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2013, 90 min, USA, Dir: Lawrence Shapiro

If you bumped into John DiMaggio or Tom Kenny in the street, you might not recognize him - until he opened his mouth and you realized that you were talking to Bender from “Futurama” or SpongeBob SquarePants. Since the days of radio, when actors created characters solely through speech, the voice-over industry has grown exponentially, and this new documentary pulls back the curtain to reveal the history and craft of these unsung heroes, the men and women behind some of your favorite animated characters.

2001, Sony Pictures, 120 min, Japan, Dir: Shinichiro Watanabe

This is anime that's as far from Miyazaki as Hitchcock is from Chaplin, with all the emotion and visceral impact of any great live-action film. Set on a terraformed Mars, in a city that blends aspects of Manhattan, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Cairo and Paris, COWBOY BEBOP mixes past and future machinery, architecture and graphics with urban realism - in a story that's part film noir, part spaghetti Western and part HK actioner. Beautifully voiced, the script and characters entirely live up to the amazing design by Shiho Takeuchi. Special mention must be made of the jazzy, bluesy, rock score by Japanese composer Yoko Kanno - like the soundtrack of the best ’70s cop show never made. In Japanese with English subtitles.

2011, 136 min, Japan, Dir: Koji Masunari

With an intergalactic cast of thousands, director Koji Masunari’s colorfully explosive debut feature sets a new high for visual spectacle and sheer inventiveness of character design. When Amane and her older cousin Natsuki find an injured dog in the woods, they discover that he is not a dog at all, but Pochi, an alien botanist sent to Earth to track down a rare and powerful plant. Before long, Pochi has whisked the kids away to a space colony on the dark side of the moon, an interstellar gathering place of humorous alien creatures, jellyfish spaceships, dragon trains, and – if that weren’t enough – a theme song from UK pop anomaly Susan Boyle. Recommended ages: 7 and up.

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