Sym-Bionic Titan

Small Screen Specials, Series and Direct-To-Video
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Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by GrandpaRD » October 31st, 2010, 7:31 pm

Good afternoon, Gang.

My name is Dave, and I'm stopping by here to say "Hi" and to mention I'm a huge fan of the new show on Cartoon Network called Sym-Bionic Titan.

I've caught all of the episodes so far, and I do say I'm quite impressed with the format, style, and characters of the show! Ilanna is so far my fave character, she just busts me up with how naive she is at times, and then how kick-butt she can be when the time comes. I also dig Octus for obvious reasons. I, too, wear many 'hats' when it comes to day to day life as his character does.

The voice actors are very familiar to us, too. I was very surprised to learn that the same VA that does Octus also did Cousin Larry on the Kim Possible program, and Tara Strong does Ilanna. Also, another VERY famous and busy VA John Di Maggio has several roles in the few episodes they have out yet. This guy is like on EVERYTHING animated these days, and it's amazing to me as to how he can keep up with it!

All in all I'm impressed with this show that I hope will prove to be yet another huge hit for Cartoon Network and just ANOTHER feather in the cap of a verified genius, Genndy Tartakovsky.

I'll stop back in in a few days to see if anyone responds to this post to see if they like the show too.

CHEERS!

Dave 8)

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Post by Randall » October 31st, 2010, 10:50 pm

I'm looking forward to seeing the show, but these days I tend to see stuff only on disc. So, I'll likely wait until it hits home video. I love Genndy's past stuff, though.

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Post by eddievalient » November 1st, 2010, 1:03 pm

As do I. The Samurai Jack movie is, surprisingly, still in development, recently picking up JJ Abrams (!) as a producer. I'm still waiting for Dexter's Lab to come in the mail. The place I pre-ordered it from says it's on back order. I knew the show was popular, but to sell out before it's even released? Wow!
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Post by Daniel » November 1st, 2010, 1:46 pm

Saw that the other day at Target. Nice to see season sets of old CN toons being released. Have no desire for Dexter, but good for fans.

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Re: Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by droosan » November 1st, 2010, 8:55 pm

I had to order the Dexter's Laboratory DVD set from Amazon .. local Burbank stores were 'sold-out' of it on the release date (not terribly surprising, since Cartoon Network Studio is based here).

I am surprised to hear of anyone having 'no desire' for the series on DVD, though. DL was (arguably) Cartoon Network's 'flagship' original series for nearly five years .. and for good reason. It's amazing to me that it has taken this long to get a major home video release (Prior to this, the only 'legit' release on Region-1 DVD was a short-lived Columbia House subscription series, almost 8 years ago .. though, the first two full seasons got DVD sets in Australia, awhile back).

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But, yeah; Sym-bionic Titan has been very enjoyable, thus far! :D

I try to catch the series on TV, over the weekends .. but Cartoon Network's website always has the previous week's episode available for streaming, in case I miss it.

Even though the show is highly derivative of multiple anime/tokusatsu series over the decades, it manages to distill its many clichés and references into something that feels 'fresh'. Its styling is deceptively simplistic; lending itself well to the ever-changing moods of its storytelling -- by turns creepy, exciting, melodramatic, and (occasionally) goofy.

Illana is likewise my favorite of the three, with Octus a close second. Lance (at least, thus far) is a cliché of a cliché .. the brooding anime-action-hero-with-a-tortured-past.

It may (or may not) be intentional -- but the three main characters seem to parallel the heroes of Osamu Tezuka's early anime series Wonder 3 (aka Amazing 3) .. right down to the aspect of each representing brawn, brains and emotion (body, mind and heart)!

The giant robot fights and transformations also owe much to many japanese shows .. but the CG elements employed in the Titan deserve special mention, since they are so well-integrated into the show's illustrative design.

I also love the many little 'easter-egg' anime/movie references peppered throughout the series. Cameos from the Yamato's wave-motion gun, Gatchaman's Dr. Nambu, and even the bank-robber/terrorists from Die Hard just make watching the show that much more fun. :)

One cliché that seems to be 'missing' from the show is the normal earthling friend(s) who share the aliens' secrets, and who helps to protect their identities from the inquisitive. Perhaps this is something that will be added later in the series .. or in a future season.

Though, there are the two earth-based paramilitary factions which are seeking the trio .. we haven't seen anything of them, recently.

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Post by Randall » November 1st, 2010, 9:55 pm

I've been hoping for Dexter's Lab on DVD for years, and have also been incredulous that it took so long to happen. This fall, I'm quite excited about getting Back to the Future, Apocalypse Now, and Alien Blu-rays, but Dexter's Lab is right in there, due to not being avaialble for so long!

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Post by GrandpaRD » November 4th, 2010, 4:55 pm

Thanks for the views on SBT so far and Genndys' work in general. Kudos to Droosan for the deeper insights on this show.

The recent episode "Showdown at Sherman High" had me rolling in laughter as well as saying to myself 'Oh, NO they DIDN'T' as more and more thinly veiled references (I like to think a kind of tribute?) to the show Kim Possible which I was quite an ardent fan of.

It started when Ilanna decided to try out for the Cheerleading team, and a twinge of nostalgia for KP popped into my head for at the time no known reason. When we finally meet the Squad, I was delighted to see that the team was lead by no other than a statuesque redhead whose name turns out later in the story to be Kimmie, LOL!
Thinly veiled? Yes, to be sure, but they DID manage to tie in aspects of the story to KP, albeit as closely as copyright law would allow IMHO.
They even tried to touch on Ron Stoppable as well with the scene where the SHS mascot comes into frame cheering on Ilanna... I played the dialogue there over and OVER, and each time the VA sounded more and more like Will Freidle, even the exclamation at the end of scene! EERIE!

If this was intended, I'm thankful to the writer and production crew to have thrown in this little reference to one of the greatest productions in recent animation.

I look forward to many seasons of Sym-Bionic Titan!

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Re: Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by droosan » November 23rd, 2010, 5:05 pm

This week's episode of Sym-bionic Titan ("Lessons In Love") is simply amazing. :o

Don't let the ginned-up 'controversy' on Cartoon Brew (and elsewhere online) deter you; the episode is very much worth watching .. and -- while the one scene 'singled-out' for criticism may raise an eyebrow -- when seen in context with the rest of the episode, it becomes a vital part of a rather uplifting story. :)

If you can't catch it on Cartoon Network during its remaining time-slots this week, the episode should be available for streaming on CN's website starting this weekend.
click to reveal content
Looks like Kimmi is well on her way to becoming the group's 'normal earthling friend' .. but with a definite 'twist' which promises some interesting plot developments in the future..! :mrgreen:

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Re: Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by EricJ » November 23rd, 2010, 6:58 pm

droosan wrote:I also love the many little 'easter-egg' anime/movie references peppered throughout the series. Cameos from the Yamato's wave-motion gun, Gatchaman's Dr. Nambu, and even the bank-robber/terrorists from Die Hard just make watching the show that much more fun. :)
I'd caught part of SBT knowing it was a CN show but not aware it was Genndy--
I'd thought it was yet another attempt by CN to either kiss up to their anime audience or resentfully kitsch-parody them...But that they'd never seen enough of it know which one of the two to do, and stuck to old high-school "It's, like, that Voltron stuff, right?" with standard CN humor.
Knowing that it was Genndy (hadn't heard from him in years--Huh, thought he was dead, who knew?) explains a LOT: Generally putting it in the same category as that Totoro "parody" from Samurai Jack that never seems to have heard of the character in its life, except that a lot of geeky niche fans were supposed to reverently know who it was.

(If you think Ben occasionally gets clueless outsider-bigoted about That Real Anime Stuff With Cat-Eared Girls Kicking Robots, that ain't NOTHIN' compared to Warner's animation division:
One viewing of "Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo" is not for the easily-offended faint of heart, and "Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword" isn't exactly innocent either. :shock: )

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Re: Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by droosan » November 24th, 2010, 1:53 am

Sym-bionic Titan does seem to have developed a reputation (even within parts of the professional animation community) as an 'ugly' or 'poorly-designed' show. :? It's definitely a break away from the crisp slickness of Genndy Tartakovsky's past projects .. which perhaps partly explains why some longtime fans are unaware of his involvement.

But the show's 'unpolished' look appears very much to be in purposeful tribute to pioneering anime series from the 1960's such as Wonder 3, 8 Man, Mahoutsukai Sally, or Secret Akko Chan .. as well as early tokusatsu (live-action sci-fi) series such as Magma Taishi (aka Space Giants) .. and also better-known series like Astro Boy, Gigantor, and Speed Racer.

Image

These shows liberally mixed 'cartoony' and 'realistic' styles in a manner seldom seen in anime after the early-1970's. The flavor of these series could vary wildly -- even within a single episode -- with the style trending from spooky to slapstick, as required by the story.

In S-BT, the Gallalunans (both those in space, and the trio on earth) are depicted in this 'proto-anime' styling .. while the earth-bound residents have a more 'westernized' (but still somewhat simplistic) look. The backgrounds, by contrast, burst with detail and mood .. and themselves also borrow from a vintage source: sci-fi/pulp magazine illustration.

There is, of course, a healthy dose of 'originality' stirred into the mix, as well. But it is evident that most of S-BT's creative staff are huge fans of vintage anime, giant robots & monsters, and sci-fi in general .. and that they seem to be having a blast making this show, which celebrates the best (and -- occasionally -- the 'cheesiest') elements of each. :)

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Re: Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by EricJ » November 24th, 2010, 5:11 am

droosan wrote:There is, of course, a healthy dose of 'originality' stirred into the mix, as well. But it is evident that most of S-BT's creative staff are huge fans of vintage anime, giant robots & monsters, and sci-fi in general .. and that they seem to be having a blast making this show, which celebrates the best (and -- occasionally -- the 'cheesiest') elements of each. :)
In my experience, I've found that most of the people who remember Speed Racer, Gigantor, Astro Boy, etc, from their 60's childhood, are those who hadn't been aware any anime's been made SINCE then...And are still convinced that's what the whole craze is about, for lack of any other information.
(Heck, I've been into anime for almost twenty years now, and I'd never seen Magical Witch Sally till last month. :shock: )

It's always a peril with CN...Never confuse "Wise labor-of-love tribute" with "Boneheaded stereotyped bluffing". ;)

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Post by Ben » November 24th, 2010, 6:54 am

Or "clueless outsider-bigot". Thanks for that Eric. Really appreciate it.

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Post by GeorgeC » November 24th, 2010, 3:07 pm

My problem with Genndy's shows is that they're very much designer-oriented.

Sure, they can be pretty to look at but there's just something missing... It's like they lack a certain amount of heart. They're cold in way that Sleeping Beauty (the Disney film) was. That's why I've always preferred Craig McCracken's PowerPuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Those are shows with heart.

Even Genndy's Clone Wars series felt dreary. It had nice action sequences but the Jedi were almost all-powerful and TOO perfect in that series. Exact opposite of the Prequel Films where it seems like they almost couldn't do anything right.

Weird.


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As for anime, I'm a big fan of retro-shows. If there's anything nice about more recent revamps, it shows that the basic designs for classics like Ambassador Magma, Astro Boy, and Lupin III were just right. A little higher production value and better than their original series' 3fps animated rate and those characters fit in fine today.

It comes down to a matter of capturing their personalities and attitudes correctly. Writing's been the main problems with revamps of Astro Boy, Speed Racer, and other classics.
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Re: Sym-Bionic Titan

Post by droosan » November 25th, 2010, 7:33 am

:| .. wasn't it you who could speak no ill of Genndy Tartakovsky in The Secret of Kells thread, EricJ..?

As GeorgeC has pointed out, Mr. Tartakovsky has tended to focus on 'design' in his past projects (though, I would add that he is a master at composition and boarding/pacing, as well).

Why would you assume that he (not to mention the rest of his design staff) is simply 'winging it' with this series..? :?

I don't know for certain that they are referring to the specific series which I'd listed above .. but it does seem to me that S-BT's design choices are deliberately evocative of 1960's anime and tokusatsu.

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I grew up in Japan (my father was stationed there for six years, when I was a kid) .. and Mahoutsukai Sally was one of my favorite tv shows. Though I didn't realize it at the time -- it was already in 're-runs', even back then. For most of the past 30 years, the series remained simply a fond memory for me .. but happily, a few years ago, a 19-DVD(!) boxed set of the complete series was released. Even more happily, the show is just as charming as I'd remembered. :)

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Post by GeorgeC » November 25th, 2010, 9:23 am

A lot of classic anime is better than what's being made now.

If you can get by the digital glitz and colors, the new shows and movies fail for the same reason as most entertainment has historically.

There just aren't characters and situations many people can tap into.... The writing's bad. There's a huge difference between much of the anime produced through the mid-1980s and what's coming out today. The older stuff had heart.

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I realize Genndy's an anime fan and nerd but I've still found much of his work to be oddly mechanical.

Yeah, he's an important member of a group that includes Craig McCracken but McCracken's concepts and characters have always seemed to be a bit more lively and relatable to me.

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Live-action tokusatsu is just.... weird. It's wonderfully Japanese but something generally so outrageous that most American producers wouldn't want to make something like this in the States. Besides, it's just cheaper to license the shows and dub them into English!

(Explaining what "Japanese" means is sort of difficult. You just have to watch a bunch of these shows and anime to realize that aside from cultural differences and concepts that will go over your head a lot of the better TV shows are pretty darn creative!

(They're also very, very strange. And that's not just a Japanese or Asian thing. They are weird!)

If people don't know what tokusatsu means, it basically refers to all those rangers (Power Rangers) or guy dressed in a superhero suit fighting evil monsters. It also covers similar anime series like Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (dubbed and adapted into English as "Battle of the Planets" and "G-Force").

They've made tons of these shows in Japan since the 1960s.

Modern day fans think it only applies to Kamen Rider and Power Rangers and its million spin-offs, but Ultra Man and the other Ultra series spin-offs preceded the former two shows by quite a few years http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra_Series

A lot of this stuff has never seen the light of day in English-dubbed series but Ultra Man and Ultra Seven were very popular in their day in both Japan and the English-speaking world.

I never saw anything of Ultra Seven until recently but Ultra Man was on the air (from what I remember) at least 30-some years ago. I don't really remember much of the show but it made enough of an impression that I recognize the character. Can't say I've seen the spin-offs but I have seen the artwork on DVDs in the past 5-7 years...

The original Ultra Man has had at least two DVD releases through different companies in the US.

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