Friday, October 30, 2009

Elefun and Friends?

Well, my Blockbuster blues are slightly cured, as one of my discs finally came today, the official debut of the new MLP style in animation, Twinkle Wish Adventure. I'll be blogging that one soon, but before I get to it, I'm taking a quick look at a bonus short that was included on the DVD. Titled "Elefun and Friends," it is apparently a tie-in to games like (natch) Elefun, Gator Golf, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos. At first I thought it would be your typical, run-of-the-mill, children's show, and while it does generally follow that format, it put in some scenes that surprised me.

I mean, to start off with, the short begins with Elefun and his roommate Froggio getting some breakfast, while a lighthearted tune plays in the background. Froggio gets the spoons and starts drumming along to the tune on a piece of furniture, then jumps onto Elefun's head and starts drumming on him. Elefun doesn't seem to mind, but then he suddenly trumpets, blowing the frog off his head and into a coconut bowl. While Elefun just watches, their butterfly friends pour first cereal and then milk in both bowls, right on top of Froggio. Guess Elefun wasn't so keen on being a drum after all. Shortly thereafter, Elefun goes out for a morning swim, and upon seeing the empty pond suddenly fill up with all manner of animals, he cannonballs into the pond, splashing everyone else out quite intentionally. Sheesh.
The main plot kicks off when Elefun finds a kite shaped like a dragon stuck in a tree. Rather than send Froggio or the butterflies up to get it out, he decides that following the string to its origin will help him to get it unstuck. If you say so, Elefun. As Elefun states his dedication to following the string, even through jungles and deserts, Froggio begs out, only for Elefun to fix him with a withering glare until he agrees to come along. After that, things are pretty run-of-the-mill, with Elefun following the string through different countries, picking up the occasional companion, and learning the word "friend" in different languages. It isn't until they reach the actual end of the string in China that things pick up again. That's where they encounter a purple panda trying to treebuchet using bamboo over a river to the end of the string. She only gets halfway, leading this this exchange:
Elefun: Wha'cha doing?
Pandarama: Sipping tea. What does it look like I'm doing?
Spin: Sinking.
Pandarama: Who asked you?
Elefun then goes on to introduce himself and his hangers-on to her, and when he asks if she wants to be friends, she instantly replies, "No!" although she does backtrack, as she slips toward the water, "So, let's just say I want to be friends, not saying for sure, but pretend I do. What does that get me?" That's good enough for Elefun, and he devices a plan to help her across: she can slide down Giraffalaff's neck. Giraffalaff objects to this, though not because Elefun's being awfully presumptuous here, but because he has an embarrassing secret (and amusingly, when he asks Elefun if he can keep a secret, Froggio pops up to say, "Well, no," and Giraffalaff rebukes him, "I wasn't whispering to you!"), which everyone finds out anyway: he's afraid of heights (and sure enough, he's kept his head low the entire time). He even goes off on a soliloquy about how he hates eating the brown leaves on the ground, but the green leaves are too high for him, prompting the panda, still hanging from her bamboo, to ask him to solve his lunch woes later. Eventually he sticks his neck out and rescues Pandarama. With their friendship cemented, Elefun calls her a friend, and Pandarama corrects him with "朋友", pronounced "peng you," as Froggio explains to the audience, although not to Elefun, leading to this:
Elefun: Peng You is a pretty name.
Pandarama: My name is Pandarama.
Elefun: Then who's Peng You?
Pandarama: You!
Elefun: No, I'm Elefun.
There are a few more hijinks that ensue to finish up the episode, but that's basically the end of the good stuff. Pandarama was seriously the best part of the short, and voiced by Katie Leigh, although I really wouldn't have placed her without looking. The animation is done by Renegade Studios, who also did The Mr. Men Show, which I mention because a few of the voices also come from that show (Phil Lollar, Danny Katiana, and the previously mentioned Katie Leigh). While the animation itself is fluid, the edges on the characters are occasionally choppy, most noticably on Elefun. I don't know if I would check out a whole series of this, but I would definitely make a point to watch a few Pandarama-centric episodes, especially if the writing perks up a bit.

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