By: Gregory Weagle HA! I made another funnie! - Splinter, TMNT II Movie
Well; it is time once again for my favorite joke of all time. It's the block that made 4Kids Entertainment both famous and infamous (I know people who say that it's their editing practices; but that's all infamous). It has gone from joke to hero in a few years and become something for me to bring out and give it the punchline it deserves. It is now 4Kids TV; formally known at the Smutbox, formally known as the Dirtbox and officially known as the FoxBox. Every year; I review the latest shows on it and tell you what I think about it. Quite frankly; I'm sick of it now and this will be my last review on the subject. It's simply not funny anymore as 4Kids Entertainment hasn't impressed me over the last couple of years. There's really nothing in the block to make fun of anymore. So; once this editorial is posted, there will be no preview for this fall because 4Kids doesn't seem interested in releasing that information anymore and two; I need to work on other projects that have more importance to this website than something non-Disney or non-TaleSpin related. Considering that my editorial writing on TaleSpin is basically dried up; this will probably be my final editorial ever. So enjoy it while you can. To be perfectly honest; I had the whole thing thought of and written in my mind and on paper what I thought about the four new shows 4Kids released as early as December. However; the job made me waste my lesiure time and therefore I didn't bother writing it up in good draft and posted it until today. Still; I can always come up with something; so I did....
This is of course the first 4Kids Television Block that has really no new anime shows to speak of (and Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters doesn't count because 4Kids commissioned the show first) and One Piece had finally run it course as far as 4Kids wanted it to go. Pokemon is now in the hands of Pokemon USA (which has done a slightly better job than 4Kids did) and most of their old anime is on the on-demand service. As I'm writing this; 4Kids actually decided to release the original Yu-Gi-Oh! Seasons 1 & 2 episodes on the block. The reasons are explained and it doesn't bode well for Capsule Monsters since that 13 episode abomination (yes; it's bad.) is off the air due to low ratings no doubt (4Kids still plans to release the series as two separate movies on DVD. Don't ask; it's 4Kids.). So now there's double episodes of Viva Pinata, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward, Chaotic Card and Sonic X. GI Joe Sigma Six is gone, MewMew Power is gone, One Piece is gone, Magical DoReMi is gone, Winx Club is gone and even Bratz is gone from the lineup which is a sign that 4Kids Television is experiencing a bad year when it comes to quality. So how did it do?! Not as bad as I thought it would; but it was getting there. Thankfully; none of the shows I review are of Japanese anime so the disclaimer can go bye-bye as Molly would say. Also; I will not review Yu-Gi-Oh! Seasons 1 & 2 since that show has already been rated (*** 3/4 final rating thanks to an awesome finale with Yami and Yugi dueling for the right for Yami to exist.) and it came through in the long run due to the awesome force of anime being better as the show goes on. So; let's get this final editorial over with and start reviewing the four latest victims of my wrath...
[1.] Viva Pinata: Although I had trouble watching this show early in the morning; YTV aired it on Chunch around the same time as the 4Kids.TV release so it was easier to watch it instead. When I first heard about this animated series was that it sounded like a great idea on paper. Take everyone's favorite thing to bash for cash (or anything else) and turn them into characters on wacky adventures. I suggested that Sony was better off using a goat paper-mache to bash and then eat processed meat from it to make it look as campy as the God of War II game they were trying to hype up. Of course; they went with the fake goat and screwed the adversting up. I was hoping that the adventures would be as wacky as the concept was. Sadly; it didn't deliver. For one; every episode is 11 minutes long here which tells me that the writers were not going for the long adventure concept and they delivered in that front as it was merely a wacky version of Bratz. Although the angle of various pinatas having different opinions about getting bashed by the children when they go off to parties was what kept this show from becoming terrible (along with the awesome eye candy CGI which is fitting because Bratz used it to garner most of it's star ratings from me.); it's really not wacky. It seems to fill the purpose of selling the XBOX 360 game which I don't exactly blame them for since XBOX 360 needs kids games a lot more than any console does right now (XBOX 360 has a bad repuation of being too adult for it's own good) since none of the episodes are really exciting. Although I will admit that the show does a good job of balancing the popularity issue that Bratz had utter contempt for; the show was just there instead of being an awesome show with a great concept. ** That is really disappointing since I proclaimed that this was the show to watch on 4Kids.TV in my preview. It goes to show you that great concepts don't equal great execution. The show is okay and you won't feel shameful watching it; although you might feel shameful if you call it the greatest thing since sliced bread. This is not a good start for the anime-less 4Kids.TV
[2.] Chaotic Card: Before I begin my review; I want to say that I'm sorry for getting the name wrong and having it confused (or they changed the name) with Chaotix from Sonic. It was a stupid mistake of mine and I should have known better. Since I didn't have any background information on the show in my preview; I'll let Wikipedia explain it better since it's the only real source I have for this kind of information:
Chaotic started out as a trading card game known as "Grolls and Gorks" and an idea for a cartoon series of the same name co-authored by Merlin P. Mann, co-author of the Taynikma graphic novels, in December 2000, to be produced by Solit Entertainment. Although, the name of the manuscript was changed to Chaotic in early 2001 assuming that was it was submitted .But before a single episode was even made, Dracco Company Ltd. bought the rights to Chaotic from Solit Entertainment. In the original storyline, it featured Tom Majors and Kaz Kalinkas, only that they were enemies, instead of friends as in the 4kids animated series. Dracco Company Ltd. with Apex Marketing then created the online version of the game and established the basic universe of Chaotic. In September of 2003 trading card Executive Bryan C. Gannon signed a world wide Licensing and Distribution agreement with Henrik Andersen and his brother Jacob at Dracco to bring the Chaotic game to North America and to the world. Gannon created Chaotic USA Entertainment Group and licensed the patented technology from Cornerstone Patent Technologies, LLC to bring the property up to the standards required for a global brand. He teamed with John Milito and in 2006, 4Kids Entertainment signed a Joint Marketing Agreement with Chaotic USA Entertainment to produce the Cartoon and bring the property to market, both on TV and for licensed products. When 4kids Entertainment teamed with Chaotic USA,the work of CUSA was continued and included many additional improvements. The original cards were redesigned (and some renamed) along with the online game platform to give it a more mature look as well as the creation of a new animated series (with redesigned versions of Tom and Kaz) to promote the game. CUSA has been developing the online game experience for Chaotic named ChaoticGame.com.
Got that?! I almost didn't in fact. The storyline starts off when Tom plays online and gets a secret password. When he uses the password he gets into the world of Chaotic in his underwear no less. Remind me to always wear shorts whenever online gaming and passwords are involved. Tom faces off against the cream of the crop in the Chaotic world as they literally transform into ceatures from the cards and fight each other. Sounds a lot like Yu-Gi-Oh!; but you actually do the fighting and no one gets hurt. I think anyway knowing how chronological episodes love to inser that element later on in a certain series. If this was all that Chaotic had to offer; I would write this series off right there because it's simply another card fighting show that Yu-Gi-Oh! perfected once the writers got the hang of making the whole thing look whacky. However; the second world Perim actually saves this series as Tom has to scan for monsters to fight with him in battles and things can be pretty funny once the writers knew what worked well. The animation reminds me so much of 6Teen and Carl Sqaured; only a little bit cleaner and crisper in the actual animation. This show was in fact a pretty good romp and 4Kids knows that this is a good show since they are rolling it out for seven more seasons. One or two more seasons of quality episodes and it will surpass Yu-Gi-Oh! which won't be hard to do anymore if the next review is any indication. *** 1/2. I don't think the changes from the original concept has hurt the creditability of the series; I think Kaz and Tom will fight each other soon enough. It's called suspense and anime purists would be well advised not to be hypocritical on the subject.
[3.] Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters: Like the last review; here is some background information on the storyline. However; this is more to fill space more than anything else.....
Yugi Muto (romanized as Yugi Mutou in the English-language manga) has strange recurring nightmares about the Pharaoh being captured by an evil monster with glowing red eyes. This upsets him since his Millennium Puzzle always starts acting in a strange manner afterwards. As if that wasn't bad enough, Solomon Muto (Sugoroku Mutou in the Japanese versions and English-language manga), Yugi's grandfather, recently went on a "secret expedition" and was supposed to be back already. Yugi is worried about the fact that Solomon is missing, but when Joey Wheeler (Katsuya Jonouchi in the English manga and the Japanese versions) wins a trip for four to India, Yugi's mind drifts off of the idea. Meanwhile, there is a new game on the block; the Capsule Monsters board game is the new fad in the Duel Monsters craze, and Yugi has already taken the opportunity to learn the rules of the game. When Joey breaks the news about the trip, Yugi and his friends could not contain their excitement. Yugi, Tristan Taylor (Hiroto Honda), and Téa Gardner (Anzu Mazaki) agree to take Joey's other three tickets.
Just when the plane approached its final destination, the engines cut out and the aircraft crash lands in a mysterious for est. After Yugi and his friends evacuate from the aircraft, they find a man who says his name is Dr. Alex Brisbane. When Yugi lets slip to Brisbane that he is Solomon Muto's (Sugoroku Mutou) grandson, Brisbane tells him that he's a colleague of Grandpa, and on their latest expedition together he disappeared. Now Yugi knows just where Grandpa had gone, but the Pharaoh still suspects something. They just happen to win a trip; their plane happens to crash; and they just happen to meet the man who was the last person to see Grandpa. It all seems a little bit coincidental. Brisbane shows Yugi and the gang where he last saw Solomon. Yugi and his friends are surprised when they discover that Brisbane last saw Solomon in a pyramid. Brisbane explains that he believes it to be the legendary pyramid of Alexander the Great, and that it's supposed to contain some sort of ancient game. They check it out, narrowly avoiding an array of dangerous traps, and come across a room that, as Tristan put it, is the size of Cleveland. The floor looks like a giant map of different land types, which looks incredibly familiar to Yugi. Joey decides to check it out but, to everyone's surprise, disappears into thin air the second he steps on the map. Coming to the conclusion that Solomon must have gone to the same place as Joey, the rest of the gang decide to follow, leaving a bewhildered Brisbane behind.
They find themselves in a forest, with Joey nowhere to be seen. Yugi notices a lot of egg-shaped rocks around, but before they can investigate, some giant cockroaches (Gokibore [jpn. Gokiboru], a monster from the Volume 6 expansion set never released outside Japan) and a giant praying mantis (Dice Mantis [jpn. Kamakiller], from Volume 3) ambush them. The escapes of Yugi, Tristan, and Téa causes them to have to split up. Yugi is cornered by the mantis, so the Pharaoh takes over to protect him. He accidentally touches one of the strange egg-shaped rocks whilst jumping, which somehow causes Celtic Guardian to appear. Celtic Guardian attacks the mantis, destroying it. Meanwhile, Tristan and Téa escape the cockroaches by ducking into a cave. They find themselves on a beach, accompanied by two monsters: Thunder Kid and Happy Lover. At the same time, Joey is up high on a mountain, looking over onto the forest that the gang are in, hearing Yugi's shouting. Suddenly, a giant bird (LOB-039 Kurama) comes up behind him and grabs him by the shoulders, flying away with Joey in his claws. Back in the forest, Celtic Guardian disappears in a beam of light, transforming into a small capsule. Now, Yugi knows where he'd seen this before. The heroes have to discover the secret of the Capsule Monsters world, and figure out how to escape the island. In addition, someone in the real world may desire to use the power of the Capsule Monsters for his own evil plans.
After reading that it sounds more and more like a filler Dragon Ball Z arc; only a lot worse. 4Kids actually had the gall to ask the Japanese creators to create this show for American audiences like they did for the abomination that was the Yu-Gi-Oh! Movie - Pyramid of Light (which I watched on YTV and it was as terrible as everyone sezs it is) and it had to be in the image of 4Kids Entertainment's version of Yu-Gi-Oh! instead of the Japanese version. Now I have said that I will review what I see and hear; but this is an American show disguised as Japanese animation. It's like TaleSpin; except TaleSpin was a lot better than this (and I do mean a lot better for those who have read my editorials on the show over the last nine years or so.). My working theory on this release was that it would give 4Kids an excuse to never release the Toei-version of Yu-Gi-Oh! (which might actually be better than the actual series that 4Kids gave us even in it's original Japanese state.) because they lack the talent to creatively edit the episode to BS&P practices. I mean; I would love to see Tea held at rattle point (Shaman King) and Tristan in a squid suit. Sadly; we get nothing but a really lame version of a RPG that makes little sense story wise or continuity wise. So Yu-Gi-Oh! battles Alexander the Great; big deal! It could have been done the same way with the card game and actually do more interesting. Despite Yu-Gi-Oh! barely being a very good anime series; it at least had the stagedy of thinking on your feet when it came to victory. If only they took out the Heart of the Cards thing which was 4Kids contempt for children when it comes to reading. To me; this show had none of that and had a lot of battles which made no sense and were there just to kill time. There were only 13 episodes and 4Kids has since eliminated the show from it's lineup (probably due to subzero ratings) realizing how much time and money they could have saved if they had just bought the rights to the Toei show and just edited it creatively. -* 1/4 Yes folks; this is the first time I have given this dreaded negative star rating since The Cramps Twins. It is so hideously bad and even 4Kids wants no part of it which is why they are showing Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 1 and 2 reruns which is still a better decision overall.
[4.] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward: Believe it or not; this series actually continues from the 2003 series from 4Kids in terms of continuity and storyline. I thought that they would treat this as a separate series; but they didn't. From Wikipedia:
Through a weird course of events, the four ninja Turtles and Splinter get transported to the year 2105! At first having a hard time to adapt in the new timeline, even breathing seems harder due to alien species being accepted as normal citizens on the planet now, resulting in Earth's atmosphere having multiple chemicals (including sulfur) added to it to allow the aliens to breathe. When Michelangelo gets separated from his brothers, the Turtles immediately go after him but clash with the local authorities. They get rescued by a robot named Serling, who works for Cody Jones. The Turtles (minus the still missing Mikey) get brought to Cody, who reveals himself to be a descendant of both Casey Jones and April O'Neil, and sole heir to their vast fortune. Cody admits he always wanted to see the Turtles in action and created a special device to look through time and space and see them fight in the Turtles' own timeline, but something mysteriously happened that not even Cody can explain what brought the Turtles and Splinter here. After getting the proper introductions and new breathing clothing aside, the Turtles go after Michelangelo. Mikey finds himself attacked by a street gang (similar to the Purple Dragons) known as the Street Phantoms.Luckily, his brothers and master find him in time and rescue him. Mikey gets special breathing equipment as well, and they all return back to Cody's home, where the Turtles and Splinters are allowed to crash until they find a way to return home.
There is always a danger that when a series is taken in a new direction that the writers are replaced and the original concept goes down the tubes and the execution goes into the toilet with it. Thankfully; this series doesn't fall into that trap. Mind you; this series is only as good as the 2003 series was in the past in animation, storyline and execution. Cody was all right for the most part. He certainly is no Christopher; but he isn't annoying enough for the show to drag it down. Again; the show is still fun to watch and still better than the goofy 1987 edition. ****. Other than Sonic X; this is the best show on 4Kids.TV which is pretty sad and it shows how right Dume is about Hollywood being 95% bullcrap. A reboot from a comic series is basically the best new show in quality and it's a spinoff of a reboot to boot. In that case; Disney should be begging for their talent from TaleSpin to come back and do a remake because it would have a better chance to recapture the market they lost as a result of bad animation disguised as a Nicktoon dead ring follower. It'll never happen and TaleSpin fans won't let it happen since the fanfics show more respect than Disney ever did to the series; but still it makes you wonder if we will ever see an original series which captures the imgination without it getting stomped by the desire to show no effort in getting children to be truly engaged into a show.
4Kids Entertainment was walking on thin ice so dangerously that it wasn't funny; but it didn't fall through. The big disappointment was the show that I thought would be fun and exciting which was Viva Pinata. The show fell flat on its face with it's subpar writing and overall dullness that is inexcusable for a show involving paper-mache characters. The Bratz storyline might explain why Bratz was pulled from the lineup and it has nothing to do with Common Sense Media's bashing of the series (which to be perfectly honest was pretty honest). The XBOX 360 game is clearly better and more fun than this series (and I hope Microsoft realizes that kids games are good for a system and stops listening to the manchildren that infect that company's policy decisions.). Then the real stinker was Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters which didn't need to be made and was to me only an excuse to not dub the Toei series. It makes Fighting Fooduns look like TaleSpin in comparison and is the first negative star rating since The Cramp Twins. Everyone involved in that show should be ashamed of themselves; but then again 4Kids allowed the The Cramp Twins to air for almost two years so it's par for the course. These shows were destined to sink 4Kids TV and place it as the worst block in programming since the first season of the FoxBox. However; the two least likely shows to rule the roost actually preformed better than expected with Chaotic Card which did itself some favors when it added an element of a scanning world in addition to it's battling world. I hope the creators balance it out and gives us a chance battle between Kaz and Tom because that would be interesting to see. And of course; TMNT: Fast Forward managed to outpreform the original series for now. Weither that will continue remains to be seen but this is a mighty good start which is a far opposite of the 1987 series which a new direction basically buried the series to it's death in 1996. With Capsule Monsters gone and Yu-Gi-Oh! replaced it makes me wonder if 4Kids will release new content at all. 4Kids Entertainment has no new announcements on the horizon other than Chaotic Card and Fast Forward being locks for the Fall 2007 lineup. It's no small wonder since both series showed their meddle while Viva Pinata looks to be a dead duck after a promising preview from me. Right now it looks like 4Kids doesn't know what it is doing anymore even from a deal prespective which is no surprise since most fans of animation have not taken kindly with 4Kids since their grip on anime products which has been well documented and not in the favor of the company. 4Kids better have something to announce soon; or it will be a telling sign that the relationship between 4Kids and Fox is starting to wane for good...and quite frankly most wouldn't miss 4Kids. After all; most of them are anime purists who watch subs on Youtube to get the taste of 4Kids out of their mouths......If only 4Kids didn't edit for the sake of editing.. While the 4Kids TV block has suffered it's ups and downs; it's legacy is tied to 4Kids as a company who many animation fans dub it as the devil incarnate of cartooning...and that image isn't going to go away no matter how much 4Kids does to change it since they had that chance a long time ago and most fans feel entitled to perfectism at any cost. While I'm not one of them; I do have a sense of quality. Sadly; 4Kids delivery on that is hit or miss. Just like their editing practices. It doesn't matter to me anymore if 4Kids lives or dies at this point. I'm moving on with my life and 4Kids could care less about me. Too bad anime purists need 4Kids in order to live out their fantasies of folk devils; so I'm not going to stop them from enjoying their little fantasy world. It's not like I don't have one myself. So; goodbye and that's my opinion; I welcome yours. This is the last editorial I'll ever write; there isn't anymore...