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Butt Ugly Martians vs. Super Duper Sumos
I'll admit, when I was a kid (And even to a certain degree during Jr. High, which we in Canadaland call Middle School), I was easily entertained by cartoons.  Very rarely would one come along that I did not like, and these two infamous shows were among them.  The funny thing is that when I saw ads for them, I thought they looked stupid.  Then when I got bored and gave them a shot, I thought they were cool.  Revisiting both shows as an adult, I now realize these shows really are as stupid as the ads made them seem, and yet, much like Don Bluth's first four 90's films, I can't bring myself to hate them.  Yeah, I know they're bad, but I still find them entertaining, though for different reasons.  I'd say it's purely nostalgia, but then again, I also used to like Mega Babies back in the day yet despise it now, so pretty sure it's not just that.  Either way, I'm gonna do something similar that I did with the bad Bluth films and pit these two up to decide w
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Literature
Animated Films of 2018
You know, it seems like ever since 2013, there's been a pattern when it comes to animated films where the odd numbered years range from okay to just good while the even numbered years range from great to fantastic.  And while 2018 wasn't quite as strong as 2014 and 2016, it still managed to keep up that trend.  At the very least, this is one of those rare instances of a year where I didn't dislike a single animated film that came out, and considering how many we got, that's impressive.  Even this year's weakest entries I still liked to a certain degree.  Plus it also helps that much like last year, this year did give us a good number of foreign films here in Edmonton.
Anyway, as per usual, it's time to start my annual fake animation awards.  As always, this is all opinion-based.  If I wasn't posting these on the Internet, I wouldn't repeat that every time.
Best Animated Film of 2018- Big Fish and Begonia
I am so glad this came to Edmonton this year, otherw
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Literature
Adventure Time: Come Along with Me Review
Ever since I introduced my dad to this series, I've been watching it primarily on DVD with him, specifically one episode a day.  Yes, as shocking as this is, Adventure Time is my 68-year-old dad's all time favorite show.  But that's not the subject of this entry but more so an explanation behind why it took me longer than just about every other fan of the show to get to the finale.  I even went out of my way to avoid massive spoilers to the point where the only thing I knew about the series finale was that they pulled a Korra by confirming that PB and Marceline an official couple. (Only they made it impossible for certain people to interpret it differently) Anyway, now that I've seen the finale, what do I think of it?  Seeing as it's four parts, surely it must be as satisfying as Gravity Falls' long-awaited finale.  But then again, there is also the chance it might end up like Samurai Jack's finale, which I personally didn't think was that bad but definitely co
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Literature
Top 8 3DS Games of 2018
Before you ask why I'm already making this list even though there's still more than two months left in the year, well, I have stated before that I tend to make these posts as soon as I have nothing else to add to them. (Like how I make my annual fake animation awards posts as soon as I've seen every animated film to hit Edmonton theaters) And having checked out Nintendo.com and Amazon numerous times, I have confirmed that there are no more upcoming 3DS titles that I care about this year.  As for why this is a top 8, well, there were only 8 that I purchased this year.
Though I have to say, it is a little nice to know I was wrong about the 3DS dying this year.  Seems it's still on some life support and we're still getting a few games for it next year, meaning, hey, you guys will still get a list next year. (Though so far, two out of the three I want are remakes) Anyway, as is my tradition, it's time to countdown my favorite 3DS games that I played this year.  As always, I'
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Literature
Mega Man X 6 vs. 7
Like many a gamer, I am a pretty big fan of the Mega Man franchise and its many spinoffs.  And of course, that includes the X series.  However, I'll admit in my youth, I only played the first couple and the Xtreme games, which were actually my introduction to the series.  It wasn't until the X Legacy Collection came out on the Switch that I finally found a way to play all 8 of these.  Well, having played through the first 7, I'll say this.  The first collection, aka, the first four, was an absolutely blast to play through.  While the second one didn't make the best use of its added gimmicks, all four are really good with the forth one being, in my eyes, the best.  As such, I was very excited to play second half of the series.  X 5 was an adjustment, but after a while, I learned to love it as well.  But then I realized I would have to give 6 and 7 a shot.  I had already heard in advance that both of these were considered the only truly b
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Literature
Next Gen (2018 film) Review
I have a confession to make.  I very rarely use Netflix.  It's not because I don't believe in it or I've never taken interest, it's just that Canadian Netflix is, well, let's say lacking in variety.  Every time I look for a show that isn't available on DVD but is apparently supposed to be on Netflix, we don't have it.  Thankfully, anything created specifically for Netflix is the exception. Heck, Voltron is pretty much the only thing I'm watching with that right now.
Well, today I found something else that caught my interest, a very, very recent animated film called Next Gen.  I looked into it, thought it looked cool and watched it.  With that said, I was only expecting a fun waste of time.  What I was not expecting was to be blown away, let alone for this to be one of my favorite films of 2018. (If only this had been released to theaters, then I might actually consider giving it a spot in my annual fake awards post) Yes, I just went and spoiled the co
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Literature
Shout-out to some DA artists
Six years ago, I wrote an entry giving a shout-out to some of the best friends I have made online over the years. (Though limiting myself mainly to those who have DA accounts so they could, you know, see the message) Then a few weeks ago, I wrote a journal post thanking all my friends and watchers.  Let's just say stuff happened and I really wanted to show how much I appreciate all of you.  And today, I'm gonna give some attention to DA users that I feel really deserve it.  I'm not just basing this off of the quality of their art but also how I know them as people.
First off, I'll briefly mention those I brought up in the 2012 entry. (And if you want great detail on why I value them so much, you can read about it here: https://www.deviantart.com/ndunsmo/art/Shout-out-to-a-few-friends-288195433) :iconTwoPrinces: I mentioned first as she is, to this day, my BFF.  I feel she's made me a better person over the years and I love how honest and understanding she is. (We al
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Literature
Top 5 Cartoon Episodes I Like That Everyone Hates
So, there have been a lot of lists of cartoons people like that everyone else hates, but I don't think I've ever come across a list devoted to single episodes.  So I guess I'll break the mold today.  While I often find myself agreeing with people on unpopular cartoon episodes, there are quite a few out there I actually enjoy despite the fact that just about everyone else despises them.  Today, I'm going to count down my top 5 since admittedly, the list isn't super expansive.
As the title does indicate, this is all opinion-based.  In fact, I'm expecting a lot of you to disagree with me, and as long as you're polite about it, that's perfectly fine.  Also, while this is mostly for western cartoons, I am going to add one anime episode to this list, and it's a pretty infamous one too. (Spoilers, it's in the number 1 spot.  I bet a lot of you might have figured out which episode it is)
5) Duchess of Wails from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends- Now, needless t
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Literature
Chrono Trigger vs. I Am Setsuna
Alright, so as quite a few of my watchers may be aware, I didn't get myself a Switch until pretty late last year.  Though shockingly, I actually didn't miss out on too many opportunities to purchase various titles I missed upon launch.  A good number of these are still available in retail.  However, one game I found myself looking for a lot was I Am Setsuna, a game that was heavily influenced by Chrono Trigger.  I then found out the English release is only available in digital form and the only way to own a physical copy is to have it imported for a higher price. (Though I was tempted considering the original Japanese release actually comes with an English language option)
After having played through this game, I can honestly say it is very good.  It was certainly a blast playing a game with very similar mechanics to the SNES classic.  Heck, it actually has a lot more in common than I figured it would.  But would I put it on the level of Chrono Trigge
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Literature
Animated Films of 2017
Well, finally I can say with the utmost honesty that I've seen every animated film to hit Edmonton theaters, thus my yearly tradition of making fake awards for them continues.  You know, this was an odd year for animation.  The first two thirds I felt were a lot closer to what most people felt 2013 was like.  It didn't quite reach that level, at least for me, but it came close. (Especially since at least half of them I found just okay) Luckily, I do feel that the final third more than made up for that with a couple of exceptions.  After all, even the weakest films during that time were above average, and that's a good sign.  Well, at least that's how I feel about the world-wide releases.
Now, when it comes to foreign animated releases, this year was phenomenal, or at least it was here in Edmonton.  Yeah, I think this is a record for the most foreign animated films to come here, or at the very least, I was able to see a lot more.  Not only did we get m
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Literature
Top 10 3DS Games of 2017
You know, looking at the current lineup for the first three months of next year, this might possibly be the last time I make one of these.  I'm kind of hoping the public is wrong about the 3DS dying out soon because I've poured more hours into this console than any other. (Though considering I have ultimately decided to get a Switch, this might also be somewhat of a good thing.  It'd give me a reason to give that one more attention)  Yes, I know there are still 3DS games coming out next year, though considering the first two titles I have any interest in come out in March, there's a slight chance I may not have enough for a top 10.
Well, the important thing right now is that with Ultra Sun in my collection, I can now say I've played every 3DS game I wanted to this year and thus I'm ready for my annual countdown.  And I'll say this: if this really is the last good year for the 3DS, I wouldn't mind that too much since there were some strong titles. (Or at least the on
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Literature
Pokemon: I Choose You Review
Wow, while this may not be a great year for world-wide animated releases, it is a phenomenal year for foreign animated films here in Edmonton. (And I include anime based films among those) This year, we got One Piece: Film Gold, Yu-Gi-Oh: Dark Side of Dimensions and Sailor Moon R: The Movie, all three in theaters for longer than I'd expect films like this to be available to the public.  And today, I had the pleasure of seeing the 20th Pokemon movie, I Choose You, an alternate reality story involving Ash starting his Pokemon journey and going on a whole new adventure.  Well, okay, the Pokemon Generation shorts that played before the film started were off-putting to say the least.  They were entertaining, but very misleading.  I kept sitting there wondering when the actual film was going to start.  These felt less like traditional shorts and more like the glorified commercials I'm sure critics would have seen this film as if they actually went and saw it. (Seriou
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Literature
Mune Guardian of the Moon Review
Ever since this became available on home video, I've been meaning to watch it.  I'll admit, it looked interesting.  It seemed to have a unique style and its reception from the public is positive enough.  And, well, now that I have seen this, I can give my thoughts on it.
Before I go into the meat of the story, I'm not gonna lie, I was kind of unimpressed by it for the first little bit of the film.  Not only was I constantly drawing parallels to Kung Fu Panda, I was drawing SERIOUS parallels to Kung Fu Panda.  Well, okay, it does do things slightly differently and does have enough creativity to help it stand out.  So, basically, the guardians of both the sun and the moon are too old to carry out their duties, therefor it is time to pass the torch to someone new.  Those chosen are Sohone (Wow, it seriously sounded like they were calling him Zone throughout the whole thing), a strong, spirited, outgoing warrior who's very skilled with a harpoon and Leeyo
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Literature
Why I Feel the Cloudy Film Deserves its Popularity
This is something I came up with two years ago, but I wasn't really sure if this was worth doing.  It was to be a series I had planned in which I look at popular works that are deemed as extremely overrated and explain why I personally feel they deserve to be as popular as they are.  Not sure if I'm really going to turn this into a series now, but I do feel like at least making this one since it is relevant.
The subject I feel like addressing specifically is the 2009 film adaptation of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  When this film was announced, I and many others didn't expect much from it.  It looked like a generic pop-culture spewing mess, no different from your typical animated comedy. (For me, it especially didn't help that I'd never even heard of the book it was based on) And yet when the film finally came out, it was shockingly well received.  When I saw just how much praise it was getting combined with Spillcom giving it a unanimous full price, I ha
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You know, I don't know if I've ever been this conflicted about whether or not I can fully recommend going to the theater to see a film before. (Well, okay, maybe Beauty and the Beast to a certain extent) Because on one hand, there is a lot to like about this movie. It's really good and well put together. The performances are excellent. Emily Blunt especially did a great job as the titular character. The songs are excellent. They really went out of their way to make this feel like a true followup to the original right down to them using the same hand-drawn animation style from the original for the animated segment. Seriously, they could have so easily tried to update it, at the very least give the animated characters more of a 90's look or just had them done in realistic CG, but no, they made sure to honor the original with that old-school sketchy look that we associate with the Walt Disney era. On top of that, it's really charming. There are so many moments that just had me smiling throughout, and the first time Mary sang, it gave me tears. It was beautiful. So with all of this going in the film's favor, why am I not sure if I can recommend this? Because when you really get down to it, well, let's just say they did too good a job making this feel like the original, right down to the story being almost the same. It's practically a rehash with the only major difference being the antagonist, aka, the bank owner. In the original, Dawes Sr. was mostly just a business owner who lost sight of the finer things in life. Meanwhile, his nephew, William, is just a straight-up villain, which just feels wrong to me. This was the one issue I had with Paddington, the fact that they felt the need to add a villain to a story that really shouldn't have had one. Even Christopher Robin's boss in, well, Christopher Robin was just a cartoonishly over-the-top guy trying to run a business, not a villain. But even with all of this in mind, this is still a very good movie, I'm just not sure if I can fully recommend it to anyone who has seen the original. If you're okay with treading super familiar ground but told differently, I think you'll get a lot out of this. At the very least, I greatly enjoyed it.

Subject: Mary Poppins Returns
Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: Again, not really sure about this one.
Well, seeing as it's that time of year, time to post my usual thing: 
I'll admit, when I was a kid (And even to a certain degree during Jr. High, which we in Canadaland call Middle School), I was easily entertained by cartoons.  Very rarely would one come along that I did not like, and these two infamous shows were among them.  The funny thing is that when I saw ads for them, I thought they looked stupid.  Then when I got bored and gave them a shot, I thought they were cool.  Revisiting both shows as an adult, I now realize these shows really are as stupid as the ads made them seem, and yet, much like Don Bluth's first four 90's films, I can't bring myself to hate them.  Yeah, I know they're bad, but I still find them entertaining, though for different reasons.  I'd say it's purely nostalgia, but then again, I also used to like Mega Babies back in the day yet despise it now, so pretty sure it's not just that.  Either way, I'm gonna do something similar that I did with the bad Bluth films and pit these two up to decide which one I feel is the least bad.  As always, this is all opinion-based.

Setup- Alright, both shows are essentially monster of the week action shows with the occasional character struggle here and there.  Ultimately, it all boils down to the execution, and this one easily goes to Butt Ugly Martians.  Now, to be fair, Super Duper Sumos is clearly the less serious show.  It's more of a satire of superhero shows, so it seems odd to judge it from a story standpoint.  However, even with that in mind, it's much more formulaic.  Each episode centers around the members of Bad Inc. coming up with a way to destroy the sumos, the sumos are dealing with an internal conflict that gets in the way of victory, they have multiple flashbacks to help them overcome the problem and save the day.  On top of that, there are some episodes with entire story lines centered around Booma's butt.  Yes, really.  And while BUM (Yes, the title spells 'bum'.  I hope you found that funny) has a main villain, specifically Emperor Bog, he and his followers are not the only threats the martians have to face.  Sometimes, aliens from other areas will threaten Earth and in other cases, neither side is actually evil and the major conflict is brought about by a misunderstanding.  Because of this, the show is less predictable.  There are still a few familiar story beats with each one, though the most prominent examples are the martians waiting until the last minute to activate their ultimate battle suits instead of doing the smart thing and using them right away and an amateurish alien hunter named Muldoon having his memory wiped, even if there's no reason for the martians to do so.  Still, at least this series has more creativity with its premise, so it gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 1
Super Duper Sumos- 0

Animations- It's no mystery that both of these shows are very cheaply made for the styles they went with.  Super Duper Sumos goes for the more traditional 2D look, but movements are very limited.  Even so, I'll give the animators some credit for doing a relatively good job with facial expressions and even some of the slapstick.  Butt Ugly Martians, on the other hand, uses very early CGI.  You'd think I would be a bit more forgiving for that reason alone, but considering how much better Reboot looked, I do not consider this a valid excuse.  While it's not the worst I've ever seen from TV CGI, it's still painful to look at.  The movements of the characters are very stiff and at times are even more limited than those of Super Duper Sumos.  On top of that, many characters just don't look right.  I'm not sure how to explain that, but they just don't.  To be fair, this style is at least okay for the aliens when it comes to character appearances, but it does not work so well for the humans as they wind up looking kind of creepy.  However, the biggest thing going against the animations for me is the extreme lack of people in this show.  Yeah, for some reason, this show is perfectly fine showing plenty of aliens whenever they cut to a location in space, yet whenever the show is set on Earth, we rarely get to see any humans who aren't reoccurring.  We never see the human kids' parents on screen, somehow there's never anyone outside whenever an alien is threatening the planet (Seriously, how does no one figure out Muldoon was right about the existence of alien life after the first few episodes?) There's an episode where the martians meet a famous pop star, but then the audience that came to see him live is blurred out, so you can't even see them.  There's one episode where three humans are standing in front of a radio and listening to it.  But moments like these only stand out because they rarely ever happen.  Seriously, were the animators really this lazy or is the show just that cheap?  At least Super Duper Sumos constantly shows other citizens, proving there are people to protect.  As such, while neither of these shows are well animated, the bad superhero parody gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 1
Super Duper Sumos- 1

Characters- BUM easily gets this one.  It just does.  Okay, may as well explain it.  Since Super Duper Sumos is a satire of superhero shows, it only stands to reason that none of these characters are particularly interesting or deep.  You pretty much learn everything you need to know about them from one episode.  Each one of the sumos has a very obvious personality.  Kimo, being the Asian member of the group, is constantly honor-bound and always has this zen-like attitude about life.  Booma, being the American member of the group, is childish, self-absorbed and loves bragging about how big his butt is.  The only one of these three who comes off as remotely interesting is Mamoo, what with him having a love of cooking, but that's about the only really interesting thing about him.  Otherwise, he constantly has to remind the audience that he represents truth by inserting said word into every other sentence.  And the other characters aren't that great.  Their cousin, Prima (Get it?  Prima is Spanish for cousin.  That's the joke) is just there to either react to the sumos or get captured and the sumos' mentor, Wisdom San, mostly just exists to spout some of the show's better one-liners and provide whatever lesson the sumos have to learn by the end of each episode.  What I'm saying is that all of these characters are extremely one-dimensional.  I will admit that I do at least enjoy the villains to a certain degree, but only because they provide some of the show's better humor.  Since Butt Ugly Martians is more serious, its characters at least have a bit more depth to them.  While each of the martians has his own prominent traits, they do at least have moments here and there to show that there's more to them than just their roles. (Though I still don't understand why they're all named after forms of music.  At least there's an explanation behind why the Ninja Turtles are named after renaissance painters. This is just weird) The human characters, while not as useful in combat, are still able to help the martians in their own right and have their own unique personalities.  There are also a ton of side characters who actually have a decent amount of depth to them, with my personal favorite being Koo Foo, an alien who's immediately mistaken for a villain but actually has a heart of gold.  While the characters aren't expertly written or anything, they do at least have depth to them.  Even Muldoon and Ronald, arguably the two least interesting characters in the entire series, have little moments here and there that make them slightly more tolerable.  Honestly, the only real issue I have with most of the main characters is their dialog.  Muldoon, being the one prominent human we're not supposed to take seriously, talks like an old fogey and spouts out-dated slang terms while the kids and martians frequently say 'hip and cool' phrases without even trying to be clever.  There's also this weird subplot where the Martians try to fit in with humankind by posing as a boy band wearing costumes and the watchers have to be subjected to their painfully generic pop songs.  But, still, they are more interesting than the sumos.
Butt Ugly Martians- 2
Super Duper Sumos- 1

Humor- While these are action shows, they're also aimed at kids, so as you can imagine, there is a lot of humor littered throughout.  It's difficult to decide which one I find less painful in this department.  The thing is, every now and then, Super Duper Sumos can have a decent joke.  For instance, the place it's set in is called Generic City.  The villains run an organization called Bad Inc and their leader is named Ms. Mister.  And as I said earlier, not only are the villains actually funny at times, but Wisdom San gets some of the funniest dialog in this show.  However, you also have to get past the copious number of jokes centered around the fact that the sumos are fat and have big butts.  Yes, this takes up at least half the show's humor and it gets old super fast.  I already mentioned it earlier, but there are entire episodes centered around this.  At the very least, Butt Ugly Martians has much more variety, which is impressive for a show that has less humor.  Now, the ads for the show do let you know in advance that there is toilet humor in it.  After all, the first commercial showcased a burp joke and there's a scene in the second episode where Do-Wah knocks out the episode's villain by farting on his face.  And while this type of humor is higher in number than it should be, it doesn't dominate the show like SDS' butt jokes.  Most of the humor centers around Muldoon and how stupid he is, and sometimes, it can be genuinely funny, even if the show is a tad in-your-face with it.  Ultimately, I feel like at the very least, a tad more thought went into this show's humor as it's not constantly centered on stuff that would only make a toddler laugh, so point goes to the Sci-Fi show.
Butt Ugly Martians- 3
Super Duper Sumos- 1

Fight Scenes- Yeah, I'm giving the point to Butt Ugly Martians again.  Okay, one of the major issues I have with Super Duper Sumos is that for an action show, its fight scenes are really lazy.  A lot of the time, you don't really feel like the sumos are in any real danger, but even when they actually lose, the fight is always over with so quickly that it hardly seems to matter.  And often times, once they get their head in the game, that's it.  The opponent goes down in one hit from each of them.  When it comes to Butt Ugly Martians, though, for the limited animations they had, they did the best they could.  First off, the martians themselves have a wide variety of different weapons and abilities to use against their opponents.  The various adversaries they face all have their own unique fighting patterns and pose a legitimate threat.  Many times during the episodes, you feel like the martians are going to lose. (Granted, again, part of that is because they always wait until the last minute to use their best abilities for no explicable reason, but still) Yeah, it's easy to see why this show gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 4
Super Duper Sumos- 1

Theme Song- Say what you will about the theme song to Super Duper Sumos, but you can't deny that it's at least the most memorable thing about it.  Now, I think I've mentioned only once in the past that I'm not the biggest fan of theme songs where all they do is repeat the title and a few extra lines over and over again.  It's a big part of the reason I'm not a particularly big fan of the English opening for the first 3 Digimon seasons and 'Rock the Dragon' from Dragon Ball Z.  And while that does also apply to the Super Duper Sumos theme, for what it's worth, it still has a very catchy beat to it.  When it comes to Butt Ugly Martians, I actually don't think the melody is all that bad.  It's more the lyrics.  First off, it opens up with the main leads shouting 'BKM' without explaining what it means.  They vaguely hint at this during the second half of the song, but they still don't explain it (It stands for 'Butt Kicking Mode', by the way), and I don't even get why it's in the theme song.  It's not the most prominent part of the series and has little to do in the way of its plot.  I feel like a song centered around BKM would be more suitable for a commercial than, you know, the show's actual theme song.  Now, when the song does focus on the actual setup, the lyrics are okay but still nothing special and the melody never truly goes beyond passable.  Yeah, Super Duper Sumos' opening is lyrically lazier, but it does have the more memorable melody to it, so it gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 4
Super Duper Sumos- 2

Transformation Sequence- Yeah, something I've vaguely hinted at a couple of times in this post is that both these shows feature transformation sequences.  I think this is the number 1 reason these shows appealed to me so much as a kid because I used to be a sucker for transformation sequences.  A part of me still kind of is, but I'm no longer a huge fan of those that last about as long as the ones in these shows.  Even so, I'm giving this point to Butt Ugly Martians.  First off, the music that plays during this sequence is grand and epic.  It always gets me really pumped and excited to see what the martians do with these power suits.  The martians also give a heroic speech talking about their purpose, and while the opening statement feels unnecessary, it just carries so much weight to it.  The only complaint I do have is that the sequence ends before the musical score and only sometimes does it continue after the transformation is complete, thus audiences aren't always allowed to listen to the whole score. (I am also a touch disappointed that in one episode, they introduce a more powerful version of BKM but couldn't be bothered to create a new sequence for it) With the Super Duper Sumos' sumo size sequence, I can tell this was added specifically for budgetary reasons.  This was an excuse for the animators not to animate too much.  First off, this transformation happens at least twice per episode, and considering it lasts about fifty seconds, that's one minute and forty seconds worth of recycled footage per episode. (Well, okay, sometimes they shorten it the second time, but not always) And even then, the majority of the sequence is pure filler.  It's just the sumos making various different poses and doing random things that are supposed to make them look cool.  They also perform a pointless dance number before actually showing audiences what the point of the whole sequence is.  But to add insult to injury, this entire segment ultimately builds up to nothing more than the sumos expanding their muscles.  Yes, the martians go through a shorter sequence to form powerful metal suits around them while the sumos just make themselves bigger.  Seriously, if it wasn't for the theme music playing the background, this sequence would have nothing going for it.
Butt Ugly Martians- 5
Super Duper Sumos- 2  

And finally, the better series finale- One thing I will give these shows massive props for is that they came out before the Internet was as big as it is now, and despite them not being entirely story driven, each one still had a proper series finale.  I can't help but kind of admire the people behind these shows for going to the effort when, let's face it, I don't think most people cared whether these shows had real conclusions or not.  When reminiscing about both shows and their finales a couple of years ago, I initially thought there was no way Butt Ugly Martians could possibly lose this category, because I remembered this show having a genuinely epic finale.  There was a two-parter where Bog found out that the martians were secretly helping the humans.  The martians also lost the ability to use BKM and this big epic battle took place with past characters coming in to help out and 2T inventing BKM Ultra, a form of BKM so powerful, there's no reason for them to use the older version.  And then I discovered this wasn't the series finale.  No, it was the finale to season 1.  Instead, the true series finale was a very underwhelming episode that I thought was created as a what-if scenario that was technically non-canon.  The only remotely interesting thing about this episode is that Damage (Seriously, Bog's henchman is named Damage, but it's pronounced 'da-maj') sends a robot that looks exactly like a human to attack the martians.  However, the martians very easily defeat said robot and even see through the trick without hesitation, thus rendering that plot point completely useless.  Oh, but Muldoon sees them destroy the human-like robot and thinks they're evil.  This is very quickly dropped when Bog shows up and wages an attack against the martians.  In other words, every single interesting plot point isn't given enough time for the audience to care.  They had this surprisingly awesome two-parter to cap off the series and instead gave us this underwhelming mess.  Because of this, Super Duper Sumos already has a lot going in its favor, and it also helps that the series finale actually has a really interesting setup.  Basically, Genghis, the ghost of an evil war general who was defeated by Wisdom Son years ago, hatches a plan to go back in time and kill the old mentor in order to prevent him from ever training the sumos.  On top of that, the sumos meet themselves as babies and there's even a point near the end where they get to meet their older selves.  On top of that, because they're in the past, they can't use any flashbacks to help them out of tough situations and for some strange reason, they also can't sumo size until the very end when all three timelines meet.  Granted, yes, the final battle itself is as underwhelming as one would expect from this show what with them powering up and then taking down the three toughest soldiers with no trouble whatsoever, but at least there was more effort put into making this feel like a true, solid finale.  Thus it only stands to reason that Super Duper Sumos gets this point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 5
Super Duper Sumos- 3

Ultimately, both of these shows are bad, but at the very least, with Butt Ugly Martians, I see an ugly duckling trying its hardest to become a beautiful swan and teach kids a 'don't judge a book by its cover' message.  Super Duper Sumos is just, well, stupid, even by satire standards.  In the end, BUM is the least bad of these two shows, at least in my eyes.
You know, it seems like ever since 2013, there's been a pattern when it comes to animated films where the odd numbered years range from okay to just good while the even numbered years range from great to fantastic.  And while 2018 wasn't quite as strong as 2014 and 2016, it still managed to keep up that trend.  At the very least, this is one of those rare instances of a year where I didn't dislike a single animated film that came out, and considering how many we got, that's impressive.  Even this year's weakest entries I still liked to a certain degree.  Plus it also helps that much like last year, this year did give us a good number of foreign films here in Edmonton.

Anyway, as per usual, it's time to start my annual fake animation awards.  As always, this is all opinion-based.  If I wasn't posting these on the Internet, I wouldn't repeat that every time.

Best Animated Film of 2018- Big Fish and Begonia
I am so glad this came to Edmonton this year, otherwise picking a number one would have been really difficult as I can think of at least three others that could have easily taken this spot.  But, yeah, this movie is incredible, a true work of art.  Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it has a great and very creative story.  The characters are very complex but still likable and sympathetic.  The many turns the film takes work to great effect.  I especially love the relationship between Chun and Kun.  These two never talk to each other at any point in the film but they get along so well.  Along with the film tackling very heavy themes greatly, if you haven't seen or heard of this, seek it out.  It is a must-see. (On a side note, any film that can make a poop joke, let alone two, come off as genuinely funny and tasteful at the same time deserves massive props)

Weakest Animated Film of 2018- Sherlock Gnomes
While I may be among the minority who didn't dislike this film, that's not saying a whole lot.  Sure, this may be leagues better than the trailers made it seem, but, well, the trailers made it look like a steaming pile.  Instead, what we ended up with was an okay, middle of the road film that isn't necessarily bad but isn't exactly good either.  I'll admit, I actually greatly enjoyed the titular character himself and Watson was handled well enough, plus this one conversation between Juliet and Irene is surprisingly brilliant for something out of this film.  I may not have cared in the slightest for the lover's spat between her and Gnomeo, but at least one genuinely good scene came from it.  There were a few jokes here and there that worked fine, but the vast majority did nothing for me.  Yeah, I may be one of the few out there who didn't dislike this film, but again, that's not saying a whole lot.

Most Underrated Animated Film of 2018- The Grinch
Okay, really thinking about it, maybe I gave this film a little too much credit when I reviewed it.  I'll admit that, yes, some of the stuff I was initially okay with I do see more of a problem with.  But, again, I still don't feel like this quite deserves all the backlash it gets.  While this version of the Grinch, as I said before, isn't mean enough, the bitterness is still there.  I'm just willing to admit that, yes, I do wish the people behind the film could have expanded more on the shift in character they started with, what with him holding back his anger and slowly descending into madness. (In fact, my best friend stated that this film felt less to her like a Grinch adaptation and more like a Despicable Me remake.  I'd be lying if I said I couldn't see where she was coming from, but on the upside, hey, an Illumination film without any minions or minion clones.  That's restraint) Regardless, I still find the film charming and wholesome enough that I can honestly call it a good film.  Plus, at the very least, it's definitely Illumination's best looking film.  Having the buildings look like they're made of gingerbread was an especially nice touch.  Admittedly, I am having a bit more trouble sticking up for this one than The Lorax since I definitely see where the detractors of the film are coming from, but I still don't think it quite deserved the level of backlash it received.

Most Satisfying Animated Film of 2018- Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
There was a part of me leaning heavily in favor of Isle of Dogs for this one, but there is just something that I found really satisfying about this one.  I think a big part of it is just how much I expected this to be a dumb family comedy that just happened to be based on a true story and instead got a super realistic war story that happens to be aimed at a young demographic.  Seeing something like this from North America in this day and age is beyond commendable.  While it is a little odd you never see characters bleed in this film, I still give it massive props for not holding back in the slightest.  It really lets kids know just how terrible World War 1 was, acknowledging many of the things soldiers actually dealt with during that time.  Because of this, I can at least strongly recommend history teachers seek this movie out and show it to their class.  It's educational, but in the best way possible.  What I mean by this is that the characters are so likable and interesting, I can imagine this film keeping people's attention all the way to the end.  It's also amazing that in this animated family film, many of the best moments are those where characters are just sitting around and getting to know each other.  That is a sign of good writing.  All-in-all, yeah, there were so many that could have taken this spot, but this was just such a major standout for me.

Most Pleasantly Surprising Animated Film of 2018- Teen Titans GO to the Movies
Honestly, with my expectations for this film being so very, very low, just good would have been enough to land it this spot.  But in the end, this wound up being a really good, funny and witty comedy with some genuine heart thrown into the mix.  The humor is actually smart.  It feels less like a TTG episode and more like one big satirical jab at how Hollywood often treats superhero properties.  There are also a couple of really good songs in this film (One of which may just take a certain spot in this post) and even the less good ones were still loads better than what I typically expect from this series.  I wasn't sure what to expect going into this.  Even seeing some rather positive reception from people who despise the series wasn't enough for me to think this would truly be worth my time, but in the end, it really was.  I'm glad I saw this and maybe one day, I might watch it again on Netflix if I feel like it.  If you're one of the show's many detractors and you haven't seen this yet, it might be worth a shot.  I don't know.  Some of this show's detractors refuse to believe good episodes of it actually exist, so who knows?  Either way, I'm glad I brought myself to see this movie.

Most Visually Appealing Animated Film of 2018- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
From the minute I saw the first trailer for this, I could already tell this movie was going to take this spot.  There was no question.  Seeing just how far the team at Sony Pictures Animation went to make this look just like a moving comic book blew my mind.  I have never seen an animated film that looks anything like this.  Lots of people often get after Sony for doing their own thing instead of trying to be like every other animation studio in North America, yet I don't think any of these people can argue that going against the norm was definitely the right choice with this film.  The movie itself is already incredible, but these visuals and these animations make it really stand out from the crowd.  Even though it has become more common in this day and age, it always astounds me when a CGI film can look just like a hand-drawn film, not just slightly resemble one but look entirely like one, and this is easily the best case I've seen of this.  I thought it couldn't possibly get better than Mune (At least in terms of theatrical films) but clearly I was wrong.  This really makes me wanna see Disney go the extra mile with their CGI and make a film that looks like this, maybe a feature length film that looks like Paperman.  I'm just saying if they want their newest films to resemble hand-drawn films, Sony has just given us a great example of how to do it perfectly.

Biggest Guilty Pleasure of 2018- Elliot The Littlest Reindeer
It's been less than two weeks since I saw this and I'm still not entirely sure what this movie was.  For what it's worth, this is a bad film.  When the characters aren't unlikable, they're generic, especially with the titular character himself often changing his mind about various things when it's convenient for him to do so.  But on the whole, this movie is so crazy, so out-there and so unpredictable, I couldn't help but enjoy it.  I was constantly laughing at every questionable decision they made, plus for a film that honestly sounded like typical family friendly schlock, this movie is impressively mean.  Most of the characters are jerks, including Santa Clause, there's a scene where a reindeer uses what is basically this film's version of steroids to perform better in a competition to choose to replacement for Blitzen, the elves basically conspire against their employer's back and there's a whole bunch of other stuff I'm amazed the people behind this film expected kids to be able to follow.  I should hate all of this, but it made me laugh.  Much like Rock-A-Doodle, this movie is just so insane that it's beyond entertaining, plus, as I said in my review, it astounds me how much this movie surprised me.  It starts off generic and simple enough, but then when Elliot reaches the North Pole, it's one unexpected turn after the next. (Oh yeah, there's also a Braveheart horse, and yes, he even says the famous Mel Gibson quote) There's even this one plot point where Elliot gives up on his dream because his owner unknowingly allowed a meat manufacturer to buy his horses and goats only for the problem to already be resolved when he and the others return home.  This should have angered me, but by this point, I was enjoying myself too much.  The only thing I genuinely disliked throughout the whole film was the eyes of most of the humans and elves.  I can only think of two or three characters whose eyes didn't freak me out.  Everyone else just looks downright terrifying.  But it wasn't enough for me to hate this film.

Best Song in an Animated Film from 2018- My Superhero Movie from Teen Titans GO to the Movies
"It would be so awesome, it would be so cool.  It would be the most incredible superhero movie the world has ever seen!  The screens would light up with real explosions and SPECIAL EFFECTS!  Like tons and tons or SPECIAL EFFECTS!  My super sweet cape would be SPECIAL EFFECTS and it would blow your mind!"
It was difficult choosing this over Vanellope's song in Ralph Breaks the Internet, but not only do I find this song slightly catchier, but I also find its lyrics funnier, which is no small feat seeing as Slaughter Race came off less like a standard Alan Menken song and more like a parody of his older works.  Much like the film it's from, this song feels like one big jab at Hollywood.  It's funny how Robin is trying really hard to sell his own movie as something unique and special while pretty much listing off every cliche you can think of.  I especially love the extreme emphasis on special effects in the first verse.  Admit it, the people who market these films really can be this obnoxious.  Sure, among the five songs in the film, this one does have the least to do with the plot and is probably the only one that had no reason to be a song, but it is very catchy and memorable, and at the very least, I think that makes its addition to the film worth it in the end.
"It's my movie, my movie, my superhero movie!  It's all about me, yeah, it's all about me!  It's my movie, my movie, my superhero movie!  (They'll be lining up to see a movie all about) Yeah, it's all about me!"

And there you go.  Unfortunately, there were a few films I wanted to consider for this but never got to see. (Seriously, they could not have picked a worse time to show Mirai here.  If that had come earlier in the year, I probably could have seen it on DVD so it could still be a contender for a spot) But ultimately, it's okay as this was great year for animation.  Who knows?  Maybe next year will break the pattern and actually give us something great.  After all, I'm liking what I've seen from the trailers so far.  We already got a sequel to The Lego Movie and an upcoming Laika Pictures film, so who knows?
Just... wow. I encourage everyone to go and see this. Even if you're not into animation or Marvel or even Spider-Man, this NEEDS to be seen. I was already won over when I saw the animation style they were using for this, the way the people at Sony went out of their way to make this look like a moving comic book on the big screen. Seriously, there is no other animated movie that looks like this. (And just think, if any other animation studio had done this, they probably would have made it more conventional. Just saying) On top of that, you get many different looks for various characters that work really well together. But even so, despite me going into this with really high expectations, I was still pleasantly surprised. This movie was even better than I expected. I've already gushed about the animations, so may as well say that the story is absolutely brilliant. It's expertly done and the various different spider people work so well off of each other. I want to know about these other iterations now, yes, even Peter Porker. The fact this version of Spider-Man exists is just amazing to me. Even Aunt May is absolutely amazing in this when she's on-screen and the relationship between Miles and his father is very believable. Many have been saying this is one of the best superhero films ever made and easily one of the best films of the year. That is an understatement. This may not have been my number 1 animated film of the year, but it's definitely my second. This is easily the best Spider-Man movie of all time and one of the best films in a long, long time. Seriously, go see this movie. Even if you're not into animation, if you like deep stories, complex characters and style, you owe it to yourself to see this.

Subject: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Rating: 10/10
Recommendation: GO SEE IT!

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ndunsmo
Neil Dunsmore
Canada
Current Residence: Edmonton, Alberta
Favourite genre of music: No specific favorite
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MP3 player of choice: Whatever plays music
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College Degree: Culinary Arts
Job: Line Cook
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You know, I don't know if I've ever been this conflicted about whether or not I can fully recommend going to the theater to see a film before. (Well, okay, maybe Beauty and the Beast to a certain extent) Because on one hand, there is a lot to like about this movie. It's really good and well put together. The performances are excellent. Emily Blunt especially did a great job as the titular character. The songs are excellent. They really went out of their way to make this feel like a true followup to the original right down to them using the same hand-drawn animation style from the original for the animated segment. Seriously, they could have so easily tried to update it, at the very least give the animated characters more of a 90's look or just had them done in realistic CG, but no, they made sure to honor the original with that old-school sketchy look that we associate with the Walt Disney era. On top of that, it's really charming. There are so many moments that just had me smiling throughout, and the first time Mary sang, it gave me tears. It was beautiful. So with all of this going in the film's favor, why am I not sure if I can recommend this? Because when you really get down to it, well, let's just say they did too good a job making this feel like the original, right down to the story being almost the same. It's practically a rehash with the only major difference being the antagonist, aka, the bank owner. In the original, Dawes Sr. was mostly just a business owner who lost sight of the finer things in life. Meanwhile, his nephew, William, is just a straight-up villain, which just feels wrong to me. This was the one issue I had with Paddington, the fact that they felt the need to add a villain to a story that really shouldn't have had one. Even Christopher Robin's boss in, well, Christopher Robin was just a cartoonishly over-the-top guy trying to run a business, not a villain. But even with all of this in mind, this is still a very good movie, I'm just not sure if I can fully recommend it to anyone who has seen the original. If you're okay with treading super familiar ground but told differently, I think you'll get a lot out of this. At the very least, I greatly enjoyed it.

Subject: Mary Poppins Returns
Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: Again, not really sure about this one.

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