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Not what I was expecting...
on 11 July 2007
Having read the comics and seen the film, I can safely say that the cartoon isn't quite what I was expecting. But in another way, I guess it was. In the same way that the Real Ghostbusters cartoon took the source material of the film and skewed it, giving Egon a Billy Idol hairdo, and gave Venkman the voice of Garfield (ironically, Lorenzo Music being replaced by Bill Murray as the voice of the big screen Garfield) so this cartoon seems to be based on the film, rather than the comics (which is fair enough, I guess), but with designs and alterations that fit a more kid-friendly demographic.
I can't quite understand why, when they go with such a strong stylisation of the characters, they didn't simply adopt Mignola's designs. Or maybe I do, the swamping with atmospheric shadows that is Mignola's trademark probably wouldn't come off that well and the design on Liz Sherman makes her look even younger than she did in the film presumably to make her the identification point for kids. Except that she is so aggressive and sullen it's hard to like her. I could accept that, but for a cartoon film, the animation doesn't stand up to what you get in the average episode of Futurama. It isn't very smooth and took me out of the narrative at a couple of points.
The story is pretty good, and standard Hellboy stuff, and the ending a bit different to what you'd usually get in American cartoons. Ron Perlman continues to be the perfect voice for Hellboy and it's nice to see Kate (as portrayed by Peri Gilpin) making her debut outside the comics. Japanese demons threaten to destroy the world and Hellboy wanders through a Japanese dream world of myths and folklore. It's not been done in the comics and is good fun. But it does lack the doomladen atmosphere of the comics and isn't as stylish as the live action film.
So to sum up, it wasn't what I was expecting, and I guess it's the sort of thing where had it been likely to be on telly I would have just watched it for free rather than shelling out for the DVD. But I still think it has entertainment value. But please please please people that animated it, try a bit harder next time.