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Nintendo Video Expands Animation Programming with 5 New Series

Nintendo launched their free Nintendo Video app in 2011 to provide exclusive video content for owners of their portable Nintendo 3DS console. Over the past couple years, they’ve experimented with different types of short form content, including plenty of animation. Last Thursday, Nintendo announced a slate of five new animated series which represents one of their most ambitious attempts yet to program the Nintendo Video app.

The five new series include a couple based on Nintendo game franchises as well as a couple produced by Frederator Studios’ online channel Cartoon Hangover:

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Misadventures of Link: This original series of comedic shorts shows Link, the series’ star, in a new and hysterical light. His surroundings will be familiar to fans of the series, since the shorts are based on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD game for the Wii U console.
  • Pikmin Nature Documentaries: These “nature documentaries” explore the wonderful world of the tiny Pikmin. The animations, highlighted by dramatic voiceover work, are a tongue-in-cheek take on safari nature shows.
  • Bravest Warriors: The latest hit show created by Pendleton Ward, the mind behind Adventure Time, follows four teenage heroes-for-hire as they warp through galaxies to save adorable aliens and their worlds using the power of their emotions. The series is produced by Frederator Studios and launched on the Cartoon Hangover channel on YouTube. New episodes of Bravest Warriors will appear every Friday on Nintendo Video.
  • Wildheart Riukiu: This new series of 3D shorts comes from the creator of Meat or Die, which has already amassed more than 5 million views on Nintendo Video. Wildheart Riukiu incorporates charming 16-bit graphics with some not-so-charming, but hilarious, characters. Think ninja puppets.
  • Bee and PuppyCat: A Cartoon Hangover Shorts fan favorite, this two-part series by Natasha Allegri follows Bee, an out-of-work 20-something who has a life-changing collision with a mysterious creature she names PuppyCat.

People who download the Nintendo Video application automatically receive four new shorts on their device every week. Unlike typical Internet video, the Nintendo app doesn’t archive content, which encourages regular viewing.

I’m told by people at Nintendo that the app has hundreds of thousands of weekly users, and because there are only a handful of videos on the app at any given time, each video receives wide exposure. Not to mention that the app has a desirable and savvy viewing audience that is more than likely to be receptive to new characters and story concepts. It sounds like it has the potential to turn into a promising new platform for developing and launching animated properties should Nintendo push it in that direction.

  • SarahJesness

    Nintendo Video is pretty cool. Any word on when these airings will start? I’d like to catch Bravest Warriors and I’ve been meaning to check out Bee and Puppycat.

    • Mike

      They’ve already started! I know at least Bravest Warriors is on there now, and possibly Bee also. Bravest Warriors, however, is beginning at the very start of the series, while it’s already in its second season on YouTube. I’d honestly suggest just watching them there–the shorts are in higher video quality than on the 3DS.

  • hash

    I just watched all the videos on my 3ds (except for Pikmin it wasnt there). If you dont have a 3ds dont worry youre not missing out. The legend of zelda cartoon is essentially gameplay footage from the hd remake edited together to tell an unfunny gag. Wildheart Riukiu was interesting but not really that entertaining. The Frederator shorts are exactly the same thing you find online, just with a lower resolution.

    The only exciting thing about it is the Frederator cartoons will gain more exposure with their target audience.

  • Fingleberry

    As much as I love Nintendo, I don’t see Nintendo Video as anything nothing more than just a platform for Nintendo to advertise its games (the Pikmin and WW videos to advertise the recent wiiu releases). That being said I’ll look forward to them, the Kid Icarus ones were pretty good.

  • Mike

    I can get behind anything that gives more exposure to Bravest Warriors.

  • James Fox

    What? No Dinosaur Office?

  • Dana B

    I thought I clicked on GoNintendo as soon as I saw the Wind Waker art!

    I’ve seen the misadventures of Link short and it’s your “G-mod” animation(pre-made models animated freely by anyone) and I expect the Pikmin one to be the same.
    Bravest Warriors and PuppyCat are just as they are with no 3D popping out at ya, which takes the fun outta watch it on the 3DS.
    Wildheart was very fun to watch. I got a kick outta the 16-bit backgrounds and character designs.

    I honestly don’t watch Nintendo Video that much(since I brought a 3DS with the intention of playing games), it’s fun to see these different shows and shorts when you need to give your thumbs a break. I just hope they get more original series instead of posting stuff like from Cartoon Hangover.

    Bit off topic here, but I’m still surprised I haven’t seen 3D movies offered on the system yet. I think that would be a real game changer(no pun intended) since it’s glasses-free and portable. What kid wouldn’t want that?

  • anon

    can someone clarify why there is a kickstarter for bee and puppycat? not only do I find it strange that Frederator is asking fans to fund the show for them, seeing as they’re a company capable of funding shorts and not an independent artist, but it looks like the show has a platform on this already? What?

    • Lili

      I’ve been wondering this too… It rubs me the wrong way a bit and I want to understand… Why can’t Frederator handle the production? And have they not tried pitching to a network? Is it because they don’t want to give up complete creative control?

      • Why pitch it to a network if it already has a fan base on YouTube? Why compromise the quality of the piece if you already know the passion of the fans would be able to keep the series afloat. If it got picked up by a network, A.) we likely wouldn’t see it in nearly 2 years, B.) the product will be a lot different than the short we saw on YouTube and C.) the current series already is massively popular as a web show, why take that away? Sure it could likely do well on a channel like Adult Swim but it’s already working wonders as a web series.

        • SarahJesness

          This. Networks have money but they also have the power. You can’t really sign with a network and expect to do the show 100% your way. Networks can come with a lot of other issues as well, they decide if the show continues. If Frederator can get all the money they need from Kickstarter, and retain complete creative control, why would they want to sign with a network right away?

        • Lili

          So “more money” would be the short answer*

          *Not that there’s anything wrong with that

    • Honestly, there isn’t really much money in YouTube videos. There’s enough for places like College Humor and Machinima to make things with a relatively low budget banking on a video to hit millions of views but it would be impossible to fund anything with the production quality of Cartoon Hangover’s current line of videos on the fractions of a cent the ad revenue on each view will bring.

      They were able to start off of funding from Google’s own channel initiative to grow but now they need to find a way to make the channel financially viable and Kickstarter is perhaps the only way. Sales of shirts can only really go so far.

    • SarahJesness

      You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s a ton of money in online shorts. It might be easy to make a profit if you’re reviewing video games or movies, indeed, there are people who make a living on that, but if you want to make something with a higher production budget and quality, that’s a bit more difficult.

      I don’t see what’s wrong with asking fans to help fund the show. I mean, doesn’t money drive the survival of any work? If you want to watch a movie, you’re usually going to be paying either for a ticket, a DVD, or an online purchase/rental. TV, while you might not be paying the creators of the show, you are paying in your time, with the ads. Again, online ads don’t really make as much money, and what’s more, online programs typically don’t have as many ads as TV ones.

      I recently gave some money to a Kickstarter to have a video game made. The Kickstarter was being run by an established, fairly successful game studio, so some people were wondering why the studio was using Kickstarter. The studio in question mostly makes money by creating licensed games, and original games are side projects. Frederator might have some success, but it’s still a small studio that doesn’t have much in the way of profit margins (yet). Kickstarter allows them and other small creators to do riskier, more ambitious projects when there’s a demand for ’em.

    • Sat

      Sometimes I wonder if Bravest Warriors is profitable, it’s too well made compared to what is usually on YouTube. Though I like to think that they’re not doing it for the money but because cartoons.

      • Jamal Pollack

        you would be surprised how much money goes into YouTube videos (I’m talking about the big youtubers).

        also they sell merchandise like comics, shirts, toys, plus the money from the videos them selves. I’m almost certain that it’s profitable.

    • jmahon

      …did we just get confirmation that Nintendo is willing to fund Bee and Puppycat and that the kickstarter is now unnecessary??

      This is fantastic news. It was pretty close and was probably going to make it, but this is AMAZING. Frederator is one of the only studios I’d trust with making a Zelda series too. I’m excited!

      • Mike

        Unfortunately, the Zelda and Pikmin series are Nintendo-produced–and if the first Zelda entry is any indication, I’m not expecting much from them. Frederator could certainly do something great with them though!

      • Kris Kail

        Nintendo is willing to distribute Bee and Puppycat, I didn’t read anything about them producing it.

    • M Rahman

      “We know what you’re thinking, and you’re right; this is a lot of money for a handful of cartoons. To make a television-quality production, though, isn’t cheap, and it takes a lot longer than most of us would like, too. Here’s why we’re asking for $600,000.

      Bee and PuppyCat, like most of your favorite cartoons, will be “traditionally animated,” which means that each element is drawn by hand. It is time – and labor – intensive.

      Each cartoon’s pre-production stage will consist of writing, storyboarding, casting and recording (in a top-of-the-line audio production facility), creating an animatic (shooting the storyboard with the final recorded dialogue), designing (backgrounds, characters, props, effects), coloring (of those models, effects, backgrounds, props, etc), and timing (which requires the director to go frame by frame creating exposure sheets). There will be as many as 25 cast- and crew-members on pre-production side alone.

      After pre-production, we’ll send all those assets to an international studio where dozens of artists will draw every element for every frame, layout, key pose, animate, in-between, ink and paint, and, finally, composite. The animation then returns to sunny Burbank, CA, where Natasha and her team will give everything a good look and recommend changes. The overseas studio will make those changes and, after a little back and forth, will deliver the final animation.”

  • SarahJesness

    Admittedly I am a little confused that Bravest Warriors is being put on Nintendo Video. Nintendo markets their consoles as very family and kid friendly. In fact, the spotpass functionality on Swapnote (which allows you to exchange messages and photos with people on your friend list) was recently disabled out of concern of inappropriate material being traded to and from minors.

    And Bravest Warriors isn’t really child friendly. I wonder if this Nintendo’s attempt to cater to older players?

    Ah well. Checked out the first Bee and Puppycat episode. I really liked it! Can’t wait for the next ones.

  • They’re likely getting some money from Nintendo, I know the Dinosaur Office videos from College Humor had a higher budget than their usual animated faire but I don’t think any kickback Frederator is getting from Nintendo would make that much of a significant dent in how much it costs to produce TV-quality animation for the web.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I guess this means Link may get a ‘voice’. Be prepared for the backlash!

  • truteal

    Pikmin Nature Documentaries intrigues me, the rest just depress me