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 seems to be only loosely based on the 1990s version. Here the pets seem like actual animals whereas what little I've seen of the 90s version made it seem like the pets had very human qualities. The show gets off to a clunky start. In fact, the first episode had comedic timing so utterly terrible, I almost wrote off the whole show as unwatchable. Most of the teeth-grinding occurs around the father, an airline pilot who somehow is the worst driver in the whole of America(or wherever they decided to stick fictional Downtown City). Thankfully, Littlest Pet Shop finds its stride somewhere around episode 4.
The animation has the same bright and attractive "pop" as Friendship is Magic but none of the, shall we say, "sizzle". Even if this show wasn't destined to grab the huge crossover appeal as Friendship is Magic, Littlest Pet Shop seems like the kind of show that would fit well with the programs of Qubo or PBS Kids and not make the adults want to tear their hair out. It's probably not a coincidence that the best episodes were written by old hands of Friendship is Magic while the sub-par ones seem to be written by the show's creators, the Cahills, of My Gym Partner's a Monkey infamy.
Thankfully, we've got great characters to fill in the gaps. The humans could use some work(they've got that paper doll look like the old Flash classic 6Teen) but aren't too terrible. Blythe is perky and talented. The Biskit Twins you couldn't even bring yourself to hate because they're so two dimensional and lifeless, not even possessing the spark of life Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon brought to the bullies in Friendship is Magic. Mrs. Twombly is a bag of complications and probably the most memorable human character in the show.
However the star of the show is, naturally, the pets, and they bring the A Game of humor.
Zoe Trent is a Cavalier King Charles who has Twilight Sparkle's coloration but Rarity's over-acting and prissiness. She loves to be the center of attention and is a bit of a diva. However, she's very talented at singing and isn't mean-spirited. Some of the show's best humor involve scenes that jump from her doing a musical number to the viewpoint of random humans and you see the scene go from a catchy tune to the sight of a puppy just jumping around and barking.
Pepper Clark is a brash young pet who, rather surprisingly, is a gray skunk. She fancies herself as some kind of comedienne. She once tried insult humor but gave it up when it resulted in hurt feelings. Her brashness usually means that she is often oblivious to when she pushes too far, but mostly her comedy routine is harmless and of the stylings of Fozzie Bear or Carrot Top. She'll tend to use humor to brighten the mood of her friends when they're down, but ironically enough, being voiced by Tabitha, she's actually her funniest when she's not in "stage mode" and trying for jokes. As a skunk, she has her musk and gets embarrassed when others call attention to it, but unlike most skunks, she seems to have different scents that is dependent on her mood. She claims her signature aroma for when she's happy is 'Pepper' Mint. Ha ha ha ha.
Vinnie Terrio is a gecko who is somehow blessed with a full head of hair. There isn't much to him other than his clumsiness. He fancies himself as a dancer and idolizes the likes of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and John Travolta. He often has good moves but forgets that his feet sometimes trip over themselves.
Minka Mark, as the song goes, is a "funky artist". She seems to be the show's Pinkie Pie. Hyperactive and fun loving with a bit of a motor mouth. Unlike Pinkie Pie, though, she paints. Her way of seeing the world through the filter of her artwork is very energetic and abstract.
Sunil Nevla is a basketcase. If you thought a skunk was an odd animal for a pet, Sunil is a mongoose. He likes to do magic, but it seems like the only thing he is really talented at is hypnotism and powers of prediction(when the show calls for it). His stage magic often flops. Next to Pepper Clark and Penny Ling, he's probably the most adorable pet in the show, as he's a nervous wreck who freely admits that he is a coward. That is until someone mentions cobras.
Russell Ferguson is a hedgehog who is often confused for a porcupine. He seems to be the pet's designated "welcome wagon" for new day campers. He's serious and organized and so a perfect fit for making sure things run smoothly and that messes are cleaned up.
Penny Ling is sure to be a favorite. She is a cuddly panda. Who doesn't love pandas? The designated mascot of the toyline, she was created to be the face of the show. Fans of Friendship is Magic will probably recognize her as possessing the same qualities of Fluttershy, shy but tough when the situation calls for it.
Littlest Pet Shop makes the mistake of assuming that viewers will latch onto these characters with the same speed as viewers of Friendship is Magic. Whereas Friendship is Magic had six main characters, gave them snappy names and well-rounded personalities, making them easy to identify, Littlest Pet Shop tosses out a roll call way too quickly, takes a while to build up to their better defining traits, has seven main characters and gives them double sided names that are way too complicated. What average kid will remember "Sunil Nevla"?
Even so, after a clunky start, Littlest Pet Shop is shaping up to be a decent time waster and should pick up a few stray fans from The Hub's main hit Friendship is Magic, due to the similarities and the various people working on both. Give it some time, and you'll find it to be bright and fun and moving along at a good clip.
"Hey! Let's capitalize on this whole save the environment kick people on to appeal to kids! And we'll make them caring and well-rounded while we're at it, just like those good shows of the 80s! And let's make the planet a superhero!"
Hey Michael Bay. Want something to butcher besides robots and turtles? Here you go.
It's hard to judge this series based on just two DVDs with three episodes each. Each DVD seems to have one utterly terrible episode and two halfway decent episodes. As per above, the villains are terrible, but it seems the worst episodes involve the Raggedy kids' nemesis, Cracklin the wizard. Some of the other villains are reasonable diversions. There are way too many unnecessary chases, especially since every now and again, the series shows that the characters are capable of resourcefulness, but this can be gotten around if you possess a good constitution.
This is a series that seems to be aimed at a younger audience than even what is standard for this decade, but it's surprisingly free of the pompous PSA/"lesson of the day" kind of feel of most 80s cartoons(and surprisingly free of songs). For my money, I prefer the mannerisms and voice of Ann and Andy from A Musical Adventure, and there's little doubt the animation in the movie is leagues superior. However there are a few things that elevate this show and make it palatable. Grouchy Panda is often a laugh riot, injecting his cynicism, pessimism and sarcastic jokes at inappropriate times with gleefully sour venom. The Raggedy kids also seem to possess a kind of old-fashioned, warm-hearted charm about them. There are also a couple moments that seem to stand out for me, mostly from an episode involving pirates that I watched recently. In it, the pirates are out to steal a leprechaun's pot of gold. It is made clear in the episode that a leprechaun dies when his gold is stolen, and the pirates struggle through the dangers of the island, including giant snakes and quicksand. They also come across the skeleton of a former pirate, and Andy almost meets a grisly end by falling into a pit on the beach with the tide coming in, and the pirate captain tosses in the dead pirate's skull to "keep Andy company". Left as it was, this episode would've already been a basically entertaining episode. But these moments made me realize that every now and again, the creators and writers didn't feel the need to constrain themselves with kid sensibilities.
At any rate, it's probably just as well this show only got two DVD releases, but I wouldn't have minded seeing where this show would've headed, given the right string-pulling and directors. Raggedy Ann and Andy are such iconic characters that they deserve better animation. Even so, it's an okay show. I almost came close to writing the show off as a wretched one star show, but it somehow worked itself under my skin. It's an okay show. I especially enjoyed Grouchy's antics. He really saves it with his moments.
The Amazing World of Gumball is a sitcom of everyday living and going to an everyday school in a not-so-everyday world. It is like what you would get if you combined the parody of suburban American life of The Simpsons with the bizarre unpredictable nature of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but with a more family friendly appeal. Gumball is a show where anything can and will often happen, and it throws out its nonsense with such gusto that you can't help but like it while it wraps up the "what in the hey" with a coating of "awww".
There is not a single character in the show that has any respectable depth, but this is hardly the point. Gumball is a show that tells you just to enjoy the crazy while it lasts. It lacks a certain pop that another similar show, Chowder, possessed in spades, but this is a minor quibble.
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.