About two weeks ago (April 21st, 2016 for any future Internet archeologists who accidentally make my blog posthumously famous: thanks in advance, by the way) Nintendo released Star Fox Zero and an animated short to promote it. I ain’t writing about the short though—I will soon—but this review is about a fan animation that was released at the same time and took the Star Fox fandom by storm, and it’s appropriately titled A Fox in Space.
This fan animation is the love child of a man named Matthew Gafford. He had some help, but he did most of the voice work, the writing, and the animation alone. It’s appropriate—and entirely sensible—why the entire thing looks like a retro animation from the 1970s or early 1980s. That style gave him some speed, but this animation is by no means cheap in the visuals or the actual animation part. To make up for the lack of a large budget, Gafford made some smart stylistic choices.
Where lots of modern animation relies on exaggeration to convey emotion, A Fox in Space uses lots of subtle facial expressions to get the characters’ emotions and moods across to the audience. It’s easy to miss, but Wolf’s and Fox’s ears move according to their mood and emotional state. Gafford’s amazing voice talent also shines through. Not only does he provide most of the voices in the animation, but he makes each character sound unique and distinct.
The other major stylistic choice Gafford makes is color saturation. Due to being a one-man band, and once again in an effort to fit the style and probably save time, the backgrounds are just detailed enough to give a sense of what everything is. However, the different hanging hues in each setting lend to the retro look and feel while also helping to flesh out the atmosphere of the Lylat System.
The story it tells is a start, and just that. It’s a start to an obviously longer arc. This has me mildly worried because I’ve seen lots of projects online get started, but for some reason or another—be it the creators themselves or audience enthusiasm—they sputter out and just become another forgotten project to be consumed by the Internet’s bowls. It’s an interesting, briskly paced story, but the fact it ends on a cliffhanger and the nature of the Internet just makes me concerned. Gafford stated this is the first part of a series he will work on, and if his Patreon page is any indicator, he has the funding and time to make this project happen. I hope he’s able to. I’m looking forward to the next episode. This first episode is a love letter to a game series with a cult following and animation aficionados alike.
A Fox in Space. Dir. Matthew Gafford. Perf. Matthew Gafford. YouTube. 2016.
(You can watch the full animation below if you made it this far!)