Archives for June 26, 2019

The Bravest Knight – Incredibly Charming, Super Cute And Really Fun

The new series The Bravest Knight is breaking boundaries, featuring a household with two dads (Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew), making it one of the first children’s television series with an openly gay main character. Following the inspiring and perseverant former pumpkin farmer, Sir Cedric, now grown and married to the prince of his dreams, “The Bravest Knight” recounts personal tales of his journey. Sir Cedric shares his story with his adopted 10-year-old daughter Nia, on how he transformed from day-time farmer to full-fledged knight. Nia, who is training to become a brave knight herself, learns important values such as honor, justice and compassion; proving that knighthood is much more than slaying dragons. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B.  comments, “This show is incredibly charming, even though there are currently only five episodes available. It’s super cute and really fun.” Sahiba K. adds, “The Bravest Knight, directed by Shabnam Rezaei, is a perfect opportunity for younger audiences to learn important life lessons in adventurous ways! The fairytale setting, featuring knights and trolls, creates a fun and imaginative world for children to become immersed in. Each episode contains multiple messages that are explained as a short lesson at the end.” Will C. wraps it with, “The message of this series is summed up in the theme song: “Be the real you, be the true you, it’s the bravest thing you can do.” There are some positive messages about teamwork, caring for others and avoiding stereotypes.” See their full reviews below.

The Bravest Knight
By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

This show is incredibly charming, even though there are currently only five episodes available. It’s super cute and really fun.

The show follows a knight named Sir Cedric, who is retelling the story of how he became a knight to his daughter Nia, who wants to be a knight as well. The episodes focus on Cedric teaching Nia important morals and lessons about being a knight. While the main focus of the show seems to be teaching lessons, there is also an overarching story based on how Cedric became a knight.

The animation in this series is very simplistic, but very adorable. The style gives me the vibe of a children’s book. Which fits the fairy tale theme and overall tone. There really isn’t much else I have to say about the animation other than I really enjoy it.

Now arguably the most notable aspect of this show so far is the representation. On the surface it seems like a simple enough kids show, however I was excited to learn about the amazing diversity in the cast. I mentioned that Cedric has a daughter. Well it turns out that Cedric is married to another man and Nia is his adopted daughter. Not only that but Cedric’s husband Prince Andrew and their daughter are both people of color. While Andrew and Nia are the major examples of representation, there does appear to be themes of discrimination with the troll characters. Cedric’s companion on his quest is a troll named Grunt and there are two instances where other characters assume the worst or are rude to Grunt because he’s a troll. I think the theme of discrimination is presented really well and in a subtle way. I’m a firm believer that children are able to handle complicated subjects in media, so I always get kind of happy when I see media treating kids as smarter than most people give them credit for.

However, the representation is not all there is to this show. After all, this show is not mainly about the diversity. Although I must say, I think the characters so far are really fun and likeable. Nia is adorable and fun while Prince Andrew, who kind of plays the role of the straight man to balance out Nia and Cedric rounds out the central trio very nicely. Cedric is a bit of a basic protagonist but it’s clear he’ll develop as the series goes on, which is always a good sign.

I give this show 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. And episodes are currently premiering on Hulu.

The Bravest Knight

By Sahiba Dogra, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

The Bravest Knight, directed by Shabnam Rezaei, is a perfect opportunity for younger audiences to learn important life lessons in adventurous ways! The fairytale setting, featuring knights and trolls, creates a fun and imaginative world for children to become immersed in. Each episode contains multiple messages that are explained as a short lesson at the end.

The story follows Nia (Storm Reid), a “not-yet-knight,” who strives to learn the skills to become a real knight. Her father, Sir Cedric (T.R Knight) teaches her lessons that are necessary to achieve knighthood. Through his tutelage, Cedric tells Nia stories of his own childhood with his best friend Grunt (Chance Hurstfield). These stories often follow tales of when Sir Cedric was a “not-yet-knight” and the adventures he faced.

The animation made me feel as if I was in a pop-up fairytale book. In the beginning of each episode, trees or hills appear to move in such a way that the focus on Nia or their home becomes clear. The animation resembles the way that pop-up story books become clear when the page flips. This illusion continues throughout the episode as the characters are drawn simplistically. However, the background is more detailed with a wide variety of colors and ornamentation wherever Cedric and Nia’s adventures take them.

My favorite part is how there is an overarching story that continues throughout several episodes. In Cedric’s stories, young Cedric is determined to help Grunt find the troll who ousted Grunt from his bridge. Every episode contains a clue that brings them closer to achieving this goal. This form of storytelling intrigued me and made me want to watch the next episode. In contrast, there are elements of the screenplay that made me lose interest at times. Grunt and Nia have personalities that separate them from the other characters in the show. Cedric, the main character, lacks such a personality and he is less compelling to watch. Nevertheless, Grunt and Nia’s characters make up for this downside and it will not be noticed by younger audiences.

The messages of the series are about not giving up and that things are not always what they seem. I give The Bravest Knight 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 8. Be sure to check out The Bravest Knight on Hulu when it launches June 21, 2019.

The Bravest Knight

By Will Chuhta, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

The Bravest Knight is a sweet and fun animated series for younger kids. Each 12 minute episode is funny and entertaining and held my interest even though I’m a little older than the target audience.

The Bravest Knight is about Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew and their adopted daughter Nia. Nia really wants to be a knight like her dad, each episode has a story Sir Cedric tells her about when he was also a “not-yet knight.” Young Cedric has a troll friend named Grunt who accompanies him on his adventures. Together, they save people from a witch, enter a jousting tournament and escape a giant’s vault in the clouds.

My favorite part of this show is the character Grunt, the troll. He gets the best lines and got a few laughs out of me. The animation uses nice colors that will appeal to kids and the music really fits the style of the show. The voice actors, both young and old, are great at bringing their characters to life.

The message of this series is summed up in the theme song: “Be the real you, be the true you, it’s the bravest thing you can do.” There are some positive messages about teamwork, caring for others and avoiding stereotypes. There’s a bearded fairy named Lucy who replies that names belong to people, not genders, when Grunt the troll asks if he has a girl’s name.

I give this series 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. Adults probably won’t mind watching it with their kids if they ask them to. The Bravest Knight is available for streaming on Hulu starting June 21, 2019.

Whisper of the Heart – Perfect for Studio Ghibli Fans! Outstanding Animation, Romantic Story

Based on the manga with the same title, this animated film follows Shizuku, an inquisitive young girl and a voracious reader, who longs to be a writer when she grows up. One day she notices that all of her library books have previously been taken out by one Seiji Amasawa. Amid chasing after a large cat, befriending an eccentric antiques dealer and writing her first novel, Shizuku aims to find this mysterious boy who may well be her soul mate. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “Whisper of the Heart is a soulful, intimate look at the trials and tribulations of adolescence and a worthy addition to Studio Ghibli’s film catalog. This is the next film in the Ghibli Fest, a series of Fathom Events returning Studio Ghibli’s films to the cinemas.” Nathalia J. adds, “This 1995 romantic, anime-animated film takes you through the wild high school life of Shizuku. As this film develops, you get see the perspective of Shizuku being a best friend, daughter, sister, high schooler and girlfriend.” Jordan M. wraps it up with, “This film has a very engaging plot and heartwarming characters that audiences will fall in love with. Also, this film is perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli films. like myself. This film has outstanding animation that perfectly captures the signature style of the Studio Ghibli films. The artwork really comes alive in the scenes at the antique shop.” See their full reviews below.

Whisper of the Heart

Benjamin Price, Kids First! Film Critic

Whisper of the Heart is a soulful, intimate look at the trials and tribulations of adolescence and a worthy addition to Studio Ghibli’s film catalog. This is the next film in the Ghibli Fest, a series of Fathom Events returning Studio Ghibli’s films to the cinemas. Whisper of the Heart is director Yoshifumi Kondō’s directorial debut and unfortunately, his only film.

This film follows Shizuku, an imaginative aspiring teenage writer who enjoys reading books and writing song lyrics. She spends her time hanging out with her best friend Yuko. The school year begins and she has an unfortunate series of encounters with a mysterious fellow student. She learns that this name is Seiji and he wants to build violins. The pair bond in an antique store and soon fall in love.They encourage each other to elevate their craft. Seiji leaves to practice building violins in Italy and Shizuku challenges herself to write a story about a prominent antique statue called The Baron, belonging to Seiji’s grandpa, to improve her writing.

Studio Ghibli mastermind Hayao Miyazaki has directed some excellent animated films, but above all, he’s a fantastic storyteller. Every time we get a glimpse at Shizuku’s story, the film gains a sudden magic and wonder. The romantic dialogue between Seiji and Shizuku is more often than not, genuine and sweet. This story has very few of the fantastical characters and worlds that have been a mainstay for a lot of Miyazaki’s other work. Seeing his characters grow firmly in reality shows a different side of his storytelling abilities.

Something I admire about nearly all of Ghibli’s work is that, even when characters are involved in pursuits of mythical proportions, they always bring it back to the human elements of the story. The same goes for this film, although with a more realistic plot. There are some particularly great shots of the city below Shizuku’s town that demonstrate Ghibli’s skill with bringing worlds to life on the big screen.

If you enjoy the work of Studio Ghibli,  in Whisper of the Heart there are Easter Eggs pointing to films like Porco Rosso and My Neighbor Totoro. If you enjoy this film, check out The Cat’s Return, which stars the protagonist of Shizuku’s story, The Baron. I recommend Whisper of The Heart for ages 10 to 18, and adults. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Fans of Miyazaki will enjoy seeing a new side of his storytelling onscreen.

Whisper of the Heart

By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This 1995 romantic, anime-animated film takes you through the wild high school life of Shizuku. As this film develops, you get see the perspective of Shizuku being a best friend, daughter, sister, high schooler and girlfriend. This dramatic film was written by Hayao Miyazaki, Aoi Hiragi, Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt and released through Studio Ghibli.

The storyline follows Shizuku and Seiji Amasawa, her fellow classmate, and many more. Their adventure begins with Shizuku’s plan to read 20 books before the end of her week. This plan leads to having to explore for a particular person who seems to pop up in every aspect of Shizuku’s life. This search causes Shizuku to get distracted from studying for her high school exams. As this film develops, the exploration begins to seem more meaningful.

The lead characters are Shizuku Tsukkisima (Yokko Honno),  Seiji Anasawa ( Isley Takahashe) and The Baron ( Shigeru Tsuyuguchi). My favorite character is Shizuku Tsukkisima, not only because she’s the protagonist, but because she cares about others. She always puts others before herself, and thinks about their sensitivity. Another thing I love about Shizuku is, when she wants something, she will do whatever it takes to achieve or accomplish whatever it is.

My favorite scene is when Shizuku’s teachers inform her she has a male visitor and he emphasizes the word “male” in front of her class. She steps outside and talks to him on the roof and her classmates follow discreetly, then Shizuku notices and yells “Hello?”

This film shares an important message, which is to be brave and keep on trying even through hard times.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15, as well as adults. This film plays July 1 and 2 at theaters nationwide through Fathom Events. Check it out. 

Whisper of the Heart
Jordan Millar, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12


This year GKIDS and Fathom Events are back with Studio Ghibli Fest 2019 and the next film in theaters is Whisper of the Heart. Directed in 1995 by Yoshifumi Kondō and written by Hayao Miyazaki, it is a touching yet bittersweet animated film that deals with the realities of growing up.

It tells the story of a curious teenage girl named Shizuku, who is both an avid reader and an aspiring writer. During her many visits to the library, Shizuku discovers that the books she has been reading have all been previously checked out by a mysterious boy named Seiji Amasawa, voiced by Issey Takahasi. Soon enough, she figures out that Seiji is a boy at her school, who she believes is irritating and rude. One day, when Shizuku sees a cat riding on a train, she decides to follow it, leading her to a whimsical antique shop owned by Shiro Nishi, with a magical cat statue called “The Baron” inside. Later on at the shop, Shizuku gets to know Seiji, learning that he dreams of becoming a master violin maker. Both he and the Baron motivate Shizuku to listen to the whisper of her heart and follow the dreams of her own.

This film has a very engaging plot and heartwarming characters that audiences will fall in love with. Also, this film is perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli films. like myself. This film has outstanding animation that perfectly captures the signature style of the Studio Ghibli films. The artwork really comes alive in the scenes at the antique shop. The film score, composed by Yuji Nomi, include references to the John Denver song “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which is a big part of the movie.

Personally, I enjoy the part where Shizuku first dislikes Seiji, because it’s a funny hint to the audience that shows that she actually really likes Seiji. Whisper of the Heart is very different compared to the other works of Studio Ghibli, because its characters encounter real-life situations that most teens and adults can relate to, such as first love and pursuing your passion in life.

It teaches audiences that, even when you don’t believe it, dreams do indeed come true. Regardless of how old you are, everyone can take something away as you watch the characters experience everyday issues.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, as well as adults. You can see it in theaters on July 1 and 2, 2019 through Fathom Events. 

Sonic Boom, Go Team Sonic! – Be Prepared for Numerous Wild Adventures

It’s a Sonic you haven’t seen before — an ensemble comedy that pokes fun at action-adventure storytelling, but still manages to deliver plenty of adrenaline! Wherever he goes and whatever he’s up against, Sonic the Hedgehog is aided by his sidekick, Tails, and his friends Knuckles, Amy, and Sticks and, of course, attacked by his arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman. On this action-packed DVD, join Sonic and the gang as they accept a dare from Dr. Eggman. Tag along with Sonic and Knuckles as they enter a game show. And find out what happens when Sonic’s status as the town’s biggest hero is threatened. And so much more! “I like the graphics and the music is intense.  The voice-overs are so cool, especially because it’s the first time I hear Sonic and his friends talk.  They do not talk in the video game, rather than saying “Oh Yeah!”  Each episode is funny and fun to watch, because they are short, so it keeps your attention the whole time.”  Nathalia J. adds, “On this action-packed DVD, you get to tag along with Sonic the Hedgehog and his pals as they escape from the evil enemies, fight for justice, work together as a team, defeat evil and so much more.” Lukas L. wraps it with, “In every episode, there is a funny and creative conflict with one of the characters and their band of friends come together to help them solve it with the main leader Sonic. There is a fully developed plot and each of the characters have their own quirky personality.” See their full reviews below.

Sonic Boom, Go Team Sonic!
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

I love this DVD.  I love any show that has to do with my favorite childhood game characters.  In this case, the DVD is about Sonic, a super fast, blue hedgehog and his friends.

This DVD includes eight episodes and a bonus episode from Season 2, “If You Build it They Will Race“.  It also gives you a choice to watch the episodes in English or Spanish.  Each episode is approximately ten minutes with a total of 90 minutes of fun.  In every episode, Sonic and his friends -Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Sticks – come together to stop crimes against their number one enemy, Dr. Eggman.  Dr. Eggman is an evil scientist who wants to destroy Sonic and his crew.  In every episode something evil happens to Sonic and his friends, but they always manage to save the day.

My favorite episode is “Counter Productive” because it is about Sonic’s friend, Knuckles, fighting a giant robot.  This archaeologist named Charlie meets Knuckles and, from there on, Knuckles decides to help him with his work.  At one point, Knuckles becomes a bit annoying because, instead of helping Charlie, he interrupts his work by messing it up. Knuckles and Charlie do not get along, to the point that Charlie constructs a giant robot to fight big, red Knuckles.  Of course, I am not going to tell you who wins the fight, because you need to watch this cool DVD to find out.

I like the graphics and the music is intense.  The voice-overs are so cool, especially because it’s the first time I hear Sonic and his friends talk.  They do not talk in the video game, rather than saying “Oh Yeah!”  Each episode is funny and fun to watch, because they are short, so it keeps your attention the whole time.  I got to see a sneak peek of the first episode of Season 2.  I like how the bonus episode of Season 2 plays the theme song from the “Knight Rider” show.

The message of this DVD is “team work makes the dream work.”  When Sonic and his friends work as a team, they accomplish their mission by defeating the bad guy, Mr. Eggman.

I rate Sonic Boom, Go Team Sonic! 5 out of 5 stars, because I enjoyed watching Sonic and his friends in a cartoon show, besides playing the game. I recommend this for ages 7 to 18 because teenagers will also enjoy watching this DVD.  The DVD is available now so look for it.  Looking forward to watch Sonic Boom Season 2

Sonic Boom: Go Team Sonic
By Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Go Team Sonic! This DVD includes eight Sonic-Powered episodes that will take you on numerous wild adventures alongside Sonic the Hedgehog and his pals. This 90 minute DVD also includes a bonus episode. How fun is that!  On this action-packed DVD, you get to tag along with Sonic the Hedgehog and his pals as they escape from the evil enemies, fight for justice, work together as a team, defeat evil and so much more.

This DVD follows Sonic the hedgehog aided by his sidekick, Tails and his friends Knuckles, Amy and Sticks. Each episode focuses on a new wild adventure as the whole gang fights their evil arch nemesis, Dr. Eggman. As each action-packed episode goes along, you find out how Sonic’s status as the town’s biggest hero is threatened. Not only do you get to fight alongside the leaders, you get to find out what life is like being a hero.

The lead characters are Sonic the Hedgehog, his sidekick Amy, Tails, Knuckles and Dr. Eggman. My favorite character is, without-a-doubt, Amy because she’s very outspoken, brave, fearless and powerful. What I love most about Amy is the fact that she brings excitement to each episode, whether it’s through her ambition to fight, her unexpected plans or even the real truth (which always ends up coming out of Amy’s mouth).

My favorite episode on this DVD is Episode 4, “Fuzzy Puppy Buddies”. I enjoyed this episode more than others, because it has a surprising twist when one of Sonic’s pals becomes Fuzzy Puppy Buddies with their enemies. It brings so much suspense to the table.

There is no bad language in this DVD, no risky actions that younger kids might try to imitate. This film shares an important message about always helping a friend in need.

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 16, as well adults. The DVD is available now so, make sure to check it out!

Sonic Boom: Go Team Sonic
By Lukas Loza, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 12

I really enjoyed watching the DVD Sonic Boom: Go Team Sonic, because the characters are super fun. There are a couple of things I found somewhat distracting such as the mouthing of the characters which is out of sync and the characters seem a bit bland, which detracts from the show.

Sonic Boom: Go Team Sonic is a collection of nine episodes from the computer animated Sonic Boom TV series produced by Sega of America and Technicolor Animation Productions based on the video game Sonic the Hedgehog. It stars Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends. In every episode, there is a funny and creative conflict with one of the characters and their band of friends come together to help them solve it with the main leader Sonic. There is a fully developed plot and each of the characters have their own quirky personality.

This series stars Robert Craig Smith voicing Sonic the Hedgehog. His friends are voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey (fun fact, she is the first female to ever voice the character Tails), Cindy Robinson and Travis Willingham. It is created by Evan Baily, Donna Friedman and Sadrine Nguyen. Their voices have distinct personalities, so the lip synch issue is not too noticeable. The characters are very well constructed and you really see their personalities come through. However, the animation gives them very blank expressions, which distracts from what is actually going on.

This series is entertaining and doesn’t have a great moral message, except reinforcing the concept of friendship and solidarity.

I would give this series 3 out of 5 stars with an appealing age range of 5 to 8 years old and you can find this on DVD and at the KIDS FIRST! Film festival.