Soviet Cartoons! (

By:Brian Thomas
Date: Monday, March 19, 2007

While the Japanese anime industry is suffering from overproduction, currently producing about two thirds of the world’s new animation, the glut found an outlet at this weekend’s Tokyo Anime Fair. Foreign buyers poured in to snap up rights to current hit features and TV series, as well as nail down agreements for future projects. The two day feeding frenzy will in large part decide which new anime we’ll be seeing back here in North America over the coming year.  


Some of you may have seen Russian animation before, as there have been some beautiful (but odd) fairy tale adaptations that have been dubbed and released in the USA, or you may have seen the old puppet films of Ladeslas Starevich. But this collection shows us the freaky side of Red Toons hidden behind the Iron Curtain.  

(O)  ANIMATED SOVIET PROPAGANDA: From the October Revolution to Perestroika (Kino) Straight from the vaults of Soyuzmultfilm Studios in Moscow comes 41 rare shorts made from 1924 to 1984. From the first Russian animation in the anti-communist “Soviet Toys” to the capitalist-mocking “The Shooting Range” and “The Millionaire”, this 4-disc set is sure to provide plenty of surprises to those who think Russian animation stopped at quaint fairy tales. Includes four new featurettes that place the films within historical context.


Here’s a rundown of the constant stream of anime comin’ at ya on DVD from around the world: 
(O)  BATMAN BEYOND Season 3 (Warner Bros.) The final 13 episodes on two discs. Includes producers panel discussion.  
(O)  BLACK CAT Volume 3: Cat and Mouse (Funimation) Based on the hit manga series.  
(O)  BLACK JACK DVD COLLECTION 2 (Central Park) The final four volumes (episodes 7-10) of the adventures of Osamu Tezuka’s super-surgeon in a box set.  
(O)  THE CARE BEARS MOVIE (MGM) Explore the Forest of Feelings in this 25th anniversary edition, which includes a bonus “lost” TV episode. 
(O)  CARE BEARS: Care-A-Lot Adventures (Fox)  
(O)  CARE BEARS: Forest of Feelings (Fox) 
(O)  THE CONDOR (Anchor Bay) Stan Lee presents another animated superhero. This one has Wilmer Valderama as a skateboarding dropout who uses his father’s nanobot technology to face a supervillain threatening his family. With interviews, Making-Of, game and more.  


(O)  EUREKA SEVEN Volume 6 (Bandai) Away from the Gekko, Renton has found a new home with a pair of enigmatic mercenaries: Charles and Ray Beam. And though the duo has opened both their ship and their hearts to Renton, their true agenda will force Renton once again to decide to choose between his new life or his old one. Winner of Top honors at the Anime Expo SPJA Awards. Special edition includes manga and t-shirt.  
(O)  EVERYONE’S HERO (Fox) This CGanime feature, about a boy who finds Babe Ruth’s magic talking baseball bat and tries to return it, was a project originated by Christopher Reeve. Voice cast includes Includes commentrak, Making-Of and more. 
(O)  GO DIEGO GO!: Underwater Mystery (Nickelodeon/Paramount) Diego helps Lucy the mystery fish find out what kind of fish she is, rescues a dolphin, and learns lots of fun facts about jaguars. 
(O)  IGPX Complete Season 2 Collection (Bandai) Faced with operating system failures, team injuries, and a new team that isn't afraid to play by the rules, Takeshi will have to buckle down and learn that it's not all about speed and power in the IG-1, but teamwork that will bring back another championship. 
(O)  JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED Complete Second Season (Warner Bros.) Characters from the original series of Justice League Unlimited are joined by a number of new superheroes making this final seasons showdown between Justice League Unlimited vs Legion of Doom. Includes commentraks and round table discussion. Also available bundled with season 1.  
(O)  KONG Animated Series Volume 1 (Genius) 
(O)  KONG Animated Series Volume 2 (Genius) The clone of King Kong return to Skull Island for new adventures. 2-disc sets. Also available together with the Kong: King of Atlantis movie n a 5-disc gift set. 
(O)  LAW OF UEKI Volume 6: The Ultimate Sacrifices (Geneon) Ueki goes into the fourth battle 2-1. If he wins this one, the Dogra Mansion battle will be over. 
(O)  MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE: Mickey’s Great Clubhouse Hunt (Buena Vista) During preparations for a “spring party”, Mickey’s clubhouse breaks into pieces and floats away, taking his friends along with the pieces. Includes an episode not seen on TV and a sing-along.  


  THE MILTON THE MONSTER SHOW Complete Series (Shout Factory) Back in 1967, the Monster Kid phenomenon had become so mainstream that this creepy monster cartoon show was a Saturday morning hit. We even had a Milton fan club in my house! Also includes all 26 episodes, plus creator Hal Seeger’s home movies of an appearance at the New York Toy Fair, test footage, a bonus cartoon and an earlier Flukey Luke live-action pilot featuring actors in dog costumes.  
(O)  MINDCANDY Volume 2: Amiga Demos (Microcinema) This collection focuses on videos created by artists using the Amiga computer in the 1980s, plus commentraks, booklet, featurette and more.  
(O)  MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED: DESTINY Volume 7 (Bandai) While Shinn unleashes his anger against the Orb fleet, Kira and Athrun confront one another in battle, and one of these lifelong friends falls in defeat.Also available with collector box.  
(O)  SCRAPPED PRINCESS Complete Collection (Bandai) Pacifica Cassul is the Scrapped Princess, a girl who, according to prophecy, is the poison that will destroy the world. Anime Legends edition. 
(O)  SHANA Volume 4 (Geneon) Shana's history as a Flame Haze is now revealed as we see how her earlier life progressed, training to become the greatest Flame Haze to bond with the Flame of the Heavens and acquire the Nietono no Shana from the deadly Tennmokuikko.  
(O)  THOMAS & FRIENDS: Percy’s Ghostly Trick & Other Thomas Stories (Anchor Bay) Also available with train toy.  
(O)  THOMAS & FRIENDS: Thomas & the Special Letter (Anchor Bay) “You may already be a winner…” Also available with train toy.  
(O)  UTAWARERUMONO Volume 2: In the Face of Evil (ADV) Hakuoro’s adventures continue. Also available in collector box.  
(O)  YU YU HAKUSHO: GHOST FILES: Team of Four (Funimation) Episodes 45-59 on two discs. The Tournament Finals are set to begin. With each team short a member, two competitors step up to even the odds.


(O)  CHICKEN LITTLE (Buena Vista) Includes commentrak, deleted footage, Making-Of, music videos and sing-alongs.  


We welcome the input of Maniacs who want to share input on this section, where we highlight a different genre feature that has yet to come to digital disc format – just send your suggestions to Anime Avalanche in an email identified with “NOT ON DVD” in the subject line.  


(O)  THE NEW GULLIVER (Russcico? Kino? Criterion?) As long as we’re finally digging into the Soviet film vaults, why not let us see Aleksandr Ptushko’s legendary first feature. This 1935 adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s novel has Gulliver journey to a Lilliput whose tiny stop-motion residents are suffering under the inequalities of a greed-driven capitalist system. Musical numbers are, predictably, labor anthems. Never released on home video and definitely NOT ON DVD. 

And be sure to check back next week—and every week—for Mania’s Anime Avalanche! And check in every Tuesday for the latest DVD Shopping List!

Anime Avalanche (© 2007 Brian Thomas) is our weekly anime column. Brian Thomas is the author of the massive book VideoHound’s Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks, available now! 

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