Let’s watch some cartoons!
Y’know how I said I was busy last time? Well, er, I’m still busy. And on top of that, I picked some fairly long (and slow paced) books to read, so I’m not getting in the ‘book review a week’ schedule that I’d like to.
This isn’t just a book review blog. Through the wonders of the internet, I can pretty much go on about whatever I want! Which, in this case, means I’m gonna talk about TV. And by TV, I pretty much mean ‘cartoons.’
Now, we’re going through a great period of nerd-friendly TV right now. Pretty much every network’s either showing or developing a superhero show, not to mention an even longer list of urban-fantasy or sci-fi shows, not to mention the fact that Game of Thrones is one of the biggest things on TV right now (though boobs probably help on that last one). It’s an embarrassment of nerdy riches- overwhelming, and pretty hard to keep up to date on it all.
So, I watch cartoons.
One may attribute this to the fact that I’m pretty much a big kid (as you’ve no doubt noticed if you’ve been paying attention), but there’s also the fact that, well, it’s easier to find 11 to 22 minutes on average to sit down and watch a silly cartoon. The hour-long drama format seems a little bit more of a commitment (especially if you have seasons and seasons of stuff to catch up on). All just depends on what you’re in the mood for, I guess.
Alternately, it might just be a kind of nerdy elitism, where I’m forced farther and farther away from the ‘mainstream’ in order to retrain my geek cred. This is a stupid reason, however, because then I don’t have many people to talk about whatever I’m geeking out over.
…which is why I’m telling you guys, I guess. But yeah! Here are some super-neato cartoons you should be watching so I have someone else to fan out over them with.
Think ‘Adventure Time,’ just less trippy.
Steven Universe centers around the titular Steven, a half-human/half-magic-creature-thingie who lives with the Crystal Gems, a trio of kick-ass magical girl fairy creatures. Of course, the comedy stems from the fact that Steven’s just a goofy (though loveable) kid, in contrast to the Gems themselves, who are pretty much alien magical girl superheroes.
Steven Universe swings back and forth between silly, slice-of-life hijinks, occasionally contrasted by some kind of strange arcane adventures. The show has the same kind of vaguely video-gamey vibe that you also get from, say, Scott Pilgrim or Adventure Time. That last one is particularly noteworthy, since Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, worked as a storyboard artist on Adventure Time. She can also play a mean ukelele.
The fun thing about Steven Universe is the episodes are only 11 minutes long, and it’s just wrapping up its first season, so you can jump on the bandwagon early on! It’s not exactly the plot-heaviest of shows, but there are little bits and pieces of continuity as it goes along, which leads up to a legitimately compelling two-parter that just aired last week. And there’s two more episodes to go! I’m entirely too excited about this, you guys.
RECCOMENDED FOR: Powerpuff Girl Fans, Adventure Time Fans, Sailor Moon Fans, and Professional Wrestling Fans. (Seriously, if you like rasslin’, you need to watch the episode called “Tiger Millionare.” You can thank me later).
Gundam Build Fighters
So, I wouldn’t exactly label myself as an otaku. Sure, I’ll watch anime, and I can even recall the ‘good old days’ when anime first started taking off in the states, and VHS tapes with like 3 episodes of a given series on them were like 40 bucks a pop. On the other hand, I don’t speak Japanese, and I’m fairly out of date when it comes to whatever the current hotness coming over from Japan is.
Every now and again, however, I’ll make an exception.
The premise of the setting is gloriously silly. Basically, some company has established a kind of technology to animate Gundam models. Naturally, people immediately use this technology to make these models fight with lasers, because Japan. The kicker is, the better the Gundam model is assembled, the better it performs on the ‘battlefield.’
Ultimately, Gundam Build Fighters is one of those shows that’s basically a 20 minute commercial. But damn if it isn’t an entertaining 20 minute commercial. It’s pretty much ‘Pokemon, only with Gundams,’ but the show makes the concept work. There’s a lot of reasons for this, honestly. For one, the silly children’s game that everyone’s getting into is shown to be a Big Deal…but it doesn’t run the world. It also helps that the Gundam-battling game looks legitimately fun, as opposed to CCG’s or fighting tops or whatever other toys other anime series are trying to sell.
And on top of that, there’s pretty kick-ass robot fights. Gundam Build Fighters pulls Gundams from pretty much every incarnation of the franchise, so if you ever wanted to see a GM fight the Devil Gundam, you’re in luck! Also, if you understand that last sentence, you’re a super nerd. While I’m not a super Gundam fan myself, I can appreciate the spirit behind the various shout-outs. Kind of reminds me of Transformers: Animated, in that respect.
Also, there’s Mr. Ral, who is anime Ron Swanson.
Y’know what the best part is? Gundam Build Fighters is available on Youtube! Legally! And free! You should go check it out! I’m only up to episode 13, however, so don’t spoil anything, jerks.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Giant Robots.
The Legend of Korra
OH MAN YOU GUYS.
The fourth season of The Legend of Korra premieres on Friday, which is something I’m both stoked and sad about.
On the one hand, it’s a new (and final) season of one of the most kick-ass shows on TV right now. The Legend of Korra is actually the sequel/continuation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was one of the most kick-ass TV shows, well…ever. We won’t talk about the M. Night Sha-na-na movie, however.
I know, a combined six seasons of two different shows is pretty intimidating, and kind of goes against the whole time-consuming principle I mentioned earlier. Then again, I’ve been following the Avatar cartoons from early on, so it’s easier to keep track of things.
Or heck, you could even jump into The Legend of Korra as-is. All you really need to know is the titular Korra is a kick-ass elemental kung fu superhero who has rad adventures in a steampunk fantasy pastiche of Hong Kong. It makes sense in context, I promise.
The thing about The Legend of Korra is, well, it’s ambitious. It tries to do a lot, in a short period of time. This is kind of a mixed bag, as the show is fast paced…but at the same time, it doesn’t have a lot of time to breathe. And when Korra makes some missteps, it missteps hard. There are some parts of Season 2 that are particularly dire. On the other hand, when Korra is good, it’s really good. Which is to say, well, Season 3.
The thing is, Season 3 was just released a few weeks ago. And now Season 4’s premiering on October 3. The Legend of Korra really is an underdog of a show, in that it’s gotten jacked around by its parent network, Nickelodeon. Season 3 was released without much fanfare over the summer, and about two thirds of the way through the season, new episodes were released online only. Which, admittedly, makes it a little easier for not-cable-having me to watch them, but at the same time, the whole thing strikes me as a case of the network execs not having any idea what to do with this weird kung fu girl show.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Everybody! Seriously, I need more people to goob out over this show with. I’m even being good and not going into the various ships this show has made me support. It’s worth noting that shipping is a vital part of watching any Avatar show, which is both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Paradoxes, people.
So yeah! That’s a quick snapshot of the random TV entertainments I’ve been following lately. I’ll probably post a follow up in a few months once season 3 of Bravest Warriors and/or Gundam Builders Try hits the internets.
So there you have it, folks, just a little glimpse into my current entertainment. Don’t suppose any of my dozens of loyal readers are also fans of the aforementioned shows? Or better yet, based on what I just talked about, do you have any recommendations for other stuff I might enjoy?