Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gutsy Frog

Dokonjo Gaeru (official English name: The Gutsy Frog) was a comic by Yasumi Yoshizawa and ran in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1970 to 1976. It was later adapted into two TV series, both from Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS). The first one ran for 103 episodes in 1972-74 and second series lasted 1981-82 for 30 episodes.

I was a fan of the first show when I was a kid (it was being constantly rerun on various cable networks). The animation is limited, as typical for anime, but it was still fun to look at. Fun facial expressions and really dynamic pose. It's cartoony, but very Japanese as well. The characters are also well-developed, from the rambunctious Hiroshi, courageous Pyonkichi (the frog on the shirt). Even the bully, Gorilla-Imo has nice, emotionally-charged development.

Recently someone uploaded various episodes on YouTube. Unfortunately for me they're in Spanish, although this won't mean much to anyone reading this unless you can speak Japanese and/or Spanish. But I thought I highlight some episodes.

Series Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Yu Yamamoto
Storyboards: Shigeru Takahashi
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Key Animation: Yoshifumi Kondo, Hisanen Motogi
Animation/Inbetweens: Megumi Ueno, Takao Horie, Yumiko Suda

I love the sight gags in this one, especially how the thief is among the pile of junk that Hiroshi emptied from the storage.

Here's one episode in original Japanese. This is probably as close as it gets for a true cartoon premise in an anime. Bully Gorilla-Imo tries to hit Hiroshi with a can, but keeps missing and hitting his henchman instead. Just a warning that there's a brief nudity in the beginning. If that's not your thing than I suggest skipping it.

Series Director: Tadao Nagahama
Scenario: Yu Yamamoto
No Storyboard Artist credited
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi, Tsutomu Shibayama
Key Animation: Akira Hosouchi, Moichi Maekawa
Animation/Inbetweens: Kiyoshi Yamamoto, Kazuo Tada, Midori Kobayashi

Saturday, November 12, 2011

GeGeGe no Kitaro

I've always been fond of Japanese cartoons. There's noticeable difference in how Western animation and Japanese animation play out, in terms of storytelling. Even in comedy-focused shows there's always more emphasis on characters and settings rather than gags. Some people view that as a bad thing in animation, but I like 'em, personally (keep in mind that I love both joke-based and character-based cartoons). My ideal cartoon has both elements go hand-and-hand.

I think this is a good example. It's an episode of the 1968-69 GeGeGe no Kitaro show. There's ton of character focus in the storyline, between Kitaro, Nezumi-Otoko, and the two thugs. But there are also humor played between them as well, especially with the two thugs near the end. I've always been a fan of Kitaro and it still holds up well.

The original Kitaro comics by Shigeru Mizuki are pure gold, and none of the animated series captured the spirit to the core, but there are still good things about them. The '60s and '70s shows are pretty good, I think.

It's in Japanese but has English subtitles.

Watch GeGeGe no Kitaro (1968) #7 (English subtitled) in Anime | View More Free Videos Online at

Friday, November 11, 2011

Monkey Love (1995)

I thought I dreamed of this cartoon, but as it turned out it exists. It's a short film directed by Jim Keeshen from 1995. Cartoon Network later aired it on late nights around 1997-98. I don't know why CN picked it up; they were never that big on independent animation (they aired Don Hertzfeldt's "Rejected" on Adult Swim once, but that's the only other instance that I can think of)

But anyway, I think the short holds up. I love the bouncy animation to it, and the rhythm to the music. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube here's the cartoon:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kodak on DePatie-Freleng

This is from Kodak's The World of Animation (1979), a book I highly recommend. There were sections dedicated to contemporary studios, amongst them Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and DePatie-Freleng, the latter I'm posting below.

The studio was on the verge of shutdown by the time the book came out (it closed circa 1980), but it's interesting that Friz had plans for a feature length movie, which never happened.