Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Pelswick

Plot: Based on a series of newspaper cartoons by John Callahan, Pelswick follows the life of Pelswick Eggert – a paraplegic boy who wants nothing more than to live a normal life.

Breakdown: I usually don’t do Episode One-Derland entries for shows I am actually familiar with, but it has just been so, so, SO long since I watched Pelswick that I felt the need to do one here.

I watched Pelswick when it first aired on Nickelodeon, and I remember enjoying it quite a bit. It wasn’t my favorite show or anything, but I thought it was a pretty good series. It was really cool that it gave the spotlight to a paraplegic main character when you typically can’t even find many side characters in shows that are in a wheelchair or just generally have disabilities, especially back when this first aired.

The writing was also good with a style that reminded me a lot of Doug what with all the fantasies and cutaways, but actually….ya know….funny and interesting. (No hate on Doug, but it can be quite the bore sometimes.)

Now, Pelswick’s not making me bust a gut in laughter or anything, but it did have its charms and made me smile a few times as I revisited it. It also had some fairly clever writing and commentary.

This episode tackles the subject of Pelswick being barred from the eighth grade camping trip due to his special needs. Someone fought back in his stead, even getting a lawyer involved, and because of this push, instead of allowing Pelswick on the trip, they just canceled it altogether. The eighth grade camping trip is a big deal to a lot of people, so the situation gets heated quickly. It turns into a huge spectacle as many people start protesting against Pelswick to get the camping trip back while there were also many others supporting the rights of handicapped individuals and fighting to let him go on the camping trip.

Throughout the story, we get the reactions of various people that range from understandable to silly to silly but understandable on the grounds of parody. Many of Pelswick’s classmates are pissed off that the trip is canceled, which is understandable since it was such a big deal.

Some people are getting so pissed about it, however, that they’re purely protesting Pelswick as if he was the one who made this decision when it was technically against him. And when I say protest I mean they have signs with his face on it but crossed out in red and offer anti-Pelswick hot dogs at the picket lines.

You also have the younger kids in town, including Pelswick’s younger sister, Kate. They’re angry that they won’t be able to destroy the bedrooms of their older siblings while they’re on the camping trip, which is silly, but yeah totally something they’d do.

There was also a group of kids who were perfectly depicting the hypocrites you tend to see in these situations. They were going off about Pelswick being selfish for doing this while they were being selfish during their whole conversation. Not only is the narrative of ‘What a selfish thing to do. Why isn’t he thinking of what we want?’ inherently selfish, but they’re furthering the point by having them literally take the seats out from under two other kids so they could sit.

Then, on the opposite side, you have the ones supporting Pelswick, many of whom are fellow disabled individuals who are fighting for their rights, which is, of course, entirely understandable. But they also go a bit into silly territory by having pro-Pelswick hamburgers and a giant Pelswick balloon.

Likewise, while this situation does suck, the school had a relatively reasonable explanation for doing this. Their insurance didn’t cover individuals with special needs outside of the city limits. With the push against the decision to keep the camping trip but bar Pelswick, they felt they had no other choice but to cancel the trip entirely.

And even if we do go down the route of them getting better insurance coverage, the steps needed to achieve that would’ve taken too long as the trip was that weekend. It’s not just a matter of improving their insurance – it’s a matter of whether they have the money to do that, and if they don’t, allocating funds from one place or another to meet that demand. I think everyone knows how much red tape and bullshit there is in budget discussions, especially when it comes to schools.

For nearly the entire time, Pelswick believes his father/his connections to the state senator is the one who did all of this. He’s an ultra-’PC’ person to the point of parody. He’s definitely a good person, but he doesn’t realize that there is a limit when it comes to not trying to step on anyone’s toes. He actually says the line “Nobody’s wrong. They’re just differently right.”

He also does and says some things that come off like he’s one of those people who pats himself on the back for being, for lack of a better term, “woke” but he may actually be a rare occurrence when he doesn’t realize he’s doing it.

Here is one of his first lines of dialogue. “I’m showing your siblings the folly of gender-based stereotypes by cleaning and cooking dinner while nurturing Bobby and reading Kate a story about tolerance and equality.” If he were just doing this, it wouldn’t be anything worth noting, but the fact that he pointed this out so specifically is what makes it come off like he’s trying to pat himself on the back.

I actually think his dad might be a play on the critics of John Callahan’s cartoons. He was always criticized for being “politically incorrect” (Though Callahan would prefer the term “Survivor humor” – himself being paralyzed from the shoulders down and a survivor of a harrowing childhood) and he didn’t much care for those people at all. In fact, he was quoted as saying he really only cared about the responses he got from individuals with disabilities, which were overwhelmingly positive. When it came to everyone else, he liked pushing their buttons and seeing how far he could go with his dark and biting humor. His cartoons even sometimes caused people to boycott and protest the publications he was working with, and even created some issues with sponsors.

In this circumstance, if what I believe of this character is true, then the point of Pelswick’s dad is obviously poking fun at people who are uptight about not offending anybody and walk on eggshells around those who are different while still acknowledging that these people mean well.

Anyway, back on point, his father goes to the senator to get her to do something about this, so Pelswick thinks the lawyer, who is the one who kicked up the fuss, was hired by either his dad or the senator. Turns out, it’s neither. He was hired by his crush, Julie.

Julie is a character who prides herself on her strong sense of justice. When she learned that Pelswick was being barred from the camping trip, she took it upon herself to start all of this for him because she felt bad at the idea of him being all alone while everyone else was off camping. However, it got out of hand and she couldn’t stop it.

Pelswick is ecstatic to hear that she cared about him so much that she’d do this for him, but it also kinda goes against Pelswick’s whole point. Pelswick was annoyed because, during this whole situation, no one would listen to him about what he wanted. They just kept pushing their own narratives and agendas while pushing him to the side, even though his face is plastered all of the town because of it.

Julie never bothered talking to Pelswick about this. In fact, once the trip is canceled, we don’t see Julie again until the reveal that she was behind it all. She just felt bad for him, so she took action without even mentioning it to him once.

But what’s even worse is that she had to have known Pelswick was becoming the town punching bag throughout this whole thing, but she didn’t talk to him or even try to clear the air about who was the one who started all of this until Pelswick came out and asked at the rally. Even Pelswick points this out.

Pelswick: “You cared enough about me to make me totally miserable?”

This is said in a dreamy voice, by the way. He’s flattered that she did this.

So, in summary, the girl who prides herself on her strong sense of justice just let the guy she was trying to defend be attacked for a few days all because she was seemingly too chicken to own up to what she did. Kay.

By the way, in regards to their dynamic, Pelswick doesn’t make off being entirely angelic either. He actually has a ‘Nice guy’ moment, verbatim. When some bullies get done picking on Pelswick, Julie talks about what terrible people they are but then ends on saying she’s oddly attracted to them.

Pelswick: “It’s….the curse of the nice guys! The beautiful girls are always attracted to jerks and lunkheads.” Then he has a fantasy sequence where he imagines himself 20 years in the future. He’s rich and crying into thousand dollar bills as he imagines what could’ve been with Julie while he’s also driving by Julie who is now married to his bully and has a miserable life working at some dilapidated gas station in the middle of nowhere.

Don’t worry, Pelswick, I’m sure you’ll find that special subreddit someday.

The resolution to this episode is a little confusing. The Vice Principal says his hands are tied in this because of the insurance reasons I mentioned before. Inspired by the advice given to him earlier by his guardian angel, whom I’ll address in a minute, Pelswick asks if they can hold the camping trip in the VP’s new giant backyard at his new house.

Now, first of all, I think the writers are greatly misinformed on how much a public school vice principal would make. Certainly not enough to buy this big house with a massive backyard and a pool with a giant tower of a diving board.

Secondly, I don’t think it was ever brought up before this point that the Vice Principal has a new house with a huge backyard, so this solution kinda comes out of nowhere.

He does let the kids camp in his yard, everyone has a grand old time, and Pelswick even gets to touch Julie’s hand.

The end.

Skipping back to the guardian angel thing, Pelswick has a guardian angel named Mr. Jimmy. Whether or not he’s real is questionable, but he appears in every episode and offers Pelswick advice, usually in a rather confusing and random manner. When I rewatched this, I remembered that the Disney Channel Original Movie, Miracle in Lane 2, basically had this exact same thing. In that movie, the main character was also paralyzed from the waist down, and he had frequent conversations with ‘God’ who took the form of a fictional famous race car driver. I looked up what year Miracle in Lane 2 was made in, and it premiered the exact same year as Pelswick, 2000, though Pelswick premiered in October whereas Miracle premiered in May.

COINCIDENCE?!

*Dramatic music*

Yeah, probably. I mean, Mr. Jimmy and ‘God’ don’t act anything alike, and most of the interactions with ‘God’ are in a more serious tone when Justin needs help. Plus the race car driver motif thing

By the way, watch Miracle in Lane 2, it’s an awesome movie and one of the few times Disney Channel really got serious and kinda dark. The early 00’s were the butterzone for that. So Weird, In a Heartbeat, a few other more serious DCOMs….I miss those days.

As a first episode, this one works pretty well. It introduces us to Pelswick and explores his personality and desires fairly well. We get introduced to his friends, his family, his crush and even his bullies all in one go. I can’t really say I loved any of the characters, but I liked Pelswick and Ace most of all, and even Goon had his moments. As far as I remember, they never explain how Pelswick became paralyzed, but according to the Wiki, the series creators imply it was due to a car accident, which mirrors John Callahan’s situation.

The only other thing I really want to talk about is the art. I nearly didn’t even really bring up the art because, despite having my criticisms of it. I had read up on John Callahan while I was writing this review and realized it was based on his cartoon art, which he had created after he gained some mobility in his arms. He was able to hold a pencil between his hands and draw.

As a result, I didn’t want to criticize the art, but then I realized I’d be missing the point of quite literally everything I’m discussing here. I’d be keeping quiet about something because the person behind it was quadriplegic, and John Callahan seemed very dedicated to ensuring that people with disabilities weren’t pitied or treated differently. Granted, this isn’t directly his art, but it is heavily based on his art.

So, here goes.

The art is very, very weird. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Klasky/Csupo shows, but more off-model. Many people are given huge bulky bodies with thin heads, short little t-rex arms and massive noses. Their eyes are always both seen from the side, like one must be dislodged from their head. I can’t even begin to make sense of Pelswick’s dad’s head, who also has eyes that seem like they’re just installed in his glasses.

It’s very stylized – you can quickly tell this is a style meant to be in newspaper cartoons – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s very weird. Weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad, I wasn’t cringing while watching it or anything, but I did find myself baffled as to the design choices many times. The animation is also simple, but it works.

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Pelswick is definitely a unique show that I’m sad was mostly lost to time, especially considering that it puts a spotlight on the lives and struggles of individuals with disabilities – that’s rare enough as it is, but for a cartoon aimed at children it’s nearly unheard of. It has a pretty good sense of humor, good writing and mostly likable characters. If you have the means, give it a look.

Final Notes: Because it was airing on networks for kids, Pelswick notably needed to have more of a positive/optimistic spin that was quite a bit different from the crass and darker humor Callahan used in his cartoons.

Right when Pelswick was airing, another cartoon based on Callahan’s work, called Quads!, was being aired in Canada – produced by the same team and company (Nelvana included, surprisingly). According to what I’ve read, it was a much more adult-oriented show that better reflected Callahan’s style of humor. It never got a US release. Interestingly, though, both shows ended in 2002 and both shows had two seasons/26 episodes.

Truth be told, I don’t really have a lot of interest in seeking out this show. I’ve mentioned before that crass humor really isn’t my cup of tea, even if it’s well-written, and just reading the character bios on the Wiki page for Quads! leads me to believe that it wouldn’t be any more fitting for me. I’m not criticizing his style of humor – especially considering Callahan only created and produced the shows, he didn’t write for them. Even from what I’ve seen of his newspaper cartoons (a few of which I found to be pretty funny) I can tell this that particular type of humor is not for me. It’s not something I seek out, nor do I tend to be entertained by it usually when I stumble upon it. I respect it fully, but it’s not my style.

Sadly John Callahan died at age 59 in 2010 from complications related to his quadriplegia as well as respiratory issues. He had such an impact on the world of cartoons and people with disabilities that a biographical movie, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (the title being a reference to one of his most popular cartoons) was made in 2018 starring Joaquin Phoenix. The movie was mapped out in the late ‘80s, but had a lot of difficulties finding a studio that would take on the project, and many delays and broken deals plagued it over the years.

Callahan was even quoted as saying “We’re all gonna be dead by the time this film is made.” And, sadly, Callahan did die eight years before the movie was finally released. To make matters worse, Robin Williams was initially pegged to star in it, but he had also passed away before the movie found a studio (and was too old to play the part by that time either way.) Callahan had also said he wanted Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play the part if Williams ever wasn’t an option anymore, but he, too, passed away before everything was set in stone.

Still, it looks like Joaquin Phoenix really immersed himself in the role and did a good job. I’d like to see the movie if I ever got the chance. Not only does Callahan seem like he was a funny and genuine guy, but he also has a very interesting backstory that I’d love to see explored on film.


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Episode One-Derland: Red Garden

Plot: Kate, Rachel, Claire and Rose are all from different walks of life, but they have one thing in common – they’re dead….But not really. Well, yes, they are, but they’re still walking around and interacting with people – anyway, they don’t remember anything about the night they died, but mysterious ‘teachers’ show up to guide them…to murder?

Breakdown: I had plot synopsyes from other websites that I could have ripped from, but I like writing my own. So if that plot sounds confusing it’s only because this first episode is really confusing.

I didn’t know much about Red Garden going in and I pretty much still don’t, even after reading a couple of reviews on it. It tends to get middle of the road reviews, and that seems to be because the final four episodes are terrible. Several reviews I read treated this series as if it would have been near masterpiece level had the ending four episodes not been so rushed and terrible. The THEM review on it made it sounds like a damn car crash of plot development.

To tell you the truth, that almost put me off altogether, because I can stand watching a bad anime or just a couple of episodes of a bad anime to get my chuckles in, but if you give me a good anime and then tell me its finale is terrible, I feel like I’ll be investing a lot just to end up disappointed.

One of the reasons for the initial confusion is that the first episode keeps jumping between the girls. For a good chunk of the run time, it’s just constantly reminding us that the girls don’t remember what happened the night before and they’re all sleepy and feeling ill.

The opening scene does show all of the girls, now unconscious, being transported back to their houses, and we learn a friend of Kate’s, Lise, went missing and was found dead in the woods under mysterious circumstances. Everything culminates in the end with all of the girls being lead to a location in a park by a bunch of butterflies that only they seem to be able to see. They meet two people, clad in black, who introduce themselves as their teachers before instructing them to kill a nearby man who turns out to be a monster.

It’s staged very much like a thriller, which I like, but it doesn’t change the fact that the first episode is confusing. I think it does enough to keep my attention and make me want to learn more, however.

The art and animation will take some getting used to. Everyone’s very lanky with big lips and smaller eyes than you typically see in anime. It’s not really bad, but it’s just weird to me. Not my cup of tea.

The music in general is pretty nice and the voice acting is also decent.

THEM noted that this series has a very awkward habit of having the girls, for no reason, suddenly break out into sad songs and mentioned that their voice actresses just could not sing worth a damn. I honestly didn’t think anything of it when I read that, but when Kate started singing….yikes.

I was going to give her some slack because she was grieving her friend so it was probably just her emotions affecting her voice, but…..no. There’s a difference between putting emotion into your voice and sounding like someone is gently strangling you as you sing. I shouldn’t be visibly flinching at points during your song.

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While I am going to be very wary of the final four episodes, many people still seemed to enjoy it in its entirety just fine, and I think it’s worth a roll of the dice. Nothing’s really reaching out to me as ‘masterpiece’ worthy or even all that great, but I still think it will be interesting and hopefully explore some cool ideas.


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Animating Halloween | Episode One-Derland: Jujutsu Kaisen

Plot: The world is riddled in curses – demon-like creatures that consume humans and other curses in order to become stronger. They’re usually invisible to the human eye, and people called Shamans are sent out to dispatch the curses and cursed charms in order to protect the world from harm.

Yuuji Itadori is not one of those people….Yet. He has insane levels of strength and speed, making him a much sought after asset to all of the sports clubs in school, but Yuuji would rather hang out in the occult club with his friends. Being in the occult club is not only more fun and less stressful than the sports clubs, but it also allows him to regularly leave school at 5PM. Yuuji needs this time open in order to visit his ailing grandfather in the hospital everyday, much to his grandpa’s annoyance.

His grandpa suddenly tells him to not live his life as he did – with no friends and hardly anyone around during his last days. He tells Yuuji to live a good life, make friends and die surrounded by people. As he utters these words, Yuuji’s grandpa suddenly passes.

Fueled by his grandpa’s final words, Yuuji becomes determined to ensure everyone has a proper death, even risking death himself to save others from a terrible fate. His newfound mission in life leads him to making a reckless decision that forces him to become the host of the curse, Sakuna.

Breakdown: “Twix! Another series that debuted very recently?! Please seek medical attention, for you are surely ill!”

Ahhhh, hate to disappoint anyone who thought I was starting to keep up with current series, but someone just asked if I was going to do this series for Animating Halloween and I had never heard of it before, but I was still like ‘Okay!’ So here I am. That’ll show you for thinking I’m hip and hoppity with the current anime the youth today is jamming with.

Jujutsu Kaisen does a very good job at drawing you in from the get-go. It starts with a scene in which our main character, Yuuji, is tied up and someone is telling him that he’s set for execution before we get our theme song and flashback to how we got to this point.

Outside of that it’s…pretty much standard shounen fare. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it runs through a lot of shounen fantasy/fighting tropes. Super kind, goofy and optimistic main character who is also brave, heroic and self-sacrificing? Check. Born with super physical traits like speed and strength? Check. Deeply impacted by the death of a loved one? Check. Deuteragonist who dresses in black is stoic and cold? Check. Bonus points for the wolves being part of his powers. Fighting monsters? Check. Main character getting some sort of insane super power as a last resort to save his friends? Checkaroo.

I was going to argue that maybe him housing a demon/curse in his body was kinda unique, but it’s also…not. I very quickly remembered that that’s basically a shounen/seinen trope too – either housing a demon, being a demon/monster or having dark powers. Naruto, Yusuke, Ichigo, Yugi, Ken, Inuyasha, Eren, I think Asta from Black Clover also qualifies, though I’m not that familiar with the series – hell, you can even argue that Goku kinda falls under this trope too because of his uncontrollable ape form.

They also don’t do much in the way of making memorable monster designs or names for the things. Curses and shaman?

Again, none of this is particularly bad as long as they can package it in such a way that draws my attention and leaves me wanting more, and it did.

I really enjoyed Yuuji. He may be kind of a stock shounen protagonist, but he’s easily lovable and a lot of fun. He’s one of those characters I’d love to have as a friend. He also has a great relationship with the two members of the occult club, though as far as I’ve read on the series they don’t stay on as regular characters, which is a bummer if true. I liked them as characters on their own. They were endearing and really passionate about the occult.

Fushiguro was alright. He was the most flat of the characters, at least so far. Unlike Yuuji, he didn’t shine through enough on his own to bypass his tropes, but he didn’t make me angry or anything. Hopefully, after some time, he’ll shine a bit more.

As a first episode, it does well. It establishes the world and characters decently enough and gives us just enough information to make a solid episode without being a big exposition dump while also ending on a good cliffhanger.

The art and animation are pretty good. Got some nice character designs and interesting shots.

I also enjoyed the music quite a bit too. The OP is particularly catchy.

As for whether this is good Halloween fare so far…well, it’s more simply supernatural than it is horror, but for lighter Halloween fun, this seems to work just fine.

Final Verdict:

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I had quite a bit of fun with this episode, and I’m interested in seeing where it goes. Not sure it’d stick with everyone who’s a bit over all of the normal tropes, but I think it has enough style to continue working itself out.


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Episode One-Derland – Yashahime: Half-Demon Princess

Plot: Over a decade has passed since Kagome made the decision to stay in the feudal era with Inuyasha and the others. Now a new generation faces the challenges of the demon infested world.

Breakdown: What-what-what-WHAT!? Twix is reviewing a show the same week it premiered?! 2020 IS a crazy year!

As much as Inuyasha tended to irritate me as time went on, I can’t deny that it holds a special place in my heart. So when I heard that they were going to be making a new series based on the children of the original characters, I actually got excited and had every intention on watching it the instant it came out. And I did.

Like many fans of the original, I wondered about who these kids were, who the mother of Sesshomaru’s kids was, what kinds of powers they had, what enemies they’d face, what hopefully Naraku-free threat they’d be facing as the big bad – but I especially wondered where the original gang was in present day. What do they look like? What are they up to? Are they all still alive?

And the answer to all of these questions is!

Pbbbbtttt I dunno.

While I did enjoy watching this episode, I’ll be frank, it’s not a very good first episode. 95% of it is flashbacking to Kagome a mere six months after she decided to stay in the feudal era. The group battles a demon that Kikyo sealed many years ago and….that’s it. It doesn’t reveal absolutely anything more than what we knew of at the end of The Final Act.

And, oh, just for nostalgia sake, let me rant about this, please.

Kikyo……I really, really hoped we would finally be beyond the Kikyo crap. Seriously. It was, by far, the worst thing about the original series barring Naraku being an unkillable pain in the ass. But…nope. Kikyo gets brought up a ton in this first episode, and we get that same old song where Inuyasha keeps information from Kagome because of Kikyo’s involvement and Kagome gets irritated because of it.

I nearly burst a blood vessel.

At the very end, Kagome seems to assert that she was more irritated that Inuyasha didn’t have faith in her to not get upset, but it also contradicts an earlier statement where Kagome was like ‘Nyehh if I was Kikyo, you’d let me do the dangerous battle thing nyeeehhhhhh!’

This had better be just a one-off incident, because I am not about to sit through anymore of this love triangle bullshit – especially when, now, it’s with a fully dead 100% pure grade-A nonliving third party. At this point, all it does is really highlight that Kagome seems like the runner-up here. It probably isn’t going to be constantly happening as I imagine most of the new series from this point on will focus on the new kids (most of the old cast don’t even get shown in the OP and ED) but still…I’m keeping my eye on you Yashahime

That being said, credit where credit is due, Kagome is a lot more tolerable than she was previously. She’s clearly matured and grown stronger and braver. She’s an active participant in battles, she comes up with smart ideas (though sometimes reckless…) and she’s not as hotheaded as she was previously.

Although, I do have to point out something important. Inuyasha still has his curse beads on.

I get it. The ‘OSUWARI/SIT BOY!’ thing is a staple in the series, but it’s also kinda dated. Even halfway into the series, I was wondering why he still had those things on. In one of the movies, the beads actually break and, at the end, Kagome puts a new set on him. It was probably done to meet the status quo with the series, since the movies are questionable in canonicity, but still. Why does she insist on keeping those beads on him?

They were initially put on him to keep him from causing trouble because he was untrustworthy, threatening and wanted the jewel. He caused a lot of destruction trying to steal it when Kikyo was alive. After he mellowed out, the beads were still seen as necessary because he’d sometimes become full-ish demon and the beads would help bring him back to normal. But eventually that also stopped being an issue.

After that, the beads just started being a boyfriend collar, and throughout the entire series Kagome would slam him into the ground whenever she pleased. Sometimes, she’d get so pissed at him, several times completely unwarranted, that she’d do it numerous times in a row.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. They’re also part of his character design. She probably doesn’t even use them anymore. She’s 18 now. She’s matured and level-headed and—she used them in this episode because she was a little bothered that Inuyasha didn’t have faith in her to not get upset over the Kikyo stuff (given that she has such a spotless record in that regard.)

Can we just bite the bullet and say the A-word? It’s abusive.

I think we’ve moved beyond the days of ‘Haha, knocking the guy around is funny because he’s the guy, but if the genders were reversed this would clearly be horrifying.’ Seriously, imagine if Inuyasha put beads on Kagome that slammed her into the ground whenever he got annoyed by her.

I did really enjoy seeing Sesshomaru be a team player in this episode, even assisting Kohaku in his hunt for the demon, though he didn’t directly help. He did visit Rin briefly, but he didn’t say anything to her.

No, it’s still not clear whether she’s the mother of Sesshomaru’s kids. I’d say she’s not because the ages aren’t matching up very well, unless….*barf*, and I have no clue where that red streak in their hair would’ve come from. Setsuna does have the same hair color as Rin, but that’s about it. Setsuna has purple eyes while Towa has red eyes, which don’t line up with either Sesshomaru OR Rin, soo….*shrug*

Anyhoo, let’s finally talk about the new stuff. In the present day…er…the old present day…..not the modern era, we meet Towa Higurashi (As we’ll see later, gauging from the trailers, she was raised by Sota in the present day, so she adopted his last name.) She is the titular ‘Yashahime’ or half-demon princess. She’s been captured by some lord who is interrogating her about modern day stuff they found in relation to Kagome, who at this point is a well-known legend of sorts. One of those items is a Japanese history book, so they want to know what their fate is. Towa freaks out because she doesn’t want to change history.

Let me repeat. Yashahime, the sequel to Inuyasha, is now concerned about the time stream……

Come on, really? They were never, and I mean NEVER concerned about changing the future in the original series. Kagome came and went to the feudal era as she pleased and never once even caused a ripple in the future/present. There were one or two occasions where the presence of the shikon jewel in present day would cause demons to attack there, but that’s about it.

She brought current-day stuff with her all the time and rode around the entire countryside on her ‘iron horse.’ The only time they ever really even touched upon it was when it came to Hojo’s ancestor because Kagome was briefly concerned that she was destined to marry him in the feudal era since Hojo’s other ancestor was named Kagome (then it turned out that past!Hojo just literally renamed his new bride Kagome because that’s not insanely disrespectful or creepy or anything.)

And do I even need to point out the most obvious crime Kagome committed in the time stream in the end? Doc Brown over here decided to LIVE in the past permanently and start a family with Inuyasha.

Why is anything in the time stream at risk now?

Back to the matter at hand, Moroha, a bounty hunter who is Inuyasha and Kagome’s kid, and Setsuna, Towa’s twin sister who is a demon hunter, rush in to save Towa, ousting the lord’s aide as being a mysterious four-eyed owl in disguise. They opt to let it live since it could have vital information. In the end, they grab the modern stuff and leave.

Nope, I’m not kidding. That is all the new kids do the entire episode.

Let me address each kid, though.

Moroha is freakin’ adorable. Her clothes are reminiscent of both Inuyasha’s trademark garb and Kagome’s look when she tried to turn his robe into an outfit for herself. I love that the bow in her hair is also situated to look like dog ears. She both wields a cool new sword AND uses a bow and arrow. She’s clearly adopted more of her father’s personality, but she has Kagome’s overall appearance.

Towa’s got a really nice look. I love the white motif, and the red streak in her hair. Her suit is so awesome. Don’t know why she doesn’t have pointy ears or dog ears since she is half-demon. Setsuna also doesn’t have either. It’s weird, and a bit of a missed opportunity in the design department.

Setsuna is definitely the one who takes after their father most, even if she didn’t acquire his trademark white hair. She’s got his stoic attitude, the armor and, of course, a littler version of Sesshomaru’s fluffy boa. She’s also got a really cool glaive as a weapon.

Other than these three, the OP and ED also show us current-day versions of Kohaku and one of Sango’s three kids. Kohaku has become an awesome demon slayer, and his nephew seems pretty cool and has also become a demon slayer. We catch a brief glimpse of Sesshomaru, though he never ages or changes anyway, and we see just the slightest of glimpses of Inuyasha, but it’s not enough to actually show anything.

Look at that shot of him in the picture above – that’s about the most we see. Why he has his back turned, I don’t know. I’m not even sure every character is shown in present day on that splash image because, as much as I hate to say this, Kaede would likely be dead by then, going by feudal era life spans (she was probably in her 60s or so in the original series, and the average life span back then was about 50 or so.)

The art and animation are updated just a tad. The art stays very true to the original series, and the animation is more fluid with more dynamic shots included as well.

The music is kept very similar to the original. There are many familiar tracks, but also several new ones. The OP and the ED are alright. They might have to grow on me.

The voice acting is really good so far. Many of the characters have returned from the previous series, to my knowledge, and the new ones are pretty good so far as well, especially Moroha’s who is clearly trying to emulate Inuyasha. It’s adorable.

I don’t know if a dub is planned anytime soon, but I’d love to see it, especially considering I’ve never really watched the series in Japanese that often.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

While I will admit that this first episode is, narratively speaking, rather poor form for an introduction, I can’t say I won’t keep watching. Of course I will. The siren call of this franchise is too strong for me. I may even do *gasp* WEEKLY RELEASE UPDATES.

I AM excited to see what happens next, and I am still on the edge of my seat to get a current-day update on where everyone is, how they look and what they’re doing.

However, that’s just my view. This first episode doesn’t work much to get the average viewer excited, though. It was like they bookended Yashahime teasers onto an epilogue episode of The Final Act. We still have no idea what the plot of this series is yet, honestly, besides ‘The kids of the old characters do stuff.’

I feel bad for people going into this blind. You’d be very confused. I hate to say this, but I feel like you’d really have to watch the entire original series to get this off the bat. It’s rather frustrating, too, because they had all the time in the world to actually cover all of the necessary stuff in a manner that would benefit a newcomer, but they just decided to make a mostly irrelevant (?) story instead.

If you enjoy the original series, I think this is worth the watch, but if the original never caught your fancy, I doubt this would entice you much, especially since homework is basically necessary. Maybe I’ll change my tune in that regard once we get further along the line, but as of right now I can’t really think of any way to justify it for newcomers.

Next episode, we’ll be learning about the backstories of the three girls, so we still have a bit more of a baseline to build here, but with this it’s more necessary. I think their origin stories will be pretty interesting from all I’ve heard, so here’s to future episodes!


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) ToonMarty

Plot: ToonMarty follows the adventures of Marty, the mascot of ToonMart who becomes alive when a billboard is hit by lightning. Together, he and his friends Burnie and Holly have fun in Toonville under the supervision of Marty’s boss, Jack. (Excerpt taken from Wikipedia for reasons I’ll explain in a second.)

Breakdown: Hey guys, did you know Tubi was a thing? Apparently it’s like Peacock but run by Fox. Weird.

Anyway, one of their available shows is ToonMarty, a show I really didn’t have many expectations for, but pleasantly surprised me. ToonMarty manages to capture the goofy, somewhat random and rubbery style of older cartoons while still fitting into the modern animation world with its writing and jokes.

I found myself smiling an awful lot while watching the first segment, and, somehow, none of the characters got on my nerves, which is especially surprising considering the main character is one of those Spongebob-esque hyper optimistic and happy people. Like Spongebob, he’s endearing without being really annoying (Well, okay, Spongebob can be very annoying sometimes.)

The reason I completely ripped the description from the Wiki is because this episode doesn’t explain the main plot at all. I only watched the first segment before deciding to write this, but the other half of the episode also isn’t the origin story. As far as I can tell, the second episode contains Marty’s backstory, which is kinda weird.

Marty’s origins aren’t even touched upon in the opening theme either, so, needless to say, I was quite shocked when I read that description.

This episode touched upon the fact that Marty either doesn’t have a dad or is estranged from him, because he was surprised to hear that fathers are supposed to spend time with their sons, which did make me wonder….but I never expected the answer to my questions would be ‘Well, it’s because he’s a living mascot who became sentient when a billboard was hit by lightning.’

In that respect, the first episode fails, but it succeeds in every other avenue. It establishes several of the characters quite well, it gives us a taste as to the general vibe of the entire series and it provides a fun, funny and interesting story to draw you in.

The art and animation aren’t that special, but they’re also not that bad. This is a French animation produced for Teletoons, and it’s actually on the higher end for those parameters. ToonMarty was actually produced by Sardine Productions. They have a bunch of other kids shows, and I recognize approximately zero of them.

It looks like it…MIGHT be animated in Flash, but I honestly can’t tell if it is, so that’s good.

I do like the fact that they add some classic 70s style aesthetic in there sometimes, especially during the opening theme song. That was pretty cool.

Final Verdict:Continue Yes

Sadly, ToonMarty only lasted one season and 20 episodes (40 segments) but I think I’ll really have fun watching the rest of the series.


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Episode One-Derland – Majestic Prince

Plot: Team Rabbits is known as the ‘Fail Five’ in the Military Junior Pre-Academy or MJP where they pilot mechs and train to defend their space colonies from threats. One such colony needs some pilots to buy them time while they evacuate from a massive attack by enemy aliens. Despite their lack of teamwork and sporting the lowest scores in class, Team Rabbits is chosen as that someone.

Even though they have no experience in real mechs, they’re able to pull themselves together and succeed in their mission. When they discover there are civilians left behind with no ships to take them back to safety, their appointed leader, Izuru, takes it upon himself to take a step towards being a hero and goes forth to force the enemy to retreat so he can rescue the colonists.

Breakdown: I love mech anime. Something about giant robots and lasers and space wars is just always really cool to me.

That being said, it’s a bit hard to break out in the genre because a lot of things either seem like they want to be an Evangelion clone or a Gundam clone.

This definitely isn’t gunning for an Eva clone, but it might still be a less-serious Gundam clone. We’ll have to see.

I definitely appreciate the more teamwork-oriented focus this series has. It always seems like it’s one singular protagonist who does all the important stuff or they pretend like it’s a team when it’s really, again, just one person doing everything.

Izuru might be that considering he’s the leader and his one goal in life is, literally, to be a hero, but I’ll reserve judgment.

Each person on the team has their own concrete personalities, though some need a bit more fleshing out like Ataru and Kei. That’s completely understandable this early in the series, though.

Izuru is a very likable protagonist. I like MCs that are really brave and yearn to be heroes, but still obviously have a lot of reservations about what they’re doing. He’s also an artist, so that earns a +1 from me.

Asagi is the hot-head of the group. Kei is the serious one who holds basically a supervisory role in combat. Ataru is the sniper who has much more reservations than anyone, but is also a geek about weaponry and tech.

Then there’s…..*sigh*…Tamaki. I quickly learned to hate Tamaki. No idea why she’s even in this academy. She’s insanely boy-crazy and hardly ever doesn’t think about guys or finding her true love. She’s also clumsy and has such moe characteristics that she even has that breathy whiny baby voice I just wanna stab.

I just don’t know why she’s here. Why is a girl who acts like an infant in a damn military academy?

The mech designs were pretty unique and fun to watch. The fact that the mechs react to their emotional states and thoughts based on their DNA is somewhat unique, and I like that each mech has a specific purpose in combat and they’re not all just ‘robot with gun’ or ‘robot with sword.’

In regards to being a first episode, this one does alright. We establish the main cast pretty well, but the world-building definitely needs work. We can tell they have space colonies and they’re at war (?) but we have no idea who these aliens are or why they’re attacking. They just have weird green mechs and their own unique language. Also, they live on Jupiter, I guess?

The music was alright, but mostly forgettable so far. I have the same notes for the voice work, basically, but damn Tamaki’s voice, seriously. I guess I can’t fault her VA too much, because I can’t say the voice doesn’t fit the character, but it’s so annoying when combined.

The CGI work is really quite good, though the character designs leave something to be desired. They feel very much like a rushed rip-off of Gundam SEED’s style. Some of the details are also very odd, and some characters are simply ugly. I have to roll my eyes at the fact that we have two prominent women in command there and they both look like porn stars. The one who works in the pit has a jumpsuit on and I can’t believe for a second that her boobs aren’t always falling out on the job. They have to be.

I also have to mark off the direction because some of the editing and directorial choices are very unappealing, like sudden quick cuts and the really annoying habit of bobbing the camera and zooming in real quick.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I’ve heard really good things about this, and even though I was a bit uncertain at first, I’ve been told that it gets much more interesting and intense after a handful of episodes. Let’s see where the journey takes us.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Code Monkeys

Really? That’s the quote you’re going for for promotional purposes? Okie dokie.

Plot: Set in the 1980s, in an 8-bit video game-esque version of the real world, game designers at GameaVision develop new games while basically being as unpleasant as possible.

Breakdown: The very first scene in this show is of one of the main characters humping his computer to somehow make it unfreeze.

And that was Code Monkeys, everybody.

Next time we’ll talk about…..

…..Oh fine. I’ll continue.

Let me procrastinate for a minute, however.

Code Monkeys was a show made by Adam de la Pena, who has also has his writing hand in such tasteful pies as The Man Show, Crank Yankers, Minoriteam and…Bratz: The Movie?….Okay that last one’s kinda weird, though there’s also a bunch of stereotypes in that movie too.

It was picked up by G4, the channel that had X-Play and things that weren’t X-Play.

I love how one of the blurbs by reviewers listed on the Code Monkeys Wiki page, Scott Jon Siegel of Joystiq, backhandedly shades G4 by saying “there was hope that G4 could deliver something actually watchable. [Code Monkeys] isn’t.”

Before anyone acts like I’m a prude who just wants to slam this show because of its crass humor – rude/dark comedy is not my forte by a long shot, but I can enjoy it on occasion when it’s done well. Problem is, so many entries in the ‘crude humor’ world are just ‘lol it’s funny because it’s gross or offensive.’ You want a good example of this? In the opening credits, we learn one of the characters is named Black Steve. He’s the only black guy. The joke is he’s a black guy named Steve so his name is Black Steve.

I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt a little since their boss is Steve Wozniak, so maybe they were calling him Black Steve to jokingly differentiate himself from Wozniak, but they don’t call Wozniak by his first name – they call him Woz – and Wozniak is supposedly only in this episode, yet his name sticks the entire series.

Sadly, I don’t think I can put this off anymore, and I honestly think this needs a step-by-step overview in order to truly give the scope of how bad this is, so let’s get started.

—————————-

We get our theme song, which I wish I could appreciate because it’s a Jonathan Coulton song, but I can’t because it’s like they messed with the audio so I can barely hear the vocals over the instrumentals. Right at the title card, someone yells ‘I love you, whores!’ They don’t even want you to think for a second that they’re trying, do they?

Our cast of characters works in a game design company called GameaVision, and the entire show is drawn and animated like an 8-bit game, which, I’ll admit, is pretty cool and unique. They even use the video game display around the border to add some extra bits to scenes and jokes.

For instance, in the aforementioned computer humping scene, they have a progress bar at the top that says ‘Bone Level’ and slowly shows a bunch of bones as the character, Dave, reaches climax. Yup. Comedy gold. Also, they kinda edit it poorly here because, in order to, I guess, introduce the other character in the scene, Jerry, halfway through they change the name at the top to say Jerry, but the Bone Level meter is still going up, so it kinda makes it seem like he’s also about to climax.

Jerry points out the rotting donkey carcass in the room and asks Dave to get rid of it, but he says it’s useful. He points this out by pretending the donkey is a tauntaun, uses a lightsaber to cut it open and hops in to stay warm while he naps even though they’re in a warm office building and this is stupid.

Steve Wozniak comes in (he’s even voiced by Steve Wozniak, supposedly.) He owns this company for some reason and wants to know what games the boys are coming up with. Dave shows him his new game Hobo Killer where you just murder hobos. They’re not attacking the characters or anything – they’re just standing there and the character stabs them to death. How fun.

Woz calls them for a meeting, and we get a kinda clever shot where the boys walk down the street..or…hall or whatever this is, and it’s like a platformer, but there’s more inconsistency in the little display up top. Back in the office, the health meter was depicted as being a bunch of hearts. Out here, it’s a Megaman-esque group of tiny bars. It doesn’t affect anything, I just thought it was interesting…

We meet Black Steve, who is brandishing a gun, which I guess is okay considering they live in a video game world. But we’ll later learn he’s just a gun-toting trigger-happy jerk who is racist against white people. Woz supposedly gave the gun to him for game inspiration.

Black Steve tells us about his new game idea called Cracker Barrel where you literally shoot crackers (Ya know….white people) in a barrel. Also, the follow up joke is that Black Steve isn’t even a programmer – he’s the accountant. Also, that isn’t really a joke so much as them wanting to make the Cracker Barrel joke so they had to hide the fact that he wasn’t a programmer from us long enough to say that.

Wait, if he’s the accountant, why did Woz give him a gun for game inspiration?

We next meet Todd – Hmm, let’s see. A show about game programmers made in the mid-2000s that is gunning for every stereotype imaginable. Could Todd possibly be a gamer stereotype?

Would you look at that? He’s a gigantic geek, very overweight, sniffs a lot, loves food, is crazy into medieval/DnD stuff (and wears a viking helmet for some reason) to the point where he changes his speech patterns, calls his office his lair and acts like he has no solid grasp on reality, has garbage all over his office, still lives with his mom and apparently is so close with her they waste no time strongly implying that they’re either in an incestuous relationship or are just borderline.

Here’s how subtle it is;

Todd: “Mother and I share many passions. One of which happens to be OUR passion for nachos. The second is MY passion for her.”

They accompany this with a little thing in the corner that says ‘Creepy Points’ with a number going up, which is kinda cute, but you couple that with them pointing out in dialogue that it’s creepy and us already knowing that it’s creepy and, again, you’re being way too blatant with the ‘jokes’ to the point where it’s almost unfunny.

Next up on the ‘let’s meet the entire cast’ docket is Mary – who is currently in the women’s steam room. Dave comes in and promptly starts snapping pictures – even sneaking underneath her to look up her towel.

At this point, I should mention another problem crude humor shows and movies almost always have –  unlikable characters. In shows and movies that function entirely on gross-out and offensive humor, they almost have to make their characters unlikable assholes in order for them to keep making these jokes. And, as a result, you very, very quickly stop giving half a shit about what happens to any of them.

It’s like in horror movies where they tend to make all of the characters dumb annoying self-absorbed teenagers. The movie stops being scary because you start rooting for the killer to come and spare you the torment of watching them on screen any longer.

Likewise, in these crude humor shows and movies, I don’t care what happens to these assholes one way or another, so why would I care to keep watching? The only nice-ish people are treated like crap too, which is another theme in those shows and movies, so the entire experience is just unpleasant. The only way that could work is if the humor is just so goshdarn clever and hilarious that it’d be worth sitting through their crap to get to the jokes, but it’s not.

Anyhoo, Mary is the only female programmer at the company, so obviously she’s an outspoken feminist who is working on a game where she teaches girls about their periods while also making it action-packed enough to market to boys. It’s called Red Rhonda….

Predictably, Dave makes a bunch of sex jokes at her, including implying that he wants to have anal sex with her. In case you’re wondering why Dave hasn’t been fired 100x over by now, Woz basically lets him do whatever he wants.

Speaking of that, they all reach the meeting room where Dave is seen peeing in a urinal. Woz told him he could install one right in the meeting area so he wouldn’t have to let his microwave burrito get cold, but the urinal has no pipes so the urine ends up all over the floor.

Woz gives his big announcement – he’s selling the company and he wants Dave to butter up potential buyers. Why he’s giving this responsibility to such a massive idiotic jackwad, I don’t know.

And, of course, it’s very plainly obvious that Dave intends on sabotaging these meetings. We can get that from his attitude instantly turning around and his sneaky voice, but, of course, the little display in the corner has to have an insincerity meter going up just to really drive it home.

The first buyers are from Family Works – a gaming company dedicated to proving that games can serve a moral purpose. They’re dressed like complete dorks and talk like complete dorks with a dorky company, so Dave takes him to our next character introduction – Clarence.

Clarence is gay and you can pretty much predict how his character talks and acts from there just on how they’ve treated every other character.

Clarence is in some sort of weird party room with pink walls, a giant Wham poster and a disco ball. He’s wearing nothing but a speedo, and there are two very stereotypically gay men hanging out in the hot tub. The Family Works people are disgusted and leave, and the scene ends with Clarence diving into the hot tub to give blowjobs to the other two guys.

…Oh Clarence does the music for the games, in case you were wondering. He has a microphone in this room, so it’s fine.

Dave brings some investors from Canada to Todd’s office, and they pretty much give up on staying on the stereotypical gamer thing with him because what he does next just makes no sense for anyone.

He strips naked and starts doing a word association game with the guys. Dave leaves and locks them in the room, saying they’ll be in there for several hours, which seems unnecessary. Meanwhile, Todd keeps getting way too close to them and even grabs them a couple times.

What even was that? I honestly can’t make sense of what they were trying to do there. Todd is definitely out of touch with reality, but even in his mind he shouldn’t be able to make sense of what he’s doing.

The next scene nearly made me turn off the episode. It’s not just not funny – it’s just literal potty humor, par for the course – it’s the fact that they basically give you a literal countdown timer to the joke.

Here’s the setup. Clearly, there’s a turd in the microwave. It’s massive. It’s practically the first thing you notice when the scene starts. There’s a timer at the top of the screen saying the microwave will be done in one minute. Gee, I wonder if the microwave explodes with poo-poo in one minute. Oh look, Dave’s even pointing out that there’s a turd in the microwave 30 seconds before the timer is up. Uh-oh, Woz is stepping right next to the microwave as the timer winds down.

Now, to their credit, the timer doesn’t reach zero before the microwave blows up and coats everyone with poop, there was about 17 seconds left, so there’s the slightest bit of surprise there….At least there would’ve been if they didn’t also manage to screw that up by including warning beeps right before the microwave explodes. So even if you weren’t watching the countdown or taking note of the very obvious clues, the show still alerts you to the impending punchline. It’s almost like they’re trying extra hard to make sure you don’t laugh.

Why was the warning even going off at 22 seconds anyway? Usually, if a microwave has a ‘nearing end of cook time’ warning beep, it will be three to five seconds before the timer is up – not 22 – that’s such a random number.

(I know I should note that the microwave as a whole wouldn’t blow up because of poop, but I thought I’d give them that much leeway at least.)

As a cherry on this literal shit sundae, the title at the bottom of the screen that usually says ‘Code Monkeys’ changes to ‘Gross Me Out’ after this. Yes. We get it.

I can try to make this scene work better. Have the microwave running, but don’t clearly show what’s in there. They discussed Dave liking microwave burritos, so we can just think he’s microwaving one. Have the scene go about normally, let Dave subtly situate the buyers in front of the microwave then BOOM. Microwave blows up, poop everywhere and Dave just non-chalantly explains that he regularly microwaves turds or something.

It’s not a great fix of that scene, but it’s at least trying.

Anyway, Woz isn’t even mad about it because he’s an idiot.

After a transition that tells us to have a ‘Happy Turdsday’ Woz explains that his desire to sell the company is based on his love of computers, not games. He wants to make computers, even though Dave says it’s a passing fad, which is kinda dumb because computers and games go hand in hand.

Since Dave scared off all of the other potential buyers, Woz has no choice but to go for his only option – Bellecovision, which I think is supposed to be a reference to ColecoVision? Bellecovision is an ridiculously boring game company that drives their employees insane, which is the polar opposite of GameaVision, where they basically let their employees do nearly anything they want. Dave is really against that option, but it’s either them or some dude named Larrity.

Woz goes to the other employees to get their say in the matter since he doesn’t want to sell it to either of them without their blessing, which is odd because it seemed like he was fine selling it to those other buyers without asking them about it.

The vote is split with half wanting to sell to Bellecovision and the other voting for Larrity. Jerry is the deciding vote, but he doesn’t want to vote because he’s torn.

When the commercial break comes, they put a little ‘Pause’ note on screen, which I legitimately thought was clever and a little funny. But then they kinda ruin it because, instead of just immediately picking up where they left off once the pause button is taken off, where Jerry is already being asked whether he will choose Larrity or Bellecovision, they have Mary immediately ask if Jerry will choose Dave or her, and I just don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. She voted for Bellecovision while Dave chose Larrity, and I guess that’s it, but she doesn’t even know Larrity – none of them do – and I can’t see why she’d want to gun for a game company that is seen as super boring, unless she’s also meant to be super boring.

Black Steve nearly murders his coworkers for no reason, and then Jerry chooses Larrity.

The majority wins, and the company is sold to Mr. Larrity.

Our first interaction with Mr. Larrity is in the men’s bathroom where Dave is humping a condom machine to get free condoms….

Larrity is an old rich white guy from Texas and, again, you can pretty much gauge how his character is portrayed from that information alone.

He’s brought his son, Dean, along with him, and Dean is just a muscular idiot.

Larrity brings Jerry and Dave along to talk about the new changes he’s going to be making to the company. First, he’s canceling all holidays, including Christmas and…”Jew Christmas.” Again, that’s not clever at all. It’s just putting an offensive slant on it.

Larrity claims he doesn’t know anything about video games, which is a mighty weird statement to make considering he lives in a video game and is currently completing a platformer as he walks down the hall (or street? It’s very difficult to know what these platformer corridors are. They look like streets, but they’re inside the building?)

Clarence dances in wearing a bright blue and pink jumpsuit, singing out that he’s gay – and surprise of all surprises, Larrity wants to fire him immediately.

Next, Larrity demolishes the women’s bathroom to make more space for the men’s room so he can pace back and forth like a tiger before he takes a dump (I’m not even really paraphrasing.) Mary asks what the women are supposed to use, but Larrity just says it’s not his problem.

Larrity comes into Black Steve’s office and tells him he’ll be sharing an office. Before he even finishes his sentence, Black Steve shoots him because he doesn’t want to share an office. Larrity’s okay, though, because he’s wearing a flak jacket. He’s so impressed by Black Steve’s shot, however, that he agrees to let him have his own office, at least until the ‘rematch.’

They have a group meeting where Mary is immediately stifled because Larrity only cares about what the male employees are doing. The only reason she spoke first was because he said he wanted to hear what the ‘ladies’ had for him, but then he stopped her and explained that he was using ‘ladies’ as a derogatory term for the men.

Todd starts a presentation, and we get this.

Todd: “I know what you’re all thinking. ‘Todd! How can you top yourself after your brilliant game Space Blasters?’”

Mary: “Wow, Todd is such a douche.”

….Thank….You…Mary. I never would’ve gotten that from his overall behavior and the fact that, when he was introduced, his character intro screen was this:

The line is so awkwardly placed, too. Maybe it doesn’t come across like that in text, but it’s just weird that she chose right then to say that. She either should have said that after he was done with his presentation or after his first line, which was “Well, since I’m the best, I’ll go first.” It’s like she interrupted him just to call him a douche.

Todd’s game idea is Space Blasters II, which is the same game as the first one with two ships. Everyone loves it….I think? I honestly can’t tell if they’re being sarcastic or genuine.

Dave is up next with his game, Nazi Sniper, where you shoot Nazis. Larrity initially likes the idea, but then is less than enthused when he realizes the Nazis are the bad guys in this game. Get it? Because he’s a Nazi sympathizer.

Larrity introduces the new game tester for the company, his “son” Benny. The company, not him, “illegally adopted” him from Korea. And, as with everyone else, he’s basically what you’d expect a racist depiction of a ten year old Korean boy to be. The main twist being that he’s very, very hyper because Larrity has been loading him up with Pixy Stix and sugar, to keep him awake longer so he can work non-stop, and cigarettes to stunt his growth. I’m not exactly certain why they need to stunt his growth, but here we are.

Larrity finishes off the meeting by appointing Dean as head of development.

Todd and Black Steve meet later to plan the assassination of Larrity because everyone’s now regretting voting for him to buy the company. Yeah, killing him. That’s the logical progression of events….though I suppose he already tried to kill him once, so why not aim for that ‘pre-meditated’ label?

In order to get Black Steve to agree, he has to hand over cash, his van and his prized sword, Excalibur. When he hands the sword over, Todd dubs Black Steve the Black Knight. He threatens to kill him if that’s a racist moniker…which…yeah, of course it is. That’s a given. Why are you okay with everyone calling you Black Steve but you get all murder-y when you’re given the title of Black Knight?

Black Steve lays in wait in the vending machine and opens fire on him, but Larrity reveals that he’s outfitted all of the vending machines with bulletproof glass and metal, so it didn’t work.

Dave tries to convince Woz, who is already the founder and CEO of a company that looks exactly like Apple, just with two bites taken out of the logo instead of one, but it doesn’t work. Woz doesn’t like the changes he’s learning of either, but he has no power there anymore and doesn’t want to return to the gaming world. Instead, he tells Dave that it’s his time to shine and that he should lead the charge to make changes at the company if he’s so bothered by them. That’s actually very reasonable…or at least it would be if he were talking to anyone other than Dave, who has shown to be nothing but lazy and abhorrently irresponsible and doesn’t deserve his time to shine.

Todd and Black Steve try another assassination attempt by hiding Black Steve in a giant cake (and he’s insulted that the cake is vanilla) but it fails and he’s gruesomely murdered by a falling piano trap Larrity had set up in his office…(Remember, though, this is a video game world, so it doesn’t stick. He’s dead for a lot longer than Jerry was earlier (he died in the first platformer scene) though, and we never see him respawn.)

The rest of the employees are filling out applications at Bellecovision when Dave comes in with an inspirational speech to bring everyone back to GameaVision, which works quite easily.

Back in GameaVision, Larrity is repeatedly branding Todd like a cow, and he thanks Black Steve for ‘letting him in on his secret’…..which…I guess means he was warning Larrity of the assassination attempts for some reason. Doesn’t make any sense because Black Steve is racist against white people and would logically be super against a racist white guy, but I guess they bonded over guns? If Black Steve was in cahoots with Larrity…why did Larrity kill him with the piano? Shouldn’t that have broken their bond over firearms, or is killing each other a bonding thing between them too?

And…uh….that’s it. They take a group photo with all of the employees, and I guess everything’s all better…suddenly….with no real resolution.

We end on a scene where Dave explains that he pooped in the brownie bowl and wiped his ass with every brownie. Lo and behold, everyone’s behind him in shock having eaten the poop brownies because they’re all have no sense of smell or taste, apparently.

The end.

Finally.

—————————-

I actually had high hopes for this at first because the aesthetic made it seem promising, and the premise seemed like something I’d definitely get into, but Code Monkeys is one of the most unfunny things I’ve seen in a long time.

The only thing that’s even slightly humorous about it is some of the changes they make to the video game display. Some of them. Most of them are quite boring, and several of them just try stacking onto a joke we’re either watching or listening to, so it’s pounded into your head so much that it goes from simply not being funny to being annoying.

So many jokes act like you’re too stupid to understand them, even when they’re the most basic ‘jokes’ in existence. Every few minutes, they’re holding your hand through a joke. It’s like a stoner comedy version of Dora the Explorer if Dora thought you were brain dead.

If I ended this review with “And that’s why Code Monkeys is the best cartoon ever made.” I’m certain you’d be able to tell from everything else that I was being sarcastic. Now imagine that I added a /Sarcasm to it. A bit much for this situation since the sarcasm is very apparent – makes it less funny. Now imagine that I made a gif of a video game display where it said ‘Sarcasm’ with a meter going up and added that to it. That’s be way too blatant and just not funny at all anymore, wouldn’t it?

That is how a third of the jokes in this episode work, with everything else just being stupid ‘we can’t think of jokes so here’s something offensive’ humor.

Crude humor/dark comedy is really, really, really hard to do right. And when it’s done wrong, it fails about 100x as hard as any other comedy because now it’s not just not funny, it’s unpleasant.

You can’t confuse dark or crude comedy with just being dumb. It’s the adult equivalent of waving keys in front of a baby’s face. ‘Hurr hurr, it’s funny because it’s racist or sexist or gross. Or hey, sex is funny. Let’s just mention sex or show a character humping things, that’ll get a laugh.’

The least they could’ve done through this whole thing was give us a resolution to the conflict, but the episode just kinda ends. Nothing’s really solved. Dave did get the other employees back, but they didn’t even show them leaving until after Dave had his final conversation with Woz…which is the same scene Dave gets them back. When they come back to the GameaVision offices, they don’t talk to Larrity or do anything. Larrity just brands Todd over and over and kinda bonds with Black Steve.

Is he going to stop being a jackass now? Is he going to reverse all the changes he made? Is he still going to fire Clarence? Who knows? But they’re together now, and that’s all that matters – even though it’s very clear that they all hate each other and aren’t really friends.

I have to give credit where credit is due, however, because this does work pretty well as an introductory episode. Most of the characters are given full introductions (except Clare, the receptionist, who, according to the Wiki, is basically the other female stereotype in that she’s an airheaded tramp. Also like four other people in the group photo that I don’t even remember seeing weren’t introduced either, but I don’t think they’re all that vital since they’re not listed on the main character page.) and the setup is laid out for us very clearly.

I was kinda surprised to learn that Dave is being treated as the main character because, in my opinion, he’s the least likable character in the whole cast besides Larrity. I really thought Jerry would’ve been the focal character given he’s the most likable and reasonable, but nope. He’s basically the deuteragonist.

Other than that, though, I could live my whole life never thinking about this show again and it would be all the better for it.

Final Verdict:

Continue no

Final Notes: Code Monkeys did find an audience and was reportedly fairly successful when it aired back in 2007, but G4 still canceled it after being on the air for two seasons/one year for some reason.

In 2017, Adam de la Pena wrote a tweet saying “And then there’s this….gameavision.com” which was supposedly hinting at a revival, but that obviously never happened. Just out of curiosity, I visited the website to see if there was any other information, and all the website says is ‘© 2020 gameavision.com.’ It’s interesting because they had to have recently updated the page to say 2020, but there’s still no information whatsoever on what they might be planning, if anything.

Adam de la Pena also doesn’t seem to be working right now. His last entry on IMDB was writing for a Netflix talk show hosted by Chelsea Handler in 2016-2017 titled ‘Chelsea’ and…uh…the reviews were not good.

It seems like someone at Netflix or something tried to seed the reviews and ratings because half of the reviews are perfect scores and singing the show’s praises so much you’d think it cured cancer while the other half are giving two to one stars and saying it’s a horrible pile of garbage. And guess what? Most of the positive reviews are very clearly by bots or people who were paid off, because the reviews for that show were literally their only reviews and they had no actual profile.

From what I saw of the reaction to the show on other websites, it seems the negative reviews were the most accurate. (Fun fact: Chelsea is the only show made by Netflix to have episodes removed from the platform. They removed 66 out of 90 episodes, supposedly to help people find the newest episodes, but they have other talk shows on the service that they didn’t do this to, so it’s just really odd.)

Of course, I had to look at the IMDB for Code Monkeys too, and it has a respectable score of 7/10. However, nearly all of the actual reviews give it basically perfect scores and said things like ‘Ingenious’ ‘Hilarious’ ‘Masterpiece’ ‘Brilliant’ and only two reviews were bad to moderate, which got labeled as unhelpful.

Sure seems familiar but in an opposite extreme. I wonder if many of the people giving this series rave reviews only have Code Monkeys as their lone review, as if they only signed up to give that positive review. Being fair, several of the positive reviews also seem to be genuine, but I still feel like this was another case of rating seeding.

I’m not accusing De La Pena of having anything to do with this, if it is really a case of buying ratings and reviews, but it’s just a weird coincidence. Maybe I need to take off my tinfoil hat.

I will fully admit that maybe the series gets funnier over time – maybe there’s something good buried deep in the literal shit that I’m not seeing – but you’d never convince me this series is anything close to a brilliant hilarious masterpiece.

I wanted this series to be a brilliant hilarious masterpiece – maybe a lost gem of sorts – but it’s not. It’s just terrible. It’s a unique concept that could’ve been really great but ended up being an exploding turd in a microwave.

Like always, if you enjoy the show, that’s cool, don’t let me stop you from enjoying it, but I am moving on.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Wander Over Yonder

Plot: The ever-happy Wander and his trusty steed, Sylvia, explore the outreaches of space and save its inhabitants from the treachery of Lord Hater.

Breakdown: I’ll be honest, even though I had heard a lot of great things about this show, I went into this with unease. At face value, this series has a lot of trademarks of two other popular shows I’ve reviewed that I either hated (The Mighty B!) or just didn’t mesh with (Mighty Magiswords). And those trademarks, again at face value, were randomness being mistaken for comedy and louder=funnier, I guess.

I was really worried that Wander Over Yonder would just be another one of those shows, even if it was created by Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends creator, Craig McCracken.

However, to my surprise and delight, it didn’t turn out that way. Yes, Wander Over Yonder is very bouncy and quick, but it’s melded with a lot of clever humor, very likable characters and voice acting that is both fitting and doesn’t grate on the nerves. When I heard Wander ‘s voice, I was very shocked. It’s a rather normal voice, though obviously inflected to be cartoony and peppy a bit. Usually, the main characters in shows like this have high-pitched overly exaggerated torture device voices, but Wander, voiced by Jack McBrayer, is perfectly fine to listen to.

Speaking of sounds, however, there are some instances in this first episode where I honestly can’t make out what they’re saying, especially Hater’s minions who continuously chant something I can’t make out. Even when Wander repeats it, I can’t understand what he’s saying. It really sounds like ‘Tastes great, less filling.’ but I sincerely doubt that’s it.

The music is a nice change of pace, being of a more country style without being super western. It’s very catchy and easy on the ears.

The art is pretty unique, and the art coupled with the animation is an interesting amalgamation of Dr. Suess, old 1920’s animation and modern styles. It’s very cool, even if some shots are a little jarring.

As for how this episode works as an introduction, it’s pretty good. We don’t learn of Wander’s background or anything, but we learn a great deal of who he is, who Sylvia is, who Hater is and how their dynamic will largely play out. We also begin to get attached to these characters and get a relatively good grasp on their world all in an impressive time frame of 11 minutes.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

Wander Over Yonder is certainly a great example of how to do the classic fun bouncy style of cartoon correctly. It kept putting a smile on my face and I can see it being one of those feel-good shows I watch whenever I need a lift in my spirit. The only sad aspect of this is that Wander Over Yonder was canceled after two seasons, despite the massively positive reception. Another one of those shows where I missed out on something great while it was still around.


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Episode One-Derland: Made in Abyss

Plot: On the island of Orth, a massive pit called the Abyss beckons explorers with strange creatures and valuable relics. No one knows how deep the Abyss truly is, but cave raiding is so important to the city that even children are put to work excavating the Abyss.

One day, a lowest ranking cave raider, Riko, finds herself in mortal danger only to be saved by a mysterious burning light. The light originated from a boy lying unconscious quite a ways away from her location. She believes the boy to be a robot due to his metal arms, strange metal helmet and oddly textured skin. The boy that she names Reg has no memory of who or what he is, nor does he remember anything about Orth or the Abyss.

What secrets lie within the Abyss? And where did Reg really come from?

Breakdown: I caught a few glimpses of this show in an AMV a while back and it looked interesting. The art style for the characters looked simplistic and the characters didn’t seem like they had much to them, but I was intrigued by the concept and who doesn’t love cyborgs?

Now that I’ve given it a shot, I have to say it seems pretty good. It’s a fairly unique plot and setting, and I’m really curious as to the mysteries of the Abyss, especially Reg’s origins.

They introduce the characters pretty well. Riko is a hard worker, but she’s also a trouble maker. She really wants to rise through the ranks so she can go to the same levels in the Abyss as her mother.

Nat is a bit harder to pin down. He seems less enthusiastic than Riko, but is nice enough.

Shiggy seems like the brains of the group, both making them a plan to sneak into their orphanage and creating a device to awaken Reg.

Speaking of the orphanage, how messed up is this place? Granted, the classroom is awesome, even if it’s an accident waiting to happen with everyone’s desks attached to the walls, but they’re all forced to be cave raiders and give over everything they find to their superiors to help pay for the orphanage.

It’s also really unclear as to whether these are even orphans. The head woman talks about their parents as if they’re still alive maybe, and Riko definitely talks about her mom as if she’s alive.

There’s not much to say about Reg yet. Being a character with amnesia, his dialogue consists heavily of just asking questions and looking around. Plus he’s only been awake for about a third of the episode. He could be a little funny, though.

I don’t know what to make of Leader yet. He seems like he genuinely cares about the kids, but he seems like he’s keeping secrets and might be an asshole deep down.

As I mentioned, the art for the characters is pretty simplistic, foregoing noses and making everyone’s head appear very rounded. It’s not bad, and the animation is very fluid. Plus, the landscapes are really nice. Not as awe-inspiring as I’d really like of a show like this, but very good.

The music is also pretty mellow and nice to listen to, and the voice acting was all very well done even if Riko’s VA was getting a little grating. It’s mostly because she’s one of those characters who basically yells all of her lines.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Mighty Magiswords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Verdict:

Continue no

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


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