Happy Tree Friends-Volume 1: First Blood (2002)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Original Formula
Storyboard Comparisons-Tree Talk Activation, With Creators Commentary
Biographies-Character-Collect Them All
Bonus Episode-Special Prize Inside
Alternative Version-Pop Corn Video
Gallery-Assembly Required, With Creators Commentary
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 17:32 (Case: 140)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rhode Montijo
Kenn Navarro
Studio
Distributor
Mondo Mini Shows
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Aubrey Ankrum
Dana Belben
Warren Graff
Peter Herman
Rhode Montijo
Kenn Navarro
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music RJ Eleven
RJ Eleven
Jim Lively


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    To the uninitiated, Happy Tree Friends may simply look like a colourful and cute animated program for children, however nothing could be further from the truth. Try to imagine the cutesy playful nature of Miffy combined with the sadistic, violent humour of Itchy & Scratchy and you might be somewhere towards picturing this hilarious series. Each episode boasts razor sharp comic timing and lasts no longer than two minutes. There is no recognisable English dialogue in the soundtrack - only noises, verbal gestures and sound effects. Being a father of young kids myself and having to regularly endure repetitive, sterile children's programs ad infinitum, I found the amoral values and extreme violence within Happy Tree Friends to be a highly satisfying, refreshing change and very funny indeed.

    Besides the violently humorous aspects of the series, the individual characters are equally memorable and no doubt inspired by big studio animation of the late 1950s. My favourites are Handy, the Beaver tradesman with no arms from the elbows down and Shifty, a Squirrel who bears a striking resemblance to another famous animated Squirrel. There's also Flaky the dandruff inflicted Porcupine and Cuddles, the cute yellow Bunny who graces the DVD cover. Somehow while watching this show I manage to find hilarious parallels between my own existence and Pop & Cub - the poor worrying father who perishes over and over while trying to save his troublesome child from certain death.

    The total of 14 short episodes on this disc only equates to over 17 minutes of feature, the rest of the disc being comprised of some great extra material. Volume 3 of this series is already available on DVD in Region 1, so hopefully we'll see more of this great series in Region 4.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer of this animation is very sharp and clear, being of near reference quality. The transfer is presented in an aspect of 1.33:1, full frame.

    The level of detail and clarity within this animation is exceptional. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    The transfer is free of compression glitches and the like, and looks great from beginning to end. I noted a couple of examples of aliasing, resulting in some slightly jagged edges on occasion, which is to be expected given the sharpness inherent in the transfer. Because the animation is generated via a digital medium, there is no film artefacting to be concerned about.

    The animation is comprised of highly contrasting, rich colouring and clearly tries to emulate the cute, pastel-like palate of many children's shows. There are absolutely no issues with the quality of the colour rendering and there is no oversaturation to be seen whatsoever.

    There are no subtitle streams available on the disc, and to be honest there's no need for them.

    This disc is comprised of a single layer, and as such is void of any layer transitional pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one soundtrack provided; a very good stereo Linear PCM stream encoded at 1536Kb/s.

    As I stated above, there is no English dialogue per se, the characters communicating merely with cute grunts and verbal gestures - all of which are very pronounced and easy to discern in the mix. As with the comic timing, the audio sync is similarly razor sharp.

    The stereo soundtrack is made up of some very inventive sound design, utilising the full width of the stereo soundfield. Music and effects are crystal clear throughout.

    The score is primarily electronic, but very effective. Believe me when I say that this show has one of the most annoying themes you have ever heard, and it is played at the beginning and end of each episode, making for 28 times in total. Imagine Hampton the Hamster and Elvin Chipmunk sharing a hit of speed and collaborating on a piece of elevator music - this would be the result. After a few episodes you may be reaching for the mute button, or attacking your own ears with a power saw.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a pretty comprehensive collection of extra material, and should please anyone even vaguely interested in the show. None of the content on this disc is 16x9 enhanced.

Menu

    The menu page is subtly animated, however my Pioneer struggled with the animated page transitions.

Smoochies (4)

    Similar to those interactive electronic pets that were all the rage a few years ago, a character from the show sits in a window in the centre of the screen and responds to buttons that the viewer presses on the right of the screen. There are four Smoochies to choose from, each with a different theme; Original Cuddles, Happy Easter, Valentine's Day and Party Smoochie.

Original Formula (Pilot Episode) (0:34)

    Made in 1999 and titled Banjo Bonanza, this is effectively the pilot for the series.

Tree Talk Activation (Feature length storyboards with commentary)

    When selected, this feature plays the original sketches and storyboards alongside the main feature, with a commentary from the creators as a soundtrack. This is a very interesting insight into the making of the series and shows the creative process used to bring the characters to the screen.

Collect Them All (Character Biographies)

    Character bios and facts (some of them hilarious) are offered for each of the characters present in this collection of episodes. Some of the text is a little small and hard to read.

Special Prize Inside (Bonus Episode) (1.15)

    Another hilarious, but short bonus episode titled Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Popcorn Video (Alternate Version) (1:44)

    Very simply, this is an alternate version of the first episode on the disc, Spin Fun Knowin' Ya, superimposing a series of pop-up factoids during the episode, offering amazing bits of information.

Assembly Required (Gallery of conceptual artwork, with commentary) (36:05)

    An array of early artwork and sketches is here, covered by the same gents who participated in the earlier commentary effort. Some profanity is censored, which becomes a little irritating at times. We get to see some great characters who didn't make the cut this time around, my favourite being Buddhist Monkey.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 4 discs are almost identical, however the Region 1 audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, not PCM. Buy local, I think.

Summary

    Happy Tree Friends may not be to everyone's tastes, but if you've ever laughed out loud at the Coyote falling off a cliff or Elmer Fudd receiving a shovel to his face, then this could very well be up your alley.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is great.

    The extras are numerous and related to the feature, with plenty of repeat playability.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
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