousness a great “general audiences of all ages” kind of show, with humor from characters that is actually very endearing and not overfilled with way too much snark. Really, if you haven’t watched this episode (or this show for that matter), go do so, you won’t regret it!

That said, I think nearly everyone who has watched Spirited Away would immediately catch the reference in this episode’s supernatural occurrence (“Summerween Trickster”) of the week. (Some of the fandom especially on Tumblr  also argue that along with the “No Face” parody, Slenderman and Alien vs. Predator was also referenced within the same episode!) But especially of the former, the resemblances are so uncanny the artist honestly didn’t have to confirm it, though it was really nice of him to!

There is also a small extra in the end of the episode for people who are familiar with the idea of “Internet memes”. The way the show keeps up with the latest trends in terms of popularity on and off the net is pretty amazing actually. :)

Batman of Shanghai

Since the setting is during the early 1930’s of Shanghai, I find it very fitting to have the entire short be done with washed out, unsaturated colors…and the lack of  detailed shading on some areas/characters also helps to create a look that is similar to watching a painting on paper come to life. Though it has a very linear storyline that only consists of “retrieving the scroll from the antagonists”, this fast-paced animation by Wolf Smoke that is characterized by its smooth flowing calligraphy brushed action lines during the fight scenes was really a delight to watch!

Though she’s not in her usual sleek black spandex suit, there is still a feminine grace to Catwoman even when dressed with whimsical props like a cat hat and tail. This version of her shows off her speedy fighting prowess, as well as sheer dexterity with a whip; anyone pursuing her soon gets the hint that even as a thief running in plain daylight, she is more than able to fend for herself when she is cornered and unable to sneak around. (She also somehow manages to not trip or fall to the ground once even with heels, which further elaborates on that dainty but skillful nature of hers that doesn’t convey any level of “damsel in distress”).

I really like that Bane starts off with a scrawny appearance, if only because it shows off that subtle smart side of him being able to disguise himself in public as a (mostly normal) looking guy who doesn’t even have the strength to pull a cart. He does let irritation overtake him however, and as he transforms into a much bigger and muscular juggernaut, it was mostly brawn, and not the charisma found in Christopher Nolan’s (or in other installment’s) Bane, that crushes the police force and even his own ally. Even though the brains that make Bane so famous is not very apparent in this short, there is still a ruthlessness that surpasses the other henchman as he ends up with the scroll at the end of this scene. In this sense, he becomes a more formidable opponent than Catwoman when Batman finally comes into the scene.

Batman’s namesake in this last clip is not only metaphorical, but it is literal in the way that he is able to actually shapeshift into numerous bats. He still uses technology as weapons, and no “real” super powers in beating up Bane. However -and this isn’t often apparent in Batman canon- he also has a more supernatural side to him with eyes that glow (that doesn’t appear to be coming off a headset of some sort), and is made more obvious as he takes the scroll from both Bane and Catwoman and also literally dissipates into the night (no Batmobile…he just simply disappears).

And this unique creative freedom of something very well known is the kind of material that I wish Cartoon Network would work with more along with the ongoing Teen Titan shorts. The only thing that the short doesn’t quite cover here is revealing what the scroll would do exactly if it falls into the wrong hands of the gang, but this small bit missing doesn’t derail enjoyment or keep me from wishing that there would actually be a series with this animation quality and its stylish rendition of characters.