The Insane Ending To “Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated”

Scooby-Doo is a series that will never truly die. We’re talking about a show that has been going strong for over 50 years and will most likely not end any time soon. Heck, the same voice actor who played Fred Jones in the original series is STILL playing him to this very day! Scooby-Doo is just a show that’s easy to replicate and create new adaptations of, due to its simplistic formula.

The show revolves around four teens and their talking dog, who happens to be the titular “Scooby-Doo”. The four teenagers are Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred, all of whom have their own unique personalities and quirks. The five have to work together in order to solve “mysteries” on a weekly basis, which includes looking for clues and analyzing the finer details of the many situations they get into.

The original Scooby-Doo had a pretty basic and simplistic formula: Kids go somewhere, find a monster, dig for clues, and then unmask the monster at the end. It remained like this up until “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo”. This was the first Scooby-Doo show to focus entirely on “real” ghosts, even if some of the previous shows did pull the supernatural into them on occasion.

13 Ghosts was also the first entry in the franchise to feature a series-wide story arc. After the show ended, the series wouldn’t be referenced again for nearly 30 years. During that time, Scooby-Doo continued forward with a ton of weird and interesting iterations and spin-offs. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island would revitalize the series in the mid-90s, leading the show to become popular once more.

Why do I bring all this up? Well, I bring up these many iterations for one simple reason: They aren’t connected at all. Despite being part of the franchise, each iteration of Scooby-Doo remains relatively separate and in its own universe. This all changed with “Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated”, which created a rather interesting reason as to why the Scooby-Doo continuity seemingly resets with each new show.

Keep in mind that I will be discussing HEAVY SPOILERS for Mystery Incorporated. If you’ve never seen it, then do yourself a favor and binge it when you get the chance. Honestly, it’s one of the best animated shows ever made and it’s got something for everyone. Anyway, Mystery Incorporated was a show revolving around the Mystery Gang doing their usual mystery solving shtick.

It started out like any other iteration of the series, but became gradually more darker and complex as the series went on. This culminated in a battle against an otherworldly horror, who was promptly destroyed by the gang working together. The destruction of this horrible creature lead to the entire universe resetting! With the Scooby-Doo universe rebooted, the gang finds themselves in a much better world, one that is devoid of horrific monsters and entities.

However, what happens next completely changed how many fans viewed the series. The gang receive a message from “Mr. E”, a mysterious individual who claims to be aware of every time reality resets. Yes, this has happened many times before! The scene is also punctuated with an out-of-place laugh track, similar to the original show.

In some ways, it felt almost like a prequel to the original series. Surprisingly enough, that’s exactly what the creators were going for! Mystery Incorporated’s ending was billed as a prequel to not only the original, but almost all subsequent entries as well! The main implication is that the various incarnations spun-off from the Mystery Incorporated timeline during its many resets.

Of course, there are some plot holes with this ending, like how elements and characters from earlier shows appear before the universal reset. Regardless, this was an interesting twist on the classic Scooby-Doo formula. It was nice seeing them change up the lore of a popular franchise into something truly unique.

It was honestly a cool concept for an ending to arguably the best entry in the franchise. While it doesn’t make a lot of sense as a prequel to everything in the Scooby-Doo series, it does offer quite a bit of food for thought. Honestly, I’m still surprised a Scooby-Doo show went for an ending like this. This ending feels more like something out of the Devilman series, rather than that of a franchise aimed at kids. It just goes to show that a good series with a good ending can trump any preconceived notions.

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Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Remembering That Weird D&D Cartoon

The 80s was a weird time for animation, mostly due to the watered down stuff you’d see on TV. Every show was trying to be the next “He-Man”, while desperately trying to shill its action figures onto the young audience watching at home. Not all shows were like this, however. Some shows were radically different than what was airing, or tried its best to be more than an over-glorified toy commercial.

You had shows like Galaxy Rangers, M.A.S.K., and The Real Ghostbusters. These were all shows that managed to be entertaining and interesting, while also selling toys! There was another show that also fell into this category, at least in some respects. So, let’s talk about the long forgotten “Dungeons & Dragons” cartoon. D&D began airing in 1983, and ended its run in 1985 with 27 episodes. It told the story of 6 kids who are transported to a fantasy world based on the popular Dungeons & Dragon board-game, due to riding atop a magical theme park ride based on said board-game.

Right away, the concept alone really makes no sense. I mean, why would they make a theme park ride based off a board-game? Of course, the “being pulled into an alternate universe by a theme park ride” makes far less sense regardless. After the six kids are brought to this new fantasy realm, they are tasked by the “Dungeon Master” to help bring peace to the realm. While doing this, they are desperately trying to find a way home.

The characters were certainly interesting on this show. You had Eric, who was the jerk of the team. Despite being a cavalier, he didn’t have a sword and was really only there to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. There was also Hank, who was the archer and leader of the team. All of the other characters filled simplistic roles in the group as well, and half of them were useless in most combat situations.

Most of the episodes revolved around the kids trying to get home or help someone, only to get attacked by “Venger”. Venger served as the show’s main villain, who was constantly trying to kill the kids every chance he got. He only feared Tiamat, who was a ferocious dragon with powers that rivaled his own.

As you can tell, the D&D cartoon had larger stakes than your average 80s cartoon. The show was dark, though kept a playful attitude through most of its episodes. Some episodes only had a few dark elements here or there, while still playing up the comedic aspects.

A good example of this is the episode, “Quest of the Skeleton Warrior”, which featured our heroes meeting said titular skeleton. In the episode, all the kids were forced to face their fears. Most of their fears were pretty tame, or very basic overall. Thing is, that’s not what most people remember about the episode. Near the end of said episode, Hank nearly gets all his skin peeled off by a magic spell! Yes, you can even see his skin starting to peel in the episode itself.

Of course, they save him before he can become another living skeleton. Thing is, this was the only part of the episode that really ventured into dark territory. However, some episodes were just designed to be really dark in nature. I think the episode everyone talks about when it comes to this show is “The Dragon’s Graveyard”.

The whole gist of the episode is that the kids are sick of Venger constantly trying to kill them, so they decide to hunt him down and kill him themselves. It’s a pretty dark subject for a show from the 80s to tackle, but it makes for an interesting watch all the same. Seeing the young heroes pushed to the brink, and willing to kill the main villain was something that no other cartoons at the time were really attempting.

While the show did have some dark and thought-provoking episodes here or there, it always fell back into typical kid show territory. As hard as this show tried, it just never broke away from the constraints of its medium. Despite this, the guys behind the show still act as if it’s a masterpiece of its time.

One of the writers of the show was Michael Reaves, who avidly believed the show was a game of its decade. Heck, he even compared it to “Gargoyles”, one of the darkest kids shows in the 90s! It’s weird that he’d compare D&D to such a dark and revolutionary show, but it’s good to know that he’s proud of what he and his team created!

I’ll be honest, I enjoy the show in spite of its flaws. It did try to be dark and incorporate elements from the board-game, even if the final product came off as bland on occasion. At the very least, it stands apart from most other 80s cartoons. It tried to be more than just a commercial for something and I can at least appreciate it for that. I hope this show does make a return one day, so they can finally animate a proper ending for it!

The Awesome-ness That Was Sask Expo 2018

Comic Book Conventions are something that will never truly go away. While it’s true that most of them have evolved into all-encompassing “Entertainment Expos”, this doesn’t stop them from being any less fun. I recently attended “Sask Expo 2018”, an Entertainment Expo focused on everything nerdy. I loved the time I spent at the convention, and the things that I did there! While I didn’t take many pictures, allow me to show a few of them here. I’ll also show a few pics of what I bought there as well.

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It’s Super Mario Bros all over again!

Here’s a pic I took with Yoshi The Dinosaur. The guy holding the camera was a friend on Facebook, who was nice enough to take a picture of me hanging out with a dinosaur. I would’ve gotten a selfie, but I prefer having full-body pics. Regardless, the guy in the Yoshi costume was super cool. The guy was awesome, and his suit was pretty much one of the best Yoshi costumes I had ever seen!

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The next three are of the “Ecto-1”, which is a replica of the eponymous vehicle from Ghostbusters. It was really cool seeing it here, even if it wasn’t the original car from the movie. The things they added onto it (such as the statue of “Slimer” atop it) really give it a unique flair.

The guys running the Ghostbusters booth were also pretty nice. They had an awesome offer going on, where you could wear the Ghostbusters suit in a photo with both the car and them. It cost 10 bucks, which is a bit pricey. The did donate all the proceeds to charity, which made the price worth it in my opinion. Photos of the car itself were free though, allowing me to take several pics of this beautiful vehicle.

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Finally, here are my acquisitions! First up is volume 1 of the 2016 Darkwing Duck comic. I actually bought this from the artist of the comic, who was nice enough to sign it. The comic serves as sequel to both the TV show, the Disney Adventures comics, and the Boom Comics imprint of Darkwing Duck.

I spotted this little beauty when walking through the “Artist’s Alley” with a friend, and caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye. I grew up loving Darkwing Duck, so this was an instant buy for me. I read through the book in one day, and loved everything about it! I’ll save my full opinions on it for a later date, so stay tuned for the full review!

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Here’s another purchase I made, a 3DS game called “Rune Factory 4”. I had heard many good things about the series, and have always been curious about the franchise. After playing through Fantasy Life and Ever Oasis, I developed a taste for life-simulation/RPG hybrid games. So when I saw this, I just knew I had to have it.

I was originally looking for a copy of the old Megaman Starforce games for DS, but I couldn’t find any. I made an executive decision, and decided to finally try Rune Factory. I’m less than an hour into the game, so I can’t give a fully informed opinion of it yet. All I can say for now is that I’m enjoying it a lot.20180916_200748

Here is the last thing I got: Marvel’s Secret Invasion. I never actually read this book until now, and I gotta say it’s pretty solid! It involves Marvel’s superheroes going toe-to-toe with the shapeshifting aliens known as the “Skrulls”. The art is fantastic, along with the fake ads shoved into certain parts of the book. Overall, it’s a great book, and I’ll be sure to talk more about it in a full-on review!

Well, that covers Sask Expo. I probably should’ve taken more pics, but I doubt I’d be able to fit them all on my phone. For the 2019 one, I will definitely make space in my phone for more photos. In short, my experience was Sask Expo 2018 was amazing. Hope you all enjoyed what I shared, and have a great day!

ReBoot: The Guardian Code Review

The 90s was a unique time for television, an experimental age where all kinds of new and crazy concepts for TV shows were brought to life. Shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Friends, the English dub of Dragon Ball Z, Shadow Raiders, The Maxx, and Cybersix populated this era of experimentation. However, there was one show that is often considered to be one of the most revolutionary cartoons to come out in this decade: ReBoot.

Made by the guys who did the CGI for the “Money For Nothing” music video, comes the first fully CGI cartoon ever. ReBoot took place inside a computer and revolved around a program named “Bob”, who was essentially an antivirus known as a “Guardian”. Bob made friends with the spunky young Enzo, and his sister Dot. Along with a stable cast of other likable characters, our heroes went on adventures through cyberspace in order to defend the computer world of “Mainframe” from evil computer viruses.

The show was fun, entertaining, and matured along with its audience. Starting off as a typical kids show, it eventually blossomed into a dark and emotional roller-coaster. While the fourth season dropped the ball a bit, it was still an entertaining experience from start to finish. Unfortunately, the season ended on an unresolved cliffhanger.

People who were enjoying the fourth season were left in the dust, when the planned third TV movie was cancelled. With no continuation from the TV front, the story was continued in comic form. Unfortunately, the comic was very unsatisfying, at least in terms of what it was trying to do with the world and characters. Not even the return of obscure fan-favorite character “Code-Master Lens” could save this comic for me.

The comic ended up being a bland continuation that lacked thrills and was resolved rather haphazardly. There was also a trilogy that was planned to continue the story, but it was ultimately cancelled. Another cancelled project was a planned spin-off, which was to be titled “Binomes”. This spin-off was aimed towards a younger audience, but never made it past early planning stages.

With the exception of a few rather awesome art-books (one of which I’ve reviewed on this very blog), ReBoot remained a dormant franchise… Until just a few years ago. A ReBoot continuation was announced and fans were excited! However, photos emerged from the reboot of ReBoot in late 2017. Suffice to say, fans were not impressed by it. It featured a ton of characters we never saw before, most of whom were generic teenagers and weird Power Ranger-esque superheroes.

When the trailer hit a month ago, fans were “treated” to their first glimpse of “ReBoot: The Guardian Code”. What they got was not what they were expecting at all. Instead of an entertaining kids show about a group of computer programs dealing with a deadly virus, it’s now about teenagers transforming into superheroes and fighting crime in cyberspace.

Yes, this series shifted genres from a fun cartoon filled to the brim with computer lingo, to a poor man’s version of Code Lyoko. Heck, even the creator of Code Lyoko thought they were ripping him off! Now, going off the trailers alone, I assumed this show was going to be terrible. However, I decided to gave the series the benefit of the doubt.

After all, few networks had faith in the original ReBoot back in the 90s. CGI was pretty new at the time, and no one really wanted to invest in a cartoon that had a radically different animation style than more contemporary shows. Still, ReBoot managed to prove itself as a fantastic show all the same.

Despite its generic premise, I went into the new show with the false hope that they would somehow surprise me and create something entertaining. I hate to say this, but I was completely and totally wrong. Before I trash on this show, let’s start off with the good. Most of the original voice cast is back, which is nice.

Some voice actors had to be replaced, such as the late great Tony Jay as Megabyte. His new voice actor Timothy Brummund does a decent job, but you can tell what he wasn’t given a whole lot to work with script-wise. I liked that the designs from returning characters are kept mostly the same, even if they barely appeared. I also dig the virtual form of V.E.R.A., due to it’s simplicity when compared to the designs of the main characters’ virtual avatars.

That’s about all the good I can find, as this show is pretty flawed throughout. The show revolves around these teenagers who accidentally bring V.E.R.A. into the real world, who then recruits them to travel into cyberspace to face Megabyte. Yes, Megabyte is back and he’s been upgraded to look sufficiently ridiculous.

They show his original design, right before turning him into this glowing buff monstrosity. He looks more like Gigabyte than Megabyte, which is a bit disappointing in my opinion. You can tell the redesigned characters just don’t gel well, as a lot of the designs from the original were done by seasoned comic book artists. They knew how to make a design pop, which is something this show has a problem with.

Now, it’s bad enough that Megabyte looks like garbage, but he also comes off way less intimidating than in the original show. By the third season, Megabyte had pretty much won and was only defeated by the show’s heroes coming together to stop. Season 4 ends with Megabyte not only returning, but also winning once more! In this show, Megabyte had already been both deactivated and defeated by the time the hacker found him.

Once brought back online and upgraded to maximum potential, what’s the first thing he does? Blast a few lasers at Frisket, that’s it. He’s then reprogrammed and controlled by some hacker, which means he’s not really a virus anymore. He’s a program, because viruses aren’t directly controlled by users themselves. This show can’t even follow the most basic rules set by the original, can it?

So, this show’s new villain is this generic hacker guy, as opposed to the Megabyte we all know and love. He doesn’t really do anything that interesting, aside from sending other people to do his bidding. Megabyte constantly gets thrashed in almost every episode, which means that he was more of a threat when he was a free agent. This is a guy who brought down an entire system, now he can’t even defeat a few teenagers.

Oh yeah, forgot about those old characters that we grew to know and love. These guys are our new “heroes”, despite the fact they are all very bland. They all have generic suits, generic powers, and generic personalities. You got the smart guy, the leader, the girl, etc. They are much less interesting than the vast cast the show used to have. You can’t tell me that the forgettable protagonist Austin is any better than Bob from the original show, since he lacks all the nuance and interesting characteristics that Bob had.

Now, before I end this off, I’ll go into what I think is the worst part of the show. So far, they’ve put out 10 episodes of the first season on Netflix. I ended up using the American Netflix at a friend’s house to watch the show, since they’re going to air the episodes in Canada last. Why? Since YTV is a Canadian-only network, and they need something to air between episodes of Spongebob. Now, this isn’t what I find to be the worst part.

The worst part is that out of these 10 episodes they put up, the original ReBoot gang only appear in one episode. Can you guess which one? It’s not the first, second, or even the fifth episode. They do not appear at all (aside from Frisket and Megabyte), UNTIL THE TENTH EPISODE. That’s right, this ReBoot show barely shows anything relating to the original series until the halfway point of the first season.

This series also shows us the User for the first time ever, portraying him as a ReBoot fan who lives in his mother’s basement and has no friends. Wow, way to insult your entire fan-base, Mainframe. The worst part isn’t even The User though, it’s Bob and friends. Despite Bob being voiced by his original voice actor, he’s not the same character. The CGI makes me look like a zombie, like a reanimated corpse. His lines are also terrible, forced, and contrived.

One of the first things he says in the series is his speech that he gave in the original show’s intro, to a random group of Guardians that he has never met before. I’m serious, this actually happens. There are many other problems I could go over, such as the bad CGI, bad acting for the human characters, lack of proper continuity with the original show, and many others. I feel if I were to go over every problem, then I’d be writing a book on this show, which is something I don’t really want to do.

I want to conclude by saying to not watch this show. It has little to do with the original and feels like it was only made to sell toys. None of the original staff work on this, aside from a few returning voice actors. I watched this show out of love for the original series, but now I feel I should’ve heeded the lacking quality of the trailers and stayed away.

I know people will enjoy this show, I’m not trying to stop anyone from doing so. If you like Guardian Code and think it’s a great show, then that’s fine. We all have our tastes and interests. The thing is that I can just not get into this series. It fails as a continuation, it fails as its own thing, and it fails at emulating the original ReBoot.

I suggest sticking solely to the original, as I feel there’s not a whole lot on offer in this new series. Watch Tron, Code Lyoko, or Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad if you want a show that does this superhero premise better. As for me, I’ll keep watching this show, mostly out of morbid curiosity. Considering how off-kilter the episode with the original ReBoot cast was, I’m curious to see what they mess up next. In short, this show is like a train-wreck in slow-motion, it’s very hard to look away from.

The Awesome Absurdity That Is Space Ghost: Coast To Coast

90s animated television was truly a bizarre thing to behold, due entirely to its experimental nature. The mid-to-late 90s became a breeding ground for some of the oddest and most entertaining shows you could ever imagine. I’m talking shows like Daria, King of The Hill, Dr. Katz, Samurai Pizza Cats, Spider-Man Unlimited, Batman Beyond, The Maxx, Cybersix, and Gargoyles.

The 90s was a barrage of all these weird and memorable shows, but one show really set the mood for the absurdist cartoons that would follow in its wake. I’m talking about the hilarious and bizarre 1994 TV series, Space Ghost: Coast To Coast. Heralded as a cult classic of sorts, Coast To Coast was a successful attempt to bring a relatively obscure Hanna-Barbera character into the mainstream.

The series began airing in the mid-90s, and was one of Cartoon Network’s first “original” programs. I say that in quotations, as Coast To Coast re-purposed almost all of its animation from older Space Ghost cartoons. Since those shows already had severely limited animation, this meant there wasn’t a whole lot work with.

Despite the limited animation frames, Coast To Coast surprisingly worked. It was an absurdist animated talk show, featuring the titular Space Ghost character. Working alongside his two arch-enemies, Moltar and Zorak, Space Ghost would interview a cavalcade of famous celebrities and musicians.

Even though the series had very little in terms of original animation, it made up for that with some solid humor and entertaining characters. The show was a unique take on the “late night talk show” concept. I could never get into most talk-shows, since they had a tendency to just not that be entertaining. It doesn’t matter how many funny celebrities you get, it’s just hard to make a show where people sit down and talk for 30 minutes entertaining.

I get why people like the genre, but it’s never been my thing. Oddly enough though, Space Ghost: Coast To Coast managed to make late night talk shows into something truly entertaining! The show’s interviews were never straightforward, mainly because the questions the celebrities are asked aren’t the ones the characters are asking.

When recording the live-action segments, completely different and often time random questions were asked to each guest star. These answers would then be used for entirely different questions in the show itself, often times leading to random or hilarious results. Because of this, there were often times where the answers didn’t match the questions being asked.

This really adds to the charm of the show, and helps create that “surreal” feeling that the show is known for. Despite being billed as a “talk show”, the interview segments are only a fraction of each episode’s running time. Usually, most of the episodes are spent watching Space Ghost and his crew dealing with silly cartoon shenanigans.

These include following a random ant around the planet, being chased by evil alien pods, or even selling out to a fictional fast food chain. These scenarios were often more entertaining than the interview portions, which were already pretty fun in their own right. Coast To Coast was a series that proved to be popular, mostly due to how different it was compared to other cartoons airing at the time.

The series picked up steam pretty quickly, soon becoming a mainstay on Cartoon Network. Since then, it’s become one of the channel’s hallmarks. It ran for many seasons, got several specials, and even received two different revivals. It also got a ton of spin-offs including The Brak Show, Cartoon Planet, Harvey Birdman, and even the popular Toonami block of programming!

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One wonders how Moltar can drink coffee with no actual mouth…

Space Ghost: Coast To Coast also popularized the style of re-using limited animation, which would become a staple of the Adult Swim block. Coast To Coast is one of those rare shows that not only surpassed its source material, but managed to be something wholly unique on its own. It’s not a perfect show, that’s for sure.

The limited animation, bizarre scenarios, and the rather abrasive soundtrack may be a turnoff for some people. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to get through those first couple seasons of Space Ghost for me, since those are the ones that haven’t aged all that well. Still, if you stick with the show and watch past season 3, you’re definitely in for one of the most entertaining experiences in Cartoon Network history.

Homestar Runner: A Legacy of Great Web-Cartoons

To me, internet animation has always been a unique subject to tackle. There are so many facets to online animation, and so many awesome cartoons out there to list. I’ve tackled the animated web-short “Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit”, but I thought I’d go back and discuss the epicenter of all online animation: Homestar Runner. While Homestar wasn’t the first piece of online animation, it did popularize it to a great extent.

So, what is Homestar Runner? It was originally a children’s book published by the “Chap Brothers”, but eventually spun off into one of the first truly successful web-series. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest web cartoons of all time! It revolves around a group of cartoon characters living in “Free Country USA”, a made-up fictionalized state. Homestar is an arm-less athlete, who loves to run and generally isn’t all that smart. He has to deal with the masked menace Strong Bad, who is his rival and occasional arch-enemy.

Strong Bad himself was first introduced as a somewhat bland villain to Homestar, but eventually grew more popular as the site got bigger. This eventually landed him his own web-series on the site called “Strong Bad Emails”, in which the mask-wearing malcontent would reads various emails from around the globe.

This series became the most popular aspect of the site, overtaking most of its content. Strong Bad Emails were the main draw, though The Brother Chaps still put out various other cartoons on occasion. These included shorts, longer cartoons, and the occasional “Teen Girl Squad” episode.

Homestar Runner was a unique website, for it had all these cartoons available FOR FREE! That’s right, you could pretty much watch any show you wanted, whenever you wanted! It was like Newgrounds, but with actual quality control and an interface that didn’t look like trash.

Homestar Runner also offered games, which were usually modeled after old-school games from way back in the day. These were also free, albeit extremely simplistic. The site was so inviting and so fresh, and has surprisingly remained mostly the same after all these years. There has never been a huge attempt to remodel the side, which is much appreciated. After all, why fix what ain’t broke?

So, what made Homestar’s collective content great? A lot of it comes down to its humor, which is deeply rooted in both pop culture and surreal comedy. Homestar was a series that wasn’t afraid to poke fun at other properties, ideas, concepts, cliches, and even its own characters. As a result, the series never took itself too seriously, and generally was entertaining to watch.

The cartoons feature about a dozen memorable characters, such as the animal-like The Cheat, and the ever-depressed Strong Sad. The characters came off as quirky, silly, goofy, and were all very hilarious. To this day, Homestar remains one of my favorite web cartoons. It revolutionized online web animation, and made it popular.

It became so overwhelmingly popular that it’s been referenced by various forms of media, even to this day. Shows like Megas XLR, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and even the game Kingdom of Loathing all reference Homestar. Even when the series went on hiatus, its popularity never truly died down.

I found myself recently re-watching a lot of the old Homestar stuff, and it’s still entertaining after all these years. It is the longest running web-series of all time, even outrunning the long-lasting “Red Vs. Blue” series. The various Easter Eggs, subtle adult jokes, and likable characters keeps me coming back even as an adult. It’s one of those shows that just never loses its luster for me. With Homestar making a resurgence in content these past couple years, I think it’s a great time for newcomers to give the series a try! Surreal humor and wacky characters are the gift that keeps on giving, after all.

Prisoner Zero: The Australian Star Wars

Something I don’t watch a lot of is Australian cartoons. I never grew up in Australia and the channels that I tended to watch never showed cartoons from that country. The only cartoon from Australia I ever watched in my younger years was Fairy Tale Police Department. I was never a huge fan of that show, to be completely honest. A show I have been getting into as of late is some random cartoon I found on Netflix, one that happened to be made in the “Great Down Under”.

I’m talking about Prisoner Zero, which has to be one of the most obscure modern cartoons I’ve come across in a while. You see, the network that airs it (ABC 3) wanted to a replacement for the cancelled Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon. As such, they commissioned a new sci-fi series to be aired on their network. This led to the creation of Prisoner Zero, a rather entertaining space adventure.

So, what makes PZ so interesting? For one thing, this is an Australian cartoon with an anime art-style. This is rare for shows in Australia, at least to my knowledge. While the show isn’t animated in Japan, it’s definitely similar in design. Unfortunately, this anime style can sometimes make character designs look awkward and clash horribly with each other.

All the guys have realistic faces, while all the females possess stylized cartoon-y faces. A good example of this is the character Gem, who has this strange pointy chin. The animation itself can be a bit off. It’s got that “Adult Swim” feel to it, if that makes any sense. Old Adult Swim shows used to have a fair bit of limited animation to them, kind of like this show.

Character movements can sometimes look stilted, though action scenes can still be very fierce at times. Unlike Star Wars, characters like to shoot energy blasts, instead of fighting using lightsabers. In a way, it kind of reminds me of Dragon Ball Z. Now, while some of those elements can be hit or miss, Prisoner Zero still manages to be rather engaging. This comes down to the solid voice-acting, good characters, and somewhat interesting plot.

In this show, the evil General Vikar and his “Imperium” have conquered most of the galaxy. A prisoner with amnesia named “Prisoner Zero” works with a group of ragtag rebels aboard a stolen ship, their goal being to stop Vikar and his Imperium. Vikar uses a system called the “Bioweve” to mind-control people, and essentially erase their minds. This concept gets a lot of use in the second episode, where Vikar mind-wipes EVERYONE on an entire planet.

Vikar then proceeds to blow said planet up, all in an attempt to get Zero to give back the stolen ship. Yeah, Vikar is one of those no-nonsense villains, complete with a deep voice and British accent. Vikar comes off as your typical all-powerful villain, but at least he manages to be a solid and consistent threat for our heroes.

Something I dug that this show did, is that it somehow manages to get every single main character involved in its stories. When you have a show like Prisoner Zero, which has an ever-growing cast, it’s always good to involve as many characters as you can. I hate it when shows introduce a cast of 20+ characters, then spend a ton of episodes ignoring most of them. Prisoner Zero manages to split focus just enough so that most scenes aren’t just Vikar and Zero going at it.

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Apparently, purple hair dye is a commonality in space.

Speaking of Zero, he is probably one of my favorite aspects of this show! Zero is an amnesiac hero, but one who is rather jovial, goofy, and fun-loving. A lot of franchises love to give their main characters amnesia, and proceed to use it as an excuse to not make them interesting. I can’t tell you how many shows and movies I’ve seen where the amnesiac hero is brooding, dark, or emotionless.

It’s nice to see a main character who has amnesia, but doesn’t let it get him down too much. One thing that I dug about the show was the ship our heroes use to sail the galaxy. The ship known as “The Rogue” isn’t any ordinary vessel, as it houses life inside its many floors. Within the deepest sections of the ship are a treasure trove of bizarre creatures and beings.

The show likes to have episodes where our heroes just to explore the ship itself, instead of beaming down to some random planet. I honestly prefer the ship exploration, as The Rogue comes off as a rather unique location. It feels like a living breathing place at times, with a bizarre assortment of odd aliens dwelling in its depths.

To summarize my feelings on this show, I think it has potential. Sure, it comes off as the kind of sci-fi story we’ve been told so many times before, but there’s just something enjoyable about it. This comes down to its lovable cast, solid voice acting, and the uniqueness and implementation of some of its concepts. The show isn’t perfect, but if you’re looking for something to satiate your thirst for sci-fi, then I think this series will do. Plus, you can watch it for free on Netflix right now! That’s what I call a good deal.

Wakfu: Terrible Name, Fantastic Show

There was once a time in my life where I was really into French shows. YTV and Teletoon were flooded with French, and French-Canadian cartoons. As a result, I would these shows religiously. I’m talking shows like Martin Mystery, Team Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country, and Monster Buster Club. I found shows like these to be fairly entertaining, though after a while I fell out of love with French cartoons.

Don’t get me wrong, I really dig French TV shows. The problem is that most French cartoons nowadays just fail to hold my interest. In fact, for a while the only French show I was really into was Miraculous Ladybug. Since ML has been on hiatus for a while, I thought it was time I find a new show to fill the void while I wait. That shows happens to be a little known series called “Wakfu”.

When I say that it’s little known, I mean that the series really hasn’t taken off outside of France. In France, Wakfu is a highly successful animated spinoff of the MMORPG game “Dofus”. Some may argue that Wakfu is more well-known than Dofus, due to its immense popularity. Wakfu even got a ton of spinoff games, including its own MMORPG adaptation.

Despite the show’s weird-sounding name, it’s actually quite entertaining. The series itself takes a ton of elements from anime, mostly from the ever popular Shonen genre. The series uses flash animation, but manages to make it look really good. While characters look semi-static while talking, the animation usually amps up during action scenes.

Fights that would often look very cheap in lesser show are given full reign to look impressive here. On top of this, Wakfu has a stellar and entertaining soundtrack. Each episode is beautifully scored and sounds really good! Now, most of you are probably wondering what Wakfu is about.

This show focuses on a kid named Yugo, who is trying to find his real parents. After being attacked by a villainous robot-man named Nox, our young hero says his goodbyes to his father and decides to travel the world. Yugo forms bounds with new friends allies, and sets off with his party to discover his real family.

Wakfu is a show that starts off kind of bland. The first thirteen or so episodes barely feature the main villain at all, relegating his appearances to the two-part pilot. Even there, the villain only appears in a few scenes and comes off as being rather basic and underdeveloped. However, that’s only if you haven’t seen the later episodes or the special “Noximilien The Watchmaker”.

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It’s a hard Nox life!

This special depicts the events that lead Noximilien to becoming the vicious robotic villain of season 1. Noximilien goes from a humble clock-maker to a vicious cyborg named “Nox”, one who’s only goal is to literally turn back the clock and rewind time. In the second half of the first season, Nox becomes a more present threat for our heroes and their allies.

Nox isn’t the only character that I ended up liking a lot, I also adored two of the show’s protagonists: Ruel Stroud and Sadlygrove. Ruel Stroud is an old miser, a shovel-wielding adventurer, and a mysterious man with a ton of power. The reason I enjoyed Ruel is that he reminds me a lot of myself. Much like him, I hate spending cash even when I have more than enough of it.

Despite his penny-pinching ways, Ruel proves to be a loyal ally and a powerful warrior. Likewise, the hot-blooded hero known as Sadlygrove is another strong fighter. Sadlygrove’s idiotic tendencies often get him into trouble, though he usually gets out of it by knocking out anything that stands in his way. To me, these two characters are really what made the show for me.

The constant struggles these characters go through, combined with how they interact with each other make for some solid entertainment. The show itself starts off with portraying both its characters and its world in a humorous light, while slowing peeling back the layers to show the darker tragedies at work.

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Unfortunately, Yugo’s portals don’t get that awesome until later in the series.

While the plot and its lore can come off formulaic, the way it is handled at times is executed well. I loved the various touches the animators and writing team put into the show, such as having Nox’s movements mirror that of a clock at times, or starting off an episode in unexpected way. I still can’t get over how much I enjoyed watching the start of a particular episode, one featuring two of its primary characters engaged in some fancy ballroom dancing. Something like that is very uncommon in this show, or shows in this genre for that matter.

Wakfu isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a perfect show, it actually has a fair bit of flaws. Like I mentioned, the main villain barely appears in season 1. Season 1 is mostly dominated by inconsequential filler, which I often find to be less enticing than the story-lines dealing with the main antagonist. Don’t misunderstand, there are several goofy filler episodes that I enjoy, but the amount of filler can be a bit overwhelming.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for one thing: The show’s heavy continuity. Despite the first half of season 1 coming off as episodic, almost everything that happens gets referenced in some way. There isn’t an episode that I could fully consider skippable, even if what happens in the episode doesn’t amount to much. For example, there’s an episode where they go to an island and we’re introduced to the plant people known as “Sadidas”.

Up until this point, the only Sadida that was seen was Princess Amalia.  If you skip out on this episode, you miss seeing these creatures before they are properly introduced several episodes later. In a way, we get a small taste of the culture and general personalities of this fictional race. The problem is that the episode feels very inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. We are introduced to this tiny little monkey god named “Moon”, who never shows up again despite his grand power.

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Adorable, yet pointless

Another problem with the show is its cheap English dub. Despite Ankama (the production company behind Wakfu) starting a Kickstarter for an English dub of this series, it ended up being pretty awful regardless. Characters lack the raw emotion they had in the French version, and most of them sound like they would fit right in with a badly dubbed 90s anime. I usually prefer my dubs to my subs, but this one is just downright bad to listen to. It’s why I always stick to the French version while watching Wakfu.

Still, things like this never stopped me from enjoying the show. It was flawed and had a bit of a generic plot, but it handled itself very well. I’ve just completed season 1 and I’m only a few episodes into season 2 at this point, but I like what I see. Wakfu is one of those few cartoons that I enjoy enough to binge and I plan to spend the next few weeks doing so. It’s one of those rare cartoons that manages to not only entertain me, but also bring a tear to my eye.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Hit or Miss?

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Talk about split identities!

Who doesn’t love superheroes? After all, they are a big thing right now. Comic-book superheroes used to be such a niche market. Usually, only nerds would be into superheroes. However, we’ve reached a point in our society where superheroes are immensely popular. They may not exist, but people love partaking in stories involving these would-be protectors of our realm.

When it comes to superheroes, there are few that come close to the kind of popularity Spider-Man has! The stories of Peter Parker and spider-based alter-ego have become synonymous with the genre. With a hero as popular as Spider-Man, it was inevitable that there would be many variations on the popular franchise.

Never was this more present than television, where many adaptations of the classic comic book were made. Classics such as: Spider-Man 1994, Spider-Man Unlimited, and Spectacular Spider-Man. However, in 2012 we got the (arguably) worst possible adaptation of Spider-Man ever: Ultimate Spider-Man. I’m not talking about the comic or video-game of the same name, I mean the infamous Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

This was a cartoon that ignored many key principles of the Spider-Man mythos, presented Peter Parker and his alter-ego as complete idiots, and ran way too long for a show that was mostly a comedy series. Did this show really need 104 episodes? Seriously?

Shortly before the series ended in January of this year, another Spider-Man cartoon was announced. This show would bring Spider-Man back to his science geek roots, and promised to be better than its abysmal predecessor. So, is this new Spider-Man show any good? At the time of writing this, there are only 5 episodes available, so it may be too soon to say.

Regardless, I thought I would get my opinions out on this new series of Spider-Man. So, is it any good? Well, it’s decent. It’s not terrible, and it’s not great, just acceptable. Let me discuss what I liked, and what I didn’t like about this show. Let’s start off with the good: The voice acting is pretty dang solid. The voice actors fit each character well, and aside from a few vocal performances thus far, things have been good.

Some characters are fairly well-designed, and the show possesses a rather pleasing anime-like art-style. I also liked how this show focuses on villains who are more obscure, such as The Jackal and the Spider-Slayers. Those are some of the good things, how about the bad?

Unfortunately, this new Spider-Man show has a lot of bad. Remember how I said this show has some well-designed characters? Unfortunately, a majority of the cast don’t share this philosophy. A lot of the older characters look downright ugly, and some designs barely resemble their comic book counterparts.

Worse still, some character designs don’t fit at all. For example, in this show Dr. Octavius is meant to be in his 20s-30s. Here he just looks like an overweight teenager, not unlike the principle cast. Also, the animation can be fairly choppy at times. Characters can float into the shot, or just randomly appear.

The show also employs CGI backgrounds and objects, which have a tendency to clash horribly with the 2D animation. The show is also trying too hard to be “scientific”. Almost every second line has something to do with science, and most scenes are filled with Peter prattling on about some obscure scientific fact.

It felt so forced and didn’t really add anything to experience at all. This gets annoying in some of the more recent episodes, as the characters have a tendency to talk about science facts without explaining them. There are points where the “science babble” gets so bad that I feel I can’t properly follow along.

It’s not as bad as other shows, such as “Betterman”, but it’s still rather aggravating. I’m not going to make too much of a comment on the story. This is mostly due to the fact that we are still very early in the show’s run, so it wouldn’t make sense to judge this facet of the show too harshly. So far, the series has done a good job of setting up future events, even if several of them probably should’ve been saved for season 2.

Those are my thoughts on the new Spider-Man show. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, though it definitely has some problems. Still, it’s a vast improvement over the previous series, and I’m willing to give it a chance. It feels like a more “authentic” Spider-Man story than we’ve been getting the past few years, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the writers can do with it next.

How To Properly Adapt Anime Into American Movies

In recent years, there’s been a rise of anime-to-film adaptations. A lot of these are done in Japan, however America has a bunch of these as well. Unfortunately, the ones made by America tend to not be very good. That’s the general consensus, as well as being an opinion that I share. It’s honestly difficult to make anime appeal to modern movie-going audiences.

Most film studios struggle with finding that right balance between being faithful to the source material, and also being entertaining to casual audiences. So, I thought up some ways that film studios could better adapt anime to film. Please keep in mind that I have no experience in film-making. I feel I’ve seen enough films, both American and Japanese, to have a working knowledge of how both countries produce their films. So, allow me to list ways on how I think anime should properly be adapted to American film.

1. Skip Live-Action and Just Make It CGI Instead

For some reason, film studios over here in the west think it’s a good day to adapt anime to live-action. Why? What made anime (and cartoons, for that matter) so good was the fact that they were animated. Since they were animated, this allowed for the audience to get more engrossed in the story. In animation, you can do all these amazing things that aren’t possible in live-action.

When you take something animated and put it into a form it’s not suited for, you will have an inferior product. Reboots and adaptations can work, but it’s very difficult to adapt it into a different medium. Take Death Note for example. Both the anime and manga were unique, in that it painted the rivalry between the supernatural murderer Kira (who’s real name is Light) and the one man who is destined to expose him: The enigmatic L.

Seeing the two constantly attempt to outwit each other and play mind-games was eerily similar to the rivalry between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarti. The American movie changed this greatly, sadly. In the American Death Note, L has supernatural level intellect and knows everything about everyone, with little to no explanation. Light have become a generic supervillain halfway through the film, and generally lacks the nuance his original character had.

It’s hard to translate the original struggle of these characters to film. The various quirks, personality traits, and line of thinking for these characters  can be a bit too much for Western audiences. Especially when some of these traits and personalities are ingrained in a culture that may feel alien to other audiences. The result of this is that characters have to be radically changed, in order to not alienate audiences.

However, what if American anime films were done in CGI? If this were done, a lot of problems with translation become less of an issue. When something is animated, your level of disbelief goes considerably. That’s because in animation, your allowed to really get away with more. In animation, you’re allowed to bend reality more and make something crazy.

Anime films would work well in CGI, because you’d be able to marry elements of American cartoons with anime to create something unique. You can have characters that still strongly resemble their Japanese counterparts, but at the same time alter their designs just enough to appeal to American audiences.

On top of this, keeping these films animated allows for better action scenes. One of the leading problems with films like Dragon Ball Evolution, as that they were never able to capture the ferocity and intense moments that the series was capable of. However, having CGI animation would allow for fight scenes to flow much better.

Honestly, making American CGI anime seems like a no-brainer at this point, especially due to how bad CGI anime can be in Japan. CGI animation for anime is pretty weak, with most anime studios not able to match the quality of even low-budget American productions. Making CGI anime for American audiences would allow for more quality CGI animation to make it to Japan. Imagine getting CGI movies of Dragon Ball and One Piece, made using stunning animation from studios like Dreamworks.

Now, one may be wondering: “Wait, aren’t there already a ton of successful live-action anime adaptations?” Yes, there is! However, these were already made in Japan. These shows were made in their home country, and by people who know enough of the source-material to do it right. On top of this, Japanese audiences are able to connect with the sillier and campier elements of said films much better than we can. Regardless, I feel CGI would be the way to go for further American adaptations.

2. A Solid Soundtrack

For some reason, the music in most of these anime adaptations are… Bad. There’s no dancing around it, they are terrible! Very rarely do they ever use the show’s original theme song, and tend to use licensed tracks that don’t fit well with the work they are trying to adapt. Ghost In The Shell’s reboot as an exception, as this film had a surprisingly good soundtrack.

The problem is, most films don’t follow suit. A soundtrack is a minor thing in a film, but it really enhances the mood. When you put in a ton of licensed tracks into a production willy-nilly, then you’re not producing a solid soundtrack. You’re just manufacturing a soundtrack based on popular norms at the time.

I’m not saying they should include the theme song and original tracks from said show in each film adaptation, but they should at least attempt to find a middle-ground. Why not put some original tracks in the film, along with licensed tracks, as well as songs from the original anime? Get a good mixture going, make something that sounds unique and captures the feeling of both the new and old versions.

3. A Good Mix Of Both Voice Actors and Film Actors

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This is how you do a live-action version of an anime!

This one correlates more to the first one I listed. I feel that if a CGI anime film is made, then it’s best to go with a mix of both film actors and voice actors. Filling a cast with big-name celebrities will garner interest, but if the passion isn’t there then the characters will fall flat. That’s why, I feel tossing in some voice actors in the production would help mix things up.

Voice actors are better at getting into the role of anime characters than celebrities are, since a fair amount of them specialize in anime voice-acting. Mixing in people like Yuri Lowenthal and Troy Baker would definitely help spice up the cast. Heck, maybe even bring in some people that did voices on the dub of the anime! Kind of like when the English dub voice actors dubbed over the Japanese live-action Death Note movie.

4. Make It True To The Source Material, While At The Same Time Being It’s Own Thing

A lot of complaints levied towards films based off anime, is that most of them have little to do with the source material. These changes are often made to not alienate the audiences watching it. However, I feel some elements can be be mixed with new ones to help balance things out.

If you change too many things, you get a clumsy carbon copy like “Dragon Ball: Evolution”. If you don’t change enough things, you a get a rehash like “Ghost In The Shell 2017”. This is why a balance needs to be found. Making it too different or too similar won’t work, it needs to be equal parts a reboot and a standalone story.

The Speed Racer movie was the one film that came the closest to this ideal. It was a live-action film that felt like the zany fast-paced anime, but also had its own unique story-arc. Of course, Speed Racer was far from a perfect adaptation, but it did enough things well to warrant interest.

In Summation

In my opinion, I think a truly good anime-to-film adaptation would require these things:

  1. The film should use CGI animation in place of live-action.
  2. The film needs a soundtrack that combines licensed tracks, original music, and music from the anime it is based one.
  3. The film should use a mix of both voice actors and film actors, if it goes the CG route.
  4. The film needs to find the right balance between being an adaptation and being a reboot. It can’t be just a rehash, and it can’t be something completely different either. It needs to be its own thing, while being true to the original.

Again, this is just opinion-based. I’ve never seen an anime film that uses these elements, so this is just speculation on if these elements would work in an adaptation. I think this could work, but it would greatly depend on the production team behind it. What are you guys’ thoughts on this? America is going to keep attempting to adapt anime into film, so we aren’t going to see it stop any time soon. What do you guys think should be done with future adaptations of anime?