Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #8 – A Garfield Christmas

Not long now…. Holidays are coming, holidays are coming. We all want a taste of the real thing, and I’m not talking about a carbonated drink. When Christmas comes around, you can’t help but get excited. Whether it’s music, movies, or any form of entertainment, Christmas comes to the forefront. As we continue the Christmas animation countdown (in no particular ranking, by the way), no list would be complete without the dry humour of the lasagne-loving feline, Garfield.

A Garfield Christmas Special

Garfield has been on our TV screens in some form since 1978 through to today. Before Garfield & Friends, the Jon Davis Garfield and Orson’s Farm popular team up show that would begin in 1988, the Garfield author’s work would often be adapted for the small screen in the form of half-hour specials. One such special is A Garfield Christmas, which originally aired 21st December 1987.

Jon is taking Garfield and beagle Odie to his childhood home for an Arbuckle Christmas get together. Following a fantasy Christmas morning dream where Jon lays out a trail of lasagne’s, having to leave the house is a reality Garfield simply doesn’t want to face. For those familiar with the antics of Garfield, these interactions make up the majority of the TV show and original comic strips. But from time to time Jon Davis treats us by including equally quirky characters outside of Garfield’s immediate family.

Upon arrival, Garfield simply isn’t in the mood for Christmas, let alone one leaving the house and spending time with others. But naturally, as it often does, Christmas spirit comes into play, and Garfield cannot help but get into the spirit himself, along with the rest of Jon’s family. But there are some testing moments for this lazy cat, of course. Tasked with climbing up the ceiling-high Christmas tree to place the star on top, his subsequent fall that follows appears to be the final straw.

“Whoever invented Christmas trees should be drug out into the street and shot.” – Garfield

But Garfield isn’t the only star of the show. Jon’s reconnection with his brother brings out a toddler-like excitement in the Arkbuckle boys; pestering their sleeping dad at 1:30am in an attempt to go present-opening brings back memories of myself as a young whipper-snapper (not in my thirties, honest). Odie becomes an unlikely Christmas hero for both Garfield and Jon’s grandmother, gifting the former a handy back-scratcher device and stumbling across old love letters from grandpa for the latter. It is here that we witness Garfield in a rare sentimental moment.

“All right, you guys, just permit me one sentimental moment here, will you? I have something to say. Christmas: it’s not the giving, it’s not the getting, it’s the loving. There, I said it. Now get outta here”. – Garfield

If you’re looking for a homely slice of Christmas togetherness, A Garfield Christmas is pretty damn perfect. Although written over thirty years ago, Jon Davis has created a classic that still holds up today, and should be viewed by everyone young and old. It is an excellent Christmas short that resonates as much as it entertains.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #7 – The Simpsons: Marge Be Not Proud

Can you believe it is only two weeks until Christmas Day? Mental. A bit like work at the moment also. But now it is time to get back on track. There’s Christmas entertainment to be had, dammit!

The Simpsons S07 E11 – Marge Be Not Proud

One of the few more subtle Christmas-themed episodes of the world’s longest running animated show, Marge Be Not Proud is a cracker. Christmas is approaching, and the latest video game advertisement leaves Bart with an itch that can’t be scratched by his parents. Unfortunately for both Bart and his parents, it leads the former to make a decision that completely alters his relationship with the latter. That decision being, to obtain said video game using the “four-finger discount” method.

This episode of The Simpsons is true evidence of a show at its creative and comedic best. Christmas may merely be a secondary backdrop, but the tale told and lessons learned here could only come at Christmas time. But lets not forget that season 7 was absolute peak Simpsons Marge Be Not Proud is an incredibly funny episode.

The advertisement for Bonestorm, the video game that triggers Bart’s criminal actions, is a fantastically hilarious parody of both the Mortal Kombat videogame franchise and the in-your-face commercials of the 1990’s. Its relentless assault on the desires of a ten year old boy are laid bare as his pursuit of Bonestorm becomes more and more desperate. Each step leads Bart down a path where the moral imperative, seemingly, is to take it from the local department store. What really resonates here is that this isn’t just the decision of the character Bart Simpson, but a decision that many a ten year old could make. That was certainly the intentions of episode-writer Mike Scully, who based Marge Be Not Proud on a similar experience he had at twelve years of age.

“Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.” – Bart

Marge Be Not Proud is a prime example of just how good The Simpsons really was in the nineties. And, an excellent Christmas episode too. The end credits are among the best the show has ever produced, with the now-legendary Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge segment still as hilarious as it ever was. It is also a true testament to a gamer’s contempt towards an unwanted title. Christmas may not be the big draw here by any means, but this empathic, meticulously funny and charming tale of a boy-done-bad-but-done-good-again is wonderful entertainment.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #6 – Futurama: Xmas Story

Do you ever feel like the Christmas build up is going a little too fast? I’m already FIVE days behind on advent! Apologies for that. But, like always, each entry provides a bit of Christmas magic for your viewing pleasure. And there are few more entertaining than Futurama’s take on Christmas.

Futurama S02 E04 – Xmas Story

Christma- sorry, Xmas, in the year 3000 is an entirely different prospect. Pine trees have been extinct for 800 years, and entertainment comes mostly in the form of preserved heads of 20th Century comedians with 20th century-related jokes. Fry, who for the uninitiated was frozen in time back in 1999 only to awake 1000 years later, longs for an Xmas of old. Pine trees aside, the decorations are up and Fry wants to cheer up a lonely Leela with the perfect present on Xmas Eve. No mention of presents goes without a mention of Santa Claus, who in the future is very much a different proposition….

Matt Groening’s side-splitting comedy series (no, not that one) conjures up an absurd and humorous vision of a Christmas future. Quite frankly, turning Santa Claus into a robotic judge, jury and executioner is a stroke of brilliance. Xmas Eve becoming a purge-scenario after closing time pushes that brilliance even further, as Fry and Leela run for their lives as the biggest holiday of them all approaches.

The supporting cast serve up just as many great laughs as you’d expect. Prolific napper Professor Farnsworth, Fry’s distant nephew, sleeps his way down the ski slopes to a bronze medal he doesn’t realise he’d even entered for. Bender befriends homeless robots for the purpose of a robbery spree. Zoidberg’s face glove. Amy’s arousal at the opposite sex’s injuries is as equally hilarious as it is a bit, you know, weird.

“What’s the problem? Simply get down on your claws and do the apology dance!!!” – Zoidberg

Then there are the references to traditional Christmas stories. Amusing references of course; the most glaring of all being Fry dangling from a clock, a la The Hudsucker Proxy, but not just any clock. A digital clock. Tinny Tim, one of the homeless robots, is of course Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol. There are many more of these, and they just add to the entertainment and Christmassy vibes.

Xmas Story is not just an excellent seasonal Christmas episode, but also serves as a glaring example of how good Futurama really was. The laughs per minute ratio is phenomenal, and has some of the best lines ever written for the show. By this point Futurama had established itself as animated comedy of the highest order. Adding Christmas, sorry, keep forgetting, Xmas, somehow added an extra layer of quality comedy. Unmissable television.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #5 – Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Five days into December and the season is heating up. Or rather, getting colder. Literally. Today, we’re back to the early 80s with a Disney take on a literally classic.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is a story that has been told, re-told and reimagined many, many times. This 1983 version puts all the familiar Disney cast of characters into the familiar roles of the Dickens classic. And once again, its the Disney touch that makes this adaption a worthy watch.

The casting here is the true success story, with Mickey and friends sliding in comfortably and perfectly into the Charles Dickens’ character’s boots. Scrooge McDuck is the perfect fit for Ebenezer Scrooge (naturally so, given the latter was the inspiration for the former); Mickey Mouse is seamless as the selfless, good-natured Bob Cratchet; Donald Duck is as cheery as you’d expect as Fred, and Goofy is as perfect as you’d imagine as a delightfully clumsy Marley.

Scrooge’s Ghosts of Christmas also serve up a wondrous cast. Jiminy Cricket is an ideal Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie the Giant as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the honour of the Ghost of Christmas Future goes to the ghastly foe Pete. There are also welcome appearances by Ratty and Moley of classic feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad as charity collectors. The cigar-chomping Big Bad Pete (that’ll be those “tobacco influences” Disney Plus warns us about) is definitely an interesting choice, with a dark turn late on as he prepares to hurl Scrooge into hell if the errors of his ways isn’t rectified.

Running at just 26 minutes, Mickey’s Christmas Carol is a pretty packed affair. Scrooge’s lesson is learnt within that time, with little pause for breath, but impressively doesn’t deter the story’s intended impact. It was originally released as a opener for cinema a re-release of The Rescuers, a tactic also used on The Rescuers Down Under with another adaption, The Prince and the Pauper, but is an excellent little feature in its own right. As far as Christmas goes, there are few better ways to spend less than thirty minutes if traditional is your aim.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #4 – X-Men: Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas

Its the Fourth of December already. Seriously, how fast is the countdown to Christmas this year? I hope the re-opening of shops hasn’t been too stressful so far. I still have a few bits to get, but I’m not panicking just yet. Whatever your current mood, block out a few minutes and enjoy another advent animation pick. We’re staying in the 90s with another landmark comic book series.

X-Men: The Animated Series S04 E17 – Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas

Marvel’s first ever foray into Christmas television is a tale of tragedy, honor, leadership and, ultimately, togetherness. No, Marvel are not producing this Christmas Day’s Eastenders. Instead, the hugely popular (and Disney Plus resurrected) X-Men animated series of the 90s has a Christmas episode.

As the X-Men prepare for their own Christmas celebration, Leech, the littlest of the underground Mutant tribe known as the Morlocks, is taken critically ill. Storm won the mantle of leadership back in season one after a duel with Callisto and thus, it falls to the X-Men to get the treatment Leech requires. Problem is, Storm’s X-Men duties over the years means she doesn’t exactly spend too much time underground. And Callisto wants payback.

Anyone who has seen the X-Men animated show will be aware of its generally serious tone. After all, this was a Saturday morning cartoon that dealt with issues such as xenophobia, racism, slavery as well general macho bullshit for good measure. But this Christmas episode does have some welcome humour. The kitchen scene, with Gambit and Jean Grey squabbling over the latter’s Christmas dinner preparation, is a hilarious delight. As is Cyclops’ attempts at singing. Wolverine is the Scrooge of the group (naturally), with any attempt at Christmas cheer met with derision.

“”Did I hear an attack alarm? Or would that be hoping for too much?” – Wolverine

A quick tonal shift from cheer to fear sees the X-Men fighting for the Morlock’s life, with Logan (Wolverine) facing personal demons from his past as a cure appears to be found – Logan’s regenerative powers. The delicate balancing act between celebration, comedy and drama is handled with care. The overall narrative belongs to Jubilee’s, the foster child mutant of the X-Men, who is experiencing her first proper family Christmas and has finally found belonging in her life. Her strides of maturity shine through as she comforts the youngest Morlock through Leech’s illness. It is a testament to the strong continuity built as the show progressed.

Originally airing on the Christmas Eve Eve (23rd December) 1995, Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas is an excellent example of what made X-Men such a great show. Its blend of drama, action and overall camaraderie and teamwork shone throughout it’s five seasons. This episode is but one example of that. A great first Christmas TV outing for Marvel.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #3 – Batman TAS: Christmas with the Joker

Finished your disappointing chocolate? Survived another day of Whamageddon? Seriously, google that. Time to move on to the early 1990’s with arguably the greatest comic book cartoon of all – Batman The Animated Series.

Batman: The Animated Series S01 E02 – Christmas with the Joker

Batman’s most famous villain, The Joker, makes his first appearance in just the second episode of this incredible and landmark animation showpiece. Its Christmas all right, but not if the psychotic clown has anything to do with it. After making his frankly hilarious escape from Arkham Asylum, The Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, Detective Harvey Bullock, and reporter Summer Gleeson. As Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson prepare to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, the broadcast is interrupted as The Joker lures Batman and Robin into his latest game.

Mark Hamill’s debut as the clown prince of crime is but a taster of what is easily one of the world’s greatest examples of voice acting. But what a taster it is. Hamill’s sinister snigger is one of the most recognisable in film and television, and it all started right here. He is of course the standout in a show full of standouts – it cannot be stated enough how good both Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester are as Batman and Robin, respectively.

“Jingle bells! Batman smells! Robin laid an egg! The Batmobile lost a wheel and the Jo-ker got a-wa-a-a-ay!

Crashing through the roof, in a one-horse open tree. Busting out I go, laughing all the wheeeee! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!” – Joker

As Joker’s plan to kill the hostages at the stroke of midnight nears, this iteration of Batman shows his true detective colours that would become a staple throughout the show’s three years on air. Bruce Wayne’s 21st century tech surrounds him against Gotham City’s art deco 1930’s style setting. Bruce is of course a man with resources well beyond most and this purely amplifies that, whilst looking ultra cool on the eye to watch.

Originally airing on the 12th November 1992, Christmas with the Joker is simply brilliant comic book television. It serves as an excellent early episode of such a landmark cartoon series. This was the episode that got me hooked back in my pre-teen years, and enjoyed it just as much as research for this post. Easily one of the best Christmas themed TV episodes in existence.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #2 – The Real Ghostbusters: Xmas Marks the Spot

Hello fellow adventeers! Another day closer to Christmas means another animation pick for the season. We’re staying in the 80s with a Christmas episode of one of my all-time favourite shows, The Real Ghostbusters. Enjoy!

The Real Ghostbusters S01 E13 – Xmas Marks the Spot

The final episode of the first season of The Real Ghostbusters is the only one to have a Christmas theme. Long before the 1989 movie sequel, the original movie’s animated continuation takes the busting crew back in time. To Charles Dickens’ 19th century Britain.

Lost in a heavy blizzard, the Ghostbusters accidently discover a time warp to the world of A Christmas Carol. Inadvertently trapping the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, it leaves one Ebenezer Scrooge to carry on his spiteful ways unabated. Once back home in the present, that spitefulness has spread across New York.

“We just killed Christmas, Egon. Christmas is gone. Forever”. – Dr. Raymond Stantz

To save the day, and the timeline, the Ghostbusters must travel back to Scrooge to impersonate the very ghosts they caught, while also retrieving and restoring them from the containment unit.

Originally airing on the 13th December 1986, Xmas Marks the Spot is as good a Christmas episode as you’d expect from such an excellent show. The script as always is sharp, with great insight into Peter Venkman’s difficulties with the Christmas season. The use of a fictional character to impact on reality is a bit of a stretch, but it is a good homage to a classic story that is endearing to many. And a nice dose of Christmas spirit.

Animation Advent Calendar – 12 Days of Christmas #1 – The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

The 1st of December is upon us for another year. And while 2020 has been the strangest and alarming of years for quite some time, many of us still have oodles of entertainment at our fingertips. What better time to relieve the stresses of which lockdown tier rules we have to adhere to by getting into the Christmas spirit with the small screen. So, for each day of advent, here is an Christmas-themed animated pick to go along with your daily window chocolate.

The Simpsons S01 E01 – The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Thankfully not a metaphoric title for some kind of John Kramer Saw trap, SROF was the inaugural syndicated episode of The Simpsons, dubbed The Simpsons Christmas Special. This is the one that started it all, and of its multiple Christmas-themed episodes in its 30+ year run, this one is certainly the most traditional and festive. As far as introductions go, SROF lays down many of the show’s long-running narratives. After Bart gets himself a tattoo, Marge has to spend all of the Christmas savings jar (craftily hidden in her iconic towering hair) getting it removed.

“Thank god for Homer’s Christmas bonus” – Marge Simpson

Mr Burns, owner of the Springfield Nuclear Powerplant and Homer’s boss, starts as he means to go on by issuing Christmas bonuses to management staff, but removing them for the “semi-skilled” workers. A notion that is as familiar now as it was then.

“Oh, thank God for the big jar” – Homer Simpson

Homer’s grisly attitude to Marge’s sisters. Patty and Selma, is one mirrored back at Marge’s choice of spouse. As Homer wrestles with the prospect of a zero-budget Christmas, he must also gain their approval to keep Marge happy. I had forgotten this is laid bare in this very first episode, and of course becomes a continuing narrative as the show develops.

Then there’s Ned Flanders. Bless-diddly-ess him. The saint of Evergreen Terrace ensures Homer’s disdain for him early doors, as his Las Vegas-level Christmas lights effort easily puts Homer’s to the sword. Unintentionally of course. Over the years I have personally taken to referring anyone’s mega Christmas lights show contribution as “doing a Ned Flanders”.

The Simpsons was the biggest show (and intellectual property) acquired by Disney following the purchase of Fox. As of today, thirty-one seasons are available to stream via Disney Plus. So there is no better time, and no excuse, to not enjoy this slice of Simpsons life, whether for the first time, or the hundredth. Regardless of people’s views of the show beyond season eight, The Simpsons is a show that has to be heralded as an institution. The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire is by no means its best episode, but it still remains one of the most important. Especially at Christmas time.

Covid-19 Lockdown: the Sequel – Video Game Picks for Survival

Like an inevitable movie sequel, the UK, among many other countries too, are back in Covid-19 isolation. As the virus continues to spread across the globe, many have been told to work from home and isolate where possible. Restaurants, bars and most non-essential shops have closed once again, and many people’s lounges have become their office. For others that may mean not being able to work at all. Staying indoors for long periods can of course take its toll in different ways to all of us. But don’t fear, as in between those Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings there is a plethora of incredible video game across a variety of platforms to catch-up on. Here is a list of suitable candidates to sink your teeth into.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

There isn’t a soul in the world who doesn’t like Studio Ghibli, is there? Whether you have seen just one of their movies or the whole collection, it is easy to see why they’re loved unanimously around the world. So imagine the excitement of many when Ghibli decided to lend their talents to the video game industry. The recently remastered first Ni No Kuni entry, Wrath of the White Witch, adopted the standard JRPG style of open-world adventure with an active-time battle system. Revenant Kingdom retains the open-world aesthetic but with free-roaming battles, for a more action-RPG affair. Add to that a completely new set of characters and story, all animated by the Ghibli team, and you’ve got yourself an adventure well worth your time. It took over 100 hours of mine, and that was before lockdown.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is available on PS4/PC.

Vanquish: 10th Anniversary Remastered

One of Shinji Mikami’s lesser-known titles, Vanquish is an action tour-de-force that is short but oh-so-sweet on the fingertips. You play Sam Gideon, an agent of DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), as he teams up with an army of US space marines to retake a Russian-occupied US space colony. Armed with the prototype Augmented Reaction Suit, Sam can wield three weapons of varying types at a time, from assault rifles to sniper rifles and laser cannons. Against the backdrop of an almost exclusively greyscale colonial fortress, you guide Sam to shoot, run, roll, duck, cover, even slide through six acts of intense, robotic-destruction action. A quick flick of L2 while rolling initiates a slick slow-down feature, which is critical as swarms of sentient soldiers breathe down your neck. Whilst a little dull in appearance, the 60fps upgrade to the speed of Vanquish is a real highlight. And if you’re a trophy/achievement hunter, this is a really fun and often-challenging title to exploit. And for less than £20, its a tough one to ignore if you need a few hours of unadulterated entertainment.

Vanquish is available for PS4, Xbox One, PC. Please check out my full review here.

Fall Guys

If you have access to a PS4, and a PS Plus membership, the likelihood is that you’ve had at least one round of Fall Guys. Visually a vibrant, multicoloured Gang Beasts meets Takeshi’s Castle (including the wacky costumes), Fall Guys pits round after round of sixty online players across several challenge games until just one remains to take the crown (By the way, that first victory crown still eludes me). Simple, fun and on the right side of frustration, a round of Fall Guys is the perfect way to pass on a few minutes.

Fall Guys is available on PS4/PC.

Streets of Rage 4

There are some positive events amongst the shit-cloud that is 2020. The announcement of one of Sega’s most beloved 16-bit franchises receiving a sequel over twenty-five years on was initially met with mighty scepticism. However, all those fears were crushed as publisher Dotemu, on the back of the excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, teamed up with Guard Crush Games to deliver the finest scrolling fighter since Streets of Rage 2. Ex-cops Axel, Blaze and crew are back. Ten years on from the death of criminal overlord Mr. X, his children have taken over as the new masterminds of crime. Streets of Rage 4 not only delivers top fighting action, it is a sequel that always has its predecessors at heart in all the right ways. Intuitive, challenging, exciting, wonderfully animated with an absolutely masterful soundtrack, Streets of Rage 4 is a retro-revival everyone should experience.

Streets of Rage 4 is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man is the most accomplished comic-book-hero video game ever made. Developer Insomniac Games have come a long way from platforming series Spyro the Dragon. Honing that platforming with a narrative adventure in the Ratchet and Clank series has led to this, a licensed comic-book adventure that is, at times, a storytelling masterpiece. As a long-time Spider-Man comics fan I needed to adjust somewhat to these new takes on Peter Parker and supporting cast. But Insomniac certainly stuck with the courage of their convictions to deliver an excellent Spider-Man tale that is a unique and universal experience for anyone willing to pick up their gamepad and play. It’s open-world Manhattan environment contains seemingly unlimited tasks and missions to complete, and that’s outside of the main storyline. Visually it ranks among the greatest looking games on Sony’s console, with a ton of top action and storytelling that makes Spider-Man an absolute must.

Spider-Man is available on PS4, with a remastered version available for the PS5 also.

There is still a fair amount of time left in this current lockdown, if it even is one (don’t go there now – ed.). If you’re having to isolate or stay home for any reason at the moment, hopefully these suggestions will keep the spirits up as we head towards Christmas and the next generation of consoles. Stay Safe.

Covid-19 Lockdown: the Sequel – Anime Picks for Survival

“In between those Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings there is a plethora of quality Japanese animation to catch-up on, so here is a list of easily accessible Anime to get you through these difficult times”

Like an inevitable movie sequel, the UK, among many other countries too, are back in Covid-19 isolation. As the virus continues to spread across the globe, many have been told to work from home and isolate where possible. Restaurants, bars and most non-essential shops have closed once again, and many people’s living rooms have become their office. For others that may mean not being able to work at all. Staying indoors for long periods can of course take its toll in different ways to all of us. But don’t fear, as in between those Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings there is a plethora of quality Japanese animation to catch-up on. So here is a list of easily accessible Anime to get you through these difficult times. Because even a month can feel like forever. All the best to those struggling during these unprecedented times.

Dragon Ball Super

What better way to spend your abundance of free time than bingeing on a long-running, instant classic? Dragon Ball Super is the sequel series to the incomparable Dragon Ball Z. So, forget about that Dragon Ball GT boxset on your shelf and watch the real thing. 131 episodes and 5 sagas should pass the time on nicely. Even if you have already watched the DBZ movies Battle of Gods and Resurrection F it is still worth catching the whole action-packed series. The later sagas boast some of the best looking animated visuals ever seen on screen, and with a Crunchyroll account, the entire series (subtitled only) can be viewed for free.

Dragon Ball Super is also available on Blu-Ray/DVD by chapters or complete box set.

Cowboy Bebop

Let’s all be honest with each other here. We all have it on our DVD/Blu-Ray shelf, sitting pretty amongst all the other anime. But now is the best time to sit and watch those classics you worked so hard to get the best bargain online. Cowboy Bebop certain ranks amongst the all-time classic anime series. Experience a future of legal bounty hunters, otherwise known as ‘Cowboys’, as they chase bad guys across moons orbiting around a now-inhabitable planet Earth. Although only twenty-six episodes, it is an intergalactic crime caper entertainment of the highest order. It also stands as quite possibly the best single-season anime of all time.

Cowboy Bebop is available on DVD/Blu-Ray, and to stream for free via All 4.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

The prominence of anime on Netflix in recent times is remarkable. In the last twelve months alone, the contingent of classic anime additions bolster an already impressive library of latest releases. One such classic is Neon Genesis Evangelion. Seemingly left in license limbo, Netflix also went to town on this acquisition by having the English dub track re-casted and re-recorded. Make of that what you will (believe me, many have), but nevertheless, Evangelion truly does rank among the greats. What starts out as high school kids piloting world-saving robots against prophesised alien lifeforms known as Angels, descends into a fascinating crescendo of mental health, trauma and depression against an ever-escalating apocalyptic landscape. You can feel that director Hideaki Anno has poured his absolute heart and soul into this, and remains a work that Anno himself confessed was left completely burnt out after its conclusion. Twenty-five years on, Neon Genesis Evangelion remains as remarkable and essential anime viewing as you’re ever likely to see.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is available to stream on Netflix.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn

This original video animation adaption is another Netflix entry worthy of your watch list. This series of seven, mini-movie length episodes were released over a period of four years. MSG: Unicorn follows Banagher Links, a schoolboy, like many, residing in the space colony Industrial 7. His life turns upside down after meeting and rescuing disguised princess Audrey Burne and encountering a new Gundam armour. What follows is seven and a half hours of amazing action-adventure storytelling, and an audio-visual spectacle. MSG: Unicorn could easily be thrown in among the space opera genre on its appearance alone, which does it no harm, but at its heart and soul it is a highly-entertaining quest story. For those concerned, you do not need to be cultured in the way of Gundam in any way to know what is happening. Just sit back, relax, and let the fantastic action guide you through.  

Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn is available to buy on Blu-Ray and to stream on Netflix.

Devilman: Crybaby

The best Netflix-produced anime out there, Devilman Crybaby, is one of the most batshit crazy and apocalyptic series you’re ever likely to come across. This modern-day retelling of the 1970’s Go Nagai manga powers through the origin of Devilman, AKA Akira Fudo, and how becoming the ultimate anti-hero changes his life and of those around him. Love, betrayal, violence (a LOT of violence) and drama come together in this ten-episode onslaught on the senses. Forget the hilariously-dubbed Manga effort, Devilman Crybaby is as raw as they come.

Devilman Crybaby is available to stream on Netflix.

We’re a few days into the current UK national lockdown, what have you watched so far, or intend to whilst at home for the next three weeks?