Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"My Friend Rabbit"

I was checking out some of my bookmarked blogs that I hadn't been to in awhile and decided to take a look at Jason Groh's Blammo site. I was quite taken with the publicity image that greeted me in one of his most recent posts, pictured at left, from a new show called "My Friend Rabbit", airing on NBC and also Treehouse here in Canada. Jason, a first-rate cartoonist by the way, is apparently directing this show at Nelvana, so I thought that I should make a point to catch it and see how it looks. 

I caught it on Treehouse today at 1:00 and was quite delighted with it. To be honest, I'm not much of a fan of today's digitally animated TV shows, but this one manages to do the best job I've ever seen with the software it utilizes. (ToonBoom, from what I gather). Yes, there is still some of the computer cutout look that I don't care for, but there is also a lot of real drawing integrated into the animation as well. For instance, when characters walk, their legs and arms are fully animated in the classic style. When they speak, their head shapes may remain static but the mouths are fully articulating the dialogue in a very pleasing manner. There are many original poses created for each scene rather than an over-reliance on "symbols".  But the thing that strikes one initially are the very appealing character and background designs - all rounded, flowing shapes in the more classic studio cartoon approach.

I noticed in the credits that it said that the series was based on the books by Eric Rohmann, so I wanted to see what the original look was that they'd adapted. Interestingly, the animated series put me in mind of Disney's "Winnie-the-Pooh", and seeing the source material from which it is derived makes the comparison seem that much more apt, as the original book illustrations share some similarities to the E.H. Shepard drawings in the Pooh books. Both the Pooh and My Friend Rabbit book illustrations feature designs that are quite charming but perhaps a bit too simplistic to make the transition to animated characters which, in my opinion, need fleshing out in the design to allow for more personality and animated expression. As such, I think that the design team on "My Friend Rabbit" has done a marvelous job at embellishing the designs to make them more appealing and more conducive to the medium of animation.

Though I may not be in the target audience for this show, I know that I would have enjoyed it and been attracted to the design style back when I was of pre-school age. Congratulations to all who are involved in this show - I wish you much success with it!