SSBS – Dinosaur King Episode 2: Battle at the Pyramids

ssbs - Dinosaur King Episode 2

Plot: Rex’s father discovers more Dino Cards. While waiting for them to arrive, a spinosaurus emerges in Egypt. Since Max is the only one with a stone and a dino, he’s is the only one able to transport himself to Egypt through use of the Dino-Holder. However, the Alpha gang has their sights set on the spinosaurus as well. Did Max and Chomp bite off more than they can chew?

Breakdown: I apologize for that pun, and this episode is pretty boring. Second episodes are usually just about establishing excess stuff that they weren’t able to establish in the first episode. The other two team members need dinos, we need to establish more things about the universe, and the Alpha gangs needs a bit more firepower to stay on even ground with the D-Team. Most of the episode is either recapping stuff we already knew, talking about nothing or quickly spewing out exposition.

All you really need to know is now Rex has a carnisaurous named Ace and the power of wind, and Zoe has a parasaurolophus, which is way too hard to pronounce and spell, named Paras and the power of nature. Zoe’s move card is also a healing ability. So yay, more female characters relegated to being support/healers! Whoo.

The Alpha Gang also caught the spinosaurus to make their numbers a bit more even, and Dr. Z fabricated a move card for the T-rex.

…..Oh and the D-Team is also massively stupid and uncaring. First, Max doesn’t notice nor care that Rex and Zoe didn’t teleport to Egypt alongside him. They could be dead for all he knew, but he doesn’t even bat an eyelash.

Second, they’re specifically fighting in the ruins of ancient Egypt because the setting makes for a better battle. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, they do flatout destroy some of the monuments. Specifically, they beheaded the sphinx and they put a massive dent in one of the pyramids. The kids don’t notice nor do they care.

Third, after they’ve destroyed parts of what made Egypt so magnificent and fascinating to begin with, they decide, after the battle, that they’ll stay in Egypt for a week and see the sights…..the thoroughly destroyed sights. Oh and Dr. Taylor and Reese also don’t care that they both destroyed some of the most beloved ancient artifacts in the world (They’re goddamn paleontologists) and are taking an unsupervised week-long trip in Egypt on the fly.

Idiots.

Even if they’re poorly CGI’d representations of the monuments, it’s really hard to root for the protagonists when they flippantly destroy some of the coolest remaining parts of ancient Egypt. They don’t even properly react when it happened. They just throw dinosaurs into them and then YAY we win!

Rating: 3/10

Next episode…..

…Previous Episode

Final Notes: Can someone tell the writers so stop trying to hard when it comes to Dr. Taylor? They are going to ridiculous lengths to make him seem like a wacky off-the-cuff character.

Animating Halloween: Extreme Dinosaurs – Night of the Living Pumpkins

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A pterodactyl in a bunny costume is the most EXTREME!

Plot: A few weeks before Halloween, the Extreme Dinosaurs try to thwart the raptors plans of drilling for lava in a volcano and weaponizing it. They get exposed to some weird gas that turns them all into completely gentle pacifists who have no interest in pursuing the raptors.

When the raptors realize what the gas did, they try to weaponize that instead and infect millions of pumpkins with it. Distribution of pumpkins go worldwide, and the raptors hope to have an easy time taking over the country with no one to stop them. What can cure the Extreme Dinosaurs before Halloween becomes a nightmare?

Breakdown: I gave Extreme Dinosaurs some crap when I reviewed it for Episode One-Derland, but 30 episodes in, they must’ve found better footing because this was actually a pretty entertaining episode.

Halloween is basically used as a set piece here as it’s really not important to the plot at all. The raptors could just as easily be infecting chocolate bars or some other widely distributed item and the story would remain the same.

The only justification for it is that the gas, which are really microbes, needs heat in order to activate, otherwise they’re harmless. Being in jack-o-lanterns exposes them to the heat from candles. That’s why the Extreme Dinosaurs got affected in the volcano. How and why such a microbe was in the volcano to begin with is never explained.

Pumpkins/jack-o-lanterns are used to distribute the microbes and somehow a bunch of humanoid raptors got a monopoly on pumpkin selling across the entire US in a fortnight in October.

Still, the dinosaurs being extremely prissy was more entertaining than I ever thought it would be. There’s just something very funny about a T-rex knitting a sweater, a pterodactyl hopping in a bunny costume while singing a song to the tune of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again’ and a triceratops being preoccupied with growing flowers. Them reacting to damn near everything with a smile and a conversation was also funny.

The resolution to their behavior was a bit cheap, though. The whole issue with these microbes is that they make you insanely gentle, happy, calm and pacifistic. So what do you do to cure that? Just intentionally piss them off.

That makes zero sense. Anger should not cure anti-anger. Plus, the way they get pissed is a little too lame for me to believe.

You’re telling me they can hear that the raptors are planning to take over the country and they want to go off and have a tea party with them, but hearing that the TV is busted or seeing flowers get destroyed is enough to make their anger shine through biological manipulation?

I also noticed that they included a character that wasn’t present in the pilot, an ankylosaurus named Hard Rock. He’s a good character that adds a level of maturity and level headedness that helps even out the annoying hover-mom rule-lover that is Chedra.

All in all, this is a good and funny episode of Extreme Dinosaurs that actually makes me want to give the show another chance. However, it’s not really the best Halloween episode due to lack of Halloween atmosphere. It just seems like it’s an afterthought most of the time.

Not to mention that the title doesn’t make sense. The pumpkins never come to life.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Dino Riders

“Promotional quotes that lend nothing to your view of the product, useless for 100 years, are back” -FiddleTwix

Plot: See Breakdown.

Breakdown: Dino Riders is a show about an alien race called the Valorians traveling through space and time to prehistoric earth. Following them are their enemies, the reptilian race, the Rulons. They use their telekinetic abilities to communicate with and befriend the dinosaurs of the land while the Rulons do the same, except using mind-control devices called brain boxes.

They outfit the dinosaurs in high-tech machinery, gadgets, lasers and missiles as they fight battle after battle in their never ending war to conquer the other.

…..Did you get that? Aliens control the minds of dinosaurs, outfit them with high-tech alien weaponry, including missiles and lasers, and battle each other.

I don’t think I need to say anything else. Everyone good? Kay. Put up the verdict card.

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Okay, for those still curious enough to keep reading, I first caught onto this show after watching one of the Nostalgia Critics commercial reviews. He was talking about one of the commercials for the Dino Riders toys which this cartoon is based off of. He was just as blown away by the concept as I was, and I couldn’t resist seeking out the cartoon. Of course this series was released in 1988, one year before I was born. Damn my inability to control what year I was born.

In all honesty, I am overplaying this series just a tad. It is awesome to see battles between raptors, pteradactyls, triceratops and even T-rexes outfitted with lasers and missiles, but I can’t deny that the foundations are kinda weak. We don’t really know why the Rulons want to destroy the Valorians so badly, they just do. The idea that pea-brained dinosaurs can be reasoned with so easily just with telepathy is a bit farfetched (but, honestly, who cares? And the alternative is mind-control hats) and it is just a flat out, 80’s brand ‘we’re two factions at war….pew pew.’

But it is still a lot of fun, and there is so much room for possibilities that, sadly, probably won’t get realized because this series somehow only lasted 14 episodes. Captain Planet gets six seasons. Dino Riders get 14 episodes. Rip. Off. I definitely would’ve been more invested in Captain Planet if they used laser equipped dinosaurs to kill polluters…..Actually…..easily befriending even the fiercest of creatures with telepathy and heart?…..Is Ma Ti a Valorian?

Not to mention we have some top-notch voice work here. Frank Welker (because he’s under contract to be in literally everything) Rob Paulson, Dan Gilvezan (Bumblebee in the 80’s Transformers series) Charlie Adler, Townsend Coleman and Peter friggin’ Cullen – Optimus Prime!

Even the animation stands up very well for being a late 80’s cheap cartoon based on a toy. And yes, I’m including both GI Joe and Transformers there.

Anyhoo, Dino Riders may be a short-lived series with a one-dimensional story…….but DINOSAURS WITH ALIEN LASER WEAPONRY IN BATTLES AGAINST REPTILE CREATURES…..COME ON!

SSBS – Dinosaur King Episode 1: Prehistory in the Making

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Plot: The time of dinosaurs was seemingly over until Max and his friends found a little dinosaur inside of a rock that fell from the sky. With the power of an accompanying card, the dinosaur can both be recalled back into the stone and grow into a huge and powerful dinosaur. These dinosaurs aren’t around for no reason, however. With a threat looming over the horizon, they’ll need the dinosaur’s help to save the world.

Breakdown: Okay, time to go over my history with Dinosaur King.

……..I don’t have one. 😀

I vaguely remember this being on TV, never watched it and never saw or heard much of it. But it’s a shounen card game ish anime so here I am.

Our story starts off with ugly images of dinosaurs and a meteor hitting the earth and killing them all before we see our main character, Max, waking up, indicating that the images were merely a dream brought on by his dinosaur book.

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Max is voiced by Veronica Taylor doing absolutely nothing to differentiate her voice from her Ash voice, making this really distracting.

He sees a light in the sky that crashes into the nearby mountains and is excited at the idea that it’s a meteor. He wakes up his friend, predictably named Rex, to go investigate and we get our theme song that has all the markings of a 4Kids theme song. Dumb lyrics? Check. Catchy? Check. Rapping? Major check.

Also, this theme song gives us a sneak peak at the disgusting CGI that is in this show. I really mean it. On its own, it’s pretty okay, but meshed with the traditional 2D style of the anime it’s atrocious.

Max, Rex and his other friend Zoe, who make up something called the D-Team, go to investigate. Max, by the by, has a visor with big horns on it because dinosaur. Also, these horns light up for some reason. They see a bunch of damaged trees and Max thinks the meteor must be in a tree that has a big hole in it.

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Max finds some weird rock in the tree with a lightning bolt on it, so he must’ve found Pikachu. Rex find another stone with a symbol for wind on it while Zoe finds a third stone with a symbol for grass.

Max presses a button on the rock, causing them all to glow for a minute. After the glowing subsides, Max finds another item in the tree that contains two…..trading cards…..Okay. I’ve seen dumber things in shounen shows. Bakugan rings a particular bell in that regard. The cards have equally clashing artworks of triceratops on them, and he notices that the symbols of the backs of the cards match the symbol on the stone. He basically scans the cards with the stone and summons a triceratops.

They freak out for a bit, and Max does something that puts the triceratops back in its card. He decides to scan the card again….because why not I guess, and he summons a chibi-ceratops that he later names Chomp because he bites everything.

Cut to a bunch of dinosaurs fighting in an arena, we’re introduced to who I suppose is our villain – Dr. Z. He wants to be king of the dinosaurs and if he is our villain you can already tell that he’s really no threat. He has a bumbling sidekick and he’s constant comic relief.

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rawr

A T-Rex breaks through the house and starts chasing Dr. Z before it’s turned into a chibi-T-Rex by some little girl named Laura.

A stereotypical German maid woman named Helga storms into the scene scolding everyone and telling them their dinner’s ready, and we’re made aware that Dr. Z is apparently in love with Helga.

Stoic guy with blue hair #24234C named Seth arrives and the story of these people is laid out very blatantly in a few lines of dialogue – they have a time machine, they’re stuck, their time machine’s broken and when the time machine broke Dr. Z lost his collection of dinosaur cards and they were scattered across the world.

Dr. Z uses a device that alerts him to the location of one of the cards and they prepare to leave before the commercial.

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Back with Max and the others, they explain their situation to Max’s dad who happens to be a dinosaur expert. He’s perfectly fine with the dinosaur thing and is actually really excited about the discovery, but wants to keep it a secret for safety’s sake. Max’s mom comes in and they convince her that Chomp is just a really odd dog who followed Max home. She believes them because….she’s dumb, and lets Chomp live at their house as long as Max takes care of him.

Dr. Z sends his minions, who call themselves Alpha Gang, off to capture the dinosaurs while Max’s dad and Zoe’s older sister, Reese, do research on the stones.

We get a really convoluted and silly theory as to how these stones and cards work. Max’s dad, Spike Taylor (of course), theorizes that the dinosaurs’ consciousnesses were sealed within the stones right before dinosaurs went extinct. Someone outfitted the stones with microchips that somehow have the ability to turn the dinosaurs into cards. When activated, the cards turn back into dinosaurs and for some reason when they’re scanned again they turn into chibi dinosaurs. When scanned a third time they return to card form.

Back with Max and the others, the Alpha Gang arrives and attacks with their T-Rex….Terry (of course…again)

Spike arrives and tries to capture Terry with a net and obviously fails. Terry keeps trying to get at Chomp and Max. Chomp tries to fight back, but obviously the little guy is no threat to a giant T-Rex in chibi state.

Spike throws Max some fancy device and, get this, it works just like the stone only easier. Apparently in the time frame of a few hours, Spike managed to understand fully how the stones, chips and cards worked, managed to replicate the technology on his own and make the process easier, designed and produced the device…..Not only that, but he also managed to write a manual for it that is like 5000 pages.

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Right. Sure. Then again, I feel really stupid nitpicking that considering this is a show where actual dinosaurs are kept in trading cards and summoned with rocks.

Obviously this device was created so quickly so that they could get the toy line out faster….

Max saves Chomp by recalling him back to card form with the device and then he scans the card into the device triggering a transformation sequence for Chomp into his regular dinosaur form. Considering they did this a few times already without this transformation sequence, I find this to be even more pointless than usual transformation sequences. Additionally, this sequence is segued by a little screen on the device so I’m left wondering if Spike actually programmed this sequence into it….

Zoe: “Another dinosaur!”

Spike: “Where did this one come from?”

What? You mean Chomp? Zoe and Rex have seen him transform three times now. Spike has seen him transform. They know that those cards call a triceratops. They can’t be confused about Terry either because they’ve been well aware of him since he appeared. What the hell are you people confused about?

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Terry and Chomp battle and for some reason the background is mostly changed to CGI while they’re battling. I would say this is welcome, but now that I’ve gotten used to the ugly clashing with traditional animation, this looks even uglier somehow.

Chomp’s losing because, well duh, and Max starts panicking. The device starts glowing red as Chomp gets more damaged because I don’t know and the other card that Max found pops out of it. He scans that card and it….gives him lightning powers? What the fuck does a triceratops have to do with lightning? Why does this card give him lightning powers? Why? All sorts of why?

Chomp beats Terry and sends him flying off, which prompts him to turn back to card form. Chomp, now exhausted, also turns back into card form, but is turned back to chibi-Chomp by Max.

Defeated, the Alpha Gang shows up and introduces themselves; Ursula, Zander and Ed. They’re basically Team Rocket, and it’s especially obvious with Ursula. Not only are her personality and mannerisms very reminiscent of Jessie, but she’s also voiced by Rachel Lillis. Eric Stuart also voices Dr. Z, and I will give him credit for increasing his range because I totally didn’t recognize him.

The Alpha Gang runs off and we get a bit more explanation about the device, called a Dino-Holder. It not only acts as the stone but it also translates the dinosaur’s thoughts into words. Sure why not? Also, yay, that means we’re going to hear these dinosaurs talking. Whoo.

Spike gives custom-made Dino-Holders to Zoe and Rex too, despite the fact that they don’t have cards yet, and they start glowing their respective colors as they hear the voices of dinosaurs coming from the devices begging for help. And that’s the end of episode one.

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This show is incredibly stupid so far. I mean, I never expect logic or non-stupid much from shounen gaming anime. I really don’t. But, man, you need to suspend all kinds of disbelief for this show. The premise is so convoluted and just gets more convoluted the more you think about it.

I know this is episode one, but I already have all sorts of questions that I can’t see answered anytime soon, like why do the dinosaurs need chibi forms? Why does Dr. Z want to be king of the dinosaurs? Why did he choose trading cards, rocks and chibi dinos to achieve this? How did Spike manage to do all that with the Dino-Holder in such a small amount of time? What is the point of giving the dinosaurs elemental powers? You really need to buff goddamn DINOSAURS? What’s the logic with the selected elements anyway? Why does a triceratops get lightning? How are these powers contained in cards? Why are these powers contained in cards? Just why on a lot of things.

Also, I really can’t get over how much this seems like a meld between Pokemon and Digimon (Season three in particular) just with dinosaurs.

None of the characters stand out from the archetypes. Max is the leader, headstrong and curious, never gives up and really cares about his friends. Rex didn’t get much exploration but he seems like the responsible one. Zoe is the girl. Alpha Gang is Team Rocket, Dr. Z is the bumbling evil scientist, Seth is the stoic competent villain and Spike is the bumbling good guy scientist.

The art for the CGI is very dated and it clashes so horribly with the traditional animation that it’s very distracting. If you were distracted by how much the CGI clashed with the regular animation in Duel Masters, you’ll be crying at this, especially considering that the CGI and traditional animation in that show were usually kept separate and hardly ever shared the screen. Here, it’s constantly in the same frame.

The traditional art is fine and the colors pop. Some of the designs are kinda cool, even if Zoe and Rex’s necklaces are kinda distracting. The animation is typical shounen gaming anime fare – just okay.

The OP is catchy, even if ‘Make your move’ kinda seems weird to put in the lyrics if this isn’t a legit game. The BG music is completely forgettable.

All in all, I’m really not impressed with this first episode, and I can really understand why this show didn’t take off. Hopefully it will get better from here.

Rating: 3/10

Next Episode, our “heroes” destroy ancient Egyptian monuments.