By: Gregory Weagle HA! I made another funnie! - Splinter, TMNT II Movie
Well folks; it is that time again. 4Kids Entertainment has finally announced its lineup for the Fall 2006 season for my favorite joke in all of animation: 4Kids TV ( or For Kids Dot Television as they say); formally known as the Smutbox; also known as the Dirtbox and known before officially as the FoxBox. Like I'm going to like anyone forget that 4Kids Entertainment bought that block from FOX; everyone favorite liberal channel disguised as conservative. This is the children's block that went from bust in its first season (thanks to Ultraman: Tigra, Fighting Foodums and The Cramp Twins) to one of the best blocks of all time thanks to Funky Cops, Sonic X, Shaman King, One Piece and even to a less extent Kirby, Ultimate Muscle and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) less than a year later. Last year was one where 4Kids Entertainment dodged a bullet of facing a rapid decline in quality thanks to a great Magical DoReMai, a very good G.I. Joe Sigma Six and an always improving Winx Club. See, the creators figured out that Harry Potterish stories equal quality. Popularity contests equal sorrow. Plus there was One Piece, MewMew Power, Sonic X and Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles to keep the quality in check. Another great year for 4Kids.TV.....
However; this year will be different and it may not be for the better. Unless the three new non-anime shows can preform miracles then this block will drop to the quality level not seen since the mid-season of the first year. That is a really bad thing. For one; 4Kids Entertainment has decided to acutely reduce the number of anime shows to dub to two. Sonic X and One Piece (two of the block's strongest shows) are now on the cancellation heap with Funky Cops and Shaman King. Sonic X I expected since the series had run it's course; however, One Piece has dozens of episodes left to air and 4Kids decided to ignore dubbing them at all. MewMew Power will not be in the fall lineup; however, it is still not known if 4Kids Entertainment will dub the remaining 26 episodes of that series. Then again; I will probably not miss MewMew Power due to its Sailor Moon deadringer characteristics. The two shows that will be on 4Kids TV will be the return of Magicial DoReMai and the new anime series called: Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters. G.I. Joe Sigma Six will also be returning along with Bratz and Winx Club. Now that Winx Club has gotten into a great groove; it's good to see it back, but Bratz really is just another All Grown Up with CGI and toy commerical tendiences. Of course; G.I. Joe is still walking the tight-rope of trying to be better than the previous shows, however; it is handling that aspect rather well. Notice that I haven't included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into the conversation. Yes; the turtles are returning to 4Kids TV this fall. However, since the series is taking on a new direction, I'm calling it a brand new series. I've already commented on this before and I'll add those thoughts in this editorial along with the debutting Chaotix Card which I also commented in the last preview. That leaves two more shows remaining: Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters which I already mentioned and will be commented on later and of course a show based on an upcoming XBox 360 game from the creators of Donkey Kong Country. So without further delay; here are my thoughts on the new shows....
Viva Piñata is a wacky, zany, anything-can-happen comedy series that introduces the wacky, zany, anything-can-happen world of Piñatas (from the Latin: crepeus smashus)! These "party animals" are real, alive, and filled with fun. They love Piñata Island, but what they like best (most of them, anyway) is to be the life of the party by blasting off to wherever good times are being had all over the world. Join Fergy, Paulie, Franklin, Hudson, and a whole lotta Piñata for loads of laughs and tons of fun.
My Thoughts: If you thought that Magicial DoReMai was a breath of fresh air for the normally comformist block; then Viva Pinata might be the show to blow in even more. Viva Pinata is actually an upcoming odd XBOX 360 title being created by Rareware; the same company that created Donkey Kong Country. Ironically enough; Donkey Kong Country became a television show for Nelvana back in the mid 1990's when Rare was still with Nintendo as a second party licence (when they were still a cult-hit developer weither people believe that Rare is over rated or not is subject for a debate in which I'm not going to get into at this point). Rare has created such games as Kameo, Conker (the M-rated sleaze animal that was originally based on an E-Rated Gameboy Color title. True story.), Blast Corps, Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Battletoads, Star Fox Adventures and Perfect Dark. After Star Fox Adventures was released; Nintendo sold Rare to Microsoft and their creative juice were even lower than when they were with Nintendo. However; Rare's creative juices seem to be returning with Viva Pinata, a game (and tv series) about everyone's favorite bash for cash (or candy or whatever people like to stuff into those paper-mache models) game. Only this time the models actually have feelings and dreams. Personally; I don't know how much of an appeal this game (or tv show) will garner since the concept is so out there. However; as Magicial DoReMi has demonstrated; it's wackiness might be enough to put it over the top and be a solid replacement for 4Kids TV. All they need is good storylines and some kick-butt character to make the point which was sorely lacking in Donkey Kong Country. This is the show to watch on the 4Kids Television block. Weither that is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen...
Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters (Yugio Kapusaru Monsutazu) is a twelve-episode mini-series commissioned, produced, and edited by 4Kids (much like Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie - Pyramid of Light). Set before the end of the second Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series (Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters) - apparently somewhere in season 5 - Capsule Monsters involves Yugi, Joey (Jonouchi), Téa (Anzu), Tristan (Honda), and Yugi's grandfather Solomon (Sugoroku) being pulled into a world where Duel Monsters are real. They find monster capsules that they can use to summon monsters. It is similar to the Virtual RPG arc in many respects, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the early Capsule Monster Chess game featured in early volumes of the original manga.
My Thoughts: How the mighty have fallen?! 4Kids Entertainment was known for bringing the Pokemon craze to North America (along with NASTY NINTENDO- Like I'm making that up?!) and the card craze with Yu-Gi-Oh! Then 4Kids TV followed and that brought some of the best second and third class anime to America like Sonic X, Kirby, F-Zero, Once Piece, Sonic X and Shaman King. The dubs might always have been suspect (in the purists eyes anyway), but the shows were some of the best rated shows on the block. That was a year ago and times have turely changed. For reasons still unknown; Pokemon is now in the hands of the Pokemon Company (and the dub voices have changed, probably not for the better - as if Ash could sound any cheesier) and 4Kids has little interest in anime anymore (save Magical DoReMi). Now only Yu-Gi-Oh is left and that is mostly side-story shows designed for the US audience like Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and this show Capsule Monsters. The story is simple: Yugi and the gang fight real Duel Monster with capsules instead of cards. That's all you need to know. I'm not a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan and this series isn't going to help unless the Japanese creators can really pull something out of their butts. However; considering that only 12 episodes are being made, I highly doubt it. Ironically enough; I think Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is better because it's based on the actual card game and is separate from the original intention of the show which was created by Toei and will never be shown in America because it's too violent and too wacky. If 4Kids brought out that show and did some funky editing that would make the series watchable without garnering the wrath of parent groups then I would enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh! more. Capsule Monster sounds okay on paper; but what I have mentioned is not a good sign for this series.
2006 brings Big Turtles changes ... The Turtles will "Fast Forward" in time! Season 5 of the 4Kids and Mirage Licensing produced TMNT TV series will be titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward - and will debut on 4Kids TV in September 2006 ... The 26 all-new episodes will feature a new look and attitude, more irreverent humor and a futuristic story and feel.
My Thoughts: Remember back in 1995 when Mirage tried to put the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a whole new direction? A direction that was so bleak that people stopped seeing the show altogether. The CBS lineup was destroyed in the ratings and in quality because they depended on the show to prop the block up. Fast forward (oh the irony) to 11 years later and that prospect might happen again. The difference: GI Joe: Sigma Six is around as a backup plan in case this doesn't work. Now as for the new setting for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Fast Forward which takes place in 2105.) it would be nice if it means it keeps the plotlines fresh. However; taking series in new directions has backfired on series before (See Gargoyles, Beast Wars/Beast Machines) mostly due to new cast & crew putting their fingerprints on it. It could work if the original cast & crew intended it this way. However; it is a bleak prospect for the series in general if it ends up being like the last season of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That season pretty much put the whole Mikey's grappling hook gimmick into it's proper prespective. Then again; it could be like Reboot and make the series a whole lot stronger. However; Reboot did not have a uber-strong early start despite having one of the best premises ever (what really happens inside a computer?). This is the crossroads for the turtles: They can take the next step into greatness or they can dig themselves an early grave next to their original sibling.
4Kids Ent. Inc. has acquired the worldwide licensing rights to CHAOTIC, Apex Marketing and Dracco Company Ltd.'s trading card game. 4Kids Entertainment will manage the licensing, marketing and promotional initiatives for this trading card property and will join creative forces with Apex Marketing to develop and produce an all-new children's animated series based on the property. 4Kids will jointly own the copyright to the television series, which is expected to debut on 4Kids TV in fall 2006. In addition to marketing the trading cards and co-producing the television series, 4Kids will look to develop licensing partnerships in all core categories, initially focusing on toys, interactive entertainment and collectibles. The CHAOTIC trading card game enjoyed great success in Denmark.
My Thoughts: This show without a doubt will be released in 2006. This marks the first time on 4Kids TV that a card fighting game has been released. In fact; this marks the first time a card fighting show debuted and didn't come from Japan. This card fighting show comes from Denmark so it does sound like it's refreshing from that point of view. However; card fighting shows outside of Yu-Gi-Oh! have sucked. Anyone remember Duel Masters?! You probably don't because there is nothing memoriable to note outside of the fact that the original show was five minutes long. Although this show does have an excellent track record in Denmark (or so I heard); it doesn't mean anything since many shows from Japan don't pass the American appeals test. Luckly; this show will not be released until the fall of 2006 because it would also be considered a write-off if it became a mid-season replacement. If Chaotic Card can make this show with some solid storylines and really good character designs then this new show has a chance on 4Kids TV.
While last season's lineup was full of question-marks, this could be the year that 4Kids Television shows a noticable drop in quality. Viva Pinata does have the ideas and guts to make it something interesting th watch; but execution will be the difference between success and failure...and Viva Pinata hasn't proven istelf yet. Don't ask me how the game will do; I don't know and I don't have an XBOX 360. ..and money issues aren't going to help that fact. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward needs to be great or G.I. Joe Sigma must improve in order to keep the boys watching this block. The girl side of the equation is loaded already and plus; history had not been kind to series who change direction in philopsy. Unless a miracle happens; I can finally make my jokes on Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters and Chaotix Cards. As badly as 4Kids has dubbed anime (and they are no great shakes at all in that department.); I think it would be better off dubbing One Piece and maybe finishing off MewMew Power. When I'm asking for MewMew Power to be completed; that is not a good sign.
Then again I could be wrong and those show could preform well and the jokegun (which is rusting away as we speak) will not be bought out. We shall see this fall. ...That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time...