Author: Animation Force

I’m going to get more personal with this entry…

Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom

I’m going to get more personal with this entry because Attack on Titan has had a large impact on my journey through anime. 

In 2013, when Attack on Titan came out, I was exiting my sophomore year of college and entering into my junior year. This was a big time of transition for me: new friends, new outlook on life, new struggles. One of the big things that came with my new friends was a reintroduction into the world of anime. I had watched Dragon Ball, Inuyasha and Sailor Moon (among others) as a child, but that they were a distinct category of entertainment never particularly entered into my brain. So, 2013, for me, is when my anime journey really began in earnest. And one of the most critical shows in that new beginning was Attack on Titan. 

I can’t recall in all honesty how many times I’ve seen the first season of Attack on Titan. I was so enchanted with it that I showed it to everyone I could think to watch it with. Even my normally non-anime-watching friends got exposed to Attack on Titan through me. I want to say I’ve seen the first season more than twenty times, and even that might be lowballing it. 

After showing it to everyone I could, I became so hungry for more that I began reading the manga, something that I had never done before. In a group chat I was in, we had a system where — when the fansubs (fan translations of the manga before an official translation would come to the west) would come out — we would excitedly spam “green flares” in the chat until everyone was aware that the fansubs were out. In short, I was a fanatic. 

That’s my story with Attack on Titan, but where does it fall in terms of quality, impact on the animation industry, and western fan impact? 

In terms of quality: I’ve gone back and forth over the years significantly. At first, obviously, I was in love, but then, influenced perhaps by the manga’s glacial pacing and my own stubborn nature that causes me to instinctively dislike popular things, I began to poke holes and look for flaws in the show. But now I’m back on the hype train; I earnestly think that Attack on Titan has the potential to be a truly special series. The first season was the best thus far, but as a manga reader (without spoiling anything!), I think the chunk coming out this spring could top even that. 

In terms of impact in the western fandom, I would say Attack on Titan is the indisputable king of the last decade. Conventions everywhere remain packed to the brim with fans in their green wings of freedom cloaks or 3d movement gear. Even if the show was only average (and it’s not), the massive impact that it has had would warrant it earning a high place on this list.

Thanks for reading, guys! If you have any questions or stories of your own with Attack on Titan, we’d love to hear them. You might even see your stories featured by Austin or @animationforceresponds

– Austin ( @austinsanimeabode​ )

Travel to the carnival of lost toys in this fi…

Travel to the carnival of lost toys in this first full-length trailer for Toy Story 4.

– Courtney ( @harmonicacave )

In 2011 a significant group of animators, led …

Kill la Kill: Studio Trigger’s First Strike

In 2011 a significant group of animators, led by Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ōtsuka, abandoned the legendary Studio Gainax and formed their own studio, which would come to be called Studio Trigger. But it wasn’t until 2013 that they would release their first work, Kill la Kill. 

To understand Studio Trigger one must look into their roots in Gainax. To understand Kill la Kill, perhaps it is best to look into one of Gainax’s greatest works, Gurren Lagann. Much like Gurren Lagann is a loving send up of the Super Robot genre, Kill la Kill is a love letter to a few genres of its own; most notably Magical Girls, ecchi and battle shonen. Most importantly, however, Kill la Kill is more than the sum of its parts.

A fair warning before we get any further — Kill la Kill is ecchi. For viewers who are uncomfortable with sexualized characters in sexual situations, this is not a show they should watch. There are plenty of elements that I find gratuitous even as someone who is a big fan of the series. If that isn’t something you can deal with, it’s best to give up before you even get started. If you’re still with me, you can expect a series that delivers high quality action, some of the better music in anime, and gorgeous (at times) animation.

What stands out to me about the show the most are the absolutely gorgeous character designs and the aforementioned action scenes. Kill la Kill slams on the accelerator in episode one and never stops going hard. It is probably the only show to make me emotional over a piece of clothing by the end of the series. In much the same way Gurren Lagann is surprisingly touching, Kill la Kill left me simply emotionally drained — suprising especially for a show that’s premise is “Alien fabric is trying to take over the world by making us wear clothing.”

When examining anime for the list, I try to look at three separate categories: quality, impact in the animation industry, and impact on the fan community, particularly in the West. In my opinion, Kill la Kill absolutely nails the first two of those categories. With apologies to Attack on Titan S1, The Devil is a Part-Timer, Chihayafuru 2, and WaTaMoTe, I feel like Kill la Kill was the best anime to come out of 2013 by a decently wide margin. It didn’t have the absolute biggest impact on the western anime community of the year because Attack on Titan was a cultural giant — and it’s hard to cosplay characters that are half nude most of the time — but Kill la Kill was a significant player in the western fan community as well. One could even argue that it had a decent sized impact on the anime industry by paving the way for Trigger to become a successful studio. While Kill la Kill wouldn’t be a first-ballot inclusion into the 101 Anime to Watch Before you Die list, it is safely in the upper tier.

– Austin ( @austinsanimeabode​ )

Join Animation Force on Fantasy Movie League

Join Animation Force on Fantasy Movie League:

Last year’s “Disney*Pixar Championship Bracket” was so much fun, we’ve decided to celebrate with a new kind of competition: Fantasy Movie League. 

Follow the above link to join the Animation Force league (password: moviesAF) to compete in the weekly box office challenge: use each week’s points to select the best combination of up to eight films that “generate the highest gross revenue.”

It’s a great (and free!) way to keep up with the latest in film (and animation), so join Animation Force Managing Editor Courtney ( @harmonicacave ) any time to get in the competition! 

Here are my recommendations of 1) shows to wat…

The Gundam Series: Fly Gundam!

The year is 1979. You could be forgiven for thinking, at the time, that “Galaxy Express 999”— a masterpiece in its own right — would be the most impactful science fiction anime of the ’70s. But then, everything changed that spring with the release of Tomino’s “Mobile Suit Gundam.” 

Gundam was not the instant success that its legacy might lead you to believe. Indeed, it was close to being canceled and was reduced from a planned 52 episodes down to 43. It began to explode in popularity with the release of Gunpla and other model toys for collectors. By the next decade, Gundam was responsible for the creation of an entirely new genre in anime, commonly called “real robot,” which takes a more realistic approach to war and robots than the more common in the ’70s “super robot.”

Why it matters:

The influence of the series spans the globe. From the characters it produced to the mech designs its influence can be seen all over. In particular; Char, the enemy and rival in the first Gundam series, produced a slew of clones over the years. The series’ impact can be compared to that of “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” in the west. Along with “Legend of Galactic Heroes,” Gundam is the most influential science fiction to come out of Japan. 

The series itself can be difficult to get into, as one might expect for a series spanning forty years: there are multiple timelines to consider. Even within timelines, there is a continuity lock that must be considered; fans couldn’t just jump in on the excellent “Gundam Unicorn” and hope to understand everything, because it relies on earlier stories set in the UC (universal century) timeline. 

Where to start:

Because this can make the series difficult to approach, I will spend the rest of this article describing good entry points for the series.

The most obvious entry point for the series is at the start with Mobile Suit Gundam 0079. It is the key to understanding important classics in the UC timeline, such as Zeta Gundam, War in the Pocket, Char’s Counter Attack, Gundam Unicorn, and The 08th MS Team, as well as being a gem of a series in its own right. 

Starting in the beginning also has the benefit of displaying the origin of tropes common to the series even in non UC timelines, such as Char clones and “newtypes.” The story of 0079 can be viewed either through the original series or compilation movies. Seriously though; do not attempt to watch something in the UC timeline unless it is 0079, the compilation movies, or “Gundam: The Origin.” You’ll be left scratching your head otherwise.

If, however, you are turned off by ’70s animation and want a more modern touch, I might recommend the recent “Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans.” 

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At the risk of revealing how much of a newcomer I am to the Gundam fandom, I must confess that this series is how I got into the saga. It takes place in the Post Calamity timeline, which has no ties to any other work in the Gundam canon. The show is consistently high quality and does a good job of bringing viewers into the Gundam fold. 

Other series I could mention include Gundam Seed, Gundam Wing, or Gundam 00; although they all have their detractors, they are also mostly quality works that serve as possible entry points. 

Here are my recommendations of 1) shows to watch for once you begin your journey into the saga and 2) shows to avoid. 

  • The highest quality Gundam series ever made are, in my opinion, Zeta Gundam and Turn A Gundam. Despite requiring patience to get to in the continuity snarl that is Gundam, both are well worth the investment. 
  • With the UC timeline my recommendations include Gundam 0079, Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam, Char’s Counter Attack, 0080 War in the Pocket, Stardust Memory, MSG The Origin, Gundam Unicorn, and MSG Thunderbolt
  • As far as alternate timelines go, Gundam Wing, Turn A, After War Gundam X, Gundam 00, Gundam Seed, and Iron Blooded Orphans are all high quality. 
  • Gundam Seed Destiny and Gundam Age should probably both be avoided

As expected for a series with 40 years to cover, there is a lot of different content to sink your teeth into. I’m still progressing in my Gundam fandom journey and I hope that you all will join me!

– Austin ( austinsanimeabode )

DC Super Hero Girls show coming to Cartoon Net…

animationforce:

Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman are coming to Cartoon Network in 2018. 

Based on a series of direct-to-video and YouTube videos, DC Super Hero Girls will continue the franchise begun in 2015, which also includes many toys, books and clothing. 

Lauren Faust (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) is producing and will create “fresh character designs” for Diana (Wonder Woman), Barbara (Batgirl), Kara (Supergirl) and the rest of the DC crew, according to IGN.com

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Bumblebee, Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, Harley Quinn, Katana and Zatanna are also reported to appear in the Cartoon Network show, which will cover the teens lives as superheroes and students in Metropolis. 

Joining Faust on the production crew is Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) as executive producer. The series will be headed by Warner Bros. Animation. 

– Courtney ( @harmonicacave )

DC Super Hero Girls hits Cartoon Network one week from today — on March 8, 2019, with a one-hour special

Watch the trailer below:

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Show that Saved A…

Hello, dear reader! 

I would like to welcome you a series that we’ll be working through over the coming year. Essentially it is a list of 101 anime that have been culturally significant, anime that have changed the industry, and anime that are extremely high quality. Some fall into just one category; some fall into all three. 

This shouldn’t be understood as a list of the “best” anime ever, because I feel like that project would be beyond me. Instead it is a list of anime to help you become engrossed in some of the most significant works released over the years. There is a bias of course; this list was put together with the help of a few good friends, so it reflects in some measure our tastes and viewing habits. We tried to mitigate that somewhat, but no list is ever perfect. The list spans from the ’60s all the way to anime that is still ongoing. I hope you’ll enjoy reading what I have to say about each entry as much as I’ve enjoyed watching and writing about them. Without further ado, let’s get into this entrant!

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Show that Saved Anime

It is very rare that something can be said to have “saved” the medium that it is a part of. An example that springs to mind is Nintendo and Sega after the ’80s video game crash. Evangelion is another such example. Even putting aside its massive impact culturally, economically, and within the industry, the fact that it almost single-handedly pulled anime out of the slump of the mid ’90s would warrant it slotting onto this list. But it has numerous qualities beyond that, which make Neon Genesis Evangelion worthy of its placement.

When examining the show, there is sometimes a hype backlash, because viewers expect something “more” from a show that is so legendary. So, the first thing to examine is the qualities of the show itself. Simply put, it is a “monster of the week” style show with slice of life elements. It delves heavily into the psyche of the cast, particularly the main character Shinji Ikari. It isn’t uncommon for viewers to be frustrated with Shinji’s reticence to fight, so it should be understood going in that Shinji is a character who has been abused and betrayed by almost every authority figure in his life. It’s only natural that he isn’t a macho, guns-blazing action hero. 

Shinji, even though he was the main character, actually had less of an impact in character design than many of his cast mates. Rei — the blue-haired, emotionless waif — spawned perhaps thousands of clones throughout the years. A large section of kuudere characters since the release of Evangelion have been inspired by her. In the same vein, the other main girl, Asuka, helped to codify a vast majority of tropes related to tsunderes. Finally, a relatively short-lasting character, Kaworu, inspired almost as many clones as Rei. 

Finally, its legacy can be viewed through the lens of the series that it spawned. Though the rest of Evangelion, aside from End of Evangelion, isn’t really worthy of the list, it is a cultural giant. The Evangelion series grossed 16.3 billion dollars in total revenue, which is the 27th most of any media franchise in human history. The opening song alone — Cruel Angel’s Thesis — grosses hundreds of thousands of yen per year in royalties from karaoke bars and pachinko machines. For a series that comprises less than ten total entries, that is incredibly impressive. 

Telling the story of anime is impossible without Neon Genesis Evangelion. It was the first show to come to my mind when I was putting together the list of 101 anime. I can think of no place for it other than to be the very first entrant into this list of 101 anime to watch before you die.

– Austin ( austinsanimeabode )

Meet the filmmakers behind Disney-Pixar’s firs…

Meet the filmmakers behind Disney-Pixar’s first Spark Short, “Purl,” streaming now on YouTube. 

Director Kristen Lester and Gillian Libbert-Duncan created the first of Pixar’s new series of short films, ultimately destined for Disney’s upcoming subscription streaming service, Disney+ (Disney Plus). 

According to Slash Film, a set of three shorts — “Purl” (below), “Smash and Grab” and “Kitbull” premiered at Disney’s El Capitan theater in Los Angeles in January in tandem with a one-week re-release of 1989 Disney classic “The Little Mermaid,” and are now released on Youtube on Mondays. 

Pixar’s YouTube channel also offers a behind-the-scenes view with minute interviews with the creators of each short, released in two videos on the same day as the shorts. 

“Smash and Grab” is the latest short, released on Feb. 11, 2019, a week following Purl. “Kitbull” arrives this Monday, Feb. 18 on the Disney-Pixar YouTube channel.

– Courtney ( harmonicacave )

This fall, we can experience autumn in Arendel…

This fall, we can experience autumn in Arendelle, but today, we see the first look at Disney’s “Frozen 2,” in the above teaser trailer.

Co-director Jennifer Lee retweeted Disney’s President of Marketing Asad Ayaz with a teaser poster for the film as well.

“Frozen 2″ arrives in theaters in November 2019.

– Courtney ( @harmonicacave )

Nickelodeon to create animated “Loud House” & …

This deal includes one original animated film each for Nickelodeon shows “The Loud House” and “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” No release date for either film has yet been announced.

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A “Loud House” film has been in the works for years, but recently Viacom partner Paramount quietly removed it from its release calendar — an action now explained in the Hollywood Reporter’s announcement of the Nick/Netflix collaboration. 

In its third season, “The Loud House” will be joined by spinoff TV show “The Casagrandes” later in 2019 on Nickelodeon. No news of episodes of either show appearing on Netflix, but you can read more on the Ronnie Anne-starring spinoff here.

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“Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is one of Nickelodeon’s newest 2D shows, and this would be the show’s first original movie, despite the numerous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films in circulation since the 1990s. 

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– Courtney ( @harmonicacave​ )