Yu-Gi-Oh! (Manga) Chapters 22-23 (AniManga Clash! Season Zero Placeholder)

This is another story I’m sorry didn’t make it into Season Zero. It’s weird because this a two parter, so it easily could’ve been adapted into the show without needing to write anything new, but I guess they just didn’t like the story enough.

Hanasaki, the timid kid from chapter three, makes a reappearance. He is a huge fan of the American comic book hero, Zombire – which is literally a fusion of a zombie and a vampire. His father makes sure to get him some cool Zombire merch, like masks, model kits etc. every time he returns from a business trip from America.

His father feels bad for not being around much, especially considering Hanasaki has rather poor health and has spent a lot of time in the hospital. Hanasaki doesn’t have a lot of friends or self-confidence, so his father is happy whenever he can put a smile on his face by getting him Zombire stuff. He’s especially happy that Hanasaki has found some new friends in Yugi and the gang.

(Can I just point out how crazy rude it is to unbox something you find in someone’s room? Let alone if it’s a model kit and choosing to assemble it right there just because you assume the person doesn’t have the time to do it. Even if he didn’t just want to collect it and preserve the box, he still would have wanted to have the fun of putting it together himself. For god’s sake, Jonouchi. Get a clue.)

However, his father’s a bit of an idiot. A well-meaning idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

To help boost Hanasaki’s confidence, he pretends to be a stranger getting attacked by some goons in the middle of the night. Hanasaki rushes out in his new Zombire costume that his father just bought him and ‘defeats’ the goons with ease.

This plan works wonderfully as Hanasaki pretty much believes he can do anything now. However, I really, really, really need to point out how misguided this plan is.

It’s great that his dad wants to boost his confidence. It’s great that he wants to give him a chance to be a hero like Zombire. But making your scrawny, physically weak, child who has a history of health problems believe he can easily beat up thugs twice his size, especially when he has a hero complex, is not the smartest thing in the world. He may gain confidence, but he may also gain overconfidence and a desire to continue challenging huge people who would wipe their asses with his mangled remains.

What’s even worse is that, 1) These jerks aren’t people Hanasaki’s dad knows well or is friends with – they’re just random thugs he found on the street and 2) when Hanasaki’s dad pays them off, they ask for Hanasaki’s full name and WHERE HE GOES TO SCHOOL so they can supposedly do this again…..And he just gives them that information. There’s a difference between being misguided and being an idiot. I know the 90s were a different time in regards to child safety, but this is too much even for then.

Predictably, the goons arrive at their school and they threaten Yugi, knowing he’s a friend of Hanasaki, so Hanasaki can come in to save him. They run off, and Hanasaki is once again emboldened by his heroism. However, the real reason they did that was so they’d know Hanasaki’s face too, since he was masked the first time they saw him….doesn’t really make a difference because knowing his face doesn’t mean you know where he lives, but either way, they find out where he lives, throw a rock through his window claiming they’ve kidnapped Yugi and to come face them if he ever wants to see him again.

Hanasaki dons his Zombire costume and heads out to save his friend.

Meanwhile, Yugi is getting into Zombire model kits thanks to Hanasaki, but he’s run out of spray paint and can’t color his newest creation. Since all the shops are closed, he runs to Hanasaki’s house to borrow some paint. However, all he finds is his father in a panic, holding the note the goons left for Hanasaki. They call him up and tell him they’ve got Hanasaki and are holding him hostage for 500,000 yen, which is about 4500 USD. If he doesn’t pay, they’ll hurt Hanasaki. And even though they haven’t given his father enough time to do anything, they’re still beating up Hanasaki and even spraying spray paint into his eyes. Yikes…

Yugi, who soon becomes Yami, rushes off to save him, vehement in saving the friend who was only trying to protect him in the first place. Hanasaki’s father is close behind and retrieves Hanasaki while Yugi takes care of the goons.

Before we head on to the Shadow Game portion, let me point out one final bit of idiocy in Hanasaki’s dad. He tells Hanasaki that they should just…go home. *lip smack* First of all, you’re just gonna leave poor Yugi alone with three thugs who have knives? Real nice. Why aren’t you helping him or calling the cops? Yugi’s a kid too. What are you thinking? Second, your child has been beaten and had spray paint shot directly into his eyes. Maybe take him to a hospital first? You’re a terrible parent.

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It’s honestly not much of a game. The thugs chase Yami around as he draws lines on the ground with spray paint. Eventually, they realize he was drawing a maze around them and a discarded cigarette is set to ignite it. As the lines burst into flames, the thugs run away into the water of the dam.

That’s it. That’s all. They don’t even actually go through the maze, they just run away.

Hanasaki refuses to go home, sheds his Zombire mask and heads off to help Yugi fight the goons. He doesn’t get to actually do anything, but the fact that he rushed in either way proved to himself and his father that he doesn’t need some silly costume or some fake super strength to be a hero – he had it in him all along.

This is a pretty sweet couple of chapters. I really liked Hanasaki when we first met him in chapter three, so I’m glad we got more time with him and got to explore his character more. I really wish he was made into more of a regular character, to be honest. He’s very likable, brave and sweet. I think he’d make a great addition to the group – especially in this series loaded with jerks around every corner. The ending explaining that he had the heart of a hero and plenty of courage all along was predictable, but not as much as you’d might think. I was more worried they’d do worse damage to him than they did, just because so many people in this manga are ridiculously evil.

This plot is interesting, even if the choices made by the father are just stupid sometimes. It’s also weird that he decides to do this confidence boost plot thing right as he learns Hanasaki has a group of friends. Isn’t his confidence the highest it’s ever been right now?

Though I do have to say….isn’t he a tad old to be believing he’s randomly acquiring super powers? He’s meant to be the same age as Yugi and the others, which is at least 16, right? Yet he’s leaning into the make-believe so much it’s almost delusional.

The Shadow Game is boring too, but that’s not really the point. The point is, Hanasaki has found a strength within himself that has nothing to do with Zombire, and he has a big heart that allows him to fight for his friends no matter what, even if the enemy outnumbers him and are twice his size. That’s just as good, if not better, as any comic book hero.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Loonatics Unleashed

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Plot: In the year 2772, a meteor struck the planet/city/it’s never made clear of Acmetropolis, giving the five descendants of the Looney Tunes super powers. Together, they use their powers to fight off various threats to Acmetropolis.

In this particular episode, a bunch of ice-wielding robot vikings attack and they defeat them…..Yup. Take this all in. Soak it up.

Breakdown: It seems this series is very polarizing. Some people, especially cartoon reviewers, seem to be firmly in the ‘this series is a stain upon the Looney Tunes name’ camp, while others think it’s a perfectly fine adaptation and action comedy show.

I remember seeing this show being promoted on Kids WB, but I never much cared to watch it and it didn’t last very long. Where do I stand on it after this viewing? Well, that’s for later.

First, let’s go over the plot because wow, that is…that some plot. Why are the Looney Tune descendants the only ones who got powers from that meteor crash? Why did they take it upon themselves to fight crime when there was no singular or overall threat at the time? I won’t really harp on how insane this concept is because….well, it’s still technically the Looney Tunes, and complaining about crazy plots with the Looney Tunes is utterly pointless. What does matter is the execution. Have they taken this crazy plot and actually made something decent out of it?

Let’s go over the characters.

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Our leader is, obviously, the descendant of Bugs Bunny, Ace Bunny. He’s pretty much a typical action show team leader with a bit more of a slant on wit and jokes…..But I never really felt any of his jokes worked, especially when they tried to shoehorn in Bugs’ catchphrase three times. This character’s personality highlights a problem with the entire series that I’ll discuss later.

Ace’s abilities are laser eye beams and optical enhancement.

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Lexi Bunny is the second-in-command and token 90’s tude-ish girl in the group. She’s also the descendant of Lola Bunny, which explains why she’s not funny. Lexi mostly talks about clothes and looking fat, though she does seem to be an entirely different person when she’s in combat mode, showing effective strategies and focus that earn her the title of second-in-command. I honestly shouldn’t be calling her the token girl both for the fact that she hasn’t really shown too many of those tropes yet (outside of the fashion stuff, weight worries and the fact that her color is, you guessed it, pink) and because, well, Looney Tunes itself is a sausage fest.

In fact, Lola, her ancestor, was created purely to help even up the demographics a bit. Even though Looney Tunes never seemed to have a big problem in that area, I know I was and still am a big fan, I guess Space Jam thought it did.

Her powers include supersonic hearing and brain blasts, which are essentially the same as Ace’s laser beams just being emitted from her ears and being made of psionic energy.

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Probably the most similar to their Looney Tunes descendant is Danger Duck, descendant of Daffy Duck. I say that loosely because while he does retain quite of bit of Daffy’s personality and nearly the exact same character design, his jokes just don’t work very well. They’re probably the best out of the cast, but that’s not saying much.

Danger has the ability to quantum quack, which is basically just teleportation, and create power orbs which are kinda like Easter eggs. They’re orbs that are filled with something like explosives and whatnot that get released upon breaking.

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Slam Tasmanian, descendant of the Tasmanian Devil, is also very loyal to his ancestor…..not that it’s hard to do so considering Taz’s only character traits were being crazy and incoherent.

His powers include super strength, tornado maximizer, which is basically Taz’s trademark spinning twister, just at a much higher rate of speed and even including fire, and thunder mode which allows him to shoot off hurricanes made of lightning from his fists.

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Next up is Tech E. Coyote, descendant of Wile E. Coyote, and as his name suggests he is the techie. He is constantly making gadgets and vehicles for the group, and, as the tech guy with super intelligence, he’s obviously the most useful member of the team who gets the most to do yet doesn’t get enough recognition.

Something I should mention; he talks. Unlike his ancestor who spoke in sign language (get it?! Hehehehehehehehehehe) and spoke on rare occasions, Tech talks all the time and even prattles on when he gets into nerd mode. I don’t have anything against him talking, his voice is fantastic actually, and I definitely didn’t want him to be a silent tech support guy anyway (I’m looking at you, Zorro Generation Z) but it’s something worth noting.

His powers include incredible super intelligence, magnekinesis and molecular regeneration. You read that right; molecular regeneration….super healing. Tech E. Coyote is essentially Wolverine. In fact, according to Wiki, it’s a recurring joke for Tech to be blown to bits and just regenerate himself.

I’m sorry; why is he not, hands down, the leader? He’s the smartest, he has great leadership capabilities, he keeps cool under pressure, he makes gadget after gadget for helping them fight bad guys, he’s by far the most useful, and oh yeah, he’s essentially immortal.

Why do the bunnies with the laser beams get to be first and second in command? Equal opportunity my ass.

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And….finally….we have Rev Runner, descendant of the Road Runner. He….is so annoying. You know how they made it so that Tech E. spoke just fine even though Wile E. was basically mute? Well, they did the same thing with Rev…..only he has a quirk….he talks really quickly because, well….I think you can figure it out. It is insanely irritating to listen to him and the ‘joke’ gets old after like a millisecond. I am very aware that he’s voiced by WB voice legend, Rob Paulsen, and all respect to Mr. Paulsen, but this direction choice is dumb.

He, oddly enough, seems to have the most powers out of the group. He obviously has super speed, but he also has super intellect (and is actually, ironically, friends with and invention partners with Tech E.), flight, some degree of clairvoyance, and what is probably the weirdest power in the group, the ability to track down and pinpoint the location of other living organisms like a GPS. While that’s not weird on its own, he also has the ability to transfer what he sees into a hologram. Makes him seem like he’s part robot is all.

So, to clear things up, the smartest and most useful characters, the one with the most powers and the one who is arguably the most powerful are not as important as Ace and Lexi….Bunny bias.

We have one more character in their mysterious leader Zadavia who contacts them via hologram like she’s Zordon. Unlike everything else, we are given no friggin idea as to who she is, where she came from or why she’s leading these guys. We just kinda have to accept that she does.

She’s serious and mostly kind but seems to dislike Danger. Him sending in numerous name change requests does not warrant not thanking him for helping save the world. Seriously, it’d be one thing if it was a lump sum thank you, but she thanked everyone individually and straight up didn’t include Danger.

Now for something I hinted at earlier in Ace’s description which is the tone of this series. It’s really a mixture of action, drama and, of course, comedy. The problem is that the Looney Tunes are not really geared for drama/seriousness. They can pull off action a la Duck Dodgers, but the post-apocalyptic setting, the seemingly very serious threats to the global population…all of that makes it so that the characters can’t really be the all that goofy or funny….In essence, they can’t be the Looney Tunes, which might be why they’re technically not.

However, an additional problem is that the threats in question are silly, at least so far, but they’re painted as serious. Sorta like your average run of the mill action team cartoon from the 90s.

Altogether, you have a subpar action superhero show mixed with “diet” Looney Tunes with a serious twist and a hint of Splenda.

Throughout the whole episode, I was just left wondering why these characters even needed to be the Looney Tunes’ descendants. Really, you could just market this as a bunch of anthropomorphized animals with superpowers fighting evil and it would be the same thing. You might get in trouble with character design copyright infringements with Danger and maybe Slam, but everyone else would be okay and I doubt anyone would say it’s the Looney Tunes in any way, barring those catchphrase moments.

The thing is, that really was this series’ only hook; it was an action superhero team, as was the popular thing back then…..and today….with the Looney Tunes…..Kinda.

Outside of being a little too crazy without the humor being strong enough to back it up, the first episode is also just bland.

The episode does a good job of explaining the backstory for the most part. They explain the meteor, and the opening theme’s shots of the team explain both the names and powers of each team member. Still no explanation as to why only these five beings got powers from the meteor, but whatever.

One thing first episodes are meant to do is start with a very strong first story to hook us in and make us want more. Since it’s not an origin story, the audience typically needs a big memorable conflict to help us get a good taste of how exciting the show will be.

However, we just end up with ice wielding robot vikings, and yes I wasn’t lying, that’s totally a thing, being defeated by an endless supply of gadgets/vehicles and a decent variety of the group’s powers. This is kinda par for the course, but there’s no memorable or noteworthy moments, hence why my plot synopsis is so bare. Not to mention that the vikings use several ice puns….

I will admit that I liked that Danger is not made out to be a complete buffoon who gets in the way more than he helps, but that’s not really anything great.

There’s so much going on in terms of getting new vehicles and new gadgetry and trying out various powers on the enemy instead of having real plot developments or character development or anything really important happening. The biggest thing in the episode is the vikings shutting down the power core for the city, which effectively leaves the world in the dark (see what I mean by the confusion on whether Acmetropolis is a city or planet?)

However, since the Loonatics are around and they have shown time and again that they can melt the ice with little issue and also have no problem taking out the robots, it’s only a matter of time before they take out the robots and melt the ice on the core….

You could shoo that aside if the action is fun enough for you to just enjoy yourself instead of being preoccupied with that stuff. Eh….Not really. There is a never ending stream of action, but like I said none of it is really noteworthy. The powers showcased here are mostly been-there-done-that and even the gadgets aren’t creative. We have blasters, jet packs, motorcycles and a big ship with torpedoes on it. How can the descendants of the Looney Tunes get away with not being creative?

The art is pretty stylized, though slightly too craggy for my tastes. The animation is also pretty nice and fluid with only a few iffy spots here and there. I’m not a big fan of the multi-screen views of a single shot. Seems a bit cheesy, especially for the time.

The voices are good, though I can’t not hear Jason Marsden’s regular voice when he’s playing Danger on several occasions. Half the time, he’s doing a fairly loyal Daffy impression and the other he’s just completely normal voiced.

The music is alright, though mostly forgettable.

Final verdict?

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In my eyes, this show is definitely not bad. There were no moments where I was groaning at the screen or feeling the need to pause because of something stupid. It’s just a subpar action superhero cartoon with the Looney Tunes brand painted over it. I feel no need to continue this, though. There are only 26 episodes so this might be up for a cartoon step-by-step, but since this episode yielded little substance and material I can’t imagine I’d be very driven to even do that much. It’s definitely not the childhood-ruining nightmare some people make it out to be.

Recommended Audience: Violence but it’s against robots and any wounds inflicted to the team are either forgotten or instantly healed. Tech does get blown to a pile of mush at the end, but he’s fine by the next scene. 7+?

Final note: Did I say this wasn’t childhood-ruining? I meant you must now imagine Daffy Duck, the Tasmanian Devil, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, Bugs and Lola Bunny having sex…..not with each other…Well, maybe Bugs and Lola Bunny. Don’t blame me; blame the premise.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zevo-3

Plot: Based off of redesigned characters from a Sketchers commercial (please don’t leave) Zevo – 3 is about three teenagers who get superpowers after getting covered in the mysterious substance known as Zevo. Dr. Stankfoot, creator of the Zevo, reawakened from being turned to stone after an incident involving the Zevo several decades ago, is also mutated with the ability to spawn monsters from his oozing footsteps. The newly created superheroes, Matt AKA Kewl Breeze, Jason AKA Z-strap and Ellie AKA Elasticka fight the monsters set from Dr. Stankfoot to protect the citizens of New Eden City.

Breakdown: My thoughts going into this were openminded. Cool series have been based on sillier origins. Just because they’re based on characters from a Sketchers commercial and the fact that this is produced by Sketchers Entertainment in conjunction with Nicktoons should not damn them right off the bat.

My thoughts going out of this were ‘Thanks for abusing my ever dwindling ability to not make snap judgments, Zevo-3…’

My God this as a show and as a first episode are a total mess. The first half is dedicated to showing us, through video files and flashbacks, the origins of the Zevo and how the three teenagers got their powers. This is so sloppily done it’s depressing. There’s exposition dumps and then there’s that. The way the entire episode is structured, there’s really no reason why that information couldn’t have been given to us in real time. Show us what happened with Dr. Foot and his Zevo as an introduction to the episode, flash forward to where we are now, show the kids getting their powers and then sic the monster on them. Very simple, very effective formula that has worked beautifully through many other similar shows.

Why have us start out showing the group screwing around then them watching a video of the origins of Zevo? One that doesn’t even make sense in its creation. Who was filming Dr. Foot doing those things? Why is that in government computers? Why would Matt hack government computers and frame his school for the illegal acts just to make a pointless video instead of just telling his friends the story?

Ellie even states that if someone is caught for something like that they’d get 20 to life in prison and then they show some seemingly nice elderly person who works at the school getting taken away by huge government guys in weird armor. Way to make the first act of our main character both illegal and completely cruel to some poor lady.

And then Matt pesters Jason and Ellie into telling them the story of how they got their powers on camera, again, for really no reason, and we see what happened through two separate flashbacks.

Just to get this out of the way, yes, there are several pokes at feet throughout this series for no reason. The destroyed city that Dr. Foot was working in was Stank city. Dr. Foot’s name is a foot reference clearly. His villain name is Dr. Stankfoot and his power comes from his oozing feet. Despite all this, though, they don’t mention Sketchers or sneakers once so I guess we can be thankful for lack of product placement.

However, there is no lack of stupid names. Z-Strap? What the hell does that even mean? His powers are supposedly metal based, which makes no sense to me because I could’ve sworn his little accident with the Zevo involved shards of glass going into his arms, which, by the way, friggin’ ouch. What do straps or….Zs have to do with metal?

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His powers are ice based so at least his name makes a bit more sense, but this cartoon came out in, wait for it……..

2011!

I thought we got over this a long time ago, for the most part anyway.

This show is so living in the 90’s. The styles of the clothes, the way they talk and their slang and even their superhero outfits just reek of ‘dated’, especially Kewl Breeze’s.

Oh and as you can tell, they put the first letters of their superhero names on their outfits.

Actually, scratch that, THEY didn’t. These outfits come with their powers for absolutely no reason. They activate their powers and boom they change clothes. I can’t in good conscience mark that off too harshly because, as a lover of magical girl anime, I know that’s a very common thing in ‘superhero’ shows, but it just really makes no sense. This Zevo stuff is like radioactive goop. It’s not specifically designed to make heroes. It didn’t give Dr. Foot a fancy new outfit. It just made him ugly…..and Joker-looking, which isn’t helped by the fact that he’s voiced by Mark freakin’ Hamill who must’ve needed a quick paycheck.

The kids must’ve seen the letters on their costumes and made names that matched up with them, which might actually help justify ‘Z-strap’ and the K for cool, but not really.

As for the second half of this episode, it’s very typical superhero fare. A monster is unleashed on the city, the heroes beat it. The main baddie recharges to fight another day and we get foreshadowing of a bigger threat looming over the city….actually it’s not really foreshadowed. They outright tell us that the creator of New Eden City, a city which was basically made as a post-disaster utopia where apparently, according to Jason, nothing ever goes wrong, is a big bad guy who’s all evil despite making off like a messiah.

Speaking of New Eden City, that is pretty much the only thing that is really interesting and good in this series so far. A paradise-like city built on ruins after the Zevo disaster, I think anyway, run by a corrupt official is a little interesting. Nothing really terribly creative, but interesting.

The fight between the kids and the monster is okay, I guess, but it seems like their powers are really inconsistent. I thought Kewl Breeze just had ice powers. But he can fly? And he can be thrown THROUGH several buildings at once and get up like it’s nothing?

I thought Z-strap just had control over metal? He can fly too?

They all seem indestructible and they all inexplicably also have super speed. And I’m just going by the powers displayed in this first episode.

Speaking of powers, Elasticka’s is so dumb. Her name implies that she is stretchy like Mr. Fantastic, but no, it’s just that her hair is super stretchy and can grow to insane lengths. Her flight is somewhat explained by the fact that she can spin her hair super fast and fly like Tails from Sonic, but she also floats when her hair isn’t spinning, so I dunno.

Getting to the characters;

Jason: He’s the tough guy loner of the group and if you forget that, he wears a shirt with a frowny face on it. I’m not even kidding. Jason’s a bit annoying because he can come off like a jerk quite often. His superhero design is my favorite one though, mostly because for some reason it reminds me of Snake Eyes from GI Joe.

Ellie: Matt’s older sister, she shares a very typical dynamic with Matt in that she picks on him sometimes, is very annoyed by his antics but shows that she loves him when the situation calls for it. She’s also a gymnast who seems to have no reprehension fighting these monsters, which is nice, but she’s pretty bland overall.

Matt: He’s apparently a super genius and is very much a typical tween boy. He’s amazed by these powers and the fact that they’re superheroes now. He loves anything deemed as ‘cool’ and he frequently speaks in slang. Matt is voiced by Dante Basco, who seems to just be doing this whole character as Jake Long from American Dragon only higher pitched. Outside of Matt’s genius, they’re basically the exact same character.

Dr. Stankfoot & Ronson: Stankfoot’s not really a villain you can take entirely seriously mostly because of his silly behavior in the final shot of him in this episode. Ronson, the guy who created New Eden City, is the only threat we can take seriously. He has full government control behind the scenes, a great public persona and even states outright that if Zevo-3, which I guess is what the team are going to call themselves, go against him that they’ll be killed without question.

Art and Animation: Both are really cheap. Nothing stands out as a design on quite literally anything. In fact, I could swear that Kewl Breeze’s outfit is a complete ripoff of another character design from the 90’s possibly from some toy line. Ellie’s design particularly annoys me. Because her power is her hair it’s almost like the animators decided to make her head look too big to help make the animation easier or something.

Music: Completely generic and forgettable.

Voice acting: While I give nothing buy respect to Dante Basco and Mark Hamill, it really feels like everyone here is phoning it in. Mark Hamill’s channeling his Joker voice for this Joker rip off and Dante Basco is channeling Jake Long for a very Jake Long-ish character.

Jason is voiced by Bryton James, whom you may know more as Richie from Family Matters. He’s also Static on Young Justice, but I really just find it weird that I stumbled upon Richie from Family Matters….

Ellie is voiced by Kari Wahlgren who I’m ashamed to have not recognized sooner as she’s the voice of Haruko from FLCL, Robin from Witch Hunter Robin, Saber from the Fate franchise and a crapton of other things. She has really good range.

The best performance goes to Kevin Michael Richardson as Ronson whom you may known from an equally long list of things, live-action and western animation alike, but I know in particular as Trigon from Teen Titans, Gantu from Lilo and Stitch and even Action Hank from Dexter’s Lab. Oh and even more coincidentally, he also voiced the Joker in The Batman.

Final Verdict?

There is no substance to keep me coming around. For kids who haven’t seen many other shows in a superhero genre, this is probably okay, but as a first episode this is just very sloppy and if you’ve seen even a few other superhero shows, based on comics or otherwise, you’ve likely seen better superhero shows.