By: Gregory Weagle HA! I made a funnie! - Splinter, TMNT Movie
Folks; it is that time again for me to have another attempt at trying to make of my favorite whipping boy: The FOXBOX, also known as the SmutBox, also known as the Dirtbox. It's been over a year since this animation block made its debut and it's been home to some of the ten worst shows I have ever seen: Fighting Foodums (DUD), Ultraman Tigra (1/2*), Stargate: Infinity (DUD) and The Cramp Twins (-*****; I explain that in a moment). It's hard for me to believe that 4Kids can ever improve on their lineup considering that they completely screwed up the Yu-Gi-Oh! (*** 1/4 in case anyone wants to know) dub, depend on the faithful Pokemon dub to prop itself up and created a pretty bad show in Cubix: Robots For Everyone. However; as I mentioned in the previous report The DirtBox Meets The SandBox; there is hope for the FoxBox with Sonic X, Shaman King and Funky Cops. However; since 4Kids has been known to screw up would it happen to these shows? The answer is a refreshing no. This may very well be the best lineup since the 1990/1991 Disney Afternoon block if you discount The Cramp Twins from the equation.
Now let's get the bad stuff of the 2003/2004 edition of the FoxBox out of the way first because I'm trying very hard not to be too harsh in reviewing cartoons. It's hard to suspend your disbelief when your intellegence has been insulted. Particually when you find out that the creators might have intentionally tired to insult my intellegence. As you are well aware; I rated The Cramp Twins the third worst cartoon ever created in my humble opinion. It was that bad. Well; I watched a promo recently concerning the Cramp Twins on Fox and while I was watching it; I heard the announcer talking about how those Cramp Twins broke every rule (in good taste on kid programming) while showing out the grossout humor that the show is only known for. What they said next was the reason why I'm complaining about this show. The promo clearly said : _And that's only the first five minutes!_ In other words; the creators are desparate to get people to watch the show. If a show is supposed to be good; then there's no need or reason to do such a promo like this. I don't remember TaleSpin doing a commerical that panders like the Cramp Twins do. Fighting Foodums was one of the worst shows in history; but the promos were not pandering and as I mentioned before; that Clawdia was a redeemable character. After I saw the promo; I now declare The Cramp Twins to be the worst cartoon ever created...PERIOD!! Where were the parent groups on this one?! This gives new meaning to the term asleep at the wheel...both ways. As bad as Ren & Stimpy's Adult Party Cartoon was as well as The Strip in general; I don't believe that John K. would ever intend to make his show so awful. He's got more intergity than that. The Cramp Twins have demonstrated that they cannot make a good show at all and they pretty much admit that they intended it to be that way. To me; as long as they lure children into believing that the show is any good; then it is good enough for them. Apparently; it has worked because The Cramp Twins are on for the remainder of the 2003/2004 season on the FoxBox. It's time for Fox and 4Kids to wake up and realize that this cartoon is dangerous to watch and tell the creators to find a new occupation. To create a bad cartoon is one thing; I can handle that. However; to intend to create a bad cartoon is like creating a defective product. A lot of children who watch this and like it are going to be poor as a result. Shame on you Fox and 4Kids!
Now onto the actual reviews and I'm very impressed with it. Here we go as we start with the worse of the shows and work our way up:
[1.] WMAC (World Martial Arts Championship)- During the summer of 2003; the FoxBox released this live-action show that was filmed as a cross between reality television and the Power Rangers. It features several _martial art_ fighters fighting for something called the Dragon. No folks; that is not a rib on my fanfic series AeroStars; nor my RPG creation of the same name which I've been working on with RPG Maker with the new computer. My first question for this show is this: Are the creators of this show the same ones who created Ultraman Tigra? If so; then they have learned nothing at all from that show. It is clear from the outset that creators tried to create a show that would have the viewers attempt to feel the characters involved in the fighting. However; like Ultraman Tigra; they tried way too hard because no matter how much emotion you try to protray here; it is still one martial artist faking and selling moves againest another martial artist faking and selling moves. No one is going to care about the characters when the fighting is the actual premise of the show. To make matters worse; the fighting is so fake that you can tell by the amount of air in between spots. Now personally; I wouldn't complain since I've seen such spots blown on WWE television many times before. However; the problem here is that there is a disclaimer that states that these stunts should not be done at home and should be done by trained professional. That to me is codeword for a dangerous show for children. While I have no problem with a disclaimer on an adult (because it supposed to be watched by adults) show; when it comes to disclaimers on kids shows, not only do kids tend to ignore them and they are basically encouraging them to do spots. I can just see someone doing a spot; getting disfigured or killed as a result and then suing the creator for encouraging them to do so because they thought the disclaimer was a practical joke. The bright side in all this; is the fact that this show was cancelled before the fall season; so I hope that I never see that show ever again. The last thing that the FOXBOX needs is more stupid shows like this. (DUD)
Now since I've already reviewed Cubix: Robots for Everyone (* 3/4) on The DirtBox Meets The SandBox; there is no need to review it again.
[2.] Sonic X- While I mentioned the history of Sonic the Hedgehog in the previous report; here is the plotline of Sonic X: Sonic The Hedgehog was in his own world trying to rescue an animal friend Cream The Rabbit and her Chao (a cute alien) named Cheese from the clutches of the obese mad sciencist Dr. Eggman. Believe me; kudos to 4Kids for retaining the Dr. Eggman name because I can come up with at least two dozen or so egg jokes for him; unlike his American name (Dr. Robotnick) where I could only come up with two or three jokes and all aren't suitable for this editorial. Anyway; just as Sonic was about to break through, A Chao Emerald manages to slip Sonic and his friends/rivials/villians into a time warp to the human world. Now Cream & Cheese have been caught for study by normal sciencists, Amy Rose & Knuckles are in a sewer, Tails is somewhere flying a plane (I'm beginning to believe the Sonic Team is surplanting the Kit Cloudkicker character into Tails Miles Prower because minius the cloudsurfing and plus the two helicopter tails they are frightening similar. Not to mention that Disney has yet to surplant the character into any future Disney character other than Gosalyn.), Dr. Eggman has crashed on a bay ready to create a new empire and Sonic is running from police officers and get caught nearly drowning in a rich kid's swimming pool. Anyway; Sonic is pulled out of the pool by a boy named Christopher. Now Sonic must find his friends and stop Dr. Eggman from ruining the earth while trying to solve Christopher's boyhood fears.
Disclaimer for Purists: Now before I tell you how I felt about this show and Shaman King; remember that I have only seen the dub versions of both on the FoxBox. I'm not going to get into an arguement over the intergity of my reviews just because someone said my review is unture since they saw the purist original version and my version is tainted. I don't care anymore okay! I review what I see and hear. No more; no less. If I ever see the original and see it as better then I'll review it as a separate tape.
Anyway; while I was watching this show, my first fear would was that Christopher's boyhood fears would in fact kill the storyline because Christopher is a rich kid with rich parents. It is very diffcult to pull off a believable character that kids can relate because let's face it: Very few people like rich people because greed is considered one of the seven deadly sins. The only believable rich kid I've seen is Oscar Vandersnoot and he needed Kit to defend his honor and Sonic is no Kit Cloudkicker. Well; thankfully a miracle was not needed because Christopher's boyhood fears were ones where even adults would have legit concerns. Christopher is a pretty brave lad; he even saves Sonic from drowning. What I saw in this show was not only Christopher being able to work with Sonic (having a professor for a friend also helps the essence as well since Sonic is anthromorphic in a timid human world); but Sonic even gained some intellegence and some stealth abilites. The animation is pretty good for a third class anime (Kirby is third class, Ultimate Muscle and Dragon Ball is considered second class while Eva and FLCL is considered first class.) and the characters retained their Sonic Adventure Videogame personas for the most part. There are a few things I didn't like in Sonic X. Although the theme music wasn't nearly as bad as Kirby or TMNT; it was still not very good. 4Kids Entertainment needs to realize that partonizing the theme music is not a good idea. Also I found Amy Rose is too much of a whiner, Knuckles a bit too heartless and Cream is too timid for my liking. Still this is a fun show to watch and is one of the better series in the past few years. Then again; it stars Sonic and Sega does little wrong with him around. (**** 1/4)
One Final Note: Sega of America tends to censor their products anyway. I know that the American version of Skies of Arcadia for DreamCast (and the remake was created on Gamecube) edited out for smoking and mild sexual references. So don't blame 4Kids for editing out stuff in Sonic X. Nintendo of Japan tends to be looser with games sold in Japan (Fire Eleblem had some swearing and violent mood swings, F-Zero had Hell Hawk on one of the vehicles, and the devil has appeared in a few of their videogames); however, the differences are pretty mild compared to other Japanese video game compaines. It's not that big of a deal so you purists can stop harassing me now.
[3.] Shaman King- All right; the storyline here is that a short little boy Mortimer who is very intellegent. However; he has one major problem. He believes in ghost. Apparently this kid reads too many ghost stories. Anyway; one night, Mortimer walks home by himself and approches a graveyard, He then sees a teenage boy who is talking to his spiritual ghost friend and Mortimer gets scared. Anyway; the next day, Mortimer goes to school to try to explain the truth but no one believes him...except for a new kid in school who is named You and has violated the school dress code. You's mission is to become a Shaman King, the leader of the spirit world. You fights together with a samurai warrior againest bullies, other shamans and other evil-doers....including having to put up with You's girlfirend who wants to be the Shaman Queen. She is one mean girl to say the least. As I've been observing the mystique of anime; I've noticed one major difference between a typically good anime and a typically good cartoon. In a good anime; the show tends to start on the slow side for the first wave of episodes or so (about 5-8 episodes) and then tends to get better as the show goes on. In a good cartoon; the show starts off very strong and then weakens in quality as the show goes on. Anime fans can make the (valid) arguement that anime is great because the next episode is usually better than the last and giving patience to it will make it a great series overall. Cartoon fans on the other hand would say that first impression are more important because it gets fans into the show right away and by the time the show weakens it's already declared a good series. There are exceptions of course since FLCL had only six episode to work with and even cartoon series like TaleSpin and Batman: The Animated Series tend to stay strong throughout their series run. That's why I base my reviews on the overall preformance because it removes a possible bias. With that said; I was very impressed with what I saw here. The concept of kids connecting with the spirit world is a very intriging idea to say the least. I really like You who is pretty laid back; but also confident in being a winner. Mortimer was pretty classy too for a change. The storylines were pretty basic to start with; but the characters worked fairly well in executing them and the voice acting was pretty good for a dub. I'm certain that once the sparks fly with You's girlfirend shaman; the series will get better. Finally; I have a comment about the theme song because as a reworked English theme song; this was the best one yet. It's not TaleSpin; but it is catchy and easy on the ears. Nice to see 4Kids learning their lesson from the bad opening of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Although I still pick InuYasha and Dragon Ball (from YTV) as the best anime I've seen this year; Shaman King as a FOXBOX show is certainly close to it. Sonic X and Shaman King would be enough to give the FOXBOX a thumbs up...however; I still have disco to preview and it's a horse of a different color. (**** 1/2)
[4.] Funky Cops- Here's the storyline behind this show: It stars two detectives (one white and one black) who like disco a lot and wear funky clothes such as platform shoes and Demtin (?sp) pants. They solve crimes and chase cars with their red corvette (or whatever vehicle is available in the show) againest a cel-shaded CGI background. They have a boss who doesn't really like the two detectives because they have been known to harass him by doing wacky thing in and around his office.When I first heard about this show; I was thinking that it wasn't going to ride (figurally speaking of course) since freelance detective shows have been done to death. Not to mention that there has been no good animated cop show outside of the animated series COPS. When I started watching this show; I noticed a problem with the detective's boss who has huge lips. While most people wouldn't care; this is considered a sign of a stereotypical black man. Even anime has this problems with Jinx from Pokemon and Mr. Popo from Dragon Ball Z. There are some people out there who are so bitter at life that they will consider this to be an offense to them. It is sad that I found this flaw because this show rules. I couldn't help; but enjoy this cartoon's essence. I loved the antics of the two detectives and they are funny. I haven't seen that on the FoxBox for the last year. I was watching the first episode called Gold Screamer and I was laughing pretty hard at the detectives attempt to mimic this rockstar who screams his lyrics out. Since the two believe that anyone can be a rockstar since it only involved screaming. Sadly; no one actually cares about them and they end up being confused. The storylines were executed well; although I've seen a number of them before. However; the thing that really raised my eyebrows were the CGI car chase scenes. The cel-shading technique is excellent and it looked more like the car chases were hand drawn. I also enjoyed the character designs (minus the huge lips) and the theme song. This show passes the TaleSpin standard and Antefilm should be commended for it. While the animation could be a bit better; this is the best show on the FoxBox hands down. I'm as surprised as you are since I thought Sonic X was a sure thing for that title. Funky Cops joins InuYasha and Dragon Ball as the best shows of the year. When is the last time that happened? Not to mention that I haven't seen FLCL, Dragon Ball GT and enough of Spiderman 3D yet. Best cartoon year since 1990/1991. (**** 3/4)
The bottom line is that the FoxBox has in one year gone from becoming the worst block in history to being compared to the 1990/1991 Disney Afternoon lineup. If it wasn't for Cramp Twins and Cubix; this would almost be the best lineup in history.
Consider the 2003/2004 top six cartoons on the FoxBox:
(1) Kirby: Right Back At Ya! (*** 3/4) (2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Remake (*** 3/4, original was ** 1/4) (3) Ultimate Muscle (*** 3/4, up from * 3/4 a year ago) (4) Sonic X (**** 1/4) (5) Shaman King (**** 1/2) (6) Funky Cops (**** 3/4)
Now Consider the Disney Afternoon from 1990/1991
(1) Adventures of the Gummi Bears (**** 1/2) (2) Ducktales (****) (3) The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (*** 1/2) (4) Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers (**** 1/2) (5) TaleSpin (*****) (6) Darkwing Duck (**** 1/2)
Not a bad comparison; isn't it? Overall; I was very impressed with what I saw and 4Kid should be commended. However; 4Kids cannot rest on its laurels. It still has to get rid of The Cramp Twins and Cubix: Robots For Everyone. However; you won't be seeing me making fun of the FoxBox....FOR NOW ANYWAY!! That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time.