AVAHS – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer Review

Rating: 1/10

Plot: Following the story of the popular novelty Christmas song (not really), this movie follows a boy named Jake Spankenheimer as he tries to figure out what happened to his grandma one fateful Christmas morning.

Breakdown: *deep breath*

*sigh*

I knew this day would come.

Gather ‘round, children. Let me tell you the story of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, both the movie and the song.

The year was 1978 – veterinarian Dr. Elmo Shroshire, known as Dr. Elmo, and his wife Patsy, who are a folk singing duo as a hobby, get an offer to sing a new unique Christmas song by writer Randy Brooks.

That song was Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

After it was picked up by a radio station in 1979, it enjoyed modest success in other local radio stations for a while, and year after year it would spread to more stations in more states. In 1982, after finding quick success in mass producing a quarter of a million copies of the song, Dr. Elmo sold his veterinary hospital to pay for a music video (Which is kinda terrible when you think about it. Yeah, why save the lives of innocent animals when you can make a music video about a silly redneck Christmas song?)

A year later it was picked up by MTV and history was made.

Annoying history.

Even though popularity for this song had a steady pace upward since the early 80s, I feel like it didn’t hit its peak until the mid 90s. I remember my dad listening to this song for the first time with me, and we both found it to be fairly funny and enjoyable. My family was fairly redneckish for northeastern yankees, particularly my camo-lovin’ hunter dad (he refers to himself as a redneck so I promise this isn’t a jab to him.) so we enjoyed the song for quite some time.

But then it was like the radio stations were playing it after every other song when the holidays rolled around. Christmas songs are well-known for oversaturation, which is one of the reasons why retail store employees quickly grow to loathe them, but something was different about Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

First of all, it’s an earworm. If you hear it once during your day, congratulations, because your brain radio will now play the chorus on loop no matter your cries for mercy for a random, but always long, period of time.

Second of all, it’s an earworm, which means you’ll either be humming or singing it a lot, and you can’t not look like an idiot singing this song.

The song was so popular that in 2000 it spawned an animated version. I wish I was kidding. But hey, you know you’ve really made it as a beloved Christmas song when you have an animated special made about it. Even Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You was made into an animated special. Again, I wish I was kidding. (I tried to get through it last year for AVAHS, but it’s dreadfully boring…)

Before I get into that, though, let’s talk about the story of the song. It’s pretty self-explanatory even with just the title. Grandma is the victim of a hit-and-run with Santa at the helm. Grandma’s corpse is found outside of her grandson’s house the next morning, and despite Santa being guilty of negligent homicide and fleeing from the scene of an accident, he’s neither pursued by authorities or given punishment for his actions because no one believes in Santa. And apparently Santa’s such an amoral bastard that he never turns himself in or cares that he murdered an elderly woman.

The rest of the song is the family mourning her death and, according to Dr. Elmo himself, implications that Grandpa is rather happy that his wife is dead. Also, a warning to everyone to beware on Christmas because Santa’s a crazy driver who already got away with murder once.

Now, you may be thinking that I don’t need to go over the movie since I just explained the song full out.

Nope. Because that is one of the core of the problems for the movie.

If you thought the story of the song sounded way too short for a special, you’re not alone. In fact, most Christmas songs don’t have stories long enough to fill a movie, which is why most of them pad the run time with new plots and characters. This song is rather unique however in that it not only needed be ridiculously stretched out (Grandma doesn’t even get run over until 15 minutes into this 50 minute long movie) but they needed to basically make an entirely new story from scratch to make an actual movie.

What’s even worse is that they must have thought the actual song was too dark in tone and subject matter to make a kid’s movie about it because two major things are changed – Grandma doesn’t die and Santa was not responsible for the accident.

I’m of the mind that if you think a song is too raunchy/dark/mature etc. to make a kid’s show about it, maybe don’t make a kid’s show about it. It’s like Kids Bop and their complete scrubbing of any song they cover so they can have songs that were originally not appropriate for kids at all to be kid-friendly. Because, gosh, it’s not like kids who enjoy the song would ever seek out the original version, which is probably readily available on Youtube, Spotify, Pandora or one of many other music services.

Even so, you’d probably think that’s par for the course for a kid’s special. It’s no big deal. Well, it kinda is when they play the song over the movie and clearly show that what’s happening on screen is not happening in the song.

It’s almost like they expect you to not pay attention to the lyrics as the song is playing, but it’s a comedy song. If there’s one type of song where you’re really supposed to pay attention to the lyrics, it’s a comedy song. Otherwise it’s not a comedy song, it’s just a song.

They had an out to not follow the song’s story and they purposely put the song over the scenes to point out how they don’t match. Why!?

You may be wondering why I just spent two pages talking about all of this….Well, quite frankly….I’m stalling because I really don’t want to watch this movie again.

Alright, let’s get into it.

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The movie starts with the title card and the song you expect to be playing when ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ is front and center on the screen…..Jingle Bells!….Okie dokie. I should mention that this special is also littered with other songs written and performed by Dr. Elmo, so why they randomly threw Jingle Bells at the start makes even less sense. I guess the melody of the main song sounds quite a bit like Jingle Bells, so maybe that’s it, but still it’s weird.

Speaking of Dr. Elmo, he not only provided several songs for the movie (whether made for the movie specifically or otherwise) but he’s also the narrator, the voice of Grandpa and he co-wrote it. Give the guy some credit, no matter if you love or hate this song, the guy seems to find genuine enjoyment in his work and is pretty proud of it.

Once the animation actually starts, we see Grandma getting run over by Santa’s reindeer (This is a flash forward, so my comment earlier still sticks.) and somehow she didn’t spill a drop of her drink.

Our narrator decides to flash back a bit to explain how we got here. In the bustling city of Cityville, because the Powerpuff Girls didn’t want this to take place in the city of Townsville, it’s the holiday season, and Grandma’s store is busier than ever. She also has a sign that says ‘Store time’ for some reason.

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Grandma is nuts about Christmas. Her store is filled with Christmas goodies, and she loves reading to the kiddies while their parents are off shopping. Enter child version of the narrator, Jake….Jake Spankenheimer. I’m convinced they had a competition to see who could come up with the stupidest last name imaginable….

Jake is warning Grandma that cousin Mel is chasing away another customer. Just because it’s way too subtle and my sarcasm doesn’t carry over into text, let me just get this out of the way – MEL IS A BAD PERSON.

However, this instance is kinda strange because….she’s not wrong. A woman is trying to walk out of the store with a gingerbread house without paying for it and Mel is trying to stop her from shoplifting. Grandma comes and pardons her, claiming her credit is always good there and she can pay her next time she gets a paycheck.

From what I can tell, this woman just waltzed into the store, grabbed a gingerbread house and left without telling anyone. Even if the owner knows you and is willing to pardon the purchase, that’s still wrong. You go and ask someone beforehand, because otherwise how will they even know you took it? It’s like having a tab open in a bar and, when no one’s looking, going behind the bar to make yourself a drink and leaving with the drink.

Mel, however, is less angry about moral integrity and more angry about Grandma’s business practices. She views her as too lax and is concerned that they’ll never get rich unless she shapes up. Grandma, however, doesn’t care about being rich. She just wants to live a happy life being nice to people.

Later, in Jake’s room.

Daphne: “Adding to your Christmas wish list?”

Jake: *sigh* “Sisters…”

…….What? What does being a sister have to do with wondering if you’re adding stuff to your Christmas list?

Jake still believes in Santa, but his sister mocks him for it and his parents seem to be at that point where they believe they should slowly reveal the truth to him.

His dad comes home with an inflatable Christmas tree, which disappoints Jake since he wanted to cut down a tree like they always do.

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Daphne: “Nobody gets a tree anymore. It’s not cool.” Pbbtttt…..Ahem. I know of more than a dozen Christmas tree farms within an hour of me that are consistently sold out of trees, are riddled with tagged pre-bought trees or are waiting for more tree growth since they got wiped out the year prior. And places where you can buy pre-cut trees, like the local hardware stores, Walmart and clubs, always sell out too. I don’t recall any year in which tree farms were starving for sales or artificial trees were flying off the shelves for any reason.

For the record, no matter if you prefer artificial, pre-cut or fresh, an inflatable tree is just stupid.

Austin Bucks, who is one of those ‘owns everything in the city’ types – his company is even named ‘Own All Corp.’ – comes to Grandma asking to buy her store so he make it the hub of his new robot Christmas gift delivery sleigh.

Also, cursed screenshot.

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Grandma and Jake turn down his offer, which makes greedy Mel angry. I don’t really understand why. She’s clearly not the heir to the business (Grandma states she’ll never own it) and she doesn’t own any stake in it now, she’s just an employee. If Grandma sells the business, that really won’t benefit her at all. In fact, the dude will probably just fire everyone and hire new people for his sleigh thing.

How fitting that this next (pointless) song break happens to cover a topic I was talking about in my last AVAHS entry. Like I mentioned there, it’s weird that the special showed how much people seem to like fruitcake now when, back when I was a kid, it was a running thing for fruitcake to be a joke. Hard as a brick, tastes terrible and is used as a lazy holiday gift (Again, I’ve never had fruitcake so I’m not anti-fruitcake.) And now we have a song and segment of the movie where people are running in fear of Grandma’s “killer” fruitcake. It even has a warning on the label because of how bad it is.

If Grandma is such an amazing baker, to the point where her store basically rests on the income of her baked goods, why am I to believe she wouldn’t make good fruitcake?

Anyway, Mel poisons Grandma’s fruitcake (to make people sick, not kill them) so no one will ever shop at her store again and she’ll be forced to sell the store to Austin Bucks. Jake witnesses this, but doesn’t say anything. Also, I guess she’s banking on one tainted fruitcake being the thing that topples the business because that vial is really tiny and she only poisons one cake.

Meanwhile, Jake helps Grandma decorate the house for Christmas, she tucks him in and they talk about Jake’s Santa-existential crisis. Grandma believes in Santa, though, and tells him there’s nothing to worry about. Jake’s relationship to his Grandma is, admittedly, pretty sweet – so sweet I’m actually pretty glad this version doesn’t have her get downed in a vehicular homicide.

As she walks away and we zoom out on Jake’s sleeping head, before we even cut away….

♬ “GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER!” ♫

Geez, song, at least wait for the cutaway before you start blasting that.

They don’t even start it when she’s actually walking home from Jake’s house Christmas eve – they play the first few lines while Grandma’s getting ready to leave, pause it while she discusses leaving with the family and then, right as she’s leaving. She says she has to take cookies and cakes to some charity volunteers, even though we can plainly see that she’s only holding one fruitcake and no cookies. *shrug*

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♪ “She’d been drinking too much eggnog.”♩

Dad: “You’ve been drinking too much eggnog!” (With nary a lip flap)

So, obviously, this line in the song implies that Grandma’s been hitting the sauce and is too wasted to go out safely. In the movie, they establish that she has an egg allergy and she’s been sucking on eggnog all night. She must not have too severe of an allergy to it if she can stand drinking a ton of eggnog and not be affected for hours on end.

♬ “And we begged her not to go.” ♫

Grandpa: *On his hands and frickin’ knees* “Please don’t go!”

Mom: “We’re begging!”

If everyone’s so worried about Grandma not being able to walk outside safely, why is no one getting off their asses to walk with her? Or go in her place? And I mean this in response to the song and movie. What lazy twats.

♪ “But she forgot her medication…”♩

Grandma: *shakes empty medication bottle* “Besides, I forgot my medication at the store.”

It’s never really mentioned what Grandma’s medication is for in the song, but it can be surmised that it’s for some condition that impairs her judgment, mental condition or motor skills. In the movie, it’s allergy medication that she apparently doesn’t need because she’s still perfectly fine.

♬ “And she staggered out the door into the snow.”♫

“Staggered” is more implication that she was plastered, but in the movie, again, it’s like they expect you to not pay attention to the lyrics because she’s walking perfectly normally.

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So here’s a development. Jake actually witnesses Grandma get run over by Santa (we never actually see it happen on screen because I guess even that’s too violent for this movie.) Obviously, no one believes him, but then we get another development…..Grandpa watched it happen too!….And then….spent several moments just staring out the window…..And…he’s acting like it was….cool….He gives a long dramatic retelling of the events like he’s a sportscaster doing a replay.

……Okay, so it’s also a thing in the song that Grandpa’s kinda overly chill about his wife being dead – I mentioned that earlier – his apathy is part of the joke, like he was sick of her and was okay with it…..but here, Grandpa’s being a sadistic asshole. Here he WATCHES his wife get mowed down, gets all jazzed about it and just goes on like nothing happened. The fact that he watched this happen is also never brought up again, and even he doesn’t insist on searching outside for her. *More shrugs*

It’s kinda implied that he might be joking, but it’s also heavily implied that he’s not and we never really find out for sure.

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They open the door to check, but Grandma’s gone. Dad calls the cops at Jake’s insistence.

Dad: “Yes we’ve been drinking too much eggnog. *dial tone* Hello?” …..Wait, why does everyone drinking eggnog imply anything wrong with your mental state? Do you all have egg allergies or are you acknowledging the spiked eggnog thing?

Dad: “Eh, they’ll be out first thing in the morning.” How do you know that? They hung up before you were able to get out two sentences.

The next day….

Jake: “I saw Grandma get run over by a reindeer!”

Cop: “Sorry, son. Impossible. Right here in the manual. There’s no such thing as Santa Claus.” He said Grandma got run over by a reindeer, not Santa. Reindeer still exist.

Here’s where the song gets really nonsensical in regards to the movie’s story.

♪ “When we found her Christmas morning….At the scene of the attack.”♩

…………Grandma is missing. There’s no body in the snow. They, in fact, did the polar opposite of finding her Christmas morning.

They did not.

♬ “She had hoofprints on her forehead.”♫

There’s no one there. There’s no forehead to examine for hoof marks.

♪ “And incriminating Claus marks on her back.”♩

This line never once made sense. I get it, haha, Claus sounds like claws, which isn’t even good grammar in this context, but it still doesn’t make sense.

First of all, if this was just a hit-and-run, why is Santa himself leaving whatever marks he’s leaving on Grandma….do…do I even want to know?

Second, if she had hoofprints on her forehead, then she got hit from the front, which must mean she most likely fell backward, physics and whatnot. So how did any marks from Santa end up on her back?

Finally, as we’ve already gone over, there is no body here so where are these ‘Claus’ marks?

What we see in the movie is marks from a sleigh, hoofprints in the snow and an imprint of Grandma’s body.

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The cops are kinda assholes about the situation. I can’t tell if they’re being overly serious for comedic effect or if they’re just mocking Jake. I want to say the former, but they were doing the latter just a minute ago.

Cop: “Better look for the old broad.”

Were you not planning on doing that in the first place? Also, you might not want to say something like that in front of the ‘old broad’s’ family…

A year goes by with no Grandma in sight. The next part of the song occurs here, but they, oddly, don’t play the song. They recite a vastly changed version of the next verse. Here’s what was originally said.

♬ “Now we’re all so proud of Grandpa, he’s been taking this so well. See him in there watching football, drinkin’ beer and playing cards with cousin Mel.

It’s not Christmas without Grandma. All the family’s dressed in black. And we just can’t help but wonder, should we open up her gifts or send them back? (Send them back!)” ♫

Here’s what the movie says.

“Grandma’s Christmas gifts remained unopened. And people dressed in black. Grandpa tried to cope by playing cards with cousin Mel.”

That’s it.

I can understand them not wanting to show Grandpa being so blasé about his dead/missing wife, instead showing him more mourning and trying to deal with it….by playing a lot of cards with someone who would never play cards with him in the first place, but that sentiment is kinda lost when you remember the guy damn near cheered as he watched his wife get t-boned by a sleigh.

Changing the thing about her gifts was also understandable. You don’t want to open the gifts since Grandma’s just missing. She might want to open them when she gets back. And sending them back is just as bad.

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Looking real mournful, Daphne. Also, why would Mel dress in black?

I don’t get why they didn’t change the part about dressing in black. They’re ALL doing it, even Jake. Doesn’t that imply that they’ve given up hope and believe Grandma’s dead? And why are they doing it in September? They don’t dress in black all year round now, they’re wearing regular clothes outside of this scene, so….why?

The main issue I have with this overall change is, if they were fine taking the lyrics and fudging them like this for the sake of changing a scene in the movie…why not do that with the first verse? I get it in a way because it defeats the purpose of having a movie about a song if you don’t put the song in the movie, but if none of the song can be used in the movie due to content or not matching the scenes, why even bother?

Like I said, they don’t finish the song in the movie. Only when they play the full song in the credits do you hear the third verse. And if they were fine with playing the full song in the movie (the credits are still the movie) why did they feel the need to write it like this?

So, since we’ve gotten through the song parts and I’m already eight pages into this review and not even 20 minutes into this 50 minute long movie, what say we turbo through the rest?

Mel schemes to sell the store, we have one of the most random song breaks in history with the supposedly grieving widower Grandpa singing a song that clearly acknowledges Grandma is dead in the original version…..But it was a song specifically written for this movie….….*sigh*

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Since Grandpa’s a complete idiot and tool, he signs over the business to Mel as well gives her power of attorney, granting her total control over his financial affairs. Jake has one week before the deal is finalized to find Grandma since she’s the only one who can legally stop them.

Jake decides to send an email to Santa asking if he can reunite him with Grandma..

Santa: “Not a single letter from Cityville! It’s as if they’re too busy with their prefabricated and mass produced lives to need me anymore.” Subtle as a brick to the crotch, writers.

Also, maybe Santa would get a few letters from there if he waited until December – Who sends Santa a letter in SEPTEMBER!?

His email works, and you’ll never guess where Grandma is….The North Pole.

She got amnesia from the accident and has been spending her days being cared for by Santa’s people. Santa, the omniscient being, didn’t know who she was so he did the logical thing and just kidnapped her and held her for nine months. Just to be clear on this, he proves that he knows everyone, Grandma is seemingly the only other person in Cityville besides Jake who believes in Santa, and he explains to Austin Bucks later that he remembers exactly what he asked for on Christmas when he was six. There is absolutely no reason Santa would not know who Grandma is.

And even if he somehow didn’t, there are ways he could have easily found out, especially considering all of the ‘Missing’ posters her family put up around town. I would say he can’t reveal himself to other people so it’s not like he could go around asking who she is or something, but as we see later, he just waltzes through city without a care. Even when he learns of who she is, he doesn’t hop on his sleigh to give her back, he just says to send an email reply back to Jake. He either doesn’t give enough of a reindeer crap to try and actually figure out Grandma’s identity or the writers don’t give a single reindeer crap about being coherent.

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Santa’s right-hand elf, Quincy, decides to meet with Jake about it and they ET finger touch for literally no reason. *Shrugging intensifies* He brings Jake to the North Pole via song break about sharing I guess. Jake brings back still-amnesia’d-Grandma to help save the store.

However, like the idiots they are, they leave Grandma in the sleigh outside, presumably because her tummy’s upset from the ride….but she is literally the only who can do anything soooooo…..

Mel contracts her lawyer, who is, not kidding, named I.M. Slime, to make Grandma disappear again so the deal can happen. It works.

Santa relays the real story of what happened with Grandma. His reindeer were drawn to the fruitcake she was holding and he couldn’t control them, so they slammed into her.

We see Grandma with the hoofprints on her forehead, good job, but unlike when we see Jake witness the crash, and when we saw the crash in the opener, Grandma is now on her back, not her front. Santa decides to leave a note explaining what happened….in the snow I guess, because that’s where Mel found it before she hid it. Everyone in this movie is a goddamn idiot.

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Still no incriminating Claus marks on her back, but I’ll let it pass because I really, really don’t want to know.

Austin: “I’m eager to see Grandma and tell her the sale is off.” But…you were the one buying it. If it gives you so much relief to not buy it….why did you ever try to buy it in the first place? They keep trying to flip flop on whether this guy is good or bad.

They realize Grandma is missing again, and since Santa just relayed that story he’s being charged with the disappearance of Grandma……in a case that has no actual evidence with a confession that was taken with no police present, wasn’t recorded, can easily be rescinded and Grandma is still missing, so this story could all be BS anyway.

Mel wants to additionally sue Santa over this, thinking she’ll get even more insanely rich with his money, which leads to a painful song break that is so difficult to get through it’s like the audio/visual version of chewing on tin foil for a minute and a half. They repeat the same line over and over, “sing” with their terrible voices, and “dance” in samba outfits. I’m not lying when I say I really, truly, with all my heart and soul, wanted to shut off the movie in the middle of that ‘song.’ But I have barely over ten minutes left, so might as well bite the tin foil and trudge through it.

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It takes them way too long to consider Mel responsible for Grandma’s second disappearance because, again, they’re all idiots. Mel’s holding Grandma in a cabin in the woods, Jake and Quincy break in, retrieve Grandma and get—

….….Okay, so you’re telling me Mel kept Santa’s note for nearly a year and she left it on the counter in the cabin under the same vial of poison she used in Grandma’s baked goods the year prior?

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Fuck it. I don’t care anymore. Grandma gets her memory back after eating her fruitcake, Jake proves Santa’s innocence, the poison Mel put in the fruitcake was what attracted the reindeer, no one bats an eye at Jake poisoning the jury to try and prove all of this, Mel admits to literally everything she did for no reason, and then she’s put in jail because she kidnapped Grandma, this trial is ridiculous and everyone’s stupid.

The end.

Bottomline: This movie is a trial of patience. It doesn’t even attempt to make sense, especially in regards to adapting the song, and some scenes are really trying my last nerve.

Granted, there are some moments that have jokes that sort of work, and Jake’s relationship with Grandma is kinda sweet, but other than that it’s a very poorly written, horrifically animated (Courtesy of Film Roman, so that’s a warning sign off the bat) holiday slog to sit through. The songs range from ‘Passable’ (Feels like Christmas) to ‘I can feel my soul rotting’ (Grandpa’s Gonna Sue the Pants Off of Santa), and they all have that same country/folksy twang to them, if that matters to you.

Whoever thought it was a good idea to try to make a movie about this song should be run over by a real reindeer. Usually, I would try to write ways the movie could be better, like how you could change certain plot elements or characters to improve things, but my mind just seizes up when it tries to think of ways to make a good Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer movie. I just don’t think the concept works enough to make one. It barely works enough to be a song.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Grojband

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Plot: Corey and his band, Grojband, do everything in their power to be stars in the world of music.

Breakdown: This is one of those rare times when I’ll watch a show that has an 11/11 setup (Two eleven minute episodes to make up one full episode), watch one half and be so unsure of how I felt about it that I decided to watch the other half to get a better idea of my feelings. Since it is as such, let me talk about the first episode, or episode 1A before we talk about the second.

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Episode 1A, Cloudy with a Chance of Malt Balls, and yes that title is very stupid and barely correlates to the story (Malt balls are at the movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs came out around this time, so we have our title) is about Corey trying to convince a movie star named Cherry Grapestain to let them be her movie trailer band, which makes about as much sense as it sounds. To do this, they decide to crash a drive-in theater premiere and play before the movie.

This episode started out with good promise in regards to jokes. There’s a joke where a couple of girls are clamoring outside of the garage after the band plays and Kon, the drummer, hopes it’s their future selves cheering for them. Maybe I looked too much into the joke, but I thought this was a clever, if not somewhat dark, joke about their future selves cheering on their life decisions. Then we get a couple of fourth-wall-breaking jokes like telling Mina, Trina’s ‘best friend’ that she’s not in this episode and saying there’s a transition when a transition comes up.

However, these jokes were well ruined as the episode went on. Kon kept bringing up the future selves thing, which made the joke stale and made me realize the initial joke wasn’t what I thought, he was just being dumb. And then the joke got weird and stupider when their future selves, somehow, someway, do show up to help them. No explanation as to why they’re here or how, they don’t even look any older, they just wear leotards and have Geordi visors on their heads.

The ‘not in this episode’ joke has a reprise, but that one was welcome because it was a slap to Trina’s face. Also, I think you need to have at least a few episodes under your belt before you can use a ‘your character isn’t in this episode’ gag. We should know who this character is before you knowingly shove her out of an episode.

They also kept using the ‘pointing out a transition is happening’ gag over and over.

There were still some decent jokes like Corey deciding to forego free tickets to the movie because he had a convoluted plan to get in instead, and Corey exiting the costume he was in through the torso, leaving his ‘legs’ behind to stand the costume up on its own but still having his own legs.

But then there are weird jokes that seem really stupid like Trina seemingly getting legitimately possessed when she gets super pissed and viciously writing in her diary about whatever pissed her off, causing flames in the pen and actual lightning to rain down. I’m not kidding about the lightning either – it’s real. It knocked out the projector. The fact that this thing can summon lightning is a recurring theme.

Getting a feel for the characters is a bit odd at this point. I think I like Corey because he means well and has the better jokes, but he also seems stupid and egotistical sometimes.

I don’t like Trina, but I’m obviously not supposed to. She’s the typical insanely bitchy older sister character. Think Vicky from Fairly Odd Parents if she was an older sister to Timmy not a babysitter.

I found something interesting while reading the Wiki for this show, though. Her ‘best friend’ Mina who is briefly seen here, apparently is not named Mina. Trina had her legally change her name from Bernadette to Mina so their names would rhyme….What a bitch….Mina goes along with pretty much whatever Trina says because she wants to be as popular and cool as she is. She’s basically Trina’s slave and the poor girl just takes it.

Laney’s pretty cool, and Kon and Kin, twin brothers who play drums and keyboard respectively, are alright. Kon’s character is easy to pin down as the overly excited random guy, while Kin is just kinda there.

All in all, I didn’t outright dislike this episode, minus one gross-out gag, but I felt like this was one of those shows that was trying too hard without trying….You know what I mean? They jam a lot into your face, and some of it would be pretty clever and funny in small doses, but it gives off an air of laziness because they constantly reuse gags and mistake randomness for humor.

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Episode 1B or Dance of the Dead is a bit of an oddity because you rarely ever hear of shows having a holiday special in their pilot episode.

The story is a bit odd and doesn’t make sense, but I’m beginning to think Grojband doesn’t care much about logic.

In this episode, the band is set to play at their school’s Halloween dance, but Trina shoves them out into the cemetery, which is, for some reason, right outside the school. Using Corey’s new amp, which somehow has magical powers, just go with it, they play in the cemetery and reanimate the dead with their song.

Doing what zombies do, they bite others and make them into zombies, lusting for brains but also following music, even when not played in the magical amp.

Corey and the band decide to….mix Trina’s diary, having been ‘powered up’ I guess by Trina’s latest hissy fit, lightning and the magical amp to play a song that will lure the zombies back into their graves, deanimate them and restore everyone to normal SOMEHOW.

This episode was definitely more solid than the first part. They didn’t reuse stupid jokes, barring one, and rely solely on a few bits of randomness to get them through. There are many more one-off jokes that work quite well.

While the story somehow manages to make even less sense than the first part, I’ve resigned myself to just taking this as a cartoon that goes with the flow and doesn’t aim to be logical. Sometimes, that’s fine. It’s a bit too noticeable, though. There’s a difference between cartoon logic and no logic.

The main pains in this one are random fart jokes here and there and the resident hottie, Nick Mallory’s dog reanimating and biting him. He’s been a pretty alright character so far – nice, suave, though also being full of himself and speaking in third person – so having him visit his dog’s grave, for real, only to have him come back to life as a zombie and bite him was a bit sad.

The one recurring joke was claiming Laney, the token girl of the group and token love interest for the main character, was wearing a costume when she clearly wasn’t. It wasn’t funny the first time, it wasn’t funny the next three times. I did like the gag where we see her heart beating really fast when Corey touches her lips and then exits out her mouth and leaves the room when he insults her.

The art and animation are, might as well coin this, typical TeleToons. I hate to say that because TeleToons is a network, not an animation studio, but it seems like every TeleToons show is the same style. Slide-y flash animation with big head/skinny bodies (weird shapes for the overweight people) I don’t dislike it, but it’s nothing special.

The voice acting is actually quite good. And the music, which needs to be impressive in a show about a band, is, shockingly, very good. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find decent music in shows about music…I found myself replaying the songs in the episode a few times. They’re not heading for the pop charts, but they’re very solid songs.

Last note, but I thought I’d mention that one of the creators behind this show, Todd Kaufman, also created Looped. I found this out before I watched the episode, so my expectations were quite low. However, this series also has the star power of the producers behind the Total Drama franchise (Kaufman and co-creator Mark Thornton also directed numerous episodes of Total Drama) so I became as mixed as I was when I watched the full episode.

Final Verdict:

ebzss3e

I’m just not firm enough in my opinion of this show to give it a ‘yes’ in all good conscience. This is heavily leaning ‘yes’, though it was leaning ‘no’ for the first half. It has promise, but it needs to make a bit more sense, get rid of the fart jokes and focus more on quick jokes that work instead of hammering the same joke into us over and over.

It’d also be a good idea to tone down Trina, throw poor Mina a damn bone and stop whatever that stupid diary thing is because I cannot make heads or tails of it and it takes up way too much time to be justified.

The Salty Anime Challenge Day 16: Least Favorite OP or ED

This one will probably earn me some enemies, but here we go.

You know what I randomly remembered while I was making this entry? ‘Oh yeah, I hate Lucky Star.’

This is also a great example of me forgetting something that is more deserving of a ‘least favorite’ spot because I’ll randomly remember something more deserving after I’ve posted it.

I made a rough draft list many many years ago about ideas for a ‘Top Ten Worst Anime Themes’ so I thought I’d dig it up for this, and lo and behold Lucky Star’s OP was on there.

But let’s get to that later. What I was mentioning before was the ‘A Popular and/or Hyped Anime that You Didn’t Care For’ category. I chose Kill La Kill for that while completely forgetting about Lucky Star.

I hate Lucky Star. And even I find it ridiculous how much I hate it because I have never watched more than two episodes.

Here’s the deal – I watched the first episode three times, each about one to two years apart. I repeatedly tried to like this show because I kept feeling like I was missing something.

I can’t emphasize enough how massive this show was when it first came out. It was friggin’ everywhere. People ate it up. It was being referenced everywhere, people were constantly making parodies and AMVs about it, talking about it in every anime-related forum thread. When I finally gave it a chance….I didn’t get it.

It was a horrifically boring half hour of inane dribble. Constantly talking about various ways to eat different foods and shooting the shit about stuff so boring that, despite watching it three times, I’d be hardpressed to remember it. It was so…..mind-numbingly…..boring.

I’m no stranger to SOL shows – I know there’s a good chunk of random conversations, but there’s no joke. It was just…..’lol this conversation is funny because…quirky?’ How do you eat ice cream? I don’t care. How do you eat popsicles? I don’t care. How do eat choco-coronets? I. Don’t. Care! When do you eat the strawberry on a strawberry shortca-SHUT UP.

From what I’ve read, it doesn’t get anymore interesting in the ‘passing conversation’ department either. They just talk about stuff in the most boring, brain-rottingly way possible.

“I like anime and talk about it.” That’s great, I do too. Are you going to say anything substantial or funny about it or is your shtick that you love anime?….Thought so.

“I like MMOs and talk about them.” That’s great, I do too. Are you going to say anything substantial or funny about it or is your shtick that you love MMOs?….Thought so.

I couldn’t even get a lock on if it was worth it to keep going. Some people said it sucks for the first half of the series, then gets better – and just as many people said it was the opposite. I think after the last time I watched the first episode, I decided to choose a random later episode to peek at just to see if it does get better. Admittedly, there are more actual attempts at jokes and comedy….but so much of it is just referential humor. It’s the Family Guy or Big Bang Theory of anime…only add about 500% more inane boring drivel.

But no, it’s not that. As I was writing this, I thought more of referential comedy anime that are popular in the west and I came to the realization that, in my opinion, a lot of people don’t find these jokes particularly funny – they make them feel special because they understand the jokes.

I understood that reference
Yo dawg, I heard you liked references, so I referenced a scene that references references in response to a reference and then captioned it in meme-style because memes are like references but worse.

“I’m such a geek that I totally got what they were referencing. If you don’t find the joke funny, it’s because you didn’t get the reference.”

That last line is something I saw pop up in so many positive reviews of Lucky Star. It’s like it’s saying any negative review of the show is invalid because ‘Well, if you don’t like it, it’s just because you don’t get the references. You’re not a big enough anime geek to truly get the genius of Lucky Star.”

I get the references, I don’t get the ‘jokes’. They’re references for the sake of references. Take a look at the TV Tropes page for Lucky Star’s references.

A good chunk of the references aren’t even obscure things geeks would pride themselves on knowing. If I can hipster for a minute, a majority of the references are very mainstream shows. Sgt. Frog, Fate/Stay Night, Full Metal Panic!, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Yugioh and even popular stuff in the west like Street Fighter, Saw and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Most people who even just dabble in the world of anime would at least be aware of these things enough to get the references.

Or is that the point? This stuff is so well-known that many people would get the references in the west too, but anime still not being really ‘mainstream’ at the time, they think they’re geeky because they understand it?

Maybe that’s a cynical view. Maybe I really don’t understand whatever I’m supposed to understand. Maybe I’m just a bad anime geek. I don’t know.

Just recently I was rewatching some episodes of Teen Titans and they had a more obscure anime reference – in Stranded, Beast Boy, in an attempt to reassemble Cyborg, turns him into Giant Robo and then he dresses up as Daisaku and they fly away. And that reference actually had a point because it was a part of a montage of jokes as Beast Boy screws up his assembly.

Then we have the art, which is simultaneously ugly and so overly cute I can feel myself getting diabetes. The characters are all 16-18 years old…..Bull. Shit.

They look like they’re ten, max. The super ultra kawaii desu art makes them look insanely young, and I gotta say, that makes it a little creepy to me. It, in no way, helps that the colors are overly bright pastels with an OP that practically makes you go blind.

Did someone just make a great segue? I think I just did.

The OP is very famous because it was one of the most parodied and overplayed things about the show. Not to mention I fault this OP for the endless string of OP’s with all the characters doing some stupid dance to their theme song. I know some shows did it before them, but I fault them for popularizing it.

Lucky Star’s OP is like Alvin and the Chipmunks learned Japanese, took a lot of meth, suffered brain damage and sang a song written by a three year old. I feel like my teeth are being put into a blender whenever I hear it.

Not only that, but they’re evil enough to have some sections, like the one at .46, where they intentionally do that insanely annoying skipping effect to the audio. At the very least the song is an earworm, but it’s an earworm with razor sharp teeth and acid saliva.

Runner-up: Colorful (The Series) was going to win this before I was reminded of Lucky Star. I’d link to that OP too, but we have a benevolent God and I can’t find just the OP online. You’ve been spared.

Objectively, Colorful’s song is worse mostly because it’s an incoherent mess of noise. It’s like a drunk woman scream-talking a Japanese rap song at a karaoke bar and then jamming an ice pick into your eardrum. However, subjectively, I hate Lucky Star’s more on every level.

White Album Season 2 Review

Rating: 3.5/10

Plot: Same as the first season, only with more sex and drama.

Breakdown: (Spoiler alert: Also, this is not to be confused with White Album 2)

Nihon rater, I apologize. You had perfect reason to name Touya on the same level as Makoto. He didn’t leave a pregnant girl on her own so he could bang other girls, but I can see why you’d put them on the same level.

Touya’s upped the assholery 1000 fold in this season. The first one only had him cheating on Yuki with Yayoi. He seemed to feel guilty about it, he kept pretending Yayoi was Yuki because he missed her. Okay, somewhat understandable, I suppose. Cheating’s still a major dick move, but it is slightly understandable here. Understandable, not excusable. He also kissed Misaki and proclaimed his love for her….okay that’s much less understandable. Especially if his one ‘love’ is Yuki.

In this season he continues to sleep with Yayoi until about three episodes from the end, sleeps with Haruka, makes out with Misaki (again), has sex with Misaki, almost has sex with Menou, makes out with Rina, goes out on a date with another woman (whom he later ditches from said date to go with Yayoi for no reason whatsoever. And when I say “ditch” I mean he said he needed to go to the bathroom and never intended on coming back. She was a nice pretty girl and Touya just ditches her in the middle of a date for no reason. What’s worse is that the final shot they show of her is her waiting in the restaurant saying she’ll never date again. Touya, you’re a dick. At least say something came up and you needed to leave. Don’t act like you’ll be right back and then ditch her. What’s even worse is that he strung her along first by calling her a savior goddess. Jeez.) and strings along Mana.

All without remorse and eventually even becoming blase about his relationship with Yuki – the one he still won’t friggin’ end.

This season also brings up a lot of confusing and pointless moments. Like, though I don’t mind the thought, why did Akira get hit by a car? It added nothing, he suffered no actual injuries besides a scratch on the head and he was back to work days later. I’ll tell ya why. It got you to watch the next episode because that was a cliffhanger moment. So useful!

I could’ve done with White Album if they left it as it was in season one, but no…

Characters

Touya: You can basically understand my thoughts on his character already. He turns into a super-ultra ass in this season, yet still holds his relationship with Yuki for no reason. Did you know they barely ever have screentime together? Ever.

How can you root for a couple that we hardly ever see together? We see him with the other girls a lot more than Yuki. Again, I honestly don’t understand why he never dumped her. Why pretend you guys are in love when you barely even like each other by this point?

In addition, in the scene where Akira gets hit by the car, all he’s worried about when he gets to the hospital is how he’ll handle it if Haruka’s upset with it. Nice. Some friend you are. He’s completely unlikable, boring when he’s not being an ass and I wish HE had been hit by a car at some point.

Akira: Like Touya, he’s upped the assholery quite a bit this season. He’s still an angry jackass, only now he’s a sex hound. He tries to sleep with Misaki in Touya’s father’s house (right after he came home from having a heart attack!) and then gets pissed because she doesn’t want to do it, justifying it by that they’ve been dating for a month (a whole MONTH! Wow, why aren’t you married yet?) and it’s time that they did. Feh.

Also, he states that if she ever had tea with Touya, he’d dump her in a heartbeat. True love right here, folks. I mean, I wouldn’t trust Touya to be alone with my shoes, but that’s a complete lack of trust in Misaki as well. He also seems barely bothered after she broke up with him. He was even on a date with Haruka smiling a few days later…

Eiji:
Eiji didn’t have that much of an impact on the first season, but he was a jerk there and he’s still one here. Also, he’s out of his damned mind. I’m dead serious. The reason he’s a jerk is that he basically treats his sister, Rina, as an object. He believes Rina has overstayed her welcome in the music world and keeps trying to replace her with his new star, Yuki, despite the fact that Rina is still a huge sensation.

The reason he’s insane is because he’s completely obsessed with this painting he saw when he was a musician. It was so amazing that he was moved to tears whenever he saw it. He was so obsessed with it that he tried to obtain the painting for years, but kept getting ‘copies.’ However, he was just under the delusion that they were all copies of the same painting, when, in reality, the paintings were all drastically different and he was just imagining that they looked exactly the same.

He has a mental breakdown and it’s revealed that he doesn’t even remember what the painting looked like. So impacting that he doesn’t even remember what it looked like….just that it had a girl and a lily. Wow.

Yuki: Yuki’s even more of a doormat in this season. She actually finds out that Touya has been cheating on her and lying to her along with a bunch of other people, yet she still doesn’t dump him or even confront him about it.

Yuki wants the best of both worlds by trying to maintain her relationship with Touya and staying as a pop idol, but she makes little to no effort to see him or make time for him. The most conversations they have is by phone tag – just leaving messages for each other on the answering machine.

It’s obvious that she cares more about her career than him, yet she still won’t let him go. I questioned many times whether or not Yuki actually loved Touya at all during this season. Their relationship has the emotional depth of a sippy cup. Why are they the main couple?

Oh and, get this, she won’t make an iota of effort to see Touya because she doesn’t want to hinder her career, but she says she’ll quit her career because Rina said she was leaving the record label. LOGIC.

Also, when she finds out that Touya’s a lying ass, she bites into her hand so hard that she creates a puddle of blood on the ground….Ya know what? Maybe they deserve each other…

Rina: Rina was the one character who I still pretty much liked in the end. However, she does make out with Touya. She owns up to it with Yuki immediately, though. And she still shows that she’s a strong character and a good friend.

Misaki: Misaki turned horrible in this season. She makes out with Touya, later sleeps with him (granted, he was grieving, but still.) takes a job from an old boyfriend who apparently got her pregnant and wouldn’t support the baby. Then he became a huge dick to her and tried to stab her later.

By the way, I have no clue what happened to the baby, if there was one. She willingly creates a trashy article for him as well. It’s a side plot that seems unfinished and sloppy. She’s also not being fair to Akira by being with him. It’s obvious she went with him because he loved her and she couldn’t have Touya. She dumps him, which is more than I can say for Yuki, but geez.

Haruka: Haruka also lost her likability in this season. Not terribly much, but she ends up practically throwing her(naked)self at Touya and then sleeps with him. Also, we have no clue what happened to her brother, nor why she stopped playing tennis because of it. In addition, I really got sick of her monotone personality….

Yayoi: Still a whore. Next.

Menou: Not much comes out of the new character of Menou. We find out that she’s Mana’s older sister that their mother uses as a singing icon, she was Touya’s first savior goddess and…she’s pretty…what’s the word….sleazy? I don’t know.

Mana: Mana’s still a brat in this season, but she never kisses or makes out/sleeps with Touya. Her affection, what she chooses to show of it, remains stilted and one-sided. However, she does have a complete and utter flip out mid-season. Destroys her entire room for very little reason.

Misc. Issues

There’s no couple that you really want to root for…in this romance anime. There are three main guys in this series, Touya, Akira and Eiji. I’ve already explained why they’re either assholes or jerks plus insanity. Most of the girls also become very unlikable.

If you root for any pairing, you will definitely find a reason to not want them together. At the beginning, I wanted Touya to go with Haruka, but seeing what an ass he was to her this whole series, I believe he didn’t deserve her and she didn’t deserve to be with an ass. Later on, I rooted for Rina and Touya, but again I liked her too much to encourage her to go with Touya. So I figured, screw it, let him go with Yayoi. They’re perfect for each other. Both heartless sex fiends.

If anything, the best pairing in this series is Rina and Yuki. They have a really great relationship where both would gladly sacrifice everything for the happiness of the other and they get along really well. I usually don’t purposely make yaoi/yuri pairings in shows unless the characters themselves are solidified as being gay, but tell me this relationship wouldn’t work.

In a show that is based off of a dating sim, especially when you go the extra mile to try and explore every avenue, you have to have at least one pairing that you can root for. Even if it’s not the main pairing.

School days even had me rooting for Kotonoha and Makoto to some extent, even if he was major assholedickjackass who didn’t deserve her and likely would’ve kept up his cheating ways—okay I’m starting to regret this one now. Rumbling Hearts had me rooting for Haruka. I rooted for no one in the end of this. I hope he ended up alone and so did Yuki….

Let me try to explain the actual ending. Touya flashes back to when he really first met Yuki. Apparently he saved Haruka and Yuki from bullies by pissing his pants, putting it on his hands and chasing the bullies away by showing them his hands.

“If only a boy with piss on his hands wasn’t here” Wow writing staff, did you write that as a serious line? Like, really?

Afterward, Yuki is prompted by Touya’s father to encourage him or whatever so she gives him a medal made out of a piece of wood. He throws it into the woods. His father yells at him to retrieve it, but he never does. The emotional trauma from that string of events (that’s actually how they describe it) made him seal off his memories………..Does anyone need to fertilize about 300 gardens because that is a massive pile of bullshit.

Also, the reason he never found it was because Haruka took it and hid it. Don’t ask. I don’t care and they barely explain why.

The end is a big mystery. Rina and Yuki sing together on stage and apparently become a duo act now being handled by Frankie. Someone (either Rina or Yuki) writes a goodbye note to Touya on the mirror of the dressing room. Yuki leaves Touya a note that doesn’t say anything. Then Touya waves to someone as we fade out for the last time and hear all the girls (and guys, because…..I dunno) say Touya’s name. Basically, though the writers seem to want to point to one couple the entire series and this episode, the ending is left ambiguous to please any fan of any other pairing. Or please none of them. Take your pick.

Art and Animation: Same quality level of the last season.

Voice Acting: Same.

Music: Didn’t like the music as much in this season. The final song was fairly nice, though.

Bottomline: If you, for any reason, liked the first season, leave it at that. This season will make you hate almost everyone. In addition, if you do root for any pairing, there’s no real satisfying ending to any pairing. Even his relationship with Yuki amounts to little to nothing. I guarantee that you won’t find happiness over the horizon.

If you do like it, stop at the end of season one. Still no happiness over the horizon, but it’ll likely save you from hating practically every character and pairing.

Additional Information and Notes: White Album season 2 was produced by Seven Arcs. The second season was directed by Taizō Yoshida. It was written by Hiroaki Sato.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: More sexual situations and fanservice shots than the last season. Also more mature themes. 15+?