Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Personal Thoughts: Classics vs. Reboots/Spin-offs

While watching old episodes of Teen Titans and some old G1 episodes of Transformers, I started thinking about how the new generation doesn't know that these oldies exist. All they know of is the version of Teen Titans where they have an episode in which the word "waffles" is said throughout the entire 11 minutes of it, and a Transformers in which the designs are based off the Michael Bay versions. This is where my heart aches for this lost generation. So then I have thoughts on these reboots and spin-offs that make me wonder if it's really a loss on these new versions, or am I just a hater of change? Well, I think it's time I explained some of those feelings, and maybe give some brief points on a few of these little battles. I think you already know my feelings towards the Sailor Moon reboot, so let's skip that.

Teen Titans vs. Teen Titans Go!

This is one that I can say the reboot fails when compared to the original series. The Teen Titans series of 2003-2006 was quirky, but it knew when to be serious. Every character on the team had many layers to them, and continued to see growth as the series progressed. The quirks came from either the anime influences or Starfire's personality. These plus well written and well timed lines of dialog were what made the humor for the series.

How can we forget this gem?
As for the spin-off "comedy" series, Teen Titans Go!, we're really wanting this one off the air. In 2013, Cartoon Network decided to reboot the Teen Titans in a series that had little to no focus on action/adventure and more focus on "comedy." There's a reason I say comedy in quotes like that, and it's a simple reason. It's not funny, it's annoying. This series was basically made with the idea that the original series should have no influence on it, and it shows. The personalities of the originals didn't transfer, turning multi-layer characters into idiots or jerks. The show does have its moments in where it can be forgiven (See image below), but for the most part it is a sin against the original. Its humor is also based on the changes and pointing out how annoying it can be, but that doesn't make it funny. It's all anti-humor, except there is no ironic redemption. I have watched episodes of Go!, and found myself ready to change the channel within the first 3 minutes. There are other critics who have found this show obnoxious, and for reasons unknown it is still on the air.

Yes, Raven is playing with ponies. Tara Strong, everyone!
Teen Titans Go! is by far the worst series to be made, and it got awarded with a second season while a better series in Young Justice got the ax. The level of stupidity over at Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. is too damn high (And I feel bad for that joke)! Normally, I can find changes acceptable in a show, but if it guts the characters of the source material to a level in which they gain the title of Toddler Titans you know it's destined to fail. The original Teen Titans was an 8/10 in my book, while Teen Titans Go! receives my lowest score ever: 3/10. I would definitely rank this lower than the original English dub of Sailor Moon (Which I personally score at 5/10).

Transformers G1 vs. Future TF Generations

I'll admit, G1 Transformers is one of my favorites, despite the now cheesy levels it contains. Sadly, I grew up with the second airing under the name Transformers: Generation 2, which was only a select number of episodes from the first three seasons with annoying and unnecessary transition effects. Either way, I watched the original growing up before the quick transition to the Beast Era. G1 had some good stories for episodes, some of which apparently became inspirations for the plotlines of at least one of the Michael Bay films (See the plots for The Ultimate Doom and Megatron's Master Plan, and compare them to the synopsis to Bay's Dark of the Moon).

A revised edition of the classic TF logo by Hasbro. Part of their Generations toy line.

As the years went on, about thirty years, Transformers would overgo many changes. Some were good, others meh, some others were just not good. The Beast Era saw two series, Beast Wars and Beast Machines. Beast Wars was one of those shows that had many good episodes, some with character development, some would expand on the G1 lore, others were just straight up action episodes. The series has so far been declared the best Transformers series made by its fanbase. The sequel series, Beast Machines, was underwhelming. It suffered from an overcomplicated story, and a subliminal environmentalist message. That, and the radicalist religious undertones for Optimus Primal's teachings didn't exactly help. Later generations were for the most part Japanese imports. Each having their own varying degrees of success. Transformers has been a mixed bag long before Michael Bay released the first of his four films, but that doesn't exactly hurt the longevity. Because of the amount of diversity between generations, the franchise will continue to thrive even under the worst conditions.

I think this is all I have time for today, but I do promise to do more of these kinds of posts throughout the months. My basic mindset is that if it's done right, a reboot or spin-off series can be good. But if the creators/writers deviate too much from the original, it could spell disaster.

Until the next review, have a great day!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Impressions: Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Moon Crystal began its simulcast on July 5th, and it was receiving mixed reviews long before it even premiered. After the first airing, fans are divided. Primary complaints included the changes in storytelling and the art direction, including the transformation sequence. I personally have a hard time understanding these complaints. Perhaps watching it will help me make sense of it all.

Synopsis (Potential spoilers for those who haven't read the manga)

The story of the first episode is fairly similar to the opening chapter of the original manga. A notable exception is that it opens on a dream our lead character Usagi Tsukino is having about a prince and a princess meeting for a kiss.

How romantic. *Vomit*
Usagi then gets a reminder from her mother that she's going to be late for school. Of course this leads to Usagi getting ready for school in a quick panicked state, which leads to a moment of clumsiness, slipping on the stairs and riding them all the way down on her butt.

Have a nice trip, see you next fall!
Usagi then grabs her lunch, and starts her run to school. Her mother then talks about how she wishes her daughter would learn from "Sailor V."

Hey, at least she got her mentioning right off the bat.

Usagi's run to school includes her complaining about morning coming every day and still being sleepy. Then comes the narration by Usagi introducing herself as a crybaby and a little clumsy (No sh*t!). Along the way, she steps on something and falls flat on her face. What did she step on? A black cat.

Yes, really. A cat. Are you seriously that stupid?
Usagi apologizes to the cat, kisses it, and gets scratched. After that, Usagi notices the bandages on the cat's head and removes them, revealing a crescent moon. During a stare down between the cat and herself, Usagi then remembers that she's late to school. She arrives only to be told by her teacher, Ms. Haruna to stand in the hall outside her classroom for being late.

Maybe if you stopped arriving late, this wouldn't happen.
She then begins to remember her dream, and then decides that she wants to be a princess too. Why would she want to do that?

Why do I get the feeling this line's gonna be a running gag?
Oh, yeah, Usagi's stomach starts to grumble while she's standing in the hall. She forgot to eat before running to school. While she gets ready to eat, she gets interrupted by Haruna with the results of Usagi's test. And the results are...

Tonight on Newsbreakers: Why Usagi can't learn. Maybe it's because Usagi's teacher doesn't know jack?
Usagi's depression builds when the nerd of the class, Umino, shows that even with his "lack of study" he still got a 95. Her best friend Naru scored an 85 on the same test. Why do I continue to get the feeling that Usagi embodies all of the "blonde bimbo" stereotypes? Anyway, the day progresses and the kids in the school are discussing the latest rise in jewelry store robberies. All of which were stopped by the famous Sailor V.

Not if this show has something to say about it.
At the end of the day, Usagi and Naru decide to go check out a sale at the jewelry shop Osa-P, which Naru's mother runs. Remember how in my original Sailor Moon review I mentioned the sales were 95% off? Yeah, that makes a comeback here as well.

To quote River Song, "Spoilers!"

Usagi wants to get some of the discounted jewelry, but figures that thanks to her 30% on the test she won't be able to ask her parents for anything. She decides to toss her test and head home, but not before her crumpled test hits someone behind her in the face.

Hey, it's my favorite dumb blonde mocker who doesn't afraid of anything! This time in a tuxedo!
After a nasty encounter with our mystery man, Mamoru Chiba, Usagi stops by the local arcade and spies a poster of Sailor V, because this character is such a sensation she has her own video game at the arcade. While looking at the poster, Usagi says that she wishes she could be like Sailor V. Why?

Freaking called it! Running gag!
Usagi then goofs off in the arcade for a while before heading home. As soon as she gets inside, her mother said that she saw Umino, and mentioned his test score. Usagi's pissed at this and shows off her test score to her mother. Want to guess how well this turns out?

...Well, that escalated quickly.
While all this drama at home is going on, Naru's mom is talking about how the jewelry she sold is stealing energy from the people wearing them. Okay, looks like we have a monstrous enemy in disguise here.

Either she needs to see a dentist, or... Nope, yeah, definitely evil monster in disguise.
We return to Usagi's house, where we find her dreaming again, talking about the "bald-patched" black cat (In reference to the cat from earlier, she thinks the crescent moon on its forehead is a bald patch). Eventually the cat reappears in Usagi's room, yelling at her "It's not a bald patch! How rude of you!"

And it has a British accent? Oh, wait, no, there's no English dub yet, so no accent.
The cat, who's name is Luna, introduces herself to Usagi, and tells her of her mission, to defeat her enemies, to find her allies, find the "Legendary Silver Crystal," and find the princess. During this, Usagi receives a gift from Luna, a broach that allows her to transform into the super powered heroine, and title character, Sailor Moon.

A pretty cool CGI transformation sequence, but it lasts a whole 52 seconds!
After transforming, Sailor Moon receives a distress signal in her hair buns that is coming from Naru's cries for help at the jewelry shop. She arrives in the shop just in time to stop the monster from killing Naru. Then comes the introduction conversation.
"Who are you?"
"I am the pretty guardian in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon. In the name of the moon, I'll punish you!"

Guess this is what happens if your name doesn't end in Kardashian.
After that shot gets fired, the monster uses the energy she collected to summon her army of zombified jewelry buyers. Trust me, it's more creepy than it sounds. Part way through the fight, Usagi's crybaby nature rears its head after getting a cut on the knee. Although in a strange way, it helps her.

When was the last time you heard a girl scream on a super sonic level?
Her screams knock out the army, and practically paralyzes the monster, to which Sailor Moon throws her "Moon Tiara Boomerang" and turns the monster to dust. You know, for kids (This will probably get either a TV-PG or TV-14 when/if it airs in the US)! Oh, but what about that one character, Tuxedo Mask? He was a spectator, who then introduces himself at the end (No pep talks like the original series).

Well, that makes one of us.
At the end, the real enemy starts planning for future plots, and Naru starts talking about the incident that night.

Guess Sailor Moon's the talk of the town. Except they don't know her name.
Lastly, a little bit of foreshadowing for the next episode, which is plot of the second chapter of the manga.

Who is this girl? Find out in the next episode of DragonBall Z!


Overall, with a few little exceptions, such as the main villains being shown and the dream sequence at the beginning (Though obscured to increase the mystery that revolves around the first manga story arc), and some dialog, the episode basically follows its original source material very well.

The art direction does have a lot more similarity to the original art of the manga, but I can see the complaint that commonly comes up from the fans, and that's the fact that the girls look way too skinny, though I will say they still look more normal than they are being made out to be.

My one issue is that the transformation was way too long. Granted, this was only the first transformation in the series, but they could have made it shorter. I swear the original transformation sequence was half the length of the new one, though not quite as fancy as the new one.

This was 24 minutes that I was able to enjoy of a reboot that some were ready to swear off because it would cut the filler (Remind me how that's a bad thing?), and artistically look wrong (Time to take off the nostalgia goggles). It does make me want to see how things go from here for the remaining 25 episodes of the season/series (It is still unclear if it'll move to the second arc or not). Final score: 9/10

Until the next review, have a nice day!