Season DVD sets enhance animation

New on DVD

Season DVD sets enhance animation

Movies: on screen, DVD/ Video

December 18, 2003|By Diane Werts | Diane Werts,NEWSDAY

Want to really savor the clarity of DVD? Take an eye-popping look at some of the TV animation you've probably been watching over fuzzy cable lines or ghost-image antennae. With an eye toward the holiday shopping season, video shelves are now loading up with digital season sets, imported anime and impressive repackaging of vintage cartoons.

The technical versatility and extra features of DVDs enrich the viewing experience by introducing the creators of these cartoons, the voices that bring them alive, the animation process and more. Captions and foreign-language subtitles make them accessible to wider audiences. The more adult offerings can include cut scenes and graphic commentary.

These are some of the best recent arrivals.

SpongeBob SquarePants Complete First Season: This one's fun from the delirious animated on-screen menus to the giddy voice-cast commentary on two of these 40 Nickelodeon cartoons. You can easily find the titles you want with episode synopses printed on the box's three individual DVD cases. (Three discs, 40 cartoons. Paramount.)

South Park Complete Third Season: The first three years of Comedy Central's unsparing adult satire are now on DVD, a format that makes the visuals look even more feverishly cheesy. The Season 3 release includes such classics as Kyle's "Jewbilee" camp visit, Jesus' millennium extravaganza and the warped holiday music of "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics." Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone discuss Y2K, what God looks like, Jennifer Aniston and other hot topics, all in ultra-frank terms. (Three discs, 17 episodes, includes Spanish-language track. Paramount.)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Hip-hop detectives Mickey D's-style, these three `burb-livin' roommates -- savvy Frylock, excuse-dropping Master Shake and childlike shape-shifter Meatwad -- find themselves avoided and abetted by neighbor Carl, a hairy, angry, pool-owning human. But that hardly describes the free-associating appeal of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim standby. Its attitudinal absurdities are an acquired taste. Those of us twisted enough to bite get 16 strange animation conglomerations here, along with guitar-laced commentary from creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. (Two discs, 16 episodes. Warner Bros.)

Sailor Moon season sets: Japanese anime first impressed many devotees in this wild 1992 adventure of an eighth-grade crybaby who teams with a mysterious cat to lead transformed schoolgirls against evil aliens. ADV's two uncut season sets, with English subtitles, reveal more adult depth and emotion behind the crazily careening tales, restoring nuances of death, romance and homosexuality. The DVDs' audio/video transfer quality isn't great. But it's the comedy/drama mix that keeps fans transfixed. (Two hard-boxed sets: Season 1 has 46 half-hours on eight discs; Season 2 has 42 episodes on eight discs. No extras. ADV.)

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