Top 18 Animated Series of 2018!

 

Another year another round of art and entertainment to sort through.  I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of my personal favorites of the year and what better place to start then with toons!   The 2010’s has been a phenomenal decade for animation and 2018 was no exception!  So with out further ado let’s get started!!

 

18. Unikitty (Warner Bros. Animation/Cartoon Network)

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Cute, Colorful and full of hyperactive energy Cartoon Network & Warner Animation’s Unikitty is everything one would expect from a cartoon about everyone’s favorite Cat-Unicorn Hybrid!  Along with her brother Puppycorn and her friends Doctor Fox, Hawkodile & Rick and Frienmies like Brock and Master Frown there’s no end to the classic cartoon style antics the group can get-up to!  However like it’s elder sister show Teen Titans Go!  The level of hyper-activeness mileage will vary by viewer

17. Trolls The Beat Goes on! (Dreamworks Animation/Netflix)Trolls beat goes on

Picking-up where the 2016 film left off Trolls: The Beat Goes on is an adorable and somewhat retro style continuation of the charming all-ages tale.  The series visually is somewhat reminiscent of many direct to video features from the late 90’s-mid 00’s but the series uses this aesthetic to its advantage to keep young viewers engaged with bright colors and catchy songs, and some of the morals might just be relevant to its adult viewers as well.

 

16. Disenchantment (Rough Draft/Netflix)

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After conquering modern life with The Simpsons and the future with Futurama Matt Groening and co are finally tackling the past with a medieval fantasy series that is equal parts action, fantasy and comedy!  And while the series may be a bit rough around the edges the main story of the series in engaging enough to keep viewers interested in checking out more!   And Luci is the best pet cat er demon ever!

15. Megaman: Fully Charged (DHX/Dentsu/Cartoon Network)

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A Modern interpretation of the classic Blue-Bomber, Megaman: Fully Charged was a series with a lot of heart and love of the source material while still daring to move foward with origional concepts and ideas!  However like many third party shows on modern television it was mishandled by the network and seems to be another instance into which the Blue Bomber is denied his chance to capture the imaginations of a whole new generation.  However if you are able to catch the series on Cartoon Network’s app, I recommend giving it a shot as it is a truly delightful take on the character for fans of all ages!

14. The Shivering Truth [Adult Swim]

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While i’m not usually a fan of pseudo-nihilistic existentialist horror I can’t deny the impressive labor and craftsmanship that went into making this stop-motion animated series!  Truly this may be [Adult Swim]’s most impressive outing yet in terms of visual quality.  Though again the actual content of the show is not for everyone and some may indeed find it too disturbing to watch.

 

13. Littlest Pet Shop: A World of Our Own (Boulder Media/Hasbro/Discover Family)

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Hasbro’s latest attempt to bring interest to the Littlest Pet Shop franchise resulted in a genuinely well animated and well written cartoon that is leaps and bounds better then their previous attempt in 2012!  The series may have shorter episodes but the main cast was extremely enjoyable to watch.  Sadly it seems these pets may be a one hit wonder as it seems nothing was ordered past the initial 52 episodes.  Still it was a fun little slice of furry life while it lasted.

12.  Amazing World of Gumball Season 5 (Cartoon Network)

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The witty, irreverant and savage series Amazing World of Gumball continues to be one of the networks most entertaining series with disturbingly on point jokes about online culture, modern life and the every increasingly disturbing socio-economic and political climates around the world. Gumball continues to be the catharsis we all need, after all as they say if you don’t laugh you’ll just cry.

11. Pokemon The Series: Sun & Moon Ultra Adventures (Viz/Disney XD)

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Pokemon’s Sun & Moon seasons continue to be a great and refreshing revitalization of the series with the softer animation style and more slice of life and comedic stories mixed in with epic battles and adventures, Pokemon finally feels like it’s reached its full potential on the islands of Alola!

10.  Transformers: Cyberverse (Hasbro/Cartoon Network)

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A entertaining and well crafted mixture of some of the best elements of Generation 1, The IDW Publishing Comics and The Modern Fillms, Cyberverse is both familiar and new leading to an enjoyable viewing experience for fans of all ages!

9. My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Season 8/ Equestria Girls (DHX/Hasbro/Discovery Family)

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The long running smash/cult hit series eighth season proves that modern animations age like a fine wine as the show not only continues to grow the Mane Six and Crusaders Characters but introduced a whole slew of new ones as Twilight & Co. open a school of friendship where sure to be new fan favorites like Silverstream, Occellus, Sandbar, Yona, Gallus, Smoulder and Cozy Glow come to learn about the magic of friendship!  We also got new species like the Kirin/Nirik and an adorable StarTrix travel episode!  Though I am still salty about how the season 8 finale was mishandled, but the other 24 episodes in the season are golden and this may just be one of the series best yet!  Plus the Best Gift Ever Holiday special was pretty fun.

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On the Equestria Girls Side of things we got some of the BEST specials the spin-off has ever produced with Forgotten Friendship which hit all the emotional beats just right and gave-us a pseudo-beach episode, some feels filled moments with Sunset Shimmer and new fan favorite Wallflower Blush! Then Rollarcoaster of Friendship which was filled to the brim with Rarijack goodness, oh and something about not misusing social media or what not. Not to mention all the fun online shorts!  Overall 2018 was probably the best year for this spin-off since 2014’s Rainbow Rocks!

8. Summercamp Island (Cartoon Network)

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A Heartwarming and whimsical new series that could be one of many successors to Adventure Time, this odd fusion of Arthur and the Busy World of Richard Scary set on a magical island hosting a summer camp to adorkably awkward tween and teen toons is a relaxing and refreshing viewing for animation fans young and old alike!

7. Adventure Time Series Finale (Cartoon Network)

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After eight years and ten seasons The Grandaddy of modern animation went out with a bang!  An epic final battle, countless heartfelt moments, a catchy song or two and we finally got that Bubbline kiss!  Overall a fantastic end to a fantastic series! *And hey if you still want more there’s always the season 11 comic from Boom Studios!

 

6.   Hanazuki (Hasbro/Discovery Family

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Admittingly cheating with this one a bit as it premiered on Youtube last year, but given it just recently made its U.S. television debut i’m gonna count it anyway!  Hanazuki is a series about a young moon-flower who uses magical treasures fueled by her emotions to grow magic trees and fight the darkness.  It may sound simple and silly to some but the series message of learning to be in control of your emotions both positive and negative and use them in constructive ways is one people of all ages and from all walks of life would do well to take to heart!

5. Steven Universe Season 5 (Cartoon Network)

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The long running Cartoon Network series about sentient alien Gem stones continues to be one of modern animations most impressive and progressive series as it gave animation fans the network’s first major lesbian wedding between Ruby and Saphire and also still has enough great music and tear inducing moments to fill-up an entire ship!   And with a sixth season and movie coming next year the Steven Universe series seems to have plenty of gas left in the tank!

4. Final Space ( Team Coco/TBS)

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A Surprise hit from Olan Rogers and TBS, Final Space is an “Adult” animation that like its all-ages counterparts actually attempts to have a well-written and thought out story and interesting characters instead of just being low-brow or mean spirited jokes like many of it’s breatheren and for that it is easily my favorite series in its genre and easily the best “Adult” animation of the decade!

3. Criag of The Creek (Cartoon Network)

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A Delightful All-Ages  Slice of Life series about a young boy named Craig and his best friends Kelsey & JP.  This series is basically Bridge To Tarabithia without any of the super sad stuff as it primarily consists Craig and his friends hanging out at the Creek and the interesting DIY society the kids there have built around it to hang out at on the weekend or after school.  If you grew-up as a fan of shows like Codename: Kids Next Door or Recces definitely give this show a chance!

2. Hilda (Netflix)

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A Whimsical and enticing tale of a young girl and her adventures befriending magical creatures, Hilda is a simplistic yet intricate animated series that is sure to delight animation fans young and old alike.  Though sadly we have to wait till 2020 for season 2. *Though that gives  you all plenty of time to check out the books the series is based on!*

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1. She-Ra & The Princesses of Power! (Dreamworks/Netflix)

Taking a cliche 80’s cartoon spin-off and turning it into something beautiful, unique, complex and full of diverse characters and intricate relationships woven throughout it’s first season She-Ra & The Princesses of Power isn’t just another successful revitalization of an 80’s I.P. but also proof of how far animation has come compared to its often poorly written and error filled 80’s counter-part!  The Modern She-Ra is a true Feminist Icon worthy of sitting aside the likes of Wonder Woman herself!   And I would argue like ATLA/Korra and older series like Gargoyles it may just be one of the best animated series of the past twenty-five years!  If you haven’t checked the series out I highly recommend you do, I promise you won’t regret it!

*P.S. Entrapta is BEST Princess!!*

 

And there you have it, my top 18 animated series of 2018!  So what do you think?  Did you see your favorites on here?  What were your favorite animated series of 2018!?  Feel free to reply below and thanks for reading!

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How Children’s Cartoons Are Better At Character Development And World Building Then Superhero Comics

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10 seasons over 300 episodes developed its characters and world more in 8 years then comics do in 20 and still has a boatload of potential to expand were it not ending.

 

Hello again dear reader and welcome to the second installment at an through and potentially controversial look at our favorite mediums of entertainment and storytelling.   Last week we talked about how Shonen Anime did more damage to animation as a medium then it did help, this week we are going to talk about an equally touchy topic.   How Children’s cartoons are a heck of a lot better at character development and world building then superhero comics despite the latter usually being aimed at a somewhat older audience.   May sound silly to some but it’s true and i’ll explain why!

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Why Have Character Development when you can have slight variations of the same thing for the next 80 years!?

 

 

 

Superhero Comics are a mainstay in American media, and there is a lot and I mean alot to love about them, but there are also many many problems with the genre.  One of the most notable seems to be a publisher’s refusal to truly let their characters grow and learn with their audience.  Despite any social, political or moral issues a hero may be facing, the character themselves always seem to be set back to default every 5-15 years or so.  In the current Tom King run of Batman there was a huge build up to the character’s wedding where he as Bruce Wayne was meant to Marry Selena Kyle, also known as Cat Woman.  This would have been a big step in both character’s lives and could have potentially led to a whole new world of stories and development in the same way that Superman and Lois Lane being allowed to have a sun like John Kent has expanded the scope of the Superman books somewhat.   However at the last minute it would seem DC chickened out and Catwoman rejected Bruce’s proper wedding proposal claiming it would kill the Batman despite already accepting his engagement proposal.    This of course cause much ire amoungst fans *partially because it was leaked early*  because it was a potential big move and development for a character once again being denied.   This is the inherent problem with Superhero comics, they try to maintain some ridiculous status quo while still trying to stay relevant, which these two things are not always compatible.

 

This fear of advancement and stagnation of characters is also what keeps superhero comics from being as easy sells as they should.  Whether it’s a hero getting married or dealing with their sexuality or sexual identity, adding a new character to a line of legacy heroes, etc, comic books never seem to go as far with their attempts to modernize as they can.  Sticking to some ridiculous sense of static quo seems to forever make the golden and silver age heroes part of a constant uphill battle for relevancy as they often face stagnation and even new younger heroes are pushed to the side even if they do connect better with a modern audience then their predecessors.

 

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Cartoon Network Has More Juevos then DC Or Marvel Ever Will! *Better Original Series Too!*

 

Now look in comparison to many modern animated series and how it has developed it’s characters and worlds.  In relation to weddings, Steven Universe recently had a wedding between Ruby and Sapphire, making it another children cartoons to have  a wedding with major characters and one of the first to have an LBGTQ wedding with major characters.    In fact Steven Universe has spent its entire run building its characters and worlds through the experiences and interactions the characters partake in.  And this isn’t the only example.  Shows like Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Star VS The Forces of Evil, OK KO Let’s Be Heroes and My Little Pony Friendship is Magic/Equestria Girls have all had great moments of character development and world building by exploring the relationship dynamics of the various characters as also making the characters be more introspective about their own feelings and those they have towards others.  Shows have covered things like Alzheimer, dealing with the loss of a loved one, puberty, how to use negative emotions constructively, same sex relationships, and the general paradoxically simple complexity of everyday life and interactions.  Modern animations are so layered with emotional depth and maturity that so many other forms of media are lacking it is no wonder many consider this decade a golden age of televised animation.  These series have also continually expanded their focus during the course of their run.  Further developing their mythology, lore and worlds as they progress.    It is almost a bit ironic as many modern animations do borrow some structural similarities from the comic book style yet actually take better advantage of it when constructing their story arcs.   In short children’s animation isn’t afraid of genuine character and plot developments in the same way a super hero comics are.    We are allowed to watch these characters grow, learn and evolve during the runs of their shows, with the closest comparable thing to a reset being when a series is eventually brought back years or decades later after the original ends, and even that isn’t always completely accurate as some revivals are more akin to spin-offs or merely comedic interpretations of other genres.

 

Again there’s a lot to love about both animation and comics, but as we are now, our favoirte caped crusaders to less to advance as characters as alien gemstones, talking dogs and magic horse girls.

 

Welp that’s all this time dear reader, so what do you think?  What can comics do to improve on character development.   And what’s your favorite modern cartoon!  Welp until next time and thanks for reading.

 

Next time we talk about the more about importance of body language and facial expressions in animation!

 

Modern Animation is Basically Fan-Fiction. And That’s A Good Thing!

 

 

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OK, I know what you’re thinking, you look at the title of this article and shout  “This guy is insane!”  Comparing all the awesome toons we have now to pedestrian fan-fictions!?  How dare he!?   But I promise you dear reader that this is by no means an insult, in fact it’s a compliment, just….give me a chance to explain.

 

 

 

If you are an older millennial or Gen-Xer you probably remember how shows were back in the day.  Not saying they weren’t good, heck there’s a lot of great older toons out there, but it was quite obvious that they were scripted shows.  Heavy on exposition with the occasional stiff dialogue or cheesy uncle joke.  Action series, like DC & Marvel comic’s at the time followed a very rigid and strict structure and comedies while fairly witty at times also followed down a very narrow line of paths.  In modern times however we have seen a change in how content creators approach animated series.  While it is true these shows are still scripted out, the way in which dialogue is formed and even the way scenes are executed seems to have vastly changed over the course of the course of the decade.

 

 

The most notable change in writing is how characters dialogue seems to be more natural and organic.  animated television series aren’t afraid to have off-beat, awkward dry, and nerdy humor.  On top of this many animated series have been made with the characters as the main focus with the narrative and gags built around them to serve and develop them as opposed to the other way around which was arguably quite a common in many older series.    There is also a tendency to mix the tedium of daily life with the most extreme of fantastical occurrences (Such as the premier of Final Space where the lead character cared more about getting a cookie from the cafeteria and impressing his a woman who quite obviously hates him, despite all the over the top sci-fi antics abounding around him) creating both a nice relatibility and humanization of the characters while still making an interesting enough story for the viewer to remain engaged in and entertained by.   Series also aren’t afraid to have a deeper level of emotional aspects to their stories, series like Adventure Time, My Little Pony/Equestria Girls, Steven Universe and yes even We Bare Bears have all had heart-tugging and emotionally complex character and story moments during their runs.    Modern animation has truly redefined the level of depth writers can go to in the terms of both individual characters as well as character/group relationships and dynamics.

 

But how does this relate to fan-fiction you may ask?  Well the truth is fan-fics have been doing this for quite some time.   Many of the more well written works for franchises online (that aren’t just porn that is)  feature complex and in-depth emotional moments as well as just sweet mundane scenes and dialogues of the characters just enjoying daily life.  The fact that many modern animations don’t shy away from the more emotional or more slice of life moments as often as they used to really shows not only how far the medium has come, but also how the more flexible writing style of modern animated series has given writers and content creators a wider brush to paint their narratives with and greater ability to add more depth to their characters.

 

Also take into account many of the modern content creators were inspired by the things they were fans of growing up, be it Fantasy, Sci-fi, anime, hanna-barbera, video games, comics, film, what have you.  Modern content creators have taken their childhood loves and made wonderful original and revitalized content from inspiration of their own childhood loves, their own passions and fandoms.

 

So yes, in closing, modern animation, more so then ever before is fan-fiction, and that is by no means a bad thing!

18 Things To Look Forward To in 2018!

The new year is finally upon us and with it not only do we have a fresh start do do things better then we did last year, but also a years worth of new animations, comics, film and more to look forward to!  So without further ado, here are eighteen things to look forward to in 2018!  In no particular order other then how I feel talking about them.  So let’s get started!

 

 

 

  1. Mary & The Witches Flower.

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The first feature length film by Studio Ponoc is getting an western release through GKids and Fhantom Events on January 18th and anyone who is a fan of animation should be excited about this one!   The film which more or less apes Studio Ghibli’s artstyle seems to be full of not just quality animation but a genuinly enjoyable story with a main protagonist attending a Harry Potter-esque school while also uncovering a dark secret.  The movie based on the children’s book by the same name will no doubt be a delight for animation and film goers of all ages!

 

2. The Snagglepuss Chronicles

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DC Comics has been making the most of their rights to publish books based on the classic Hannah-Barbara Characters as of late with their HB Beyond line which takes the classic toons and revives them with a modern twist and Snagglepuss Chronicles is no different. The book features an even more anthropomorphized version of the classic pink cat who is a gay southern gothic playwright during the “Red Scare” period of American politics.  The series despite being set in the past is extremely relevant to the increasingly disturbing state of American politics as of present and is sure to be a poingent socio-political tale as well as one of the best comics of 2018. So if you are a fan of classic Hannah-Barbara characters and quality socio-political commentary I say check it out!

 

 

3. Craig of The Creek!

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One of Cartoon Network’s new original series for 2018, Craig of The Creek is an animated slice of life adventure series about the titular Craig and his friends as the have various adventures in the forest nearby his neighborhood.   The show is more or less meant to be a stand in for the currently ending series Clarence though the visual style is more akin to that of Steven Universe and the general tone of the series going off the polite is far more relaxed and innocent.  Overall Craig of the Creek is another attempt at a modern version of a series similar to Reccess or Rugrats minus the occasionally manic tone of the latter, with seemingly a tiny bit of Bridge To Tarabithia thrown in, sans the sad parts of course.   If you are a fan of fun and relaxing toons I would definitely recommend checking it out!

 

4. Cosmo

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The latest series for Archie’s all-ages action imprint. Cosmo is a revitalization of a silver age comic series brought back to life by popular Sonic Scribes like Ian Flynn, Tracy Yardly and more!  The series follows a young alien Cosmo and his crew as they go on various intergalactic adventures.  This series is just starting and if it’s anything like Ian and co’s past work it is no doubt to be a hit!  Infact the first issue came out this week so go to your LCS and pick up a copy why don’t yea!?

 

5. Black Lightning

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The latest CW/DC Superhero series which premiers on January 16th stars the company’s first African American hero coming out of retirement to help save his home town from an ever growing criminal element he thought he had defeated.  The series is sure to be the most relevant and socio-political charged series in the DCTV Universe to date and you would be crazy to miss out on it!

 

6. Teen Titans GO! To The Movies!

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While the television series is infamous for being rerun on CN far too often the fact its getting a movie could be good for animated films in the long run.  If this movie does well enough there is a chance WB could be open to more 2D &/or traditionally animated films in the future and possibly more animated films based on DC properties as well. So even if you hate how much CN airs the show on TV, i’d say at least give the movie a chance. I mean, c’mon you do want that Young Justice movie someday…right!?

 

7. Equestria Girls: Digital Series

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The Doug Meets Sailor Moon style Spin-off of My Little Pony which features the characters as candy colored magical teenage girls instead of sentient magical horses recently received a digital series that will be having a new episode every week throughout most of 2018.  With a first season spanning forty-five episodes and a second season currently in production fans of these ponies turned teens are sure to have plenty of laughs and friendship lessons for sometime to come.  *If the Discovery Family App would stop leaking them before they get their YouTube premier that is*

 

8. Krypton

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The long awaited series about The House of El and Superman’s home world pre-explosion is finally going to premiere in March of 2018.  The series has been loosely described as “Game of Thrones in Space” and while that will most likely end up being a bit of an exaggeration the series is sure to intrigue Superman fans both young and old.

 

9. Bingo Love

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An original Graphic novel by Tee Franklin and Jeen St-Onge showcasing the life of a same-sex couple from 1963 to the present day, Bingo Love seems to be setting itself up to be an important and heart warming love story for the ages.

 

10.  BumbleBee

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A Transformers Movie focusing on a fan favorite character and NOT directed by Micheal Bay!?  This could be a TF fans dream if things come true and with some of the same talent that worked on Kubo & The Two Strings behind the helm we might just get our first genuinely good live action Transformers film!  Fingers crossed!

 

11.  Summercamp Island

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Yet another Cartoon Network Original Project Summercamp Island is a surrealist slice of life fantasy series about two friends at their first summercamp which is much more than meets the eye.  With a visual style hearkening back to old Nick Jr. series such as The Busy world of Richard Scary and Little Bear and a cute meet weird style reminiscent of Adventure Time I have no doubt that Summercamp Island will be another hit for the network!

 

12. Aquaman

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The King of the seas is finally getting his own film and with this James Wan helmed film we are no doubt going to get an entirely new take on DC’s classic character!

 

13. Sailor Moon: Eternal Edition

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A new deluxe edition style re-release of the classic Sailor Moon manga with a new translation, color pages and more.  This is the definitive edition of the Sailor Moon manga and a must have for fans of the pretty sailor gaurdians

 

14. Miles Morales: Spider-Man

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Sony Animation’s first super-hero film may just end-up being their best film in years!  Though it still doesn’t make up for that gosh awful Emoji Movie!

 

15. Persephone

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An original graphic novel taking inspiration from greco-roman mythology sure to delight readers of all ages!

 

16.  Unikitty

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The popular Cartoon Cat-Unicorn and her friends from the LEGO Movie finally have their own cartoon and it is awesomedorable!

 

17. Sonic The Hedgehog

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IDW is bringing back the 90’s gaming Icon in comic form and it’s sure to be a blast for readers young and old!

 

18. Black Panther

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I may despise Disney but even I realize the success of this film is bigger then one studio.  Black Panther performing well could mean a better chance of more diverse and progressive leads in films to come.  Plus it might finally convince DC to green-light a Vixen or Static Shock flick, so there’s that as well.

 

 

And ther you have it.  Eighteen things to look forward to in 2018!  There will of course be plenty more to enjoy that’s not on this list but this should be a fun little taste none the less. Happy new year everyone!

My Little Pony The Movie (2017) Review

My Little Pony and all related works are property of Allspark Pictures/Hasbro & Lionsgate

Warning: Spoilers. Adorable Spoilers!

 

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A Reformed Tempest Shadow Helps Twilight & The Rest of The Mane-6 Restore The Kingdom’s Lost Magic

 

 

 

On October 6th 2017 The My Little Pony movie based on the popular Saturday morning cartoon of the same name opened up in theatres nationwide to the excitement of not only hardcore fans of the series but to animation fans as well as it was the first traditional/2D animated film to be seen in theatres since 2011’s “Winnie The Pooh”.  And while the movie was of course like many non-Disney animations crucified by critics, there may just be more to this fun little romp through the magical land of Equestria then so called professionals give it credit for.  Lets take a look and see if Friendship really is magic or if magic talking horses are a bit too 80’s for modern audiences.

 

 

 

The film starts out with a delightfully cheesy ponified version of “We Got The Beat” as a group of Peguses, pegausi(?) fly towards the capital city of Canterlot and we see a multitude of the candy colored ponies of this world doing so as well as dialogue filled with ridiculous horse puns abounds.  Once the opening music dies down we get the story started as Twilight is nervous about her meeting with Celestia, Luna and Cadence, the nations rulers (yes like with Transformers Hasbro likes to put politics and economics into their toy based worlds) to help get their approval for the final touches on her Friendship Festival. She of course gets rejected as they tell her she can make the party great on her own. This leads to her meeting with her friends and into the first big musical number.  And overall while this set-up is admitingly simple and cliché and this does lead to the first six or so minutes of the movie being far too saccharine and sweet it is all a purposeful deception to help make the juxtaposition of the introduction of the film’s villains even more poiganat.

 

 

 

As soon as the party begins a dark black cloud of smog is seen overhead as a steampunk style zeppelin lands in front of the crowd and this is where the story really kicks off.  A tyrant named the Storm King has sent his commander a scarred unicorn with a broken horn named Tempest to interrupt the festivities and demand the rulers magic.  This of course goes about as you would expect as they refuse to cooperate and Tempest and her army of yeti like Storm beasts begin their attack with Twilight and her friends narrowly escaping leading to the grand adventure that makes up the rest of the film as they travel beyond their utopia’s borders to the world beyond to find help.

 

 

 

Overall in terms of story the movie is pretty straight forward.  Heroes taken by surprise by big bad and having to go on epic adventure across dangerous fantasy world to find whatever person or mcguffin can save their kingdom.  Nothing new but the film still manages to make the concept work well enough none the less. It also doesn’t idle as it like the upbeat and fast paced songs throughout it is determined to hit beat after beat of the story on point. Which while frustrating at times as it seems it is causing some of these new locals and environments to go to waste, it does help keep viewers on the edge of their seat throughout as it gives you the sense that you too are doing your best to stay one step ahead of the villains.

 

Speaking of villains the antagonists of this film are very well done overall.  Tempest Shadow is actually a well defined villain, looking past her over edgelord appearance for  such a cutesy series her imputes for her actions actually makes her character work quite well.  After being abandoned by her friends and presumably family as well after an Ursa  (A giant bear made of stardust) attack left her with a scar and a broken horn as a child she left her homeland in hopes of seeking out a way to restore what she had lost.  This makes the character of Tempest rather sympathetic despite her initial cruel nature. She is an individual that was the victim of a traumatic event that effected her physiologically as well as psychologically and was abandoned by her friends when she needed them most, thus causing her rather dark outlook on life and her resentment towards her people.

 

 

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The Storm King Mocks Twilight & Tempest as he prepares to create the ultimate storm.

 

The Storm King while much more 1 dimensional also serves a purpose as a looming threat to the land.  And when he makes his full appearance we see the reason for his character.  Just as Tempest represents loss the Storm King, a large white monkey like creature represents greed and cruelty as his only desire in life is ultimate power and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt or how many nations he has to conquer to attain that.  In terms of personality he is flamboyant yet menacing, and overall while he may not have as much depth as Tempest, what he represents does. The Storm King is arguably an analogy for the dangers of colonialization, capitalism and white supremacy as again we see from his actions in the film he cares about no one but himself and will betray even his own commander and non chelauntly put his solders in harms way just to get his way.  So yes, while he may not be as well defined as Tempest, his message still rings quite clear.

 

As for the other new characters introduced in the film, while they may only be plot devices to move the story forward their personalities and designs still shine through.  Capper is a suave conman cat who could just as easily fit in a classic WB or Disney animation as he does this film. Captain Celano and the rest of her pirate parrots are visually appealing characters and Princess Skystar and her Mother Queen Nuvo have a nice contrast against one another as the young princess of the Seaponies bubbly and energetic personality seems to be quite annoying to her much more serious mother. Overall while these may not be the most well developed characters you do get a good sense of their personalities and the film does give them all ample screen time alongside the mane six.

 

In terms of animation, while not the most beautifully animated feature the use of Toon Boom does make the movie more visually in depth then its Satam toon counterpart which is primarily animated in Flash.  Though admitingly the colors aren’t quite as bright or vibrant because of this.  It does however give a more genuinely cinematic and timeless feel to the adventure which helps immerse the viewer into the world as it unfolds.  On top of that the character’s facial expressions and movements while a bit more subdued do feel more organic and sincere which helps the emotional beats come off as more powerful then usual.  The only real problem is some of the CGI backgrounds for areas like Canterlot & the desert city of Klugetown do look a bit unrefined in comparison to the 2D characters and landscapes.  Overall though the animation is a step above the television show which does help the film in the long run.

 

The music is honestly the main event of the film however, as the songs while quick and upbeat are all inspiring, heartfelt and catchy.  And even the more somber ones like Tempest Shadow’s menacing and “Be Prepared” inspired number “Open Up Your Eyes” and Sia’s melancholic “Rainbow” are songs that will be stuck in your head for quite some time.  Infact, like Moana before it all the songs are well worth listening to on repeat ad nauseam, especially Pinkie & Skystar’s adorable “One Small Thing” Number.

 

 

In closing, while the My Little Pony movie may be seen as just a shameless cash grab by ever aging and outdated critics, unlike other toy or app based films you can see a genuine amount of effort and heart was put into it’s creation just like the Discovery Family cartoon it is based on.  Like Princess & The Frog before it, while it may not break any box office records, currently being at only a little over $28 million world wide, it does show there is still a need for traditional/2D animation in cinemas.  And like the Disney & DreamWorks films of the mid to late 90’s it is most definitely worth a watch for animation fans of all ages.

 

 

Final Grade

Story: 8 Out of 10

Animation: 7 Out of 10

Music: 10 out of 10

Overall: 8.5 Out of 10.

 

My Little Pony The Movie is now playing in Theatres Nationwide.

 

 

The Importance of Neurological Diversity in Media

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Over the course of the 21st century we have seen a slow but steady increase in the amount of diversity presented in various forms of storytelling, art and entertainment media.  The majority of the focus has been on things such as racial and sexual diversity though lately other types of diversity such a body diversity have begun to make headway as well.   I personally feel though there is another type of diversity of equal importance that often gets overlooked in the debate.  and that is neurological diversity.

 

 

While true many characters in various animated series, comic, films and television programs are given diverse personality types and some of these could be attributed to various neurological conditions or quarks, very seldom do we see such things actually addressed within the context of the work.  Though thankfully this too is slowly changing.  This year Sesame Street introduced an Autistic character named Julia onto their program to both reach out to young autistic children and teach other children from a young age that some children may act/behave differently than them and that’s OK and should not prevent you from wanting to become friends.  And while Autism like many things in the realm of human existence is a spectrum and one character can only cover so much, the character’s inclusion into the children’s program is a small step in the right direction.

 

Other then that we have seen many other television programs address unique character quarks but not all have quite tackled the issues head on.  The character Jeff from Clarence has expressed to his friends how he has his own way of doing things and how many things other kids do make him feel uncomfortable but outside of over exaggerations of typical OCD & Germaphobic tendencies the show hasn’t always gone too in depth towards Jeff’s neurological quarks from a serious perspective outside a few speeches by the character himself.  I am not saying  the character can’t properly represent neurologically diverse individuals, just that this type of teasing is noting new in animation.   Other then that many other all-ages and adult animated programs have also touched on or introduced characters with various neurological quarks as part of their character traits that while engrained in their character’s habits and personality are not always explored as deeply as they could be.  Steven Universe is a masterpiece in its emotional depth and maturity but even it like most other programs can shy away from the more serious psychological issues at time.  The cult favorites My Little Pony/Equestria Girls have characters like Fluttershy & Sour Sweet that represent conditions such as severe generalized & social anxiety and disruptive personality disorder but these elements are only used as obstacles to over come social issues & friendship problems more often then being something the character has to live and work to control on a daily basis.  Then of course you have Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burger’s who is also a very socially awkward character but her unique quarks are often just played up for cringe or laughs.

 

Now again I am by no means saying that these characters cannot be inspiring to viewers that share the same or similar unique neurological diversity to them, just that with media’s slowly increasing willingness to talk about so many other types of diversity and to talk about things like emotional maturity and true morality in a more refined, serious yet still easily digestable manner that it would also be beneficial to neurologically diverse viewers and society as a whole, as everyone has some sort of quark or imperfection that helps make them uniquely who they are, to discuss characters neurological diversity in a more open, casual and mature manner as we have seen other issues brought up within media over the course of the 21st century.

 

One example I think television could take some level of inspiration from would be comics.  In recent years we have had characters like Jessica Cruz pop up to many a readers delight.  Jessica Cruz for those that don’t know is the newest Green Lantern of Earth and is unique not just in the fact that she is the first female Green Lantern to hail from our blue orb but also because she is a character who has openly dealt with the trauma of extended bouts of sever anxiety and depression and was still able to over come these and become a hero.  The book doesn’t ignore the issue though and early issues show how even as a hero Jessica still is working to overcome and control her anxiety and that it is her true arch-enemy the same way the Joker is to Batman.

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This extremely open and human portrayal of Jessica is what helps make her work as a character and seeing her overcome her fears and anxieties to become a hero is an inspiring story for readers of all ages.

 

Overall I do think that the representation of neurological diversity is becoming more prevalent if not somewhat more slowly then its ethnic/sexual/physiological counterparts.  I just hope that our favorite cartoons and comics will continue to push the envelope so to speak and continue to add episodes and stories giving open dialogues about neurological diversity and neurologically diverse charters so young children and adult viewers alike can continue to be empowered and inspired by these characters that give us all the courage to dream.

Much Belated Thoughts on: E3 2017 & Modern Gaming In General

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Back in the middle part of June the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place to both the delight and anger of millions of gamers around the world. And like with every year there were good showing, bad showings, and a dash of controversy.  So how did this years E3 go and what does it say about the state of modern gaming and its community?

 

 

 

As I have said before I have never really considered myself a “Gamer”.  While it is true that like most millennials I grew up playing video games through the various Nintendo, SEGA & Sony systems over the years, outside of my undying love and admiration for the Big N I have never really obsessed over video games to quite the same degree I have comic books.   That said like everyone else I do enjoy tuning in to E3 this year to see what’s up, and I always find at least a few surprises to enjoy.  So here is my take on this years presentations.

 

Microsoft

I will be honest, I like Microsoft’s computers but I have never cared for their video game systems.  The XBOX and the culture around it has always felt off to be, ranging from juvenile frat boy to techie elitists, XBOX has always seemed from both a corporate and community perspective to be the brand equivalent to that jerky kid in high school that claimed to be your friend but still treated you like crap.  The fact  that the main selling point of their overpriced XBOX-ONE X is just simply “how powerful it is” doesn’t help things much in this regard either.  Xbox also like to tout the “Exclusive” title to many games that will also end up on Sony systems, albeit on a later date, but still, a timed exclusive arguably isn’t really an exclusive as it will eventually be playable on other consoles and outlets.  Microsoft is a tech giant so I understand them focusing on how advanced or powerful their hardware is, but for me a video game should be about fun above all.  What can I say, I’m just old fashioned like that.

 

I will give Microsoft some positive progressive points though for being cool and adding more diversity to their avatar creation with the ability to make your avatar have a wheelchair or prosthetic.  It is important to make players of all types feel welcome and included in your community.

 

Nintendo

Nintendo has had a rough couple of years. The WiiU despite being a solid system didn’t do as well as they had hoped and took a bit to long to get a solid software lineup.  And despite the continued success of the 3DS they needed something big to help them get back on top.  Thankfully with the advent of the Nintendo Switch the company seems to be on their way back to the top of the mountain.  The system launched with the highly anticipated  Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and has had a nice steady trickle of enjoyable 1st and 3rd party games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and PuyoPuyo Tetris since its release and March.  And with he release of games like Splatoon2 & Mario+Rabbids right around the corner and Mario Odyssey coming this Fall the system seems like it will have an excellent first year overall.  As for Nintendo’s E3 showing, it was a pretty solid one, we got what we expected as well as a few surprises with the announcement of new Metroid games for 3DS & Switch as well as some more info on things like Fire Emblem Warriors and confirmation on  Kirby , Yoshi and main series Pokémon games coming to The Switch in the near future.

 

Nintendo is also doing a great job improving on the diversity in their properties.  Gen 7 of Pokémon has many new characters that are their world’s equivalent to native Hawaiian/Polynesian,  BOTW gave a more bigger role to the Gerudo by making one of their own, Urbosa a great hero, ARMS gave us Twintelle, though there was some arguably justified minor controversy surrounding her hair and her sexualized character design.  And most recently Splatoon gave us Marina who is not only a woman of color but also an Octling who is bandmate and friends with the white mouse-like Inkling Pearl showing that even fictional rifts like the ones between the inklings & octlings can heal over time.  Nintendo’s new stance to widen its audience and promote more diversity in its titles is a good one and one that I hope people will support so we can get more diverse and creative characters and titles in the future.

 

Though on the downside I will say it stinks the Big N didn’t hire actual women of color to voice Twintelle & Urbosa.

 

Sony

 

Honestly, not much to say here. They gave a solid conference, sure I may have found it pretty boring myself as very few of the games were of personal interest to me, but overall I am glad that like Nintendo they made the big focus the actual games as opposed to just bragging about how strong their hardware was.

 

Though I will say at this point I am starting to believe the human race will go extinct before Kingdom Hearts III or the Final Fantasy VII remake actually get around to coming out.

 

 

The Controversy

So apparently some people got mad that Wolfenstein, a game about killing Nazis is about well, killing Nazis…. There really are no words to describe how ridiculous this is or how equally ridiculous being offended that backwoods evangelical rednecks are the villains for FarCry 5.  And lets not forget people are still mad you can play as a woman in Star Wars: Battlefront II.

 

Overall the thing that bothers me the most about all this is it shows how completely insane/sexist/racist/etc so many people in the gaming community are.  Yet another reason I am only into games to have fun and not get super serious about something that is meant to be interactive art & storytelling for fun, frolic, & fantasy

 

At the end of the day, gaming has its fair share of problems but we have seen the industry is willing to move forward not just in technological advancement but also while admitingly slower than many would like in accepting a more diverse audience for its products.  And well if that makes some people angry, then maybe its fine for the industry to leave you behind.

Thoughts On: Building Better Fanbases

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One of the most common complaints in the digital age and even before is how insane and down right toxic fandoms for everything from Comics to Cartoons, Film to television to video games can and have been.  One thing I always find myself wondering is why things are like this and really there is no easy singular answer to this question but today I will be doing the best I can to from my perspective point out the various flaws in the way we as both groups and individuals portray ourselves as fans.  So without further hesitation I ask if you will please humor me and see what you think, am I spot on or way off the mark?

 

 

I. The Psychology of A Fan

1: Fulfilling A Need:  Before one can ask what is wrong with fandom we must first ask why we become a fan of something in the first place?  There is of course no right or wrong answer, different people gain or lose interest in things for different reasons.  However in base psychological terms one could argue that we become a fan because we feel the thing we gain interest in fulfills a psychological &/or emotional need that was previously missing in our lives or was not present to a degree that we were satisfied with.  Whether it is  being inspired by superheroes, letting animation tug at your heartstrings or satisfying your adrenaline rush with certain scifi and horror franchises we all have our own reasons for partaking in the fictions we choose as they give us something we feel everyday life doesn’t and if we like what we partake in well enough, and if we feel it can help fulfill what we see as a gap in our emotional and psychological needs we will justifiably become a long time fan.

2: Obsession:  This is one step that every fan enters to some degree during their lives and it is arguably the most dangerous one to navigate through.  After we get our first hit of something we keep coming back for more, like an addict we can become increasingly obsessed with a character/series/franchise of choice to where it can consume every facet of our lives and we think about it every waking moment of our existence, we branch out from just casual enjoyment to a more hardcore endearment towards our new found obsession.  While this in and of itself is not always a bad thing and may just result in joining a forum or two, occasionally drawing some fan art, watching some Youtube videos and getting a couple of knick-knacks here and there for others and can become an extreme it can result in doing everything you do, every action being about or for this thing you now love to a point to where like any other addict it can interfere with your real life and the relationships with in it.  If left unchecked obsession can lead to an individual being unable to handle any form of criticism towards the thing they like taking a general critique of it as a personal attack on their honor and person which can lead to never ending ever increasing extreme and ridiculous arguments between different factions both within and outside of fan communities.  This is the most dangerous part of the fan life because it can easily lead fans to extremist levels of overreliance of the thing the love and lead them to be so out of touch with reality that they would openly threaten the life of another person for merely having a different opinion or viewpoint than them on it.  Thankfully though many of us grow out of this phase and slowly learn that not every negative word given is an attack on their person.

3: Control & Reconciliation VS Submission:

If you manage to wade through the sea of obsession you will eventually find yourself at the shores of sanity once more.  You can acknowledge that you are a fan of something, accept you may be a fan of this thing for the rest of your lifetime, but you also accept that it is merely an interest a hobby, just one part of your character and psyche and not the totality of your being.  You realize that it is OK if not everyone else has the same interests as you and that it is OK if people like the things you like for different reasons. You learn to control yourself and only indulge in excess content related to this thing you love in moderation over reasonable periods of time and within reasonable expense.   You know there will always be people that both like and dislike your thing and that’s OK.  However if you don’t eventually get to a point where you break free of the bright and shiny lights of obsession you in a way are submitting to something, letting this thing that doesn’t even exist on the same plane as you, letting a mere idea and dream, a metaphysical existence control you and your actions.  Instead of being a mere fan you are now a servant to this force with no will of your own and like a cultist you blindly follow it wherever it goes and whatever the hive mind of the community says.   This is a very dangerous path to tread down as it can stunt personal growth not only as a fan of something but as a person as well.  At the end of the day we have to stand tall and say that we control our interests and that they do not control us.

 

In closing while being a fan can be a very satisfying experience we need to like with any other aspect of our lives practice these things in moderation and sensibility.  We are the ones responsible for our actions both good and bad while participating in a fan community and no level of delusion or obsession can ever justify treating a fictional character or creature with more decency and respect than a living one.  We must learn to keep ourselves in check and not overact to every thing said about our interests we dislike.

 

II. Fixing The Cracks

 

  1. Acknowledging Alternative Views:  While it is true that many sites and critics will be purposely overly negative or unprofessional to rile-up controversy just to get easy clicks and advertisement we should realize that not everyone who has a view differing from our own is out to harm or demonize the things you enjoy, in the wise words of the great sage Linkara “Get over yourself internet, not everyone has the same interests as you!”

2. Putting The Pro Back in Professional:  The advent of the digital age has arguably caused critics both young and old to get a bit lackadaisical in their practices, far too many critics online and in print form have taken a more hostile and troll like approach to their job.  Given this smug sense of elitism has always existed in the profession to a degree but we have known for decades you can dissect a film or any work of art and storytelling without being cruel even if most of your conclusions of it are negative ones.  Critics may be getting paid or praised for their word but at the end of the day they are also a type of fan and it is important to be aware of ones own confirmation biases both positive and negative when going into a review and still trying to give everything you view an even shake and letting each individual work stand or fall on its own legs.

 

3. Talking about the issues:  Whether we like to admit it or not things like Toxic Masculinity, Mental Instability,  Exclusivist mindsets, Sexism, Racism, Homophobia and every other nasty part of human nature can and do butt their ugly heads into fan communities.  It is important we continue to discuss these issues and call out those guilty of these practices to help make a better and safer fan community for those from all walks of life.

 

III. Final Thoughts

Overall the points and topics presented here are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity of human interaction and how fans and fanbases/communities view one another.  In truth you could write an entire series of books about the psychology of the various fanbases on the internet and it could take a lifetime to even get everyone on board to consider addressing the problems inherent in their communities but I do believe that if we are willing to acknowledge the faults both within ourselves and the communities both online and off that we partake in we can make better more professional, mature, caring and empathetic fans in the future.  Or who knows maybe i’m just a madman.

Thoughts on: Ben10 Reboot! (2017)

 

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Reboots & Launches of popular IP’s are common place in American media, especially amongst series in the superhero genre.  It is a way for companies to publishers to keep their characters fresh and relevant for a new generation of readers and viewers.  However like with anything else the various incarnations of these heroes can be met with positive or negative feedback from their fans.  Today we will take a look at one of the newest heroes to get a reboot; Ben10!

 

First off I will admit right off the bat that growing up as a kid I despised the original Ben10 and really never had any interest in its various sequels /movies /spinoffs /specials /etc.   And this was because around the time Ben10 originally aired in the middle of the 00’s like many I was a teenager in that “everything replacing the shows I used to watch sucks” phase. To me Ben10 was just a wannabe a show that tried to capture the spirit of popular DC superhero cartoons and anime without putting any of the effort in.  I acknowledge though I was most likely in the minority of individuals in that mindset as the series became one of Cartoon Network’s most popular original series for a good number of years not only amongst those who were kids in the ought’s but  some nineties kids as well who saw it as one of the last hold outs of shows with that classic action cartoon vibe to it, and I can see where they are coming from, looking back the original Ben10 has that late 90’s Saturday morning cartoon feel to it to a degree, however even looking at the previous incarnation from a more objective and mature standpoint I still can’t say I care for it all that much.

 

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So here is where I will most likely get a fair amount of shade thrown at me, but oh well.  Overall I find the 2017 incarnation of Ben10 to be the most entertaining version yet!  The characters are all fairly lively and Ben & Gwen act like real kids not just stereotypes of what adults think kids act like, they have fun, relax and bicker with each other but not to a cliché extreme like the originals did. This gives their dynamic a more natural feel which benefits both characters and makes both much less annoying than they were in the past.  The color pallet of the show is also much brighter and more visually appealing and the characters redesigns really breath new life into them and visually it seems to fit somewhere between Be Cool Scooby Doo and Gravity Falls, making for a cute yet quirky visual experience. The shortened run-time of episodes also helps the series in my opinion because like with the original Powerpuff Girls or Courage it feels like something is always happening, it is fast paced enough to keep the viewer engaged in the episode while still being contained enough to not feel as disjointed and manic as something like Teen Titans Go!  While like TTG & last years PPG reboot it is more on the comedic side than the action side it never feels like it is over doing it, there is a good balance between humor and action that in my book puts the show closer to series like Regular Show, only instead of two friends working at a park this is two kids spending the summer traveling the U.S. with their Grandpa.   Overall I just find this new version much more enjoyable and entertaining.

 

At the end of the day like with any reboot or reimagining your personal enjoyment of this series will vary and I understand why some hardcore fans of the original series may not be on board with this new incarnation and that like TTG! and PPG16 that it will be yet another show that will be divisive amongst Cartoon Network and Superhero fans.  I myself though would urge to give the show a chance, if you are a 90’s kid you should have grown out of your “everything sucks” stage by now and to all those ought’s babies out there don’t make the same mistakes we did, don’t let nostalgia goggles and confirmation bias cloud your judgement take in every new experience you have, even something as simple as watching a cartoon with all the same innocence you did as a child, let a work speak for itself and analyze how it holds up on its own terms not how it works compared to the past.  If you like it great and if you still dislike it that’s fine too.  I guess all I am saying is, give the new Ben10 a chance!  If you do I think you might just be pleasantly surprised. 😉

 

Season 1 of Ben10 2017 is currently airing weekdays on Cartoon Network.

Why You Should Be Reading: Boom Studios! Comics

 

In our third installment of WYSBR we take a look at the indie publisher that could Boom Studios! and why you should be reading their books.

 

 

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Indie Edge:  Boom! Studios may be a smaller publisher but they have a nice variety of diverse independent content, with more recent hits like Godshaper and other classics like The Woods, Giant Days, Grass Kings and the upcoming Misfits City from comedy, to adventure to scifi and more there is something for all types of comic book readers.

 

 

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Franchised Fun: Like many independent publishers Boom also has a fair share of books based on popular films & cartoons.  These range from all-ages series based on popular Cartoon Network properties like Adventure Time, Steven Universe and Over The Garden Wall, to books aimed at slightly older audiences like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers & Planet of The Apes.

 

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All-Ages Diversity:  Like with any good publisher inclusiveness & diversity are an important part of what makes Boom! Studios books work.  From critically acclaimed series like Lumberjanes to fun and fantastic books like Goldie Vance, Mega Princess & Backstagers  Boom has produced some amazing all-ages titles incorporating and celebrating LBGTQ, Female and colored leads for fans young and old alike to read and enjoy.

 

And those are three reasons you should check out Boom! Studios works ASAP!