Remembering Sozin’s Comet: The Avatar’s End

“Avatar” was and is one of the most interesting animated epics on television in years. With an industry looking to bring nothing but disposable cartoons and lame comedy even years after its end, it’s rare that we were able to sit and watch animated epics. “Avatar” was engaging, beautiful, and often very emotional. As a person who fancies himself an animation aficionado, it’s rare to find excellent storytelling in the medium anymore beyond movies, and “Avatar” proved me wrong in many instances as a simple children’s fantasy series.

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The Jungle Book and Friends Collection (DVD/Digital)

With Disney remaking their remakes of classic fairy tales and adventure novels, stories like “The Jungle Book” are all the rage these days. For folks that want to branch out from the Disney umbrella and check out what other companies have adapted these classic stories, Mill Creek Entertainment releases a collection of animated adaptations of legendary adventures and fantasies. It’s especially good if you’re looking to save a few bucks while expanding your animated horizons beyond the House of Mouse.

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Jungle Emperor Leo (Janguru taitei) (1997)

I’ll plead ignorance by admitting that I wasn’t aware that “The Lion King” was controversial for being touted as plagiarizing “Kimba The White Lion” and “Jungle Emperor Leo” since the aforementioned film’s release. There are even reports of Matthew Broderick explaining his new project as a remake of “Kimba.” As for other similarities explained by anime fans, you really can’t deny the shocking similarities. “Jungle Emperor Leo” is worth viewing not just because of its inherent entertainment value and great animation from Tezuka Productions, but the fact that it bears shocking similarities to “The Lion King.”

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Millennium Actress (Sennen joyû) (2001)

Satoshi Kon’s contribution to the animation medium was nothing short of absolutely breathtaking, as the director created films that blurred the lines of fantasy and reality and placed great emphases on the feminine energy. After the mind blowing “Perfect Blue,” Kon delivered what is arguably one of the best animated films ever conceived. Now bring granted a limited run in theaters nationwide, “Millennium Actress” is a wonderful experience you have to see for yourself, as it’s stunning, and absolutely surprising in the way Kon celebrates the adventure that is life.

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White Snake (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

I don’t know what Warner are planning for a domestic release, but “White Snake” (Warner Bros. first animated feature made completely in China) is far too complex and adult for a family friendly audience or broader crowd, and way too briskly paced for movie fans that appreciate the more subtle tone of Pixar and Studio Ghibli. As someone genuinely looking forward to “White Snake” I loved the animation and genuine sentiment behind it, I just wish I wasn’t so bored by it half the time.

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Perfect Blue (Pāfekuto Burū) (1997): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

Satoshi Kon is an artist that left behind a lasting influence, not only on the animation world, but the filmmaking world in general. Kon’s own beats and shades of surrealism can be seen in a lot of genre pictures to this day. Directors like Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan have admitted that much by paying homage with their own films. “Perfect Blue” is that groundbreaking animated masterpiece that you probably didn’t know inspired a lot of modern and contemporary filmmakers if you’ve never seen it or heard about it. Now with the new anniversary release available, there’s no time like the present to visit what is one of the most unnerving thrillers ever made.

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Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) (1997): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/CD/Book]

Twenty years ago, Studio Ghibli and the master Hayao Miyazaki opened my mind up to a new dimension of animation and storytelling that pretty much changed my life. It also inspired me to look toward telling bigger tales with richer characters, because Miyazaki is very much about rich characterization and brilliant metaphor. Much of his films revolve around the love of nature, the vastness of the open sky, and the effect humans can have on the environment and the world around us.

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TV On DVD: Krypton: The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray/Digital], Astroboy: the Complete Series (DVD)

As a Superman fanatic it’s been a tough road as I’m still getting over the stinks of “Smallville” and “Batman v Superman,” so when Syfy proposed its own Superman series that side stepped Superman altogether, I was very skeptical. Suffice to say, “Krypton: The Complete First Season” isn’t always a great show, but appreciated as its own attempt to ambitiously tackle the back drop of the Kryptonian Lore, it’s not a bad time spent. At ten episodes total for the first season, there are a lot worse things you can do as a Superman fan. Watching “Superman IV,” for instance. I digress.

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