Anime’s use of CG models often attracts derision. Recently the trailer for Bodacious Space Pirates caused the assembled masses of the internet to decry its spaceships and wonder if we had really progressed much further than Lost Universe. So if I tell you that a CG animated show was one of the best looking anime of 2011 you might not believe me.
Of course, the fact the show was a series of shorts aimed at children and based on characters from a popular line of American greetings cards, may go some way to explaining your disbelief.
For that show was Suzy’s Zoo.
Based on Suzy Spafford’s characters, the show was directed by Hidekazu Ohara, who first came to my attention in his short, Professor Dan Petory’s Blues, on the Studio 4°C anthology Sweat Punch. He also worked on the Cannon Fodder segment of Memories, and oddly enough you can see some of that in Suzy’s Zoo. Particularly in how it recreates a particular hand drawn look.
It’s a technically impressive piece of work, not just in how it makes 3D models look hand drawn, it exceeds Hipira in this respect, but also the sense of weight they give the models. They aren’t just solid lumps, for example Witzy’s the duck’s feathers have a different weight to the main body of the model, leading to a much more convincing movement.
The writing is acceptable for kids animated short. It’s got some good gags, but it’s not as strong as say a Shaun the Sheep in the physical comedy department, nor as verbally funny as late period Peppa Pig (if you doubt Peppa Pig‘s strengths, I recommend the episode “Grampy Rabbit’s Lighthouse”. Brian Blessed as a shouting elderly rabbit. I think that’s all that needs to be said).
But it’s certainly better than any other greetings card character cartoons that history has spat out. I’d take Witzy and friends well animated whimsy over the wretched Getalong Gang any day of the week.