My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – Ponies on the Move


If it weren’t for my two-year-old daughter I wouldn’t volunteer to review any modern kids DVDs but alas here I am. Even the documentary Bronies couldn’t interest me (prior to the sprog). I am more of the school of live action (Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Lidsville, Adams Family,  Pee Wee’s Playhouse), and apart from a few shows am not a huge fan of animated shows or movies.

I was the right age for the original series but I don’t have any recollection of watching it. I even brought an ex-rental of the original series and watched a bit and had no memories whatsoever. It looked terribly washed out and dated and didn’t hold my attention, or my kid’s at all. When I popped this on she was hooked the moment she heard the music.

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Usavich [The Collection]


Usavich (created by Kanaban Graphics for MTV Asia) is an animated short-film series about two rabbits (Putin and Kirenenko) and their adventures in a Russian Gulag. Tagging alongside the rabbits are a transvestite/hermaphrodite? chick (a chicken that makes the most disturbing noise) and Leningrad the frog who eats and poops things back out.

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Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere

Adventure-TimeAdventure Time is like nothing you have seen before. Yet, it is like MANY things you have seen before. Adventure Time is the chronicle of the misadventures of Finn (The Human) and Jake (The Dog) as they traverse the inexplicable happenings of their homeland of “Ooo”. Comedy ensues at every possible angle. Including 0 and 360 degrees, which means that comedy ensues at one angle twice. Righteous. This is one of those particular achievements in animation that I hold in pretty high regard. Admittedly before getting this set to review I had never heard of the show before. Yes, for shame, for shame on me indeed.

First to describe the series. Well, Adventure Time is a many layered beast. It is one of those shows that appeals across the board. There is a visual and straight forward aspect that appeals to a younger audience, with the upfront comedy being simple (nut not plain). Though I would advise parents to see the show first before passing it onto their young’uns, as I wouldn’t say it was for all ages. Then there is this complete other side that is dry, dark, and slightly creepy that appeals to us older audiences. It’s weird for some to imagine that this show sports a G rating. But it replaces dick and fart jokes and crude humour, with something a bit ‘smarter’ and widely more acceptable to the audience.

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Adventure Time: The Suitor

The-SuitorFirst off, if you’ve been under a rock for the last 4 years or so and need a quick rundown on Adventure Time, here goes: in the mystical land of Ooo (broadly hinted to be a post-apocalyptic far-future Earth) a 12 year-old boy called Finn the Human (there aren’t many others) lives in a tree-house with his adoptive brother, a shape-shifting dog called Jake. Finn and Jake (and large cast of friends and/or antagonists) go on various adventures inspired by creator Pendleton Ward’s love of Dungeons & Dragons, video games, comics, kids’ movies, and genre fiction. To say it is incredibly popular would be something of an understatement.

There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. The show has no real overarching plot, so you can jump in at any point and get what’s going on fairly quickly. This is balanced by the surprisingly deep and complex history of Ooo, but this is doled out sparingly as background details across a range of episodes. This means that Adventure Time rewards watching lots of episodes, but it’s not at all necessary to watch them all in order or all at once.

Ward and his team also do a really great job balancing their various influences and inspirations. Fans of D&D and the other various media they reference will get a lot out of the show, but the references are all sufficiently impressionistic and passing that they don’t feel smart-alecy or intrusive. It helps that individual episodes are fairly short (11 minutes each) so ideas are introduced, developed. and discarded before you have a chance to get tired of them.

Finally, this is a really beautiful show. Pendleton Ward has claimed to be influenced by Hayao Miyazaki to create “beautiful moments”, and the various environments that Jake, Finn, and their friends adventure in certainly have that Miyazaki quality of beauty for their own sake as well as service to the greater show.

The relationships between the various characters are also really nicely done – particularly the relationship between Finn and Jake, and the weirder more dangerous relationship between Finn and Marceline (the Vampire Queen). There’s a surprising level of depth and pathos to even the most unpleasant characters, and (refreshingly for an American animated show) there’s very little of the shallow world-weary sarcasm that young teenagers think is amazing but everyone else finds painful. Instead, everyone speaks in a sort of future-slangy patois that reminds me more than anything of Achewood.

There are two kinds of Adventure Time DVDs. There are straight-up season-by-season collections, and there are grab-bag releases of episodes from various seasons. The Suitor (Collection 6) falls in the latter camp – fortunately because of the nature of continuity across the series, this doesn’t really matter. This is as good a place as any to dive into Adventure Time if you’re new to it, and even if you’re a fan the patchy nature of DVD releases and TV screening here in New Zealand means it might well be worth your while anyway. Solidly recommended.


  • “Little Did You Know” – character bios.

Available on DVD from Madman Entertainment

Samurai Pizza Cats [Collection One]

Samurai-Pizza-CatsIt would be hard to find a kid who grew up in the 90s who doesn’t know of the Samurai Pizza Cats. It’s an English adaptation of the Anime series Kyatto Ninden Teyandee aka Legendary Ninja Cats. Story goes that the Japanese scripts were either lost, were of very poor quality or deliberately withheld so that the writers had to make up the story-lines.

Prior to viewing Madman’s release, I hadn’t seen this show for nearly 20 years so when I heard they were releasing it I was super excited and it made me love them just that little bit more. Did it hold up? Hell yes it did! What makes it so great is that it’s loaded with rapid-fire pop-culture and political references and it appeals to both children and adults.

As a kid I loved pizza and cats and that’s why it was awesome to me at the time, but as an adult I appreciate it on a whole other level. Like Pee-wee’s Playhouse there’s so many gags and a bit of inappropriate humour that will go right over the heads of children.

Onto the premise of the show for all you SPC virgins.

Our anthropomorphic (and rather cute) feline heroes are: the feisty and food obsessed Speedy Cerviche, ladies man Guido Anchovy, and feisty (female) Polly Esther. They work at ‘Pizza Cats’ pizzeria in Little Tokyo but they’re really crime fighters. The villain is a cross-dressing weird robot rat/fox-like creature called Seymour “The Big” Cheese. Big Cheese is always scheming to get control of Little Tokyo and he does so with the help of Jerry Atric and his crew of evil ninja crows.

From the names of the characters alone you can see how pun-ridden the show is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is extremely goofy. The plots become a bit formulaic as the cats defeat Cheese’s robots but the spoofs, black humour and sarcasm of the narrator never tire.

I will put it out there that I am not a fan of modern day anime. I just can not get into it. I love the older (cuter/goofier) stuff so visually it may look dated to a modern audience, but if you like simplistic, bright and colorful animation over more slick modern anime then this is something you should check out if you happened to miss out on this show during your childhood.

Collection One is a 4 disc box-set consisting of episodes 1-26. Only 50 episodes every aired so I’m eagerly awaiting Collection 2 which is due out in December. Lets hope Madman release the original Japanese series too.

Samurai Pizza Cats is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Adventure Time [Complete Second Season]

Adventure-Time-The-Complete-Second-Season-15529902-4Most people have heard of Adventure Time by now, but if you happen to be one of the willfully ignorant it’s a much-hyped animated series that airs on Cartoon Network. Despite being presented as a kids ‘toon, it has quickly gathered a “cult following” of teens & 20-something man-children, inspiring fan-fiction, cosplaying and all the money-grubbing merchandise you can think of.

The central plot revolves around the show’s protagonists Finn, a pre-teen boy, and Jake, a talking shape-shifting dog and their wacky adventures in the magical land of Ooo. On their travels they often come into contact with some of the various recurring characters such as Princess Bubblegum, Ice King, Lumpy Space Princess and Cinnamon Bun. Continue reading


Yatterman-2009To say Japanese director Takashi Miike has had a varied career is a gross understatement. Incredibly prolific, Miike has dozens of features to his credit and they run a wide gamut in subject matter and style. His international reputation has been founded on the bizarre, the extreme and the unpredictable. As such, his adaptation of the 70s childrens’ anime Yatterman was always going to be something a bit out of the ordinary.

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Hey Arnold! [Season One]

Hey Arnold! is a kids TV show about a fourth grader who lives in a big city, has a head shaped like a football, and is a bit of a goody-two-shoes. He lives in an apartment building with his unusual grandparents and a whole bunch of eccentric neighbors. The show revolves around his school, home life and a girl called Helga who secretly admires Arnold while bullying the hell out of him. I am sure most of you will already know what the show is about so I’ll spare you any further synopsis or episode play-by-play.

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