SnSBS – Medabots Episode 2

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Plot: Ikki is a psuedo-celebrity in school after his robattle victory over the bandits. However, he cannot gain the respect of or authority over Metabee. After a lot of fighting, Ikki decides he’s had enough with his ‘defective’ Medabot, but requires his assistance when the student council calls on him to help them beat the Screws and get their meeting room back.

Medabot Debuts:

Totalizer: A TOT type Medabot, Totalizer’s design is based off a turtle. However, not much is known about it’s battle capability since it’s never seen fighting in the anime. However, its technical specs claim that it has speedy firing capability. One can assume, like the turtle its based on, that Totalizer has great defense.

Banisher: A BAN type, Banisher’s design is based heavily on bancho, like its Medafighter, but it’s extremely fragile. Banisher’s model is unique in that it has no ability to attack first. It must be a counterattack. Not that it ever gets a chance to do such a thing.

Battles:

Ikki vs. Samantha: Winner – Ikki: Peppercat loses right arm to Metabee.

Ikki vs. Baron von Banish: Winner – Ikki: Banisher loses legs to Metabee.

Breakdown: Today’s episode starts with Ikki being egotistical and a complete asshole. Swell. Ikki is high off of his victory from the last episode and becomes full of himself. However, Metabee is refusing to take orders from him, and well he should.

I may not be Metabee’s biggest fan, but Ikki is acting like a complete asswad to Metabee. He’s furious that Metabee is sitting at the table reading the paper because he shouldn’t be doing anything that he doesn’t command. And when he takes out the trash, possibly freeing Ikki from the chore, he’s outraged that Metabee will follow his mother’s directive without issue but not his. Metabee even gives a good argument as to why he’s obeying Ikki’s mom – because she’s providing him with free room and board and he believes he owes it to her.

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To make his rage even more apparent, he tells Metabee to throw himself out in the trash when he’s done. How nice. Don’t talk with him or try to understand why he’s not obeying you – Just keep insulting and yelling at him for doing innocent things and helping out. Keep in mind, Metabee is disobeying him in the most polite way possible. I know he’s been disobeying him since the start, but even that was due to Ikki screaming at him and insulting him.

You’re really going to make me do something I usually don’t do – Praise Ash Ketchum. When Ash was first starting out as a Pokemon trainer, his origins were much like that of Ikki’s. He really wanted a Pokemon but hadn’t been able to acquire one until the first episode. His partner (Also yellow, coincidentally) completely disobeyed him as well. However, whereas Metabee disobeys Ikki because Ikki’s a twat, Pikachu disobeyed Ash because he thought he was an idiot and didn’t want to follow a human’s command.

Ash tried to talk with Pikachu and gave in to some of Pikachu’s more demanding quirks like not getting into his Pokeball and shocking people with little provocation. Despite it being the only way to keep him under decent control, he also quickly conceded on using rubber gloves and leading Pikachu by a rope since it was more respectful of Pikachu. He did try to be a commanding trainer a bit, but it was smoke and mirrors and he wasn’t being an ass about it.

Ash did eventually get fed up with the situation and started trying to do things on his own that would require a Pokemon’s assistance, like trying to capture a Pidgey. However, while he was being a bit silly and misguided, it was at least understandable that he was brought to this point. People don’t like to acknowledge it, but early Pikachu was an ass. Dealing with such a Pokemon on your first time out is plenty to get frustrated over. And he did need to get his journey up and running. If his Pokemon won’t cooperate for the time being, he has to do something to try and further himself, even if it is silly.

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Now imagine if Pikachu was cooperative and pretty chill. It had some issues in battle, but nothing it couldn’t get around. It was helpful and liked to just hang out. Would Ash’s frustration and subsequent reactions make sense in that scenario?

Now imagine if Pikachu acted that way and instead of just getting fed up and trying to do things himself, he constantly yelled at Pikachu and called him a rat who deserved to be thrown in the garbage. You’d probably think Ash was a huge bag of dicks.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that Ikki is lucky he even has a Medabot at all, like Ash was lucky he even got Pikachu since he slept in and all of the main starters were taken. This was also a theme in another shounen anime, Megaman NT Warrior. Kid without super cool cyber being gets cool cyber being and ends up being completely ungrateful for a time, even saying he wanted to send it back, because it wasn’t quite the way he wanted it, even though Megaman was completely cool and powerful. Ikki, however, is by far the worst example here since he’s an amalgamation of all of the examples and amplified.

Ikki heads to school and tells Metabee to stop following him since Medabots aren’t allowed in school….say what? The very first scene of the first episode was a Medabot battle taking place in school – and with the student council president no less. Since when are Medabots not allowed in school at all?

After some more bitching and moaning, he runs into Henry and bitches and moans that the Medabot he sold him was defective. Henry explains that he’s at no fault for the issues he’s having with Metabee by explaining again how Medabots work. Medabots are comprised of a skeleton, a body and a medal. Henry sold him the skeleton and body, but Ikki found the medal. Since the medal is a Medabot’s equivalent to a brain, if anyone is to blame for his behavior, it’s Ikki.

When Ikki arrives at school he finds that Erika has posted a clearly digitally painted article (complete with typos: “I’m sre” is meant to be “I’m sure”, and “juibilant” is meant to be “jubilant”) posted on the wall, essentially glorifying Ikki’s victory over the bandits from the last episode, making him a school-wide sensation.

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Ikki relishes in the spotlight for a minute before Metabee shows up and starts trying to sign autographs. His adoring fans are quickly brought down when they see that Metabee won’t obey its MedaFighter. Metabee, getting irritated, starts shooting up the school….I’m not kidding. He did it earlier in the scene with Henry and Ikki too. He gets a little mad then starts shooting off his guns everywhere. And I don’t care if the sounds effects are more ‘pew pew’ than ‘pow pow’ that’s still obviously a machine gun.

After the shooting, which hardly anyone seems to be batting an eyelash at, Samantha orders Sloan to battle Ikki and take out their rising threat. Sloan calls out his Medabot, Totalizer, and they try to start the match when Coach Mountain puts Totalizer in a headlock and stops the match since it’s against school rules. Just because we haven’t had a lot of pointless scenes in this episode. Or I guess they wanted to establish Sloan’s Medabot since it will never be in the show ever again.

I love how Ikki’s more concerned over possibly getting expelled due to him almost having a robattle in school when his Medabot just performed a school shooting that he was mostly unconcerned about.

Metabee then says the only reason he was in school anyway was because he went home before, like Ikki said, and his mother sent him back with his notebook. Just when you think the two might start getting along a little better, Metabee reveals that he ran the notebook through the dishwasher before he left because it was dirty, and since it’s an electronic notebook, it’s completely ruined (I don’t know why I pointed out that it was ruined due to being electric since even if it was a paper notebook it would still get ruined) I’m not really clear on whether Metabee did that on purpose.

Ikki tells Metabee to leave and that he never wants to see him again. He does and the series ends.

The end

Nah, that’s too easy.

Later, Ikki finds a love letter from a secret admirer in his locker telling him to meet her behind the school. However, it was really a trick by the student council. They want to contract him out to robattle the Screws and get them the student council office that they lost access to in the start of the previous episode. After giving his ego a few strokes and promising him the title of student council vice president if he wins, Ikki agrees to take down the Screws.

Henry captures Metabee by baiting a net with a watermelon…..yeah, the logic is that since Metabee is a beetle type Medabot, he can’t resist the allure of watermelon…..Because that’s a reasonable feature to put into a Medabot medal – realistic instincts of the animal the medal is based on. Look out, Peppercat, you’ll be foiled by that ball of yarn!

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Ikki and Samantha face off. Samantha brings forth Peppercat and Ikki tries to call Metabee, but realizes his medal is not in his Medawatch. Medals need to be installed in the medawatches in order to call forth the Medabot. Once the Medabot emerges, the Medafighter installs the medal in the Medabot. (Can we please tone down the words that have the word ‘meda’ in them? I’m going to go nuts.) However, Ikki realized in an earlier scene that Metabee’s medal cannot be ejected remotely due to errors, and Henry couldn’t do it manually since Metabee wouldn’t let him (which spurred the aforementioned first shooting).

Since he cannot teleport Metabee to the match, he has to go looking for him. He finds Metabee being hauled off by Henry and demands for his release. Henry says that Metabee is clearly defective like Ikki said and seems willing to take out his medal and replace it with a ‘properly working’ one. Ikki considers the arrangement, but backs down. Not because he’s grown to care about Metabee – But because he’s all he’s got at the moment and really needs to go battle.

What nice character development. We’ve gone from ‘I hate you, you’re garbage, I never want to see you again’ to ‘he is defective and I’d like to take his brain out and replace it with a better one, but right now I have to protect my fragile ego in front of a bunch of people I don’t give a shit about for a position I’m not qualified for nor do I want. He’s all I got, so gimme.’

It’s just so touching.

Somehow his pathetic half-hearted begging is enough to get Metabee to agree to battle for him. The music indicates that I’m supposed to feel feelings now.

Feelings have failed to load. Please contact the administrator.

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Metabee and Ikki go off to battle and Henry says this annoying sentence:

Henry: “They’re two of a kind. Arrogant, hot-headed and destined for greatness.” Yay, these two annoying egotistical jack-offs are destined for greatness. I can’t wait to sit through 91 episodes to see it come to fruition.

They go back to the park and start the robattle. Metabee has a lot of difficulty dealing with Peppercat’s electric attacks, but Ikki gets the bright idea to shoot the fountain, causing water to spray all over Peppercat, shorting her out. You’d think a Medabot whose main attack is electricity would have more preventative measures against water, but I’m not expecting much in the realms of intelligence from the Screws.

Also, Ikki, I’m sure the owners of the park really appreciate you shooting and destroying their fountain that would probably cost thousands of dollars to replace.

With one rocket launch, Peppercat is defeated. Samantha falls to the ground in horror since ‘The Big Cheese’ that they mentioned before Sloan was sent to battle Ikki will not be happy that they lost. The Big Cheese is named Baron von Banish, a supposedly powerful being who leads the Screws and runs the entire school from behind closed doors. Everyone shudders and whispers at his name, believing him to be merely a rumor and claiming no one’s ever seen him before.

A huge imposing figure in bancho attire approaches and challenges Ikki. He brings forth his Medabot, Banisher and they start the mat—you know what. I was going to go all the way with a big buildup to get to the punchline of this whole minor-ish-not-really-it’s-actually-total-filler-this-guy-has-no-point-sub-plot, but they basically spoil what will happen right here.

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See, when they do the Index screen for Banisher, they say its special ability….is a strong appearance.

If you can put two and two together, you can instantly surmise that he just looks tough but is actually a pushover. And lo and behold, he is. He takes literally one shot from Metabee and loses. Baron himself collapses and starts coughing, revealing he’s also a sickly pushover, and he just walks away without even breaking his tough guy character. And despite his sickly nature and the fact that his Metabot was just defeated depressingly easily, the Screws still worship the ground he walks on. I don’t get it. The Screws are stupid, but I wouldn’t think they’d be quite that stupid.

That sure was a thing that happened. What a fun two minutes that was.

Metabee and Ikki bask in their victory for a moment before the student council president gives Ikki the title of vice president. Believing Ikki just used him for the sake of a title, with Erika so helpfully giving photo proof to support this, Metabee starts shooting at Ikki because gun violence against children is hilarious according to this episode.

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Final Notes: This episode was terrible. The plot was just scraps leftover from the first episode, both battles were disappointingly short and easy, especially for Ikki considering this is his second robattle ever, there was the stupid and utterly pointless ‘big cheese’ filler, and when you can make cheese filling bad, you’re doing something very wrong.

What’s worse is that Ikki doesn’t learn a damn thing. He treats his Medabot like crap even though it’s not doing anything to deserve it (until the shootings anyway) and he gets high on himself for something he didn’t even really do only to come out on top twice in the end. He gets the vice president position, everyone’s either crushed over being trounced by him or singing his praises, only to serve more ego stroking, and he gets Metabee to listen to him even though he did nothing to earn it outside of saying ‘yeah, you suck Metabee, but you’re all I got so will you battle for me?’

The only form of comeuppance for him is Metabee shooting at him, and that’s both over the top and something that won’t impact him at all anyway. And he’s trying to weasel out of Metabee getting mad over it, saying they’re lying about him wanting to get Metabee back for the sake of trying to win the student council position, but that’s a damn lie. Maybe he didn’t care about the position, but he cared about looking like a badass in front of his classmates and he did seem honored to have the title either way.

Next episode, Coach Mountain is acting odd. He’ll need to recruit Ikki and Metabee to help him with a serious problem.

Alien Nine Review

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Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Aliens invaded the earth some time ago and now schools are tasked with selecting three people from each class to be Alien Fighters. The Alien Fighters are given borgs, frog-like aliens with wings and drill-like cables that sit on their heads and act like their protectors. Yuri Otani, the world’s biggest friggin’ crybaby on the face of the planet, is selected as being one of the three Alien Fighters for her class because I guess they just wanted to pawn the job off on her along with Kumi, a strong independent fighter who is seen as the mature one in the group, and Kasumi, who couldn’t be more excited to have the job. While much of their job is seen as busywork, the aliens do pose a threat far greater than what you’d imagine.

Breakdown: This is a short four episode OVA and I gotta say this is one of those shows that starts off rocky but ends up leaving you wanting so much more.

I first thought this series to be some parody of alien apocalypse anime. I mean, come on. Logistically, this makes no sense. Aliens invade and instead of military involvement, police or anything, they assign three kids from various elementary school classes to take care of aliens who roam around the school grounds armed with rollerblades and said borgs.

Also, they’re not allowed to kill the aliens. Well, they are allowed, but they’re strongly urged to merely tranquilize the alien and bring it into some pen at school. The reasoning is that they’re living beings too and they should respect their lives, but when they’re the ones trying to kill you; well, they obviously don’t respect your life so….

However, when a borg senses that their master is getting too scared of the threat and believes that they will die, the borg freaks out and kills the threat. Guess who sets this action off….twice. Just guess.

I suppose that’s as good of a lead-in as ever for the character bios. Yuri is our main character, and I swear to god if you thought Shinji from Evangelion was a whiny twat, you’ve never seen Yuri. She does nothing….and I mean nothing….but whimper and cry and say she’s scared. 99.9% of her screentime is that. I’m not even kidding.

You may see her smile once or twice, but it’s that awkward smile where your brow is still furrowed and it seems like you’re fake smiling to fit in. Even when she’s not on alien duty, even before she got picked, even when she’s just having fun on summer vacation with her friends, she was a whiny little cry baby.

I give Shinji and Yuri some leeway because they’re kids who were thrown into very dangerous situations and told to fight aliens who may very well kill them and their friends. However, there’s only so far I can go with that, and Yuri crosses that line so, so, so much. Considering she was this way before she even got selected, I give her even less leeway.

What’s worse is that, by the end, she’s not much better. She watches one of her friends getting attacked and does jack about it because she’s too busy whimpering. The only reason she does whatever minut thing she does at the very end is because Kumi was quite literally holding her hand.

She’s such a detriment to the team that I really wonder why no one will let her quit or even just purposely kick her off the team. The only times she ever gets anything done is when her borg tries to protect her and sometimes kills the enemy when she gets too freaked. Give Shinji some credit, at least he fought when he had to most of the time.

I loved the crap out of Kumi because she was the only one willing to be completely blunt about how much of a crybaby Yuri is. She’s a little cold, but she lightens up by the end.

Kasumi was pretty okay in the first half, but working my nerves in the second because of how happy-peppy she is and how she constantly says “NYA!”

Miyu, Yuri’s best friend, was also a good character though she had little in terms of personality.

While this show started out seemingly lighthearted, especially considering the artwork, it gets pretty damn dark, particularly the final episode. I was pretty surprised by the sudden turnaround from “being an alien fighter means you get to skip homework!” to sudden alien massacre, psychological warfare and conspiracies.

I won’t spoil the ending, but it is a great advertisement to read the manga. That’s basically what this is – just a sneak peak into the manga because we learn quite literally nothing of what’s actually going on.

We don’t know who’s sending the aliens, why the teacher and principal seem to have something to do with it, why they seem to have borg-hair, why the Yellow Knife was sent, what he meant by “It was your fault” and, I’m going to give two major spoilers here, so fair warning;

but at the very end, we don’t know if the Kasumi we see is actually Kasumi or something the alien made and we see that Kumi, during the end credits no less, suddenly got attacked by something and supposedly murdered in the library. What the hell happened to her? And why was she on alien duty anyway if her borg was out of commission?

End of spoilers.

The reason I took points off was for that ending and for Yuri. She is one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve ever seen. If they made her grow some semblance of a pair near the end, it wouldn’t have been as bad, but nope.

I plan on reading the manga because ‘m really interested to know what happened, so here’s hoping the manga does explain it.

Art and Animation: The art is………good, barring the faces of the people. They have huge eyes, which is usually fine, but they’re even big for anime standards. The eyes themselves also don’t look well-drawn, they’re craggy and awkward. They have small noses when seen from the front, but when you look at them from the side, no noses. Their ears are also friggin’ huge. Barring that, however, the art is pretty good and the animation is very well done.

Music: The ending theme was nice, the OP was forgettable. Nothing much to say about the BGM.

Voice Acting: EnglishEveryone was great in their roles, even whiny Yuri. I will say I was distracted by Rachel Lillis, the voice of Misty from Pokemon, playing Miyu. Veronica Taylor, Ash and May from Pokemon, also plays their teacher, Megumi, but I honestly didn’t catch on that that was her. Miyu was sporting Misty’s voice clearly, however. I really only note this because I found it funny that Rachel Lillis, who plays Misty, was playing in an anime with a character named Kasumi. Kasumi is Misty’s Japanese name.

Bottomline: At four episodes, it’s definitely worth a watch, but Yuri was seriously pushing it with her whining and crying. It does end with a lot of questions left unanswered and even has an actual cliffhanger that basically forces you to read the manga.

Additional Information and Notes: Alien Nine was based on a manga written by Hitoshi Tamizawa, though he doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this OVA. The OVA itself was directed by Yasuhiro Irie, director of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Code:Breaker, and Jiro Fujimoto who directed some episodes of Wagnaria!!3, Samurai 7, Kaze no Stigma and The Familiar of Zero. It was written by Murai Sadayuki, who also wrote the screenplay for Steamboy, the script for Perfect Blue and even some episodes of Cowboy Bebop.

Alien Nine was produced by JC Staff, and is currently licensed in the US by Central Park Media.

Year: 2001-2002

Episodes: 4

Recommended Audience: Some dark themes, blood, blood and gore on the alien’s side (meaning pea-soup green gore and blood) a little nudity, but you don’t see anything, technically. It is full frontal, but they do the Sailor moon thing with it. No nips, no naughty bits. No sex, some swearing here and there, but no f-bombs. 14+

Shounen Step-By-Step: Dinosaur King Episode 1

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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 take them down.

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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 marks 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 some 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 actually 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. Yeah 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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Bottomline: 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 separately 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.

Shounen Step-By-Step: Megaman NT Warrior Episode 1

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Plot: In the year 200X, everything is connected via a virtual network. In this virtual network, people use PETs which are used to communicate to their NetNavis; their own personal virtual assistants, friends and battling companions. These NetNavis are used to combat an evil organization known as World Three who frequently attack the network with viruses.

In particular, a boy named Lan Hikari and his NetNavi Megaman as well as his friends and their NetNavis, aim to rid the cyber matrix of all viruses and crime.

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Breakdown: Megaman NT Warrior is a show I was very much aware of when watching shows like Pokemon and Yugioh back on Saturday morning anime blocks like Kids WB, Fox Box and 4Kids TV. I was aware of it, and I watched it on occasion, but I never really got into it. I don’t know why. I was and still am a Megaman fan, and I don’t remember really disliking it at all.

This first episode gives us the main background of the world they live in as well as fairly good introduction to Lan and Megaman and his friends.

Lan starts out with a clearly lame basic NetNavi that is somewhat modeled like Megaman. In battle with one of his friends, Dex, and his Gutsman, he tries over and over with battle chip (power ups) after battle chip to defeat him and they do nothing. Gutsman easily wins and Lan’s NetNavi is forced to logout. Dex is solidified as a cocky brute while Lan is the underdog who has to deal with a basic, non-customized NetNavi that can’t stand up against a customized one like Gutsman.

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Lan’s NetNavi is damaged and his PET suggests not using him in net battles anymore, further frustrating Lan. A fish salesman named Mesa acts as our audience surrogate as Lan explains to him about PETs or Personal Terminals as well as NetNavis and net battles – Which really didn’t need to be explained to us because of the prologue, but I’d rather be given too much information than not enough.

As fire trucks whiz by, we learn that there’s been a rash of ovens spontaneously catching fire all over town. Lan worries about his mother’s oven, but she claims she had it checked out by a technician earlier and it’s fine, which means it’s not fine.

Lan gets a letter from his father in Borneo that contains a customized NetNavi disk. It’s never established why he doesn’t have his own customized NetNavi. I can only assume that is costs quite a bit to do so?

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The customized NetNavi is, of course, Megaman. But Lan is disappointed that he doesn’t look like a super cool huge NetNavi warrior and even wishes for his old shitty broken NetNavi back. Wow….Screw you, kid. You whine and bitch and moan over not having a custom NetNavi, you finally get one that looks perfectly fine and could be a great warrior, especially with battle chips, and like a spoiled child you whine that it’s not good enough and basically want to send it back, not even considering that at the very least it’s a more presentable and functional NetNavi than your old one. You should uninstall and send it back, you unappreciative brat.

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Megaman alerts Lan to a kitchen fire and Lan’s mother can’t put it out. Apparently she’s too stupid to grab the fire extinguisher that is literally a foot away. However, even Lan’s use of the fire extinguisher cannot quell the flames so Megaman tells Lan to jack him into the oven’s computer so he can check for problems.

Megaman finds that the oven’s cyber matrix is being attacked by a swarm of computer viruses, causing the intense flames……Why does an oven need a cyber matrix?…..Why does it need to be connected to any network? I will admit, humanity somehow made it logical for a fridge to have Internet access, but an oven? He blasts the viruses away, causing the fire to go out, but sees a weird NetNavi in the flames of the matrix before it disappears.

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Excited about the powers of his new NetNavi, Lan challenges Dex and Gutsman again to a netbattle at school where I guess they just learn about computer stuff.

Dex is that kind of annoying character who’s always an ass and cocky as hell, but obviously has a huge crush on the only girl of the group, Maylu, and constantly hits on her. Even Gutsman has a crush on Maylu’s NetNavi, Roll.

A stereotypical Scottish man (borderline offensively stereotypical as he prattles on about kilts and bagpipes…) who is behind the fire-setting NetNavi gets orders to destroy Megaman from, you guessed it, Dr. Wily. And if you haven’t caught on, Lan and his family, most clearly his father, are allegories for Dr. Light. (Hikari → Light) Lan’s first name is also a reference, though not to the games. It’s in reference to a LAN or local area network – basically a short range network between and a handful of computers.

Dex and Lan have their rematch and Dex is far from impressed at Lan’s new NetNavi. However, Megaman proves that his small stature does not reflect his own strength as he easily bats away Gutsman’s fists.

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The oven bursts into flames at Maylu’s place in the middle of their rematch, and Roll rushes over to beg Megaman to help….because I guess she can’t do a damn thing…or even try. *sigh* Are we seriously doing a damsel in distress story? First Lan’s mom handles a kitchen fire by calling her 11 year old kid down to handle it while she whimpers behind a counter and fails to use a fire extinguisher; now the only other female character’s NetNavi is only good for getting help for her when she’s in trouble – and not even the fire department kind. In addition to the fact that Maylu’s only role in the episode so far is to be drooled over by Dex while Roll’s role has been basically being a secretary for Maylu and being hit on by Gutsman. Sure, Roll smacked Gutsman after, but still.

Lan and Dex rush to Maylu’s house to save her while Megaman and Gutsman go through the Internet to her oven’s cyber matrix to help take down the viruses. There, they meet FAITH AND BEGORAHAGGISREDHAIRANDSCOTTISHTHINGSACH guy and his Torchman after taking down the little viruses that were setting the fire.

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Lan manages to get Maylu to safety, but realizes that Torchman is too much for Megaman and Gutsman to handle. He goes back in the house to plug into the oven directly so he can upload the blaster battle chip to Megaman. Once he does so and with additional help from a cyber sword, he manages to force Torchman and Kilt Boy into retreating. With his victory, he gets a hug from Roll, who wasn’t even participating in any of the fight, not even with the damn little viruses. *huff*

Maylu is safe and Lan expresses his gratitude towards his new NetNavi, the end.

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As a first episode, in regards to understanding the world and the characters, it’s fine. They explain everything well enough, the world seems to function with sufficient logic, barring some suspension of disbelief, and it does what it sets out to do.

In regards to characters, absolutely no one is breaking any kind of new ground here. Everyone is very generic and textbook. Lan is obviously the ‘normal yet optimistic and excitable’ main character. Barring one instance of complete spoiled attitude, he’s as by the book as you get. Megaman is portrayed as a cool and powerful partner, which, while not being as cliché, is still not really interesting.

Dex is the pseudo-antagonist friend who is cocky, fat, and none too bright, but chases after the girl of the group like a steak. Gutsman is a brutish idiot who speaks in third-person.

Maylu is nice enough….plays piano and doesn’t respond to Dex’s advances. That’s about it for her in this episode. Roll is also nice enough, but doesn’t do anything in this episode but remind Maylu of her piano practice and be a stagnant life-alert button. Both are obviously being set up as love interests for the main characters, and looking at Roll’s abilities on her wiki page seems to relegate her mostly to healing and support instead of fighting….

The bad guys are bad guys. And Scottish.

In terms of the story, it’s also been done several times in gaming anime. Main character loves a game but has a crappy version of the thing needed to play the game. He gets something that gives him a better game thing and suddenly becomes awesome. You know, when you think about it, aren’t gaming anime subtly implying to children that they should pressure their parents to buy them more cards and cooler toys related to the game when they see these tropes? “Eh, I have a sucky character that sucks, so I suck, but now I got a super cool rare character and now I’m awesome! It’s a good thing you can get this same character at Wal-Mart for $24.95!” The oven thing is new, but it’s a damsel in distress story just with the battle taking place in the virtual world.

The only thing it really has going for it as a shounen gaming anime is the world itself and the premise as it really doesn’t match many other…..anime…..out……oh hell. It’s Digimon Tamers. Yup, replace the PETs with Digivices, the NetNavis with Digimon and the battle chips with Digi-modify cards and it is pretty much just exactly Digimon Tamers with a new wrapping….only not as interesting.

I did like this episode barring its flaws…..I can’t really tell you why outside of me liking Digimon a lot, and this world as well as net battles seem like fun. It didn’t get off to a great start, but I am actually looking forward to more of this show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh wait, it’s also Angelic Layer with talking dolls. Shit.

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Episode 1 -Things Change

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Plot: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are four turtles that have been mutated into anthropomorphic beings by strange ooze. Throughout their lives, they have been trained in the art of the ninja by their master, Splinter, an anthropomorphic rat and ninja master.

When their sewer home is infiltrated and destroyed by mouser robots, the turtles are separated from their master. They’re able to contact Splinter via shell phone to confirm that he is alright, but they still have the task of finding out who sent the mouser robots, finding a new place to live and reuniting with Splinter.

Trapped, with the integrity of the tunnel compromised, the boys decide to hit the surface world for another route the sewers. Raphael is forced to dash and hide all over the street to avoid being seen by other people while in search of another manhole cover to reenter the sewers in. They manage to find another manhole, but it’s being blocked by huge truck that some gang members are currently using to perform a robbery.

While Raph tries to move the truck, they hear the gang members start to return, so Raph quickly hides in the truck, only to be locked in as the gangsters leave. As Leo, Mikey and Donny try to follow Raph, Splinter gets cornered by mousers in the sewer.

Once they catch back up with the truck, Donny manages to open the electronic lock and free Raph, but their reunion is shortlived when the gang members return and face off against the turtles. However, the boys easily defeat the entire crew and the gangsters run off. Just as they celebrate their victory, they find themselves surrounded again; this time by a mysterious group of ninjas. While the turtles struggle to take down the ninjas, Splinter manages to defeat the mouser robots.

However, the damage done by the robots causes the floor to crumble beneath him, leading him to an unexplored area of the sewers.

The turtles take the truck, escape from the ninjas and return the stolen money to the cops as they get back to the sewer and reunite with Splinter. He leads the boys to a huge chamber that they’ll be calling their home from now on since their previous one was destroyed.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man meets with the gang leader from earlier as he relays the information about the lost truck and money. He’s not with mercy from his master, and screams ring out from within the temple.

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I love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, past and present. They have such a ridiculously goofy premise that works so well that it has managed to stay not only relevant but very popular throughout many different incarnations.

The 2003 version, co-produced by ew4Kids is known as one of the darker versions, though still not touching the original comic’s darkness. When this first aired, I watched it fairly closely but I won’t deny that I was a bigger fan of the 80’s version.

So what does episode one bring to the table? Well, first, there’s no explaining the backstory of the turtles at all, which is odd because the theme song, unlike the 80s version, doesn’t talk about it at all. Yes, TMNT is so popular and well-known that most people already know of the backstory, but considering how silly the concept is, you’d think they’d take the opportunity to explain to the younger folks in the audience as to why everything is as it is.

That being said, they do a great job of not only keeping the turtles loyal to their specific personalities, but they also update them a little to appeal to a more current audience. Mikey and Raph in particular had some great moments and lines, some even earning legitimate laugh out loud moments.

The story is solid enough; the turtles are forced above ground and meet up with some thugs in an effort to get back home and things aren’t quite as they seem. They run into even more trouble with a more viable threat and regroup back home with Master Splinter. Nothing groundbreaking, but a decent amount of action, suspense and little tidbits for the more seasoned TMNT viewer such as poking at Shredder and interrupting Mikey before he can fully say ‘Cowabunga’.

I honestly didn’t remember that the Purple Dragon gang worked for Shredder, but it makes a lot of sense.

A few things were left up in the air though, like who sent the mouser robots and why. Shredder didn’t seem to as he doesn’t seem to know of the turtles at this point and the gang leader didn’t mention anything about them.

Also minor and expected, but for an episode that spent a decent chunk of time teaching the turtles that they need to be as hidden as possible, even during an attack, they sure did give mixed signals in one scene. Mikey does what he does and decides to stand out in broad daylight right in front of a thug for like ten seconds making a joke before attacking the guy. This wouldn’t be a big deal if Leo didn’t praise him for it. Yes, he did knock out the thug, but he just broke the main rule of both ninjas and their family to make a joke.

The art and animation are actually pretty nice. I should be clear and say 4Kids only had a hand in this series’ production. It was co-produced by Mirage studios with the art and animation being done by Dong Woo Animation. I’ve seen some people criticize the 2003 art for being a bit too muscular and craggy, but I actually like it quite a bit. It fits in well with the environment that’s been created, and it suits the darker and more serious tone better than the curvy cartoony 80s version.

The music is also pretty well done. I don’t know if 4Kids made the theme song, but I wouldn’t be surprised as it’s an earworm with some kinda cheesy lyrics. The BG music fits well with the series, and it does a good job at amping up some action while also not interfering with the more lighthearted moments.

Overall, this is a pretty good episode. Not anything epic or even great, but it was still enjoyable the whole time through with some great jokes and action.

Rating: 8/10

Shounen Step-By-Step: One Piece Arc 1 (Romance Dawn/Captain Morgan)

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Plot: Coby wants nothing more than to be in the Marines (or Navy if you follow the 4Kids dub, but why do you like suffering?) However, he’s been held captive and forced to work for the awful pirate Alvida. A strange pirate boy named Monkey D. Luffy decides to help him out. His desire is to find the legendary treasure, One Piece, and become king of the pirates; a dream that many people find to be suicidal and impossive. He has a bittersweet ability in being able to make his body structure like rubber after eating the devil fruit, Gomu Gomu no Mi (The Gum Gum Fruit), but it comes with the price of being unable to swim.

Meanwhile, we get the backstory of Luffy and the first addition to Luffy’s crew in the legendary pirate hunter Zoro.

Breakdown: Let’s set sail on the One Piece review! Yes that line was awful, but I don’t care.

Ah One Piece…Holy freakin’ crap. What an insanely huge franchise you are. As of this writing, it has 771 episodes and counting as well as 83 volumes for the manga. The only two shows I can think of that have longer runs are Detective Conan and Pokemon, and it stands as the last of the ‘Big Three’ shounen shows since both Bleach and Naruto ended their runs (Though the new Boruto series is keeping Naruto technically afloat). I’m not sure how close One Piece is to ending, if it is at all, since I have insane amounts of trouble keeping updated with long shows such as these. Part of the reason I wanted to do these long episode by episode and arc by arc reviews was to keep me motivated to actually get updated on these series.

Despite the fact that I haven’t kept up with this show in many years, I still really enjoy it. I love shows about pirates and the added ‘magic’ abilities make for some fantastic battles. The characters are also pretty memorable and fun, even if a few tend to fall of into cliché-land.

This arc serves as a backstory to Luffy, an intro to the series as a whole, shows off some of Luffy’s abilities and style and finally gets him a boat and at least one crew member. The relationship between Luffy and Zoro actually starts off pretty strong. Zoro is definitely an interesting and likable character, and his introduction was certainly badass and even touching. His chemistry with Luffy is also really good, and they tend to have good banter.

Luffy’s backstory was cool but mostly just in regards to Shanks. Luffy eating the Gum Gum fruit is pretty much how you’d expect he’d eat it, and him getting into trouble with those pirates again was also pretty much par for the course. His rescue as well as the departure of Shanks’ crew was the most memorable part in that regard. I wish we could’ve seen more of how much Shanks and Luffy meant to each other considering they seem to know each other pretty well in this backstory, but I assume we’ll explore that further as we go on.

Even though Nami didn’t join the crew quite yet, this is also the introduction of Nami as she is seen following their adventures while trying to score some treasure as well as the map to the Grand Line, the area where One Piece supposedly is. I’m usually somewhat annoyed when we get character introductions with no interactions with the main characters, but her roles were pretty okay.

Coby’s side-plot was fairly memorable, and it did serve as a cool introduction to Luffy. I kinda wish Coby had stuck around for a while, but, considering his goals, it really wouldn’t make sense for him to be a bigger part of the plot unless they made some sort of ‘friends with the enemy’ type of deal.

Alvida’s not that great of a villain and Helmeppo’s a parody of himself, though he’s meant to be more of a jackass over a legit villain. Captain Morgan is more imposing and is the main centerpiece of this arc, enemy-wise, but he’s also not terribly interesting.

Final Verdict: These first few episodes do a great job of introducing the characters, the world they live in and the backstory of our main character and the main story as a whole. It also has some entertaining battles, good attacks, funny jokes and it’s just a lot of fun at times. The art and animation fit this show perfectly, even if some of the mugging shots can be a little too goofy. The music is great, even if the ED is a little forgettable to me, and the voice actors (Japanese) do a great job here as well. I especially love Zoro and Luffy’s voices.

Welcome aboard! Now let’s find One Piece!

Arc Rating: 9/10

Recommended Audience: One Piece can get pretty bloody at times. The worst that happens in this arc is Shanks getting his arm torn off, but the actual removal isn’t shown, and there’s, oddly, not a lot of blood there.. There’s obviously a lot of violence and some minor swearing. No sex or nudity or anything, even if there is some minor fanservice with Nami. 10+

Coming up next, the Orange Town Arc (Captain Buggy).

Episode One-derland (Cartoons) Yin Yang Yo!

Plot: The world is mostly blind to the mystical evil around them, and there’s only one force in the world left to take them, the siblings Yin and Yang who are being trained in the magical martial arts style of Wu Fu by their lazy master Yo.

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Breakdown: Well, at least that’s what I found on their plot synopsis. The story gathered from this episode is that Yin and Yang are the sole students of Yo who teaches them the mystical martial art style of Wu Fu and that’s about it.

This is a really messy first episode, and I mostly mean that by the writing and pacing. The introductions of the characters are fine, though their personalities are horribly cliché especially for the early 2000’s. They have a very typical older sister younger brother dynamic. Yin is kinda a feminist who is also very responsible and girly. Yang is more interested in goofing off and doing anything he deems as cool. He also wants to be accepted into groups that are seen as cool. And in the end they prove that they really love each other.

Yo’s not very characterized at all here. He seems a little lazy, but that’s it.

The pacing in this episode is exhausting. It never takes a damn break. Granted, it’s ten minutes long so rushing might be excused, but I could barely keep up. It constantly makes cuts and edits and rushes around like it’s on speed.

They try way too hard to make the antagonist of this episode, uhhhh…..the ultimoose martial arts teacher guy (?) to be funny. They put on a ‘Mr. Crocker’ act a bit with him having him spout out words or gibberish enunciated with random body movements.

I just never got into it. I never laughed or cracked a smile, the action wasn’t interesting or creative enough to keep my attention, and neither were the characters.

Even the art was fairly ugly with weird shaped characters and boring backgrounds. I don’t even know why everyone in this show is an animal. Our two main characters are bunnies, their teacher is a panda, the ultimoose guy is a moose obviously, there was a monkey in the class. Granted, a lot of shows exist in worlds where everyone is an animal for really no reason (Kung Fu Panda might be the best simile in that regard) but I just don’t see the point.

Final verdict?

It pretty much fails to me as a starter episode and the show just doesn’t give me any reason to want to continue. Really hyper kids with a love of fake martial arts, magic and animals might enjoy it better.

Recommended Audience: Some incredibly minor instances of potty humor like underwear jokes and showing someone on a toilet, both of which alone are meant to be jokes, but that’s the worst of it. E for everyone.