The Other Side of Animation 232: Cryptozoo Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Heads up: I was able to watch this series before its recent release via a screener sent to me by Magnolia Pictures. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you, Magnolia Pictures.

PARENTAL HEADS UP: There is some nudity throughout the film. This film is not for kids and more for older teens to young adults and above. The viewer’s discretion is advised. Enjoy the review!

Back in 2017, for what felt like half a year, Dash Shaw’s My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea was my favorite animated film of that year. 2017 was a rather middling year for animation since it seemed like all of the best films were saved for 2016 and 2018. It didn’t have many standout films until the latter half of the year, and that was when I felt like the year finally had some competition. To me, if I like or hate your movie, I want to at least feel like I’m getting something different or distinct, and not just be some bog-standard film that was made for the sake of making something. When you are someone like Dash Shaw, well, you are bound to leave an impression with his vibrant visuals and distinct writing. That’s why I was super pumped about the fact he had a new movie coming out, and was in pain that I wasn’t able to check it out during Sundance and Annecy, but luckily, I got a screener and am able to check it out now! This review will be about Dash’s new movie, Cryptozoo. 

 

Like I said above, this film was written and directed by Dash Shaw. It had its world premiere at Sundance back in January 2021 winning the festival’s Innovator award, competed in the Contrechampe section at Annecy, and will be distributed in the states by Magnolia Pictures. So, with Dash bringing us another abstract and wild experience, what do I think of this new surreal trip? Does its busy visuals drag down the film or do I gel with it like peanut butter and jelly? Let’s take a look and a visit to Cryptozoo

The story takes place in a world where cryptids exist alongside humans. Our main character is Lauren Grey, voiced by Lake Bell. She has made it her life’s goal to find, capture, and protect cryptids in a zoo/animal sanctuary-like environment after encountering one at a young age. Along with a rich widow named Joan, voiced by Grace Zabriskie, she is assisted by a medusa named Phoebe, voiced by Angeliki Papoulia, and is on a quest to find a mystical creature/cryptid called a Baku, an entity that is known for eating dreams both good and bad. They have to get it before it falls into the grasp of the military and a ruthless individual named Nicholas, voiced by Thomas Jay Ryan. Can they get the Baku before it’s too late? 

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So, let’s start with the obvious, the animation is bonkers. While it might flow and feel like papercraft with very stiff and limiting animation, you can tell this was an artistic decision and not a budget or limitation. Again, just because it’s not made by Disney or had the budget of a Pixar film, doesn’t mean animated films on smaller budgets or teams look worse. There is such a thing as art direction. It reminds me of a lot of those papercraft animated features from Russia, but done with more modern tech, and is combined with some proper 2D animation to give this film an extremely wild visual flair. You can not say this film looks like any other animated film out there. It looks like a bunch of clipart and detailed cutouts. It’s a trippy film as well, using a ton of psychedelic visuals to express different story beats and a mood that I can only compare to films like Foam Bath from 1979. The voice cast brings a more grounded vibe to film than the more comedic Sinking into the Sea. It helps that you have a pretty good cast with Lake Bell, Micheal Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Zoe Kazan, Grace Zabriskie, Peter Stormare, Louisa Krause, Thomas Jay Ryan, and Alex Karpovsky.

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However, we have seen features with amazing animation fall flat under the story and writing department. It’s not uncommon to find films that do so. Luckily, while the visuals may be a bit much for the eyes at points, the story is substantial enough to keep you invested. It has an indie feel as we see the commentary about how our protagonists and antagonist plan to use the cryptids for their use. Sure, Lake Bell’s character might be doing the right thing by wanting to help protect and save the cryptids, but the film and script want you to see it from a different point of view with the zoo/sanctuary setting. To be clear, it’s not saying both sides are equally bad. The villain is obviously in the wrong with how they obtain cryptids by force or through the blackmarket dealings. It’s more that it’s painting it all in a morally grey way rather than trying to fence-sit on the topic at hand. You can pull a lot from how the cryptids are represented here in the film, and I’m glad the film decided to have an ambitious tone to its experience. Yes, some stories do and should need very straightforward stories, but when you get to mix it up a little via something that’s not so clear cut, then you can have a more distinct journey. You still have to be careful, but I felt like Dash Shaw did a good job portraying the two sides of humanity and the cryptid situation. 

While the visuals may be a touch overload at times, and the dialogue is calm and beefy, Cryptozoo is unlike any other animated film out in 2021. It might not be my favorite, and its major award season chances are probably going to be in the lower bracket of getting nominated, but I think it deserves a chance. It will be out on demand and will have a small theatrical release on August 20th, and I think everyone should check it out! If you are looking for something distinct, then you will be delighted to know that this film is truly worthy of the word unique. Now then, we will be hopping back over to Netflix, and will be checking out the new Netflix action fantasy film The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. 



Rating Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 227: Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish Review.

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps 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 by Funimation. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you, Funimation.

Funimation was always an odd one when it came to foreign animated film distribution. Even when they were the original distributors of Mamoru Hosoda and some of Makoto Shinkai’s films, they were never doing enough to get in the nominee circles, unlike GKids and Shout! Factory. They could have some of the most financially successful and acclaimed films and still not get nominated. Films like Your Name and Demon Slayer: Mugen Train are successful as all get out, but they are still just successful among that scene in the film industry. It’s a shame because after getting acclaim from Your Name, their focus went more toward distributing anime series. They brought over the occasional film, but they either weren’t big hits or were based on a hit franchise. GKids took the crown of “Got an animated film from Japan? We will probably distribute it”. Maybe it’s because they were bought by Sony, but they recently have started picking up films again, and films that aren’t even attached to any major franchises! These include the hour-long Stranger By The Shore, and today’s review, Josee, The Tiger, and the Fish


Directed by Kotaro Kamura, based on the short story by Seiko Tanabe, written by Sayaka Kuwamira and produced by Bones Inc, this animated film was released back in October 2020 in Japan and then competed in June 2021 at the Annecy Film Festival, which got beat out by Flee. Luckily, during the Annecy Film Festival, Funimation picked up the rights and gave it an, unfortunately, limited release, but I’m sure at some point you will all be able to watch it. So, was it worth waiting a year for this film? I mean, you can read the review to find out. 

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Our story revolves around a young man in college named Tsuneo Suzukawa, dubbed by Howard Wang. He is a college student who works part-time jobs to get enough money to try and study overseas in Mexico. One evening, he ends up saving the life of a young woman named Kumiko Yamamura aka Josee, dubbed by Suzie Yeung, who was pushed in her wheelchair down a hill, and Tsuneo ends up catching her. While making his way back to Josee and her grandmother’s place, he decides to take the grandmother’s offer to be Josee’s caretaker. It doesn’t start well with Josee being tedious to work with, but will Tsuneo find out that there is more to his life with taking care of and bonding with Josee? Will Josee find a new spark and love for life? 

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When you look at the film and this premise, you dread that it’s going to be one of those films. You know the ones, right? These are the romance films that deal with an able-bodied lead who falls for someone who is either handicapped or has some deadly illness that milks the misery and sadness of the situation. It turns what should be a dramatic story into one that ends up coming off unintentionally hilarious or more mean-spirited with how melodramatic the overall story develops. It’s either that or the person with the handicap or sickness is there to help elevate the bland, boring, able-bodied protagonist in order to find his spark in life. These films tend to come out either during award season or come out during dryer times of the film year. Sometimes you get one that changes the formula around, but most of the time, they are very paint-by-number experiences. What does this film do differently then? Well, it has a good story, likable characters, emotional and realistic themes, and beautiful animation. Unlike many films in this genre, the real strength of the story does lie in its two main characters. You understand why Josee is so aggressive and snappy at strangers due to how the world around her has treated her, which shines a light on how some people treat others who have disabilities. You also understand Tsuneo’s drive and forgetting everything around him when you get into that one-track mindset. Instead of one character lifting the other, both of our leads help each other out. This is such a great element to the story, because otherwise, by a lesser writer or director, Josee would be the prop that helps support Tsuneo get to his dreams, while Josee either accepts her place in life or in some cases of those terrible films, dies. Josee herself is a realized character who loves art, and you understand her attitude toward everyone when she’s been cooped up in her grandmother’s house. Weird how you make a more compelling story when you have a romance where both characters have agency. It talks a lot about reaching for your dreams and how you can help one another to get to them. The story can be a bit melodramatic at points, as it’s expected from anime, but it never quite took me out of the experience like a lot of romance animated features. While some of the dialogue can be a bit much, with some lines reinforcing a somewhat toxic mindset, much of the dialogue flowed well, and the film could be very funny. 

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What helps elevate the beauty and emotional core of the film is the animation by Bones Inc. For those that are not aware, Bones Inc is the studio behind the acclaimed My Hero Academia series, SK8: The Infinity, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Soul Eater, Space Dandy, Mob Psycho 100, Carole & Tuesday, and the recently released Godzilla: Singular Point and The Case Study of Vanitas. They also have done work on films like Cowboy Bebop: The Movie and Sword of the Stranger. This is a gorgeous movie with drop-dead gorgeous coloring, movements, and a pretty fantastic combination of CGI and 2D elements that don’t stand out. The animators are even able to let the characters have cartoony reactions to certain lines and story beats, which is great since it shows that they are willing to break the character designs to help the characters emote a bit more for jokes, and reactions. They even let the story become fantastical with an incredible sequence where Josee becomes a mermaid with her mermaid half formed from her dress. and it’s such a creative touch that gives the film a lot of charm. The voice cast is also pretty good with an English dub that includes Howard Wang, Suzie Yeung, Dani Chambers, and Zeno Robinson to name a few of the talent behind the characters. They do a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life, and I enjoyed their performances. The music is beautiful, atmospheric, and fantastical with a soundtrack composed by Evan Call, who composed the music for the incredible Violet Evergarden series. It reminds me of a lot of Kensuke Ushio’s work from A Silent Voice

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As much as I love and want to rave and cheer about this whole movie, I do have some very minor complaints. As I said previously, it can be a touch melodramatic, and that’s true within the film’s third act where a love triangle angle is thrown in when it wasn’t a thing throughout the entire movie. It felt like it was put there to ignite the third act resolution, and while I get that, it would have been more powerful, at least to me, if Josee made the decision herself and not because another character who was secondary to the plot decided to light the fire under her feet. I know it’s anime, and anime is known for big dramatic speeches and interactions, but they tend to be too much at points. Josee, while believable and likable as a character, does begin a bit rough around the edges. It takes awhile for her to come out of her shell, but the first few minutes are too much at points. 

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Still, even with those criticisms, I loved Josee, The Tiger, and the Fish. It’s in my top five favorite animated films of 2021 so far, and it shows how strong of a year 2021 has become when studios are willing to release movies for people to watch. I mean, I know the pandemic was a thing, but still. Sadly, by the time this review comes up, it will have already gone through its limited release, but if you can find a way to watch it and support the official release of the film, do so! Now then, next time I’ll talk about the new Netflix animated feature from Japan, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop.

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essential 

The Other Side of Animation 226: Snotty Boy Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Parental Warning/Heads Up: This film is not meant for children and involves an immense amount of crass humor, sex, mentions of Nazis, and scatological elements. If you for some reason want to show this to your kids, you are better off waiting until they are teenagers or older to check this film out. Anyway, here is the review! 


Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me by Picture Tree International. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Picture Tree International.

Animation as a storytelling medium seems to always be in a constant battle to find mass-market appeal. Due to how animation has been treated as a medium only for children or family audiences, there has been a real struggle to tell more adult stories. This is weird since many different countries have been doing so with no struggle. Want to see more adult stories? The Japanese animation industry has plenty. However, that is still not enough to tell Hollywood and the rest of the world that “hey, a lot of adults like animation, and we would like to see adult animation that isn’t the usual stuff we have been getting for two decades now”. Unfortunately, when you think of adult animation, you think of adult comedies full of crass or shock humor, or shows that are hyper-violent and edgy. There seems to be no real happy medium for adult animation to be able to tell diverse stories. It doesn’t help either that no one watches the adult animated films that do go against the norm, and thus fail at the box office or streaming. Anyway, despite my misgivings with the animation fandom and community and how the animation industry seems to disrespect or not want to support more adult animation, I am happy to check out and hopefully enjoy these movies when they do come out. Where do I land with Snotty Boy aka Rotzbub

Directed by Marcus H. Rosenmuller and Santiago Lopez Jover, this CGI film that is a German/Austrian collaboration was released on June 14th and was a competitor in the Annecy 2021 Film Festival. It lost out to My Sunny Maad in the main competition segment and is currently looking for distributors to be released all over the world. So, does this raunchy comedy mixed with a coming-of-age story pull it off and help expand the view of more adult animation? Well, you will have to read the review to find out! 

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Our story revolves around a boy named, well, Snotty Boy, voiced by Markus Freistatter. He lives in a small town in Austria in the 1960s and is going through much of what boys go through with puberty, learning about their sexual urges, love, and dealing with some lingering Nazi sentimentalities. What unfolds is a list of actions including drawing lewd pictures of the woman working at the butcher’s, having his first beer when he’s not supposed to have one, and falling in love with a Romani girl that visits the town. Can he find out who he is before the start of summer and find love while dealing with some garbage individuals? 

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When you look at the trailer for this film, the art style and designs are based on the life of Manfred Deix. It has this weird cartoony visual look that has a more exaggerated Adventures of Tin Tin 2011 look. The texture and human look also remind me of how humans were portrayed in the Shrek franchise. The movements are a touch more cartoony and floaty, which makes the overall execution of the animation look a bit uncanny. They don’t move like humans but have textures and designs that do. The film has a distinct look, but it also has these weird uses of blurring and lighting that make everything look like it was made in an Unreal engine. I like some of the 2D sequences and the overall film at least looks unique in its visual presentation. It might not fully work, but it stands out from other foreign CGI affairs. 

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So, what about the story itself? It has some pretty adult topics like the hateful sentimentality that would be lingering around in the 60s and sadly today, sex, and dealing with being true to who you are if you have a talent, to make sure that talent is nurtured. It’s a lot of things you don’t normally see in adult animation, and it has an entirely different tone and vibe to the story than say, America: The Motion Picture. It’s rather admirable, and while a lot of it is raunchy, shocking, and crass, there is this air of teenage innocence and wonder that this film captures with its grotesque visuals that show off more of the ugly side of going through stuff like puberty. It’s a weird mix that works through a good chunk of the film. It has a low-key vibe at points as you let the main character just chill and go through his thoughts. I even liked some of the villagers in the film. It might be a super crass movie, but I dig how it’s a film that is willing to take its time with the story and characters. 

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With all that said, It is a very crass movie with a lot of sex and poop jokes. It’s a shame because there are some very clever jokes and some of the sex jokes are funny, but I constantly found myself a touch too grossed out at points. I’m not against adult comedies being crude and rude since one of my favorite comedies from 2018 was Blockers, but I have a limit. I also found some characters insufferable, and I know that is the point at certain story junctions, but I did not care for them. I also understand why the characters are designed as they are, but when everyone looks ugly as sin outside of the Romani girl, the lead’s dad, and a few other characters, well, it’s a bit much. 

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I don’t know how much appeal this film has to get fully picked up for widespread distribution, but it’s an interesting watch! I wouldn’t put it in my top 10 of the year, but for adult animation from overseas, I’m happy I got to experience it at all, and I would be interested in seeing who would pick up such a film. I’m sure if push comes to shove, Netflix will probably pick it up. I do think animation fans looking for a more adult experience should give this film a shot if they can find a way to watch it. Hope it finds a US distributor! Anyway, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to review next. Maybe it will be something from the US. I’m not sure. You will have to check in next time. 






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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!







Rating: Rent It! 

My Journey Through Annecy 2021

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this Editorial!)

What can I say about the Annecy 2021 Online experience? Well, it was a mixed bag. While I can overall say I had a good time, their move to being both an online and in-person event is what dragged it down for the online customers. Sorry, I don’t have the time or money to spend on going to France during a pandemic. It was a real botched attempt to satisfy the people who could go in person and the people from around the world who wanted to attend. It had some great elements to it, but I would also argue it didn’t do enough for people who wanted to experience it online. Here are my pros and cons of what I took away from the festival 



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Pro: WIP section was fruitful and interesting! 

As with last year, my favorite part of the festival was watching the work-in-progress panels. I loved seeing what films were getting made and how they were tackling the animation process. It’s so cool to get these behind-the-scenes looks at animation production because otherwise, not many people get to see this side of animation. Granted, some of them were in French, so it was a disappointment to watch and not understand parts. A few of them also didn’t seem to have a whole lot done. It made me wonder if these are part “Here is what we are making” and part “We are showing off what we have made so far to look for funding”. That’s not a bad thing, but I think I always want to see films that I can check out sooner than later, but that’s just me. I wish the ones in French all had subtitles or a different making-of video for online viewers so they don’t have to wait to watch them when they are finally dubbed or subbed. 

Favorite Panels: The House, Maya & The Three, Princess Dragon, Little Nicholas, Unicorn Wars, The Peasant, Fena: Pirate Princess, Robin Robin, Perlimps, Nayola.


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Con: None of the feature films were watchable online! 

I think this was the biggest issue, as while it was an issue last year, at least last year’s Online experience let you watch some films that were competing. I know and I get that there is a lot of legal and copyright stuff that kept some of these films out of the online portion of last year’s event, but since some of the films in competition waltzed right in with distributors, like Deer King got picked up by GKIDS and Viva Kids picked up Ape Star, why wouldn’t they be a part of the online part of the festival? I know last year’s batch of watchable films were mostly films with no real widespread value or appeal, but they decided this year that none of them were going to be watchable! I’m sure ya had to be there to see films like Snotty Boy or Mount Fuji Seen From a Train, which didn’t look like an animated film at all! The worst part is that they promised three films were going to be watchable online, but they just never showed up. You could watch the shorts and two old films from 1979 and 1981, but that was it. What is the point of having an online form of the festival when the online viewers can’t watch the features?! It doesn’t help either that Animation is Film 2021 was announced during Annecy, and will (for now) have an in-person and virtual experience with none of the hiccups that Annecy keeps having. Also, Animation First and the NYICFF had films that were fully watchable online! I don’t understand why they are so stingy outside of the obvious legal stuff, but if they aren’t going to have some feature films watchable online in an online version of the festival, then I would rather not participate at all. I was lucky to get a screener for one film, but that was it. Please, Annecy, I beg of you to make the films watchable online for online viewers next time! 

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Pro: Bubble Bath is a trippy film! 

Well, of the two older animated features they had to offer to the online viewers, I was excited to see Bubble Bath. This was a 1979 Hungarian film that had one of the wildest character designs and animation style out of any animated film from back then and even now. It was a film that said, “going off-model is the entire point.” It was also a musical, and while I don’t remember the songs, I thought it was charming! The story was decent enough, but I think the wild visuals and the story got lost within said visuals. Still, it was an experience I rather enjoyed, and once I see it become available in the US, I will buy a copy of the film. 

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Con: A majority of the French Annecy panels did not have subtitles on them! 

Listen, I would love to have all of the time in the world to learn other languages, and I know there are plenty of ways to learn said languages, but when a good chunk of the online viewers are from the US, well, I would just assume not everyone can speak or knows French. They have said the panels will get translated subtitles or dubs, but it makes me wish they did subtitle videos like they did last year. I could generally get what they were talking about, but fully getting it would have made some of them better experiences. 

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Pro: The Inu-Oh Preview. 

One of the highlights was seeing the first five minutes of Masaaki Yuasa’s new film, and boy, was it a ride. With the beautiful animation, the different tone, and the character designs, it’s always exciting to see what Yuasa and his team have come up with next. I’m sad this will be his last film for a while since he’s going to be on break, but if the rest of the film was as good as these first five minutes, then I can’t wait to see how the rest of the film unfolds.

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Con: Should have had more previews! 

I loved the Inu-Oh preview and admired the unknown horrors we will be stepping into with Space Jam: A New Legacy, but those were the only two? You couldn’t do previews of the films that were being shown off or upcoming films? What about the ones that were premiering there as screenings like Luck Favors Nikuko? I don’t know, it reeks of the online consumers not having a proper experience, while the in-person stuff got all of the love and support. 

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Pro: The Panels were a lifesaver

Seeing the Netflix, Ron’s Gone Wrong, and other informational animation panels were a nice addition to the Work-in-Progress panels. Being able to see new shows and upcoming films for services like Netflix was fun! 

Favorite Panels: The Netflix ones and Ron’s Gone Wrong

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Con: There needed to be more for the online attendees than just the shorts

Let’s be really frank here, the online viewers got the short end of the stick. The shorts were great! The panels were great! However, that was it. Again, I get that they wanted to focus on the in-person event, but if you aren’t going to offer an equal experience to the online filmgoers, then maybe don’t do an online experience. I still enjoyed my time at Annecy, but I want Annecy to do better. I want to talk about more of these films that everyone might want to know about, but when you don’t give me access to them, well, I don’t know if I can get the word out and maybe drum up some attention.

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

The Other Side of Animation 223: Lamya’s Poem Review

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Heads Up!: I was able to view this early with a screener. Thank you, WestEnd FIlms!

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

For some reason, I have seen film snobs act as though there can only be one kind of story. If you have already told this story, then you can’t have a story set in the same place or time. I guess these snobs forgot that every story ever made is built upon or around a familiar story beat. In terms of animation, this seems to happen a lot. For example, for two years straight, we had three different bigfoot/yeti animated films. A lot of this is timing and coincidence, and what helped about those three films was the fact that each of them had a different setting and story. Not everyone has the same story, and you shouldn’t be gatekeeping what stories get told, because it may sound familiar to another film that already exists. If we thought like this, we wouldn’t have had Babe when Disney already put out Gordy. I say this because today’s film will probably be interesting to people who have seen Cartoon Saloon’s The Breadwinner and The Swallows of Kabul. Today’s review is of the Annecy In Competition film, Lamya’s Poem

Directed by Alexander Kronemer and produced by PIP Animation Services and the production company Lamya’s Poem, this film was previously revealed to be in last year’s Work in Progress section of the Annecy International Film Festival. It then came back with a vengeance for this year’s Annecy In Competition Section. Does this film have a chance in the competition section against Lion Dance BoyPoupelle of Chimney TownJosee, the Tiger, and the FishThe Deer KingMy Sunny MaadThe CrossingHayop Ka!Jiang ZiyaSnotty BoyThe Ape Star, and Flee? Well, let’s open up that poetry book and find out. 

The story revolves around a young girl named Lamya, voiced by Millie Davis. She lives in Aleppo with her mother, and the two of them live in fear of getting caught in the civil war happening in their country. One day, Lamya gets a special book from her teacher by a known poet named Rumi. The story then splits off into telling the origin of Rumi, voiced by Mena Massoud, who, along with his father, try to survive and avoid the grasp of an evil army that has wrecked their town. The film combines the stories of both Rumi and Lamya and has a load of spiritual and symbolic elements. Can Rumi find inner peace? Can Lamya and her mother avoid becoming victims caught in the crossfire of the civil war? 

What’s inspiring about this film is its tone. It may be animated, and while I wouldn’t say it’s as adult as The Breadwinner and The Swallows of Kabul, it still tells a story about survival, connection, and finding peace among the different people in this world. It’s a film that is aimed more at older kids, teenagers, and adults. I respect that so much because I still remember a time when studios would try to take a Disney approach to talk about stories and settings that are a touch dark for normal viewers, but then fails because the tone doesn’t work. Even when Disney tried this, they failed. This film doesn’t go as far as The Swallows of Kabul, but it doesn’t shy away from the horrors and troubles Lamya and her people go through. I am also a sucker for stories that intertwine the main characters and parallels the real events the leads are going through. It’s also a fairly quiet film that lets the characters breathe and let the actions from the story up to that point unfold. I wish more animated features were able to take a moment to let things settle down. 

The animation for this film is interesting. it reminds me of a mixture of how it is executed in hit shows like Archer, but with the art direction and visual style of a children’s book. That’s not a bad thing since it has a distinct visual style that makes it stand out from the other films. It does mix some CGI elements in, but for what it’s worth, the 2D and CGI are mixed well. The voice work is also pretty good! I enjoyed the performances of three of the actors Mena Massoud, Millie Davis, and Faran Tahir. I thought they put in some fairly compelling performances. It was also just nice to see Mena Massoud again since I thought he was the best part about that 2019 Aladdin remake. The music by composer Christopher Willis is probably one of the best aspects of the visual and audio presentation. It’s big in scale and brought an emotional note to the overarching story and the conflict that is intertwined within the stories told in this movie. 

If I had to complain about something, it’s that I think some of the sequences in the film would have been better if the animation was a touch more dynamic. While I don’t make the comparison to Archer as a bad thing, it has some of the same problems as Archer due to how stiff the characters can be. Some of the more intense and dramatic moments would have looked better if there were more dynamic poses. Maybe they couldn’t due to the time and limitation of the talent and budget they had, but it pulled me out of the moment at times. Some performances of the side characters felt wonky and not as good as the main performances. I was also a touch confused about when the stories decided to intertwine and I think it came down to pacing and when they would pop up. 

Even if you may like some films like the ones mentioned above more, I’m glad films like Lamya’s Poem exists. I think it’s important to tell stories that aren’t the typical animated fare. Animation is such a fantastic medium to tell stories, and this film proves it. It’s why I’m in love with film festivals like Annecy, because we get to see stories, good or bad, told through animation. Now then, let’s move back to something more familiar with Pixar’s newest feature LUCA.

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!