Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zorro Generation Z

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Plot: Diego Dela Vega, grandson of the original Zorro, has taken it upon himself to become the new Zorro when his father suddenly gets kidnapped by his political rival.

Breakdown: It’s Batman Beyond with Spanish accents.

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….What? I’m not lying. It is. The art and animation’s crappier, the tone’s lighter and the gadgets are silly, but it is basically just a big Batman Beyond rip off. And I did my homework; it’s not the reverse because Batman Beyond was made in 1999 and this was made in 2006. And just to rile up comic fans, Zorro Generation Z was made by Rick Ungar, a former Marvel Studios executive.

Back to the Batman Beyond comparisons, some kid inherits a superhero moniker because the original one is too old to do the job (or in this case is dead) where he wears black and red with a bullet-proof cape, utilizes a bunch of gadgets and has someone back at the underground base, complete with a glass case shrine of the old superhero outfits, who gives him advice and technical support. The kid in question is snarky, always makes jokes and the opening plot line involves a threat against his father.

If you want to make a stronger Batman comparison, Diego is the son of a wealthy man who owns ‘Dela Vega Industries’ and basically owns most of the town. He’s also essentially perfect in that he’s smart, incredibly acrobatic and skilled in martial arts and even has time to be a motorcycle racer.

Pushing that out of my mind, though, this first episode still fails on several levels. The very first scene that we see of older Diego, after the flashback of him as a very excitable child, is him getting the message that his father has been kidnapped and rushing off to save him. We get no time to connect with him as a character before this. All we see him doing is racing dirt bikes.

He and his mute tech genius friend, Bernado, out-fox, if you’ll forgive the pun, a bunch of goons. Goons, who, by the way, are some of the dumbest bad guy goons I’ve ever seen.

‘Hey, maybe we should look slightly to our left to see if there are any kids climbing out of a manhole that is literally five feet away.’

‘Nah!’

‘Hey, where did those kids go? Oh my god, you mean they were behind that wall that they just hid behind 30 seconds ago this whole time? Wow!’

They stumble upon the batcav—Errr….the uhh….Zorro cave? Which really is a better lit batcave with all the bells and whistles. And then Diego just says ‘Heh, guess I’m Zorro now!’ He claims that the reason for needing a new Zorro is not just for his dad’s sake, but apparently the entire town is suffering under the political grip of the bad guy, even though I have neither seen nor heard evidence of that.

The whole conflict of this plot is really difficult to get into considering the person we’re worrying about, Diego’s father, has been nothing but a douche the entire episode. Yes, he shows concern for his son, but he tells his father, the original Zorro, to not tell his young son fairy tales, IE stories about Zorro, because he wants this six year old boy to be more interested in the real world.

And when he comes face to face with the new Zorro, of course not recognizing his own son, he still mocks him, calls him a psycho with fancy toys, and acts like a jackass even though Zorro risked his neck to save him. Why the hell should I care about this guy?

Especially when it really seems like Diego doesn’t. He’s smiling and making cute little quips throughout the entire episode, never really showing an iota of caring that his father is currently being held captive, set to be killed, by a very powerful political rival.

Wanna know how little he cares? He takes a nap in the Zorro cave while his friend Bernado does all the work in making him new gadgets and stuff in what seems like a really small time frame. And as Bernado tries to wake him up, he acts like a little kid telling him not to wake him up and making excuses not to go to school.

Speaking of Bernado, this kid is ungodly amazing with tech stuff. He can do basically anything unrealistic-hacker-tech-genius-y in seconds, and he is really the main driving force behind this dynamic.

Oh and did I mention Zorro’s lightsaber boh staff? Yeah, that’s totally a thing. It makes the lightsaber noises and everything. I seriously believe they designed a laser sword for Zorro, like his predecessors used real swords, but it was so close to a lightsaber that they changed it at the last second to a boh staff that somehow cuts things to avoid possible copyright infringement.

Anyway, as you’d expect, Zorro comes in to save the day, bad guy acts evil, goons easily get knocked out, bad guy has one more trick up his sleeve and Diego’s dad is restrained when she appears.

Though she’s not given a superhero name in this episode, her name is the Scarlet Whip and she is very obviously the bad guy’s daughter, Maria, because quite literally no other females have been seen during the entirety of the episode, and they’re not even trying to hide her identity. Hell, she doesn’t even wear a mask, just a visor where you can clearly see her eyes. And of course since the bad guy is just as stupid as Diego’s dad, he also doesn’t recognize his own flesh and blood. Her weapons of choice are two laser whips, because girls always get whips for some reason, and of course the laser color is frickin’ pink….Which….kinda makes her name make no sense….scarlet is a red color, writers.

She sneaks into the room where Diego, his father and the bad guy have trapped themselves and comes to help Diego. To be continued.

I really don’t think this plot warrants a two-parter but whatever.

This show just doesn’t look appealing to me at all. Diego is too perfect and seemingly uncaring about the people he’s trying to protect. He doesn’t even have finesse like Zorro’s meant to have; he’s just forcing it. The story really seems lifted right from Batman Beyond, albeit made sillier, such as with the gadgets, mostly for the bad guys, being just doofy.

For instance, because I guess this is some time in the future and to avoid showing real guns, the bad guys have to use laser guns and the guns are designed to look like either remote controls or small hand vacuums. The only character who peaks my interest is Bernado, but I doubt he’ll ever get much focus, and all of his rightfully earned glory will all go to Diego. Maria’s not even interesting; she’s a rebellious daughter of an asshole and doesn’t outwardly care about her father at all.

The art is very craggy with few details, and the colors are too saturated. I also find it weird that so many extras have blue hair when I assume it’s meant to be black. The animation is not the worst I’ve seen but it is still pretty damn bad. In the first scene, young Diego rides on his rocking horse and the animation is horrid. It’s like he’s having a seizure. There are many missing frames and a complete misuse of fades. Later on, as Diego and Bernado walk into the Zorro cave, their basic walk cycle animation looks screwed up. They look twitchy and like someone is constantly pulling on their clothes. Not to mention I really believe they recycled the same walk cycle twice in that long shot.

I like the bright red Z transitions, but they happen after every single scene and I can see it getting very old very fast.

The theme song is catchy, but the singing is a bit too high pitched for me most of the time.

The voice acting is blech. No one seems to emote, the bad guys are really hamming it up, and everyone either seems to have an on-off accent like Diego, a super thick ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ voice, an actually believable Spanish accent or none at all.

So it’s really no surprise that I give this show a–

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There’s just nothing for me here. I’d much rather watch Batman Beyond or really anything Batman. Even negating the similarities to Batman, there are much better superhero shows out there.

To clear the air, I’m not biased because I’m a Zorro fan. I’ve really never watched anything Zorro before. I know the plot, and I’ve seen a few episodes of the black and white series when it aired way back on the late night block of the Disney Vault or whatever that was called, but I haven’t had much exposure to it. If you’re a fan and you want a more modern or even futuristic take on the series, this might be more of your cup of tea, but I can’t even imagine Zorro fans would like it that much.

Recommended Audience: Very minor and goofy violence. Nothing outside of that. E for everyone!

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