By: Gregory Weagle
It is now time for that moment of truth...My favorite jokegun is loaded and ready to go as I once again try to make fun with the now famous SmutBox; also known as the Dirtbox; and also known in polite terms as the FOXBOX. 4Kids Entertainment most notable block on boardcast television continues into its third year with brand new shows such as One Piece, F-ZERO GP LEGEND and the WINX Club and the return of Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, Shaman King, Sonic X (Finally; they get to the awesome Shadow angle), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which continues to improve every episode) and sadly The Cramp Twins. Apparently; someone wrote to 4Kids and told them that I was glad that the Cramp Twins was gone (even though YTV was still running the show during the summertime) and they reinstated the show just to make sure that I as an adult who happens to like animation (even the cheap ones) would go back to writing my fanfics (which is pretty much all I can do now) and my TaleSpin rants (delayed until I get a new computer.). Okay; it's not (like FOX would ever care about me)...but what excuse does the worst cartoon on television have of existing anyway?!
But enough said of the foolishness above me; it's time for the three new shows to be placed in the ringer and face the dissection of quality by yours turely. Before I continue; I should note that just like I did in previous reviews, I am only reviewing what I see and hear . No more; no less. I'm not getting into an arguement over weither the dub of an anime series is the true review or not because I didn't happen to see the original Japanese version. I'm tired of this; read my editorial on what I thought of those Uncensored! Websites if you want my opinion on that class. Also to note is that I will not be reviewing The Menu which appeared during the summertime because I have made it my policy not to rate news/talk shows. It's done to prevent some talk show hosts from getting swelled-up heads and they're about stories; not entertainment. The exception would be news-satire type shows (Air Farce, 22 Minutes etc.) since they are solely for entertainment purporses only. I hope young people would realize that and not use them for their pure news; use them to get a good laugh. Go to the internet or watch real news in the evening like every other human being if you want real news. Finally; Tokyo MewMew will not be reviewed simply because it has not been released yet. So; let's start the review....
[1.] From TV Animation: ONE PIECE: As I stated before in a previous editorial; this show is the most popular anime in all of Japan right now; beating the previous leader Dragon Ball Z to the punch. The story starts off with a bang as we hear the story of Gold Rodger being caught and hung from the gallows. (4Kids actually had enough guts to show a wide still shot of the execution; something that was cut out of Outlaw Star. More on 4Kids' editing in a moment.) His last words are that the person who finds his treasure can become the King Of The Pirates. ..and the treasure is all in One Piece (hence the title.) Enter Luffy D. Monkey; a teenage boy who wears sandals (First Yoh, Anna, Nautro and now Luffy...Geez; Shonen Jump seems to have a sandal fetish.); a straw hat given to him by a pirate named Shanks; a red shirt and shorts. Luffy manages to sneak aboard a pirate ship (inside a barrel; I sense a monkey joke somewhere) agaienst an obese, ugly woman who is tormenting a captured boy with pink hair and goofy glasses..Man; this is sounding like TaleSpin; only goofier... So Luffy decides to take on the entire group of Pirates and beat them easily because he's made of rubber making gunplay worthless. How's that possible?! Luffy ate an cursed production known as the Gum-Gum Fruit (which makes sense because every attack he does has the words Gum-Gum in them.)...in exchange for not being able t swim. During his adventure; he meets up with a Pirate Bountyhunter/Swordsman Zolo (he has green hair) who joins Luffy because Luffy will allow him to become the greatest swordsman on earth. Luffy also meets an orange haired female thief/pirate named Namoi who acts hypocritical and wants One Piece to herself. Luffy's mission is very simple: Go to the Grand Line and get the treasure known as One Piece so that Luffy can become King of The Pirates. However; Luffy's happy-go-lucky attitude is not a place to be againest blood thirsty pirates; however creative they are.
One Piece makes TaleSpin look cheap in comparsion (very hard to do; except for the animation which actually favors TaleSpin.) and that's commendable in all aspects. The characters and storylines are filled with surprises and they are all pleasent. While some of the episodes can be Dragon Ball Z-ish (filled with fighting sequences); it isn't bloody nor overly violent. Namoi rocks this show who has the be the first character with intentional hypocritical tendences. She doesn't like pirate tendences and yet loves doing them anyway. Zolo is only along be the best swordsman in the world and would kill Luffy if given half the chance and Luffy is so happy that anger doesn't seem to exist..until a clown pirate kills Luffy's straw hat. That's just plain evil!! These three characters would at least rivial Kit Cloudkicker in complexity and Namoi surpasses him big-time. Every episode was enjoyable and surprising. (Sometimes Luffy would attack a face and I'll let you guess why. Watch the show.) The animation is on par with Dragon Ball Z which is good for second class anime but this is no EVA either. However; despite all the praise I'm giving to this series there were a few things that did give me a few anger fits. The first thing I noticed was that the opening music theme is a rap song. That really goes againest the theme of pirates. This kind of show needs a classical touch. When it comes to OP's; this drives 4Kids editing progress of Shaman King back down to Kirby and TMNT type of music. Patronizing music is not good for the ears 4Kids....I was also dissapointed in Luffy's voice since it sounded exactly like Dai-chi from Beyblade G-Revolution. I REALLY HATE DAI-CHI! He is so selfish and self-centered that it makes Tyson seem selfless in comparsion. Plus; that voice is absolutely grating. I was hoping for Luffy's voice to sound more like Kit's voice or even Max from Beyblade. It almost like I can forgive Tyson and feel sorry for him. Almost. Still; despite taking a few steps backwards in those two departments; they actually took a few steps forward in editing. The clown pirate's decapatation moments were completely kept. Plus; the best thing about One Piece's editing was that they kept the actual gunplay. Like in Sonic X; the guns were seen in abundunce and they were fired. Now I know that some anime purists will complain (like they always do) that the guns look like Super Soakers (or green like in F-ZERO); at least they fire like real guns. It's still much better than in Yu-Gi-Oh! (a show 4Kids edited) where it was the POINTY FINGERS OF DEATH! Remember that Bandit Keith?! At the end of the day; One Piece is an exciting series to watch and it rivals TaleSpin as the best show ever; maybe even better (I still need to watch more episodes before I declare it as such). Which proves that anime is as good as some people say even if it isn't the last thing you'll ever want to see... *****. There's our first perfect score for the FOXBOX...Let's see what the other shows can do....
[2.] F-ZERO: GP LEGENDS: Here is the story on this one. It stars Rick Wheeler (No relation to Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Joey Wheeler); a skilled detective who was nearly killed in a car chase by a notorious criminal named Zoda. Rick was place in cryogenic suspension for 150 years. He was then revived by Jody Summers so he can join the Elite Task Force because's Rick's arch-nemesis Zoda has also been revived by the evil Black Shadow who wants to take over the universe through racing money. Also Captain Falcon and Blood Falcon return for appearances...and Rick has a rock-star rival named Jack Levin who annoys him to no end. This is Nintendo's second animated series on the FOXBOX and Kirby: Right Back At Ya! is still holding his own, F-ZERO: GP Legend is a hybrid CGI/Third Class Anime seires and the animation is surprisely well done all things considered. However; the racing genre has caused a bit dullness in the series. While this series has been smart enough to keep the racing to the most important sections of the story (unlike NASCAR Heat which was all about racing) and the unique designs of the racing cars helps a lot; it would have been much better if Captain Falcon were the main character instead of Rick Wheeler. It also doesn't help that Jody Summer's attempt of being Rebecca Cunningham (which worked in TaleSpin because of the fact that Rebecca and Baloo were half bear.) doesn't come off nearly as well as it did in TaleSpin. Not to mention that the rival Jack Levin was unconvincing because he is an unredeeming jerk. In the end; this is the best series when it comes to the racing genre; which sezs more about how well the show translates in videogames and how poorly it translates to movies and television than it's own merits.... *** 1/2
[3.] The WINX Club: On an interesting note about this series; YTV is also airing WINX Club so I'm able to review this more in detail. Anyhow; this is a story about Bloom a pixie who joins a magical pixie school with other pixies (boys and girls). She also befriends other girl pixies who uses magical powers such as technology (I think her name is Techno), Apollo-type music magic, nature, and Bloom's power known as the DragonFire. Bloom tries to live a normal life (as normal as Hollywood wants to protray it I guess) but is usually attacked by three icy, evil witches who want to steal her Dragonfire magic. These witches hate pixies (jealousy is always a staple in kid programming) and apparently Bloom has a dirty little secret which she discovers that her life might very well be a lie..and worth watching for some reason....If you remember from my preview of the 2004/2005 FOXBOX Season where I stated that I wasn't exactly impressed with the show and I gave it an ultimation: Impress me within 13 episodes or I will not give the show any better than ** 1/2. Well; 13 episodes have come and gone and I'm actually torn by this show. There are half of the episodes where the show looks like an average episode of All Grown Up; only the animation made it appear worse. It's like they are trying to be cool and that the boys were nothing more than stepping stones. Although to be perfectly fair; in many shows in the past it was the other way around, so therefore it was probably karma that got its licks in than anything else. Still; I see this as lazy writing at best. On the other hand; the other half were absolutely brillant and were mostly drama/adventure oriented. Particually; near the end of the season where we find out that Bloom (Warning: Huge Spoiler) is really a witch and that she had no blood parents. The whole experenice of watching WINX from these episodes completely changed the tide of the show for me and was a complete surprise to me considering that it is this type of plotline that makes TaleSpin so special. Speaking of witches; those icy witches are the most evil trio in kid programming ever. I mean; you always get bonus points in my book for an actual threathening spell like Ice Coffin. As for the animation; the 2D is above average; but the CGI sucks badly. In the end; the WINX Club did impress me enough; however, it wasn't very much. WITCHES is better; but this series can be fun and interesting if they stay away from episodes looking like All Grown Up and do episodes more like Harry Potter. *** 1/2
In short; there has been a drop in the qaulity of shows so far for this season. However; it wasn't as bad as it could've been. WINX Club and F-ZERO did preform better than expected and it was a matter of time before the FOXBOX would get it's first ***** show which was One Piece. However; Tokyo MewMew is still left to be released and it looked worse than WINX Club anyway. Plus with The Cramp Twins still on the FOXBOX; there is still a little left in the Jokegun yet. Please 4Kids; you were on a roll; get rid of The Cramp Twins....PLEASE?! Get rid of them....your fans will like you for it.
Now to end my editorial; I'm going to make an opinion on what I think is the best and the worst commerical of the year. Usually; the worst commerical goes to a commerical product which the contents of the message insult the intellegence of those who watch it. So it is a rare moment indeed when the worst commerical is actually a public service message. With that said the worst series of commericals this year go to Nova Scotia's Anti-Smoking group Sick Of Smoke. These ads feature two losers who smoke and they explain why it is good to smoke. No really; that what the ads state!! Apparently; the people who created these ads believe that the reverse-pyschology techinque would be effective in getting young people (without any regard for the older people who tend to be the ones who don't want to stop.) to stop smoking. You know; I would love to see smoking history as much as the next anti-smoking guy; but young people will _not_ stop smoking. To the untrained eye; this commerical might actually encourage people to start smoking and you cannot blame the tobbaco compaines for this. This backfires simply because young people love to dissapoint their elders because of the concept of free-will. Sure; we as a group are morons, but even we can see through this garabage. It's so intentional and so desparate that it makes you wonder if the anti-smoking groups are so delluisonal. The anti-injury groups have a trillion times more creditability than the non-smoking groups. They would never stoop to the level of using reverse-pyschology because it simply doesn't work. These ads show just how out of touching this special interest group is and I'll be shocked if smoking decreases due to this commerical.
As for the best commerical of the year; it was actually a tie between two Nintendo commericals. One of them aired in Canada while the second commerical aired on MTV (which I downloaded legally off the internet.) The first one was for Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door and Mario Pinball Land. It starts with a disturbed mother talking about her son and how he _managed_ to get _caught_ up with the wrong crowd. Then; one day her son apparently said something within earshot of her and see starts to cry. All this time; the father was sitting beside her and looking bewildered (I'll be surprised if it was because his son plays Nintendo.). He shows that he is actually the smartest person in the entire room by saying one word: Mushrooms. The mother ends with a flourish saying that when they were kids; that they didn't know what Nintendo was. Then she apologizes which in the end I laughed out loud because that whole commerical was _so_ fake. It makes it as if Nintendo was peddling drugs or something. If anything; they were young when Nintendo was a true pop-culture icon and video gaming was as close to innocent as humanly possible. The whole thing was so unconvincing ( which was intentional; make no mistake) that the conclusions I made were that the boy is _not_ taking drugs; he has a great taste in the type of games that he plays (more diverse than Sony and Microsoft lovers.); and the only thing they really need to worry about is that his son is made fun of by gamers who think creatvity is all about photo-realistic graphics, sex lanuage, racism and anything that is considered as a Freedom of Expression excercise (and not what games were intended to be as in fun.) and meant to tick off thin-skinned activists and people who are fed up with the misconception of Freedom. I've seen what happen when you kick the cow for too long (anyone who studies Quebec culture); the cow always kicks back and there is no turning back from it. Nintendo of Canada has really shown Nintendo of America a thing or two about selling your product with the Hobo-Mario Commerical (it explains itself) and the FBI-Seizure Players Choice ad which were pretty good as well. Too bad Nintendo's family image is too much to overcome. As I stated before; once you start protaying an image, it usually stays. Rockstar Games might want to heed my warning before they become something that they are not. As for the second commerical; it featured the Wildboyz (a show on MTV) and that was to demonstrate the brand new Nintendo DS's features. I love this commerical for several reasons: For starters it showed off the features of the Nintendo DS much more effectively than the sultry lady's voice telling you to touch the bottom rectangle on the screen. Sure; the dialogue does has a swear word in it; but the young man on the elephant did more to convince casual buyers that Nintendo DS was a more mature system and was worth buying by simply telling them and showing off some of the features. The Nintendo DS needs this to justify buying this system over PSP. The second reason I love this commerical is when the lion tries to attack one of the characters. I mean; there is something symbolic about this in the sense of if animals know enough to hate MTV; then what does that mean for young people who worship the channel?! Now; I didn't need a commmerical to be convinced to buy it since I think it rules and such. (However; I won't be able to buy one this year. Lack of money from my side and supply from Nintendo's side are to blame.) However; casual fans need to be convinced that a revolution of control is needed over a mere evolution of visuals and content which I believe without question is nearing its zenith if it hasn't already gotten there. Remember that Nintendo DS is being released on November 21st for $150 US (15,000 yen in Japan, $199 Cdn (even if the dollar is 83 cent US)). Don't miss a chance to buy the limited supply remaining.
That's all of my thoughts on television for the year. That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time!