Tag Archives: Shout! Factory

Breaking Down Satellite Girl and Milk Cow

20 Jun

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers could not have expressed “Breakdown” any better and South Korean animator/director/storyteller Chang Hyung-yun illustrated it when he created Satellite Girl and Milk Cow. This work debuted in 2014, and its home video release by Shout! Factory / GKIDS for international audiences this month is long overdue. Not a lot of bonus material is included, and both the original and English dub was viewed. The latter presentation is decent, and it captures some nuances from the original work to make this work accessible for younger audiences to follow.

For animation aficionados, the technical quality is on par with many a cinematic product. It ranks right up there with many a Disney movie. For folklore enthusiasts, this work is puzzling at times and is not too hard to figure out. It draws on ancient shamanism to explain why witches and warlocks are prevalent in Korea. Less is said about those mortals who suddenly get transformed into anthropomorphic creatures. When they suffer heartache, a black fog descends upon them and they become shape-shifters. When Kyeong-cheon sees Eun-jin (his girlfriend) take an interest in another boy, he’s ready to call it quits than to ask her about it. As a result, whenever he is stressed and wallows in self-pity, he transforms into a milk cow. Alternative forms include zebras and donkeys.

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High Chinese Fantasy is Alive in Big Fish & Begonia

31 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Big Fish & Begonia () is a beautifully animated film which takes its afterlife seriously. The people living in a mystical Chinese Middle Earth type realm live harmoniously with the elements but when an individual upsets the natural order, the world will retaliate and the cosmic order will need rebalancing.

This movie debuted in 2016 and it got limited play at select film festivals. After two years, it has finally gotten notice by Shout! Factory and FUNimation. Hopefully, another work, I Am Nezha (我是哪吒) will see release. While one is traditionally animated (2D), the other is 3D. Big Fish is a dramatic product whereas Nezha has more comedy action. To catch either work on the big screen is tough; the release from last month only had a handful of theatres doing short runs.

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Diving into Howard Lovecraft & The Undersea Kingdom

6 Dec

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom is the second chapter of a three-part saga. Here, the child version of this seminal writer (voiced by Kiefer O’Reilly) has to deal with untold dangers from more than one dark world. Youths can be introduced to H.P. Lovecraft before he became the recluse and derisive adult.

This film is  humourous at times. It’s also a safe product to teach young viewers the importance of never forgetting their elders, even when the world shuns them. When considering what the real-life figure was like, perhaps all he needed was more familial love.

After the events of the first film, he has to keep the three books from being put together to form the Necronomicon. He does not know of this tome’s secrets, but in what he learns — how to use magic — he has to use it to fight the minions mad Abdul (Jeffrey Combs) is sending after him! Although his father is committed to a sanitarium and his mother is possessed (and eventually kidnapped), this lad is proving to be able to take on the challenges from the mysterious city of R’yleh and other strange worlds which lays in this maddening multiverse.

This film is adapted from Bruce Brown’s work (original creator) which is published by Arcana Comics. The print edition (available on Amazon) is much more violent when compared to this cinematic version. The changes required to make this product accessible for youths does not distract. Even as I’m thumbing through my hardcover copy of the complete story while watching this film to find what writer and director Sean Patrick O’Reilly changed, general aspects of all three issues (when it was released as individual comics) are retained. He brings much-needed character development to Winfield Scott Lovecraft, the father. While none of this is true to the real life counterpart, to understand this individual offers to fans a hint at what could have influenced the boy to become the man with unsettling dreams.

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Going into Detail with In This Corner of the World’s Home Video Release

22 Nov

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

A lot of research went into producing In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に). This anime is now out on home video, released by Shout! Factory on Nov 14th, and the bonus material reveals why this film deserves high marks for not only its story but also in historical accuracy. Not many productions go into exquisite detail and I was amazed.

For comparison, this release also offers a 12-page insert of the manga by Fumiyo Kōno it was based on. The three-volume set is available for purchase and it goes into greater detail for specific set pieces. I have reviewed this film when it made its rounds at theatres (it can be found here) and to watch the featurettes certainly made me appreciate this product more.

I have to agree with the points answered in the interview with Sunao Katabuchi about how this movie redefines what anime can do. Masao Maruyama says this product he helped produce is a very cultural. Although this genre has never been limiting in what tales can be explored — anyone who has watched enough product over the decades can find gems — my choice in what I love to see has been more with historical or biographical works than the usual fantastical material.

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