As the way in which many of us were indoctrinated into a life of viewing, animation can be the most accessible form of cinema, but the work of Michel Ocelot still takes some adjustment.

As the way in which many of us were indoctrinated into a life of viewing, animation can be the most accessible form of cinema, but the work of Michel Ocelot still takes some adjustment.

Working in 3-D computer animation for the first time, the director of Kirikou and the Sorceress and its sequel unveils in his latest, Azur & Asmar, a disarming look that's at once painted and pixilated, lifelike and artificial.

His self-created fable follows brothers of the spirit: almost blindingly blond and blue-eyed Azur and Asmar, dark-skinned like his mother, the nurse who raised them both. Harshly separated as youth, they're reunited by fate on a quest to free a spellbound fairy that offers lessons in tolerance and the power of knowledge.

The tale moves at a slower pace than kids are accustomed to, and adults may find it too simplistic. On the other hand, in Ocelot's favor are two irresistible qualities: his singularly delightful way of animating children and, following the story's move to an unnamed Middle Eastern locale, imagery that's less eye candy and more eye tiramisu - layered, rich yet light, and totally delicious.