Episode One-derland (Cartoons) ATOM – Alpha Teens on Machines

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Plot: Five teens are recruited by an insanely rich man to test out his various high-tech vehicles. When a prison break occurs, releasing a man named Alexander Paine, the five, especially their leader Axel Manning, take it upon themselves to pursue him since he supposedly killed Axel’s father over a decade ago.

Breakdown: This show is really silly…..but kinda fun?

It kept going on and off me. I couldn’t really get a good lock on how I felt about this show. The premise is simple; five strangers are selected via weird challenge show to test out the latest tech creations of a man named Janus Lee, a man so rich he basically owns the entire city. After a prison break results in the release of a man that Axel has a grudge against, they group up together to stop him. When they find they have failed, they vow to stop him no matter what.

I was going to complain that this seemed like half a story, and it is because it’s a two-parter. But even as a part-one this episode’s second half seems rushed and weird.

I really believe they spent too much time focusing on the game show, especially considering that the show was basically fake. They could’ve started out the episode with introductions to the characters, have them be new recruits to be testers for Lee’s creations simply because they’re X-TREEM and cut a good five minutes down for more exploration. I don’t know what happens in episode two, but I really believe it would work as a standalone.

Speaking of the second half, oh god. First off, just to get this out of the way, COPS? Hellooooo? Rampant escaped convict involved in a really destructive car chase? Kidnaps the guy following him? Yoohoo? Are you there?

Then………I really thought this show would just be focused on X-TREEM sports and cool vehicles and doing crime fighting stuff with that. For the most part, yeah, that’s right, but then…..they introduce magic martial arts.

I’m not kidding even a little. The leader, Axel, because leaders always get the best stuff, knows a martial art called Jo-Lan which makes his eyes glow and allows him to shoot Kamehameha waves or pseudo-Hadokens, if you will, from his hands. Reading the wiki, this martial art only gets more insane and more like arcade game and DBZ fare.

It just does not fit. I thought this universe was just ours in the fairly distant future, then you throw magic martial arts in the mix? You didn’t think your premise was strong enough on its own with cool machines? Hell, the team is called Alpha Teens on MACHINES. Why do you need to bring magic martial arts into it?

At the end, the bad guy gets away and Hawk suddenly leaves because he doesn’t want to damage his precious face while chasing baddies even though he decided to help Axel this time of his own free will, even without knowing the connection between the two of them, and the departure is like a cliffhanger. Gee, wonder if he’ll come back in the next episode.

The characters are pretty much cutouts and stereotypes. Axel, the leader, is brave, responsible, smart, and of course has the most clichĂ© backstory of ‘the villain killed my father. REVENGE!!’ That coupled with the magic martial arts out of nowhere makes this show kinda smell B-Movie-ish

Then you have Hawk, a complete ego-maniac, but one of those ones who is so full of himself and kinda dumb that he doesn’t even have time to be a typical jackass most of the time.

Shark is comic relief and a surfer dude.

Lioness is the girl and man she blinds you with ‘I AM THE GIRL OF THIS GROUP OF X-TREEM TEENS FIGHTING CRIME.’ She’s hot, she can fight though that doesn’t seem to matter much because she still has no effect in her one lone fight and needs to be rescued in some way afterward, and because she’s a lone female in a group of males, she’s so obviously the projected love interest.

So far she has three of the four guys hitting on her, even though, like so many shows before it, it’s so obvious that she’s going to fall for the main guy. They even have the dumb ‘falling on each other’ trope. Oh and if you want to get a good idea of her girlness, her Wikia page reports that her biggest fear is getting fat. Yup.

To be fair, she can seemingly take care of herself and has a good head on her shoulders, but she just matches up so perfectly with her character archetype that it’s appallingly obvious. Hope she gets better with this down the line.

King is a big tough strong guy who is also noble.

Janus Lee is a bit of a doofus for a tech genius with 6000 patents, but seems nice enough.

Alexander Paine is a very very very typical bad guy. Big and muscular, gruff voice, brute with intelligence etc.

No one really stands out or impresses me, though Hawk kinda annoys me.

This show is also directed awkwardly. It has anime-isms like Totally Spies did, though to a lesser degree. They have splitscreens sometimes for no reason. And the most awkward of all, they have this insanely annoying habit of halting a shot, putting a colored filter over it and then overlaying the characters onto that frozen shot while animating what they’re currently doing.

Example, Axel gets Paine to the ground and Paine pulls a laser gun thing on him. You can imagine how this scene would normally be shot quite well, right? In ATOM, they freeze on the shot of Axel being surprised, put a blue filter on it, then overlay the gun on the shot from a different angle and animate Paine getting up in the same manner over the still shot before returning to normal animation. It’s awkward, adds nothing, is very distracting and sometimes even makes scenes confusing. That scene with the gun didn’t show the gun for a good five seconds so I was confused as hell why he was surprised.

The animation itself is merely passable. Despite having a few anime-isms, the show is really not anime style. It’s a somewhat craggy regular western cartoon style with a little bit of Flash-ness to it. The CGI is cel-shaded and looks okay.

The voice acting is pretty good. Everyone seems to be having fun in their roles at least. Plus, Brian Donovan, voice of Davis from Digimon and Rock Lee from Naruto, as well as Tom Kenny of all people is also a bonus.

The music is completely forgettable, and the opening doesn’t do a great job getting you pumped for this supposed X-TREEM show about cool vehicles, machines, fighting and whatnot. It’s a fairly fast song, but awfully quiet and has no real energy.

I’m going to give this show an ‘undecided’, bordering on ‘no’. I’m mostly just hoping that it gets crazier and more fun with a little more time. Maybe it’d become a nice ‘turn off your brain, sit back and enjoy’ kind of show. However, I don’t have too much hope for that, and the directing style is bound to become very annoying.

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Recommended audience: Mentions of murder, minor violence, and that’s about it. 7+

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