Episode One-Derland | Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Plot: The future is uncertain – whether for good or bad. But one thing is certain – Mirai hates pretty much everything, by her own admission. She’s annoyed by school, her parents, her little brother, Yuuki, and believes nothing good ever happens. The world can fall apart for all she cares. But what happens when the world literally falls apart around her head when a massive 8.0 earthquakes destroys everything around her?

Breakdown: (Note: Cards on the table, this article is actually kinda old. I finished Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 quite a while ago now (Full review will come sometime down the line). Still wanted to post this, though, in case anyone was interested. Thanks for reading~)

Hmmm……..how is it possible that I don’t hate the main character? She is one of the grumpiest most temperamental teens I’ve seen in fiction in a long time. But at the same time, she shows a likable side, and it’s not like this behavior is abnormal. She’s a teenage girl who finds herself unhappy with life. And every time she tries to get invested in something, it gets ruined in some way, but in minor ways – ways that are minor inconveniences to most people, but, to a hair-trigger teen, would seem like they’ve just destroyed everything.

For instance, she wants to buy a cute ribbon for her mom for her birthday but someone else grabs it. Even when they try to give it back to her, she just pouts about it and has a fit after. She gets into driving a little robot thing, which I assume will be reincorporated later since it was specifically designed for recovery missions in disaster zones, but someone gets all irritated at how long she’s taking, so she pouts and walks off.

There was one time where I think she was just being stupid. Her mom buys cake FOR HER OWN BIRTHDAY because I guess everyone else just forgets. She doesn’t want any cake for herself since she’s on a diet, and her mom has to go to work too, so she leaves it to everyone else, but Mirai gets all pissy because…..the cake is in wedges and isn’t round.

She actually complains to her mom about that. And then later she mocks her mom behind her back about this “Who doesn’t know birthday cakes are round?” Like, how entitled are you when you’re complaining to your mom and your friends about the SHAPE of your MOM’S birthday cake that SHE BOUGHT HERSELF. Bear in mind, she only bought this cake for them, too, considering she wasn’t going to have any.

Her family as a whole is very realistic as well. Her father is a bit of an indifferent ass. He doesn’t really give any thought to Mirai telling him that it’s his wife’s birthday. He steps on a bunch of chips on the floor left out by either Yuuki or Mirai and he really doesn’t do anything about it besides complain a little. When their mom comes home and instantly starts warming up dinner, he starts to complain about how late it is and puts the blame of his whining on the kids who hadn’t even talked about dinner up until that point.

Their mom is pretty likable. She gives Mirai chores and responsibilities, actions which are, of course, viewed through the lens of a teenager as proof of her being a relentless slave driver, and she works a lot, but she obviously cares about her family a great deal. She never seems like she’s unreasonable to me, even if she does lose her temper once.

Finally, there’s Yuuki, who is just a sweetheart. He loves all of his family, is really polite, kind and generally happy. Even when Mirai is being a complete bitch to him, he still tries to keep his head up and even cheer her up.

Back to Mirai, she’s having a bit of an existential crisis in that she has an assignment over summer break about where she sees herself in ten years, and she really doesn’t know. She has no direction and no interests besides her cell phone, which is quite typical of a teenager. Just when all of her troubles start to bubble over, the earthquake starts.

The scene with the earthquake was extremely well done, but it came so late in the episode that we didn’t get the absolute full scope of the damage, which is a fine decision as I’m certain we’ll see plenty of it later.

As an intro episode, it does a great job establishing the characters and the main conflict for the entire series. I can imagine the beats the show will take, but I won’t be so presumptuous as to assume everything will be predictable.

The art is kinda simple, though I do think the way the smiles are drawn is adorable. And the animation is extremely fluid. It really looks great.

As for the music, it’s alright. I didn’t have a strong reaction to the opening theme, but I really enjoyed the ED, and the BGM was pretty good.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series. I’ve heard really good things about it, and it has a pretty unique premise, so I think I’m in for a good experience.


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Episode One-Derland: Ajin – Demi-Human

Plot: Seventeen years ago, humanity discovered the existence of ajin; seemingly immortal beings with other superhuman abilities. Only two have been discovered so far, but interest in the ajin remains extremely high.

Kei Nagai, however, only wants to focus on being a ‘fine human.’ He wants to rid himself of frivolity and study hard to become a doctor. He’s even given up his old best friend, Kai, to achieve it.

Distracted while walking in the street, Kei is suddenly hit by a truck. Everyone watching instantly believes he’s dead. No one could survive a hit like that. Well….no one except…

Breakdown: Ajin: Demi-Human is a title I’ve heard of, but never really learned much about.

The show has a talent at capturing your attention. From the first scene, you’re sucked in by the ajin as one lone ajin takes out an army of people with ease, even taking RPG shots head-on without issue.

Then we shift to present day and our main protagonist, Kei, who is really hard to like or relate with. He has a very odd manner of speaking (Who says their main goal in life is to be a ‘fine human’?) doesn’t ever smile and is a big stick in the mud. Even when he’s a kid, he’s talks like a serial killer who’s too cynical for his age.

He has a flashback to his sister, Eriko, crying over a dead puppy and Kei basically shrugs it off and says “He was sick, so he died. It can’t be helped. Though, what’s the point of dying? Might as well not die.” He’s like six in this flashback, by the way. Not like his mom is much better. She called the puppy ‘defective’ and is the one who basically told Kei to dump Kai as a friend if he wants to be a ‘fine human.’

Kei gets a little better near the end because he actually sucks up his pride and contacts Kai for help, and he shows determination to not ever be caught by anyone, but he was trying my patience for a while.

Eriko is in the hospital for unknown reasons and seemingly hates him now. She’s unpleasant.

Kei’s ‘friends’ at school are two-faced jackasses.

The only one here who seems likable is Kai, who, despite being dumped as a friend, still goes out of his way and risks his life and future to help Kei in the end.

I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything to mention that Kei’s an ajin. He discovers this out of the blue when he gets hit by the truck. Now everyone and their brother are chasing him down.

I say this isn’t really a spoiler because the episode makes is really obvious that Kei’s an ajin even without him getting hurt or nearly killed. His focus on being a ‘fine human’ his inability to ignore news about ajin even when he flatout says he should ignore it because it has nothing to do with his studying, his suggestion that ajin are still humans despite their abilities, showing sympathy for them etc.

I’m a bit concerned that the show might lose tension with this. Immortal characters are, by default, typically boring because you’re never concerned for their welfare. Why would you? They can’t die.

So if you’re not really worried about their safety, you either have to worry about the safety of other characters, of which the only ones I’m really concerned over are Kai and maybe Eriko, or you have to make the immortal character more interesting.

As a first episode, it did introduce us to the world and characters fairly well, and it kept itself grounded enough to maintain a true sense of realism even with immortal beings as the forefront of the plot.

The art and animation are fully 3D CGI, and I have a real problem getting accustomed to that style. It works pretty well here. I don’t feel like I’m watching a half-hour long video game cutscene or anything, but I find myself being pulled out of immersion every so often when I notice the art and animation.

The music is really good so far, even if the background animations for the ED were really depressing. We just keep seeing silhouettes of people killing themselves in various ways.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

While I am a little wary here as I’m concerned this will be an endless diatribe as to why humans suck, which wears on my psyche as episodes go on, I am looking forward to where this story will go.

(Status Update Pre-posting: Completed watching – will post the full anime review sometime soon.)

Recommended Audience: While there wasn’t a whole lot of graphic stuff in this episode, mostly just a couple of people getting shot and Kei getting hit by the truck, neither of which was very notable, THEM Anime Reviews warns that this should be NC-17 due to the intense amounts of gore they’ll presumably have later on, particularly when experimenting on the demi-humans. I can’t make that determination yet, so I’ll just say 16+

 


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Episode One-Derland: Dennou Coil

Plot: A digital world is now layered on top of our own. All around us, there are cyber beings and items that can only be seen with the help of special glasses. Most everyone has a pair of these glasses, including the soft-spoken country girl Yuko, who recently moved to the big city. Her cyber dog, Densuke, disappears through a mysterious glitched out hole while chasing a strange black creature, and Yuko calls upon a local cyber investigative agency named Coil to find him.

One of their members is the extremely skilled Fumie, who agrees to take her case. However, they’re soon hunted by the floating Q-chans, which destroy cyber matter and sometimes attack people. Yuko is able to get Densuke back, but not before a gigantic Searchy approaches them.

Breakdown: I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of digital worlds. It’s an interest that probably sprang up with my Digimon obsession back in the day.

Especially now, when our world basically is meshed with a digital one in a lot of ways, the idea of basically turning the world into a giant Pokemon GO game only with no Pokemon and more fantastical elements, such as being able to ‘hold’ and ‘touch’ the beings and items is fascinating to me. I can’t imagine how much fun that would be.

That being said, while they do explain some facets of this world, they don’t explain enough for me to say this is a good proper introduction episode. I have no clue as to the rules of this world nor what most of the terms these characters were using even meant. I have no clue what the Q-chans are or what their purpose is because they just seem to be floating balls that shoot up anything they see. I don’t even know if they’re real things or cyber matter. Who’s sending them? Why are they patrolling the city?

I don’t know what the Searchy is or what it does at all. The main thing meant to be a secret is the mysterious black creature Densuke was following called an Illegal. It’s explained to us that Illegals are viruses that target cyber pets for some reason. Also, while we know this thing is causing cyber pets to vanish, they add that, whatever this illegal is doing to them is ‘bad’ but we never see or hear what this bad thing is.

This episode is a fairly good introduction to the characters, however. While Yuko is a little on the annoying side sometimes, she’s also fairly brave and clearly loves Densuke very much. Fumie is a very confident and tech-savvy girl who can be a little abrasive, but she’s not too bad. She does have a very gross ‘minion’ however. It’s basically a tiny naked old man mixed with a blob….

The art and animation are fairly simple but also decently stylized and fluid. Densuke’s design took some getting used to, but by the end I found him to be fairly adorable.

In the music department, we have some pretty memorable songs and some nice BG music, but nothing really hooking me in immensely so far.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

While the first episode could answer a few more questions about the overall world they live in, this is a very intriguing concept and the episode as a whole does a great job at hooking you in and leaving you wanting more. In addition, I’ve heard some great things about this show, so I look forward to continuing it.

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. One of the more notable examples is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but 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.

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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.

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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 suddenly 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Final 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.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Undergrads

Plot: Nitz, Cal, Rocko and Gimpy are four childhood friends who are heading off to college. They live up the college life in their own ways while pursuing girls, booze and parties.

Breakdown: I somehow remember seeing bits and pieces of this show when it was on the air. I don’t think I much cared for it, but I recognize the art style. Gimpy’s weird face especially stuck with me a bit. Didn’t realize until about halfway in, though.

That being said, this show is okay. It establishes all of the main characters rather well, which is impressive seeing as how we actually have about six main characters so far. It also sets up the story just fine.

It’s just kinda boring is all. I never was a fan of anything that takes place in college, because it’s always the same material. It’s more predictable than high school dramas. Beer, get laid, party, schoolwork’s in there somewhere, we all have a license to be stupid because college, ironically.

And, really, that’s all you get here too. We have the four college stereotypes; Nitz the straightman, Gimpy the geek (who never shuts the hell up about Stars Wars because geeks are required, by law, to always talk about Star Wars or Star Trek) Rocko the blockheaded….jock? Partier? And Cal the rather oddly mannered super nice and handsome ladies man who doesn’t really act like a ladies man but does? Maybe Cal doesn’t count here.

Then there’s Jessie, the cool, down to earth gal who is obviously being set up as the love interest for Nitz (You can do so much better, girl), and Kimmy, his actual crush who seems like a nice enough girl just…excitable.

As the four guys are taking their own paths in college, four plots are created. Nitz realizes his high school crush, Kimmy, goes to his college and learns she’s going to a mixer later that night. He has absolutely nothing to talk about in regards to his first week of college, so he freaks out that she’ll be put off by that. Gimpy gives him a massive list of things college freshman do on their first week and he sets out to do all of them including, somehow, buying textbooks and eating a meal in the cafeteria.

How did he get through his first week of college without buying textbooks or eating a meal in the cafeteria? The latter I can maybe excuse, but the former?

Also, it’s so dumb that he’s doing this in the first place. In any other situation, you can easily just respond to ‘What have you been doing during your first week of college?’ with ‘Just hanging out, getting settled in.’ Perfectly acceptable answer. But no, apparently it’s better to say he’s done stuff like going to an AA meeting. Yes, that’s one of the things on the list, because apparently college freshmen being alcoholics in their first week of school is common. He goes to a meeting and spends the entire time talking about wanting to impress his crush. Nice.

What’s even worse, this plot ends with him being a total dickhead. He talks about his crush problem with a bunch of different groups of people, all of whom take a deep interest in his plight. They all attend the rather sparsely attended mixer because Cal was sending invites while he was hanging out with Nitz as he went through the list.

They’re all being perfectly fine at the party and keep asking him about Kimmy, interested to see if he’ll get his dream girl. When it’s revealed that she’s not coming, he flips, tells off the people in the party who came to support him, insinuates that he doesn’t even like the friends he actually has, then storms off.

Then I guess we’re meant to sympathize with this jackass as he mopes for all of twenty seconds then reunites with his friends.

Rocko’s plot is trying to join a frat, but they don’t do hazing there. They’re perfectly willing to accept him, but Rocko wants to be hazed so he makes himself act like a complete tool all day. Rocko’s an obnoxious idiot.

Cal’s plot is very short as it’s mostly just him inviting people to the mixer and being mauled by women. He does have his own idiot moment, however, because, after following Nitz around and listening to him blather on about Kimmy, he stupidly forgets that Nitz wanted to talk to Kimmy. When she calls during the mixer, he tells her it’s okay if she doesn’t come because they have enough ladies. *huff*

Finally, Gimpy’s plot is trying to stop Rocko from joining a frat because he believes he won’t be friends with him anymore if he does. His was the most entertaining plot, but it was still pretty stupid. Also, as a Star Wars fan, shut the hell up about Star Wars. I know I already brought this up, but seriously, every other line of dialogue from his mouth was somehow a Star Wars reference.

Gimpy’s the only one attending a different school. Being the geek of the group, he attends a tech school but contacts the group frequently through video chat. Also, he and his entire group of geek friends all fit the freaky geek stereotypes to a tee. Gimpy himself looks like an electrocuted monkey.

This show did have its moments that earned a little smile out of me, but overall it was just really dull. The main characters range from unlikable to alright, the jokes range from ‘was that a joke?’ to smile-crack worthy, and I simply don’t have it in me to want to continue this series further.

I had heard fairly good things about this show, and I see the potential it has, but it never clicked with me back when I first caught it on TV and it didn’t click with me now. I can’t be the only one because the show got canceled 13 episodes in, failed to get picked back up when they gave the rights to Comedy Central and failed to do a continuation in other media such as a proposed comic or webtoon. However, to its credit, in October 2018 they did get Kickstarter funding for a movie, so we’ll see what comes of that.

The show has okay animation for an MTV/Teletoons show, and the art’s passable. The music is decent but forgettable with the theme song being performed by Good Charlotte. The voice acting is also okay. Everything is just….okay at best.

Final Verdict:

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I might give another episode or two a passing watch, and maybe I’ll power through the other 12 episodes if they release the movie, but it’s a skip for now.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Star vs. The Forces of Evil

Plot: Princess Star Butterfly is sent to earth to hone her skills with her newly acquired magic wand. She’s more than happy to use her wand to her heart’s content, but she causes a lot of problems due to her lack of experience with it. On earth, she is sent to live with the Diaz family and becomes friends with Marco, a widely known ‘safe kid’ who wants nothing more than to be seen as a risk-taking bad boy. Ludo, the villain of the story, finds out she’s living unprotected on earth and prepares to take her down. Together with Marco, Star utilizes her new powers to fight off the forces of evil.

Breakdown: Melding magical girl elements with good writing, funny comedy, fun action and instantly likable characters. I think I’m going to cry.

I have seen some of Star vs. The Forces of Evil in passing a few times, and I’ve definitely heard good things about it, but I’ve never started from scratch. The theme song snagged me in from the get go, and it’s just a fun ride all the way through after that.

I love the style of comedy. While it is loud and sometimes bordering on annoying, it never goes too far into irritating territory and hits the mark nearly every time. It has a great flow to it as well. Characters will just be talking or walking around and there will be jokes strewn about the scene – it’s great.

As a first episode, it does a great job at introducing the characters and making you connect with them instantly. From their very first lines, you know exactly the type of people Star, Marco and even Ludo are. Ludo kinda reminds me a bit of The Dark Lord Chuckles: The Silly Piggy from Dave the Barbarian, now that I think about it. Star is….a little too much in the energy department, but I think she’ll even out more as time goes on.

I absolutely love Marco, though. He’s not immediately made out to be an obvious love interest to Star (Though, there’s enough there for me to safely assume she at least becomes his crush later), and he’s not the reverse damsel in distress (A la Ron Stoppable) as he has fighting chops himself. It’s so refreshing to see these types of character pairings fight alongside each other for a change.

While we barely learn anything about Mewni, Star’s home dimension, outside of it being….another dimension….with magic, we do get a good grasp on the world they live in, the plot and their motives….afterall, the show is called Star vs. the Forces of Evil.

I will say that the second episode (This show/episode is one of those ‘two episodes in one’ deals.) wasn’t as strong as the first mostly because it recycles a very overused plot. When you have a main character who has moved to the show’s location somewhat recently, you tend to get that ‘best friend from my old town and they turn out to be a dickweed, especially to the new best friend’ plot.

This time it’s with Flying Princess Pony Head. She is a flying princess pony head…..*cough* And she does not appreciate Marco even existing. What’s weird is that, unlike in a lot of other plots where the MC will accuse the new best friend of being jealous of the old, Star instantly believes Marco when he tells of how she’s been treating him, and she chooses to defend her by just saying she’s rambunctious and possessive. Not sure if that’s better or worse.

Even though this is a VERY overused plot, they do enough with the writing to make it seem much less tired than it would otherwise. There are many funny moments, it ended one a sweet note and TIL you can apparently say ‘turd’ on Disney Channel.

The art and animation are growing on me very quickly. It’s very bright and active. In the stills, it looks great, but the actual animation took me a little getting used to. It has a problem with having the lines and colors of the bangs cover the eyes but still have the lines for the eyes come through. It’s not a major issue, but it’s a pet peeve of mine in animation. Otherwise, the art is very bright, stylish and appealing, and the animation is more fluid and real than a lot of ‘Flash’-ish shows of late.

The music is great, though maybe a bit too loud sometimes. That could be my headphones, but I don’t think so.

Final Verdict:

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This is another show I’m very excited to continue. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype all the way through.

Episode One-Derland: Kaleido Star

Plot: Sora has wanted nothing more than to be an acrobat in the American stage show, Kaleido Stage, since she was a little girl. She finally gets her shot to audition, but extenuating circumstances make her late. Just when she thinks she’s lost her chance, she’s asked to take the place of a performer who got hurt right before show time. Will she impress the staff enough to earn a spot in the troupe, or will she fall on her face in more ways than one?

Breakdown: When I first read about Kaleido Star, I wasn’t all that intrigued. The description of it being a ‘magical girl anime without the magic’ didn’t help. But still landed on my watch list and it didn’t look bad, so how did its debut fare?

Very well. I really like Sora as a character, even if there’s not too much to make her stand out right now. She’s very optimistic and determined, though obviously has her faltering moments of lacking self-confidence and cracking composure when faced with criticism. Ken, a stagehand, is a sweetheart and even Mr. Policeman was nice. Layla, one of their main stars, set out to be a bitch and a bitch she is. The other people in the troupe are also bitches because theater.

This episode was entertaining enough through the first and second acts, but it really won me over during the performance. When that little girl cheered on ‘the rabbit’ I had to pause to ‘aw’ several times and I usually don’t do that, especially when it comes to kids.

Is it blowing my mind? No. But it has plenty of promise to be a heart-warming story of adventure, hard work and the pursuit of dreams.

Final Verdict:

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Maybe Shoujo step-by-step? Not sure.

Recommended Audience: So far, E for everyone.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): We Bare Bears

Plot: Three brothers, a grizzly bear, a panda bear and a polar bear, try to meld into modern human society.

Breakdown: This series makes me smile.

This is another one of those shows that I’ve caught in passing, and every time I’ve watched it I’ve been thoroughly entertained. The characters are charming (especially Ice Bear), the humor’s both low-key and energetic and it’s just a fun time in every episode. It’s the type of show that you can watch when you just want to sit back, relax and have some laughs.

For this Episode One-Derland, I watched both the pilot episode and the official first episode. Both were very funny and properly met all of the criteria of a first episode. The characters are firmly established early on with dialogue and situations that allows their personalities to shine through without being in-your-face with exposition.

Grizz is the oldest brother, and he typically takes the lead in every situation they’re in. He’s the loudest and, truth be told, the most annoying, but his antics can also be the source of a lot of fun.

Panda is slightly neurotic and obsessed with his phone and the Internet.

Ice Bear is the coolest character (Oh yeah, enjoy that pun.) He barely (more puns?) says anything, but he delivers the funniest lines just by doling out one-liners usually starting with ‘Ice Bear.’ He is the most tolerable character to ever speak in third person, and he’s voiced by Demitri Martin. It’s a match made in heaven.

Their world is also established quite well. No one really takes note of the fact that they’re bears, and the public is usually only reacting to their personalities or whatever shenanigans they’re getting themselves into.

In terms of story, the pilot episode centers on cheering up Panda after he breaks up with his Internet girlfriend. They decide to get him some ice cream by crashing a kids’ birthday party. While the ending of the party plot makes no sense, it had a lot of funny moments and ended with Panda realizing he needs space away from his ex when she tries to get him back. Admittedly, he seemed clingy, so it’s probably best for both of them. The episode doesn’t center on the relationship at all, but the bare bones of information flashed to us is enough for us to sympathize and move the plot forward.

The actual first episode is about the brothers having their backpack of stuff stolen at the basketball court after playing a game. They lose Grizz’s wallet, Panda’s phone (so he’s obviously freaked out) and Ice Bear’s ninja stars (That he bought legally). The rest of the story is about them tracking down the culprit. The ending twist was great and really threw me for a loop. There are many funny moments throughout this episode, but I’ll admit I was more partial to the pilot.

Final Verdict:

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I will probably binge watch the rest of the series now. Ice Bear would approve.

Episode One-Derland: Fractale

Plot: The world of Fractale makes everything run so smoothly that life seems nearly perfect for everyone. Many people choose to be in two places at once using doppels, which are holographic robots taking the form of the user’s chosen avatar.

Clain is a tech buff who lives with his two parents, almost always taking the form of their doppels. One day, he spots a girl being chased through the air by a blimp and watches her fall to the cliffside in an effort to escape. Clain climbs down to save the girl, named Phryne, and they start to develop a friendship. She suddenly disappears, leaving only her pin behind. Clain discovers that the pin has some old data embedded into it and is shocked when a doppel named Nessa emerges from it.

Breakdown: I will admit two things about this series. The backgrounds are beautiful, and the premise is interesting. Taking the old 1800’s style setting and combining that with a world made of robots and holograms is pretty intriguing, but as a first episode, this is cut, dry and boring.

First of all, we don’t even learn the names of our main characters until the very end of the episode, and Phryne’s is tossed into a throwaway mention. We establish that Clain is a tech junkie and Phryne is an awkward weirdo who is obviously hiding something, which is good, but I don’t feel the connection.

Second, it has a pretty tired story structure. Ordinary boy living an ordinary life has his world turned upside down when he spots a girl running away from some bad guys and rushes in to save her. He does, they spend some time together, the time involves that ever so familiar awkward sexual tension and psuedo-fanservice, and there’s some big twist at the end that starts a continuous search for a macguffin. Combine that with boring unsalted cracker characters and you’ve got something that can’t hold my interest.

I will admit, I was starting to get entertained by the ‘bad guys’ who were chasing Phryne – Enri (whose name isn’t spoken this episode) and her goons (who are her brothers?). Their shtick at the door was funny for a minute but went on for too long, and you quickly shift from thinking they’re funny to finding them insanely annoying. If these guys are the antagonists, then I see no tension in the future.

Nessa, despite only having one line, was equally annoying.

The character art is mostly forgettable, and I’ve heard from other reviews that the art in contrast to the manga art is some of the worst adaptation work ever. I’ve seen worse, honestly, but looking at the side-by-side comparisons, they are starkly different. The THEM review noted that the hair colors of Phryne and Nessa is a component to a very important plot thread later, so changing it screws up the story. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s worth noting.

The music, outside of the song Phryne sings, is nice, but it, for lack of a better term, blends in with the background. It’s like one of those songs you listen to in order to relax, but once it’s over you’d be damned trying to hum it back to someone.

I liked the song that Phryne sings quite a bit though.

The voice acting is a mixed bag. I liked Clain (Brina Palencia) and Phryne (Caitlyn Glass) but Nessa and Enri grate on the ears immensely. Which is a shame, because I usually like Luci Christian and Monica Rial respectively.

Final Verdict:

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I was less than impressed by the starter episode and no review I’ve read gives me any reason to move on beyond this point.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Looped

Plot: Luc and Theo, caught in a time loop to keep living the same Monday over and over, take advantage of their knowledge of the day to avoid dodgeballs in gym class. The consequences are disastrous somehow.

Breakdown: This series confused me before I even got around to actually watching it. This is the description –

“The series revolves around the life and adventures of Luc and Theo, two 12-year-old best friends who get stuck in a time loop where every day is Monday, and as the Monday is always the same, they know everything that will happen before it happens. They use it as an opportunity to do whatever they want to, most primarily at school, what usually gets them in trouble. Theo has a crush on Gwyn, a recurring character on the series, what is shown in various episodes. They first got stuck in the loop because Luc hopped his skateboard and crashed into Theo’s garage-lab in the first episode, and Theo’s scientific experiments got mashed.”

That sounds far more hellish than it does funny. While you can make some comedy out of that for the first handful of days, like nearly any version of this plot, eventually it gets to the point where reliving the exact same day every single becomes more of a nightmare than something to have fun with. Even in the Stuck on Christmas segment of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas they realized this.

Not to mention, as an audience, wouldn’t this be horrible to sit through the exact same dialogue every single episode? Even repeating itself over and over in a single episode is bound to be annoying.

I just realized that this show probably saves oodles of money on animation by reusing footage….

As a series, this could work, theoretically, because it sounds like they get into a bunch of ‘wacky shenanigans’, but considering the day just resets after everything’s said and done, there are really no consequences for their actions….except….ya know….being caught in a hellish time loop, which I doubt they’ll recognize as hellish or explore any of the deeper and personal resonances this could have on them as people, like they do in Groundhog Day.

But enough presumptions. Let’s actually watch the show.

*one episode later*

Hm. I failed to realize another problem of this show. Time travel.

Looping is, essentially, time travel. While the day continuously resets, making the space/time continuum’s structure stay solid, time travel still negatively affects the plots of these stories.

Today’s episode is about Luc and Theo using their future knowledge of their bully’s dodgeball throws to dodge aforementioned balls. After a few days of looping and calculating, they become Matrix-level dodgeball dodgers. However, this already doesn’t make much sense. If they’re dodging the balls now, they’re changing what happens after even the first one is thrown. Thus their calculations should now be void because the bully, named Jesse, will be throwing balls differently than he did when they were being hit, either through aim, trajectory, velocity etc. they will be different because they changed the timeline.

This is especially apparent after they dodge the first wave of dodgeballs and they talk to Jesse about it. Jesse gets so angry that he furiously chucks another dodgeball at them and Luc easily avoids it, even though there’s no way he could’ve known where that one was going since they never encountered that one in the past before.

…..Oh and also, their coach gives a young boy who just got hit in the face with a dodgeball mouth to mouth when he obviously didn’t need it…..His name is Kyle and he’s known as being this perfect attractive Adonis kid…..Also the coach is devastated when Kyle is hit in the face with the ball, presumably because it marred his beautiful features…..Someone call the cops is what I’m trying to say.

Oh and also, as punishment for hitting Kyle with the dodgeball, some popular girls (two of whom might be his sisters?) tell Jesse to go to….the fart box….It’s a wooden box where they trap him and some fat kid lets out a huge fart into it (through a butt-shaped opening). It’s a kid version of a gas chamber. Lovely.

Later that same Monday day (that’s what they call it), Luc and Theo find that Jesse is so devastated at ‘ripping the wings off an angel’ that he won’t eat, bully people or anything. They then meet with an alternate dimension form of Jesse who is a knight, demanding retribution of his sullen reputation after the dodgeball game. According to Theo, who, by the way, is the science guy, this Jesse is a glitch in the loop, created to fill in the void of a bully left behind from the original Jesse no longer being one.

That makes so much no sense I can’t even nonsense. Filling the void of something lost in a timeline by creating a new substitute for that role sounds logical, but I think being without a certain something in a timeline makes much less damage to a timeline than creating two of the same person and having them coexist in the same timeline.

There’s not even anything to suggest that Jesse gave up bullying for good. I’m sure after Kyle’s face healed he’d be at it again.

They get their asses handed to them by Sir Jesse (why he’s a knight is never explained) who defeats them in a joust and wedgies them on the goalpost of the football field.

The next Monday day, they prep for another confrontation with Sir Jesse…Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you just save Kyle from the dodgeball so his perfect work of art face won’t get hurt, they still won’t get hit with dodgeballs and Jesse won’t give up bullying? They’d also be saving an innocent kid from getting his face bashed in with a rubber ball. Oh right, he totally deserves that hit because he’s attractive and everyone loves him and when they got hit with dodgeballs he sincerely said it looked ‘ouchies’ and they were jealous that he never gets hit with dodgeballs. Right right.

They don’t stop the completely inappropriate mouth to mouth either.

They come into school wearing knight armor, but are shocked to find a different Jesse taking the role of new bully now – he’s a greaser I think. The next Tomorrow Monday (it’s what they say) he’s a caveman, then a pirate, then a robot – What the hell is even happening? Why are they getting a different new glitch Jesse every day? And why is he always some time period stereotype?

At gym, Theo is freaking out about what new glitch Jesse they’ll face today, and he wants to stop the glitch entirely by just letting themselves get hit with the dodgeballs. Again, you could stop the glitch and Jesse’s downfall by just saving Kyle from getting hit. Coax him to move a foot in literally any direction. Catch the ball. It’s not difficult. I thought Theo was supposed to be a genius.

Luc refuses because apparently being zapped by a robot, slashed at with a pirate sword, bashed with a caveman club and jousted are so much better than just being hit with a few dodgeballs.

Moron.

Today’s Jesse is a supervillain, and Luc finally realizes that they need to set things right and let themselves get hit, but not before Supervillain Jesse uses his psychic powers to make Luc and Theo make out.

Ya know what? Forget calling the cops on the coach. Call the cops on the writers. First we have child molestation now sexual assault? What the hell?

Also, Supervillain Jesse flies with farts. Lovely.

The next Tomorrow Monday, Luc and Theo let themselves get hit and the status quo is restored. And nothing mattered ever.

Oh and the coach gives Luc mouth to mouth for some reason even though he never did in any of the other normal timelines.

Well, kids, we learned a valuable lesson today. Some kids are just meant to be bullies. If you try to stop them from being bullies, they’ll turn into supervillains and make you make out with your best friend until you accept your role as bully victim.

This was awful and unbelievably asinine. The premise is difficult to work with as is, but they don’t even start with an origin story. The theme song doesn’t explain the origins either, it just repeats that they’re in a time loop….Oh, haha, I get it. The song is kinda looped. Haha.

None of what they do in this episode makes any sense. The ‘moral’ if there even is one is terrible. Not to mention just returning everything back to normal at the end without learning anything worthwhile for the only two characters in this show who actually can learn and progress is infuriating. They could’ve easily just gotten better at dodgeball by playing it over and over and over and saved Kyle from getting hit. The end result would be a different day, they’d stop getting hit, they’d learn a new skill and they’d save an innocent person from getting hurt. But nope, it’s just ‘gotta let the bully be a bully’

In nearly every incarnation of the time loop plot, the characters who are cognizant of what’s happening usually learn something from their actions, but here everything’s pointless. And if you’re going to have a pointless episodic show where nothing matters, at least be funny about it. This show is nowhere near funny.

The fact that the alternate dimension Jesses come with such a flimsy explanation is also irritating. Their existence makes that version of reality worse when it’s meant to supposedly fix something that was screwed up because of it. Why don’t they just build on the Butterfly Effect logic like nearly any other show that uses this plot? Have something logical but bad happen because they changed something minor in the past. Don’t just make something up because pbbtt time and space things.

In the end, going in, you know none of this matters anyway, They’re in a time loop with no intentions of leaving it for some reason. By the end of the episode, nothing will have lasting consequences so it’s all moot. I just don’t think you build a lasting series on the time loop plot. A movie? Sure. An episode of a series? Yeah. A series? No.

You’d need a team of seriously good writers to pull that off, and this show just doesn’t have them. They have writers who make 80% of the jokes in their episode be filled with snot, slobber, farts, sexual assault or child molestation.

For those thinking that I’m reading too much into the child molestation thing, let me point out that even the animators knew this joke was wrong. They do this joke three times, and they never animate it. It’s never on screen. We just get a bunch of gross slobber noises and reaction shots.

As for the characters, barring Theo, who only gets tolerance points for being the only one with knowledge or sense, everyone else is terrible. Luc is an asshole idiot, Jesse is a bully idiot, Sarah and her popular cronies are jackasses and the coach is a child molester who roots for the bully to be a bully.

Final Verdict:

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Technically, I only reviewed the first half of episode one since this is one of those shows where two stories take up one episode, but I think I’ve seen enough.