Welcome to the second article in the series about watching the cartoons I used to enjoy growing up to see if they stand the test of time. I'm going to be watching a couple of episodes each week and then on Thursdays I will be discussing my findings on the show. Hopefully it lives up to the nostalgia I have for the show. As far as rules for choosing the series goes, it has to be a show that I watched when I was a kid, it had to be aired on Saturday, preferably on either WB Kids or Fox Kids, ABC Family is also acceptable, but really that was the red headed step child of the Saturday morning cartoon channels in the 90's. I announced last week that this would be the series that I'm checking out, but much to my surprise I found out yesterday that this fall there would be a sequel to the series! It's a happy coincidence, but I figure it's a good time to revisit the show. I'm going to announce the series I'll be watching for next week at the end of every article so that you can watch along with me if you'd like.
Now on to the show, I couldn't get an HD copy anywhere, but that's ok the animation style holds up very well in regular old SD and kind of amps up the nostalgia factor. I ended up watching five or so episodes, but I only actually wrote notes down for three of them.
Right away the theme song comes on and I remember how much I adored this show when I was a kid, it was a big wave of nostalgia, this one. They really set up the series well with a clear premise right away in this episode. The concept of Daishi and Wuya fighting over the fate of the world in the past with mystical artifacts is a great set up for a kids show. Daishi wins, but doesn't kill Wuya (obviously, he's a good guy, duh) and traps her in a puzzle box. The idea that evil is rising from generations past is a good way for the show to up the gravitas and importance of the hero's quest. Plus, 12 year old me loved it. Omi's hysterical, but most of his jokes and humor comes from the fact that he doesn't understand other cultures and is a perfectionist to obsessive levels. Wait wi-fi existed in 2003? Also PDA's were a thing, huh. They do a pretty good job of explaining the basic characteristics of each character and why we should care about them right away. With the exception of Clay, man he's kinda lame at the start of this show. Ray's awesome right away and reminds me why he was my favorite back when I was a kid. Jack Spicer is pretty funny in this episode; overall the series is heavier on the comedy than I remember as a kid. I thought this show was super bad ass when I was a kid, it's gotten a lot campier with age. The show sets up a pretty formulaic plot for each episode early on,: Opening scene everybody is hanging out and then the gang learns of a Sheng Gong Wu, goes after it, fails miserably, learns something, and finally Xiaolin Showdown time, Jack gets his ass handed to him because somebody in the gang learned an important lesson (sometimes more than one). While we looked at another martial arts series last week: Jackie Chan Adventures, the action there was much better because the art style was so much more realistic; although the Xiaolin Showdown part of the episode is pretty bad ass. One more thing! hundreds of Shen Gong Wu? they were pretty confident that this series would last! Turns out they are doing 3 Shen Gong Wu in the first episode, nice. As an added bonus the videos I found came with the kids WB promos at the end of the episode!!!!! That is the best thing ever.
this is a different episode, but same sadface'd Omi :P
The episode is going to focus on Clay, my least favorite of the gang. Omi's sad face at the beginning, he got snubbed on using a Sheng Gong Wu (still not sure that's how you spell it, whatever) OMG that's hysterical. Wait what? when did Jack Spicer get a Shen Gong Wu? or did he get it off screen?! Oh right this is the evil magic mime episode, that's pretty fantastic I forgot about bizarre things like this in the series. Suddenly the Robot minions are already demoted to Putty (Power Rangers henchman, for the uninitiated) level. Some time must have passed in between episodes, The whole team has gotten abilities like Omi's water move. Kimiko's hair has changed, wait doesn't it change like every episode for a while? Clay is the only one who can save the day because the gang is caught in a mime box! I still can't believe that they based a whole episode around a mime, plus Clay punched himself in the face to beat the mime. Clay's signature move is to hit people with his Stomach, wut? For an episode that was supposed to show how badass Clay is, he sure didn't play a huge role in the episode until the Showdown. Even then he didn't do much, although the way he indirectly won the thing is great. Another 3 Sheng Gong Wu in one episode, maybe the hundreds of Sheng Gong Wu isn't such a big deal :P Clay finishes up the show with a bash on mimes, pretty good. Overall the episode had some highs, mainly everything mime related, but was pretty average.
Jack gets Shen Gong Wu off screen, again! Seems like this is the episode focusing on Kimiko, my guess is each of the early episodes is going to focus on one of the gang to build some character and make the audience care more about each. One thing that really bothered me about the early part of the episode is how the hell did Dojo turn into a boat? I mean can all dragons turn into boats? Also Omi is a total sexist ass this episode. I guess the whole thing for this episode is that Kimiko has anger issues. Are they going to deal with sexism on a Saturday Morning cartoon? It's kinda neat that they have someone for girls to look up to, in the show though. Turns out her other teammates are also huge dicks, stealing her stuff and making fun of her throughout the early part of the episode, plus is Omi eating Lipstick??? The Sheng Gong Wu that Spicer gets off screen this week is the monkey staff, Jack Spicer with a tail is awesome. I'm liking monkey Jack Spicer, but I question the value of a staff that turns you into a monkey. I wish they didn't re-use the animation for the elemental attacks, but I guess they had an animation budget. Do any of the team think about what they have on them or what the situation is before accepting a showdown? It seems like they handicap themselves each time. As we go into the Showdown for the episode wow, she is not very good at this whole thing, has she not learned anything at all? Oh there we go, enlightenment. Raymundo turns out to be the least dickish of the group betting that Kimiko would succeed the whole time. Also, Omi learns about sexism, kinda, sorta. Golden Tiger Claws are a cool idea for a mystical artifacts and I guess it's where the cat burglar comes in next week? My guess is that they created the Cat burglar character to balance out Kimiko on the evil side.
Anyway those are my thoughts on the first 3 episodes of the show and while it totally has some flaws and cracks that show up with age, it's still pretty enjoyable overall. I'd consider rewatching the rest of it before the new series comes out, but with as much stuff that I've got on my plate I don't know if I'll be able to. I'd give it a go if you guys had time though.
Whew that was a long one guys, but next week I think I will be sitting down with....Ozzy & Drix