Tuesday, October 23, 2007

D&D Animation: Then and Now.

Back in the 1980s, I used to watch the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. I thought it was great, and so did a lot of my peers. The animation was standard for cartoons of the time, in fact it might have been slightly better than some shows. I recently compared episodes of the GI JOE cartoon from the time period to episodes of the D&D cartoon and the D&D cartoon looks a little better in my opinion.

Here's a little clip for you to look at.

Since the 1980s, television animation has come a long way, or at least some of it has. Viewers can watch the beautifully rendered Avatar series on Nickelodeon, if they want to see what television animators are "capable" of producing. Not everything out today is of the caliber of Avatar, as not every thing in the 60s was Johnny Quest, but Avatar is a reasonable example of how beautiful modern televised animation can look. If I wanted to be mean, I could have used Samurai Champloo as my point of comparison, but I'm not that mean. I just wanted to point out that in the past 20 years, it has become possible to distribute some pretty beautiful animation on the medium of television. Which is why the new "provisional" trailer for the upcoming direct to DVD adaptation of the Dungeons and Dragons (Roleplaying Game) related Dragonlance book series, has me worried about how the film will affect the public's perception of D&D. I think it will give people the perception that D&D fans are satisfied by derivative stories with poor animation. Have a look for yourself:

In the interest of being completely honest, I should note that I am not biggest fan of the Dragonlance series. I find it entertaining, but in that kind of "it's related to my hobby so I like it" kind of way. The first trilogy of books, which the DVD is an adaptation of the first novel thereof, is pretty poorly crafted and very derivative. But I found some of the characters compelling and very much enjoyed the second trilogy, and some of the subsequent series as well -- including the recent "fill in the gaps" trilogy that has been being released this year. The new "fill in the gaps" trilogy eliminates some of the holes in narrative of the first trilogy. The need for such a series speaks volumes about the original series.

That said, Dragonlance has legions of fans, these are NYT Bestsellers we are talking about, and they deserve better than what this preview is showing me. If the CGI integration doesn't improve in the final product, I'll probably recommend that my friends watch Record of Lodoss War instead of the upcoming Dragonlance movie. At least, I'll be buying it first, so my friends will have warning.

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