I've come to the slow realization that comic books are about to become a much larger part of my life... so in that spirit, I thought I would go over some of my favorite animated projects that have been available State side at one time or another.
I'll start with Tekkon Kinkreet: Based on the manga of the same name by French influenced Japanese artist Taiyo Matsumoto, this is the first real project by Studio 4C to reach the US legitimately. Long time readers of Shock Cinema may recall Mind Game from the Film Flotsam section of the magazine a few issues back. Well, this is the same group of people with an American ex-pat at the helm (don't be put off, all you anime purists, he's worked for the company for years -- hello, Animatrix). The film captures both the style and esoteric story telling of the source material and will probably confound your average US viewer. Case in point: They are eating it up in France.
Speaking of France, I recently went looking for the English language release of Les Mondes Engloutis, or Spartikus and the Sun Beneath the Sea. This aired in the mid 80's in the US along with a package of Japanese-animated-for-French-TV Saturday morning fare. This French made, two season series was by far the most memorable. While the animation is stunted, it perfectly compliments the design and story. It would make a nice companion to Tekkon Kinkreet, but it is unavailable. Oh poo. If you do find yourself confronted with a musty old VHS copy, be forewarned that the US and Spanish release included the treacley pop stylings of Menudo over the end credits. UK and German viewers were spared this indignity.
Because of the sheer volume of animation that comes out of Japan, it may seem like that's where all the cool stuff is. Sure, I'll happily watch Paranoia Agent for the third time, or FLCL for the tenth, but I'm not an anime fan over all. I mean, good animation is just, well, good animation. That is why the Popeye The Sailor 1933-1938 is still at the top of my Netflix queue. A four disc set, arranged chronologically, re-mastered... a wet dream for Fleischer fans everywhere.
Oh, what I wouldn't do for a clean copy of the English dub of Felidae, a German animated feature from the mid 90's. Complete with swearing, sex and violence, a feline Sam Spade tries to solve the mystery of grisly cat murders in his new neighborhood. The Disney-eque style compliments the dark subject matter perfectly. Watch it with The Plague Dogs for a double bill of not so cute and fuzzy.
I still have a stack of animated oddities to make way through, so I'll end my commentary for now, but I'm sure I'll be back with more as I'm always on the look out for the next mind blowing feature in my favorite film category -- Animation!