CSBS – Xiaolin Showdown Episode 4: Katnappe!

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Plot: The gang is trying out their new Shen Gong Wu – the Golden Tiger Claws, which can transport them to anywhere they want. Omi is robbed of his turn when a new Shen Gong Wu is revealed – the Changing Chopsticks, which allow the user to shrink down to a size as small as a grain of rice.

Meanwhile, Jack Spicer and Katnappe are at each other’s throats trying to prove which of them is better at retrieving Shen Gong Wu. Katnappe quickly dispatches Jack’s robots with her genetically altered super kittens, impressing Wuya, and heads off to get the Shen Gong Wu. She reaches the chopsticks right as Omi does and challenges her to a Xiaolin Showdown, but Katnappe doesn’t have a Shen Gong Wu with which to compete. Wuya forces Jack to give her his Fist of Tebigong, however. Omi sets the game as tag, believing he has a major advantage in such a game with the Golden Tiger Claws.

The showdown starts, and even though Katnappe has never been in a showdown nor really knows how they work, she easily uses the Fist of Tebigong to knock Omi over and grab the Tiger Claws. Opening a portal directly above him, she easily tags him and wins the showdown.

Back at their lair, Wuya denounces Jack as her evil favorite in lieu of Katnappe, but Katnappe decides that she doesn’t like the dynamic with Wuya and she can’t stand Jack, so she grabs the Golden Tiger Claws and leaves to do her own thing.

Meanwhile, back at the temple, Omi is upset over losing the Golden Tiger Claws (Because they’re cooler than the chopsticks he was trying to obtain.) Master Fung tells him that there are no lessons in victory, but a 1000 in defeat. To illustrate his point, he challenges the young warriors to take a small statute from him. If they win, no chores. If they lose, they have to scrub the floors by hand.

While the stakes are high, they accept this challenge. Fung easily holds them off, but Clay nearly lassos the statue. Right before he’s about to pull it away, Fung smashes the statue.

The warriors are obviously very confused, wondering how they could ever win if he smashes the statue. Fung explains that their goal was to win and his was merely to not lose, which is why he ‘won.’ Raimundo’s not amused and asks where the other 999 lessons are, and Fung tells him he might find them when they’re all scrubbing the floors.

After a backbreaking night of cleaning, Kimiko gets the news that Katnappe has been using the Golden Tiger Claws to commit robberies – easily getting and out of establishments through portals.

The next news alert says she’s at the Mall of the World (how that news came in but no police are on scene, I don’t know) but when they arrive, they swiftly get their butts handed to them. Clay doesn’t even put up a fight because he refuses to fight women.

Katnappe escapes via another portal, and the Xiaolin monks take chase, but they still have no plan for defeating her. Kimiko deduces that Katnappe is probably at Catatonia, the world’s scariest theme park that just so happens to be heavily centered on cats.

Repeating Master Fung’s advice about learning from defeat, they decide to send Clay after Katnappe. He may not be willing to fight girls, but he is willing to give her a big bear hug and make her immobile. Omi is able to easily grab the Golden Tiger Claws as a result, but the fight isn’t over.

Jack arrives, having tracked down Katnappe with his bloodhound robots. In order to stop Jack from getting the Golden Tiger Claws, Omi opens a portal and throws the Tiger Claws into it, causing the bloodhound robots to follow. He has set the portal to open at the center of the earth so even though the Xiaolin monks can’t use the Golden Tiger Claws, neither can the Heylin.

Omi again is reminded of the lesson Master Fung taught them earlier. They didn’t have to win – they just had to make sure they didn’t lose.

Breakdown: This episode was meh leaning towards the positive. There was decent highs, and none of the lows were too low (barring one aspect I’ll get to in a minute.) Katnappe makes for a good enemy, and the lesson this time around was pretty good.

However, I still have a couple of things to get off my chest.

First, Clay…..Jesus, Clay. We just came off of an episode where we addressed a lot of sexist attitudes. It didn’t really say or help much, but it was literally one episode ago. And now we have Clay refusing to fight just because Katnappe is a girl. He even says this.

Clay: “Do you have any male kinfolk I can fight?”

Come on, Clay….

And what lesson do they learn from his defeat because of his sexist attitudes?…Nothing. Just work around it by having him fiercely hug her against her will instead. Because, yeah, replace violence (That she’s willfully if not gleefully partaking in) with unwanted extended full-body physical contact. That’s much less problematic.

Need I remind him that Wuya, one of their main enemies, is a woman? What’s he going to do when she gets her corporeal form back? Sit out every battle?

Second, even though the characters are seemingly getting better at playful banter, the first scene with the monks being a perfect example, there are still too many moments where it just seems like they’re being jerks to each other for no reason. It’s a small gripe, especially if it’s going to go away over time, but I still get irritated at those moments where they’ll make a completely unwarranted snide comment towards a person who is supposed to be their friend.

Overall, though, a pretty enjoyable episode.

Next episode….

.Previous Episode

CSBS – Xiaolin Showdown S01 Ep03: Tangled Web

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Plot: Kimiko and Jack Spicer are in a Xiaolin Showdown for the Monkey Staff, a shen gong wu that can turn people into monkeys. Jack is breezing through while using his shen gong wu, the Jetbootsu, which allow him to defy gravity and walk on walls. Kimiko, however, only has the Fist of Tebigong, which doesn’t lend any help to their current climbing contest.

She tries to use it to knock Jack down by punching into the mountainside, but since his boots allow him to defy gravity, he doesn’t move an inch. Instead, it causes a rockslide that knocks Kimiko down the mountain, allowing Jack to win the Showdown, the Monkey Staff and the Fist of Tebigong.

On the way back home, Omi tries to ‘comfort’ Kimiko by saying she had no chance anyway since she’s a girl and was competing against a guy. Clay says the real reason behind her loss is her quick temper. He others start taunting her when they’re interrupted by Dojo detecting a shen gong wu – the Tangle Web Comb, which allows the user to wrap up their enemies in web. They’re in luck, because the shen gong wu is right below the boat so Kimiko dives in and retrieves it to make up for the ones she just lost.

Still being mocked at home because her new shen gong wu is a comb (and combs are a ‘girl’ thing) Kimiko tries to impress the boys by showing off her skills with the Tangle Web Comb only to get wrapped up in the webs herself. As she struggles to free herself, the boys leave to snoop through her things.

Master Fung arrives and tells her the real reason the Comb isn’t working for her is because it requires total focus. To help her understand her level of focus, he asks Kimiko to pour a cup of tea from an incredibly heavy pot without spilling any. She does the task quite well until Raimundo, Clay and Omi walk in the room with Clay reading her diary, Raimundo messing with her PDA and Omi eating her lipstick. They continue on with the sexist comments and mocking, telling her to serve them tea too. She struggles through the pouring, but gets so angry at Omi’s next sexist comment that she breaks the pot.

Meanwhile, back with Spicer, he’s loving the Monkey Staff, but finds that he’s slowly getting more and more monkey-like the longer he holds it. A teenage girl enters his lab, having sneaked out of his parents party upstairs. She likes his evil lair but he demands that she leave. Just then, Wuya sense the next shen gong wu – the Gold Tiger Claws, which allow the user to teleport anywhere they please.

The Golden Tiger Claws are inside the Emperor’s palace. To get in, they need connections, and Kimiko’s dad has plenty of those. He grants them access on one condition – they all need to be wearing formal robes and Kimiko needs to wear an elegant kimono. She begrudgingly agrees and they enter through a secret passageway that leads to an underground cavern.

Jack Spicer has beat them to the area but not to the Golden Tiger Claws. Jack distracts the group with his Jack-Bots so he can get to the Claws first. Kimiko doesn’t fall for the distraction, however, and both she and Spicer get to the Claws at the same time, starting a Xiaolin Showdown. The game? A race across twin bridges.

Jack bolts ahead with his newfound monkey abilities, and Kimiko trails behind due to the constricting nature of her kimono. She’s able to move a little better when she throws off her wooden shoes, but she still can’t even start to keep up with Jack. She tries to use the Tangle Web Comb, but her lack of focus makes the Comb backfire on her again. She realizes that, the angrier she gets at Jack’s laughing, the tighter the web constricts. She clears her mind and finally focuses, allowing her to snatch the Monkey Staff from Spicer. With the agility given to her by the Monkey Staff and the abilities of the Comb, she is able to grab the Claws before Spicer, winning the Showdown. Omi gains a newfound respect for women and she states that she expects more respect from the whole group.

Back with Jack, he’s getting chewed out by Wuya for losing another Xiaolin Showdown when the same girl from earlier enters dressed in a Catwoman-like outfit and introducing herself as Katnappe. Jack sics his Jack-Bots on her and she easily defeats them. Completely impressed by her skills, Wuya recruits her to help them gain the shen gong wu.

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This episode was yet another where the message is shoved in our faces from the very instant the episode starts. Kimiko’s a hothead. She needs to learn to calm down. Wonder what will happen in the rest of the episode.

And, really, was getting pissed off that Omi was telling her that girls are not as skilled as guys, are meant to serve tea and belong in the kitchen an example of that? Fuck off. I know Omi is basing his logic off of ancient mindsets, but no one tries to teach him otherwise or correct him on his behavior. When he says this stuff, Clay just says ‘Go easy on Kimiko.’ Master Fung doesn’t even stop them from being sexist assholes. He just lets it happen.

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I get that the lesson is to keep calm no matter what is being thrown at you, but this still seems like it’s overkill and unnecessary.

Not to mention that Kimiko didn’t lose the first time because of her temper – she lost because that was literally the only option for her. It was a last-ditch effort and it failed. What else is she supposed to do in a climbing race with the Fist of Tebigong?

I’m also getting really sick of how much these guys do nothing but make fun of and disrespect each other. There’s friendly jabbing and then there’s 95% of their scenes together being mocking, taunting and jackassery. The first thing they do when Kimiko wraps herself up in webs is go snooping through her stuff and leave her there. And they don’t just go through her things – they take her PDA and use it, eat her lipstick and read her diary.

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You want to know something really weird? The one guy not being completely douchey today…..was Jack. It’s expected for him to be mocking and taunting, especially during the Xiaolin Showdown. But his mocking is mostly just laughing at her and calling her out on her temper. And he never once says a sexist word – even in spite of interacting with another female character who annoys him (Katnappe).

To be honest, I still don’t see the major problem with her temper. She’s acting no more impulsive and easily aggravated than Raimundo or Omi. Anyone would get pissed if they had to constantly be treated like crap and listen to their so-called friends spout out a never-ending stream of sexist comments. If anything, she has a problem with her ego…..which is also a problem shared with Raimundo and Omi.

The Xiaolin Showdown this time also didn’t make much sense. Each time that one of them has gone into a Xiaolin Showdown, they instantly get changed into their warrior robes. Here, Kimiko stays in her kimono purely so they can slow her down in the race and get a plot device started.

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They try to make up for the mocking and crap by having the boys start a bet on when Kimiko will find her focus, making it seem like that in itself is mocking her, but then it’s revealed that they, or at least Raimundo, bet that it would be very soon…..but no. No. I don’t buy it. Also, Omi never apologizes for what he said. He just said that her actions in the Showdown taught him a lot about the strength of women.

I do indeed get the irony in that it seems like I’m losing my temper right now.

The only redeeming aspects of this episode are Kimiko getting her first show of badassery and Monkey!Jack.

Rating: 3/10

Next episode, Katnappe goes on a crime spree after acquiring the Golden Tiger Claws from the monks.

…Previous Episode

 

CSBS – Xiaolin Showdown S01 Ep02

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Plot: As the group is training, they start mocking Clay for bypassing an obstacle course just to grab the goal item off the platform and his ‘old man’ style of kung fu. Master Fung chastises the group for mocking Clay’s style since it’s an effective and smart approach to complex problems.

A Shen Gong Wu is detected, and this time it’s the Fist of Tebigong; a super powerful glove that delivers a mighty punch. They start selecting their own Shen Gong Wu to wield if they encounter Jack Spicer. Raymundo and Omi fight over the Eye of Dashi, each believing they have the rights to it (Raymundo had dibs on it, Omi actually won it in a Xiaolin Showdown) so they leave the selection to Fung, who gives it to Clay since he technically won the obstacle course challenge.

Fung also hands out the Mantis Flip Coin to Raymundo and the Two-Ton Tunic to Kimiko. Since they only have three Shen Gong Wu, Omi doesn’t get one. They arrive at the Shen Gong Wu’s location and find Jack. They have a battle with his robots, though Clay is taking his time preparing. In his delay, he and Dojo are knocked off a cliff and hang on a branch.

Meanwhile, Kimiko, Raymundo and Omi take care of the robots. Jack reveals he has a new ally; a mime. The group laughs at this, but soon come to realize that he’s no ordinary mime. He has magical powers that allow him to make anything he mimes become real. He mimes a box around Kimiko, Omi and Raymundo, trapping them and allowing Jack Spicer to go after the Fist of Tepigong.

Clay climbs back up and realizes that with his three comrades out of commission, it’s up to him to find and retrieve the Fist of Tepigong, though his friends have absolutely no faith in him whatsoever.

Clay comes face to face with the mime who pulls the old mirror gag on him. But Clay knows exactly how to take him out – by taking himself out. He punches himself in the face, causing the mime to do the same. Clay is tough enough to take the hit, but the mime is not.

Dojo manages to stumble upon the Fist of Tepigong and Clay tries to make off with it, but Jack uses his Third-Arm Sash to grab it from him.

Meanwhile, Omi, Raymundo and Kimiko try in vain over and over to get out of the box. In an effort to get the mime’s attention, Raymundo clacks the Mantis Flip Coin on the bars of the box, which makes them question why they never realized the box had bars before. Kimiko and Omi come to the conclusion that the bars appeared because Raymundo imagined there were bars. By that logic, Omi imagines the box has a door. The door appears, allowing them to escape, and they go off to help Clay.

Jack has Clay cornered, but Clay uses the Eye of Dashi to blow up some of Jack’s robots, making him lose grip of the Fist of Tepigong. Clay and Jack fight over it, causing a Xiaolin Showdown. The challenge? First to catch a nearby robin wins.

The challenge starts and Jack uses his heli-pack and Third-Arm Sash to chase the bird, but Clay is taking his time doing basically anything. After preparing, he rustles through a nearby sunflower patch and starts filling his hat with seeds. As his friends look on in exasperation, Jack crashes into a tree and the robin gently lands on Clays hand to eat some of the seed. Clay wins the Xiaolin Showdown and is granted the Fist of Tepigong and Jack’s Third-Arm Sash.

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This episode was alright, mostly because Clay’s my favorite character so far. He’s calm, cool, collected, kinda funny, uses my favorite element, and he’s the only one of the group who’s not really an asshole so far. However, I will say it was dreadfully predictable. You can tell the first scene is obviously setting up the big lesson of the episode (which is actually meant to be learned at that very moment, which is weird and redundant). Not only that, but it’s also nearly giving you a blueprint on how the Xiaolin Showdown at the end will turn out, especially when it’s revealed that the challenge is a race – first to get an animal no less (the goal in the obstacle course at the start was a stuffed dog)

The fact that the group is shaking their heads and groaning at Clay moving slowly during the race is both unwarranted and nonsensical. We never saw Clay physically moving slowly before this point. He bypassed the obstacle course to just grab the dog and then spent too much time warming up before the battle with the robots. Plus, they know that he won the obstacle course challenge because he found an easy solution to a complicated problem. They just escaped from the mime’s box with that lesson on their shoulders too, yet no one has a drop of faith in him.

Omi’s being even more obnoxious in this episode than he was in the last, and everyone’s being a bit of an ass to each other. There’s some playful ribbing in there, but they take a lot of shots at each other for no reason.

Some minor nitpicks – why do they instantly change into their Xiaolin outfits when a Xiaolin Showdown is called? And how did Kimiko have the time to dye and style her hair like that before they had to leave for the Shen Gong Wu?

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, our first Kimiko focused episode. Kimiko’s short temper is getting the better of her. When she obtains a Shen Gong Wu that requires full attention and calm to work properly, she struggles with it. With her temper make her lose her first Shen Gong Wu?

…Previous Episode

Cartoon Step-By-Step: Xiaolin Showdown S01 Ep01

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Plot: Many years ago, the forces of good and evil battled against each other over the shen gong wu, numerous powerful artifacts with the collective ability to conquer the world in the wrong hands. Dashi, a noble warrior with the power of the shen gong wu fought fiercely against the Heylin witch Wuya and came out triumphantly, sealing her in a box. In and effort to prevent the power of the shen gong wu from ending up in the hands of evil, Dashi hid them and scattered them across the globe.

Centuries later, a monk named Omi, the dragon of water, learns that three new students will be joining him under the guide of Master Fung; Raymundo from Brazil, Kimiko from Japan and Clay from America. While they’re very rough around the edges, particularly to Omi, they have to quickly get their act together when Wu Ya is revived and sent to partner up with the self-proclaimed evil genius bent on world domination, Jack Spicer. Since Wuya has no corporeal body of her her own, she decides to use to him to gather the shen gong wu and get a real body as well as allow him to conquer the world.

Omi, Raymundo, Kimiko and Clay set out after the shen gong wu with the sensing capabilities of Dashi’s old friend, a small transformable dragon named Dojo. They continue to clash with their personality and culture differences, causing them to lose the Mantis Flip Coin, a magical coin allowing you to easily flip and leap, but they manage to get the Two-Ton-Tunic, Dashi’s old armor that is seemingly impenetrable but weighs a lot.

When they get to a third shen gong wu, the Eye of Dashi, Spicer and Omi get to it at the same time, causing them to fight over it and triggering a Xiaolin Showdown; a contest between two beings set in an alternate dimension where the winner gains the right to own the shen gong wu. Unfortunately, it’s a race across several extremely tall pillars, giving Jack a major advantage with his Mantis Flip Coin and leaving Omi in the dust with his Two-Ton Tunic. Utilizing some lessons he’s learned from his new friends throughout their journey, Omi overcomes the Jack Bots that Spicer sends to attack him and manages to come out victorious. Later, at the temple, Master Fun reveals that he new students were meant to teach him as much as he was meant to teach them as they are actually dragons themselves; Raymundo, the dragon of the wind, Kimiko, the dragon of fire and Clay the dragon of earth.

Breakdown: Xiaolin Showdown is a show that I watched as a kid, but I didn’t keep up with it very closely. It kept my attention and I enjoyed it perfectly fine, but I never got around to sitting down and watching every episode.

First episode wise, this is a very good way to kick off the series, even if there are some very convenient aspects such as all of the dragons being assembled right before Wuya gets released from her box and somehow being able to utilize every minor thing Omi has learned from Raymundo, Kimiko and Clay. Like the ‘using your weight to your advantage’ thing works perfectly here, but the Jack Bots actually had huge on-off switches and Jack was so slow that he not only let Omi catch up to him, but he also let him pull down his pants?

We learn a fair amount about each character. Omi is a very serious, almost too serious, Xiaolin monk who treasures perfection and hard work, but also has a huge ego on him and is a bit headstrong. I do have to wonder if his character design could be construed as a bit racist though. I mean, I’m not sure why Omi was designed like that, but he’s a Chinese kid with bright yellow skin………..

He’s also voiced by Tara Strong.

Raymundo’s lazy and a bit of an ass, but I assume that will get better later. He’s voiced by Tom Kenny. Give the guy credit for range – I never would’ve guessed that.

Kimiko’s a bit too into technology with none of it being useful at all (even that Pac-man-like game. Who plays a game by poking one button over and over? And is it really playing a game if the little guy keeps eating even if you’re not touching anything, he doesn’t move, the food doesn’t move and there seems to be nothing to avoid?) but she’s kinda sweet in how protective she is of Omi. She’s voiced by Grey DeLisle who doesn’t seem to be sporting a voice that is very similar to any of the voices I know her as such as Sam from Danny Phantom and Vicky and Tootie from Fairly Odd Parents. She seems to have pretty good range.

Clay’s pretty cool and he seems to do the most outside of Omi. Plus, like I mentioned, his was the best advice. He was voiced by Jeff Bennet.

Master Fung also has a nice balance of traditional Xiaolin master and contrasting humor.

Jack Spicer still stands out to me as both a really good and a fairly stupid villain. All of the pieces are there, but he needs the opportunity to prove himself to me a bit more. Though, who cares? He’s voiced by Danny Cooksey and that’s all that matters.

The only one I didn’t much care for was Dojo. He’s a comic relief talking animal sidekick and that’s all you really need to know. He’s like a less-funny and less-energetic Mushu from Mulan….and I don’t even like Mushu. At least Dojo can turn into a huge dragon, though. Also, he’s voiced by Wayne Knight. Make of that what you will.

The story is, admittedly, on the ‘been there, done that’ spectrum with the forces of good and evil battling for items that hold great power, but the fact that all of these items have their own unique powers and not just some generic ‘power’ is a breath of fresh air. The main characters also having the power of the elements isn’t that clever either, but I will say that it’s nice that the main-main characters (Omi and later Raymundo) don’t have the power of fire. It’s also nice that the lone girl in the group wasn’t given the power of love or flowers or some crap.

The art is pretty stylized and nice, with only some things looking a bit ugly. The animation’s not fantastic, but it’s reasonably fluid and works to bring the characters and action to life.

The music’s also very fitting and nice to listen to.

This episode had quite a bit to plow through, and I think it did a pretty good job. It’s a bit fast-paced, but nothing overwhelming.

Rating: 8/10

Next episode, Clay gets some spotlight when he’s mocked for his slow and steady method of combat. He’s left on his own to get a shen gong wu when his friends get trapped by Jack Spicer.