Sunday, July 31, 2011

Felix the Cat: The Movie - Part 1

Animated films; the form of entertainment that people use when they objectively look at animation.

To the populace, an animated film with a giant budget and a contained story that has to be told in a given amount of time is the best way to present the craft of animation. Animated TV shows could get away with being cheap because they're the soulless byproduct of an industry, but not films. No, no, no. Not with Pixar around who always thinks about the art and never about the money! (although this state of mind is slowly dying out with the advent of Cars 2) And with animation studios constantly competing with each other in order to make the next film that will be as great as Disney or Pixar, animated films have become a profitable business.

At least most of the time, because for every well-made cartoon with a budget over several million dollars, there are probably like five cheaply made movies that were made with a budget that couldn't get you a Happy Meal from McDonalds. These are the movies that are usually forgotten by the wayside. This movie was one of those movies.

Felix the Cat: The Movie was an attempt to revive an aging cartoon icon after years of being nothing more than a seller of merchandise. Their heart was in the right place (unlike Heathcliff who just repackaged episodes from the TV show and shilled it off for a quick buck) least until they decided that the best way to revive one of the oldest cartoon characters still in existence today was to ship off the cartoon product to Hungary and then put the movie in theaters to compete with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Yeah, that was smart.

Needless to say, Felix the Cat: The Movie bombed at the box office and wasn't the Felix revival the creators had hoped for. Ironically, Disney, possibly still laughing their asses off at the fact that this movie had the same opening day as the Disney movie that almost won Best Picture in the Oscars, would run this movie a lot on the Disney Channel and that's how most people know of its existence.

That being said, I have a sad confession to make. The reason this is going to be my first animated movie blog post is because this was one of my favorite movies from my childhood and still remains a personal favorite for me. I'm currently going to school for an Animation BFA so I know bad animation when I see it, and unfortunately, even though this animation is from an outsourced Hungarian studio, there's admittingly a bizarre charm to it that I can still deprive some entertainment from.

That doesn't change the fact it's a strange as hell movie, though, so into the grinder it goes.

Since I blab so much about only 22 minute episodes, I'm splitting this analysis into multiple parts. So sit back and gaze into the strangely animated abyss that is...

Felix the Cat: The Movie

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island - Master of Disaster

Ooooh boy, where do I begin with this show?

I remember first learning about this show when I happened to flip through the channels while me and my family were staying in Maui. I saw an episode that involved bananas obtaining Thanksgiving vision and shooting cooked turkeys out of their eyes in order to battle a sentient blender, and by the time the episode was over, I immediately wondered if the TV was just giving us a taste of what it's like to be on LSD. I had written the show off as maybe some sort of fever dream and went along with my life pretending that this didn't exist.

But I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

It's Coconutbob Swimwearpants!
Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island is another cartoon that escaped the public's notice. It had 2 seasons and 13 episodes and then was quietly cancelled without so much of an audience to speak of. The show didn't get killed so much as quietly whimper and choke on its own vomit. The only reason I've seen people bring it up is because of two reasons.

1. It's a shameless ripoff of Spongebob Squarepants, with Rob Paulsen even saying so in an interview.
2. In an episode, a sentient piece of fruit dresses up as Sephiroth. I know this sounds silly, but this was a huge defining moment of this cartoon. I looked up this show's Wikipedia article and 80% of the article is going on and on about how an episode referenced so many different pieces from Final Fantasy 7, so much that a part of everyone's character profile is what video game character they dressed up as in that faithful episode. Square-Enix fans will support anything that even mentions the words "Midgar" or "Cloud Strife" and this is no exception.

As much as I want to take on the fateful episode where Coconut Fred dresses up like Cloud Strife, making several thousand Square fans go "KAWAII NO DESU NE!" and soil their pants in delight, I kind of want to hit the first episode first just to see what kind of maniacal piece of animation I'm subjecting myself to, especially after watching Spliced. The episodes are divided into 11 minute segments, but believe me, that's all I can probably manage of this show at a time. I'll either end up dead or craving like several thousand tons of fruit salad if I take on a full 22 minute episode. You don't want me to eat myself into a cherry and orange-induced coma, now do you?

I'm going with Master of Disaster since Coconut Fred's show has a freaking huge title (what, was "Fruit Salad Island" by itself already taken?) and Master of Disaster has the shorter title of the two 11 minute segments.

So yeah, Master of Disaster. How fitting.

Master of Disaster

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spliced - Stuck Together

You know, I've been talking about some pretty old shows recently. Shows that are almost 20 years old, with one cartoon even being older than I am. Shows that, if I keep talking about the 80's and 90's, might alienate my nonexistent audience into thinking that I some sort of bias towards this period of animation. (I do, but that's not what's being discussed here.)

So you know what? I'm going to cover a show that's only two years old.

You'd think with the advent of the Internet, less shows would escape notice. You'd think with more people coming out of the "I like cartoons and I'm over 18!" closet on the Internet, no animated series would be left unturned. Unfortunately, a lot of shows do, leading several people to believe that there just aren't as many cartoons as there were in the 90's. (which is actually sort of true, but still) You'd be surprised, but there are actually quite a few modern shows that ended up just like Creepy Crawlers; they surface, have a couple episodes, and then sink back into the mud pool of obscurity in which they were birthed from.

One such show is Spliced, a Teletoon cartoon that was barely even in the United States. Considering that at one point in time Teletoon cartoons had infested Cartoon Network like a bad infestation of fleas (remember Stoked, 6Teen, and those Total Drama shows that all looked exactly the same? I mean those), I'm actually rather surprised that Cartoon Network did NOT pick up the Teletoon show that wasn't produced by the same company. But then again, these are the same people who greenlit Problem Solverz and yet refused to renew Megas XLR, Robotomy, and Sym-bionic Titan so I have reason to believe that whoever runs Cartoon Network decided that brains weren't hipster and random enough and had them surgically removed.

Otherwise I'm going to have to come to grips that some person, who thinks and breathes just like you and I, thought that CN Real was a mighty good idea and would totally enhance the network.

It wasn't and it didn't.
But before I get off-topic again (I can rant about Disney Channel in another entry just to make it fair), what is Spliced actually about? Basically a mad scientist splices together a bunch of animals and made a bunch of horrific mutants until he was carted off to jail. So now the mutated animals, without the mad scientist running their lives, built their own society and go on wacky hijinks in the scientists' abandoned equipment. If you ever played any of the Crash Bandicoot games or watched the show "The Wuzzles", this premise will seem kind of familiar.

What has science done!?
Also the intro is extremely catchy AND manages to sneak in the word "crap". Any cartoon intro that manages to do that and not get yelled at wins brownie points in my book.

I figure the best way to look at this show is the first episode, and since this show is like Heathcliff in that it's divided into 11 minute segments, I'll look at the second segment of the first episode. Why the second segment? Because it introduces more of the characters than the first one and because I personally liked it better than the first segment. My cartoon blog, my rules.

Anyways, I present you a cartoon where one of the main characters has a giant udder for feet, a cartoon that goes from charming buddy adventure to a survival horror. I give you...

Stuck Together

Monday, July 25, 2011

Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats - Iron Cats

I've been covering a lot of 90's stuff, so I figure now's a good time to cover something a little more ancient. The 80's! That's like ten years older than the 90's!

More importantly, Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats.

Heathcliff has a strange history. The comic came before the Garfield comic strip, but Heathcliff is usually passed off as the rip-off. The Heathcliff cartoon (or cartoons, a fact not many people even know about), came out before Garfield and Friends, but I've seen a disturbing amount of people say the Heathcliff cartoon ripped off Garfield. Heathcliff is like the Time Lord of ripping stuff off.

I went with this show for a couple reasons.

1. The Heathcliff: The Movie phenomenon, where they basically packaged a couple Heathcliff cartoons already made and put it in theaters. That's right, they actually put episodes that were rerunning on television and made parents charge for it. Wow. That level of just not giving a damn from a big name animation studio is pretty amazing and means I have to touch upon this show at least once.

2. The Catillac Cats, DIC creations, managed to outstage Heathcliff in his own show. I guess it was because there was more of them to bounce their personalities off of each other and therefore were more entertaining than the trickster motif Heathcliff's cartoons had, or I could address the elephant in the room and point out that Cleo, with her really humanoid body and curves, probably created her fair share of furries in the 1980's.

It's pretty easy to spot Cleo because she's the only cat with cleavage.
3. The intro was the best part of the series. Don't believe me? I guarantee that if you asked someone what they remembered from the Heathcliff show, they'll probably chime in with "Heathcliff Heathcliff, no one should, terrify the neighborhood!" or recite the part where the singers go "Oh a ohhhh a ooooohhhh oh ohhh a ohhhhh!!" It's one of those classic theme songs that will never leave your head the moment you hear it.

Since this show was split into unrelated 11 minute segments, I'll just cover an 11 minute segment and treat it like it's own episode. That means this blog will either be half the length of a traditional "holy crap that's long" blog post I normally do or nothing about the length changes.

So with that, let's watch Heathcliff! Or rather, a group of cats that has nothing to do with Heathcliff. That's right, Heathcliff won't even appear in this analysis. Not one bit.

Iron Cats

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creepy Crawlers - The Night of the Creepy Crawlers

Now that I've talked about a show that everyone should remember, now let's cover something that no one should be aware of. A show that doesn't define the 90's the way Darkwing Duck did, but instead slithers so far under the radar that not many people are even aware of its existence and even less people actually watched it. And it not just slithers, it oozes, crawls, slimes, and goops, because we're dealing with one of those shows born from the period of the 90's where gross and ugly toys was considered cool.

But first, let me talk about the toy that inspired this show; Creepy Crawlers.

Basically what Easy Bake Ovens were for girls, Creepy Crawlers were to boys. Instead of baking cute little brownies or wee little cupcakes, boys baked plastic or edible centipedes and cockroaches and beetles depending on what type of Plastigoop they used. Basically, they were unleaded awesome and one of the great toys of the 90's. They don't exist anymore because the children of today just plain don't deserve them.

Considering I'm a girl (watch as everyone disregards everything I say once I reveal this small factoid), I never owned a Creepy Crawler oven. I had an Easy Bake Oven, one that nearly burned one of my fingers off because that light bulb can turn nuclear if you allow it to. It is now one of my biggest regrets that I never owned one of these things and made my own bugs, because now they don't exist anymore and the day I buy a Creepy Crawlers toy set off of eBay is the day I lose my dignity.

This will set you back 50 dollars, not including shipping.
Now that I've talked about the toy, let's talk about the animated adaptation. In the 90's, toys and cartoons would go hand-in-hand. Cartoons popular enough spawned toys, and toys popular enough spawned cartoons. It was a great commercial circle of life, back when people wouldn't whine on the Internet about how cartoons are now soulless products of merchandise. Seriously, cartoon merchandising today had nothing on the 90's. Cartoon merchandise in the 90's was almost an art form.

In Creepy Crawler's case, the toy spawned a cartoon and the cartoon later spawned toys, basically forming an advertiser's wet dream.

And then the toys spawned another cartoon and THAT
cartoon spawned toys...

With that, I bring you, Creepy Crawlers: The Animated Series!

Unfortunately, this show ran into some problems. Despite a toy line and a brand name, it lasted only two seasons and 23 episodes in total. Judging by how the last episode was not a series finale by any means and the toy line promised future toys, it was probably cancelled due to lack of interest.

And now, it is one of the most obscure shows I've ever run into. Now, quite a few animated TV shows don't have the luxury of DVD releases and require someone who had previously recorded the show to post the episodes online for all to see. Usually, a combined number of people with videotapes will add up to all the episodes, but sometimes, you'll end up with shows that have "missing episodes", episodes that no one has recorded yet and are now considered hotly in demand.

Creepy Crawlers suffers especially badly from this. Out of 23 possible episodes, EIGHT are available online, and only FOUR are in English. That's right, 50% of the show that's available online and it's in Russian. This probably won't change either, because I doubt some network will show episodes of a cartoon that's basically a 30 minute advertisement of something that doesn't even exist anymore (the toyline supposedly died in 2001) and I doubt the creators will make a DVD set on account like 20 people worldwide remember this show.

Did Creepy Crawlers deserve such a distinction? Does Creepy Crawlers deserve to live forever forgotten on the shelves of the 90's? Let's find out.

The Night Of The Creepy Crawlers

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Darkwing Duck - Getting Antsy

Normally I won't go back to a topic I had just recently covered in order to give other cartoons their chance to shine, but I'm going to make an exception with Darkwing Duck just because that first post was sort of a "test the waters, do I really have the capability to write a blog" sort of deal. It was fun to see what worked and what didn't work about my own blog writing, and for that it was a decent learning experience.

But there was one problem. I was covering an episode that I've watched over and over and over as a kid, one that had a well-loved place in a recorded VHS and I can practically recite by memory now. Because of that, I could instantly make reference about things that always bothered me as a kid, stuff that I would write in my diary next to a crude drawing of Bushroot and Rhoda riding off into the sunset riding the T-Rex from We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story. Suppose I covered an episode that I didn't like and therefore couldn't draw upon childhood frustrations?

Luckily for me, one such episode comes right after Beauty and the Beet, making it pretty convenient for a lazy person like me who feels like a winner when I don't have to switch DVDs. Darkwing Duck had been going good with both its two-parter TV movie and the introduction of one of the most memorable villains on the show, so what came next? A one-shot villain that's more annoying than endearing, one that a lot of people, when questioned about the show, usually have no recollection of the guy because not only is he annoying but he's also kind of forgettable.

All superhero shows have these lowly one-shot villains that no one cares about, the ones that aren't even lucky enough to get nonspeaking cameos in one of the movies later down the line. If Bushroot is Darkwing Duck's version of Poison Ivy, what's Darkwing Duck's version of The Ratcatcher or The Minstrel? Let's find out.

Getting Antsy

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Darkwing Duck - Beauty and the Beet

Since this is my first blog post, I'm going to start with something easy; Darkwing Duck. I watched the show both in the early 90's when I was a little kid and in the early 2000's back when Toon Disney was Disney's Boomerang and had older shows. On top of that, the show was actually popular enough to be remembered to this day, with a comic book revival and everything. It's one of the shows that, if you watch 90's cartoons, you know of its existence. People unaware of the existence of Darkwing Duck don't last long in animation circles because they're usually disappear mysteriously. Therefore, it should be relatively easy to explain this premise.

The Premise of Darkwing Duck
Batman, if Batman was a duck, had an adopted daughter, and if Robin was miraculously even more of a doofus than before. (and also a duck)

That was easy! Moving on...

I went with this episode first because when I was a kid, this was the episode of Darkwing Duck. Villain origin episodes always had a special place in my heart because they're usually the better written parts of any animated show, partly because the writers had 22 minutes to give a coherent explanation as to how and why a villain became the way he is and why he's such a menace to society, all while having enough action scenes to entertain the viewers who care not for plot and character development. Usually the writers, to flesh out their villains and make them not look like a jerkhole with nothing better to do, give an almost heartbreaking sordid tale of rejection and revenge.

In this episode's case, it's the villain origin episode of Bushroot, my personal favorite villain on the show. I liked Bushroot because he wasn't really evil, just misunderstood. All he wanted was a significant other or a friend (or to kill Darkwing in the watered-down portrayal of him in the Fearsome Five eps), someone that would make him feel less like an insane piece of vegetable matter that hid in plant nurseries and talked to giant vampire potatoes for kicks. His voice can be a little too whiny at times, but I imagine if you were transformed into something that spits in the face of nature, you'd cry and moan about it a lot too.

It's a tale of unrequited love, rejection from society, and giant floating hamburgers. It's a tale of power of the love, and the power of scientists that should really know better. You'll see a mutant try to impress the woman of his dreams, and then you'll see that same mutant get mowed into oblivion by a runaway lawnmower.

And with that, I bring you...

Beauty and the Beet

Thursday, July 14, 2011

About This Blog

Hello, and welcome to Nothing But Cartoons, a blog that doesn't just watch cartoons, we go the extra mile and analyze the work, regardless of the cartoon.

I created this blog because when searching for blogs that cover older cartoons, I found that whatever blog I pulled up came in only three varieties: Dry, news-related animation blogs that talk about the business behind cartoons, blogs that basically put down entire decades or entire mediums as crap because back in their day cartoons meant something, man!, or blogs that just skimmed the top of several decades of cartoons and felt like the blogger is patting themselves on the back and going "Hey guys, remember that show called Animaniacs? Betcha don't remember THAT show! I'm like the only person to remember that show! Holy crap!".

I have no lofty dreams that I will become the next AVGN or the next Nostalgic Critic. I just want a little cozy space on the Internet to write about the cartoons I devour like a 10-year old with a sugar addiction. I'll try to make it both humorous and informative, but I can't make any promises that I'll be gut-roaring hilarious.

I want to have the cartooning blog that not only looks at the big name shows and movies, but also the shows and movies that people may not know about. So while I will cover shows everyone remembers like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and shows some people remember like Swat Kats, I'll also cover shows like THIS.
Pictured: An actual cartoon in the 90's.

Stuff I will Cover
*Animated films, both 2D and CGI.
*Animated shows, whether it's 2D, Flash or CGI.
*Films and shows that have some live-action segments but are mostly animation.

...aaaand that's really it. I know technically it's Animation but, I will not cover Anime. I'll be the first to admit that I've never really been into Anime or the style. Plus, personally, there are a ton of blogs out there that would be better at covering Anime than I ever would.


I will just say ahead of time that the majority of this blog will probably be in the 80's-90's era, for several reasons. One being that I grew up in that era and truly think some of the best animated shows came in that era. (Yes, I too find Animaniacs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to be amazing, amazing shows) The other being that the 90's animation blogs I've run into never really dig deeper into the bubbling cauldron of strangeness that was the 90's. I feel like everyone has a beloved show from that era that they remember, but what about the less successful shows, the ones that only get a "Huh? That was a show?" response if you mention the title?

Everything had an animated adaptation in the 90's. EVERYTHING.

This blog is going to be a rainbow smorgasbord of animated deliciousness without the cynicism and "I hate everything about this decade/medium/animation company and the people who watch this are Fascists!"-type of attitude you see on other blogs. Which isn't to say I won't cover bad animation and laugh at it. Where would the fun be if I can't laugh at stupid shows while I admire the hidden gems?

Yes, this existed. Yes, they thought adding a purple beaver would enhance the cast.

You'll never know what cartoons I cover next, unless of course I give away what I'm going to cover in which case you will know. Animated series, one blog will cover one episode. Animated movies will be covered in multiple parts. I'll try to post screenshots throughout my blog because visual aides are always a plus.

As you can probably tell from how crisp those last couple of pictures were, my screenshots may include things like slight blurring and little channel bugs, just because covering some of the more obscure shows and movies that never got DVD or even VHS releases often involves going to a video site and watching footage that someone had recorded.

Just warning you ahead of time that the quality could get as bad as this.
And, yes, if I cover shows that HAVE DVD releases, I'll try to use actual DVD copies. Just a little disclaimer before a Swat Team kicks down my door and carts me off to jail for copyright infringement. 


Because of this problem, I created an Availability meter that will appear with each post. The meter goes like so.
*Blu-Ray. -Means that the videos are in top quality and are in Blu-Ray. As you can probably guess, this will almost never appear.
*DVD -The most common quality. This applies to shows that got entire series box sets or even shows which only had some of their stuff on DVD.
*Online Only/Barely Available at all -This is for the shows that are the unlucky ones. In the rarest cases, only a handful of what used to be a two-season show will exist online. This will also apply if the episode is only available in a language other than English off a Russian website.

So sit back, crack open the Crystal Pepsi that's been sitting in your fridge for almost two decades, pull up a Youtube channel before they pull it for infringing on copyright, lie to your roommate or significant other that you're really doing something important, and dive deep into the world of cartoons.