Comments by Toadette


This film, to me, is an acquired taste; the techniques used are innovative, and I agree with the stated moral to love your neighbor, but something seems off about it. Perhaps it's Norman McLaren's political motivations for making the film. "I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People’s Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao’s revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. My sympathies were divided at that time. I felt myself to be as close to the Chinese people as I felt proud of my status as a Canadian. I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war." Communist China, after all, was taking the side of North Korea, and thus was seen negatively in the West. Personally, I find McLaren's comment about his "faith in human nature" being reinvigorated by Mao's regime to be particularly disturbing, especially given the misery it would force upon the Chinese people McLaren so sympathized with. I'd rather not dwell on this further. Going back to the film itself, it's definitely worth at least two or three looks, mainly as an early example of the pixilation technique, but also as an interesting anti-war parable. The formerly censored scene of the two men's families being killed was intended as a metaphor for how innocents are often killed in war; the fact that the flower, which ignited the conflict between the two men, was itself killed can be considered a metaphor for how what started a war may be forgotten, or how the land two conflicting sides in a war may be fighting for can easily be destroyed itself, thereby rendering the conflict futile. The markings the two men develop towards the end may be a symbol of how combatants in a war can lose their humanity, perhaps being reduced to savages. Some may debate whether or not this is an animated film, given the predominant use of live actors. There is some stop-motion in the flower's movements, and the scene with the two men floating, not to mention one of the man sliding around on the grass before that, could not have been possible back then without pixilation. While not one of my favorite McLaren films, it's still one of his most well-known, and deservedly so. It got me thinking quite a bit about war; perhaps it will get others doing so, too.


I stated earlier that this film was "an early example of the pixilation technique". Having looked around, however, there were actually much earlier examples; the film is a good example of pixilation nonetheless.

The Dogfather

This cartoon, the first in DePatie-Freleng's woeful Dogfather series, is a weak remake of Freleng's earlier "Tree for Two", and any laughs you get from this cartoon come from that cartoon. Literally, the bulk of this cartoon IS "Tree for Two", except mirrored such that much of the action takes place on the other side of the screen. There's a wildcat that's escaped from the zoo. There's the big dog slamming into the door. There's the cat, hiding in the trash can, looking at his tail as the big dog makes threats. There's the big dog getting sliced by the panther and the cat, in turn, thinking he clawed the dog. And, of course, there's the little dog proving himself superior in the end. The cat is not introduced by any genius timing on part of Freleng (I mean, how can you beat Sylvester singing "Charleston" and then stammering to it the moment he runs into the dogs?); instead, another Freleng motif is borrowed as the cat is shown using a trash can lid as a plate and placing food from the garbage on it. The animation is as limited as any of DFE's output at this point, except for a surprisingly fully-animated walk cycle on part of Pug during the first scene reused from "Tree for Two". I suppose that DFE had more money because this was the pilot. Louie is introduced in the cartoon as being a chatterbox, such that the Dogfather must pull his hat down. (The introduction is one of the few scenes that is not reused from "Tree for Two".) Yet in the end, I can't help but consider this a guilty pleasure, even though it deserves the rating I gave it. It's a feeling I get with much of DFE's output in general. For those of you who are curious to see this regurgitation for yourself, here's a horrible-quality Brazilian (and, of course, Portuguese-dubbed) print. You can briefly hear a different variation of the Dogfather theme at the beginning, in which the lyrics are spoken rather than sung, but most of the credits are cut off:

Porky Pig's Feat

Tashlin's third stay at WB produced several great cartoons with his own distinct imprint; they tend to feel more like live-action, especially due to the unique camera angles, yet at the same time feature animation that revels in being drawn. Indeed, during this third period, Tashlin's designs grew geometric/angular enough to effectively be proto-UPA; his last Daffy Duck, "Nasty Quacks", is a particularly good example of this.

This cartoon, the second of Tashlin's 1943-46 cartoons to be put into production (though the first to be released), isn't as angular as the Tashlin cartoons that followed, though the rather minimalist backgrounds are definitely modern-looking. The artistic potential of black-and-white is exploited well; the backgrounds' graphic style stands out while complementing the cartoon well, especially since both the backgrounds and the characters are confined to gray hues, and as flat as the backgrounds are, they retain a sense of depth. The cartoon itself is a masterwork of cinematic comedy, with gags drawn out to their ultimate potential in a way that animation does best; for example, when Daffy initially confronts the hotel manager (animated to perfection by Art Davis), the fatness of even the hotel manager's face is taken advantage of as the face is squeezed into the head, while Daffy's beak takes on unusual shapes (take a close look at what it does the first time he says "fffffatso"!). Afterwards, even the action of the manager's face popping back into position in itself is funny, as each portion pops out one by one (and rhythmically!).

Overall, this is easily one of my favorite animated films, and it deserves all ten stars I've given it.

Alice Helps the Romance

This cartoon is an anomaly in the Alice Comedies...and for the better, I must add. Not only is Julius the real star (Alice doesn't even show up until over two-thirds of the cartoon have passed), but actual personality animation of the characters is present to an extent unseen in the other Alice Comedies—a necessity, given the subject matter, which takes a truly twisted turn about halfway through.

The basis of the cartoon is the rivalry between Julius and a tall banjo-playing, baggy-pantsed cat for the love of a local girl cat. The cartoon begins with the tall cat singing and dancing (while playing his banjo, of course), on his way to the girl's house; meanwhile, Julius is preparing himself fancily (brushing his hair), planning to bring a pot of flowers up the girl.

When the two cats bump into each other at the entrance to the girl's property (her house is bordered by a fence), they at first try to feign walking away from the entrance, each cat keeping a close eye on the other; this is done twice before Julius decides to cling to the entrance. So the other cat seems to walk off...only to move the whole fence (while standing still) in his direction, thus pulling the entrance to his side!

The two cats race to the front door; the other cat, having rung the doorbell, laughs at Julius's flower pot, whereupon Julius turns away from the cat, holding the pot behind him. A terrible mistake, as the next few seconds will prove.

The next sequence perfectly establishes what a complete JERK the other cat is. Said cat, as Julius isn't looking, cuts the flowers from the pot; in turn, as the girl arrives at the door, Julius finds himself presenting a pot of soil with cut-off stems, resulting in the girl rejecting him in favor of the other cat who presents the stolen flowers! When Julius tries to follow the other two into the house, that other cat kicks him in the face and slams the door; enraged, Julius throws his pot up, only for it to land on his head.

Julius walks away heartbroken; his crying is depicted in a way that allows us to empathize with him, as he sniffs and even takes out a handkerchief. Suddenly, a drop of some fluid drops onto him; it turns out to be a tough crow on a tree branch spitting on him, much to his girlfriend's amusement. This tough crow then beckons his girlfriend to kiss him; at first, the girl crow clearly hesitates, but the tough crow shows a softer side, cuddling the girl, and then makes the first move in a long, beak-stretching kiss! The girl has enjoyed it, but the tough crow goes wild, flying around and dancing on the tree branch, even swinging in a loop around it with his feet!

Julius walks off, still thoroughly depressed...that's when he finds a shotgun leaning on a stump. Finding that no one is looking, and heartbroken, Julius begins to contemplate suicide—it is here that the cartoon descends into black comedy, as much of the remainder will be spent depicting Julius's failed attempts at suicide!

At first, Julius aims the gun right into his head (holding it completely wrong, like it's a handgun)...not finding this arrangement ideal, however, he then positions it a bit further away, still shaking in fear. Finally, however, he places the shotgun on a rock while he, facing away and quite a distance from it, stretches out his tail to pull the trigger (covering his ears and closing his eyes)...but it turns out to be a cork gun! Then a little feline brat riding (while sitting) on what seems to be a four-wheeled scooter (with a horse toy on wheels attached to it) comes by to claim his gun; Julius, angry at his failed self-shooting, storms off, tripping over the stump on which the gun had been found.

Julius comes across a lake, standing on a pier. Finding that next to him is a rope tied to a boulder, he tries to hang himself by tying the other end of the rope around his neck and jumping off the pier; this doesn't prove very productive, as he merely chokes, so he climbs back up and kicks the boulder, hurting his foot! He then gets the idea to drown himself, but as he throws the boulder out into the lake, the stretchy rope just causes the boulder to come back and hit Julius in the head and then fall into a shallow part of the lake, the other end of the rope snapping off of Julius's neck! Disgusted at more failed suicides, Julius rejects the lake and again walks off.

Outside a tall building, some folks are raising a safe high up, tying the long rope hoisting it to a hook on the building to keep it in place. As they enter the building, Julius enters the scene and, seeing a foolproof opportunity to end it all, cuts the rope with a knife (which he apparently held in his pocket all this time) and waits for the inevitable...only then does Alice finally enter the cartoon, gasping at what Julius is doing and running over and saving him just as the safe falls through the ground!

With less a third of the cartoon left, Julius, at first irritated at Alice, woefully explains the situation to her, even pulling a broken heart out of his chest. Alice then gets the idea to invite some short alley cats over to sabotage the relationship between the other cat and the girl cat, both of whom are now sitting under a tree; walking over, the alley cats pretend that they're the other cat's children! The cat tries to shoo them off, growing increasingly nervous, but to no avail; he finally sends them off by throwing a coin for them to fetch. Nonetheless, the damage has been done; the girl cat rejects him, even flipping her rear up in contempt!

That's when the other cat reveals his abusive nature, grabbing the girl cat as she walks away and trying to rape her! Encouraged by Alice, Julius steps in, the girl going to his side as the other cat begins to cower; he gives the other cat two good uppercuts! (He's already knocked out after the first one...only for Julius to stand him up and give him the second one—talk about overkill!)

The cartoon ends as Julius and the girl kiss; as Julius, noticing Alice watching, shoos her away, the kissing gets passionate (steam comes out!), such that Alice covers her eyes and turns away!

As I said, this is a unique entry in the Alice Comedies, and the film benefits all the more because of it. It focuses on Julius's own personal struggles rather than on him struggling to do something, and even Alice, for all her short screen time, isn't just there; she actually contributes to the plot by coming up with the devious scheme to ruin the rival cat's love life. The rival cat believably comes off as a jerk, and the short sequence with the crows seems to be an early attempt on part of Disney to depict both the subtle (the girl crow hesitating, only to be led into a kiss) and the extreme (the tough crow's wild reaction). Overall, definitely worth watching if you're interested in the Disney studio's early development.

Alice's Brown Derby

This short is for the most part a rather typical Alice Comedy, with Julius in a horse race using a mechanical horse. The prototypical Pete is the main villain, though a mouse does the racing for him; Alice, of course, is mostly just here to cheer Julius on. There's some neat gags throughout the cartoon, but the ending is regrettably unsatisfying.

The film opens with animals entering the race track as a dog pitches his punch stand; a series of mildly amusing gags follow. First, a car driver honks at a slow bus overflowing with animals (likely going to the track), only for the bus to intentionally release exhaust, blackening the car driver (much to the bus driver's entertainment); the car proceeds to climb over the bus (and the animals) with its wheels, then vengefully releases exhaust in front of the bus driver. Next, a mouse uses a hose to squirt water over the track fence; the other mice use the stream of water to get in. Finally, there are three gags involving the track horses: first a horse, in an examination, has some of its stomach fat literally cut off with scissors (with no visible pain to the horse; on the contrary, it's quite pleased with its new figure!), then a horse is seen jump-roping, and finally a horse dreams of winning while its tail is being brushed, throwing up one of its lucky horseshoes (which lands on and knocks out the tail-brusher).

As the plot begins, Julius is greasing his mechanical horse as Alice watches; he then uses his tail as a crank to wind it up. The prototypical Pete, accompanied by his mouse friend on an actual horse, laughs the iron horse off, much to Alice's disgust (which triggers proto-Pete's own disgust).

A dog blows on his bugle, signalling the beginning of the race; the horses (including Julius's mechanical horse), lined up at the start, begin running in place, held back by ropes. As the gun is fired to cut the ropes holding the horses back, the mechanical horse just falls over rather than running; Julius winds it up again, this time by using the horse's own tail as a crank. The mechanical horse proceeds to outrun all the other horses; that's when the body collapses on the ground, though the bendy legs keep it going (looking like spider legs due to the misarrangement), so Julius lifts it back up without too much trouble.

Julius decides he wants the horse to go faster, so he detaches his tail and uses it as a whip; the body goes faster than the legs (staying in mid-air), much to his shock, so he walks back (in mid-air!) to the legs and starts whipping the back legs so that they go faster, while the front legs are twice kicked closer to the horse for good measure! When both pairs are close enough to the flying body, he throws up his tail so that it flutters back to his rear and slides the horse body back to the legs.

Then the back legs stop running, such that the horse becomes bumpy; rubbing the legs with his tail only works temporarily, so he extends his tail and coils it into a spring, and thus Julius sits on his springy tail (which sits on the bumpy horse) without having to do anything, posing for the audience!

The crowd (and Alice) cheers, but proto-Pete is angry; that's when he hatches up a scheme to redirect a portion of the track off a cliff as Julius and his horse arrive! Once they're off the cliff, Pete puts the track back where it should be, his mouse friend thus back in first.

Julius and his horse fall in a rather wavy manner; when they hit the ground (with Julius bouncing then squishing into a puddle), the horse has of course fallen apart. Julius, frustrated, kicks the collapsed creature, only for all the pieces to automatically reassemble! (Julius expresses his surprise just by having his eyes grow and shrink; it's not particularly effective, but it works.)

It's only then that Julius notices that he and his mechanical horse are at the top of another cliff; fanning himself out of fear or dizziness, he then finds himself in an argument with a large bird living in a cave behind him; the large bird swats Julius off the cliff with a broom, only for Julius to "swim" back up and run into the bird's cave. The two brawl (off-screen; stars and smoke and what looks like swarms of bees come out of the cave), and the bird flies off with no feathers!

Julius, having taken the bird's wings, attaches them to the horse, and on his horse he flies back up to the track; he's back in the race! (And his horse now has the power to literally glide in the air.)

Julius flies over proto-Pete's mouse racer, putting him back in first; however, the problem of parts detaching on their own comes back when the horse goes back on the ground, as the wings are still flying in mid-air...and they fly away, much to Julius's frustration!

The mouse racer catches up as Julius desperately tries to speed up by whipping the mechanical horse again, this time using the horse's tail as the whip! As they approach the finish line, Julius depserately keeps whipping and then runs in place, his horse still behind that of the mouse.

Ultimately, Julius resorts to a total cheat (payback for what proto-Pete did, I guess); pull a lever hidden in the horse to stretch his horse's neck, putting its head in front of the mouse's horse...thus, Julius wins by default. The prize? A derby/bowler hat for the horse. (Pretty lame, if you ask me.)

Overall, this Alice Comedy has a unique concept—Julius in a horse race using a mechanical horse, in contrast to the other racers using actual horses. (I'm surprised he wasn't disqualified on the spot.) The writers manage to squeeze some good gags out of the concept, though Alice herself has little to do other than cheer Julius on, while proto-Pete disappears entirely after he pulls off his scheme. And the ending just doesn't work for me at all, especially given the various unusual ways Julius had solved his previous problems; it feels like not Julius, but the writers cheated, and ultimately no one (not even the audience watching the cartoon) really wins (especially not with a measly prize like a derby hat).

Alice in the Big League

It's safe to say that Walt Disney and his crew were tired of making the Alice Comedies, if this final short is any indication. Julius doesn't even show up in this cartoon; meanwhile, Alice as the umpire seems to show favoritism towards the home team while calling foul to anything the other team achieves, and by the end of the film she is for all practical purposes booed out of the stadium—a metaphor, perhaps, for how the audience felt about the Alice Comedies by this time. Most of the focus, rather, is on the antics of the baseball players; most interestingly, there are several characters throughout the cartoon who bear more than a passing resemblance to Oswald, a sign of what will come in less than a month.

Much like the already-reviewed Alice's Brown Derby, the cartoon begins with various setting-related gags, irrelevant to the actual plot. First, as the baseball stadium's crowd cheers, a bunch of young animals (among them a pantsless, white-tailed Oswald!) run up to and look through a peephole through the stadium, only to be chased off by a cat cop; this happens two more times. Note that the cheering crowd freezes whenever the focus is supposed to be on the kids; it looks cheap, as the crowd is literally frozen in cheering positions, and it speaks volumes about how much the studio cared about these films at this point.

Cut to two mice at a mouse-size peephole; one mouse gets to look while another impatiently waits, finally moving the hole over to his side. (The two mice look like Oswald, but with stick legs and arms and mice tails!)

Back to the youngsters, they again try to peek through the peephole, the cop again chasing them. Then one cub tries to get under the stadium fence, only to get stuck; the cop comes by and (using his nightstick!) spanks the kid on the rear while a kitten climbs onto the cop's rear to look through the peephole. When the spanked cub manages to squeeze through to the other side of the fence, the cop turns his attention to the kitten, who squeezes himself through the hole before the cop is able to do anything, while another cub tries to get under the fence, resulting in more spanking!

Back to the Oswald-lookalike mice, it's the first mouse that's impatient now, pulling the hole back to his side; in turn, the second mouse pulls the hole back to his side, and the two mice argue. In the next shot (in which the mice, for some reason, no longer have their Oswald-style pants!), a flamingo seizes the opportunity to steal the hole for himself, putting the mice out of the way and sticking his head and upper neck through the hole.

The two mice solve the dilemma in a way that satisfies all the mice: one mouse, standing on the flamingo, moves the flamingo's butt feathers out of the way, while the other slingshots the butt, the reaction bouncing the first mouse over the fence; this is repeated for the rest of the mice, with one mouse helping the others onto the flamingo.

Now the cartoon focuses on what goes on inside the stadium, and stays there for the rest of the cartoon. In the establishing shot of the ball game, there's a neat visual effect as batted balls (depicted as black circles) go towards the screen; cue a close-up of the pitcher, who is a rodent with Oswald's head. He and the batter (a weiner dog on his hind legs) ready themselves; signalling OK with his ears (they literally form an O, then a K), the pitcher pitches (initially coiling then de-coiling, then throwing the ball).

The batter does not even swing (the catcher behind him is thrown back by the force of the ball, only to be sprung back into position by a wooden platform with springs); it is here that Alice enters the cartoon, here as the umpire calling ball. The Oswald-head pitcher angrily objects; as the catcher throws the ball back, the pitcher jumps up to catch it, only to be left in mid-air, so he simply steps back down to his platform.

The pitcher throws the ball again; this time, the batter makes a hit (accompanied by a crudely-animated cheering crowd; it's practically just every other animal in the crowd raising their arms and putting them down while opening and closing their mouths, followed by all the other animals doing the same, repeated several times in a cycle)! He proceeds to run past first base, now down on all fours with his long body.

The ball lands on the running catcher (a dog), sending him underground; the catcher burrows (to reuse of the crude cheering crowd animation, except mirrored and on a different background so as to give the idea that they're the crowd on the other side of the stadium!) directly to the batter (who's now running on his hind legs) just before he reaches home plate! And evidently the original crudely-animated crowd has no confidence in their own team...they're the ones shown crudely cheering, not the mirrored version!

Alice calls foul, resulting in beratement from the other team (especially the Oswald-headed pitcher); a heated argument ensues between her and them (the pitcher even steps off of his platform to rant at Alice!). The next batter (a hippo) then enters the field.

The pitcher proceeds to throw a ball (having spat on it to the point that saliva drips from it) that curves in the air and bounces around on the ground, and even flies into the distance for a time; the batter cannot hit it no matter how hard he tries (at one point, it even freezes, only to move again once the batter tries to hit it)! Finally, the batter manages to grab it and keep it still in the air; stroking it, he sneaks away (throwing away his bat)...and bats it high up into the sky using what seems to be a broken telephone pole!

The other team is by this time bent on winning; the Oswald-head pitcher drives a long, thin truck with a long ladder, alerting the running catcher (by ringing a built-in bell) to climb on; a bearded cat (or some other animal) cranks the ladder up, allowing the catcher to climb up and get the ball high in the air; the sheer force causes the ladder to bend back and recoil, sending the catcher flying!

Meanwhile, the batter is still running (much to the reused crudely animated crowd's delight; I swear, even the crowd at the beginning that kept freezing looked better animated and closer to reality); as he approaches the home plate, now so determined that he gets on a sled, the catcher (who has been flying with his ears) dives in with the ball, destroying the batter's chance at a home run!

Alice again objects; this time, she earns the ire of the whole crowd, who throw a buttload of bottles and apples and various other objects at her! As she runs away into the distance, diving over the fence, she very conspicuously turns animated...thus ends the final Alice Comedy.

It's telling that Disney chose to end the Alice Comedies like this. The opening gags take up a quite a bit of time; a deliberate choice, perhaps, since they're the best gags in the whole cartoon. Julius never appears even once; most of the gags that take up the actual plot (save the hippo using a broken telephone pole as a bat) aren't anything too special, even if some of them are rather neat and quirky. The freezing cheering crowd is just sloppy, especially given how good it looks when it actually moves; the constantly-repeated cheering crowd as seen from inside the stadium gets really annoying to look at over and over again. On the bright side, the cartoon gives a preview of the improvement to come; several characters resemble Oswald in their heads, at least. And there is the spectacle of the last Alice Comedy ending with Alice running away from a rioting crowd sick of her antics (and really, in this cartoon she doesn't do much other than be a faulty umpire). Overall, not a great end to a rather hit-and-miss series, though it does have its few moments.

Falling Hare

There has been a misconception in regards to this film—no doubt spread by the John Kricfalusi-Bill Melendez commentary included with its release on the third Golden Collection, and by John K.'s own blog—and it's that Melendez animated the close-up of Bugs and the gremlin pictured above. I had thought that Thad Komorowski's marvelous breakdown of the cartoon, in addition to identifying the unsung Tom McKimson's role in the animation, dispelled that myth by identifying the close-up as a Rod Scribner scene—most likely Melendez was (in the commentary) remembering his role as an assistant animator for Scribner.

Evidently not, however; recently, a fellow researcher submitted the dubious Melendez credit to this entry, citing John K. as his source. That's when I decided to consult none other than the great Mark Kausler, who confirmed (to the best of his ability—he admitted that he can't identify Bill Melendez very well) that the close-up was Scribner's: it "has all the hallmarks of Rod's animation, especially the problem that he had in controlling character sizes, he drew such extreme extremes that the character would gain in volume. Rod's assistants had to subtly inbetween the scenes so that the sizes didn't appear to change too much."

Hopefully, this should put to rest once and for all the idea that Bill Melendez was a key animator in this particular cartoon.

The Kindly Lion

I've written a series of articles on the wonderful color styling in this film. See here!

The Forgotten Doll

I have written a long analysis of this mostly forgotten film on an awesome new animation research/analysis blog, On the Ones. Led by tamerlane, an animation connoisseur and well-respected Anitwtter poster whose largely overlooked (among Western animation fans, that is) writings on animation I dare say are as good as anything folks like Jerry Beck and Thad have written, it'll also feature contributions from ibcf, magnil, Gemon, and yours truly in the future! See my analysis here (and do NOT forget to read tamerlane's giant article on Russian animation, already up on the blog):

Tales of a Street Corner

There are important clarifications to be made in regards to the so-called "Key Animators" and "Inbetweeners" here. To be specific, Eiichi Yamamoto, Yusaku Sakamoto, Gisaburou Sugii, Kazuko Nakamura, etc. are actually credited for "genga", and Rintarou, Shigeru Yamamoto, etc. for "douga". These terms have relatively different connotations from the American key animators and inbetweeners, and explaining what they mean is insightful in regards to the differences between the American and Japanese animation systems.

I asked magnil about the precise meanings of these two terms. He was kind enough to give the following detailed explanation (republished here with his permission), including how the terms may have applied to "Tales", in particular; as he warns, however, a substantial part of it is based on his own guesswork, and may not be accurate:

"In general terms, "genga" could be translated as "keys" and "douga" could be translated as "inbetweens", like most English sources would do, but there are actually slight differences between the Japan genga/douga system and US key/inbetween system. To further explain this question, I'll quote Yasuo Otsuka's explanation on "genga" and "douga". In his autobiography book "Sakuga Ase Mamire", he wrote:

In America, especially in Disney, there are:

1) animator, who would drew extremely rough poses in general

2) assistant animator, who drew "keys" based on the rough sketches

3) clean-up artist, who cleaned the lines to be prepared for inbetweening

4) inbetweener, who drew inbetweens

But in Japan, 1) 2) are genga's job and 3) 4) are douga's job.

Since his book was written in 80s, he should be refering to post-80s Disney but not classic-era Disney, when there were a more specialized department for cleaning-up. Unlike post-80s Disney's ultra specialized workflow, Japan didn't used assistant animator (except early Toei) nor extra clean-up system, there were only "genga" and "douga" in Japan.

Normally, a genga man would draw all genga/keys for his scenes - by "keys", Japanese actually mean anything not inbetween, that is, extremes, breakdowns, secondary motions (like extra hair, clothes movement), and even layouts if there isn't a specialized role for layouts. These "keys" are often comparatively cleaner than their US peers, more like a tie-down / 1st clean-up / semi clean-up drawing in US system (like the 2nd drawing in this post, sometimes even close to the 3rd final clean-up drawing). A douga man would then do the final clean-up (if needed) and draw the inbetweens. In early animes, some douga men might get chances to tie down rough drawings and add breakdowns (1-2 by Otsuka's words), but nowadays a douga man would normally only do little final clean-up work and inbetween them (3-4 or only 4).

But like there are US animators who don't use any assistants and would tie-down/clean-up by themselves and only left inbetweens for the inbetweeners, there are also Jp animators who work very rough and rely on others for cleaning-up. What a genga/douga do is depends on the studio's specific workflow and the animators' habits. So I guess it's safe to just translate them as "animator"/"inbetweener" unless we know the specific situation.

Back to "Tales of a Street Corner", I knew Gisaburou Sugii worked very rough and Shigeyuki "Rintarou" Hayashi (credited as "douga" in the first one) was probably responsible for tying-down/cleaning-up/inbetweening animators' keys. In the first few episodes of "Astro Boy" series, Rintarou's role was much like an assistant animator would do in US system, clean-up Gisaburou's rough drawings and may even add some breakdowns between extremes. Shigeru Yamamoto could be in the same situation as Rintarou, but the rest douga men in "Tales of a Street Corner" are likely pure inbetweeners with little to no extra works to do. But I should clarify these are all by guess, it's hard to tell how much work a douga man had done."

Feline Frame-Up

I've taken a look at this fine Jones classic at the blog On the Ones. Check it out!


My latest write-up is devoted to this most unique, special gem from the NFBC! About all I have to add is that if you haven't seen it, watch it. ASAP.

Kitty Foiled

A not-so-typical example of Tom and Jerry at their prime, this cartoon introduces a pet canary into the well-established violent dynamic. Unlike later cartoons in which the side characters were just a way of thinly disguising that the series was out of ideas, here the canary’s presence as Jerry’s new ally results in several gags even more ingeniously offbeat, brutal, and manic than usual, backed up by Hanna’s solid timing, top-notch character animation by the likes of Irv Spence, Ken Muse, and Ed Barge, colorfully brash sound effects, and an excellent, somewhat powerful score by Scott Bradley that quotes liberally from the overture to Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville.

The sequence involving the gun is surely one of the finest moments in the entire series. Just as Tom lunges at the canary, the latter picks up a gun and begins backing towards the terrified cat with it over a long distance; the fear that both characters feel in the presence of the dangerous weapon is all too authentic, hence Tom mindlessly handing the gun back to the bird when he drops it at one point rather than using the opportunity to take it for himself! When Jerry deliberately drops a light bulb, the resulting noise convincing Tom that he has been “shot” right in the heart, the poor cat puts on one of the most hilarious gun death enactments in cinematic history: stumbling across the room with a frighteningly funny expression (his whited-out pupils!) while making pained groans, he looks into the mirror only to see his grave, and, thus convinced, slowly sinks to the ground while flipping a coin, spins around, and “dies” —much to Jerry’s and the canary’s great elation. It must be noted, though, that this is just one highlight among the many brilliant scenes that make up this cartoon, among them the climactic sequence in which Tom, in a truly demented fit, actually tries to run over Jerry with a toy train only to meet his final demise in a hole created by a bowling ball dropped from high up by the canary; even the lesser gags have a bizarre streak and animator-infused personality that make them enjoyable, like the scene in which the bird and Jerry disguise themselves as Indians in order to get away from Tom (animated by Irv Spence). Easily one of the best Tom and Jerry cartoons ever made, Kitty Foiled demonstrates the wonders that can be achieved with a cat, a mouse, and a bird, a diverse team of great animators, a violent imagination, an uncanny sense of comedic timing, and a gifted musical arranger-composer.

(Originally published in the Capsule Reviews for August 2016, on the ones!)

A Yard Too Far

I'm surprised no one's pointed out that Stimpy's bounce-skip when Ren tells him to check for a guard dog (which turns out to be the baboon) is lifted from SVEN HOEK, when Stimpy goes to his "appointment" (animated by John K., refined by Bob Jaques). There are some minor differences in how certain details are rendered, but the overall look and even the timing are the same. (See my frame-by-frame comparison here: