Exploring Disney’s Castle – Fantasia (1940)

Plot: A collection of animated shorts set up as a visualization of classical music ranging from abstract to linear stories.

Breakdown: Fantasia is one of the most critically acclaimed Disney movies in regards to its artistry ever made, which isn’t surprising considering how much work and money went into it.

Fantasia was incredibly expensive. The animation costs and the development of the custom sound system of Fantasound made Fantasia a surefire money pit no matter how successful the film would ever be at the box office. This was only compounded by the already existing problem of the war in Europe, which caused box office failure even for the much cheaper project of Pinocchio. And, believe it or not, Fantasia was made to help soften the financial burden of creating the Silly Symphonies short of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a short that was integrated into Fantasia, and is probably the segment most people remember from the film.

Fantasia was supposed to be an ever-ongoing project with new editions coming out every few years. The new editions would see the omission of an old segment and the inclusion of a new one, making for a new viewer experience upon each release. However, money troubles reared its ugly head again with the impacts of low box office performance by Fantasia, and the new trouble of the US’s involvement in World War II made it an impossible venture.

Fantasia did gain a sequel in 2000 called Fantasia 2000…but we’ll get to that later.

Enough history. Confession time. I didn’t want to review this movie. Why? Well, the fact of the matter is that I didn’t think I could really do it justice without any sort of knowledge or experience on classical music. Considering this movie is really a celebration of the marriage between animation and music, I felt like only having one half of the equation wasn’t enough.

Plus, I have a rather embarrassing past with this movie. I’ve owned this movie on VHS for as long as I can remember – in fact I still have it – but I don’t think I ever watched it until a few years ago. I remember putting the movie in once as a kid, getting confused as to what the hell it was and turning it off after only a few minutes. Basically, I robbed myself of the opportunity to have a lifelong connection to this movie simply because I’d rather watch Power Rangers or Rugrats.

After thinking about it, though, I decided that I should still give it a review. Most people who watched this movie have neither a mass amount of knowledge in animation or classical music, and simply having an appreciation for these factors should be enough.

The movie has introductions and interludes in a live-action format. The Master of Ceremonies, Deems Taylor, explains the story or history behind the segment in a cool setup where the orchestra as well as Taylor are shrouded mostly in shadow with colored lights changing depending on the music. The orchestra starts playing the music for the feature as we shift into the animation.

Our first animated segment is introduced – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johan Sebastian Bach.


Mr. Taylor introduces us to what Fantasia is and how it works. He states that there are three types of features in Fantasia – ones with a solidified story and plot, ones with no real story but visuals and musical themes to create the flow, and ones that exist simply to exist. Basically, the animation is a depiction on what you’d imagine if you were listening to the music, and our first feature is exactly that type.

The segment starts off by showing us the orchestra in silhouette playing the music. When prompted by the conductor, the lights and shadows change on the walls. Eventually, we segue into the animated portion and back into the live-action segment one last time.

I’m….ambivalent about this segment. The animation, as expected, is gorgeous, and it is very creative, especially near the end. However, I really just feel like these types of shorts are just kinda there. They really seem like very elaborate screen savers or a very well-done visualization setting for a music player. Plus, I’m probably in the minority, and this shouldn’t be taken as a con to the movie, but for some reason this segment makes me a little motion sick when played on a big screen.

The Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilach Tchaikovsky


Here we have something with a bit more substance to me probably because we have actual depictions of actual things actually doing things. In this segment, we get an animation of fairies and the changing of the seasons as the Nutcracker Suite plays. By the way, while I really won’t be making many notes about the music, I really don’t like most of The Nutcracker Suite. Much of it is insanely repetitive, gets caught in your head so easily and many of the parts get annoying in their pitch.

This segment is separated into several parts. The first is the fairies, who are naked…..uh basically magic-fying everything in a forest. I really like this part of the animation because the colors and all the magic effects look fantastic. I especially like the parts with the dandelion and the spider web.

Next, we have a bunch of mushrooms dancing in front of a black screen….riveting.

After that, we have a bunch of flowers slowly falling into a pool of water as they sway in the wind to the music. Then the flowers shift into a more human-like shape to dance along to the music. I have my problems with this part. The beginning is fine and quite beautiful, but I can’t stop thinking that, after the flowers change form, that they’re really a bunch of dancing napkins.

The next part is like a rail shooter. Hear me out – it’s underwater and the plants and fish sway and move to the music, but as the camera moves through the various locations it’s like the fish can see the camera and run away at first glance. I have a personal love of underwater animation, as long as it’s done right of course. It really takes a lot of work and talent to make underwater life seem realistic, and it’s done very well here. The synchronicity and colors as well as the really interesting fish are wonderful to watch, and best of all they got one of the segments of The Nutcracker Suite that isn’t annoying, grating or repetitive.

….Oh but let’s change that by segueing into our next part which shifts into the hyper crazy part of the Suite with a bunch of flowers dancing like crazy. The segment is too fast for my liking and is merely flowers rushing around dancing so it’s not very interesting.

We return to our regularly scheduled gentle tones and slow, soothing music as we return to the still-not-clothed fairies. This time, they’re committing mass leaf genocide as we transition into fall. Artistically and creatively, this part is basically on par or even better than the first part with the fairies, but I personally prefer this one since it goes with a better part of the Suite. And I kinda like the warm colors better. I guess it makes sense since autumn is my favorite season.

We stay with the fairies for a while, and the warm colored fairies are soon replaced by blue fairies who bring about the start of winter. I really like when we get into this part because the blue fairies ‘ice skating’ (get it!?) is one of my favorite parts of this whole segment. It’s kinda like a mix between the first segment’s visual style and the fairies in that shot.

The rest of the winter segment with the fairies is also good, but something looks….off about the snowflakes for some reason. I can’t put my finger on it.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas


I find it odd that Disney didn’t vi to put this segment near the end. I mean, it’s featured on all of the box art, you’d think they’d save what is seeming like the grand-ish finale for last, but I guess third is fine too. Maybe this placement was intentional to help sate the impatient children who wanted to see Mickey. Then again, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice short was created specifically because Mickey’s popularity was dwindling.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is by far the most well-remembered segment of Fantasia, outside of Night on Bald Mountain. It’s the origin of Mickey’s other most well-known outfit of the red robe with pointy blue and white-starred hat.

This is the first short to have original music. Since The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was meant to be a stand-alone Disney short or Silly Symphony, it was slated to have such a thing all along. The short was written and the music was composed based on the story itself.

It should also be noted that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is not an original story. It was based on a story that is thousands of years old.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set in ancient times of magic where a master sorcerer, Yensid, mentors his apprentice, Mickey Mouse. Yensid takes off his magic hat and goes to sleep. Mickey, with a passion for magic and a health dose of laziness, decides to steal his master’s hat and use one his spells to enchant a broom to do all of his dirty work. Eventually, he wishes for the broom to stop after it fills up a tub with too much water, but finds that he is unable to stop them. Completely out of control, Mickey resorts to broomicide via axe….wow. But he quickly finds that life, uh uh, finds a way.

The pieces of the murdered broom all soon turn into actual brooms with their own buckets and are ready to flood the place even more. Mickey, unable to stop them or get the water out of the place, is resigned to getting caught in a whirlpool in the basement. Yensid, awoken from his nap, removes the water from the castle and stops the brooms like a boss. As he confronts Mickey and gets his hat back, Mickey returns to his duties with an embarrassed smile as Yensid delivers a swift whack on his ass with the broom.

After the short ends, a silhouetted Mickey congratulates the conductor, Leopold Stokowsky, he does the same for Mickey and they shake hands.

I like this short. I’m not the world’s biggest Mickey fan (his personality tends to be all over the place if you go short by short…) but it’s a nice short story about how the quickest and easiest way is not always the best way, taking things can lead to trouble and messing with supernatural forces beyond your control can leave you drowned in the basement. I also really like the direction and style of this short, especially in the dream sequence and the finale. The colors and style are just great.

Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky


This segment is meant to be a visual adaptation of Stravinsky’s original intentions for the symbolism of the song. From what I gather in the introduction, he meant it to be about the birth and development of life as a whole. As our MC dictates, the animations that accompany this song are meant to show a scientific recreation of life on earth from the very first single celled organisms to the fall of the dinosaurs.

We start in the blackness of space as we, like celestial beings, look down upon our galaxy. After we zoom in (a lot), we eventually see our rather pitiful looking little planet as it is experiencing numerous volcanic eruptions. The score also leads me to believe that Jaws might be popping up soon, so keep a look out.

For some reason, I’m not liking how they’re animating the fire in this segment. It just feels choppy. The lava is beautifully animated, though.

After all the volcanoes finally let loose and erupt everywhere, the lava meets the ocean waters and everything goes nuts again. Gigantic storms occur, huge waves cascade over the lands and steam fills the sky. Once the giant volcano nearby becomes consumed with water, the lava is cooled, explosions pop through the rocks, and everything as far as the eye can see is water.

Years later, tiny green single-celled organisms, whom Disney somehow made cute, emerge along with other weird life in the water. They split up and split up and split up and split up and split up and—you get the idea, until they are covered in a weird dark cloudy liquid.

Even later, there is more advanced life under the sea, and they’re oddly all dancing neon linework. They, too, are covered in the weird dark liquid where we then see even more advanced sea life that actually looks similar to what we may see today.

We follow one fish around as he frantically tries to get away from predators. He soon starts making his way towards land, and then we just transition to dinosaurs. Okay, that’s a bit jumpy, but this was dragging a bit.

Who cares anyway? Friggin’ dinosaurs!

We see a bunch of dinosaurs doing dinosaur things like looking awesome, eating and straight up killing each other. Disney’s not really pulling any stops here. Earlier under the water, we saw some poor fish that was drawn with a cartoony face being snatched up and eaten by a jellyfish. He had a panicked expression and everything, but it wasn’t in the main focus of the shot. Yeesh.

And we just kinda chill out with the dinosaurs for a while watching them do things. Until, that is, we see what we all came here to see….the T-rex. He even comes with his own thunderstorm – guys, you don’t need to make a t-rex even more intimidating. It does a fine job on its own.

Naturally, every living thing in its path craps their yet-to-be-invented pants and run off. The T-rex eventually catches a stegosaurus. They face off for mortal combat with all of the other dinosaurs watching like it’s some prehistoric WWE. To its credit, the stegosaurus does put up a decent fight, but this a T-rex, sweetie. You gonna die.

After the stegosaurus dies in the most horrifying yet non-graphic way possible, the T-rex silently roars in victory to a bolt of lightning (Seriously, the T-rex plus the orchestral accompaniment are enough bad-ass. You’re gonna overload the system) and every other dinosaur just walks away after the fight concludes while Mr. Rex eats his meal.

Much later, the dinosaurs start suffering as their once lush lands have dried up under the intense and dry heat of the sun. The food is sparse, water is rare, and dinosaurs are dropping like flies as they search for greener pastures.

After all of the dinosaurs have been reduced to skeletons in the wastelands of earth, an eclipse occurs and suddenly the lands are rocked by a massive earthquake followed by another huge wave that cascades over everything. The eclipse becomes full, and our short ends.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this one. I know this may seem dumb to say in a short that is trying to cover the course of life from single-celled organisms to the fall of dinosaurs in a handful of minutes, but I felt it was fairly slow. Also, I didn’t feel like much of the animation was really impressive or awe-inspiring. It was good, but some shots like the rocks falling and the fire felt really rough.

Plus, I don’t really get the finale. A sudden and horrific drought killed the dinosaurs but then the lands were like re-written by a huge earthquake and suddenly the ocean waters reappear and have yet another ungodly huge tidal wave to further remake the lands? And if this is the version they’re going for, how did the mostly aquatic dinosaurs die?

It’s an interesting concept, but I just didn’t get into it very much.



When we return from our break, the MC decides to give us a little visual lesson on sound. We get what is essentially the visualizer from Windows Media Player as it shows the audience that all noises can be represented visually through various types of waves. While it is a very simplistic way of showing us the association between the animations and music, I find it rather charming. My favorite parts are the percussion section and the harp.

With that out of the way, we move on to–

The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig Von Beethoven


Mr. Taylor introduces this segment to us as a reimagining of Beethoven’s original idea of the story behind this symphony. Originally, it was meant to convey a day in the countryside. However, Walt Disney decided to adapt the symphony to a story set in Greek mythology.

Our short starts out at Mt. Olympus which doesn’t really look impressive at all. When you have a location description of ‘home of the gods’ you’d think they’d put more effort into making the place look grand and amazing. It’s pretty, it’s just that I would never think this is supposed to be Mt. Olympus.

An episode of My Little Pony starts—Oh excuse me, those are just the unicorns that are drawn in a really similar manner to the typical MLP style (I’m very aware this predates MLP by many years). They frolic through the woods until they come across a bunch of nymphs playing pan flutes. Hearing the music, the unicorns decide to play and dance with the nymphs.

A bunch of pegasuses….pegasi…..P….pega—Dammit. Plural pegasus fly overhead eating leaves and fruit from the trees. A newborn pegasus fawn decides to try his hand at flying, but continuously fails until his mother scoots him along and he’s finally able to fly with the others. He flies with what I assume is his full family complete with demonic looking father pegasus and three multi-colored siblings. I think mama pegasus has some explaining to do.

They eventually reach a large lake where hundreds of other….pegases….pegasasses….pega-HORSES join then. They play around for a while and we cut to a bunch of topless centaurettes. Yes, everyone, nudity in a Disney movie that doesn’t have to be found by some guy with nothing better to do than go through Rescuers Down Under and Who Framed Roger Rabbit frame by frame. They’re bathing because of course they are and it really seems like they’re purposely hiding their horse half to give the viewers boobs without making them feel uncomfortable about the horse part. They later laze about with some cherubs while doing girly things like filing nails and putting on makeup.

The cherubs see a centaur blow a horn to call his friends, all of which have really freaky faces, to go get some centaurette lovin’. The centaurettes prepare for their future lovers with arts and crafts via birds, flowers and lily pads.

The centaurettes do their best to seduce the dead-eyed creepy as hell centaurs with their half-naked dancing, and it succeeds as everyone is now paired up and in love, daww. They’re also conveniently color coded.

Did I say everyone was paired up? I meant one blue centaur is forever alone. And, even more conveniently, a blue centaurette is also forever alone. The cherubs see this and lure the centaurette over to the centaur so they can be in love. Something really IS in the water at Disney isn’t it? Also, I have a feeling all of these cherubs are supposed to be Cupid stand-ins?

Anyway, they lead them to a nice place to get it on, the cherubs leave them to their dirty business and pull some curtains over the scene. And as one cherub tries to peek in on them (I don’t need a perverted naked baby, thanks) his naked butt is proudly displayed straight on to the audience before it turns into a heart. You’re really weird, Disney.

The centaurs and centaurettes then make some wine for the god Bacchus, the Greek god of wine and intoxication. Also, the black centaurettes are half zebra for whatever reason. Is that….racist? I can’t tell.

Also, Bacchus is riding on a donkey-corn….Or a Uni-key…that is also getting smashed out of his mind.

They dance and party with Bacchus before he gets seduced by a centaurette. Remember, Greek mythology. No need to bring up anything weird in regards to sexual pairings.

They party some more with Bacchus until a dark cloud appears overhead and a storm starts. Zeus shows his….rather goofy looking face, as does Vulcan, and Zeus starts chucking lightning bolts everywhere, especially at Bacchus. That’s what you get for missing your AA meetings, Bacchus!

Zeus continues to be an ass while everyone runs for their lives, and he even destroys the giant cask of wine!


But it’s okay because Bacchus just laps it up and splashes around in it like an idiot.

Zeus finally grows tired of being a sadistic asshole and falls asleep, allowing the clouds to disperse and the sun to shine through once more. As the weather clears, the mythological creatures return to frolicking as Iris creates a rainbow in the sky. The day starts to end, and the sun starts to set, causing Apollo to appear and wave farewell to all of the creatures.

Morpheus appears and causes nightfall, though I thought that was Nyx’s job, and all of the creatures go to their respective homes to fall asleep. Finally Diana, using the crescent moon as a bow, shoots an arrow through the sky that creates the stars.

This short didn’t really mesh with me. It’s not particularly funny or exciting, it’s just cutesy. Cute or at least non-threatening versions of creatures from Greek mythology just basically screwing around for a day. Not to mention that, while the animation is gorgeous, the art is not doing it for me. I understand why the art is so colorful and cutesy, it’s just the style they were aiming for in regards to the kids, but it doesn’t ever make me think we’re at Mt. Olympus. Also, again, what the hell was up with the centaurs? Eugh.

I pretty much sleepwalked through the whole thing. I can’t really say I hated it because it didn’t leave that much of an impact, but I just wasn’t very much interested in it, which is a damn shame because I adore mythology.

Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli


This section provides the audiences with something more of Disney’s regular style. It’s a comedic short set up as a ballet with a bunch of anthropomorphic animals, each group representing a different time of day; morning, afternoon, evening and night.

Since this is a ballet and most of the short is dancing, I can’t really make another detailed analysis for you, but let me break it down a bit. I will say, however, that it is really hard to watch/listen to this because I can’t not associate this song with ‘Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda’ and that old K9 Advantix commercial….

The first section, Morning, is performed by ostriches. Comedic moments are few and far between here. They’re mostly just tiny moments like making their ties dance and swallowing their food with their ties blocking the foot in their throats. The only major comedic moment comes at the end where the lead ostrich, the one with the pink bow and shoes, tries to eat some grapes after feeding her friends some fruit, but her greedy friends try to steal them from her, resulting in her dropping the grapes in a pool of water. The water bubbles up and the ostriches run away, segueing us into the Afternoon section.

The second section is performed by hippos. Nothing really comedic at all happens besides one weird thing – the main hippo’s fat.

The third section, Evening, is performed by elephants and I’m just now getting that the whole big joke of this entire short is that a bunch of animals that would really never be considered elegant or graceful are performing a ballet. We get a legit funny moment with one of the elephants blowing a bubble and suddenly a fish appears in it and floats away.

Other than that, the elephants really just screw around with bubbles and make the lead hippo, now asleep, float up in the air with the force of their collective bubbles.

The final section, Night, is performed by a bunch of alligators. A bunch of alligators who want to eat the main hippo. A bunch of alligators who are wearing cultist robes while wanting to eat the hippo.

This segment is actually pretty amusing as the hippo is basically being the Bugs Bunny to the alligator’s Elmer Fudd, and it is weird to see a ballet being made of attempted murder.

Eventually, all of the animals get in on the final dance against the alligators, and the segment ends with seemingly the alligator’s winning but they don’t eat the animals and the other animals just smile as the song concludes so….*shrug*

While it’s not really amusing until the second half with the elephants and not really close to funny until the section with the alligators and the finale, it’s still a pretty decent short. I think it kinda failed as being the only comedic section of our movie, however. Especially considering that 1) This is Disney. Silly Symphonies much? You can’t get funnier than this? And 2) the darkest part of the movie is coming up next.

Speaking of which!

Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky and Ave Maria by Franz Shubert


If The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the most widely known part of this movie, Night on Bald Mountain is definitely the most impacting and interesting.

This segment was made of two separate pieces of music melded together to make a narrative. The first section, Night on Bald Mountain, shows spirits rising up to greet their master, the devil Chernabog, even though the opening narration seems to indicate that it’s Satan as they state that Bald Mountain is the meeting place of Satan and his demons.

Bald Mountain is gorgeously designed, and the colors and design of the surrounding environment are deliciously creepy. Chernabog is one intimidating and creepy SOB, even if his overall design can be seen as a bit uninspired. His closeups are simply striking. Just the way he sends giant shadows of his hands over the town below is chilling, especially when the buildings distort in response.

The animation for the ghosts is a bit weird, it’s like paper cutouts done in CGI, at least during their first handful of shots. Later on, they look like they were made with chalk, which makes them seem really gritty and creepy.

Chernabog surrounding himself in a swarm of spirits and then unleashing the fires of hell upon them is a great moment. Plus the designs of the demons are unsettling. Basically it’s a party in hell and everyone’s invited. Chernabog even cooks up some naked whores made of fire. How nice of him. And Disney even throws in nipples on some of the female hellspawn. It’s art, so shut up parents.

I get hypnotized by this segment. It’s just so….beautiful. In a grim and dark sense, but it is really beautiful. The art, the animation, the setting, the little things going on like turning the pretty fire ladies into beasts, demons being snatched in midair by other beasts supposedly to get eaten, Chernabog toying with everyone and everything like a kid playing with his action figures – it’s just awesome.

But then the Angelus bells ring and Night on Bald Mountain has to end their party because Ave Maria is coming to bring down some serious religion, hope and love on your asses!


I love how each ring of the bell not only changes the colors in the shot, but also causes pain to Chernabog and the little demons. Upon hearing the bells, the spirits return to their rest back in the desolate ruins of the town. The sun rises over the horizon, and Chernabog returns to isolation.

Through the foggy mists of dawn, a procession of lights wades through the land. An endless stream of people slowly travel through the barren landscape. I really like the direction on this part. We go from gigantic Chernabog playing with demons and spirits like they’re GI Joes to him wincing in pain to them returning to hiding because of these little tiny lights of hope, barely visible to us, that walk across the land. It’s a wonderful contrast.

It’s also a great segment to wind down on after the powerful and exciting Night on Bald Mountain. It has a way of making you feel relaxed, calm and even happy.

Through the darkness of the wooded path is a ray of light leading to a beautiful bright and lush forest where the sunlight breaks over the horizon and the bright rays of golden light shoot up into the sky.

The end.

Bottom Line: Fantasia is not a flawless film, especially if you bought it for your kids. I mean, I’m all for kids watching more mature programming, not filthy – mature, to give them a glimpse into a more complex world beyond their own, maybe teach them a lesson or two or just prompt them to think about things they otherwise wouldn’t have. However, I can see this being a major snoozefest for kids. There’s only one segment that resembles typical Disney fun, and there’s not much that is fun or funny about it, and another one that involves Mickey Mouse, who was at a low point in popularity at the time of release.

Unless your kid is one who will be captivated by some gorgeous Disney art and animation or is a real big fan of classical music, I can’t believe many kids would actively want to watch this very often, at least not younger ones.

Plus, a few of the shorts aren’t that interesting to me. It’s just animals or creatures doing things to musical accompaniment. It may be well-done, but it’s not interesting to me. Plus, I guess I’m just not cultured enough to find any real entertainment or substance to abstract representations of the musical notes. It’s certainly beautiful, and you have to respect the manner in which it was made, but the end result doesn’t keep me hooked in.

The art and animation truly is amazing in this movie with special attention and praise to Night on Bald Mountain, Ave Maria and The Nutcracker Suite. I did have some issues, however, such as the fire on The Pastoral Symphony or some of the scenes with the spirits in Night on Bald Mountain, but it’s nothing major. Oh but the centaurs, yeah, I have a problem with them. Eughghghghghgh.

I can’t really comment well on the music. It’s mostly well-known classical tracks, though a few went over my head. I really do hate the Nutcracker Suite, and some of the songs weren’t very memorable to me, but I did really like the music as a whole.

Fantasia is probably overrated, even though I do hate saying that to something that was such a passion project. It’s worth the watch for The Nutcracker Suite, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria alone. Hell, it’s worth it just for Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria to me. But I just don’t see me wanting to rewatch this movie again any time soon. It’s a beautiful movie, but it doesn’t evoke such strong feelings and excitement as many people would built it up as.

I would say definitely, most definitely, watch this movie at least once in your lifetime. But if you don’t like it, I’d certainly understand.

Recommended Audience: There are some dark themes like death, killing between animals, starvation, hell and demons. There are, believe it or not, several instances of nudity in regards to topless women with at least two shots of breasts with nipples drawn and colored. Also, naked babies (Cherubs) but you don’t see their genitals. No sex or gore, though they get damn close with that stegosaurus scene. 10+

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The Salty Anime Challenge Day 11: Least Favorite Art Style or Art Technique

This one’s a toughy because I tend to have a lot of respect for varying art styles, even if they’re not my cup of tea. I’ll tackle this one with three pet peeves in art styles.

1 – Pointless blushing and/or red on shoulders and knees.

This isn’t a terribly common thing, but whenever I see it I get instantly irritated. In some art styles, the artist will have a near perpetual blush on the character’s faces. A good example of this getting to seriously annoying levels is Saikano.

I just don’t understand the point. It looks so awkward. Why are these characters always blushing? Even when literally nothing is happening. Blushing is meant to indicate surges of emotions like embarrassment, love or even having a fever or something. When characters are always blushing, it loses its desired effect and just becomes a nuisance. It’s a shame – I love Saikano and yet this never fails to bug the crap out of me.

Similarly, some shows will add a red or pink shiny sheen to shoulders, knees, elbows and cleavage for no reason. This also isn’t terribly common, but it’s irritating because this makes even less sense to me.

At least I understand what a blush is. What the hell is this sunburn/rash stuff? Why do these characters have shiny red and pink spots on their bodies? What is the point? I can maybe justify adding this stupid effect to boobs….because…boobs, I guess? Gotta make ‘em…..prettier?

I inadvertently looked up the reason why this exists while trying to search for images for this entry, and the most common answer was that it’s meant to show that there’s a good amount of blood flowing to these parts of the body in order to signify that the girls are ‘fresh, lively, healthy and attractive.’….I’m sorry, I’m getting none of that. These spots make these girls look burned at best and diseased at worst. That is in no way attractive.

2 – Pointy Face

Careful when we kiss. We might accidentally slit each other’s throats.

Pointy face is most commonly a major problem, it seems, in yaoi and shounen ai anime – especially if its from the 80s or 90s. The characters will usually have boxy torsos with long lanky limbs and, you guessed it, sharp pointy faces.

I don’t get why anyone would find this appealing. Isn’t this genre largely based on fanservice and eye candy? Why is this style so common here? It is fugly. It’s is always worse on the bishies, too. It’s like someone used the smear tool in an image editor on them before sending them off to print.

I know art for males is usually more about sharp lines and angles than female characters, but there’s a limit. I shouldn’t be able chop wood with a character’s face.

3 – Specifically with XXXHOLIC, but really any style where the characters have long thin appendages.

I don’t usually avoid shows on art alone. However, I have avoided XXXHolic for that very reason. This art style for the characters (everything else is gorgeous) is very unsettling to me. It’s just so weird. I feel like, should these people exist in real life, I’d be constantly worried about their safety. Like they’d be in continual danger of breaking a bone.

It’s a shame because people highly praise this show and I just can’t bring myself to watch it. I can’t ignore the character designs. And I’m afraid a big plot twist is that they’re all secretly spider people.

This isn’t limited to XXXHolic, while it is the greatest offender to me. Many shows seem to subscribe to the idea that big heads and stick bodies work. You’ll see this with some of cheap harems and ecchi shows. The girls need big heads to show off their huge eyes but they also need lanky stick bodies because people don’t have enough body image issues.

“Why Bother?” You’re Your Own Worst Enemy in Art

pencil drawing gif

Even though I don’t talk about it much here, because it doesn’t tend to have much relevance to what I blog about (ironically?), I love drawing. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I even give drawings to my friends and family as gifts for holidays sometimes. But in the past decade or so I have repeatedly gotten into extremely bad art slumps that lead to me quitting on numerous occasions either for a few months or over a year or more at a time.

‘Why bother? My art sucks. I’m nowhere near the level of people who have a fraction of my experience or people who are half my age.’

That is the main thought I have whenever I drop my art. Currently, I am in a ‘dropped’ phase of my art, as you can probably see from my ghost town dArt page. I haven’t drawn anything worth a crap in months and I haven’t uploaded anything since 2016. I’ve had to force myself to draw a few times in these months, and I haven’t been happy with any of it.

I used to draw religiously every single day. I used to draw so much that I ruined my mattress from wearing it out because I used to spend hours of every day drawing while sitting on the corner of my bed. I’d draw anything I wanted whenever I wanted and I loved it. When I started getting on the Internet, I eventually bought a scanner and then a tablet to put my artwork online.

While I have gotten plenty of good feedback, I have also gotten my share of bad responses. I’m the type of person who over-exaggerates negatives while downplaying the positives. These negative responses never hindered me enough to quit drawing. Definitely put me in a bad mood, but never outright quit.


You are your own worst critic, as they say. As I reached my late teens and started having ‘issues’ for lack of a better term, I found myself getting increasingly depressed about my artwork. Despite working for years and years on my drawings, I’d keep seeing people online or even artwork shown in fairs that would drive me down.

A beautiful, realistic and detailed drawing of a deer in a field that I could maybe hope to achieve years in the future with much more practice.

Done by someone aged nine.

A gorgeous, expansive, intricate landscape with creative ideas and unique designs.

The description says it’s ‘just a quick doodle’.

A hilarious comic with stylized artwork and wonderful formatting and comedic timing.

“Hey guys, I just decided to start doing comics. This is my first one. What do you think?”

A fun, slick digital painting of a sports car that looks so good you feel you could ride in it.

“Eh, I’m not all that happy with this one, but I just threw it together in an hour so it’s alright.”

I am so happy for each and every person who finds something they’re good at and runs with it. I am also not under the mindset that talent alone, without hard work, is worth much. But it is always such a massive punch in the face to me whenever I see amazing artwork and my internal voice says something along the lines of “Wow, I’ll never be able to do that.” or “Over twenty years of practice, and I can’t do anything nearly that good. Why bother?”

I can’t respond to that question when I ask myself that. Why bother? Why would I bother? Why would I go through hours of hard work and frustration just to make something that’s, at best, okay? Why would I continue with my crappy artwork when so many people out there do so much better, even if they’re much younger than me or have much less experience? If even the artists themselves describe some of their beautiful works as ‘doodles’ and ‘something I threw together’, what does that make my work? Total garbage I wasted hours, days, even weeks on?

I used to want to make animations and comics, but I never did much with those ideas because I kept getting into the ‘Why bother?’ slump. I’m still in one of those slumps. A bad one. So why am I even writing this blog post?


A useful therapeutic technique for beating negative inner voices is trying to talk to yourself like you would to a friend or family member who is hearing those same things. Most people wouldn’t talk to themselves as they would someone else. If your friend said ‘My artwork sucks. It’s nowhere near as good as millions of other artists. Why bother even continuing?’ I doubt you’d respond with ‘Yeah, you’re right. Your art is garbage. You should quit.’ Unless you’re going the route of reverse psychology, which is an iffy road to say the least, and really doesn’t work when applying it to yourself.

This obviously isn’t an end-all solution. Convincing yourself that what you’re saying is true, in a positive sense, can be very difficult. You’re basically trying to pump up your positive inner voice to beat your negative inner voice in a boxing match while your negative inner voice has metal spiked gloves with flamethrowers and your positive one has plastic bags filled with go-gurt.

Don’t you want to see how good you could be? Even if you can’t see the top of the stairs, don’t you want to at least say you made it up a few more steps? Despite me being down on myself and my work, I can’t deny that I’ve definitely gotten better over time. I look back at pictures I made as a kid and I want to just throw them all away. (Upside-down house head was a common affliction to my characters. Terrible disease) but I don’t because they’re important to me and they’re reminders that I have improved a lot.

bleach rukia and ichigo gif

The point is, I really wish I hadn’t quit all those times because I missed out on a lot of improvement and learning. I missed out on the fun I could’ve had wrestling with a new drawing and finally finishing it. I just flatout missed out. I’m still missing out. You should always aim to improve and be open to constructive criticism, but comparing yourself to others, in basically anything, is frequently a detriment to your growth in that area.

You could say striving to be as good as other people inspires you to improve, which might be true for some people, but, and this might seem silly, look at shows like DBZ and Yugioh. Characters like Kaiba and Vegeta worked their asses off to get better than one particular person and, during that time, aforementioned rival also improved a great deal, meaning the gap between them either stayed the same or barely moved even a little. (Some exceptions apply)

In both situations, despite them both becoming awesome and powerful in their own right, they basically relegated themselves to never achieving true victory over their rival, though not for lack of trying. Both still very much enjoy trying to achieve victory to the very end of their series.

I suppose the difference here is that those people do have intense confidence in themselves already. Their defeats and constant reminders that they’re not as skilled as someone else just drives them to improve more and more in the hopes that they can beat their rival and finally earn their ‘rightful’ title as the best. In some circumstances, they want to earn that title just so they can see how their rival will turn around and try to get it back. It’s a passion fueled by competition.

Going into this same situation with a negative attitude basically sets you up for a fall and creates the ‘why bother?’ response. You no longer look to these rivals as hurdles you need to jump over, but instead as walls you’ll crash into. You don’t appreciate your own improvement anymore because you’re surrounded by walls. Why bother getting excited over going a few more steps when there’s probably a wall at the top?


It’s more cliches, but there is always someone better, and, realistically, you’re likely always better than someone else. That’s not meant to be cruel to others or to build your confidence on the downfall of others, it’s just a fact if we’re meant to take the first part of that statement as truth. It may be in different areas, mediums, styles, or even just one incredibly small thing like using a color better than others, but it’s true. I don’t believe in people being the absolute worst or the absolute best at something. There’s always room for growth and improvement, and as long as you’re trying there’s always quality to your work.

Even if you feel surrounded by walls, what’s stopping you from grabbing a grappling hook and climbing the wall? Batman does that.

What’s stopping you from bursting through the wall? The Kool-Aid man does that.

Okay, you probably want to strive to be Batman over the Kool-Aid man….Though he does survive all of those crashes without a scratch despite being a glass pitcher. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

Just like there’s a point in this post somewhere.


Another anime I’m reminded of is Chihayafuru. In it, the main character, Chihaya, falls in love with the game of karuta. Seeing the passion for the game in her friend, Ayata’s, eyes spurred a similar fire in her heart for it.

But she absolutely couldn’t hold a single candle to Ayata when they first played. Ayata was a card chucking ninja robot and Chihaya couldn’t do a thing. That is until she managed to get one card before he did. Just one. She lost horribly, but she was so happy just to get that one card. She worked harder and harder to improve over the years, even if interest in the game was extremely low in her school and her friends had drifted apart. She didn’t work her butt off to slam victory over Ayata’s head or anything, she did it because the game made her happy and reminded her of how much she and her friends used to love playing together.

A favorite of mine in regards to breaking out of regular ‘I have no inspiration’ slumps is the ‘just draw’ approach. Scribble, doodle, make random lines, just draw something, anything, and it can lead to a great idea.

It’s a common practice in writing too. Just write whatever you want, not taking grammar, spelling, etc. into consideration and eventually you’ll stumble upon something you want to write about in a more clear-cut manner. If not for the goal of drawing, writing, building, sculpting etc. something you think will be a great masterpiece, at the very least it will be something you’ll hopefully enjoy making. I miss the enjoyment I’d get out of just sitting on my bed drawing and not caring who thought my drawings were good besides me.


Art, in any form, is as much personal as it is something to share with others. It’s an expression of yourself in small and large ways. It should always be something for you far before it becomes something for other people. Who cares if you’re not on the same level as someone else, no matter the difference in age or experience? Who cares if some people seem blasé about their astounding works of art when you work your ass off to crank out something that doesn’t breathe the same air as that artwork? Who cares if only a few people see it?

Being so critical of yourself can actually be a good thing. If you’re able to see all of the negative aspects of something you’ve made, you can pinpoint these problems and know exactly where you need to focus your work. I remember looking up lineart tutorials because I thought about how crappy my lines always looked. They’re still not great, in fact it’s still fairly sloppy, but they’re better.

Your artwork, no matter the medium, is yours and yours alone. No one can take that from you. As long as you have a desire to learn, grow, improve and, most of all, have fun doing it, that should be all you need to continue.


As I said before, it can be very difficult to convince yourself that what you’re saying is true, especially in a positive sense. I’m saying this entire blog post to myself as much as I am to you. I doubt I’ll sit down and actually draw something after I hit ‘save’ or ‘publish’, and I doubt that nagging negative inner voice won’t flamethrower through my brain as I attempt to even try to pick up a pencil or plug in my tablet, but hopefully I’ll feel a little more compelled to doodle or something some time in the near future.

Honestly, I didn’t start writing this with the hopes or intentions of breaking numerous people out of their negative thoughts about their artwork. I didn’t even intend to give myself a pep talk. I just felt the desire to write this, so I did.

Is it any good? I don’t know. I did my best, and that’s all I can hope to do. Will this help anybody? I hope so, but who knows?

I will say one thing, though. I’m glad I wrote it.

Omake Gif Anime - Konohana Kitan - Episode 8 - Rei Draws Yuzu

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zeke’s Pad

Plot: Zeke Palmer has a magic electric drawing pad that allows him to alter reality and create things from thin air just by drawing them.

Breakdown: It’s like Chalkzone mixed with Fairly Odd Parents only not nearly as imaginative, funny, or with as much freedom.

The end

I know, I’ve done similar bits before, but it’s true. This concept, on paper (….puns?), is a very good one that hasn’t been done to death but has been done, ala Chalkzone. But its execution here is just plain not good.

First and foremost, this is not an origin story episode, which is….alright, because we can get the gist of the main plot from the theme song and the episode itself. Zeke has some sort of tablet (called ‘the pad’. How creative) that can create anything he draws. It seems like this ‘power’ is a secret, but I don’t really know. His best friend knows, and that’s all I got.

The origins of the pad are rushed through in the theme song and still make no sense. An electronic drawing pad was being assembled at a factory when the machine suddenly malfunctioned and caused lots of sparks and….magic? The machine threw it out, seeing it as defective, but it bounced out of the bin and out the window where Zeke caught it, somehow instantly knew its powers and how to use it and used to it get away from a dog that was chasing them…..Okie.

Next, Zeke is bland and forgettable with his only notable traits being that he’s lazy, selfish and inconsiderate. Because that’s what I want in my main character – nothing but unlikable traits.

To give you the low down, let’s go through Zeke’s actions throughout the course of the episode.

We spend well over two minutes hearing him bitch and moan and having a breakdown over getting served porridge for breakfast yet again. Apparently his insanely neurotic mother makes it every single day. However, this ‘joke’ has no real setup because we don’t go in knowing this, and the joke runs for way too long and amounts to nothing.

After he has a minor porridge breakdown, he bitches and moans that they never have something good like pancakes for breakfast. Aw, poor baby. Your loving mother takes the time out to make you breakfast every morning and it’s not what you want. If you want pancakes, get off your ass and make them.

And he takes my advice…..by going to his room and drawing a huge pile of pancakes on the pad, which materialize before him. And by ‘huge pile’ I mean he stockpiles his room nearly to the ceiling with pancakes and he chows them all down….without syrup or butter. I know that would be messy, but without syrup or butter, you might as well be eating mattress foam.

He gets a huge gut because of this, and, continuity honored, his gut stays this way for the entirety of the episode. However, he completely fails a fitness test at school because of it. Why the hell would you draw a room full of pancakes to eat when you have a fitness test that day? Huge gut and cartoonish appetite aside, eating even a regular helping of pancakes before strenuous exercise would make anyone feel like garbage.

He got the worst grades on the test in school history, so he’s sent to a fitness camp to bulk up and pass. He exercises a little, and gets so fed up with the whole thing that he draws a hot air balloon to escape, but drew it with a nearly empty fuel gauge and crashes…..Yeah, don’t ask me why he did that. He brings it up (“I had to draw it with a FULL fuel gauge?!”) but it still makes no sense (Why would you draw it with an empty gauge to begin with?….or a fuel gauge at all?). Anyway, he makes it home and obviously gets found out because his crazy camp counselor instantly finds he’s escaped, goes straight to his house, searches it and finds Zeke.

That was a pointless waste of time because of stupid, by the way. Of course they’d find out and call his parents. Of course they’d look for him. Of course the first place they’d look is his house. Maybe they wouldn’t practically break in and search without asking permission, but they wouldn’t just leave him be. And he knows this camp is necessary to get him a passing grade, so he should know escaping is pointless. If he were smart, he’d draw a way to make the camp or test easy as hell to pass. Hell, he has reality altering powers, just draw a test with an A grade on it.

Also, just to get this plot hole/annoyance out of the way, Zeke’s father, despite hearing that Zeke has to go to fitness camp to pass his test, for some reason thinks it’s ridiculous that Zeke would be a camper at a fitness camp and that him, being an artist, must be at an art camp. Even after telling him that and being found at the house, escaping from the fitness camp, Zeke exclaims later that his dad still thinks he’s at art camp…..Is his dad an idiot or is this very poorly written? I can’t tell.

Zeke recruits his best friend, Jay, in the middle of the night to help him pass his test. He claims he can’t just draw himself before he ate all those pancakes because going back, deleting and erasing always goes horribly wrong. We just have to take his word for it, but uh…..just draw yourself in a fit way you’ve never been. That way it’s an alteration not a redo or a deletion. It’s not that hard.

Just a note, Jay does not help him at all. Not for lack of trying or because Jay’s a bad friend, but because he has no way of helping him. Zeke has the pad, and Jay could easily give him advice over the phone, but he begs him to put aside his studying for an algebra exam to help him at the camp and he, reluctantly, goes. When Zeke’s pad gets taken away by the counselor, they both sneak into his office to get it, but it’s entirely unnecessary for Jay to be there. He doesn’t do anything because there’s nothing for him to do. He does point out that Zeke is running away faster than he is and asks if he’s been working out, but bite me, Zeke’s Pad. There’s no way a day and half of moderate exercise with a huge gut hanging over his pants made him fit enough for there to be any noticeable improvement in his physical ability.

When he gets his pad back, he thinks of the perfect solution. He draws them at Art Camp, which alters reality….somehow, to making everything an art test and art challenges, which Zeke excels at.

The only repercussions of Zeke’s selfish and lazy actions is that Ike, his older jock brother who both gave him the initial fitness test and worked as a counselor at the fitness camp, is still rough on him, they have to draw Ike in his boxers (Jay’s still at the camp because of no reason whatsoever.) and Zeke’s mom makes him pancakes when he gets home as a gift for passing his test, which, wahmp wahmp, makes Zeke freak out….Also, he’s instantly thin again when he changes the camp to an art camp…..continuity makes sense, right!?

Nothing about this episode was funny. Not a damn thing made me even want to put effort into moving my lip muscles into a smile shape. I’m watching a lazy inconsiderate idiot get himself into trouble, easily get out of it and get what he wants all the while bothering his friends and scarily manipulating reality and those around him. Not to mention a total lack of a lesson being learned or comeuppance for his behavior. He could at least have done something nice for someone else with that pad (like, maybe something to help Jay with his algebra test), but he just uses it stupidly for stuff he wants and is too lazy to do himself.

There’s also a subplot with the rest of his forgettable family with his mother making them work out and eat healthy non-stop. It goes the way you think and ends the way you think.

The jokes they attempt have no thought put into them. Most of them are unfunny slapstick gags, burp jokes and a fart joke, the rest is just cartoon zaniness in how quickly and sporadically they move, which may as well be slapstick.

As an artist who would value this power like a gift from the gods, it bugs the hell out of me that this is such wasted potential. I would love another Chalkzone-esque show. It allows for such amazing creative freedom in plots, characters and powers. However, it is just not used well here. There are vague and undefined restrictions by default, and they can’t use the power many times because the thing needs to be charged.

Not to mention the fact that there’s no artistic merit going into these drawings. We never see him actually ‘draw’ anything. We get some weird overdone transition, see the finished drawing for about a second and then cut to the thing appearing or reality changed. We don’t even see him draw anything for the hell of it or at all despite the fact that people keep saying he’s creative and loves to draw.

Even in the very end where he gets his altered test to draw Ike, we don’t get to see him draw or see his finished drawing. This is a show based around art-fueled powers….with no art.

Speaking of art, the CGI cel-shaded art for the show is really blah with no real style to it. The colors are bright and appealing, but that’s about it. These graphics look pretty dated for a show that was supposedly made in 2010, and the animation, while not having many errors, doesn’t have a good fluidity about it. Half the time it’s jarring shifts and the other it’s slow moving in a sliding fashion.

The music’s alright, but forgettable. I listened to the theme song three times just five minutes ago and I’ve already forgotten it.



Two-dimensional characters with the MC having no real good traits conveyed so far, poorly written story structure and dialogue, no good jokes and a complete waste of a fairly good plot and you leave me with no reason to want to continue.

Also, in spite of the fact that this show won two Elan awards for Best Animation TV Production and Art Direction, this show only lasted one season. Hm.

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