The Other Side of Animation 623: The Bob’s Burgers Movie Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Honestly? It’s surprising that it has taken this long to get a Bob’s Burgers movie. Since the franchise started in 2011, it has pretty much been one of the go-to examples of adult animation that doesn’t heavily rely on raunchy humor, ultra-violence, shock jock sensibilities, and everything else that has given adult animation a bad reputation. Sure, by now, we have had shows like Arcane, Primal, and Legends of Vox Machina show that there can have varied results with adult animation, but since we are still going to get something like the upcoming Farzar, the best you can do is try to craft an experience that can make yourself stand out from the rest in the adult animation genre. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, and yes, you could argue that the creators of the other similar shows Central Park and The Great North feel too akin to Bob’s Burgers, but they tend to be executed in different enough ways to still feel refreshing, despite the common spirit and writing of the three shows. Now then, how do you take a show like Bob’s Burgers with a distinct flow that differs from something like The Simpsons and turn it into a movie? Well, you do so with flying colors! 

The film is directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, written by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith, and produced by Bento Box Entertainment, Wilo Productions, and 20th Century Animation. We join the ever-lovable Belcher family that includes Bob Belcher, voiced by H. John Benjamin, Tina Belcher, voiced by Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman as Gene Belcher, John Roberts as Linda Belcher, and Kristen Schaal as Louise Belcher, as they begin to prepare for summer. This includes getting their loan handled, Tina finally asking Jimmy Pesto to be her summertime boyfriend, Gene getting his new instrument ready for a summertime performance, and Louise going through some personal self-discovery matters.  Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned. Tina can’t talk to Jimmy Pesto Jr, the bank declines the loan situation, and Louise, worst of all, is called a baby. They try to make all of the things go well for the four of them until a huge pothole opens up right in front of the restaurant that threatens to shut down Bob’s Burgers. Can the family figure out what’s going on? Why was a dead body found deep in the hole? Who is exactly behind all of this?

So, we have yet another animated show getting the film treatment, but what actually works about this flick? Well, while it does have a lot of those elements that you see in franchise films with the bigger budget for the visuals, and maybe a celebrity here or there to voice the characters, the overall size of the story and scale of the film is small. It’s actually refreshing, because the film literally takes place in only a few blocks of the show’s setting. No plot of the family traveling the world or the government showing interest in this one town for some reason, or an alien invasion. It’s a story about the parents finding a way to save their home and restaurant, Louise’s arc of overcoming her fears, Tina wanting to finally ask out her crush, and Eugene wanting to be the big pop star hit at the carnival. Of course, two of these plots take up most of the run time, but the fact they were able to make this all work and be able to pack so much charm and wit into the writing makes for an extremely entertaining experience. Even if it isn’t a full-blown musical, the few tunes they do have are executed in a way to add substance to the overall story and perfectly encapsulate what the characters are going for. The world and story might be small, but to everyone involved in the film’s plot, it’s world-ending levels big. That’s the beauty of the film. They did some major additions to the overall vibe of the show to make it work on the big screen, but they also kept the spirit of the show and what made it special at its core. You don’t usually get that with many films based on TV shows. 

On the animation and technical side of things, the film does look pretty good! It’s definitely a more fluid take on the characters that you should expect with film adaptations. While there are a few points where you can tell there are 2D characters walking alongside CGI backgrounds that result in some wonky compositing, it’s very rare and the visuals are pretty consistent. The designs were very approachable and making them look appealing and filled with the appeal was never going to be a problem for this show’s visuals. What’s also nice about the animation is that everyone, even during the big musical sequences, doesn’t act out of place or move like they are from a Disney Fantasia. Everyone dances like how normal people do. The Lucky Ducks sequence is a great example of this where it’s still well-choreographed, but it has its Bob’s Burgers appeal in how it looks. Voice cast-wise, while there are some big names, the real draw is always going to be the main cast of H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz, and Eugene Mirman. The rest of the cast is also perfect, with Larry Murphy as the Belcher’s lovable patron and friend, Teddy, Kevin Kline as the detached landlord Calvin and his brother Felix, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, and a slew of other actors reprising or playing minor roles that include Jordan Peele, Paul F. Tompkins, Stephanie Beatriz, and Jenny Slate, to name a few. The music by John Dylan Keith and Loren Bouchard is great and has the small town charm of the show, and the musical numbers by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith are limited with only four songs, but the three that are available on the soundtrack have a whimsy about them that definitely reminds me of something from The Muppets. Even with everyone basically being voice actors/actors first, they do carry the tunes well! It’s just another part of the appeal of the franchise. 

 Now, one of the few criticisms I have is that the film does tend to focus more on Bob and Linda, and Louise’s story arcs than Tina and Eugene’s story arcs. Not that it’s a bad thing due to how the former three characters have a much more substantial story going on saving the restaurant and overcoming personal fears, but Tina gets the school crush arc and Eugene just wants to perform at the festival. Not that those two plots are bad, but there isn’t much to them. The film also gets a little long at 100 minutes? Personally, the film would have felt a little tighter around 90 minutes, but the fact that there is so much humor from the dialogue to visual gags shoved into each scene, that it almost fixes the pacing issues in the third act. Even by this point, everyone knows who the villain is, and while he has a few funny moments, he’s partly forgettable. Just a small road bump to get to the Belchers. 

While it may be more of what you love about the franchise, it shows that this franchise can do films, and if they would like to do more in the future, then that would be swell. It’s a fun, breezy, and delightful romp that everyone should go see if you already are going to or have seen Pixar’s Lightyear, but need something before the incredible The Sea Beast. I’ll definitely be picking up this film in the future when it hits Blu-ray, and if you love animated films with an indie charm, then you will love this film. Next time though, we are going to check out Chris Williams’ new Netflix animated feature of epic proportions, The Sea Beast

Rating: Go See It!

Spring Has Sprung: Spring 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 2

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Okay, we are here with the second half of the Spring 2022 Anime Season Impressions! Luckily, with this second batch, the worst shows are more limited than in the previous part, and that shows how good this season is! Now, I’m wondering if time is a flat circle due to my worries about how the upcoming Summer Season is gonna be like Summer 2020 and 2021, where they fell flat compared to their previous spring seasons. Oh well, let’s finish up the Spring 2022 season! 


Tomodachi Game (Crunchyroll)

CW: Reference to molestation, stalking, murder, and harassment

Well, you had to know that we were going to get another survival anime after Squid Game hit it big, no matter what, huh? This anime is based on the manga by Mikoto Yamaguchi and Yuki Sato. The anime adaptation is directed by Hirofumi Ogura, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Okuruto Noboru. It has a pretty decent base for a survival game anime with a group of close friends that wind up in a survival game due to supposedly one of them losing the money for a school field trip. All of the potential for twists and turns are there, and yet, it fumbles the execution within the first episode. The mascot character, Manabu-Kun is by far the creepiest and best thing about this show and that is not enough to save it from all of the misogyny and sexism on display. This show truly hates the female characters in the story. Even if that wasn’t the case, the thrills aren’t there, the dialogue is badly written, and the animation overall looks cheap. Manabu is the best animated among the bunch, but even he isn’t safe from the inconsistent switch between CGI and 2D. It even reveals twists too early, and it makes me wonder how much faith the production committee had in this show when it seems like they are trying to do so much, but also drag out the show to a snail’s pace. This might be one of the worst shows this season and one of the worst shows of the year. It’s at the very least, a candidate for it. 

Heroines Run the Show (Crunchyroll)

This show is based on a song by HoneyWorks, a Vocaloid group. The anime is directed by Noriko Hashimoto in her series directing debut, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by Lay-duce. This show is a lot. You not only have a young hopeful who wants to run professionally, but she also gets a job as a temporary manager for a duo of male teen idols who also happen to be her classmates. It’s a juggling act of ambitions, keeping her job a secret, dealing with the shifting personas of the two idols, and at least befriending the intensely snooty duo. The story doesn’t quite start gelling until episode five, and that means you will have to sit through two of the most obnoxious characters this season. It’s intentional, sure, but until they start dropping hints of more complicated personality traits for the audiences, the characters can all be a bit much. Still, you get the three leads’ drive, their anxiety, and the stress of having to do so much all at once. It’s not perfectly told, but if this is your kind of campy shojo fun, then you will be down for it. Just be ready to commit to waiting to see the more nuanced sides to the leads past the usual three-episode rule. 

Estab-Life: Great Escape (Crunchyroll) 

This odd little show is a mixed-media project by Goro Taniguchi. The anime adaptation is directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto, written by Shoji Gatoh, and produced by Polygon Pictures. Let’s face facts, this show’s world is bonkers. It’s not well explained, it combines way too many things like it was some kind of checklist from a corporate-ran test audience of what they want to see in their anime. With all that said, it’s fun to watch. Like, it has substance behind its absurdity, and while some of the plots can be a touch on the ridiculous side of execution, it’s an amusing watch to see what are essentially three anime girls helping people leave their oppressed lives in one city and then get escorted to another. It at least kept me invested, despite the fact I don’t care about the characters. It’s a fun popcorny-series and that’s more than most anime released every season. 

Healer Girls (Crunchyroll)

This is surprisingly a season full of original anime! Healer Girls, well, like I said, is an original anime by director Yasuhiro Irie, written by Noboru Kimura, and produced by 3Hz. If there was one word to describe this show, it would be charming. First off, this show has some of the bounciest and most expressive animation of any of the shows this season, the characters are adorable dorks, and it is probably the first-ever musical I have covered doing these seasonal anime drops. It’s also one of many anime this season that’s all about characters getting together to metaphorically and literally heal each other. It has such a fantastical premise, but it finds a way to weave it into the more human stories. Even the rival characters are likable, and it’s an overall likable experience. There is definitely one character who is a little too obsessed with his mentor, but that’s a small complaint compared to what this show has going for it, which is loveable individuals you want to root for, gorgeous animation, and it being a musical, outstanding musical numbers. It might sound like an odd duck of a show, but it’s one you truly shouldn’t be missing out on before the Summer 2022 season starts. 

Deaimon (Crunchyroll)

This anime is based on the manga by Rin Asano. The adaptation is directed by Fumitoshi Oizaki, written by Reiko Yoshida, and produced by Encourage Films. Once again, a recurring theme in a lot of the best shows this season is characters helping heal or care for one another, and that’s no different here with our lead returning to his home city to help out his parent’s sweets shop, and also happens to encounter an orphan girl whose father abandoned her at the shop. The overall arc is our lead and the characters around him, making a family of lost souls who could use someone in their life to feel whole and supported. It’s a very old-school slice of life anime that is, forgive me for the pun, sweet. The show does a fantastic job at making these characters feel human with their pros, cons, and everything in between. It does have a few comedic antics here and there, but the main focus is for everyone to feel like a family at the sweet shop. Also, the sweets look amazing, and while the overall show has this fantastic soft-painted look to the visuals, the animation is lively. It’s a lovely anime that shows how a found family can come together and be there for one another. 

Dance Dance Danseur (Crunchyroll)

CW: References to abuse

Well, we got yet another stunning visual treat from MAPPA. This is based on the manga by George Asakura. The adaptation is directed by Munehisa Sakai, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by MAPPA. What’s so fascinating about this show? Well, one of many fascinating things about this show is how it tackles a multitude of topics, but mostly how toxic masculinity leads to miserable lives. Our main character for a majority of the first three episodes is extremely unlikeable, but is obviously at his happiest when he does ballet. The way the show tackles his journey will definitely be a test of patience for viewers who aren’t ready for this show to get very personal and uncomfortable with our lead’s attitude and his facade. Luckily, through smart storytelling, writing, and as usual for MAPPA, gorgeous animation, the show does redeem him and his attitude. Seriously, the animators who have made these shows at the studio are top-notch individuals. They capture the beauty of the art form and of the manga’s distinct character designs. It’s a show that, while maybe taking a bit much to get our lead’s antics out of the way by episode three, is one of the more complex shows that is not hesitant to go to some complex human moments, while also having some ethereal moments that display why this show is a stand-out of the season. Seriously, the opening ballet sequence in the first episode might be one of the best moments of any show this season full of amazing moments. If you like a distinct drama that revolves around sports with a commitment to breaking down the psyche of the characters, then give this one a watch.


Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs (Crunchyroll)

This anime is based on the novels and manga by Yomu Mishima. The adaptation is directed by Kazuya Miura and Shin’ichi Fukumoto, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by ENGI. This show has some potential with being trapped in not only a dating sim video game, but a completely busted one, and while the lead just wants to get enough going for himself to live a peaceful “nobody” life, he is constantly forced to partake in the game’s plot and world. It tries to have commentary of some kind on how the world’s biggest issues are misandry and the class system, but it never feels like it’s hitting on all cylinders. The animation is cheap-looking, which doesn’t help its case and the characters, whether intentional or not, all pretty much are either nothing or are unlikable as heck. It even pulls some absurd twists, which is saying something about this season of anime. Overall, it’s just a fairly misogynistic and busted show that I wish spent less time watching than other shows this season. I wish I was on the same wavelength as people who liked it, but alas, I am not. 

A Couple of Cuckoos (Crunchyroll)

This rom-com is based on the popular manga by Miki Yoshikawa. The adaptation is directed by Hiroaki Akagi and Yoshiyuki Shirahata, written by Yasuhiro Nakanishi, and produced by Shin-Ei Animation and SynergySP. It’s a good reminder that just because a film, show, game, or manga is popular, it doesn’t mean it will hit everyone the same way. This is how I feel about this anime. It’s a show that’s trying to be funny but doesn’t have the comedic animation to do so. The characters, while trying to add depth to the situation of being separated at birth by their respective parents and the psychology that comes with such a situation, don’t do enough to make me root for them. The animation has this uncanny valley aspect to how the characters move and the eyes on the main female characters. Still, the story takes some huge stretches with having you believe that all of this can or could happen without any real-world implications or lawsuits about how two babies at a hospital went to the wrong parents. It has its moments where they let the characters breathe and discuss stuff with one another, but when I want to see the parents who run the restaurant in the show more than the leads, that’s a problem. It also dips into some cringe harem comedy tropes with the not-blood-related sister to our male lead in love with him, which is still creepy and incest, y’all. You can’t spin this trope into something tolerable or relatable. Also, for a show that’s trying to be bubbly, the colors are drab. It doesn’t look good on a visual level despite the animation and visuals wanting to be on the level of a Shinkai or I Want To Eat Your Pancreas. Overall, it’s a show I’m not enjoying, and I have no use for actually going back to it. 

Love After World Domination (Crunchyroll)

This is the second Power Rangers parody anime this year. I bet they unofficially share the same universe. Anyway, this is based on the manga by Hiroshi Noda. It’s directed by Kazuya Iwata, written by Satoru Sugizawa, and produced by Project No. 9. This is a very interesting companion piece to Miss Kuroitsu of the Monster Development Department. On one hand, Kuroitsu focuses more on the commentary about the workplace system that just happens to be about working on monsters to fight the heroes. Love After World Domination on the other hand is more intent on being all about the gags and comedy around the premise of there being a romance between what is essentially the red power ranger and the female antagonist of the show. It might dip into the fanservice bits a bit to the eye-rolling side of the scale, but those moments aren’t often and the humor is more about putting these characters into different scenarios about trying to build up their relationship, what kind of dates could they go on, and how to avoid their allies from finding out. It’s still a lot of fun and the laughs are consistent enough to come highly recommended. 

Shikamori’s Not Just a Cutie (Crunchyroll)

This delightful show is based on the manga by Keigo Maki. The animated adaptation is directed by Ryota Itoh, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by Doga Kobo. Listen, it is about a super adorable duo of a young man who has the worst luck in the world but has an impossibly adorable cute girlfriend, but the best romantic comedies have something under the sweetness. You can only go so far before the sweetness and cute stuff starts to feel more artificial and made by a marketing team. We already have a few of those this season and this is one of the shows that handle it the best. The show does focus more on the antics for the first two episodes, but by that point, they start to throw in some small details that start to bubble up by the third episode about how the two leads want to come off to one another. One’s clumsiness and bad luck is just part of the deal with getting an honest-to-goodness kind individual. Shikamori wants to be cute for her boyfriend, but is also a rather tough individual and they start to explore those parts of the characters that, on top of the cute shenanigans, show some depth and make for some of the best couples in anime this year. It’s a wholesome show with some lovely animation and adorable characters. 


Love All Play (Crunchyroll)

Do not confuse this with the Korean sports drama of the same name. This is based on the novels by Asami Koseki. The anime adaptation is directed by Hiroshi Takeuchi, written by Tomoko Tonparu, and produced by Nippon Animation and Oriental Light and Magic. It’s a bummer this show came out a season after Salaryman’s Club because it’s going to get compared to that hidden gem from Winter 2022 a lot. What makes this one different from the previous badminton anime is how grounded it is. Granted, that grounded take on the sports genre does still come with its sports anime archetypes in terms of characters, but it is nice to see them want to focus on the characters and not just some kind of merchandise tie-in. The animation looks solid, the drama feels realistic, and it does show how challenging even the most harmless-looking sport can be. I do wish it had some kind of flair to it like Salaryman’s Club had, but for a sports anime, it’s solid! It might not have too much flash or anything truly unique about it outside of some underlying boy love undertones, but at least it’s better than most of the sports anime we got last year. 

Aoashi (Crunchyroll)

This will be the second of four soccer anime we are getting this year. It’s funny that we have at least one for every season. So, this show is based on the manga by Yugo Kobayashi. It’s directed by Akira Sato, written by Masahiro Yokotani, and produced by Production I.G. We have our second sports anime that definitely takes a grounded approach. It’s not super flashy or intensely action-packed as other sports anime, but it definitely falls more into the camp of building the drama around the characters than making flashy and thrilling sports. I mean, that doesn’t sound so out of place, but when you start to watch so much anime, you tend to pick up on what the show is more interested in checking out or focusing on than what you, as a viewer, were expecting. It does maybe focus a bit much on the technical angle of things, but there is something interesting seeing all of these very talented players know how talented they are, and now have to work as a team and essentially relearn everything to make for a perfect fighting force. 

Birdie Wing: Golf Girl’s Story (Crunchyroll)

Yet another gem in a lineup already full of gems. This is an original anime directed by Takayuki Inagaki, written by Yosuke Kuroda, and produced unsubtly by Namco Bandai Pictures. It definitely feels distinct that we have a golf anime this season when, in general, we really don’t get much anime about golf. It definitely talks about the ins and outs of the mentality and tactics of golf, but let’s not kid ourselves here. When you see the designs of the characters and the first episode, the golfing is about on par with Mario Golf. It’s absurd how good some of the shots are taken care of, and the characters are all filled to the brim with flair. It’s also not shy about having some very upfront gay subtext with some of the characters, and while there are some that exude more of that subtext as context, the characters themselves are very likable. It’s nice to see a rival character who isn’t constantly looking down on the lead, and while the lead herself is maybe your familiar shonen action lead, she’s great as well. It might not be a super realistic take on golf, but when so many anime fall flat or don’t have much to offer outside of some cheap fixes, until you find better stuff, Birdie Wing: Golf Girl’s Story stands out from among the rest like a very loud peacock. 

Fanfare of Adolescence (Crunchyroll)

It’s nice to see that there are still some fantastic surprises out this season among the original anime. This show is directed by Makoto Kato, written by Team Fanfare, and produced by Lay-duce. This is, like Ya Boy Kongming, one of those premises for a show that sounds goofy. An ex-idol quits his band and decides to become a horse jockey? How on earth do you make that work? Well, like Dance Dance Dansuer, the show, while it does focus on the training that goes into being a horse jockey, also dives into our lead’s drama of quitting the idol industry and how all of that baggage has weighed him down until it starts to break off him metaphorically after he encounters the other jockeys. It’s also another anime this season with some serious LGBTQ+ subtext with certain characters, and many may try to deny that, but you see that one scene in the first episode, and it’s hard to deny it. It does a good job of building the characters up with their own distinct personalities and drives to become a horse jockey. It’s also one of the more visually stunning shows of the season that takes a lot of advantage of the medium to give some of the most stand-out moments and images of the season. It’s a fantastic show and y’all should be supporting original anime instead of more boring isekais. 

Spring Has Sprung: The Spring 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

The spring 2022 season of anime has definitely been a wild ride. It was a fairly vast improvement to the more slow-paced and uneven Winter 2022 season, and that’s because the scale of quality has gone up. Sure, there are still too many anime out there, but this might be one of the strongest seasons of anime ever. Well, strongest in terms of the good anime anyway. Even the ones some can consider bad still have something worth talking about, even if what is being talked about isn’t in the show’s favor. As usual, I am just listing my impression of these shows off of the first 3-5 episodes of the new releases. No sequel seasons or spin-offs. I’m also not covering short-form anime either. Let’s dive in!


The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody (Crunchyroll)

This anime is based on the novels and manga by Miyojin Kato.  The adaptation was directed by Mirai Minato, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Silver Link and Blade. It’s another isekai power fantasy with some sign of a hook that could be interesting, but I’m at a point now where if they don’t start honing in on the hook more, then I lose interest fast. This is just another power fantasy story that has our over-powered lead being reborn as a simple villager who ends up keeping all of these super amazing magic spells and power, while also gaining a harem of anime girls who don’t do much or add much to the story. There are some moments where the show does seem to want to play up the “nobody” angle of the show, and yet it seems to really want to fall back on the power fantasy harem nonsense. It has some potentially good story hooks as well, with how the lead encounters individuals who he knew from his past life and his connections with certain characters. Too bad it’s mostly meh-looking as a show, and the fights have no stakes to them due to how our lead is just better than everyone. It has some other world-building angles it might dive into, but since I have seen anime that do these topics and elements better, this show offers very little to stand out or to really recommend. 

Skeleton Knight in Another World (Crunchyroll)

CW: Sexual Violence 

This baffling show is based on the novels and manga by Ennki Haraki. The show is directed by Katsumi Ono, written by Takeshi Kikuchi, and produced by Studio Kai and Hornets. This might be the most or, at the very least, one of the most confusing projects I have seen. On one hand, you have a show that markets itself as a goofy and absolutely silly time. It has a lot of really good hooks in terms of its comedy because our lead is a large skeleton and it has some really solid laughs. On the other hand, the show has a lot of moments that don’t balance well with the show’s goofy tone. This includes the infamous first episode that opens with sexual assault and violence that’s meant to be horrifying, but is also animated in a titillating way. Yeah, if you are going to have stuff like this, then you can’t be this goofy show when around every corner of the show, there is more of what the first episode includes. It also doesn’t make our lead likable for a chunk of the first episode, which is a shame, because he’s more entertaining as a lead than most isekai leads. It can’t seem to balance out what kind of show it wants to be, and it’s a shame, because it’s otherwise an above-average isekai that has a more comedy-driven angle, and it’s more entertaining than most isekai released. If you want to get into this show, I would recommend skipping the first episode since they make you watch the sexual assault scene twice in the episode. 

I’m Quitting Heroing! (HiDive)

This category can’t catch a break huh? This show is adapted from the light novels/manga by Quantum. It’s directed by Yuu Nobuta and Hisashi Ishii, written by Shigeru Murakoshi, and produced by EMT Square. While there was definitely some worry, due to the studio making it and the types of shows they like to work on or get assigned with, it’s definitely one of their better efforts. Granted, it doesn’t make a great first impression with comedy that doesn’t quite hit the mark when it should, and how the show leans more into the drama and story when it seems like it was partly billed as a comedy, but it has decent character development. The lead does try to help out the evil demon lord’s generals and army, and when it’s just the lead and one of the generals, it’s good enough. Sadly, the cheap look of the visuals, a real lack of jokes that work, and a twist that is decently set up results in it falling with a thud. It feels like it should have either focused more on the comedy angle or not pull a wonky twist with the setting of the anime. It’s definitely the weakest of the shows that HiDive is distributing this season, but at least it doesn’t open with sexual violence as a core element of the series like Skeleton Knight does. 

The Dawn of the Witch

This show didn’t do an excellent job at marketing itself as a sequel, so I accidentally decided to give my impressions of the show. This is a follow-up to the Grimoire of Zero series. It’s based on the light novels and manga by Kakeru Kobashiri. The anime adaptation is directed and written by Satoshi Kuwabara, and produced by Tezuka Pictures. What’s really fascinating about this anime is how it really works on its own as a stand-alone series. It’s also a show with a really well-thought-out world with a lot of meat to its bones lore building about how witches function in society and the discrimination factors they deal with alongside other species in this world. This show really wanted to commit to its story and world-building and that’s really neat. They didn’t just leave it at “oh, this is just another fantasy setting, so who cares.” They made sure you felt invested with the world, the story, and the leads that we follow. , also has some of this season’s most vibrant colors and visuals. It’s a real shame though that the female characters get the short end of the design stick because they are all way too sexualized. They even try play it off with one character being 1000s of years old but looks 12. It’s frustrating. Otherwise, it’s a real rock solid anime and apparently, it does have some real connections to the previous show, but if you are looking for an interesting fantasy series, then do check this show out if you haven’t already. 

The Executioner and Her Way of Life (HiDive)

This fantastic take on the isekai genre is based on the novels and manga by Mato Sato. The anime adaptation is directed by Yoshiki Kawasaki, written by Shogo Yasukawa, and produced by J.C. Staff. With how flooded the anime scene is with these mostly mediocre isekai shows, you really need to work hard to either stand out or execute your power fantasy experience, or else you will be forgotten. Thankfully, the team adapting this novel knew they had something special, due to how it basically flips the isekai genre on its head with the twist that happens in the first episode. Seeing who you think would be the lead character in yet another dull power fantasy show get suddenly switched to the co-lead is some of the best subversion of expectations I have seen in anime in a long time. It also has an extremely fleshed-out magic system, a fascinating world with equally interesting lore, exciting action, and some really good story hooks to keep you invested in the story. It’s a show that goes above and beyond what most mediocre power fantasy isekai isn’t willing to do. Now we all just hope it sticks the landing. 

Spy X Family (Crunchyroll)

I mean, we all knew this was going to be one of the best shows of the season, right? This is based on the manga by Tatsuya Endo. It’s directed and written by Kazuhiro Furuhashi and is a co-collaboration between CloverWorks and Wit Studios. This is just a fantastic show. Its premise is a spy having to put together a fake family that slowly turns into a real one. It includes an adorable girl with psychic powers and a woman who’s secretly an assassin, both rife with action and comedy potential. With no surprise, the premise is executed well, with an immensely satisfying comedy between the fact the spy needs to keep everything in order with two different individuals with completely different mindsets, and their awkwardness and human aspects popping out and causing chaos and wrinkles in the situation. It truly shows how well written these characters are. Even by the third episode, they already feel like a real family. On top of the fantastic writing and comedy, Wit Studios and CloverWorks making an action-oriented show means you will be getting some of the best action animation out there. The entire show looks amazing as well, with great visuals, designs, and some truly amazing comedic expressions from the characters. On top of a very entertaining and thrilling story, Spy X Family is the obvious fan favorite show of the season, and for once, it actually earns its hype with everything listed above. 


Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost (Crunchyroll) 

This troubling show is based on the manga by Imari Arita. It’s directed by Ku Nabara, written by Hitomi Mieno aka Deko Akao, and produced by Project No. 9. This is trying to be one of those anime series about not overworking yourself, and taking care of yourself like The Helpful Fox Senko-San, but you know what that show has that’s not in this show? Substance. I mean, that’s not the only problem. The original translated title had a ton of red flags attached to it, but the overall execution of the premise is more artificial and creepy. There is nothing wrong with the moral of a show being “Hey, don’t commit your entire life to work” or “don’t work yourself to death” which is a very common bit of social commentary you see in many anime that are criticizing the work industry in Japan. The problem is that the cuteness comes off as manipulative, and the fact they are called baby ghosts is really creepy. It rarely comes off as endearing or actually cute. It’s also boring to watch. It’s not funny enough to keep your attention, the characters aren’t interesting, and it seems like it really wants to make you think these ghosts are the cutest things of all time. At best, it’s boring and forgettable with maybe a wholesome scene here and there that lands. At worst, it’s creepy, boring, drawn-out, and it’s a show that has been done before and better. 

In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki (Crunchyroll)

CW: the show sexualizes underaged characters. 

This anime is based on the manga by Teasing Master Tagaki-San creator Soichiro Yamamoto. It’s directed by Takudai Kakuchi, written by Konomi Shugo, and produced by CloverWorks. You would think by the first episode, this is going to be a coming-of-age comedy about that pre-teen period of time when girls start discovering their attraction to boys or what have you, and how there is this case of “you should never encounter men” vibe from the leader of this all-female ninja village. Sadly, that’s never actually the case, it’s just a boring and vastly unfunny slice-of-life anime with an emphasis on comedy that just happens to have ninjas in it. On top of the jokes not landing and the characters not being all that memorable, the designs do not work here. They look like loosely dressed pre-teens, and it’s rather uncomfortable how revealingly dressed they are. You would think they would have some kind of mystery as to why they are an all-female ninja village or why men are so “forbidden”, but by episode 4, I just have had it with this series. Maybe if the designs weren’t so creepy and the jokes were better, I and most people would care enough to stick around, but it’s not good enough to last through the rougher aspects of the show. It’s well animated, but it’s not on the level of CloverWorks’ other shows from this year like My Dress Up Darling, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, or their Wit Studios collaboration work on Spy X Family. This will definitely be another example of why people can’t get into anime despite the barrier not being all that bad. It’s a shame. Maybe CloverWorks next show will be better. 

RPG Real Estate (Crunchyroll)

CW: the show sexualizes underaged characters. 

What is with Spring anime seasons and having fantastical house hunting shows? Anyway, this show is based on the four-panel manga by Chiyo Kenmotsu. It’s directed by Tomoaki Koshida, written by Yoshiko Nakamura, and produced by Doga Kobo. On one hand, there are some very sweet and solid moments of character building with our leads learning to think of the customers when helping them find a home that’s right for them and not what the leads think will be good for them. What doesn’t quite work is this show’s consistent focus on wanting the audience to think the leads are the cutest characters in the world, and the fact one of the characters who is more childlike than the others doesn’t want to wear clothes. It’s a recurring gag throughout the entire show, and it’s creepy, and never funny. The designs themselves are also a problem with how child-like they look, but three of the four leads are written and act like adults. It feels like it’s at times more interested in fanservice and cuteness over what the show does right with its commentary about housing. It’s well animated enough, and at some points too well animated for fanservicey reasons, but it’s cute and it’s at the very least an interesting topic. It’s just not good enough to be on par or better than Dragon Goes House Hunting

Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer (Crunchyroll)

This quirky offbeat comedy is based on the manga by Tannen ni Hakko. It’s directed by Nobuaki Nakanishi, written by Fumihiko Shimo, and produced by Jumondou. The entire gimmick of an up-and-coming heroic adventure teaming up with a healer sounds like a basic fantasy show motif, but when you realize how awful the healer is, that’s when the comedy starts to come out. The comedic focus on the healer being extremely blunt and not able to read the room is consistently funny, and the heroic character not being able to catch a break and deal with her sass is hilarious. Even the monsters they encounter aren’t evil or threatening. They are just sort of nice and relatable. It’s a cute show, but when you have the writer of anime including Dai Guard, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Bofuri, Hamataro, and many others, you are bound to have a fun and cute time with our fantasy heroes. As I go through the rest of the show, I do hope there is more to the overall experience than the two leads not connecting and being an effective party, because if you don’t click with this show’s comedy, then you will probably not want to go past the first or second episode. Still, if you want a real rock solid comedy this season that isn’t Ya Boy Kongming or Aharen is Indecipherable, then you should definitely give Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer a shot! 

Ya Boy Kongming! (HiDive)

Consider this one of the biggest surprises of the season as well as one of the best shows of the season and possibly of the year. This unique anime is based on the manga by Yuto Yotsuba. The adaptation is directed by Shu Honma, written by Yoko Yonayama, and produced by P.A. Works. This show explains why I love anime. The absurd premise of a Chinese Three Kingdoms tactician dying and being sent to modern-day Japan sounds like the dumbest thing to make a show about. Then you watch it, and what unfolds is a delightful buddy comedy about how this tactician of history helps out a struggling singer come back with his tactics. It leads to some immensely deep and complex journeys of self-discovery, life, regret, and growth for our two leads, with some incredible jokes, some groovy tunes, and one of the most delightful opening sequences of any anime this season. The premise might sound goofy, but it’s one of the best shows of the season and is an early front-runner for the best new show of 2022. 

Aharen is Indechipherable (Crunchyroll)

This charming-as-all-get-out anime series is based on the manga by Asato Mizu. The adaptation is directed by Yasutaka Yamamoto and Tomoe Makino, written by Takao Yoshioka, and produced by Felix FIlm. So, with these types of stories about two characters who may seem polar opposite to one another becoming friends or more, but with the female lead being the more outgoing of the two, this time, the roles are pretty much reversed. What really makes this show and experience work is that it’s adorable. The two are pretty much on the same level of wanting to be social and make friends but have something going against them. The way the two bond and find ways to communicate with one another is full of extremely consistent laughs and super heartfelt moments. There hasn’t been an episode so far where I didn’t laugh, and that’s so hard to do for anime comedies. The side characters are also a nice addition on the same level of quality as Komi Can’t Communicate. It also has some of the most laid-back music from composer Satoru Kosaki and MONACA that gives off some heavy Animal Crossing vibes. On top of some great comedic animation and an overall wholesome atmosphere, this is easily the best comedy of the season, and probably the best comedy of the year so far.

The Other Side of Animation 262: Pompo the Cinephile Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

At this moment in time it definitely feels like the film industry doesn’t actually like movies. Granted, it may be due to the success of films like Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Bad Guys, and The Northman, but if you watched the Oscars a month or so back, well, the tone and vibe of it all tells a different story. Like, sorry that people want their favorite entertainment to be taken seriously and yet the industry keeps dumping on the talented hard-working people that make the films that award shows like the Oscars “love”. Yes, we have seen films that are all about their love of cinema, but they sometimes come off as hollow and were there for awards and not much else. It’s rare when you get a film that, while maybe flawed, has the passion for someone who loves film. To make these types of films not become shallow experiences, you need to be able to poke at both the good and the bad, and sometimes, that results in films like Pompo the Cinephile

This film was directed and written by Takayuki Hirao. It’s based on the manga by Shogo Sugitani and was produced by CLAP. The story follows an assistant who works under the famed Nyallywood producer Pompo, dubbed by Brianna Genitella. She is famous for her work of releasing B-grade movies that are hugely successful. The assistant is named Gene Fini, dubbed by Christopher Trindade. One day, he thinks about how Pompo should make a more serious film, and ends up finding a screenplay for such a film on Pompo’s desk. He is then assigned by Pompo to help produce, direct, and pretty much helm this project all in one go. Along with the help of Pompo and a young up-and-coming actress named Natalie Woodward, dubbed by Jackie Lastra, can Gene craft a masterpiece and learn to find the secret and passion for filmmaking? 

So, let’s not beat around the bush, a couple of early reviews for the film were not positive. Understandably so, the film is not well told, the cast of colorful characters aren’t fully memorable, it can be a touch messy pacing-wise, and some aspects of the film hit differently, both for good and for bad. However, after watching the Oscars fiasco that was bad no matter how many want to put the blame of it on the slap, this film’s story and the experience hit differently. Yeah, this is one of those situations where watching it after certain events really recontextualizes the overall story of the film. Instead of coming off as a messy uneven film, it’s a film that shows the passion that drives filmmakers, and is unapologetic in showing how the passion can drive and or hurt someone, or absolutely stop projects flat if the right or wrong decision is made. It shows the love for film, but also the brutality of making one. You simply can’t release a 10-hour movie and call it a day. You need to make it flow fluidly from point A to point B. It needs to fit a certain runtime that will make audiences of all kinds happy. Maybe setting up a shot a certain way can help elevate the emotional punch of a scene. It’s a film that loves to discuss these details, but also loves to call out certain filmmakers or aspects of filmmaking, like the jabs at filmmakers creating 2-hour films instead of what Pompo describes as “the perfect length”, which is 90 minutes. It’s funny because the film itself and the marketing portray those runtime gags and trailer edits in the exact way seen in the film. The film itself is literally 90 minutes and that’s a fairly funny meta gag. Still, even with its story that’s all about the celebration of cinema, the editing, and what have you, it still gives you a story with a cast of likable characters to follow and it does capture the joy and ethereal vibes that you get with watching movies, seeing certain shots unfold, and that one magical moment that makes you love movies. It’s a corny, but charming ride with how Gene learns and approaches certain shots with how the story is told. 

Animation-wise, the film looks great. It has an appealing mix of more typical modern character looks, but a sprinkle of what can be labeled as retro. Pompo has a fantastic design, and you can see why her visual look has a mix of the more modern, but retro vibes with how pop art she looks. The backgrounds once again take some inspiration for the detailed cityscapes of Makoto Shinkai’s work, and the character movements are given plenty of detail and expressive reactions to certain situations as they arrive in the story. The English voice cast is great as well, with Brianna Gentilella, Christopher Trindade, Jackie Lastra, Anne Yatco, Kenneth Cavett, Jonah Platt, Gavin Hammon, Brock Powell, John H. Mayer, Michael Sorich, and Thomas Bromhead to name a few. They tend to capture the personalities from Pompo’s sharp-witted mannerisms, Gene’s awkward but fiery passion for filmmaking, Natalie’s humble hardworking newcomer persona, Mystia’s outward bombshell look that hides a clever individual, and you get the idea. Kenta Matsukuma, the composer, might not have too much under his belt with work ranging from Black Clover, God Eater, and Real Girl, but he brings a pretty solid soundtrack. It isn’t the most memorable effort, unless you consider the theme songs which were written by other people, but he does get the job done with what kind of mood or stage the soundtrack needed to set. 

Now, as for criticisms, there aren’t that many, but the ones that are there do stand out. The music itself isn’t the most memorable, and one can assume that due to this being his first major film score, it’s why the overall soundtrack isn’t the most memorable. As mentioned above, the overall story has some small pacing issues and some story beats go the distance in stretching the suspension of disbelief in how they were able to pull off certain moments. Some characters also feel like they were there for the sake of some crucial story moments or to fill space. They aren’t completely pointless due to their connections with the main characters, but otherwise, they don’t do much. 

Yes, Pompo the Cinephile is not perfect, and yes, if I did see this film before the whole Oscars fiasco and some other unexpected events in the film industry unfolded, the reading of this experience would be different. However, it has a lot of charm and passion of a film lover who may not know everything about films but enjoys the medium so much. Unfortunately, unlike Belle, it didn’t get a huge release but will be coming to Blu-ray and DVD on July 12. If you want to see something that has more love of the movies than the entire award season industry, then give this film a watch! Now then, due to how little is coming out, let’s talk about something that has been a long time coming. Next time, we will be talking about the first film in the popular comedy franchise with Bob’s Burgers the Movie

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 261: The Bad Guys Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Subjectively speaking, 2021 was not the best year for DreamWorks. Neither films from the major studio weren’t as critically acclaimed or as well-liked as their previous efforts in 2019 and 2020. Spirit Untamed was a harmless, but boring affair that had a very limited audience appeal, and The Boss Baby: Family Business had the franchise’s slick cartoony animation, but it fell flat in the story department. DreamWorks has the obvious talent and power to craft great or entertaining stories, but it all depends on exactly what they are releasing in that year. What got a lot of people excited was their 2022 output of The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. They looked to be offering something different than their usual films, and that’s always cool to see studios go off the beaten path to try something different, whether it be in the story department or the art direction and animation. Relying on franchise films will lead to burnout, and when filmgoers want to see something new that they haven’t seen before or something familiar with a new twist, and that’s where The Bad Guys comes into play. 

It was directed by Pierre Perifel, who was one of the three directors behind the DreamWorks short Bilby. The story follows a group of thieves known as the titular Bad Guys. These include Mr. Wolf, voiced by Sam Rockwell, Mr. Snake, voiced by Marc Marron, Ms. Tarantula, voiced by Awkwafina, Mr. Shark voiced by Craig Robinson, and Mr. Piranha, voiced by Anthony Ramos. While they get the slickest moves, the best car chases, and are constantly avoiding the obsessed hands of the police chief Misty Luggins, voiced by Alex Borstein, they run into a different problem after their most recent heist. You see, the newly elected governor Diane Foxington, voiced by Zazie Beets, calls them out for being on the way out, in terms of their skills and talents. They decide to prove her wrong by attempting to steal a trophy at a charity gala meant for a philanthropist named Professor Rupert Marmalade IV, voiced by Richard Ayoade. The heist goes belly-up, and they get caught by the police. That is, until Marmalade offers our thieves an opportunity to go good, and the crew decides to make another heist to pretend to go good in order to get back at Marmalade and Diane Foxington. However, after Mr. Wolf gets the magic touch of how it feels to be considered a good guy, can he keep his promise to his friends? Will the Bad Guys go good? What other schemes may come bubbling to the top? 

So, for those that may or may not have seen the film yet, this is more of an action heist comedy. Apparently, there were some people comparing it to  2016’s Zootopia, due to how the leads are discriminated against and how there are underlying themes of some situations forcing certain individuals down that route due to how society treats them. Y’all gotta know right here and now that this is mostly a fun ride, first and foremost. Not to say there aren’t any takeaways to how you can interpret the themes of this film, but don’t come in thinking this is going to try and be a film with a goal to be this complex methodical thinkpiece. It’s a film that’s here to tell a rock-solid story with some great action, thrilling heists, and knee-slapping comedy. While I have yet to read any of the acclaimed graphic novels upon which this film is based, a lot of the vibes and animation details that are shown throughout the film give off vibes and homages to the acclaimed franchise, Lupin III. The way Mr. Wolf runs, the shoes that he wears, and how determined Luggins is to capture our anti-heroes give off very similar feels to Detective Zenigata, and that’s helped with a rather eccentric script and character dynamics. When we get these heist films or shows, some characters tend to be left in the dust or feel undercooked, but the dynamic between our five leads brings a refreshing zest to the overarching story, as you feel connected and invested with redemption arcs. While Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake do take up a lot of the more emotional story beats of the film, their friendship feels like there is a ton of history between the two. They carry the movie’s story, but luckily, everyone else is just as fun to watch on screen as Wolf and Snake. Diane is an extremely endearing and charming individual who is not played as some damsel in distress or buzzkill to the “boys club” vibe of the gang. She ends up being on the same level as the crew, consistently lively, and a blast to watch as her story unfolds as the film goes on. It might not have the most mind-blowing plot twists, and you could probably tell where some of the story beats are going, but this would be a great film to introduce the action heist genre to budding film fans.

Animation-wise, this was the first thing people reacted to when they saw the trailer back in December 2021. We were given another animated film with a stylish and fresh approach to CGI that gave everything a more painted cartoonish look. Hearing how the director said this is where most animation should be heading is a good sign, due to how some projects and people think having super hyper-realistic CGI is the pinnacle, but we aren’t even done with experimenting with CGI animation and animation in general. The fact this film has such expressive CGI with 2D details and vfx composited onto the CGI makes for one of the more visually stunning films of 2022. It might not have the same visual style as the graphic novels, but the fact we are living in a world right now where studios are now shifting towards doing stylized CGI with 2D flourishes is a trend everyone’s rooting for. It gives the film a much more distinct personality. It wears its anime influences on its sleeves, and that’s all fine with me. The more we can mix and match references and inspirations of different forms of animation, the more animation will keep evolving. Also, for a heist action film, the action is flashy, energized, and crisp. It’s readily readable and satisfying to watch. That first car chase, while mentioned in the film itself as the best part, is one of the best parts of the movie. The voice cast is also great, and that helps when you choose actors who can do more than just be themselves. Sam Rockwell is perfect to play a guy with both smarm and charm. Marc Maron is great as Snake who may seem grumpy, but secretly has a heart of gold. Richard Ayoade might not reinvent the wheel with his character professor Marmalade, but he sure is having fun with the role as well. Awkwafina might be the most like her normal self as Ms Tarantula, but she still is fun as the character. Craig Robinson is adorable and hilarious as Mr Shark. Anthony Raimos was a scene stealer and he has some of the best expressive animation out of many of the characters, and that’s saying something because everyone fits their role, and the animation is strong across the board. 

The thing is, there might not be too many unique or intensely distinct moments that make it super original, but as we have said before, sometimes being well-executed is more important than trying to push to be 100% original. FIrst off, nothing is original anymore, and there seems to be this trend of people who so want nothing but original content that they are ignorantly and willing to overlook stuff that’s just well made. The world of film will always be full of creative new takes on familiar ideas and stunningly distinct original ideas. One or the other isn’t going anywhere, and for people to say that Hollywood is dead are way too lost in their own pretension to give a film like The Bad Guys a shot. Yes, you can tell where the story is going, yes, they don’t explain why there are so few characters in the world that are humanoid animals, but honestly? Who cares? We live in a world where people want every little thing explained to them and don’t think about just getting engrossed in the film that they are seeing, instead of what the individual viewers wanted to see. You need to sit back, relax, and enjoy an experience that’s offered to you and not what you wanted it to be. 

If you can pull your head out of pretentious snob territory, The Bad Guys is a wild ride of thrills, chills, and delights. It’s easily the most fun film DreamWorks has made. It might not have the emotional complexity and or depth that you would see in a film from overseas, but not every film needs to be a Pixar or a Children of the Sea. It’s doing well in theaters right now, and if you feel safe going to theaters, definitely go watch this film. You absolutely do not need to go see something like Fantastic Beasts 3. Here’s hoping that DreamWorks keeps going this route of stylized animation and have a blast writing their stories. We need more studios like Sony Pictures Animation and DreamWorks to show that we don’t need to make CGI fare the same way anymore. We have hit the ceiling for hyper-realistic CGI. We need to go down the road of stylized CGI. Now then, next time, we will be talking about Pompo the Cinephile

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 260: Tekkonkinkreet

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

There was an article going around in Japan that talked about the current climate of animated films that aren’t big anime franchise films. After Your Name was a smash hit in 2016, the industry has been trying to find the next big Your Name hit, and unfortunately, or what was apparent from that article, the returns haven’t been promising when the big franchise films like Demon Slayer: Mugen Train and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 have been smash hits. That isn’t all true, with Belle becoming a financial hit, but it makes you hope that they do not regress into doing big IP-driven ONLY films. Now, we could talk about the fact that the industry all over the world keeps glomping onto the next big hit and trying to replicate it, and how chasing the trend first and making a good film second is always going to end in tragedy, but you know how the industry works. It takes action first without thinking about the long-term game. It’s a shame, because while making money is important, letting the art and the teams make something distinct is also important, because most franchise-based films are underwhelming. When you want to see something that looks like it goes off the beaten path, then you need to see films like Tekkonkinkreet

Directed by Michael Arias, one of the first non-Japanese directors for a major Japanese-animated film, this film is written by Anthony Weintraub, and was animated at Studio 4°C. The story follows two young boys named Black and White, dubbed by Scott Menville and Kamali Minter. They live on the streets of Takarmuchi, a once-thriving metropolis that is now bloated and overrun with criminal gangs trying to take down one another. Black and White try to take control of the streets by protecting everyone from said gangs. Can the two boys survive these dangerous times inside a crumbling city? What else is this character-driven city hiding or dealing with? 

While this is the part where we talk about the plot of the film, let’s instead focus on the standout feature of the film, the animation. If you were looking for something unique, then it would be tough to find something as distinct-looking as this film. The art direction was handled by Shinji Kimura, who also helped out in films like Children of the Sea and The Portrait Studio. Character designs were handled by Shojiro Nishimi, who also did character designs for MFKZ. They were able to translate the immensely detailed buildings and city life and blocky character designs from the original manga by Taiyo Matsumoto to life. Some moments in the film even go into this dream-like imagery that looks like it was all drawn by colored pencils. Even the action beats are as fluid as ever, despite the designs being blocky at points. The city feels intensely lived-in with so much of the city feeling like it’s falling apart. Most of the metal and buildings are covered in rust or chipped paint. There doesn’t seem to be much that isn’t overrun by industrial factories as the many civilians from the typical citizens, the different gangs, and everyone in-between give off vibes of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Shanghai, which were the direct inspirations for the city as they were looking for a Pan-Asian look. Even with the grime and roughness of the overall city via its visuals, there is a lot of love put into the world and how people love living there. The voice cast is also distinct because it’s more US-animation-driven than the usual anime dub casts you see in most Japanese animation. You have the likes of Scott Menville, Maurice LaMarche, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny, Phil LaMarr, Dwight Schultz, Rick Gomez, Kamali Minter, David Lodge, Quinton Flynn, Alex Fernandez, Yuri Lowenthal, Kate Higgins, Steve Blum, Matt McKenzie, Crispin Freeman, and Dave Wittenberg. It’s a nice mix of what you would normally see in US and Japanese animation. The music is composed by the group Plaid, and they bring this minimal touch to the world mixed with some industrial and fantastical beats. 

Now that we’ve got the talk of the visuals out of the way, what is this film actually about? It’s not that it’s a complicated story, it just follows more of a vibe or mood-like approach to its storytelling. It’s vastly different from what you would see back in 2006 and some would argue even now. Then again, with a film from the same studio that made Children of the Sea and is usually the origin of those fantastic anthology films like Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond, you should expect something off the beaten path. It’s more flowing and not in your face as we follow the two brothers and the police chasing after the multiple gangsters trying to squeak out a living in a world that is constantly changing. It brings back historical moments like the change from 1970s New York when it was filled to the brim with sex, drugs, and violence before it was cleaned up. The city around them is dying and pushing them out, but some love the city as it is, while reminiscing about what it was like back in the day. The loss of childhood innocence, freedom, and dealing with your personal demons is rampant throughout this film, as there are tales of kids that run and fight freely throughout the bustling city streets. Corruption slithers its way through the alleyways, and this is all while the two brothers at the center of this story are both at the forefront and at points on the sidelines to focus on everyone else. It results in a story that is working on a more emotional than logical level, and that will definitely turn off some people. It’s not the most cohesive story as it goes through the different seasons, and much of what can be interpreted by the audience is either hidden within the dialogue or through visual storytelling. You might not want to focus too much on a film’s plot to get everything, and it’s not the best-told story, but with everything listed above, it’s one of the easier to follow films, whereas the similar-looking Mind Game, which Masaaki Yuasa directed, was a touch more complicated to follow exactly what the story and themes were without breaking them down yourself. However, sometimes, you may want to simply watch a movie that’s an experience and hits a certain part of your brain that likes those less straightforward stories.


While its visuals and atmosphere may overtake the story and how the story is told, Tekkonkinkreet is a film that you don’t get too often and should be celebrated when we are all, as of right now, looking for films that are different from the big franchise fodder or tentpole releases. Yes, they might not always work out 100%, but no film is ever going to be quote on quote, “perfect.” Yes, that would be nice, but then every film would be boring. Wouldn’t you rather talk about a film that has some big hits and maybe some misses of varying sizes? At least you have more to talk about than just, it’s good, it’s bad, or something in the middle that doesn’t leave that much of an impact on your filmgoing experience. As of writing this film, there has been no re-release and there is a Blu-ray and DVD release, but the Blu-ray seems like it’s hitting that out-of-print situation where it is hitting absurd prices on Amazon and the like. It’s a shame, because this is a fantastic film, and you would hope a company like Discotek or GKIDS would re-release the film. Still, if you can get a hand on a copy out in the wild, you are in for one of the many examples of why animation is such a vibrant medium, and how it’s not just for kids. Now then, the next time ya see a review, you will be hanging out with DreamWorks The Bad Guys

Rating: Go see it!

The Other Side of Animation 259: Bubble Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Studio Wit is a rather fantastic studio full of talented artists that are mostly known for animating the first few seasons of the acclaimed Attack on Titan. It must have been frustrating to be stuck on such a big franchise, because for a while that is all that they helped make. Luckily, they broke free from that franchise’s clutches, because the production committee was being absurdly impossible to deal with. It seemed like after that, they were able to start working on shows and films that they are way more passionate about. This includes Vivy, Ranking of Kings, After the Rain, this spring season’s Onipan!, and are co-producing with CloverWorks the Spy x Family adaptation, to name a few of the projects they have worked on since or alongside Attack on Titan. Now, they have an original film that will be out on Netflix called Bubble that shows that hopefully, Netflix is still going to be committed to original animated ideas and features. 

Bubble is directed by Tesuro Araki and written by Gen Urobuchi. It follows a group of people who live inside a large bubble that has overtaken Tokyo after an environmental disaster where these floating bubbles that defied gravity appeared. The game played within the bubble is essentially a more extreme and dangerous version of parkour as teams fight for resources by traversing floating and sunken buildings, and avoiding undertow-like traps throughout the courses. Hibiki, dubbed by Zach Aguilar is a young male who has had a history of hating sound or being affected by it in severe ways enough to wear headphones at all times, but inside the bubble, is one of the top-tier parkour players of his team.  One night, he decides to venture to the Tokyo Tower where ground zero hit when the bubbles arrived on earth. As he ventures around Tokyo Tower, he encounters a mysterious girl later nicknamed Uta, dubbed by Emi Lo, who is new to this now sunken city and world of parkour. Can Hibiki, Uta, and their friends find a way to solve the mystery of the bubbles? What about Uta? What is her role in this fantastical story? 

So, who said they needed a film that combined anime with The Little Mermaid, and parkour? Because that is what this film is. It’s a modern anime take on The Little Mermaid with the mixture of anime, and, well, you do get a distinct take on the fairytale that makes it stand out from other animated films like Ponyo, Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish, and Lu Over the Wall. There is something fun seeing what studios do with incorporating elements or story beats of fairytale-like experiences and how they unfold within the narrative. However, it’s more like Belle from 2021 in some regards, because it’s not fully a Little Mermaid story, but more of how it implements themes of environmentalism, connection, bonding, and freedom to the Little Mermaid formula, and it works out pretty well. It even has some of those ethereal universal atmospheric moments you would see in Ayumu Watanabe’s adaptation of Children of the Sea. While this film sounds like it goes places and is action-packed, it does tend to have more downtime moments where the characters breathe and the world is expanded upon, which is always a nice thing to see. Still, when the film decides to focus on the action, there is this rush that you get only when you combine some incredible music and gorgeous visuals from Wit Studios. 

With this being a Wit Studios production, the animation is obviously some of the best that the industry can offer. The entire sunken city world inside the bubble looks like it took its multiple coloring and intense amount of detail from Makoto Shinkai. The human movements are fluid and fast-paced with this being partly a fun action-packed parkour showcase, and its mixing of both 2D and CGI elements are seamless in the combination of the two. It’s a visually stunning film, and I know it’s easy to take jabs at it because of how it’s taking a ton of inspiration from Shinkai’s work on a visual level, but when the end result looks this fantastic, well, that’s a good thing. The action itself is so much fun to watch. There are definitely different takes on parkour, and there are some shows that make fun of it, but when you take it into the world of animation, it makes it look thrilling and exciting. This is especially true with how the people competing make harrowing jumps from floating debris and try to avoid getting knocked into the water or these dangerous black hole-like entities that are placed all over the city. The designs by Takeshi Obata are definitely some of his best work and don’t feel like leftovers from his collaborations with Tsugumi Ohba. The music is a real deal hit with the music being composed by Hiroyuki Sawano of 86, Attack on Titan, and Promare fame bringing this majestic, awe-inspiring, and epic score that really elevates the already impressive visuals. Granted, the fact this film opens with an anime-like opening sequence with a song by the famed Eve is jarring due to how this is a movie, but Eve has been making bangers over the past few years, so that’s perfectly okay. The English dub cast is full of well-known names like Zach Aguilar, Keith Silverstein, Emi Lo, Erica Lindbeck, Robbie Daymond, Laura Stahl, Landon McDonald, Jalen K. Cassell, Chris Jai Alex, Kyle McCarley, Christina Vee, Bill Butts, Derek Stephen Prince, Aleks Le, Howard Wang, Kaiji Tang, Brock Powell, and Jeannie Tirado.

Now, as for the criticisms for Bubble, it feels like it was drafted in the first half to be an anime series before getting turned into a film. There is a ton of exposition, and it always isn’t the best paced. The film is full of distinct side characters, but outside of a few who get some subtle or upfront character beats or backstories, most of them are forgettable. They are there to help push the story along and that’s about it. Even the other teams don’t have too much to themselves outside of some visual characteristics. It comes off at points, again, that it was meant to be a TV show. It would have definitely helped give the characters who aren’t Hibiki and Uta more time to be fleshed out. 

While it may be light as a bubble in some areas, Bubble is a fantastic original experience from a talented studio and team that I would definitely be on the lookout for if they team up again to make another animated feature offering. It will be on Netflix April 28th, and if you like action, lush animation, and something a bit different from your animated films, then definitely put this film on your watch list. Now then, since we are talking about distinct animated experiences from Japan, I think it’s time to check out a film that should have been covered on The Other Side of Animation for quite a while. Next time, we will be talking about Tekkonkinkreet

Rating: Go see it!

The Other Side of Animation 258 – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Childlike memories are unreliable, fuzzy, and nostalgic in a lot of ways. I’m sure most people tend to look back on their childhood from time to time. Maybe to remember their time as a child with their families, maybe to look back at what that time period was like in terms of politics, social climate, and you get the idea. Sometimes, we look back in the past to see where we were back then, or maybe we see where we are now compared to back then. Living through historic events and trends can really shape what you do and how you see the world around you. It’s very difficult to capture that feeling of nostalgia and fondly look back at memories of your childhood on film, because you either look navel-gazing, pretentious, or like an old man yelling at clouds. You have to bring earnest energy into the story or the overall experience, and some directors are able to make that work to their advantage, like Cameron Crowe before his career ended and today’s director, Richard Linklater with his new film, Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

Directed and written by Richard Linklater, we follow the childhood of Stanley, voiced/played by Milo Coy. The narrator of Stanley’s story is, of course, an adult Stanley, who we never see, but is voiced by Jack Black. The story revolves around adult Stanley recalling his childhood during the big space race/ space-age craze time period of the 1960s when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The one twist is that adult Stanley adds a twist to the story of kid Stanley getting chosen by two NASA Officials played/voiced by Glen Powell and Zachary Levi to help NASA with going to the moon. 

So, if you are curious about what kind of story is being told here, it’s less a major three-act story where there is a story about NASA hiring a kid to go into space. It’s more about the narrator remembering the time period and his childhood. It’s a more grounded story, but has that small bit of whimsy of Stanley training to go into space. The overall story covers multiple aspects of the time period, including politics, war, a small splash of the racial inequality of the time, pop culture, what the film industry was like, how families around NASA worked, food, and you get the idea. It’s all about capturing that time period through a nostalgic lens. As mentioned above, you have to be so careful, because it can come off either sappy or extremely cynical in an entirely different way. No one wants to see a film about an old man saying “life was good in my day”. The film even points out elements like how kids were punished back then, as more of a low point than anything else. It was able to capture the childlike viewpoint and mindset, and how everything going on was fed through the lens of a kid going through the times. I’m sure most viewers will be able to spot themselves or their families or the parents of your family knowing what it was like back then. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood overall has a charm that you can’t find in many films with this type of story set-up. It makes you remember when the big new things in pop culture were the colored TV, Baskin Robbins having 31 flavors, syndicated television, and you get the idea. It has its adult moments, but it has one graphic moment and very little swearing. It has adult themes and elements, but it doesn’t indulge in what most people think of when the term “adult animation” pops up. 

Linklater has, for the third time, returned to rotoscope animation, and it’s definitely his most polished take on the animation art form. It’s not rough like Waking Life or as surreal and unusual as A Scanner Darkly. They said the inspiration for the art style is similar to what animated shows were like back when Saturday morning cartoons were like that, and while it’s more similar to the color palette of that time period, the animation does look great. The fact we are getting more films like this, including 2017’s Loving Vincent, is nice to see. Animation is such a vibrant medium, that you must be a real uneducated tool to think animation is just for kids. It has its moments of clunkiness, but rotoscope animation is going to feel like that, but that’s why you have animators and hardworking VFX people to make it look as good as possible. The voice cast or in this case, traced-over actors are fantastic with Glen Powell and Zachary Levi as the two NASA agents, Jack Black bringing a loving warmth to the narration of the entire film, and the other cast including Milo Coy, Bill Wise, Lee Eddy, Josh Wiggins, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman, and Danielle Guilbot all doing a great job to make you feel like a part of this time period. Normally, there is a sentence or two here talking about the composer, but the composer is really the soundtrack that looms over this film’s entire runtime that is full of a lot of great old tunes and rock-and-roll that perfectly fit the time period.  

The only real criticism this critic could find is that there could have been a bit more time put into the kid’s fantasy of getting hired by Nasa. It’s the opening scene and the instigator of what can be charitably called the third act. Again, it’s more of a time “capsule retelling” of the period, and that stuff is great, but when the film’s trailer paints it more about the space mission, it’s mismarketed, and your tolerance for nostalgic look-back at time period films will depend on how you, the viewer, will tolerate how much of the first and second act is all about it. 

This film is quite the nostalgic experience. It’s less, ‘Nasa sends a boy to space’, and more about being a kid during the big space race and space-age boom in Houston. It’s a fantastic film, but I can understand that some viewers may see the marketing of Nasa sending a literal kid to space instead of the more metaphorical and symbolic angle it goes for. It’s on Netflix, and if you love yourself some Richard Linklater charm and some distinct and unique animated offerings that show animation is more than “just for kids”, then definitely give this film a watch. Next time, we will be talking about Netflix’s other big April tentpole animated offering. 

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 257: Jujutsu Kaisen 0 The Movie Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Crunchyroll/Funimation. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank youCrunchyroll/Funimation for this opportunity.

Well, here we are, we are talking about a shonen battle anime franchise film. For those that know this critic’s personal bias towards them, you know that these franchise films aren’t really all that good. Most of the time, these films are shallow non-cannon experiences that introduce elements that could have been useful in the main story and are never brought up again. You wonder why the showrunners never think about adding the film elements and making them canon, but no matter how good they are, they tend to be just shinier versions of the show with exclusive villains and storylines. There is a debate on which type of shonen franchise film is worse, the recap of an arc in film form, or the filler story that may introduce some new characters, villains, and story beats, but will absolutely not matter in the long run. Luckily, we are seeing a new trend where some franchises are adapting certain story beats into films. Like, why not pace out an arc for a film when it might not work in the form of a show? This happened with Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, even if they did then reanimate a chunk of it as a couple of episodes. Luckily, today’s review will not have that issue, since it’s a prequel to the overall anime! This is a review of Jujutsu Kaisen 0

The film is directed by Sunghoo Park, the director of the show, The God of Highschool, and Garo: The Vanishing Line. It’s written by Hiroshi Seko, and based on the manga by Gege Akutami. Our story follows Yuta Okkotsu, dubbed by Kayleigh McKee. He’s a high schooler who happens to have something looming over his shoulders in the form of a deadly and immensely powerful cursed spirit named Rika Orimoto, dubbed by Anairis Quinones. This spirit happens to be his childhood friend before she died and was cursed to stick to Yuta. After an incident where Yuta put some classmates into the infirmary ward, he is sought after by our favorite Jujutsu sorcerer/mentor Satoru Gojo, dubbed by Kaiji Tang. He decides to enroll him into the school where individuals who want to become sorcerers can train and save people from these curses. Unfortunately for Yuta and Gojo, the main villain of the series, Suguru Geto, dubbed by Lex Lang, wants to get Rika for his own desires to rule the world and kill anyone who isn’t a Jujutsu sorcerer. Can Yuta get a handle on his grief and save the day? I mean, obviously, something happens since this is a prequel story, but still. 

What’s so fascinating about this film is how it fits into the overall franchise. Unlike most films in battle franchises, this one is actually important to the story. You can literally start the franchise with this film and then watch the show. The film rewards you with watching it first by making a lot of the stuff that happens in the show have more substance to them. However, watching the show and then the film afterwards can also give you some rewards in a different sense by filling in those parts of the story that this film explains. It’s such a smart decision to adapt the prequel story into a movie due to how it really couldn’t work as its own small story arc due to how little substance there was in the original manga. The film itself has a rock-solid story of Yuta getting over the loss of his friend, and him metaphorically and literally holding onto his grief with Rika. There is also a part of the story dealing with the different ideals, and the ravine that separates two of the characters due to their backstory and philosophy. It’s a film with a lot more substance than “the heroes fight a movie-exclusive villain that doesn’t do anything for the main storyline”. 

Animation-wise, it does look fantastic. Despite the fact that MAPPA is overworking their animators like the rest of the anime industry when they shouldn’t, their animation is top-notch. The film might not look any different from the show, but considering how good it looked in the first place, that isn’t the biggest deal. The characters look great, the animation is fluid, and the action beats are incredible. There is a reason why most studios try to book MAPPA for action shows due to their incredible work. I am sure this is what the director is now going to be known for. The English dub cast is fantastic as usual, with a really good set of actors that are obviously in the show as well.  As I previously mentioned, we have Kayleigh McKee, Anairis Quinones, Kaiji Tang, Lex Lang, Allegra Clark, Xander Mobus, Matthew David Rudd, Bill Butts, Ryan Bartley, Sarah Williams, and Laura Post. The music hits all of those fun bombastic and action-packed notes, and they bring back the overall team of the show for the film. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They brought back composers Hiroaki Tsutsumi, Yoshimasa Terui, and Alisa Okehazama. Hiroaki is a well-known composer who also worked on shows like Tokyo Revengers, Dr. Stone, Orange, Children of the Whales, Monster Musume, and the infamously awful Koikimo

Now, criticizing this film is a touch complicated. Not that it doesn’t have any flaws, there are a few that could be leveled against this film, but some of those complaints are probably build-up for the second season coming out next year. For example, the side villains? They don’t get to do much. While a few of them have a lot more story importance with the upcoming season, it’s a shame some are simply introduced. Luckily, this show is tremendously popular and will have some story relevance in the future, but for the sake of this film, they aren’t really substantial to the story. There also should have been a lot more time for moments to expand upon the friendship and love between Yuta and Rika. The film does enough to tell you their backstories, but they really are the highlights. They were both kids with illnesses, they loved each other, and then Rika dies and gets cursed by Yuta and turns into this powerful cursed spirit. There isn’t much time for Rika to breathe as a character, and while a majority of this film’s story is about Yuta letting go of loss and the grief of cursing his childhood friend, Rika is used more like a prop rather than having her own actual character. Or at the very least, she isn’t as fleshed out as Yuta is, and that’s a shame. It’s essentially the big problem with shonen battle shows and Jujutsu Kaisen as a whole, where sometimes the story and writing aren’t taking time to give the characters time to breathe. 

Overall though, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is fantastic, and once again, it’s one of the rare franchise films where you can literally start with the film and then jump into the show, or watch the film after the show, and get rewarded in many different ways. It’s a fascinating film that mostly works as a perfect introduction to a franchise, and it has substance within the franchise. It’s actually mandatory that you watch the film, unlike so many franchise films that you can pretty much skip. The franchise is pretty good, and is a much better battle show than most that get released. Well, next time we will be looking at another Netflix feature from a prominent director. You will just have to wait for the review in the near future. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 256: Turning Red Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

The fact of the matter is that there needs to be more diverse stories being told in film and animation, and there needs to be a bigger push for more diverse storytellers behind these projects as well. It’s absurd how stubborn some animation studios can be or have been in the past to rely on the same three or so directors for all of their films, and that’s detrimental to actually telling more ambitious and creative stories. Do you think we would be where we are now with films like Into the Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Encanto, and today’s review of Turning Red if we had the same people in charge of greenlighting every single project? We need this change in the US animation scene, because having the same five or so directors with the same familiar but distinct to their own respective studios’ art styles gets tiring quickly. This is why much of the time, the best animated films that come out every year are from overseas, because they are willing to talk about stuff and do different animation and visual styles that most US studios aren’t willing to tackle. It’s frustrating, because now with studios like Pixar and Sony breaking down the walls that were limiting studios back then, they are now able to let artists and studios go in new directions. I mean, did you see that new Puss in Boots trailer? It looks amazing. Anyway, we are going to talk about Pixar’s newest animated venture with Domee Shi’s Turning Red

Directed by Domee Shi and written by Domee Shi and Julia Cho, we follow the story of Meilin Lee, voiced by Rosalie Chiang. She’s an ambitious, proactive, and extremely realistic teenager living in Toronto with her family and circle of friends. After an absolutely embarrassing moment caused by her mother, Ming Lee, voiced by Sandrah Oh. When she reacts to some drawings in Meilin’s notebook, something changes within Mei overnight. The next morning, she finds out that she has turned into one of the world’s cutest animals, a red panda. After understandably freaking out, she then goes on a journey to find out how she can deal with this new and apparently familial “curse”, and still go on with being a newly appointed teenager and life around her. 

Let’s start with the themes and overall story, because, for some reason, quite a few people, mostly uneducated, had some notoriously bad takes before and after this film’s release. Now then, to the people who said “I can’t relate to the main character.”, let me ask you a question, were you ever a teenager? Unless you are under 13, then you have been a teenager. Do you remember how many corny things you have said and done? How you have tried to be overly perfect in everything you do? What about some embarrassing drawings that you know don’t look good now, but you were super passionate about? Don’t you remember seeing a concert for a particular artist that you thought would be the biggest and most important thing in your life at that point? What about how you thought it would be the end of the world if you didn’t see that one concert, movie, show, or play that one new video game? What about that moment in time when you found your sexual discovery of finding other boys or girls cute and or hot? To the artists who are reading this, do you not remember drawing fanart or writing fanfiction of characters you loved and you “Frankenstein” them together into a story because you could? Turning Red does a fantastic job of capturing the messy era of time that is puberty and becoming a teenager more so than shows like Big Mouth. It’s an extremely awkward time, and one when you are finding things out about yourself that you never quite got until that point in time. The fact some people find this film unrelatable either means they have completely blocked out that part of them growing up, just found the execution of being said teenager not perfect, or are absolutely lying, because just because the character may not be 100% specifically you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find characters relatable. I have reviewed films and shows that are 100% not relating to me, but I find ways to be invested with the entire story or experience. Don’t tell me you can relate to something like a walking toy, a bug, a car voiced by Owen Wilson, and then not a more relatable character like a pre-teen going through puberty and her period. The film’s story also tackles themes of pressure from the toxic familial drama that trickles down through generations, as Mei’s mother Ming also had to deal with that from her mother. Yes, we now have two animated films in a row from Disney that deal with toxic family ideals about perfection and the unhealthy pressure that is put upon the rest of the family. When Mei’s father, Jin talks with her in the third act, you can tell that while he had a more backseat approach to the overarching narrative, his talk with Mei is one of the most crucial story beats about loving yourself, and that means loving the side that’s great and all of the corny dorky awkward sides to it as well. Domee Shee and her team were able to weave such a tapestry of a story that, while it gets bonkers in the third act, was still executing it all with such precise accuracy and everything from the rest of the family members and friends has such nuance to them that it results in one of the most intimate stories ever made at the studio. 

Before we move on though, isn’t it refreshing that an animated film actually acknowledges that periods are a thing? No real sugar coating of it either. This film makes it known that yes, this stuff happens in real life, and there are no attempts to walk around it since everyone is going to deal with it. It’s like how refreshing it is to hear a show or film about zombies actually call them zombies and not some generic marketable word like walkers, or when food competition shows can’t use branded food items and the show has to come up with the bargain bin generic title of those items, but then are actually able to say them. This whole element of the overarching plot due to the metaphorical puberty and period themes is a good sign of how far we have come to talk about this subject in shows and films without it being a weird and frankly gross/punching down punchline. For example, did you know that Disney originally didn’t release Isao Takahata’s masterpiece, Only Yesterday, into the states because one part of the story in a coming-of-age drama talks about the main characters getting periods? It’s a natural element of growing up or something! It only makes that fact so much more aggravating, because Disney was sure as heck glad to get those films over here, but apparently not all of them for some reason. 

Now that we talked about the story, let’s gush about the animation. While it might be similar to last year’s film Luca, Turning Red takes Luca’s art style and amplifies it up to over 100%. This is hands-down some of Pixar’s most expressive animation. It’s ridiculous how much blood, sweat, and possible satanic goat rituals the talented animators have to go through at Pixar to really push the envelope with how expressive their characters can be. It has a really fast-paced snap to how Mei reacts to everything alongside the other side characters. There is definitely some of that Sony Pictures Animation snap to the movements, and the ease with which it puts you into the mindset of Mei when her mother either embarrasseds her in front of everyone at the convenience store or when her mom brings pads to school, even simply seeing the food on the family dinner table. They even add so many small 2D elements to the CGI models, like the sparkly anime eyes trope. When they get to the spiritual bamboo forest sequences, they look less like CGI forests and more like beautifully lush painted environments. It brings such an alluring and out-of-this-world atmosphere. All of Toronto really reminds me of the pastel colors you would see in a Kirby game and how full of character and life it is. It’s so cool to see that we are now in a space where CGI can have these new techniques and tools to bring the next step in CGI animation up to the plate. Sure, The Peanuts Movie and Into the Spider-Verse got the ball rolling, but to see how everyone has taken notice and want to do the same thing is such a nice change of pace, when back in the day and even as early as the last decade, everyone wanted to try and be that one studio when they should have been doing their own thing. Now, studios are doing their own thing and being the best they can be at what they do, but everyone gets to have more fun with taking the animation game to the next level! Who cares at the end of the day who started it first, let’s just enjoy the fact the US animation scene is growing. 

Anyway, the voice cast is fantastic! The people in charge of casting at Pixar tend to always pick who would best fit the character, instead of who would get the most buzz for marketing and social media. Not to say they get no big-named actors, because a lot of the actors in this film are recognizable, but the fact they aren’t slammed in your face via the marketing is always going to feel refreshing. The actors they did get though, do a fantastic job with their characters. You get Rosalie Chiang as Mei who brings this delightful energy and driving force to the plot. Sandra Oh is always amazing in whatever she is cast, Orion Lee brings a nurturing and quirky nature to the dad, it’s always a good time when you bring James Hong into the equation, Wai Ching Hu is complex and captivating as Mei’s grandmother, and Ava Morse, Hyien Park, and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan do such a pitch-perfect job as Mei’s friends. The music that is composed by Ludwig Goransson was able to perfectly capture the films’ tone and the world of early 2000s Toronto. The boy-band tunes that are played throughout the film were composed by Billie Eilish and her brother, and they are shockingly good. They really capture the era of boy-bands the world was enjoying at that point in time. 

There are a few story beats that could have been resolved better in the third act, but they are minor nitpicks, since this reviewer personally found that it hits the landing to make up for some of the small story beats and some clunky writing moments. Turning Red is a new step in the evolution of Pixar storytelling. Hopefully, they hire more new talent among their already immensely talented teams of animators to keep pushing the envelope of animated storytelling because as we have seen, when studios do that, others tend to follow with their own takes. It’s an early frontrunner for the best animated film of 2022 so far, and this year is stacked, so we will have to see where things go from here. Now then, let’s talk about an anime franchise film! The next one up will be the brand new and hugely successful Jujutsu Kaisen 0

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Rating: Essentials