Monday, 6 July 2009

The State of Cartoon Network

Heh not really sure how to start this blog proper (I've left it dormant long enough!) but maybe this post is a good way to start

So recently theres been hubbub over in America because Cartoon Network has recently become, well...less Cartoony I guess you could say.

Needless to say animators and animation fans alike have all been less than pleased with this newpositioning the US network is taking (and seems somewhat determined to do worldwide). Many dumbfounded at this change that seems to have been headed by the execs at the station - even more so at the news that Chowder and Flapjack may not be renewed for another season next year.

This leaves more of the action and reality based toons that CN has become fond of such as Ben 10 and Total Drama Island/Action and the seemingly evergreen Scooby Doo. Properties that all seem to do well in ratings.

That said this isnt the first time Cartoon Networks dabbled with live action. In the UK about 3 years ago Cartoon Network did a major re-jig of the Toonami channel in the UK - which up to that point had become a mix of the US Toonami and the action and superhero shows CN owned. This abruptly changed to a channel showing a few of the superhero shows and Pokemon alongside a random selection of Live Action such as Porker Lewis cant Lose and Life with Derek. It may of been Toonami by name but it certainly wasnt Toonami in nature anymore - even the bumpers reflected that by changing into a more cartoony goofy sort of identity - which was almost at odds with the live-action theming of programming

The UK Toonami limped along like a wounded duck for about another year with this new branding. Shows like Pokemon were still pushed alongside the live action and the amount of it waned but Toonami itself gave way to Cartoon Network Too - which is essentally a clone of Cartoon Network with the odd additional show (and a bit of the live action still hanging in there somehow)

Anyway I had a long phase after that of not watching Cartoon Network. Fosters occasionally got new episodes but they were bearly advertised here and it became much more about the action cartoons. Meanwhile shows like Chowder and Flapjack aired in the US which we got bearly a sniff of - which seemed strange to me, most Cartoon Cartoons have appeared in the UK not long after premiering in the US - Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends premiered quite closely to the US version.

We didnt get Chowder nor Flapjack till last month. Pokemon now airs on Jetix and Fosters has ended but we've not had any of the final episodes.

Cartoon Network has some good stuff but I wish they would respect what they got rather than run for Nick and Disneys viewership when they dont even seem to really understand the live action side of things or only seem to want to have what other channels had first. Still time will tell how CN Real manages and what happens next

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl: Rise of Darkrai and Garintina and the Sky Warrior

So Jetix UK aired the 2 Pokemon DP movies that have been released so far (with the trilogy to end with a movie about Asuerus: God of Pokeymans) a few months before becoming Disney XD

Admittedly while Pokemon is not exactly known for its great plots and stunning animation. I still enjoy tuning into the series occasionally. I guess I'm just a big sucker for cute critters running about doing stuff.

Though I couldnt help feeling that with each film in the series the quality of animation deteriorates. I mean anime shows are pretty much the master of cutting down amounts of animation to talking faces and looped footage but even some of the animation that is present is pretty lousy at times. Theres a point in the second film where the Pokemon are flying with the Sky Forme Shaymin and some of the perspective when they turn or fly into the camera is kind of off.

Rise of Darkrai was enjoyable but it reused a lot of plot points from the other films. Crazy powerful Pokemon with Powergrudges, some other legendary trying to make them stop and random flashbacks. Plus Ash and his friends somehow getting invloved with these legendary moments EVERY TIME. Ash must be the luckest trainer ever, he may not win tournaments but he's ridden/commanded/battled or at least witnessed most legendary Pokemon at some point. Bit of a shame he never bothers to catch any of them, he could take over the world quicker than Geovanni could of ever wished for if he did.

In fact this seems a big shame with Shaymin - that fella and Ash had something of a rapport and it wasnt like there was only 1 of this fella. But I suppose Shaymin would of had to have made that deicison but I degress

Also in some way the characterisation seems to have gone. Maybe it's because I still liked the original team of Brock, Misty and Ash more than I like Brock and Ash plus another girl from the region they happen to be in. Ash himself is certainly a smarter trainer now than when he started out but it feels like somethings missing. There isnt any real comedy nor the kind of cutural vibe the show started out with - originally the anime was japanese in nature with festivals and the like - but in recent years to appeal globally the Pokemon world has become a bit bland.

Still I occasionally tune in - Diamond and Pearl has been an improvement at least - its not as much as a retread as last generation and its nice to see some proper training going on with Ash and his team but just...I dunno. Theres something about the original series that the newer seasons is missing, possibly the japanese nature of it becoming something of a global brand ala Mickey Mouse in America.