Plot: Many years ago, the forces of good and evil battled against each other over the Shen Gong Wu, numerous powerful artifacts with the collective ability to conquer the world in the wrong hands. Dashi, a noble warrior with the power of the Shen Gong Wu fought fiercely against the Heylin witch, Wuya, and came out triumphantly, sealing her in a box. In an effort to prevent the power of the Shen Gong Wu from ending up in the hands of evil, Dashi hid them and scattered them across the globe.
Centuries later, a monk named Omi, the Dragon of Water, learns that three new students will be joining him under the guide of Master Fung; Raymundo from Brazil, Kimiko from Japan and Clay from America. While they’re very rough around the edges, particularly to Omi, they have to quickly get their act together when Wuya is revived and sent to partner up with the self-proclaimed evil genius bent on world domination, Jack Spicer. Since Wuya has no corporeal body of her own, she decides to use to him to gather the Shen Gong Wu and get a real body as well as allow him to conquer the world.
Omi, Raymundo, Kimiko and Clay set out after the Shen Gong Wu with the sensing capabilities of Dashi’s old friend, a small transforming dragon named Dojo. They continue to clash with their personality and culture differences, causing them to lose the Mantis Flip Coin, a magical coin that allows you to easily flip and leap, but they manage to get the Two-Ton Tunic, Dashi’s old armor that is seemingly impenetrable but is incredibly heavy.
When they get to a third Shen Gong Wu, the Eye of Dashi, Spicer and Omi get to it at the same time, causing them to fight over it and triggering a Xiaolin Showdown; a contest between two beings set in an alternate dimension where the winner gains the right to own the Shen Gong Wu. Unfortunately, it’s a race across several extremely tall pillars, giving Jack a major advantage with his Mantis Flip Coin and leaving Omi in the dust with his Two-Ton Tunic. Utilizing some lessons he’s learned from his new friends throughout their journey, Omi overcomes the Jack Bots that Spicer sends to attack him and manages to come out victorious. Later, at the temple, Master Fung reveals that the new students were meant to teach him as much as he was meant to teach them as they are actually Dragons themselves; Raymundo, the Dragon of the Wind, Kimiko, the Dragon of Fire and Clay the Dragon of Earth.
Breakdown: Xiaolin Showdown is a show that I watched as a kid, but I didn’t keep up with it very closely. It kept my attention, and I enjoyed it perfectly fine, but I never got around to sitting down and watching every episode.
First episode wise, this is a very good way to kick off the series, even if there are some very convenient aspects such as all of the Dragons being assembled right before Wuya gets released from her box and somehow being able to utilize every minor thing Omi has learned from Raymundo, Kimiko and Clay. Like the ‘using your weight to your advantage’ thing works perfectly here, but the Jack Bots actually had huge on-off switches, and Jack was so slow that he not only let Omi catch up to him, but he also let him pull down his pants?
We learn a fair amount about each character. Omi is a very serious, almost too serious, Xiaolin monk who treasures perfection and hard work, but also has a huge ego on him and is a bit headstrong. He’s voiced by Tara Strong. I do have to wonder if his character design could be construed as a bit racist though. I mean, I’m not sure why Omi was designed like that, but he’s a Chinese kid with bright yellow skin………..
Raymundo’s lazy and a bit of an ass, but I assume that will get better later. He’s voiced by Tom Kenny. Give the guy credit for range – I never would’ve guessed that.
Kimiko’s a bit too into technology with none of it being useful at all (even that Pac-man-like game. Who plays a game by poking one button over and over? And is it really playing a game if the little guy keeps eating even if you’re not touching anything, he doesn’t move, the food doesn’t move and there seems to be nothing to avoid?) but she’s kinda sweet in how protective she is of Omi. She’s voiced by Grey DeLisle who doesn’t seem to be sporting a voice that is very similar to any of the voices I know her as such as Sam from Danny Phantom and Vicky and Tootie from Fairly Odd Parents. She seems to have pretty good range.
Clay’s pretty cool, and he seems to do the most outside of Omi. Plus, like I mentioned, his was the best advice. He was voiced by Jeff Bennet.
Master Fung also has a nice balance of traditional Xiaolin master and contrasting humor.
Jack Spicer still stands out to me as both a really good and a fairly silly villain. All of the pieces are there, but he needs the opportunity to prove himself to me a bit more. Though, who cares? He’s voiced by Danny Cooksey, and that’s all that matters.
The only one I didn’t much care for was Dojo. He’s a comic relief talking animal sidekick, and that’s all you really need to know. He’s like a less-funny and less-energetic Mushu from Mulan….and I don’t even really like Mushu. At least Dojo can turn into a huge dragon, though. Also, he’s voiced by Wayne Knight. Make of that what you will.
The story is, admittedly, on the ‘been there, done that’ spectrum with the forces of good and evil battling for items that hold great power, but the fact that all of these items have their own unique powers and not just some generic ‘power’ is a breath of fresh air. The main characters also having the power of the elements isn’t that clever either, but I will say that it’s nice that the main-main characters (Omi and later Raymundo) don’t have the power of fire. It’s also nice that the lone girl in the group wasn’t given the power of love or flowers or some crap.
The art is pretty stylized and nice, with only some things looking a bit ugly. The animation’s not fantastic, but it’s reasonably fluid and works to bring the characters and action to life.
The music’s also very fitting and nice to listen to.
This episode had quite a bit to plow through, and I think it did a pretty good job. It’s a bit fast-paced, but nothing overwhelming.
Next episode, Clay gets some spotlight when he’s mocked for his slow and steady method of combat. He’s left on his own to get a Shen Gong Wu when his friends get trapped by Jack Spicer.
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