Archive for September, 2010


Dojo of Fame – Paul Dini & Buce Timm (Animation Week Day 4)

Unlike DiMartino and Konietzko, Timm and Dini are not officially partners.  They have worked on many separate projects and I could really probably dedicate a day to each man.  However, they have worked on a large number of projects, and tend to work on similar types of shows, therefore I decided it would be best to let them share a post.

In the 1980’s they worked at Filmation on various shows including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, but their epic partnership did not really come into play until they joined Warner Bros and began working on Tiny Toon Adventures.

At Warner Bros., Timm co-created Batman: The Animated Series, and brought Dini along to write.  Batman was everything you can ask from a Batman cartoon: It was action packed, entertaining, and dark.  The series never talked down to its audience like most kid’s shows do and it never failed to entertain.

The series met with phenomenal success and is considered by many to be the best superhero cartoon of all time, and with good reason.

One of Timm and Dini’s best creations come from this series.  Yes, that’s right…I am talking about none other than Harley Quinn

Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a psychologist at Arkham Asylum who was fascinated with extreme personalities.  Joker, sensing an opportunity worked his villainous charm and caused Harleen to fall him love with him.  She helped him to escape, donned a Jester outfit and changed her name to Harley Quinn.

As Joker’s sidekick, Harley actually made name for herself; proving that she was more than capable of handling herself in a fight and almost as much of a threat as Joker himself.

The character quickly became a fan favorite and eventually became integrated into the comic universe as well as the animated one.

Since then, Timm and Dini have worked on several other DC project helping to create the DC animated universe.  They have also worked on comics and even videogames (Dini having written the script for Arkham Asylum)  but their greatest achievements will always be the key roles they played in shaping the world of superhero cartoons.

Timm especially became involved with the creation of the DC Animated Universe to the point to where large part of the universe has been dubbed by fans as the “Timmverse”

Timm also created Freakazoid!.  However, as it turned from a serious show into a comedy, Timm left.  However Dini stayed and continued to write for the series.  Freakazioid!, which is kind of a parody of super-hero shows with an animaniacs sense of humor went on to be a cult hit.

It is interesting to note that Dini has apparently switched over from DC to Marvel and will be the head writer and producer of the up and coming Ultimate Spider-Man TV series.

Really, I would like to go over every series these two worked on…but it would take way too long.  Suffice to say that between the two of them, they have done a lot in the realm of animation.

Paul Dini and Bruce Timm are the Dynamic Duo of Animation.  Welcome to the Dojo of Fame guys, I salute you!


Dojo of Fame – Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko (Animation Week Day 3)

These men make for an impressive duo. They studied animation together at the Rhode Island School of Design.  For a while they both worked at Film Roman helping to make shows such as, Family Guy, Mission Hill, and King of the Hill.  Bryan was also a storyboard artist and art director for Invader Zim, and Michael created a short film called “Atomic Love”.

However what makes these two men legends is the show they created for Nick, Avatar: The Last Airbender.  It was an action packed show about a world where people have the powers to control the elements around them through a practice called “Bending”.   After the Fire nation attacks, they wipe out the airbending race and try to conquer the rest of the world.  At the south pole, a young waterbender and her brother find a small boy frozen in a sphere of ice.  When he wakes up, it is revealed that he is the last airbender…and he is also the Avatar: the chosen one who can control all the elements.  The trio must travel together so that Aang may learn the 4 elements and finally defeat the Firelord.

Being greatly inspired by asian culture, Avatar felt like an American show pretending to be an anime.  However it does not really fit into either anime or western animation.  Rather, Avatar achieved a blend of the two animation styles that is uniquely its own.  The show stayed lighthearted enough for children while still dealing with dark themes to keep us older folks interested.  It never talked down to its viewers and was an amazing series.

The show kept us on the edge of our seats, it make us laugh, it even made us cry a time or two (see tales of Ba Sing Se: Part 2 – The Tale of Iroh…I cry everytime…)  It is one of the best shows TV has to offer, be it live action or animation.  If you have not watched The Last Airbender, then you are missing out.

Unfortunetly, the live action adaptation by M. Night was…well, horrible…

Luckily for us fans, Bryan and Michael are working on a new series set in the Avatar Universe. Avatar: Legend of Korra will take place approx. 70 years after the original series.  It is rumored that this new series will just be a 13 episode mini-series.  Though it is still possible it may be a regular series.  Either way, I can’t wait and I am sure the duo of DiMartino and Konietzko won’t let us down.

DiMartino and Konietzko, for creating one of the greatest series to ever grace the TV screen, I salute you!  Welcome to the Dojo of Fame!


Dojo of Fame – Butch Hartman (Animation Week Day 2)

I first recognized Butch Hartman’s name as a writer for Cartoon Network’s “Cartoon Cartoon” shows such as Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo.  No doubt his trademark humor was what helped make these shows so great, and he actually became the first behind the scenes guy I knew of in animation.

However, he became a big hit when he created “Fairly Odd Parents” for Nick.  The show features Timmy Turner, an average ten year old boy in a pink hat.  His life seems pretty miserable, due to his evil babysitter, Vicky, until the day when he received two fairy god-parents who grant his every wish.  Fairly Odd Parents quickly became Nick’s number 2 show (just under spongebob).  And all this fame is for good reason.  Fairly Odd Parents is a delightful show filled with some wonderful off-the-wall humor.

After the success of Fairly Oddparents, Nick asked Butch if he had any ideas for a new show.  Luckily, he did.  Danny Phantom and the Specter Detectors.  The original show featured a Johnny Quest, like teenage boy named danny fighting ghosts along with his sidekicks.  After some reworking, Butch decided to make Danny a half-ghost and give him superpowers and thus, Danny Phantom was Born.

Danny Phantom incorporated the screwball humor from Fairly oddparents, yet grounded it a little more by making Danny older, and giving the series a continuity unlike that of his previous shows.  Half action show and half comedy, Danny Phantom was a smash hit.  Personally, I think it did far better than Fairly Oddparents and represents some of Butch’s best work so far.

At one point, he tried to make a spin-off of Fairly Oddparents called “Crash Nebula” the resulting pilot felt like a rip-off of “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command” (but in high-school) to me and was not really that good.  It never made it to a full series.

And now it Butch has a new show coming out entitled T.U.F.F. Puppy set to air this saturday.  Wikipedia summarized the premise with the following:

The show’s central character is a dog named Dudley Puppy (voiced by Jerry Trainor), who works as a secret agent for an organization called T.U.F.F. (Turbo Undercover Fighting Force). His partner is a cat named Kitty Katswell (voiced by Grey DeLisle)

Below are a couple of trailers for the new series:

While it does not look like his best work…this trailers are enough to keep me interested. It does look decent, but there is not a lot to go on yet.  Will this be the next Fairly Oddparents, or the next Crash Nebula?  Only time will tell.  But I can tell you that I expect great things from this series and I can’t wait to watch the 1st episode.

Also, Butch does more than just make great cartoons.  He has set up a charity organization called the Hartman House Foundation.  According to wikipedia:

[the] Hartman House travels to developing nations and some of the most poverty stricken areas in the United States.  Hartman House has built two homes for families in Guatemala, fed nearly 7200 families with Thanksgiving meals in the U.S., and is in the midst of funding a school in Africa. Hartman uses his talent to draw and autograph pictures of his animated shows for hundreds of children at these events.

You can check out the official website here.

Butch Hartman is an amazingly talented man and he deserves a place in my Dojo of Fame.  Butch, I salute you!


Dojo of Fame – Genndy Tartakovsky (Animation Week: Day 1)

Welcome to animation week!  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big fan of western animation.  I just never really grew out of cartoons.  But as I have grown, my tastes have still matured and while I still enjoy cartoons with the same glee that I did when I was a little kid, I can appreciate what goes into making a good cartoon.  Now there have been plenty of good cartoons come around in my lifetime, but some were just exceptional.  And in order for a cartoon to be exceptional, it has to have some exceptional talent behind it.

So that is why I am dedicating this week to some of the most talented creators in the industry.  Unfortunetly, I am not going to list any voice actors (I am not skilled enough at recognizing them yet…but their day will come eventually) rather, this is more about the creative people who created these amazing shows.  Everyday I will be showcasing a different creator and adding them to my “Dojo of Fame”.  I hope you enjoy it!

To kick off my Animation Week, I am going to start by spotlighting the man who inspired this week:

Genndy Tartakovsky

Genndy Tartakovsky is a man who will blow your mind.  Most of us got hooked on his creations with Dexter’s Lab: A series about a boy genius named Dexter and his insane sister Dee Dee.

Dexter, with the aide of his secret laboratory, is constantly creating crazy inventions and Dee Dee is always breaking them.  While this show could have gotten into a rut of “what is Dexter’s new invention this week?” it kept it fresh by mixing invention episodes in with episodes about dexter trying to fit in school, having a baby sitter, and going on road trips.  Some of the episodes did not even seem to have a plot, they were just pure madness.  Topped off with the “Dial M for Monkey” and “Justice Friend” shorts that were sandwiched between segments, and you have a formula for one of Cartoon Network’s best TV series.

After Genndy was finished with Dexter’s lab he started on something completely new, Samurai Jack.  The plot was…well, I think the opening theme explains it best:

Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil! But a foolish Samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now the fool seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku!

Stuck in the future and trying to get back while fighting the evil forces of Aku, Samurai Jack never ceased to amaze.  His almost otherworldy skills with his sword provided for some of the best action scenes in all of animation.  His quite, polite demeanor set him apart from most Bad-A protagonists of the day.  The beautiful artistic direction of the show accompanied with the slow pacing of the opening scenes gave the show an amazing artistic feel.  The soundtrack was perfect, with the score capturing every mood imaginable.  It was filled with action and adventure.

The sheer variety of the themes in the episode were near unimaginable from the artistic and sobering episodes “seasons of death” to the hilarity that is “Jack Meets the Scottsman”.  Jack took us into space, to a village of talking dogs, to Egypt, into the world of 1930’s mobsters, to the world of the Spartans, and everywhere else.

Samuri Jack was truly an amazing show and Genndy’s best work.

In fact, Samurai Jack was so good that it inspired George Lucas to commission Genndy to make a mini-series based on Clone Wars.  This series had the action of Samurai Jack, without the slow pacing.  Clone troopers firing everywhere, Jedi engaged in epic battles.  Genndy’s Clone Wars set the standard for Star Wars animaion…a standard that the new Clone Wars series has not even come close to achieving, unfortunately.

Now Genndy’s newest project, Sym-Bionic Titan is starting to air.  At the time of writing only 2 episodes have been aried, but they are both amazing and seem to live up to everything Genndy has done so far.  I could go on and on about how much potential this series has, but I have already written that article and I don’t want to bore you too much.

Anyways, Genndy Tartakovsky is one of the greatest minds in animation and he deserves a proud place in my Dojo of Fame.


Pokemon Apokelypse

Check out this awesome fan made trailer for a live-action Pokemon movie.

[btw, I did not make this]


5 Random Quotes for September (2010)

  1. Men!  The only animal in the world to fear.  ~D.H. Lawrence
  2. I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.  ~Gilda Radner
  3. For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.  ~Martin Luther
  4. Red meat is not bad for you.  Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!  ~Tommy Smothers
  5. I moved to New York City for my health. I’m paranoid and New York was the only place where my fears were justified.  ~Anita Weiss

Sym-Bionic Titan: First Impressions

[warning: there may be a few minor spoilers ahead.  I will try not to spoil anything big though]

I don’t have Satellite or Cable, I get my TV through Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube.  So Imagine my suprise when I read that Genndy Tartakovsky was not only making a new series, but that it had already premiered.  My nerd senses were going off at full blast.  Would it be a comedy in the way of Dexter’s Lab, an action series like Clone Wars (the 2d clone wars miniseries, that is) or would it be that perfect blend of action and comedy that made Samurai Jack one of the best animated series ever seen.

I started to watch the first episode…and well…I made a mistake I am not proud of…I watched the videos on youtube in the wrong order.  I thought they were doing that cool, jumping between past and present thing…until I got three parts into the show and saw the opening credits…  But it was ok, because I got to watch the show a second time (in the right order) with my brother immediately afterwards.

So since I literally know this episode forwards and backwards, I thought it may be nice to share my thoughts on it.

The basic premise of the show is that of a world at war.  The world of Galaluna has been overtaken by an evil race called the Mutraddi.  The king, being the wise man that he is, sends his daughter, Princess MacGuffin…er, I mean Princess Ilana to the distant planet of Earth.  To protect her, he also sends a young soldier named Lance and a robot named Octus.   Once they arrive on earth, they will have to pose as normal humans which means….high school *dramatic music plays*

So yeah, that is the plot.  2 humanoid aliens and a robot pretending to be high-school students while fighting off the evil aliens that attack them.  (they even have robotic suits)  The premise sounds…iffy to say the least.  But this is a Genndy Tartakovsky series, so it has to be good right?

Right!  They handle the High School element very well…serving as sort of a parody of high school.  In the scene where they are first at high school, Octus (discussed as a human) explains about the different social groups in highschool, such as the nerds, jocks, and cheerleaders.  I noticed that each group seemed to be designed in a slightly different art style being more of a caricatures of the group rather than a serious representation.  In Lance’s first encounter with the football players (who are seriously like 5 times bigger than any other character) they were so violent and brutish, I thought they were evil aliens at first.  It really felt like more like a commentary on high school than anything.  And I can see that the theme of aliens seeing our culture from a fresh perspective is going to be a big one in this show.

And as for the main trio of this adventure, I think we are in for a great cast.  The three characters are supposed to represent Heart, Mind, and Body. (A prevailing theme in the first episode…it seems to be tied into the central philosophy of Galaluna)  This is just the first episode, so there is not really a lot to go on, but I like what I have seen of the characters so far.

Princess Ilana (Representing Heart) – I really don’t know what to make of this character yet.  She seems to be very sensitive and very kind.  She believes strongly in equality (which seems sorta uncharacteristic of a princess) telling the students on the first day that she hopes they can rise above their social structures and unite as one people.  Being raised as a princess, she seems a little naive…However, that is not to say that she can’t defend herself as she proves that she is a capable fighter fairly earl on in the episode.  I expect there to be a lot in store for this character.  I am very interested to learn more about her.

Lance (Representing Body) – He is the hardened soldier.  I can’t say that I am particularly fond of him so far.  Don’t get me wrong, he is pretty awesome in that he is the best fighter in the group…but he almost seems like the dark brooding wolverine character in the group…and I just am not as interested in that.  While he seems incredibly loyal to the Princess…she brings up the line “I know your past” meaning that there is more to the character than to be seen.  I think he will turn out to be a pretty interesting character, but I don’t like him quite as much as the other two characters in the series (so far).

Octus (Representing Mind) – This is my favorite character so far.  First of all, just look at his robot design. (above) is that not one of the coolest robot designs you have ever seen.  Yeah…being the Spock of sorts, he is always interruption the constantly bickering Princess and Lance without even realizing that they are fighting.  He seems to be the one to tell them of human customs, though he seems to understand them the least.  I found his character to be hilarious and you know what, I am just a sucker for robots.  I look foward to seeing much more of this character.

As far as recurring bad guys go, we seem to have 3 (perhaps they too represent body, heart, and mind…but I can’t tell yet)  There is General Steel, the main military man.  I don’t have much to say about him one way or another… as he did not leave much of an impression.  There is Solomon, leader of G3 (Galactic Guardian Group) he seems to be the Man-In-Black/Nick Furry of the series and he is pretty awesome.  He has a really goth feel to him, all dark and silent.  His presence is very strong and very threatening.

Then there is Modula and I have got to say he is one of the most Bad-A villains I have seen in a while.  He is leader of the Mutraddi and while he is kinda cliche he fits it well.  He is tough, smart, and intimidating.  I really hope to see a lot of him in the rest of the series.

Overall, the first episode really left an impact.  I am sold and I can’t wait to watch more of this excellent series.  Lets just hope the rest of the show was as good as this first episode.


Super Mario Galaxy 2 (10/10)

Ok, as many of you may know, I while I loved Mario Galaxy 1, I found it to be really overrated. The same, however, cannot be said of the latest installment of the franchise, the aptly named Mario Galaxy 2.

Now for those of you who missed the first game, I will fill you in on the details of the plot. Browser kidnaps peach (but they’re in space) and mario, with the assistance of a luma (think baby star) must save her. And that is pretty much the same plot for the second game. I mean, seriously, there is not much of a difference here.

Granted, Galaxy 2 has Rosalina (Peach’s counterpart) and galaxy 2 has Lubba (Patrick Star’s drunk counterpart). I am not really sure how I feel about this. Sure Rosalina was so sweet it was almost sickening always going around talking about mario’s “special one” and reading bedtime stories and whatnaught. But Lubba was so annoying. It was like Mr. Miyamoto said, “Do you know what this game needs? A stereotypical southern mechanic named bubba…no, lubba!” However, Lubba does bring about some good moments. He seems to be the only one in the game aware of how surreal everthing around him is. “Mario, why did you just bring a flower with eyes onto the ship? What kind of a flower has eyes? And what is that green thing that just hatched from that egg? Eww..make it stop liking me!”

The hub world is vastly improved. Rather than having one big hub that you have to transverse to travel from level to level, you are given a realitively small hub world to play around in. As soon as you are ready to go to the next level, just head to the captain’s wheel and you will be given a map of the current world that will let you pick your level (ala Super Mario Bros 3) This is a welcome change and makes playing level after level much easier.

The level design in Galaxy 2 is brilliant. Scores better than its predecessor, Galaxy 2 takes the concept of gravity manipulation and planet hopping and takes it to the next level. The key to the amazing level designs is the sheer amount of variety packed into this game. You will never feel like you are doing the same thing twice. This is due, in part, to the wonderful powerups. All the old powerups from Galaxy 1 are here, along with a few new ones. (including a drill that lets you tunnel through planets and a cloud powerup that lets you create platforms) Also, there are 2d levels mixed in with the regular 3d ones. The 2d levels play just like a Mario game should, leaving you with lots of platforming awesomeness.

But by far the most welcome addition to Galaxy 2 is Yoshi. Yes, you can now take Yoshi out for a spin, and it was worth the wait. He controls similarly to Mario. To get him to eat items, just point at them with the wiimote and press “B”. Along with the chaos that Yoshi can inflict, he also has his own series of powerups, including a pepper that makes him run super fast, and a berry that makes him float like a balloon. Yoshi, We love you!

The difficulty in this game has certainly increased ranging from “that was pretty tough” to “OMGWTFBBQ! WHY MIYAMOTO?! WHY!?”. The increased difficulty should please any hardcore mario player. But for those of us who … suck. There is still hope! There is a player help feature similar to that in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Or for those of us who feel that is cheating, you can always do what I did and get your brother to help by being player 2.

Yeah, there is a muliplayer mode, but it is not much. Player 2 can pick up coins, hold baddies still, and make cheering and booing nosies with the second wiimote. It really serves no function other than helping an inexperienced (or in my case untalented) player get though a tough level. However, it is still a nice addition.

The presentation for this game is awesome. The graphics are… well, this is a Mario game for the wii, but all things considered, it looks nice. The score is great. All the music is orchestrated, and it is as catchy as it is epic.

Overall, buy this game. Seriously, you won’t regret it. Have’nt played Galaxy 1 yet? It does’nt matter, go buy this game.


G.I. Joe: Rise Cobra (4/5)

I never really watched G.I. Joe growing up, but after seeing this film, I am going to *have* to get into the cartoons.  Rise of Cobra is a very fun film.

The main selling point is the action…and there is a lot of it.  Actually, for a film made by Hasbro, some of the violence seemed kinda brutal.  (not that I’m complaining or anything)  From brutal hand to hand combat, to big battles, to some of the most ridiculous car chases in history, this film is non-stop action.

The little bit of a story is pretty good, if you don’t take it too seriously.  Duke and his pal Ripcord are supposed to protect this super powerful weapon that can destroy any and everything.  The bad guys take said weapon, now they want to get it back so they join the “G.I. Joes” a group of the best fighters in the world.  Again, I cannot stress how much this film was not meant to be taken seriously.

Throughout the film they seem to mesh the typical campyness of today’s action movies with the campyness of 90’s animation.  And the result is a fun ride through insanity.  With huge sets, huge battles, and hilarious characters.

If you are looking for a fun-action packed way to spend an otherwise boring night, then G.I. Joe definitely deserves your attention.


Ghostbusters (Wii) (6.5/10)

The premise of the Ghotbusters: The Videogame is that you are a ghostbuster and there are ghosts to be a busted.  There is a story, but I did not really pay attention long enough for me to be able to recall it.  I just know that I was fighting ghosts.  However, why the story did not keep me engaged, the banter between the Ghostbusters seems to be pretty good.  Granted, this is no Ghostbusters 3, but it seems to be pretty good for what its worth.

The control scheme is great.  The analogue stick on the Nunchuck strafes while your wiimote pointer aims.  It has a metroid prime 3 type feel to it, and it works well.  However, the aiming is really sensitive and it does take some time to get the hang of it.  Also, there is not jump button or jumping of any kind in this game, something I have come to regret as you will feel the need to jump often.

However, it does work well for the most part.  Capturing ghosts is a blast!  You zap the more powerful ghosts with the proton stream then you throw them around the room by waving the wiimote in the indicated direction.  As for the smaller ghosts, you have a couple of other weapons to choose from.  There is a shotgun type weapon that doubles as a freeze ray, and the slime gun.  The slime gun allows you to cover items in slime and then move them around with the proton beam.  (this works its way into a lot of the puzzles)  Also, certain enemies have to be slimed before you can do any damage.  When you can get into a grove of fighting weaker enimeis, then capturing some big ghosts, the game can be really awesome.  The Puzzels in the game are really hit and miss.  Some are fun, some are boring, and some are frustrating.  Unfortunately your ghostbusting teammates are not much help and serve to get in your way more often than assisting.  I expected ghostbusters wii to have an almost squad like feeling to it, with me fighitng alongside the real Ghostbusters, but I was let down in this respect.  Fortunately, this is where the Co-Op comes in…

Co-Op has to be the best part of this game.  Fighting ghosts by yourself is fun, but fighting alongside a friend is pure epic awesomeness.  I did not think that split-screen multilayer would work for a title that controls like this, but they made it work.  The sense of team work really plays though.  Unfortunately, the two players cannot spit up to complete different tasks because if they get too far apart, one gets teleported to the other’s location.  This would not be a big problem, but there are plenty of glitches involved.  For one, the person who is farthest away from the objective is supposed to be teleported, though this is not always the case.  Imagine, after getting lost, finally finding where you are supposed to be just to get teleported away and become lost again.  Also, players are often teleported when they are already next to each other.  I would be directly to the right of my teammate, get the distance warning and be teleported so steps further away from him.

And this is not the only glitch.  Often times you will walk into a room and yourself staring at the emptiness of a black abyss…your first thought, of course, is that a ghost tore the fabric of space time…though it turns out the game just had not rendered that room yet.  You will see your AI teammates trying to walk through objects, to no avail, so you destroy the obecjt for them…and they keep on walking in place.  This is one of the most glitchy games I have played, and how so many bugs got through testing and debugging is beyond me.

I can’t by any standard say that this game is good…however, I have a hard time describing it as bad either.  At times its fun and charm will have you engrossed in the game’s word and keep you entertained.  At other times, the glitches and poor level design will frustrate and enrage you.  Ghostbusters for the Wii is really a hit and miss video-game that shines in some respects and fails in others.

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