Originally called “Chalmers vs. Skinner,” the two-minute-and-48-second piece was part of an unusual episode of The Simpsons that aired during the show’s seventh season, on April 14, 1996. While most episodes of The Simpsons focus on the show’s titular family, “22 Short Films About Springfield” was different, as it was broken up into a series of short segments focusing on Springfield’s supporting characters. “Steamed Hams” — as “Chalmers vs. Skinner” would later come to be known — was simply one of those segments.
Last September, Toy Galaxy discussed the history of Toonami and how a block of cartoons became an evening staple for children and adults alike to enjoy anime.
Toonami—a portmanteau of the words “cartoon” and “tsunami”—started in 1997 as a weekday afternoon cartoon block hosted by Space Ghost villain Moltar. From there, it took on many iterations, eras, new hosts, cancellations, revivals, and programming changes.
It also helped to popularise shows such as Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, and Samurai Jack, and influenced a slew of artists and gamers.
Today, in its current form, it lives as a late-night block on Adult Swim, airing mostly mature Japanese animation.
Akira is an iconic piece of Japanese film and now we can see it in 4K. Manga Entertainment has announced the anime classic will be returning to around 300 UK and Irish cinemas in remastered 4K for the first time.
Darcy Giles, PR & Social Media Manager at Manga Entertainment had the following to say:
“Akira is the film that made Manga Entertainment – and so we’re honoured to be able to bring it back to UK screens in this gorgeous new version remastered in stunning 4K. Quite simply, it’s going to blow your mind.”
Now, we understand that given the current situation with COVID-19, people may not want to visit cinemas at this time (I’ll be honest and say I’m one of those people, as well as a few film publications in the US, even though their situation is much more serious). We also recommend you consider your health and safety and those close to you before going.
After that, if it’s something you can feasibly do, we hope you enjoy the experience of one of the greatest anime movies of all time, and head to the official Akira 4K site for more info and ticket alerts.
I’ve always enjoyed Teen Titans Go! but over the weekend, I’ve been binge-watching it with my 4-year old son and really got into it. Besides the animation style (I love thick outlines in a cartoon), the meta-humour and satire are super sharp for a programme primarily targeted at children.
Amongst all that are background jokes and references people might have missed and Daniel Smith compiled 10 of the best for Screen Rant, many from episodes I’ve not seen yet.
The jokes include references to Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Steven Universe, Suicide Squad, and even Watchmen.
I won’t reveal all of them but here’s #10:
When Robin was tasked with looking after the Batcave when Batman was out of town he, of course, brought all his friends along with him. Batman’s secret hideout is filled with background jokes that many viewers will miss, including Hush bandages, Scarface, and other mementos and references to his iconic rogue’s gallery.
However, the best and darkest is an urn presumably containing the ashes of a former Robin which is kept on a shelf and remains unacknowledged by The Titans.
That was pretty dark and more a nod to the canon than a joke, unless that’s your kind of humour. No judgement. Okay, maybe a little.
It’s been a hot minute since I last watched a DC animated movie but I’m almost certain it was a Batman movie. I’ve not watched enough DC animated movies to form a balanced top 5 but Stephanie Ijoma of Nnesaga has and, in May, she went through her 5 favourites.
If you want to know what they are, check out them out in the summary (below)
Nnesaga’s top 5 DC animated movies (click the triangle to open the list)
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Batman: Under The Red Hood
Teen Titans: Judas Contract
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Justice League: Doom
Who is Nnesaga?
Nnesaga is a media platform founded by Black gamer Stephanie Ijoma. It champions diversity in the form of events, media and workshops in comic book media, gaming, and anime.
TigerSharks was an animated series created by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass of Rankin/Bass in 1987. As you might have guessed from the intro and the names I just mentioned, the production company were also responsible for ThunderCats and SilverHawks.
The series featured a team of human hybrid heroes that transformed into different marine animals. The main characters were:
Mako – A scuba diver and unofficial leader of the TigerSharks. He transformed into a mako shark hybrid and his superpower was super speed underwater. He could also slice through metal.
Walro – A STEM (science, tech, engineering, mathematics) genius who created the Fish Tank (the device used to make everyone transform). He transformed into a walrus hybrid.
Dolph – A scuba diver and second-in-command. Dolph transformed into a dolphin hybrid, which gave him super agility underwater.
Octavia – The captain of the SARK (their ship). Octavia transformed into an octopus hybrid.
Lorca – A mechanic. Lorca transformed into an orca hybrid.
Bronc – A teenage assistant in the SARK. He transformed into a seahorse hybrid.
Angel – An assistant in the SARK and Bronc’s sister. She transformed into an angelfish hybrid.
Gupp – The TigerSharks’ pet dog. He transformed into a… seal? Sealion? I dunno.
The story was that the TigerSharks were humans who transformed into human/marine animal super hybrids using a device called the Fish Tank. Their base was a spaceship called the SARK and it also contained the Fish Tank as well as other facilities used for marine research.
This all took place on a planet called Water-O (pronounced Wah-tare-oh) which sounded very similar to the post-apocalyptic version of Earth in Waterworld (spoiler alert: Kevin Costner was a human/marine animal mutant hybrid in the film).
While on a research mission, the Tigersharks became defenders of Water-O against the evil T-Ray and a handful of other villains that appear on the show.
A damp squib of a series
Unfortunately, the show only lasted for one series of 26 episodes. It aired as part of a cartoon anthology show called The Comic Strip alongside equally-forgotten titles such as Street Frogs, The Mini-Monsters, and Karate Kat.
Its short run meant there was hardly any merch to go with it and the toys you can find on eBay today are rare and expensive. The show did make a cameo appearance in the ThunderCats reboot in 2011 which suggests it could technically come back if rights owners Warner Bros lost their minds and brought it back. Not likely – it’s WB after all.
Where you can watch TigerSharks
Due to its lack of popularity, the series was never released on VHS (at least not in full – two episodes came out as part of a Comic Strip series), DVD (but there are some bootlegs), or Blu-Ray (although the naming ideas write themselves for the latter). But someone on YouTube has made a playlist of episodes and other related videos to enjoy, including reviews, podcasts, the other cartoons from The Comic Strip, and a video about actual tiger sharks.
I strongly recommend you stream the Toy Galaxy episode below because it’s very funny and Dan Larson is awesome.
Chinese culture site Goldthread made a video about Wong Ping, an animator from Hong Kong. He’s a 34.4-year-old and started out in broadcasting before founding Wong Ping Animation Lab in 2014.
According to Wong, he stumbled into animation “by chance” while retouching images in his old job. He began creating stories and animations in spurts of boredom and during his free time. He says works within the limitations of his skill and attributes his “lack of ambition” as the reason for short films.
But even if the images are ugly, I want to make sure it’s a beautiful kind of ugly.
But that hasn’t stopped his work from featuring in places such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, and the Arts Centre Melbourne. His work depicts the nature and behaviour of humanity in their “repressed obsessions and unfulfilled desires”. Wong’s animations are surreal in style and in the openness of the subject matter – it’s shock and flaw.
Wong says people think his cartoons are ugly because of their perception of animation. But hey, people think brutalism is ugly. He likens himself and his artistic expressionism to that of a comedian. His works are sketches in the comedic sense and finally asks “in the end, is it all just about being funny?”
I grew up on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series (known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK because they thought ninjas were too dangerous for kids). Their pizza love inspired mine and here we are in 2019. That’s why this immediately caught my eye.
ThinkGeek are selling a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Cutter and Spatula Set as a “GameStop/ThinkGeek Exclusive”. According to TG, it “adds some flair to boring kitchen items (and sheathes)”. I particularly like the faux-wooden handles like the Turtles’ weaponry in the original series.
I certainly didn’t think he’d be the same person who voiced Tigger and Pete from Goof Troop. It was one of those things I questioned but had no deep inclination to research. When I found out it was Jim Cummings, I was blown away by the breadth of his voice acting career and how many of my childhood faves he voiced.
And to honour that, YouTube uploader TmsT created this video in collaboration with 13 animators (including himself). To call each animation surreal would be an understatement but so would saying each one was “good”. It’s all very trippy and pushes Steamed Hams past its boundaries, like many of the homages and “remixes” on YouTube.
Steam the video below and make sure to check out the animators underneath.
That’s exactly what we have here and it works so well. Everything starts normally until Seymour realises his “roast is ruined” and the DBZ music kicks in. It’s cleverly done and I’d love to see more Simpsons/DBZ mashup episodes. They’ve got to be better than the awfulness of the newer Simpsons episodes, right?
As Simpsons memes go, Steamed Hams is the most popular. It never seems to lose traction and I’ve recently discovered a host of them on YouTube. My favourite is this rendition, stylised as a Seinfeld episode complete with canned laughter. They even changed the mention of Krusty Burgers to “Skinner Burgers” for added authenticity. I want more of these episodes, to be honest.
I cannot get enough of these. Who knew something so simple could produce so many hilarious memes?
It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never got round to it. I know it’s a classic and it’s still on my to watch list. But Open Culture has given me a new incentive.
Video essayist Lewis Bond looked at the philosophical musings of Cowboy Bebop in “The Meaning of Nothing”. Bond immediately opens the video dismissing the notion of a “hierarchy of art”. He promotes television for its helpful methods of storytelling “unattainable in film”. He then delves into the meaning behind the stories and why the protagonists distance themselves from the rest of the world.
Cowboy Bebop ended after only 26 episodes, but a live-action reboot is in the pipeline. With any luck, the futuristic existentialism will carry over but I doubt it. Remakes of Japanese works lose a lot in translation thanks to Western butchering.
While I make up for lost time, you can buy the complete Cowboy Bebop series on Blu-ray. That’s the best way to watch it.
My dad bought me a double VHS set of Batman and Batman Returns as a present (which was questionable given the 15 certificates, but I was grateful). From there, I discovered the animated series. The portrayal of Gotham as a quintessential American city from the 20s was superb. The Art Deco style of illustration remains iconic, finding its way into the Superman animated series and refreshed in Batman Beyond. Abraham Riesman spoke to those involved in their genre-defining work for Vulture, including Bruce Timm, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin.
The Caped Crusader has fallen down the reboot rabbit hole since the disastrous Batman and Robin with two new film series since 1997. Christopher Nolan apparently took notes from the animated series and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight novels, bringing the story’s darkness into a near-pitch black territory. Ben Affleck has yet to show similar promise. His further darkness borders on bleak despair, but enough about the quality of the movies…
The National Film Archive of Japan (NFAJ) has kindly uploaded 60 films from 1917 to 1941, each one primitive as the other. But when you think these creations were the foundations of masterpieces like Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, you’ll appreciate them even more.