Happy Tree Friends - Volumes 1 and 2 review by The Grim Ringler

For the uninitiated, there is no real way to convey the sheer maniacal joy something like Happy Tree Friends fills the viewer with. But then, to truly appreciate this gem of an internet cartoon series you must either be completely insane or just get a kick out of watching cute and cuddly cartoon animals disembowel one another.

Being that these are two DVDs worth of the short cartoons (each one not much longer than a minute and half save for a few that are a smidge longer) it’s not easy to review these two discs (don’t I say that about everything, haha). The cartoons come from a site that bears the same names as the DVD – Happy Tree Friends – and what the cartoons are is basically a subversion of the old-school cartoons that were so prevalent in children’s lit and on Saturday morning cartoons. The main characters are a group of desperately cute and obnoxiously brightly colored animals that range from bears, to squirrels, to a moose, to a mole, and on and on. Each cartoon begins with a seemingly innocuous setup – one to several of the HPFs partakes of some activity that seems to be, if nothing else, banal and generally safe (i.e. – a picnic, a campfire, mowing the lawn, playing at a park). Alas, something always happens to gum up the works and it isn’t long before there is some form of catastrophe that ends with intestines or eyeballs being pulled out of the unwitting victim. D’oh! The wonder and glory of the shorts are the absolutely gleeful way in which the creators dispatch their eternally regenerative (none of the characters is never really dead, in the best of Warner Brothers cartoon ways) cartoon characters in ways that would make the likes of Freddy and Jason blush. You can almost picture the creators laughing maniacally as they concoct another bizarre and cruel way to kill their cartoons off, always managing to come up with something even more outrageous in the next short.

These truly are not for everyone and are perhaps best watched either with a lot of friends or in short doses as, after a while, it does get a bit surreal watching this cartoon hyper-violence play out. Never do the creators let anything get too serious here though, and that can be seen in every facet of these beautifully produced discs. From the bright and inventive packaging to the beautiful menu screens, these are obviously labors of love. And again, you can tell this from the many, many features that are on each of the discs (each one featuring a separate season of their cartoons). You get not only all of the cartoons (mastered in surround sound!), but you also get commentaries on all the cartoons, which are almost as funny as the shorts themselves (it is obvious that these guys are having a lot of fun with this). You also get short interactive cartoons in which you get to pick the means of death for a certain character, you get bios, early animation tests, and on the second disc a pseudo-documentary about the men behind the madness and some extra holiday cartoon shorts. And each disc comes with an exclusive cartoon that was made just for the disc.

Both discs look and sound amazing and the second one, which I found at a local Best Buy, was only about twelve bucks. The first you can find on their website. Considering how these discs were produced essentially by the makers of the cartoons themselves and their parent company, these are really wonderfully put together DVDs and are as attractive as anything out there.

How do you describe the Happy Tree Friends when it’s all said and done? Imagine, if you will, if the cartoons of your youth were finally punished for the sins they’d committed on your psyche. If all those Smurfs and My Pretty Pony’s had been given their just desserts. If every happy, cute, incessant little cartoon animal you were force-fed as a kid by some marketing company hoping you’d buy their stuffed animals and products was finally given its comeuppance, and that is what the Happy Tree Friends is. Very funny, very gross, and as sickeningly addictive as anything I have seen on the ‘net (save for Homestarrunner), this is a must for anyone with a twisted sense of humor and a love for the bizarre. I can’t recommend this more highly.


10 out of 10 Jackasses
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