I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
This time, with quite a few entertaining and action packed cartoons for families to choose from, the results aren't as earth-shattering, although it's still just as impressive.
There are a few elements that separate The Legend of Korra from its progenitor series. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the show gave the audience an atmosphere of it being like an oriental fairy tale. The Last Airbender was definitely more optimistic and had clear cut black hat and white hat character types and story morality, with the exception of some episodes. While some complained that Avatar: The Last Airbender felt like western animation attempting anime, this accusation seems less and less true in the face of The Legend of Korra.
The Legend of Korra is a markedly noticeable shift into grayer and more ambiguous areas, and it's represented here by the striking art style. Everything is mechanical and somewhat oppressive. The colors paint in strokes of browns and sepias, in contrast to the bright, highly vivid colors of blues and tans and reds of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The romantic traditionalism of the old world benders are now giving way to radios and cars. It's a terrifying change, both on the inside for the "old school" martial artists who realize their way of living is on the retreat, and on the outside for fans who felt the inclusion of technology would've been intrusive for the high flying epic feel of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
This dichotomy of old versus new, traditional versus modern, bending versus technology is represented by Republic City, a city that was supposed to be a melting pot of ideas and people in the show but that has a seedy underbelly. In this show, there aren't any identifying costumes anymore, representing the different nations. An old water tribe costume is just as likely to be found in the crowd as a zoot suit. The Legend of Korra is also grittier and less concrete than The Last Airbender. In this sense, it is much more anime-esque than its parent show, especially with its dieselpunk themes and its portrayal of action scenes.
The Legend of Korra is Akira for the Nickelodeon crowd, which isn't a reflection of less than desirable elements in this show by using Akira. Rather, it's to give one an idea of the kinds of themes one can find in The Legend of Korra. When I saw the scene with the motorcycle chase, I couldn't help but wonder if this was an attempt at aiming at an older audience.
On the other hand, the martial arts is just as slick and exciting as ever. The villain is also fantastic. He's a different kind of villain than Fire Lord Ozai. Amon isn't as sinister as Ozai but easily just as menacing and a much smoother operator. Whereas Ozai was all about terrifying people through force, Amon is all about appealing to a disillusioned populace through manipulation and a cult of personality. If Ozai is Genghis Khan, then Amon is most assuredly like Hitler.
It was a marvel to me just how different in themes and art style The Legend of Korra was and yet how it laid all my fears to rest by incorporating enough familiar elements to keep me satisfied. It is a different kind of Avatar, a more grown up Avatar. One thing I will say works against it is that this new series doesn't spend as much time building up a sense of going on an epic quest to train and flee a powerful enemy. Instead, The Legend of Korra throws us right in the thick of bad things going on and gives us a hero who is already highly skilled. Even so, The Legend of Korra is an admirable show.
This show is well-animated and a visual work of art. It is darkly surreal, an inverted vision of some candy land playground from a child's imagination, but where pitch black is just as likely to be found as bright pink in the color palette and where blood sucking ghosts live next to the snakes and ladders and pretty princesses.
It is warped in its humor, which is just as subdued as it is outrageous. The series hardly ever utilizes the Nickelodeon style of humor, where a visual gag is beaten to death for the longest several seconds of your viewing time. No. Instead the series often tends to use the amusing surrealist setup and strange anachronistic dialogue.
The show also contains some of the most inadvertently terrifying imagery you'll likely ever see in a cartoon. It's not purposefully scary like Superjail and has not one drop of gore. But the fact that many scenes will still unnerve you just with the sheer force of them being so bizarrely twisted makes this show that much more effective.
Thankfully, Kung Fu Panda isn't the kind of animated movie that lends itself to the painfully obvious style of humor that Dreamworks is often known for. While the first Kung Fu Panda dabbled in some mildly amusing but still kid-familiar humor types and jokes, Kung Fu Panda 2 blends both this type of humor(Po is still quite the wise-cracker) and an almost fourth-wall-breaking camp acknowledgement of it being a kung fu movie. This "nudge and wink" loving parody of movie and kung fu cliches is what separates this movie from the first.
However, Kung Fu Panda 2 still keeps a steady foot in the realm of the serious and is all the better for it compared with Dreamworks' other franchises. Indeed, there's a sort of "Star Wars light" vibe going on in the film that wasn't present in the first one. The main villain's vision of a mechanized, industrial China, thirst for war and conquest, and barely disguised acts of attempted genocide are all terrifying themes to find in a kids show. In fact, I don't remember the last time I saw an animated movie with a villain of such an alluring combination of desires and relative complexities but ultimately of such utter despicableness that you couldn't wait until the point of the movie where the villain gets destroyed. Tai Lung has nothing on Lord Chen. Strangely, the peacock makes a convincing villain, and he reminds me of an animal version of Darth Vader.
The kung fu fighting is faster, fiercer, and more acrobatic than ever before. In fact, there were several points in the movie where I felt the need to exhibit a slow build up of "Go go go. Yes yes YES!" to match the increasing tension of the scene. And because Po is now an accomplished fighter(some would say obnoxiously perfect), the sequel has to mine a different set of themes to build up its characters than the first film's training motif. Here, it's self-discovery and trusting your friends, which isn't built on and explored all as well as I would've liked, but Dreamworks isn't known for their depth, and it's enough for the kids. Heck. It's enough to fuel a desire to purchase the DVD when it comes out.
Rio is more paint-by-numbers kiddie entertainment, sure, but strip away its "catch me if you can" theme and even its menacing villain, and you'll find Rio is a happily bouncy movie about love and courage. And it's pretty and soaked with Brazilian culture to boot. Its jokes often misfire, but they're few and far between and relatively easy on the ears(although I could've done without the gang rumble). Possibly the best test of how much you'll enjoy this movie lies in how much you're electrified by the opening number, in which dozens of tropical birds, as if to say "look at us", all engage in a spicy dance number. You'll also to swallow the occasional hip hop star, but this authentic Brazilian atmosphere is the soul of Rio.
For a kids show, Rio also has some noticeable racy attitude, but I welcome this as needed sex appeal. Actually I would quite happily watch this over Happy Feet.
Honestly, I'm still not sure what to make of it. But it's utterly delicious.
Panty and Stocking is what you would get if you took the manic randomness of Excel Saga and swapped out Excel's obscure pop culture references for some more easily understandable ones and injected any and every excuse to use an innuendo.
Panty is a bleach blonde bimbo with a huge appetite for sex who would sleep with anything that's male and remotely human. She often has a habit of showing up on scene with either a towel or something that barely classifies as clothing. Stocking is the classic gloomy goth loli. Her only big appetite is for sugary substances. But don't you dare call her obese. Garterbelt is an imposing figure of a priest with a big afro. He acts like an angrier version of Chef from South Park.
Panty and Stocking is a kaleidoscope of pure animation poison. As many people are bound to hate it as absolutely love it. Several of the episodes have at least one catchy discotheque style tune in it. The song "Anarchy" from the episode Buzz of the Beehive is probably one of the most infectious earworms I've ever heard in an anime. The sex is implied. But well. . . just barely. There's absolutely no getting around certain noises being made to the movement of shadows and images that leave little to the imagination. This anime is also not above the occasional scatological humor.
Just when you think you've made up your mind that the show is going to reek, Panty and Stocking kicks it into high gear with brain-warping scenes such as rapid fire shifts in art style, a manic moment of dodging falling cars, a car chase that turns into a truck chase that turns into a train chase, gun fu, and a fight scene involving a Macross Missile Massacre. . . with BEES! Most episodes are capped off when a victory over a monster results in a shift to a live action model blowing up ala Power Rangers.
For an anime billed as an action show, there's absolutely no blood to be seen anywhere(except for nosebleeds that happen for obvious reasons). This probably fits in with the show's (mostly) comic book style. There's plenty of the funny stuff, though. And a whole lot of "WTF?" moments. It's nowhere near as brain dead stupid as Excel Saga. This is sure to be an uproarious good time for the right people.