An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 16: Yu-Gi-Oh No! (2005/2006 cont.)

In October 2005, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was brought into the fray to replace the void left from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series as it was ending the same year. However, instead of premiering it on Kids WB or 4Kids TV, 4Kids opted to premiere the show on Cartoon Network (on the programming block, Miguzi, which was basically Toonami if it was less cool and held underwater) for some reason. I’m not complaining, I’m just confused. Not airing it on Kids WB I get a little, but why wouldn’t they want it premiered on 4Kids TV? It would take until September 1, 2007 until it would air in syndication on 4Kids TV.

4Kids hoped GX would breathe new life into the franchise with new characters, new cards and a more casual and fun atmosphere with the new series taking place at a dueling academy. The show did suffer from the typical 4Kidsisms, including story changes, dialogue changes, a lot of visual edits in regards to transitions and splitscreens to make it seem more fast-paced and ‘cool,’ but it wouldn’t really be much more changed than the original Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Unfortunately, in 2008, 4Kids would wind up canceling GX without ever airing (or dubbing?) the final episode of season three or the entirety of season four. This was reportedly due to the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds had started airing in Japan, 4Kids had already acquired the first season and wanted to focus on releasing that instead.

According to an email response someone got from 4Kids around the time of cancellation;

“Thank you for writing to us about your interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Because a lot of our resources are dedicated to dubbing and airing 5Ds, we will not be dubbing season four of GX for this season.

However, this does not mean that we won’t ever dub it, it just means that it is not on the schedule for the near future.

The 4Kids.tv webmaster”

Basically, how this can be interpreted now is that 4Kids didn’t want to lag behind. Considering their dubbing plate wasn’t really all that full at the time either (see: all the shows they lost at this point) they easily could have dubbed GX alongside 5Ds, but I can bet they just didn’t want to bother.

It was also suggested that, since the new wave of 5Ds-based TCG releases was coming and 5Ds would still be around a year or more before release in the States if they decided to finish GX first, they just decided to bump up 5Ds and save some money by ditching GX on the side of the highway.

Other rumors theorize that 4Kids didn’t like the new direction the show was taking in the final season. The show had gotten notably darker and stood in stark contrast to the much lighter casual show it had started out as. Judai/Jaden himself also suffered from a personality change, making him much more brooding and serious than his trademark happy-go-lucky self was in earlier seasons.

It didn’t help that reception for the final season and the tail end of season three in Japan wasn’t nearly as good as it had been, and it was mostly for that very same tonal shift. Ratings for GX also weren’t as good in the west. They weren’t particularly bad, but they seemed to have paled in comparison to the original show. Either fans of the original didn’t like the new cast/vibe/setting in comparison to the original show, they didn’t like the way 4Kids had presented it, particularly in making Jaden this ‘radical’ main character who shouted out “Get your game on!” whenever he started a duel, the fact that many of Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s original fans had aged out of the target demo and the new generation of the demo wasn’t hooking in much yet or the lingering decline of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole was keeping it from finding a large audience.

There’s another rumor that Konami and TV Tokyo pressured 4Kids to dub 5Ds in order to capitalize on the new TCG releases, which makes some sense, but it doesn’t answer the question of why they couldn’t have also dubbed and aired GX at the same time.

Also, according to an email exchange from 4K Media, which was the division of Konami that took control of Yu-Gi-Oh! when 4Kids lost the rights after they went bankrupt (and is not, in fact, basically 4Kids in disguise as some people seem to believe), Konami didn’t have any say in 4Kids dumping GX. They claimed that they didn’t even know why 4Kids stopped dubbing GX.

Really, the only one who would suffer for keeping GX out there is 4Kids because they were the ones who would have to devote time, money and other resources to the show. Konami probably did pressure them to dub 5Ds as soon as possible, but how much pressure, I don’t know, and I sincerely doubt they told them to drop GX since that would just be additional advertising, basically, for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole.

Despite 4Kids claiming they might dub the rest of the series some day, they never did. They also retained the international license for several years, so no one else could take over at the time. It’s possible Konami could now dub and release the final episode of season three and all of season four, but I sincerely doubt it. It’d be a lot of work and fuss for something that probably wouldn’t be profitable.

You could argue that they just didn’t want two new Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.

Only they totally had two Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.

As Yu-Gi-Oh GX was airing on Cartoon Network, 4Kids also premiered a brand-new Yu-Gi-Oh! show on 4Kids TV….one that 4Kids had made from scratch.

Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters was a show commissioned from Studio Gallop by 4Kids based on the game, Capsule Monsters – a game introduced in the original pre-soft-reboot version of the manga and in Season Zero, which never aired in America. Because the last time 4Kids commissioned their own Yu-Gi-Oh! feature just went over so well, Twix said sarcastically.

It’s possible that 4Kids was also basing this off of Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum – a PS2 game that released two years prior. Capsule Monster Coliseum was not a successful game. While the very few reviews I can actually find on the game are somewhat positive, they all cite the high learning curve as a big negative, which is understandable considering it’s a game based on a game where even the writers had no idea how the actual hell it really worked.

I can’t even find any sales information on the title (best I could eek out is that it may have sold 220,000 units in America with 440,000 units overall, but I can’t be certain because the website on which I got this information has no information on the Japanese sales.

Basically, the game wasn’t a success. In fact, many extensive lists on Yu-Gi-Oh! video games frequently forget this title exists. People say the same about Dungeon Dice Monsters, but at least Dungeon Dice Monsters was actually explained and prominently featured in the main anime. I loved the Dungeon Dice Monsters GBA game.

I honestly don’t know why Capsule Monsters was created. It was set near the end of the original series, but considering GX was premiering right as the original series was airing its final handful of episodes, it can’t be that they intended for it to be some bridge between the two. The Lost Media Wiki says it was made to promote the toys that 4Kids had made, but one of the links that they cite as a source, an ICv2 article, claims the exact opposite.

“The game will be drawn from the Season 5 12-episode story arc that will begin airing in the States in January 2006.”

And if that’s true then…why was the show created? Was it really just to try and get a new toy line for a property that was literally about to end off the ground? Were they really desperate to milk the series for content considering Pokemon was out the door and Yu-Gi-Oh! was left holding the bag? I guess they could have eventually launched a GX version, but considering GX was already airing, why not just start there?

It’s such an oddity. Capsule Monsters had little promotion, little fanfare, no official announcement as far as I saw, but still spawned its own tabletop game, which was very much unsuccessful. It was canceled after only releasing two starter sets and one booster pack. I honestly wouldn’t have even known there was a Capsule Monsters game if I hadn’t seen it once or twice in stores when I was a kid. Even the IMDB page for the anime has a pitiful one review to its name.

It really didn’t help that they made the game entirely different from the way it was played in the manga/Season Zero and the video game. The game 4Kids made up was just as confusing as the other versions. The game is so confusing that they felt the need to release two versions – one basic and one advanced.

It was also released oddly. The figure game was leaked in December of 2005 on Talkinsportsweb.com, then episodes of the show were airing early on January 30, 2006, without any announcement, on the Irish children’s channel, RTE. In TV listings, it was just noted as Yu-Gi-Oh!, meaning viewers thought they’d be seeing normal Yu-Gi-Oh!, but got Capsule Monsters instead, all seemingly without the knowledge of 4Kids and completely by accident on RTE’s part. RTE would continue accidentally airing these Capsule Monsters episodes until February 2, 2006 when they would shift back to GX and keep Capsule Monsters under wraps until August (Ireland was typically able to air 4Kids shows a tiny bit earlier than the US.)

Viewers were both confused and confused. Confused because there was absolutely no information on this show anywhere, nor any Japanese source material, but the evidence was right there on a LiveJournal post that it existed. Confused because the show just seemed so weird. It was still Yu-Gi-Oh!, the main cast was front and center, but it was focused on an entirely new game that, for some reason, involved what looked like arm cannons.

To make things even more confusing, the show was not presented as a spin-off. The reason I say this is because it has the exact same theme song as Yu-Gi-Oh!, just with a few different background clips and the words “Capsule Monsters” put underneath the title, as if this was a different arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, not a spin-off. In addition, at the start of each episode, Yami would just say “Previously on Yu-Gi-Oh!” not “Capsule Monsters.

Some sources claim it’s a spin-off, others claim it’s just a new arc to the original series that aired some time in the middle of the final season. US TV listings at the time said “Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters” which implies a different series, because a different arc would still be the same series. It’s incredibly confusing.

To make matters even worse…..this series comes off like a huge Pokemon rip-off. I don’t like to throw around that word much anymore, but, at its core, this was damn near plagiarism. They kept these monsters in ‘capsules,’ they could be released outside of ‘games’ and follow them around like fairly sentient (but non-verbal) animals, or they could use them as modes of transportation. They were also recalled and released with beams of light and frequently just battled other monsters with no gameplay enacted besides things like type advantages and whatnot. It was really watered down to just “Monster has a weakness against (x), so we have to do (x)”

They also didn’t have actual Capsule Monster games against other people. Capsule Monsters is supposed to be a rough off-shoot of chess, which is why one of the original names for the game in the manga was Capumon/Capsule Monsters Chess. The real world game follows roughly the same-ish format. However, in the anime, they were always just battling head to head against other wild monsters. A lot of the time, the ‘game’ came off like, well, Pokemon battles. You just command the monsters to attack and strategize based purely on certain advantages. You also collect them. And by “collect them” I mean, most of the time, they just sorta stumble upon the capsules and get monsters for free….A few times, though, they did get monsters after battling them first. And some of them just followed them for no reason, which doesn’t sound familiar at all, no sirree.

I think that’s the main reason they came up with that ‘arm cannon’ gimmick for the series when it’s not present in any form of the game, either in the video game, manga or Season Zero. If they didn’t have the arm cannon thing, they’d either have to throw the capsules or open them to release the monsters, and I can bet even 4Kids thought that imagery would probably be a bit too on-the-nose.

Oh and one of Joey’s monsters is the Baby Dragon….and he’d blow fire on Joey. Baby Dragon looks a lot like a mini-Charizard. You piece that together.

YGCMSCREEN1

Also, fun fact, the rough draft version of Pokemon was called Capsule Monsters, and that was in 1989. I’m not sure I believe the original game in the manga was inspired by/ripped off from Pokemon as Capsule Monsters. The Yu-Gi-Oh! manga originally came out in 1996, and the first Pokemon games were released in Japan in 1996, but the game in the manga and Season Zero is so different that I can’t say anything with any degree of certainty. It is definitely weird is all I’ll say, especially when you take the releases of the video games into consideration.

This specific anime version, however, I’m much more comfortable suspecting as a Pokemon rip-off, especially because 4Kids called for it. Since the completed game was leaked in December of 2005 and the announcement of the license agreement ending was in December of 2005, they likely didn’t know quite yet that they’d be losing Pokemon when they commissioned this series, so I won’t say this was some attempt to fill the void. Maybe it was more like general laziness and mooching off of it, like they were trying to fuse Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and make some sort of super mutant merchandise baby.

There was only one actual game against a real person in the entire series, (even though it was still just a normal battle) and THAT ended up coming off like a rip-off of the duel against Pegasus because one of the main issues in that battle was that Alexander, the main villain, could read Yami’s mind, allowing him to predict his moves and change his game plan accordingly. And Yami responded by confusing him with the Millennium Puzzle because his mind is literally a labyrinth.

One interesting aspect of the series was the fact that the players were able to merge with their monsters and basically partake in battles themselves. And by “players” I mean Yugi 99% of the time. Joey was able to do it once (With Red-Eyes Black Dragon – and it was pretty sick) and everyone else got wings on one occasion, that was about it. This was not only something the main series had done a few times before, but it was also something that felt very much akin to either Digimon Tamers and Biomerging or Digimon Frontier and Spirit Evolution.

The most damning aspect of the show, however, was that it was flatout boring. Most of the monsters in the show were ones we had already seen in the main series, and there were really no fun strategies or, ya know, GAMEPLAY to hook you in. It was just a watered down series of Pokemon battles.

One of the bigger issues some gaming anime have in properly advertising their real-world games is over-fantasizing it. If you can’t even remotely emulate what’s happening in the show in real-life, the real-life game seems very boring by comparison. Yu-Gi-Oh! may involve a lot of fantasy aspects, magic and drama and whatnot, but, at the end of the day, they play the game like everyone else in real life. Capsule Monsters doesn’t do that. They only barely touch upon the actual game in the first episode.

The aspect of Yami becoming a monster himself (or really just him in various suits of armor) was cool, but it would’ve been cooler if everyone else did it regularly. Or, outside of Joey, literally even once. Not to mention the aspect of Capsule Monsters kinda loses something if the main attraction isn’t really the Capsule Monsters but Yami as the Capsule Monsters.

It probably also wasn’t a good move to make the monsters so real but still keep in the aspect of them being able to pretty much die in any battle. I’m not kidding. Their monster companions die near the end – even the tiny cute ones. Imagine Pokemon if you were worried Pikachu would die in any battle.

In addition, the art and animation were clearly either rushed or suffered a case of budget-fever. I’d wager both.

Capsule Monsters aired for 12 episodes, which did contain a full arc, but it’s obvious that 4Kids intended to build something here, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried to launch a whole game on the title. I don’t know if they planned to make a full series themselves or if they hoped Japan would be so hyped on the idea that Konami would run with it and they could just bank off of their stuff. If they really were trying to build something here, why did they do such an awful job promoting this? Did they just give up before they even started?

To be fair, as far as I saw, Capsule Monsters actually didn’t do too bad for itself in ratings. However, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t generating much word of mouth outside of ‘What the hell is this?’, and just as quickly as it came into fans’ lives, it vanished. They did rerun the show once on Toonzai in 2012, but that was it.

4Kids technically never released the series on DVD either. By that I mean that they released the series on DVD, but only after it had been recut into two movies. The first movie was released on May 23, 2006 while the second was released on September 12, 2006. 4Kids and Konami offered a full free screening of the first movie on Yugioh.com the day before the DVD was released.

Japan would never air this series, presumably because they didn’t want people to think it was canon. As the Lost Media Wiki explained, it’s even questionable if a Japanese version exists. The series is on Studio Gallop’s website, but it’s labeled as Yu-Gi-Oh! ALEX. As far as fans who actually know about it are concerned, they pretty much see the series as being entirely non-canon.

We’re almost rounding the corner into 2007, so we should probably cover the last development of 2006. The next subsidiary 4Kids launched – 4Sight Licensing Solutions. 4Kids had long since been a company aimed squarely at children, but since their scope was narrow and their business was going down, it was time to expand their horizons as much as possible. 4Sight would be geared towards licensing properties for older kids, tweens, teens and adults.

And….uh….eh….kinda? 4Sight licensed a lot of art, for use in apps, calendars, textiles, home décor, stationary etc. For instance, they licensed The Dog and Friends, which was a puppy photography series out of Japan by Artlist inc. that was known for their use of fish-eye lens. They also licensed the artwork of Japanese artist, Hokusai Katsushika, and they got at least three licenses for Pachanga art by Belen Mena. They handled the American Kennel Club license, which 4Kids had handled itself for many years before this, and Crufts, which is the UK version of the AKK basically. They had an agreement with Celestial Imports Ltd, which was largely centered on the Chicaloca brand fashion in Europe.

They got into other media a little. They released a fashion game based on the Chicaloca brand, which was released on mobile platforms and Facebook. It doesn’t seem like this game was very successful because there’s barely any information online about it. Searching for “Chicaloca game 4Sight” only brings up three pages of Google results, most of which are unrelated, and the ones that are related are just announcements for the game’s release.

Less than four months after 4Kids announced they had made a licensing agreement with Microsoft, 4Sight would reach a new multi-year agreement with Microsoft to “work in partnership with Microsoft’s Franchise Development team, exclusively handling all global brand development and merchandising deals for the XBox and XBox 360.” which, as far as I can see, really only amounted to handling the license to Viva Pinata – an XBox 360 game geared more towards kids as opposed to the more teen and adult audience XBox typically catered to, which is….kinda backwards given 4Kids’ intentions with 4Sight.

4Kids—err, excuse me, 4Sight created a cartoon series for the games (4Kids is credited for it practically everywhere), but as for anything else they did with Microsoft or XBox, that remains unclear. Besides mentioning Viva Pinata a few times in official documents and press releases, no other information regarding other Microsoft or XBox properties in relation to 4Kids/4Sight ever came up. They did have some 4Kids show-based games available on the XBox, but that’s not really the same.

As for Viva Pinata, I don’t remember a single lick of either the game or the cartoon, but both seemed to have enjoyed a good degree of success. The cartoon lasted for 91 episodes and three years. That’s pretty darn good. It also has very high ratings on IMDB, even if there are only five reviews.

It’s frustrating that there is such little information on 4Sight available, but I can only surmise that’s because they wound up not doing much with the subsidiary either because they didn’t really know what to do with it or they were afraid to actually enter waters geared towards older audiences. Even when I combed the financial reports for every year, the only mentions of 4Sight were just pointing out that it existed and was owned by 4Kids. I did find a supposedly insanely detailed business report online on 4Sight, but I could only access it if I paid $300, which, ahem…Lol.

4Sight would stay with 4Kids as a subsidiary until the absolute end of the company in 2017.

Also during this year came one of Al Kahn’s most infamous moments where he garnered quite a bit of backlash from the anime and manga fandom. In an ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference, Al Kahn was quoted as saying;

“I think manga is a problem because we’re in a culture that is not a reading culture. Kid’s today don’t read, they read less today. In every survey, we find that they’re watching more television, they’re on the Internet more, and that content, although being king, is very disposable. Because the way content gets put out now, it gets put out free. We’re streaming most of our shows. The reason why we’re streaming them is we want kids to watch them as much as they can, and get vested in the concept and go out and buy products. The products ain’t free. The content is going to be free. And manga in my mind is trying to put a square peg in a round hole in the U.S. It will never be a big deal here, for the kids that are in the computer or the Internet generation, because they’re not going to read. They haven’t read, and they’re not going to start now.”

To say his comments didn’t go over well is an understatement. According to some sources, people booed and hissed at several of his comments. I mean, I don’t really understand how you can go to a Graphic Novel Convention with over 125 panelists – in New York City – and then go on about how kids don’t read and manga is never going to be popular in America and not expect a bad reception, especially in 2006….ya know….when Harry Potter was exploding in popularity.

Reading rates for fun among children fluctuate quite a lot, and data about this specific query was unclear because of the way the studies were conducted and the fact that there were a surprisingly few amount of studies about it. Believe it or not, at least according to data in the decade in which he said this, children read for fun fairly often when they’re young, not as often when they’re teenagers, but then the rates increase again when they become adults. Reading rates among children for recreation did go down steadily as television and video games became more readily available and appealing (in addition to a variety of other factors we won’t explore here – including a noticeable discernment among the sexes.) but it wasn’t a drastic downturn, and upticks happened regularly for a variety of reasons, including reading online.

…..Oh and by the way, this comment would become especially weird in 2009 when 4Kids would become the licensing agent for WordWorld – a former PBS preschool show that promoted *drum roll* LITERACY.

And, of course, Al Kahn just saw this as little more than a money grab.

“WordWorld’s expertise in the creative and educational domains coupled with 4Kids Entertainment’s proven track record in developing entertainment brands is certain to produce exciting results – from a sales and innovation perspective.”

I also find it funny that one of the episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! was shifted around to mooch off of the release of a new Harry Potter BOOK. Like, yeah, kids don’t read, but we also recognize that there’s a massively popular kids’ book series out now that we need to capitalize on.

As we can see now, he was obviously wrong as manga eventually did become incredibly popular in the west, among children as well, even if reading rates continue to fluctuate throughout the years. As recently as 2020, manga sales hit an all-time high.

He was also making these comments right next to many people who worked in the manga industry in America, including people from TokyoPop, Kodansha, and Viz Media. Al never dipped his toes into that world so he just sounded like someone who had no idea what he was talking about acting is if he was an authority on the matter.

It wasn’t just a commentary on how something like manga would never take off in the US – he was flat out saying kids these days were never interested in reading, they aren’t now and they never will be because of digital media, which is not true for a multitude of reasons. Like I said, you can definitely argue that children reading for fun wasn’t as common, but acting as if reading as a whole was dying among children was too outlandish of a claim.

To be completely fair, though, there was some validity in his statements. 2006 was a bad year for manga in Japan. Manga sales had been declining for over a decade at that point, and 2006 was the first year manga sales had dipped below ¥500bil. Print media as a whole was on the decline in Japan, and, basically, manga had just been as affected. Indeed, all commercial print media was down, and, yes, cell phones and digital media were a part of that decline (There were several reasons why both manga and anime were down in Japan at the time – such as two major financial crises for Japan preceding this, low birth rates and even their strict immigration practices.)

Japan was way ahead of us when it came to mobile technology, and they still are. The practice of spending time on your phone instead of reading a book while you’re on the bus or train was increasing. However, manga was available to consume digitally and had been for about three years at that point. It was a ¥9bil industry, and it was growing like wildfire. Consumers loved the low price point, the convenience and the discretion – considering enjoying manga, particularly hentai titles, was embarrassing in public, and reading on a cellphone allowed customers to read in public without having to worry too much about people seeing what they’re reading. The sales for manga this way, I believe, were not reported in the same manner as their print counterparts, so the manga industry was probably doing better than how it looked back then given the purely print numbers.

The fact that Al Kahn didn’t even bring up the concept of digital manga (he even speaks as though it’s not possible for manga to be digitized?) or even digital means of reading as a whole shows that he didn’t know much about what he was talking about, especially since he later comments on how, if you look at people in America, they’re all using MP3 players and cell phones while walking around, but, in Japan, everyone on the subway has a “3000 page manga.” I don’t know if he was exaggerating or being stupid. Most manga have around, I’ll say, between 150-300 pages. A 3000 page manga would be comically large. It is literally two and a half Bibles.

The digital age seemed like such a hindrance to reading in the eyes of older folks, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The internet boom and the rise of mobile devices made it much easier for kids to learn how to read and gave them more access to different modes of reading – like ebooks, online articles, web comics and even video games.

And just to drive the point home – the American manga industry was doing very well, especially during the start of a major recession. In 2006, manga sales actually grew 22% from $7.5mil to $9.5mil, with sales jumping from $60mil in 2002 to at least $170mil in 2006, and roughly 44% of all graphic novels in bookstores and comic book stores were reported to be manga. Manga sales would see another rise by 10% in 2007. However, this would obviously go down sharply in 2008-2010 due to the worst of the financial crisis hitting as well as lack of big name titles being released and the closure of the Borders bookstore chain among several other factors, until they finally rebounded in 2013. The industry was also growing, albeit, admittedly, slowly. In fact, one of the ways the Japanese manga industry was helping ends meet was through international manga sales, particularly those in the US.

One of the other reasons his comments garnered backlash was because it made off like children were becoming illiterate and we should just….ya know….let them. There’s no profit in promoting reading to kids, so screw it. It really shines a bright light on why 4Kids does everything in their power to remove any and all text, no matter the language, from their shows. They think if they let kids see too many words their profit margins will go down or something. Obviously, basically outright saying “Don’t invest in books, manga or any other reading materials for American kids because kids here don’t read. Instead, let their brains rot and profit off of that.” is a hot take that will certainly not earn you any favors with pretty much damn near anyone in the anime industry, whether State-side or otherwise, considering basically all of them are tightly woven into the manga industry.

Liza Coppola, Vice President of Viz Media, responded by pointing out that Viz had recently partnered with the literacy campaign, Read for America, and stated that, “Manga is a great medium to bring kids back to reading.” Viz had seen a positive response from librarians and children from their manga, and they continue making partnerships for the sake of literacy campaigns to this day. Likewise, in June 2006, Tokyopop also launched a program with the LA Public Library using their manga to promote reading to kids and teens.

As a final note for this year, 4Kids also acquired the licensing rights to Futari wa Pretty Cure. However, they never seemingly recorded a dub for the series at all, presumably because Mew Mew Power hit a brick wall and Magical DoReMi didn’t take off well enough. They announced that they had the license to Precure and never said much about it again. They held onto the rights for about three years until the license was handed over to Ocean Productions so they could finally dub and release the show in English on Canada’s YTV.

All in all, 2006 was….not awful. It was down from 2005 with $71,787,000 in net revenues compared to $80,607,000 in 2005. Yu-Gi-Oh! was still noted as being their biggest contributing factor, though the show’s domestic broadcast returns were down, along with TMNT and Cabbage Patch Kids, despite the latter two recording lower revenue from last year. Revenue from Viva Pinata and Chaotic were noted as giving them a boost in that regard. However, they did end the year in the red with a net loss of $1,006,000 in comparison to 2005 with a net income of $5,069,000. Their stocks did enjoy a significant bump, though – seeing the first rise since 2002-2003.

Next – Part 17: 4Kids TV 2: The Kidsening

Previous – Part 15: The Chaotic Nature of Rumors


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AVAHS – My Gym Partner’s a Monkey: Have Yourself a Joyful Little Animas Review

Plot: Animas has come, but Adam can’t participate because he’s a human, and the holiday is all about following your animal instincts.

Breakdown: Like Brandy and Mr. Whiskers, My Gym Partner’s a Monkey is a show I was aware of and gave a chance when it aired, but I just couldn’t get into. My reasoning for this one was that it was just…..stupid. The concept is silly, which is obviously fine for a goofy cartoon. Adam is a human who gets sent to an animal school simply because his last name is Lyon and they misspelled it when they signed him up for school. The aforementioned monkey gym partner is Jake who is basically what you’d expect a sentient monkey to be. Hijinks ensue, and that’s about it. But what they do with it just tends to be stupid silly.

This episode is no exception. Aminas is obviously a play on Christmas, but it’s made stupid. Animas is all about following your animal instincts. As long as you’re an animal, you can understand what to do. But Adam is a human so he doesn’t get what you’re supposed to do, which is stuff like wearing periwinkle (and getting hit in the head with a coconut three times if you don’t) and being able to read something that isn’t written down.

This mostly just results in him feeling left out and frustrated. However, when it comes time to decorate the Animas rock, he accidentally ruins the holiday for everyone. All of the animals need to find the rock using their instincts and decorate it, otherwise Animas will be canceled for some reason. Since Adam doesn’t have the instincts to find it, Animas is ruined.

Adam decides to go back to human school since he doesn’t belong in animal school, but he’s still bummed about losing his friends back in the animal school. After sucking down a glob of wasabi from an Asian stereotype, who I can’t decide if they’re even offensive because it’s like they’re trying really hard to go overboard with the stereotype so as to make it overtly obvious so that’s the joke but the show’s not funny enough to pull it off so it’s just confusing and uncomfortable, Adam’s sinuses clear (he had been suffering from bad allergies) and he’s able to smell the Animas rock, which reeks because everyone ‘decorates’ it by pissing on it. Adam does the same and Animas is saved.

Everyone learned the true meaning of Animas, which is….I have no goddamn clue. Mr. Gills, who is a teacher and goldfish, drives home the message that the meaning of Animas is to be with your friends no matter if you ruin their holiday or not (which is kinda dumb in context because it’s hard to want to be around people who keep acting like you wrecked their favorite time of year. It’d be different if they were accepting of Adam’s inability to use animal instincts and just have him celebrate like everyone else, but they didn’t. They just kept telling him to do something he couldn’t do and acting like he was a weirdo for not knowing anything about Animas.)

Adam also said it’s about following your instincts, no matter if you’re human or animal, which….I dunno, is that meant to be a ‘follow your heart’ kinda deal?

Is there even a message in this special? It doesn’t need one, but it kinda needs something because the humor and story don’t hold it up very well. There’s a subplot with Coach Gills going through a bunch of Christmas special parodies so she can rediscover the true meaning of Animas because she’s a grinch. Despite a couple of humorous moments here, they also don’t do much with the parodies.

Finally, Adam has a couple of moments where he does like….poetry (?) as he tries to express how much his inability to belong at the animal school bums him out. It’s okay, but it’s also just not funny.

In the end, I really can’t recommend this as a Christmas special because….well…it’s not one, and I can’t recommend it as a neat episode of an old series because, well, I don’t find it to be one. It’s passable at best and gross/unfunny at worst. I don’t even like the theme song at all. That’s not unique to this special, but I just remembered how much I don’t like the theme song and couldn’t find anywhere else to put that not so here ya go.


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AVAHS – Robot Chicken: Freshly Baked – The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freak Out Special Edition Review

AVAHS - RC

Plot: A begrudged Santa accidentally downs some pot cookies and has an existential crisis.

Breakdown: Holy shit, Robot Chicken’s still on the air? Wow.

I used to enjoy Robot Chicken quite a bit, even if some of their sketches go a little too far if you ask me. It was always one of the more consistently funny adult animation shows, and even though its actual status has yet to be confirmed (It’s been in renewal/cancellation limbo for over a year) I’m pretty glad to see it’s lasted the test of time. I’ve just been so out of the loop with Adult Swim’s western animation block that I haven’t kept up with the show in years.

As for this Christmas special, which is the ninth Christmas special the series has aired, it was pretty damn funny. Of course, there were some jokes that I thought went a bit far (let’s just say the elf song has a really dark suggestion for making their jobs easier.) but overall it was enjoyable and did have its own darker brand of Christmas spirit in there. I laughed out loud several times and had a good time.

If you’re looking for a more adult-oriented Christmas special for some holiday chuckles, this one is a good choice, and at 11 minutes, it’s a quick watch too.


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AVAHS – Ed, Edd and Eddy: Fa-La-La-La-Ed Review

AVAHS - EEE FLLLE

Plot: Eddy concocts a scheme to take everyone’s money on Piggy Bank Day, but Ed counters his scheme with some Christmas cheer!……In July.

Breakdown: You guys remember that insanely short-lived Christmas in July block on Cartoon network where they would just play a bunch of Christmas specials in July? Well this…..

….Was not one of them….somehow.

I saw someone comment on this episode saying it was made for the block, but when I looked at the scheduling for the block (all four years that it ran – inconsistently even) the only Ed, Edd and Eddy entry that appeared was their other Christmas special, Jingle, Jingle, Jangle.

Yup. A Christmas special literally set in July and Cartoon Network never used it for their Christmas in July block.

As for the episode itself, it’s pretty okay. It’s got some decent jokes in there, and it managed to be a fairly good Christmas special. It can work both around the holidays and in summer because it has a nice holiday story in there while also kinda fulfilling a longing many people have when they’re at that harrowing middlepoint to Christmas. It’s been six months since Christmas so you barely have any leftover Christmas cheer, but you’re so far away from the next one that it seems like forever until it comes.

Ed proves that it doesn’t matter what time of year it is – you can always spread some Christmas cheer by giving to others.

Eddy didn’t learn any big lesson in the end, which is fine because who expects him to? Kinda wish Double-D got one of the jawbreakers in the end, though.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Mighty Magiswords

Plot: Warriors for hire, the clumsy sibling team of Vambre and Prohyas, trek out on quests as they collect magiswords – powerful swords of an endless array of shapes, sizes and powers.

Breakdown: I hate that this disappointed me as much as it did.

I had heard a decent amount of good chatter about this show before I finally gave it a watch, and….I just….I didn’t enjoy myself.

My first impression of Mighty Magiswords is that it’s one of those shows that tries too hard, and, as a result, it ends up just basically being a lot of noise. All of the characters are loud and have overly exaggerated mannerisms. Normally, I wouldn’t have much of an issue with that, these are cartoons after all, but everything goes at such a breakneck pace that you can’t really absorb the jokes when they come along. Some of the jokes hit with me, but everything else was like driveby comedy.

I honestly had such difficulty following along properly that I couldn’t even absorb the main characters names, which is especially odd because the theme song is one of those ‘explain the plot’ songs. I had to look at the Wiki to get their names jotted down. At least I remembered enough to make a suitable plot synopsis.

The hook of the magiswords is interesting, and I can see where the concept would make for a lot of comedy, but I can also see this shtick getting old fast. Basically, magiswords are a grab bag of pretty much any power they can think of from completely useless, like tomatoes and bacon powers, to somewhat good like making your arms super muscular.

The main characters seemingly already have a plethora of these swords that they can wield whenever they please, though it’s impossible to know exactly which ones they have. There was one battle in this episode, and they were whipping out magiswords with chewed bubblegum powers, laser pointers and even frog missiles.

In some ways, this show is kinda reminiscent of old, old, OLD cartoons where they’d pretty much just pull the world and everything in it out of their asses while they do kooky shit and bounce around, but in many others it reminds me of some irritating modern shows, like The Mighty B!, and that’s not a good thing.

Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon who can’t find a taste for these mile-a-minute insane shows that rely heavily on randomness and yelling for their comedy, but this one just didn’t hit with me.

The art is alright, though there’s not a lot to make it stand out much. I do like that they made Vambre at least a little curvy and stocky instead of being overly stick-ified, but that’s really all the notably positive stuff I have to say in the realm of the art and animation.

I didn’t even really notice the music too much. That was another thing that just kinda got swept up in the rushing waters of this show.

Verdict:

Continue no

I can see how some people might like this series, and maybe I’m just missing something, though I’m certainly not the first person to have these criticisms. As far as I can see, it’s just not my cup of tea.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Craig of the Creek

Plot: The Creek is an amazing place where kids from all over the neighborhood gather to explore, have fun and stake their claims. Craig, along with his friends Kelsey and JP, spend their days adventuring in the Creek while Craig works to create a full map of this utopia for kids.

Breakdown: You know what we’re really lacking in today’s animation world? Shows where normal kids just have fun being normal kids. Granted, yes, this show has an exaggerated view on kid life, at least where the Creek is concerned, but it’s grounded, humble and has a very real feeling to it.

That’s not meant to be a sleight on any show with fantastical elements. I absolutely adore shows with fantasy, superheroes, magic etc. But sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and relax with a show that is more rooted in reality. The only other show I can think of off the top of my head that has a similar realistic setting is The Loud House, and I haven’t watched much of that show.

Craig of the Creek has an air about it that’s very similar to Recess. The area they frequent is ruled by kids in various manners with each kid serving a different role or being a part of a specific group within the area. The imagination involved in both creating this world and in the kids who bring it to life is fantastic and very entertaining.

Even though, again, this is exaggerated, it’s not to the point of being terribly unrealistic.

Take this episode, for example. Craig is a cartographer of sorts. He wants to draw a full map of the Creek. There’s a spot on the map that hasn’t been explored, and he and his friends want to explore it to be legendary adventurers in the Creek. However, the area is a small spot located in a massive field of poison ivy. So they treat it like this epic adventure by getting suited up from head to toe in makeshift hazmat suits and even set up a tether with a fishing line to find their way back.

Something starts attacking them from the ivy, but it’s not a monster, it’s a kid who is immune to poison ivy. He has a big family and can’t get any privacy, so he uses his immunity to poison ivy to create a small sanctuary in the clearing of the poison ivy field where he has placed a trampoline. Craig, sympathizing with his plight, considering he has a similar situation, marks the spot as dangerous and warns everyone to stay out.

Being respectful of this kid’s sanctuary and privacy means much more to him than being a famous explorer in the Creek. And even his friends go along with this with no argument.

We even get a very nice and beautiful moment after this happens when they return home.

This show has all of the markings to hit all of the right buttons in regards to characters, story, comedy and even heartfelt moments. Plus, it’s definitely appealing to child and adult audiences alike. Not only do they not talk down to the kids, but this series is basically a nostalgia bomb for adults, especially if you lived in a small town.

They introduce the characters and establish the world very well. They have the dynamic of the three main characters solid right from the start. I particularly loved Kelsey. She is definitely my favorite character so far.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

Craig of the Creek has a very strong start, and it has a very refreshing concept that really brings me back. I can’t want for more adventures at the Creek.


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Episode One-Derland: Demashitaa! Powerpuff Girls Z

Plot: Professor Utonium manages to stabilize the mysterious Chemical X with the help of his son, Ken. The new and more powerful compound is called Chemical Z. During an impending weather crisis, they use the chemical to clear up the skies, but accidentally create numerous beams of Z rays which hit Momoko, Miyako and Kaoru, turning them into the magical girls Hyper Blossom, Rolling Bubbles and Powered Buttercup. They also hit a nearby monkey, turning him into the villain Mojo Jojo.

Breakdown: Even though Japan doesn’t do it to us nearly as much as we do it to them, they have remade American cartoons into Japanese anime numerous times before. One of the more notable examples is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but there’s also Lilo and Stitch, Transformers and even properties like Supernatural, Batman and Iron Man have been turned into anime.

Out of all of the shows to get the anime treatment, you could definitely make the argument that Powerpuff Girls is the most obvious target. They already sport big anime-ish eyes, fighting giant monsters is their forte, and they’re basically magical girls without the lengthy transformation sequences and accessories.

So, it’s also not a surprise that Japan opted to fully turn the girls into magical girls with lengthy transformation sequences and accessories.

They also seem like they’re manipulating American audiences by slapping the ‘Z’ onto it because, wow, what’s one of the most popular anime in the west? Dragon Ball Z.

Back when this series first came out, I didn’t hear a lot about it. I heard some things, but it was mostly in the realm of ‘…..Why?’ Still, when it came to actual opinions, I didn’t hear much. I was a big fan of the original Powerpuff Girls, but I never had much of a desire to see what the anime version was like.

PPGZ1

Fast forward over ten years later, and now I’ve finally decided to sit down and watch it as well as research the current reviews on it.

To say the ratings are all over the board would be an understatement.

IMDB is caught between extremely low ratings and extremely high ratings. And it’s not just hardcore fans who are in the low zone. Several people stated they hated the original series and found this series to be an insult to it.

MyAnimeList is better but also worse because their reviews are all over the place with some extremely low, some very high and some middleground, but it seems like the middleground ones disliked it more than their ratings would indicate, and one wouldn’t get off the comparisons to Sailor Moon.

I found a full-on hate post on Amino and even then they gave it a 4/10 before telling the reader to never watch it ever. Just….what?

There was one thing that was driving me to give this show a fair shot.

It has….

To be better….

Than this….

I mean, people are calling (D)PPGZ stupid, annoying and hollow, but PPG2016 is basically the epitome of stupid, annoying and hollow.

For sake of fairness, I’m not going to harp too much on the differences between the shows. I’m going to try and take it at face value as much as I can…..And then I’ll harp on the differences because I can’t not. But at least I’ll give you warning so you can skip it if you want.

Non-Comparison

This show is dumb and hollow. It’s not nearly as annoying as many reviewers made it out to be. It is a little, but not that bad. I’m mostly in the dumb and hollow camp.

I’m not expecting deep or intelligent stories from magical girl shows to begin with, but this is insulting my intelligence and suspending my disbelief way too much.

The episode is separated into two eleven minute long stories, like the original show. The first half is about the girls fighting Mojo Jojo after he kidnaps some kindergartners for the sake of stealing their candy to power his newest mech.

Why does this machine run on candy? Dunno.

Why is he kidnapping and taking candy from children instead of just robbing a candy store? Dunno.

The girls make an excuse to leave school, transform and fly to the location where they have a lame battle. The battle is particularly lame because Bubbles—excuse me, Miyako, has bubbles be her main attack, yet they are obviously no different from regular bubbles. We don’t have any way to know what the bubbles do when they actually work, so showing us that these inert bubbles are just acting like bubbles really makes it seem like they’re ordinary bubbles and Miyako’s an idiot for trying to fight with them.

Also, Butterc—I mean Kaoru keeps making baseball references when her weapon’s a hammer….

After a few minutes, the girls run low on power. Because god forbid the POWERpuff Girls have a decent enough supply of power to last longer than five minutes in a very mild battle. You’d think this would require them to charge up their powers somehow, but all it takes is randomly stopping the battle for a trip to the ice cream store to get them back to full strength.

PPGZ2

They take down Mojo and the day is saved.

The second half is the origin story of the girls, which you’d think would be first but whatever. One day, Professor Utonium was trying to stabilize the mysterious Chemical X to no avail. His son, Ken, and robot dog, Poochi, accidentally knocked a pastry into the Chemical X vat and it stabilized it, turning it into Chemical Z, because screw Y.

Suddenly, and seemingly unrelated to this, the climate shifts drastically. New Townsville is thrown into a blizzard within seconds. Icebergs are forming in the bay and penguins are overrunning the city. This climate shift is not just happening here, but around the world.

In an effort to stop it, Ken uses Chemical Z in conjunction with a laser gun to shoot the sky and end the weather troubles. None of what I just said makes sense in the slightest.

And it starts making even less sense when three beams of light and numerous beams of….darkness? shoot from where Ken shot the sky.

The beams of light are all about to hit three small children, and the girls, Momoko (Blossom) Miyako (Bubbles) and Kaoru (Buttercup) all separately sacrifice themselves to save the kids because lazy writing. As a result, they get hit with the beams and instantly go through the transformation process. Speaking of which, they seem like they skipped the transformations in the dub because my copy is raw Japanese with an English track and the track goes back to Japanese for the transformation sequences.

PPGZ3

It is a rather entertaining transformation sequence in regards to music, but the actions during the scene are kinda boring. They just kinda dance to pad out the time. Kaoru’s is the most interesting because she also does punches and stuff.

Also, they each get weapons based on the toys the kid they were saving was playing with at the time of the beam striking them. Momoko gets a yo-yo, Miyako gets a bubble wand and Kaoru gets a comically large hammer.

Momoko, or as her transformed state is called, Hyper Blossom, is the only one to get battle spotlight in this episode and gets further unnecessary spotlight later, including a bunch of still shots behind the Professor and Ken as they talk about all of the girls. All three of their screens eventual shift to just Momoko and 95% of the end theme showcases Momoko, because why not shove that goddamn ‘leader gets all the focus’ magical girl trope down our collective throats? That never gets old.

The beams of darkness are only shown hitting one being, a monkey named Mojo Jojo. He gains a helmet and giant cape as well as intelligence and the ability to talk and fly out of this deal. If I can’t question the magical girl items, I can’t question this either.

We actually get a kinda funny scene where Mojo and Momoko realize that Mojo’s evil, followed by another hollow and lame battle with Momoko flicking her yo-yo at him. She does eventually beat him and the day is saved. Miyako and Kaoru just go about their days elsewhere because we couldn’t be arsed to give them anything to do.

PPGZ4

Also, Kaoru the tomboy is super upset about her outfit including a skirt. Seriously, she brings it up twice in the two times we see her after she gets her powers…

Before I get to the comparison stuff, this episode both succeeds and fails as a first episode. We see the girls in ‘action’, sure, get a…slight idea of the world they live in, but it’s a piss-poor introduction to nearly all of the characters outside of maybe the Mayor, Miss Bellum and Mojo.

We don’t even learn the names of the girls in this episode. I had to look both their actual and superhero names up on the Wiki. Ken, the Mayor, Bellum and the Professor just call them ‘The Girls’ all the time. They don’t have a single actual conversation in the entire episode, and we barely learn anything about them.

Not to mention that both stories are just kinda stupid. A mech that runs on candy? Mojo kidnaps kindergartners and puts them in a giant bird cage to get the candy? The girls stop what they’re doing to give the kids autographs? Mojo asks for an autograph?

The climate changes drastically all over the world in mere seconds, somehow spawns icebergs in seconds and somehow calls a flood of penguins to invade the city and somehow a laser created by a liquid Chemical Z shot into the sky in one city clears up all of the weather phenomenon over the world and it also gives good powers to three girls and evil powers to other beings?

Now onto the bread and butter of this review, the comparisons with the original. To be fair, I’ll mark whether or not the change actually matters to the quality of the show.

Comparison with the Original PPG

– The girls are teenagers now, not kindergartners.

– Matters? No.

You can age up the girls, fine, but it does cause some oddities like, they still keep in the line about saving the world before bed time. I’m sorry, what teenagers have a bed time? A curfew, yeah, but bed time? And if you do have a bed time as a teen, why would you advertise that?

– The girls are magical girls now, I guess, not mutant superheroes made from Sugar, Spice, Everything Nice and Chemical X.

– Matters? Not really.

As unique as the cartoon’s origin story was, this is a perfectly fine origin story for the girls, even if it is lazy and something that’s already been used (Tokyo Mew Mew vibes, anyone?) My problem is with the ridiculousness of Chemical Z.

Chemical X was a mysterious compound and no one knew what it really did, not even Professor Utonium. It made Mojo smart and was the key component to making the girls. But Chemical Z seems like it’s a deus ex machina in liquid form. It can be used as laser….fuel, it instantly clears up almost supernatural worldwide weather phenomenon, it grants girls magical girl powers, creates themed weapons, accessories and clothes for them and grants other beings evil bad guy power.

PPGZ5

One could argue that making living beings out of some miscellaneous items and the chemical is just as bad, but that part of the story was based on the old saying that little girls are made of sugar, spice and everything nice. Just like when the Rowdyruff Boys were made, it was using the alternate saying for boys of snips, snails and puppy dog tails.

Also, the main origin behind the girls was that Townsville was a shady crap hole and Utonium wanted to create the perfect little girl to improve it. Thus creating the Powerpuff Girls….on accident, but nonetheless created them.

The fact that their creation wasn’t really…necessary and was entirely an accident is kinda boring. In fact, in a Static Shock Boom Baby kind of way, the girls wouldn’t be necessary at all if the Z rays didn’t also create bad guys…..

– Professor Utonium is no longer their adoptive father. Also, he has a son named Ken who is his lab assistant and a pet robot dog named Poochi who was also hit by the Z rays, somehow granting him the ability to talk even though I don’t know why this chemical…laser would be able to rewrite programming…He’s also granted the ability to call the girls.

– Matters? YES.

Ken is completely superfluous and so is Poochi. Removing Utonium as the girls’ father figure takes away a massive part of the story and nearly insults his original character development. Utonium was literally thrown into fatherhood upon creating the girls but did the best he could to love, raise, protect and teach them proper. Watch The Powerpuff Girls movie or several Utonium-centered episodes and you’ll feel a really strong familial connection.

PPGZ6
Also, just because I can’t find anywhere else to mention this, Ken, you don’t say ‘Bottom’s up’ when handing someone food. The adage is for drinking. The bottom of the glass goes up when you take a drink. I don’t care if it’s in a glass, you don’t drink ice cream unless it’s melted. Bottom’s up would make a huge mess on the floor. /dumb rant

Utonium never even speaks with the girls this entire episode.

He is still a father, but dammit it all if he doesn’t act like it.

What makes things even worse is that Ken seems like he’s made out to be more competent than Utonium. The professor is meant to be an extremely smart and skilled scientist. So you robbed him of one major character element and downgraded the other. Wonderful.

– In addition to that, the girls aren’t even sisters anymore.

– Matters? YES.

Why would you destroy their familial dynamic even more by making them seemingly total strangers until they unite as superheroes? Even when they’re together, I don’t feel like they’re good friends.

– They’re also not called Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. They’re called Momoko, Miyako and Kaoru.

– Matters? No.

The name thing is bothersome because I don’t understand the need, but it’s not vital to the plot. Plus, they do technically retain their names when transformed because they’re changed to Hyper Blossom, Rolling Bubbles and Powered Buttercup…..and yes, I do think those extra titles make these names stupid.

Particularly ‘Powered Buttercup’ Not only is that too on-the-nose, but what are you going to say ‘She’s the Powerpuff Girl Powered Buttercup’? That sounds redundant as hell.

– The girls keep their super hero identities a secret.

– Matters? Not really, but it adds a layer of common magical girl stupidity to the story.

PPGZ67

Like many magical girl series, the girls keep their identities a secret, but don’t wear masks when they transform. Their appearances aren’t changed enough when they transform to warrant the belief that other people wouldn’t recognize them. I can’t say how much awkwardness or doofy plots this causes, but I can bet it’s quite a bit.

In the original, the girls are known heroes throughout the entire series. In fact, their kindergarten has a Powerpuff hotline right in their classroom. It removes the awkward and sometimes annoying element of trying to keep their identities and powers a secret while also adding a layer of complication in their lives that was more interesting to explore.

– Mojo Jojo still talks fast and stuffs his speech, in the dub anyway, but it comes off more like bad dubbing instead of a character quirk.

– Matters? Not really, but lessens the comedy of his character.

– The girls are almost pathetically weak in regards to stamina. Mojo’s already basically a parody of himself here, but the girls just swing around their weapons, sometimes hurting themselves more than they’re hurting Mojo, for a few minutes and they start running out of energy.

– Matters? Yes.

The original had such a good balance of action and comedy. If you want to focus more on the comedy, fine, but if the action’s so minute and lame, why even bother?

– The girls stop to eat ice cream to help regain energy (I guess?) while forgetting about and leaving a bunch of kindergartners in a cage…..

– Matters? Yes.

They seem like uncaring jackasses to do such a thing, not heroes.

– They have to be reminded to save someone who just got kidnapped…

– Matters? Yes, for the same reason I just gave. Heroes don’t do that….

– The girls have major personality changes. Momoko/Blossom is still the leader, but she’s no longer a serious, stern leader or a nerd. In fact, she implies that she pretends stuff ate her homework to get out of doing it. She’s boy-crazy, ditzy and basically unrecognizable from what she originally was.

Bubbles is still bubbly and positive, but she’s way into fashion and is ditzier than she was in the original.

Buttercup is a skateboard-riding baseball cap-wearing tomboy who detests wearing skirts.

– Matters? Yes, but mostly in regards to Blossom.

PPGZ8

I can’t even gauge this enough because we barely get to see their personalities over the course of two half-episodes, but Blossom definitely fares the worst here.

While Bubbles’ being preoccupied with fashion makes me roll my eyes and Buttercup’s incessant irritation at wearing a skirt makes me…irritated (and, as tomboyish as Buttercup was originally, her main outfit was a dress…..) Blossom is basically gutted from a stern serious leader with high levels of intelligence to basically your typical ‘Homework? Ugh’ magical girl protagonist, maybe worse.

It’s also irksome that all three of the girls were either gawking at groups of others or had people gawking at them when we first meet them in their origin story. Blossom was drooling over the guys in the various sports teams running by, tons of boys were fawning over Bubbles and tons of girls were gawking at Buttercup. Yup, they’re all super cute and popular and amazing and blah.

– There’s barely a narrator anymore and barely an ‘and once again the day is saved’ segue.

– Matters? No.

As sad as it is to lose those transitions and endings because the narrator was practically a character himself, it doesn’t affect the quality. To its credit, they do try to squeeze some form of it in the middle and a small line by the narrator at the end, but it’s so unsatisfactory for fans that they might as well not even try.

Also, that line about bed time makes it worse.

Verdict:

750spsl

It’s a lame and overly silly magical girl show with not enough comedy to back it up. There was one funny moment with Mojo, but that was it. The overall plot is dumb, the individual stories are dumb, the battles are lame and it just feels like a hollow show.

I’m not against adaptations changing things as long as the changes are for the better, but all of these changes are either superfluous or for the worse.

Fans of the show might enjoy it a bit just because it’s more PPG….technically, and it IS better than PPG2016. Then again, me setting my toes on fire is better than PPG2016.

Also, I will say that the soundtrack for the show is fantastic, especially during the transformation sequences, so if you’re a fan of anime OSTs, maybe check that out.


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Animating Halloween: The Amazing World of Gumball – Halloween

AHTAWOGH

Plot: Gumball, Darwin and Anais head to the cemetery to meet Carrie for a ghost party at a haunted house.

Breakdown: You know what sucks? Watching an episode of Gumball with headphones on. Jesus Christ, does everyone do their best to have their voices squeak whenever possible? It’s like every character has an old shopping cart lodged in their throats.

I still have a bit of an odd relationship with Gumball, but I think I’m warming up to it a little. While the characters are still largely irritating, I found this episode to be fun. It’s a bit of a step away from your usual Halloween fare, in a good way, though I really think this special suffers from the eleven minute restriction.

Like I’ve already mentioned before, it’s very difficult to make one of these specials be worth it if they don’t at least get the full 22 minutes of a complete episode. The party didn’t get to be as funny as it could’ve been and neither did Gumball and Darwin messing around as ghosts all because they tried to do so much in so little time.

And just to get this out of the way, Gumball and Darwin kill themselves in this episode. I don’t care how they subvert it or sugarcoat it, they turned into ghosts and left bodies behind – they died.

Despite all that, they still had several moments that made me crack a smile, but none that made me laugh. I kinda like the humor Gumball has sometimes, like when they’re more deadpan or when they tried to control the T-rex, but it’s overall style has a lot of difficulty staying with me through the whole episode and I still can’t bring myself to like the characters. I liked Carrie a lot, but that’s about it.

All in all, a fairly fun Halloween special but nothing really…’special.’


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Animating Halloween: Unikitty – Scary Tales

AHUST

Plot: Unikitty and her friends tells scary stories on Halloween while trying to scare the seemingly unscareable Richard.

Breakdown: I’ll be frank – I barely know a thing about Unikitty besides it’s a show made by Lego and it’s based on the character from The Lego Movie.

No one’s ever really encouraged me to go and watch it. I haven’t heard really bad things about it, but I also haven’t heard anything all that great either.

That being said, this was a pretty enjoyable Halloween special. While the overarching storyline is cliché and the individual stories aren’t all that memorable, the little moments and jokes they had throughout the episode were usually pretty entertaining and funny.

I liked the handful of nods they gave to classic horror movies like Friday the 13th and Scream. They also had two characters dress up like Pac-Man and a ghost, and I thought that was cool. Not sure how many kids today would get it, but still.

The show kinda goes at a breakneck speed for me, but it has fun with itself. I’d watch some more episodes if I caught it on TV.


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