Episode One-Derland: Gasaraki

Plot: Uhm….pbbbbttt…..A mech pilot dances and tries to summon Satan?

Breakdown: I’ve seen a lot of boring anime in my time.

And this is one of them.

I swear to God, if I wasn’t falling asleep while watching this, I was trying to understand what half the cast was talking about.

The first half of the episode has our main character, Yushiro, piloting a mech in a simulation. He infiltrates some building and is about do…something when they stop the simulation. This part of the episode is only there to tell us that Yushiro is special somehow because…his heart rate increases substantially when he’s on a mission?

The second half has Yushiro in somewhat of a Noh dance. It’s quite the jarring transition, actually. I was questioning whether the video spliced in a different show or something.

The dance takes up the entire second half, and we soon realize that he’s meant to use this dance to go into a trance and summon something called ‘The terror,’ which is about as bland as humanly possible.

A girl…in a…spiderweb cocoon? Contacts him psychically, tries to kill him, but fails. There are people manipulating the girl. He keeps summoning the terror then stops as they enter the final stage because the girl told him not to.

And that’s it. That’s the episode. Just add about 150 lines of ‘science’ or ‘magic’ babble that is never explained and imagine I hired Ben Stein to recite all of that.

Holy hell, it is massively boring. Speaking on a first episode basis, it fails on practically every level. I don’t know anything about the world they’re living in, outside of it seemingly meant to be set in modern day Japan, I think.

I have no clue about any of the characters – not even Yushiro. There’s one ominous bad guy manipulating Yushiro. There’s another ominous bad guy manipulating the blue haired girl. They both look very similar outside of one wears glasses. The girl is…..I have no clue. I would say she’s nice, but she tried to psychically murder Yushiro for no given reason sooooo….

Yushiro’s the worst bland offender. Not only do we barely get two words out of the guy before the end of the episode, but his face is obscured through 98% of the runtime. He’s wearing either a half-mask or a full face mask for all of it. When he does talk, he’s only repeating what the blue haired girl said about not bringing back the terror, and finally tells it to go back when it’s nearly summoned. And he can’t even add a drop of emotion to that.

It’s like it’s a big reveal when he finally takes off his mask. Like, ha! I have an identity! But his face is absolutely forgettable (It’s like when people saw Kakashi without his mask for the first time. Lots of buildup for “Oh, it’s normal”), and his actions after he takes it off are the polar opposite of anything epic. It’s not worth the psuedo-buildup at all.

Yushiro has a sister, whom we learn even less of, he was…taken from his home (?) and he’s special somehow. That’s all we know about him.

I feel like there might be something interesting here in terms of ideas, but the best I’ve heard about this show’s plot in reviews is – Kavik Ryx of Nihon Anime Reviews “However, to its credit, there are moments dealing with the SSDF and Japan’s economic crisis that are quite riveting. What is done with real world politics is absolutely uncanny, in a good way. There is something to be said when an anime’s highpoint revolves around the price of grain exports.” Oh boy, I can’t wait for that….grain…export….crescendo….

I’ve been told that the first episode is universally seen as a major weak point of the series because it leaves the audience with very little information and fails to grip the viewer in any way. Supposedly, you need to watch at least the first four episodes to get any sort of real grasp on the plot and characters, but, I’m sorry. You can’t give me dirty dishwater as an appetizer and expect me to order a four course meal.

Nearly every full review I’ve read of this anime tops out the rating as mediocre at best, and a lot of the praise seems to be going more towards the production values than the story or characters, so I don’t even feel compelled to make the trudge on the promise of something better.

I will say this, though. This was one of the most realistic uses of computers I’ve seen in a while. They move the windows, we get to see the cursor, they use menus and everything. They don’t just bash on their keyboards and have ten thousands things happening at once.

It also has pretty good art and fluid animation. The mechs are uninspired, and nothing strikes me as amazing, but it’s nice.

The music is also a positive. The ED in particular was gentle and calming…which is a tad problematic when you’re already falling asleep.

Final Verdict:

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If you have a lot of patience, do like some have said and watch the first four episodes to see if it grips you. However, I can’t see myself returning to this. I need much more substance in a first episode to justify going through more boredom.

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Episode One-Derland: Terror in Resonance

Plot: Nine and Twelve are two teenagers who survived a mysterious incident as children and managed to escape and live their lives independently. Today, they appear to be domestic terrorists attacking Japan while posing as high school students. While they’re carrying out their latest attack, Twelve, in an effort to get Nine to overcome a past trauma, puts the life of their classmate, Lisa, on the line. He can either let her be another casualty or try to save her life. Likewise, Nine gives Lisa a choice – die where she stands or become an accomplice.

Breakdown: Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe with music by Yoko Kanno?

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Ahhhhhhhh, I’m just joshin’ ya……..Okay, not really. It’s going to get that verdict. Just scroll a tad. But I’m not the type of person to fangirl over directors or composers.

Terror in Resonance doesn’t give a lot of information off the bat. All we know is that Nine and Twelve escaped from some facility when they were kids with some other children. Nine watched some kid fall behind him and get murdered, which traumatized him. Today, they appear to be domestic terrorists, but I doubt it’s that simple. Their first viewed act of crime is stealing something from a nuclear repurposing facility. Six months later, they’re posing as normal teenagers in a high school and planning a multi-bomb assault on a huge building.

We don’t know why they’re doing these things, due to this series being a thriller, but it’s an interesting concept.

The role of Lisa could be interpreted as someone just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’s initially helped out by Twelve when she’s being bullied by some bitches, but he later decides to reel her into their plot one way or another to help Nine out with his childhood trauma. Twelve believes if Nine chooses to save her, he’ll stop having nightmares because it’s his guilt from being unable to save the other children from their escape that keeps him up at night.

It’s obviously an odd form of therapy considering they’re the ones planting the bombs in the first place, but I can see where he’s coming from. In this instance, Twelve is particularly intriguing because he bounces back and forth between his goofy nonchalant self and a clearly more sinister personality.

Back to Lisa, she spends much of the episode hiding in the bathroom and dodging texts from her mother, of which I can’t read. In addition to finding the restroom as a hiding place from the bullies, she also seems to have stomach problems. She flushes her lunch down the toilet and nearly throws up several times. I might say she has bulimia, but she doesn’t seem to be triggering her regurgitation on purpose.

Lisa just happens to be in the building that Nine and Twelve target, and the rest is history.

Despite the fact that she seems to be incredibly depressed, perhaps to the point of physical illness, she chooses life over death, even if it means that she’s an accomplice to the crime.

This episode does a great job at setting the stage for the rest of the story. While I will admit that we don’t learn much about these characters or the backstory of this whole situation yet, I don’t believe we’re meant to do so, given the genre.

The art and animation is gorgeous…..except the people. Their bodies are designed just fine, it’s the faces and hair that put me off a little. Some of their features seem either scrunched or stretched too much, and this series has an annoying quirk I liked to call ‘hooky mouth.’ No matter what angle the characters are looking in, their mouths are always curved to a slight hook. This is merely a pet peeve, but it’s still there.

While we’re on the subject of animation, it is downright amazing, and just to fangirl a little, some of the choices in direction are simply mind blowing. That scene on the snowmobile during their escape was one of the best action scenes I’ve ever watched. It sucks you into the scene in an instant and brings you along for a great ride.

I don’t believe I even need to mention that the music is great. I’ll admit that nothing’s jumping out at me as a song that I can’t live without, but it’s still wonderful. Her style always has a very dreamy feel to it that I just love.

As for the voice acting, I watched the English version on Funimation’s website…..and…it’s okay. No one’s voice is annoying, but Christopher Bevins plays Nine in a very boring and monotone fashion. I can’t say if that’s the way he’s meant to be conveyed, though it very well might be because Nine is the stoic dark bad boy to contrast Twelve’s goof-ball nature, but it comes off poorly.

This episode also solidified that I am no longer a fan of Aaron Dismuke. I feel like an ass for saying that because I loved him as Al in FMA, and puberty is a massive bitch to young voice actors, but it’s true. He definitely still has his acting chops, but his voice is, for lack of a better term, weird to me. Not annoying – just weird. And I didn’t make any snap judgments going in – I had no clue who was voicing whom until I watched the end credits. I thought him sounding weird in FMA:B was just him trying to adapt to voice acting with his older voice, but it’s been a few years now and it still sounds off to me.

Final Verdict:

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It looks like this will be a great thrill ride, and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the story is heading.

Episode One-derland: Ajimu ~Beach Story~

Plot: See body of document.

Breakdown: Narrator: “There once was an anime blogger named FiddleTwix. She watched anything from magical girl shows to gritty war dramas, shounen tournament fighters and psychological thrillers. Her watch list was insanely long and unorganized, but she was far too lazy to get any sort of rational system together, so she just watched whatever fell into her lap most of the time.”

FiddleTwix: “Oh boy, let’s see what fell into my lap today! Ajimu: ~Beach Story~, eh? Well, golly, I sure haven’t watched a romance in a while. It’s not usually my forte, but let’s see what’s up.”

Narrator: “Twix was used to seeing blasé and cliché plots before, but even this plot description threw her for a loop.”

Twix: “’Seventeen year old Nakaido Hirosuke is just your average high school student.’ Oh….Oh God…..Oh no.” She proclaimed in a strained but hushed voice.

“’One morning as he arrives at the train station on his way to school, he catches sight of a beautiful girl, Ajimu Yasuna, and immediately falls for her.’” Her voice grew louder and increasingly panicked. “Ssssssssssssssss nope. Nope. I don’t accept this. Nope.”

“’The two of them get to know each other and become friends, but he can’t confess his feelings and she is unsure of hers. As events and other people present obstacles for the potential couple to clear, their relationship begins to develop and their feelings become clear.’ There is no way.” She stated in a much calmer tone. “There is no way this anime is this cliché. This boring. This by-the-book. It can’t be. It just can’t.”

Narrator: “Twix had not even pressed ‘play’ yet on the first episode, but was so distraught by the description that she spent the next four hours praying to the anime gods that such a bland show could not exist. For its plot was so cliché even someone who has never seen anime could write that on the first try.”

Twix: “I am not one to quit before I even start……except on twenty or eighty things, but this anime will not best me before I even watch a frame. Maybe the writer was lazy or was just about to get off work and wanted to watch whatever he DVR’d at home.”

Narrator: “And so, Twix pressed play – determined to not let this description taint her view of a show that could possibly be quite enjoyable. The next half hour was filled with….”

*Twenty-Eight Minutes Later*

Twix: “Gee willikers, it was bland, cliché, poorly written AND creepy all at once! Just when you think the world’s playing a big trick on you, it decides to punch you in the kidney instead. Boy howdy.”

Narrator: “Twix gnawed on her water bottle for a minute before starting the actual review, knowing she had wasted enough of the reader’s time in this fake storybook thing she liked to call a ‘joke’.”

So I won’t waste much more of your time explaining why this show is bad.

In addition to the unsalted cracker of a plot, the actual story is insanely contrived and creepy. Hirosuke falls head over heels for a girl he sees at the train station. It’s love at first sight, and they never share a line of dialogue.

For days, he ogles her from afar each day on the train until he gets up the nerve to talk to her. But, uh oh, crazy anime-reality shenanigans! The train suddenly gets incredibly full and they’re smushed up against each other front to back. Some guy’s tennis racket pokes into her ass and she yells out that he’s a molester.

Shockingly, no one bats an eye, and more people are jammed into the train. Ajimu turns around because why not, and now the racket is poking into her crotch and one swift push later Hirosuke is “accidentally” kissing Ajimu. I say “accidentally” because there’s no way an accidental kiss could’ve occurred the way they presented it. He is substantially taller than her. He has to duck down in order to kiss her and nothing caused him to do that. Not to mention, even if someone did bump him, he lingered for about 20 seconds.

I don’t know why, but it took her until she was about to leave the train to finally slap him silly.

Hirosuke then keeps pestering her and following her trying to clear up the misunderstanding, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Well, no shit. The best way to convince someone that you’re not a molester is not by stalking them.

He gets fed up and calls her stubborn, admits he fell in love with her at first sight, (excuse me, he specifically says her figure was one of the main reasons he liked her so much, which makes sense because these two haven’t had a full conversation nearly 7/8 into the episode) and got embarrassed by the misunderstanding on the train. They’re about to patch things up when he topples on top of her because he fainted due to a cold (She had it firstit doesn’t matter. Also, nice to know fainting is an epidemic with men in Japan too) and she remembers all the good times they had together like him standing in a hallway and him pestering her. She’s about to kiss him while he lays in a clinic bed, I guess and that’s it.

Also, she’s a singer because we need to check off that cliché. Oh, but let’s make her unique by having her play the ukulele! Ukulele’s a beach thing so it’s justified, hooray!

Add in the typical perv best friend for good measure, too.

Just, why? Why? This is a four episode long series and I usually go the extra mile and just grin and bear it for series so short, and I just don’t want to go any further. It is nearly any anime love story executed with absolutely no effort in nearly any regard. Hirosuke doesn’t even like her as a person because he doesn’t know her as a person. He just thinks she’s hot and has a nice singing voice…….Oh my God, he’s somehow a less interesting Eric from the Little Mermaid.

The art is…..not the worst I’ve seen, but it’s up there. Top….twenty maybe. Animation is hella cheap. Again, not the worst I’ve seen, but on the low end of the list.

The music is, admittedly, a slight breath of fresh air given the ukulele, but if ukulele is your hook, you have major problems.

Final Verdict:

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This series, as I mentioned, is a very short four episodes with each episode clocking in at around 28 minutes. However, romance lovers probably won’t enjoy it for the vapid and somewhat creepy coupling and fanservice hounds won’t get into it much because the fanservice is low-key and kept fairly minimum. There’s way better stuff out there for both aspects, guys. Move on.

Narrator: “And so, Twix closed out her less than satisfying review on this completely unsatisfying anime, hoping she had saved at least one person from wasting their time on it. With a small smile and a click of the save button, she wondered if anyone had figured out that she had been the narrator the whole time.”

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Dino Riders

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

Plot: See Breakdown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zeke’s Pad

Plot: Zeke Palmer has a magic electric drawing pad that allows him to alter reality and create things from thin air just by drawing them.

Breakdown: It’s like Chalkzone mixed with Fairly Odd Parents only not nearly as imaginative, funny, or with as much freedom.

The end

I know, I’ve done similar bits before, but it’s true. This concept, on paper (….puns?), is a very good one that hasn’t been done to death but has been done, ala Chalkzone. But its execution here is just plain not good.

First and foremost, this is not an origin story episode. Which is….alright, because we can get the gist of the main plot from the theme song and the episode itself. Zeke has some sort of tablet (called ‘the pad’. How creative) that can create anything he draws. It seems like this ‘power’ is a secret, but I don’t really know. His best friend knows, and that’s all I got.

The origins of the pad are rushed through in the theme song and still make no sense. An electronic drawing pad was being assembled at a factory when the machine suddenly malfunctioned and caused lots of sparks and….magic? The machine threw it out, seeing it as defective, but it bounced out of the bin and out the window where Zeke caught it, somehow instantly knew its powers and how to use it and used to it get away from a dog that was chasing them…..Okie.

Next, Zeke is bland and forgettable with his only notable traits being that he’s lazy, selfish and inconsiderate. Because that’s what I want in my main character – unlikable traits.

To give you the low down, let’s go through Zeke’s actions throughout the course of the episode.

We spend well over two minutes hearing him bitch and moan and have a breakdown over having porridge for breakfast yet again. Apparently his insanely neurotic mother makes it every single day. However, this ‘joke’ has no real setup because we don’t go in knowing this and the joke runs for way too long and amounts to nothing.

After he has a minor porridge breakdown, he bitches and moans that they never have something good like pancakes for breakfast. Aw, poor baby. Your loving mother takes the time out to make you breakfast every morning and it’s not what you want. If you want pancakes, get off your ass and make them.

And he takes my advice…..by going to his room and drawing a huge pile of pancakes on the pad, which materialize before him. And by ‘huge pile’ I mean he stockpiles his room nearly to the ceiling with pancakes and he chows them all down….without syrup or butter. I know that would be messy, but without syrup or butter, you might as well be eating mattress foam.

He gets a huge gut because of this, and, continuity honored, his gut stays this way for the entirety of the episode. However, he completely fails a fitness test at school because of it. Why the hell would you draw a room full of pancakes to eat when you have a fitness test that day? Huge gut and cartoonish appetite aside, eating even a regular helping of pancakes before strenuous exercise would make me feel like garbage.

He got the worst grades on the test in school history, so he’s sent to a fitness camp to bulk up and pass. He exercises a little and gets so fed up with the whole thing that he draws a hot air balloon to escape, but drew it with a nearly empty fuel gauge and crashes…..Yeah, don’t ask me why he did that. He brings it up (“I had to draw it with a FULL fuel gauge?!”) but it still makes no sense (Why would you draw it with an empty gauge to begin with?….or a fuel gauge at all?). Anyway, he makes it home and obviously gets found out because his crazy camp counselor instantly finds he’s escaped, goes straight to his house, searches it and finds Zeke.

That was a pointless waste of time because of stupid, by the way. Of course they’d find out and call his parents. Of course they’d look for him. Of course the first place they’d look is his house. Maybe they wouldn’t practically break in and search without asking permission, but they wouldn’t just leave him be. And he knows this camp is necessary to get him a passing grade, so he should know escaping is pointless. If he were smart, he’d draw a way to make the camp or test easy as hell to pass. Hell, he has reality altering powers, just draw a test with an A grade on it.

Also, just to get this plot hole/annoyance out of the way, Zeke’s father, despite hearing that Zeke has to fitness camp to pass his test, for some reason thinks it’s ridiculous that Zeke would be a camper at a fitness camp and that him, being an artist, must be at an art camp. Even after telling him that and being found at the house, escaping from the fitness camp, Zeke exclaims later that his dad still thinks he’s at art camp…..Is his dad an idiot or is this very poorly written? I can’t tell.

Zeke recruits his best friend, Jay, in the middle of the night to help him pass his test. He claims he can’t just draw himself before he ate all those pancakes,because going back, deleting and erasing  always goes horribly wrong. We just have to take his word for it, but uh…..just draw yourself in a fit way you’ve never been. That way it’s an alteration not a redo or a deletion. It’s not that hard.

Just a note, Jay does not help him at all. Not for lack of trying or because Jay’s a bad friend, but because he has no way of helping him. Zeke has the pad and Jay could easily give him advice over the phone, but he begs him to put aside his studying for an algebra exam to help him at the camp and he, reluctantly, goes. When Zeke’s pad gets taken away by the counselor, they both sneak into his office to get it, but it’s entirely unnecessary for Jay to be there. He doesn’t do anything because there’s nothing for him to do. He does point out that Zeke is running away faster than he is and asks if he’s been working out, but bite me Zeke’s Pad. There’s no way a day and half of moderate exercise with a huge gut hanging over his pants made him fit enough for there to be any noticeable improvement.

When he gets his pad back, he thinks of the perfect solution. He draws them at Art Camp, which alters reality….somehow, to making everything an art test and art challenges, which Zeke excels at.

The only repercussions of Zeke’s selfish and lazy actions is that Ike, his older jock brother who both gave him the initial fitness test and worked as a counselor at the fitness camp, is still rough on him, they have to draw Ike in his boxers (Jay’s still at the camp because of no reason whatsoever.) and Zeke’s mom makes him pancakes when he gets home as a gift for passing his test, which, wahmp wahmp, makes Zeke freak out….Also, he’s instantly thin again when he changes the camp to an art camp…..continuity makes sense, right!?

Nothing about this episode was funny. Not a damn thing made me even want to put effort into moving my lip muscles. I’m watching a lazy inconsiderate idiot get himself into trouble, easily get out of it and get what he wants all the while bothering his friends and scarily manipulating reality and those around him. Not to mention a total lack of a lesson being learned or comeuppance for his behavior. He could at least have done something nice for someone else with that pad (like, maybe something to help Jay with his algebra test), but he just uses it stupidly for stuff he wants and is too lazy to do himself.

There’s also a subplot with the rest of his forgettable family with his mother making them work out and eat healthy non-stop. It goes the way you think and ends the way you think.

The jokes they attempt have no thought put into them. Most of them are unfunny slapstick gags, burp jokes and a fart joke, the rest is just cartoon zaniness in how quickly and sporadically they move, which may as well be slapstick.

As an artist who would value this power like a gift from the gods, it bugs the hell out of me that this is such wasted potential. I would love another Chalkzone-esque show. It allows for such amazing creative freedom in plots, characters and powers. However, it is just not used well here. There are vague and undefined restrictions by default and they can’t use the power many times because the thing needs to be charged.

Not to mention the fact that there’s no artistic merit going into these drawings. We never see him actually ‘draw’ anything. We get some weird overdone transition, see the finished drawing for about a second and then cut to the thing appearing or reality changed. We don’t even see him draw anything for the hell of it or at all despite the fact that people keep saying he’s creative and loves to draw.

Even in the very end where he gets his altered test to draw Ike, we don’t get to see him draw or see his finished drawing. This is a show based around art-fueled powers….with no art.

Speaking of art, the CGI cel-shaded art for the show is really blah with no real style to it. The colors are bright and appealing, but that’s about it. These graphics look pretty dated for a show that was supposedly made in 2010, and the animation, while not having many errors, doesn’t have a good fluidity about it. Half the time it’s jarring shifts and the other it’s slow moving in a sliding fashion.

The music’s alright, but forgettable. I listened to the theme song three times just five minutes ago and I’ve already forgotten it.

Final Verdict:

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Two-dimensional characters with the MC having no real good traits conveyed so far, poorly written story structure and dialogue, no good jokes and a complete waste of a fairly good plot and you leave me with no reason to want to continue.

Also, in spite of the fact that this show won two Elan awards for Best Animation TV Production and Art Direction, this show only lasted one season. Hm.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Looney Tunes Show

Plot: Bugs and Daffy are roommates living a generally normal life in the suburbs. Daffy desperately wants to win something for once, so he signs him and Bugs up for a show called Besties, where best friends test their knowledge of each other.

Breakdown: Who doesn’t love Looney Tunes? Arguably second to Disney’s Mickey Mouse and friends, Bugs, Daffy and the rest of the Looney Tunes are some of the most world-renowned, beloved and funny characters (they definitely beat Disney in humor) we’ve come to know in the past decades. They’ve had some amazingly funny and memorable adventures, catchphrases, animation, voice acting and they continue to live on in various forms to this day.

That’s not to say Looney Tunes hasn’t had its hiccups when it comes to the quality of their shows and movies. Space Jam, Loonatics Unleashed and Baby Looney Tunes come to mind in that regard.

Well……*hiccup*

The Looney Tunes show definitely caused some conflict when it was first released. A good chunk of people liked the change of scenery and style and even some of the character traits. I definitely remember people arguing back and forth about whether Lola’s reimagining was for the better or worse.

Warning – Rambling that doesn’t have much to do with the episode at hand. Skip down to the blue mark to reenter episode discussion.

While Lola doesn’t show up in this episode, I do know what her character was turned into through clips and wiki research. Lola was not an original character in the short films we know and love. She was specifically made for the half-live-action half-cartoon movie, Space Jam, in order to increase the female demographic.

Even back then, Lola’s character was a source of debate because while some people saw her as a welcome female addition to the Looney Tunes crew, one with an attitude and knew how to play basketball no less, many others saw her as furry bait. She is obviously designed to be as sexually alluring as possible, in both design and her behavior, to all of the other male characters, yes, including the live-action humans, and she even has bunny boobs. She was also seemingly created just to give Bugs a love interest for the movie. She is even knocked into the cliché ‘damsel in distress’ role to give Bugs the even more cliché self-sacrifice scene so they can fall in love.

My opinion? I found Lola entertaining as a kid, but nowadays I just find her character to be a little insulting. If her character is meant to be made for the female viewers on both the basis of being a female character and giving her an attitude of female empowerment, they didn’t do a good job to me. She is eye candy to the core (which is creepy. I mean, give Jessica Rabbit a pass, she’s at least designed as a human.), the fact that she’s described as ‘tomboyish’ is nearly laughable, and making her shut down anyone who calls her ‘doll’ is not enough to warrant that sense of empowerment to me (who even says that anymore?), especially when the cliché gender stereotype roles are still handed to her.

In the Looney Tunes Show, Lola is completely changed from sexpot to ditzy Bugs-obsessed talk-a-mile-a-minute idiot. And, surprise, that is in no way better.

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I had caught this show a bit on TV a few times when it was airing and….I was never impressed enough to watch more than about five minutes. It was just….not funny. Which, for Looney Tunes, is a damn crime.

But I’m a reasonable person and part of this series is giving shows at least a shot to prove their worth. Maybe even prove my passing glances wrong and give me something to binge watch.

And they blew it.

Let me be fair off the bat here. I technically only watched half the episode because this is one of those shows that cuts the episode in half to create two separate stories. I just didn’t watch the second one because I was nearly offended with how not funny or interesting this one was.

First of all, while we’re on the subject of character changes, what the hell happened to Daffy? I know very well that Daffy is not the brightest marker in the Crayola factory, but he is ungodly dumb in this episode. Like Patrick from Spongebob should tutor him kind of dumb. It’s a good thing he doesn’t wear clothes, because I don’t think he’d be able to master the ability to dress himself levels of dumb.

It was actually annoying how dumb he was.

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Now, onto B–…..What’s that you say? Why did I randomly put a stock picture of Speedy Gonzales up?

Well, because the show basically did the same thing. Speedy comes out of nowhere, being stuck to Daffy’s hand vac as he tries to grab ahold of some food that rolled under the fridge (you may go ‘ew’ now) They basically point out that he’s there….and he leaves, never to be seen again the whole episode.

I wasn’t aware that Speedy was the kind of character that warranted a random splash cameo for the sake of fanservice. In fact, weren’t they trying to get rid of him at a point because they thought he was offensive to Mexicans?

Anyhoo, Bugs is left relatively alone, but he’s lost his spunk. He’s way too much on the side of laid-back sarcasm dispenser with none of the pep and energy his character is known to have.

The plot is what really riled me up. I was angry the instant the plot established itself. This is so unbelievable cliché I want to cry. They’ve been doing this stupid ‘game show where the characters have to know facts about another character’ plot line since The Newlywed Game came out. I’m surprised this isn’t a listed TV trope by now. They even name the host Chuck Berost…..which….I think is meant to be a joke, given that the original host of The Newlywed Game was Chuck Barris…..but I don’t get it….Berost…Barris….???

Not only is this a ridiculously cliché plot line to start from, but it’s also incredibly predictable, especially given Daffy’s idiocy. He’s so stupid, he even ruins Bugs’ correct answers because Daffy has an answer that sounds ‘cooler’. It’s obvious Bugs will have an idea that will get them through a good chunk of the game, but then Daffy will screw it up at the very end because he’s sans brain and they’ll lose. And look, that’s what happened.

The only joke that worked for me even a little in this episode was where they’re doing a ‘parody’ of Superman’s Origins. Don’t ask me why they’re doing this. It doesn’t matter. Bugs is acting as baby Kal el and his ‘father’ Jor el says he’ll say “What’s up doc?” indiscriminately, whether there’s a doctor present or not. Yup. And outside of the piece of kryptonite being a crystal carrot, that is the ONLY joke in that whole parody and the only only joke that really works for me during this whole episode. A joke that isn’t even all that funny…..a joke they ruin by having Daffy bring it up at the end of the episode.

See, the question Daffy screws up is ‘what is Bugs’ catchphrase?’ and he gets it wrong. When he learns what it really is, he says ‘we don’t even know any doctors!’

The last thing I have to address is the art style, which I’m….mostly okay with. Everyone’s character designs are mostly left alone, but the heads are obviously bigger and the colors are more saturated.

The animation is pretty good, though I do see various animation errors here and there. It’s smooth, but sometimes slides into ‘someone’s screwing with Flash again’ territory. Also, the animation doesn’t seem to have that elasticity that Looney Tunes is known for.

I will give them props for somewhat keeping the original theme, but this one’s a bit too heavy on the brass for me, which is surprising because the original is nearly entirely brass. It’s just that they add in a lot of jazzy trumpet interludes that are way too loud and intrusive to me.

Final Verdict:

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Nothing clicks in this show for me. The writing, the characters, nothing. I feel like, if the Looney Tunes name wasn’t on this show, it wouldn’t last more than a few episodes….and hell, this show only lasted two seasons with the branding on it. The Looney Tunes show is just not looney.

Episode One-Derland: Bartender

Plot: A secluded warm bar called Eden Hall welcomes its guests with a mysterious bartender they call The Glass of the Gods, known for remembering a customer’s orders from years ago. He uses his keen observations, insight and gentleness to help customer’s through their problems.

Breakdown: We all know the bartender trope, for lack of a better term. Bartenders are kind and friendly people who offer solutions to problems or just an ear to listen to your problems while pouring you a nice drink. Well, what if there was a show about that?

I don’t think Bartender is the greatest candidate for Episode-Oneland since it seems pretty episodic to me at first glance, but the main gist of the whole thing is indeed the Bartender. Ryuu Sasakura, is one of the best bartenders in the world and seems to be the only bartender at Eden Hall. He makes spot-on observations and analyses on completely minor things like Detective Conan and makes perfect drinks to sate the worries of the customer. And yeah, in this episode anyway, the customer’s problems were seemingly solved just by making the guy a really nice drink.

The customer is a man who has been contracted out to renovate a hotel bar. However, he despises bars and especially has a poor view of bartenders as pretentious people with no real skills and even refers to them by the ‘slur’ of ‘barten’. Despite this, he seems to have a vast knowledge of drinks and liqueur as a whole. He enters Eden Hall through chance and has a complete 180 on his opinion of bars and bartenders after meeting and getting a custom drink from Sasakura.

That’s the whole story. No I’m not kidding.

Also, the reason behind this man’s hatred of bars and bartenders is kinda….dumb. When he was a college student, he went to his first bar. Like you do. Well, he chose one of them fancy-ish bars and went alone, so he’s already making all sorts of mistakes for a first-time run. He feels really uncomfortable right as he enters the door, noting the door’s heaviness as feeling like the bar is actively trying to keep people out. He’s appalled at the high cost of a bowl of nuts and feels like an outsider for not being there on a recommendation.

He orders a beer and feels like a cheap-ass for doing so, so he orders a whiskey in order to feel more proper, all the while believing everyone in the room is either silently judging him or laughing at him. He reaches for his wallet and finds that it fell out of a gigantic hole in his pocket that I can’t believe he’s just now noticing, and then believes everyone in the bar is staring at him, laughing at him, judging him and whatnot. The bartender then gently touches his hand and tells him that they can settle the bill some other time.

So, yeah, he hates bars and bartenders because he’s a paranoid schizophrenic and had a slightly embarrassing experience with a bartender who was actually really nice about the whole situation.

This show puts a lot of focus on the….for lack of a better term ‘psychology’ behind drinks and bars. Drinks are highlighted and explored, we’re told when a drink is appropriate for certain situations and we even get a recipe at the end. More importantly, though, as Sasakura explains, why you drink what and when and when you’d be better suited for what drink over another depends on both you as a person and your current state of mind. A drink can be a soothing experience, a getaway, something fun, nostalgic etc. Most of all, the bartender’s job is to create an openness and gentleness to the patron’s experience, creating a safe and warm atmosphere for everyone who wants a place to go just to feel like they belong or want a hideaway.

The art is alright for the characters themselves and not much animation is needed here, but a lot of detail and animation focus is put on drink preparation and presentation, which is pretty damn nice. Plus, the environments are nicely detailed. The direction is also fairly stylized and pleasantly arranged.

The music is pretty reminiscent of lounge music to a degree. I enjoyed it.

While the story is definitely….different and, admittedly, a little on the odd side, I will say that I never lost interest and I did feel relaxed through the whole thing, which may be one of the main points of this anime; to emulate the bar experience.

So I will give this a;

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If anything, it’s a short and relaxing series and really makes you wish more bars were like Eden Hall.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Bar Rescue and completely ruin everything I’ve felt during this watching experience.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Slugterra

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Plot: Will Shane is a respected man of justice in the world of Slugterra – a world miles beneath the surface where people battle using slugs with various powers. While combating the evil Dr. Blakk, he is met with Blakk’s newest creation – corrupted slugs. One of them opens up an interdimensional void that sucks Will up, but not before he sends his faithful slug, Burpy to the surface world to notify his teenage son, Eli, of his fate. After Eli learns of his father’s fall, he follows the instructions on a letter he left behind to finally go to Slugterra and earn his rightful place as a shane, if he wishes it and only when he turns 15.

On his 15th birthday, Eli heads down to Slugterra and follows his father’s directions to find a place to live, a mode of transportation and some starter gear. However, he’s aggravated when he learns that Slugterra has been taken over by thugs in the years of the shane’s absence. Since Eli has no formal training and only one slug, he is quickly tossed aside when he tries to enforce law and order.

In order to help him out, a seeming burglar of his father’s hideout, Pronto, tells him to earn respect and training by winning a local tournament. Eli is pumped to finally start fighting, but since he’s just starting out can he even win a qualifier?

Breakdown: Okay, I really need to start paying more attention to Disney XD because they seem to get way better shows that whatever they sling on cable.

Slugterra didn’t look like much to me when I first glanced at it, but I was surprisingly intrigued by this show….they shoot animals out of guns at each other and they transform in mid-air into awesome monsters! Out of context, that’s seemingly a hair below animal abuse, but it’s actually really cool!

In just our starter episode, part one no less, we are introduced to all sorts of interesting slugs, creatures and characters that get you amped up to see more.

I even enjoyed the cel-shaded CGI animation and art, and that’s very rare for me because I have a really hard time enjoying CGI cartoons.

I do have some bones to pick, though.

First, the pacing is kinda break-neck. We go from Will’s battle to his fall to Eli learning of his fall to him being 15 and going to Slugterra in just a handful of minutes. I think we could’ve made this a bit smoother considering this is indeed a part one.

Second, Eli’s response to his dad ‘falling’ (IE Dying) is uh…less than emotional. I swear, he looks sad for about a second then gets pumped when he learns of the letter his dad left, instructing him on how to start his shane training and how to get to Slugterra. It’s really offputting. The families of soldiers and law enforcement officers are also prepared for something bad to happen to their loved ones, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have an expected emotional response to it happening. Especially when Will seemed like a single dad.

This lack of emotional response is even more offputting when he gets to Slugterra and has the gall to complain about the vehicle his dad left him. Gee thanks dead dad for leaving me full instructions on how to get to this awesome fantasy world and leaving me a place to live, new clothes, a blaster, a powerful slug etc etc. But this vehicle’s a hunk of junk. Pft.

It’s somehow even worse when it’s revealed that the vehicle in the hideout wasn’t even the one he was talking about and Eli’s real ride is super cool. You don’t deserve a cool ride when you’re a spoiled brat.

Third, for seemingly being the hotshot of the tournament, Shockwire’s battle with Eli was kinda lame. If it’s so well know that his slugs can misfire when they’re overworked, surely this crowd favorite would know about it and not shoot off his slugs willy-nilly. And after one hit by Burpy he surrenders? Come on, dude.

I do commend Eli for asking which of Shockwire’s slugs wanted to go with him instead of just taking one. That shows a level of respect for both the slugs and the world that no one seems to have.

Finally, I hate to say it, but the overall plot is cliché city. From the dead dad to the upstart son to the evil bad guy of badness who is named, of all damn things, Dr. Blakk, and the corruption that puts the world at risk. I’ve seen more creativity on the nutritional value chart on my multivitamins.

Overall, however, this is a very fun and engrossing show that I will be glad to continue. Sadly, this show seems to be in limbo because no new episodes have been made since October 2016.

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I hope to God this show didn’t get canceled on some horrible incident involving a small child, a gun and literal slugs. I don’t know what would happen in the solution to that equation, but I imagine something terrible….and slimy.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Huntik: Secrets and Seekers

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Break your spine today, Sophie?

Plot: In a University in Venice, Italy, a college student named Lok and his friend, Sophie, accidentally find Lok’s long-lost father’s journal and an amulet in one of his old artifacts. Before they even even begin to look into it, a group of people in black suits burst into his house and attack him with strange powers. They’re after the journal, but Lok travels all over Venice to ensure its safety.

Along the way, he gets imbued with similarly strange powers from the amulet he found, and he finds some sense of security with a man named Dante, who helps save him from the people in suits. He reveals that the suited people are from an evil group known only as The Organization. They utilize ancient powers and summon powerful titans from their amulets for nefarious purposes. Those who possess these powers are known as Seekers, and there is a benevolent group of seekers known as The Huntik Foundation, who aim to take down The Organization.

While Lok quickly wants nothing more to do with the situation, Dante reveals that he already is a part of it since the amulet synced with him, making him a Seeker. The Organization returns for another face-off, this time with more firepower. Will they be able to make it out in one piece?

Breakdown: This show has awesome music.

The instant I heard the opener, I was sold….but maybe I was a bit cheap because there’s not much going on in the originality department here.

Missing dad? Check.

Main Character suddenly dragged into a huge conflict with mysterious powers and monsters? Check.

Obvious love interest? Check.

Being so vague about your enemy that they’re literally bad guys in black with a non-descript name? Check.

Suddenly saved by mysterious guy with uber powers and luxurious hair? Check.

It’s not the most cliché thing in the world…..but it’s up there. Being fair, they put plenty of action in there to hold your attention, but nothing about the story really grabbed it.

Just to get these minor annoyances out of the way, here are some minor annoyances.

– Lok seriously didn’t know what an amulet was. Not what THE amulet was – what AN amulet was…..he’s a college student.

– Bad guys are after the journal, journal falls into water, stops Lok from going into water, make no effort to go into the completely calm canal water to retrieve journal. Don’t even stick around long enough to see him surface. Good job.

– Sophie was reaching for a precious and delicate artifact left behind from your father, is having no real issues reaching it or getting it down, yet you act like she’s about to be hit by invisible falling debris and tackle her, ensuring that the artifact breaks. Good job, Lok. Though, being fair, it’s rude as hell to get all grabby on what is clearly a delicate ancient statue.

– How did Lok’s dad get that stuff in that statue anyway?

– Sophie describes Lok as a nerd and he can even complete a full crossword puzzle in less than two minutes, but he’s super lazy in school, never bothered to open his textbooks out of their plastic wrapping and needs to copy Sophie’s notes.

– They were too lazy to animate him completing the crossword. It was an actual plotpoint, but they skipped it through black fades. They animated a completely pointless Indiana Jones dream sequence, but not him completing a crossword. They even have to have a little note on screen that says ‘Less than two minutes later’

That out of the way, the art and animation is Italian. That about sums it up.

Alright, I’m not being fair. Sorry Italy. But, really, can someone point me to some Italian animation that doesn’t look like it was given the budget of a bucket of nails? I feel like I’m unfairly building a bad view of it just because I keep coming across shows like these.

The art itself is alright. Passable enough. It’s the animation and lip-syncing that make me gnash my teeth. This series was produced by Rainbow s.r.l., the same people who brought us Winx Club. It’s done in that same style, but to the best of my knowledge, the quality is much worse. That might be the fault of their co-producer, Big Bocca Productions, but damned if I can find a single word of that company that isn’t ‘They helped produce Huntik.’

Huntik’s level and type of animation problems can only be summed up in one way – It’s exactly the same as those old religious cartoons from the 90s and early 00s. I can’t describe it any better than that. I was almost expecting this to be produced by a company that made some of those shows and specials, it was just that similar.

As for the lip-syncing, I have no clue how they produced this they way they did, but whatever system they used to work between America and Italy to fuse the animation with the voices did not work. Keep in mind, this show was not originally voiced in Italian. There is no language gap to jump, excusing the poor syncing. As a fan of anime, I would be more than glad to turn a blind eye to that (mostly).

I assume Big Bocca Productions is the American company who did the scripts and voice work. Rainbow did the animation and designs. Rainbow has the responsibility of matching their animations to the script and voice work, so I guess I have to mark off Rainbow for this.

The voice acting as a whole is just alright. We have some actual voice actors here such as Yuri Lowenthal, Marc Thompson and even Maddie Blaustein. They’re not putting their all into it, but they’re not really phoning it in. The sound mixing and editing is sometimes terrible, though. There will be instances of characters accidentally talking over each other and sometimes the music drowns out the voices.

Marc, however, is doing a terrible job as Cherit, the little talking bat-creature thing. Just imagine one of your parents putting on a high-pitched witch-like voice when they would read to you at bed time, and that’s basically what he’s doing.

Final verdict:

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Just barely eeked out ‘undecided’, mostly because A) music is still awesome, B) it intrigued me enough to at least plug on for now. Maybe it has more to offer to set it apart from the crowd. At the very least, I might get to see some laughably terrible stuff.

…….But seriously, he had no idea what an amulet was.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Robotomy

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Plot: In a world populated by only robots, life happens. Some of its kinda funny.

Breakdown: This show seems a lot like it’s trying to be an all-robot Futurama. Starring Patton Oswalt and other people, I’m sure, this series was Cartoon Network’s attempt to make slightly more mature programming bordering between their regular shows and Adult Swim.

It did not succeed. This series stands as Cartoon Network’s shortest original series with merely ten episodes under its access panel.

While I can’t say the show has gigantic flaws, it really is forgettable, and, like I said, it’s just an all-robot version of Futurama to me, in terms of the tone of humor.

And the humor really isn’t that great. A lot of it is the typical stuff you’d expect of a robot show, while other jokes are trying to make new stuff based on their robotic environment. The latter is hit or miss, and the hits are like first base at most. It never made me laugh or break out a smile, but it made me do that internal ‘hm that was kinda funny’ thing.

The two main characters, Thrasher and Blastus, who may as well be interchangeable because, while they seem to be going for a goofy impulsive guy and straightman dynamic, they’re basically the same character. Damned if I can tell you which one is which, to be honest. The skinny one is the one voiced by Patton Oswalt, though.

To fit the demographic, this series takes place in a robot high school, which, sadly, just shoves a lot of tropes down this series’ throat, like social media, wanting to be popular, embarrassing yourself in front of your crush etc. It also basically makes this a neutered Futurama clone.

The story of this episode is everyone is joining a social media site called Frienemy. When Thrasher and Blastus join up in hopes of getting popular, they find that they have no friend requests. They send in a complaint to the website itself who offers to be their friend. They accept, but find that Frienemy, who takes the physical form of a giant floating spiky head, is incredibly clingy and possessive. They can’t escape him, so they destroy him by having thousands of robots poke him, which doesn’t make any sense because why would the website, the being that encompasses and creates the poking, be negatively affected by a lot of poking? And if Blastus and Thrasher aren’t popular in the least, how did they instantly convince so many people to poke him?

As an intro, it does a decent enough job of introducing us to their world and the characters, even if the main two are entirely interchangeable. But it doesn’t do a great job of making me want to watch more. I don’t think this series deserved a pitiful ten episode run, but it’s certainly not a very good show.

The art and animation are pretty good with some nice style here and there, but it’s not incredibly creative.

The music is meh. The opening is repetitive and forgettable while the BG music is just forgettable.

Final Verdict:

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It’s a very short series with very short episodes, and it was just entertaining enough to make me feel compelled to tell people to at least give it a shot. I, personally, won’t continue, but I can see how someone else might find this funnier than I do.

Recommended Audience: Despite their drive to hook in a teen audience, there’s not much in regards to anything that mature. One of the robots gets their innards exposed like guts, but they’re robots, so that’s basically censored. Uhhh…..I honestly can’t think of anything. E for everyone, but aimed at teens I guess.