Huntik: Secrets and Seekers [2012] Season 2. 26 Episodes

Newbs Become Vets

Huntik_season_2_Lok_summon_titan

"Huntik 5D! Yes, so much fun we needed an extra dimension or two to show it!"

“Huntik 5D! Yes, so much fun we needed an extra dimension or two to show it!”

Ignio Straffi parlayed Winx Club success to make Huntik: Secrets and Seekers, no doubt funding the three-year delay between seasons one and two (and a Huntik theme park attraction). If you watched season one, you know what a fun and different show it was. It had an action format like an American show, and a detailed overarching story like an anime of finite episodes.

Huntik_season_2_sophie_storyboards

Sophie Casterwill is still "the world's most dangerous teen."

Sophie Casterwill is still “the world’s most dangerous teen.”

That was a lot to live up to. Did Straffi pull it off two seasons in a row? A complex show deserves a complex answer, so we are going to say ‘yes and no’ and break it down for you. But the quality of the show and the capability of the artisans involved is not in question. As is often the case with such a fine crew, it falls upon the writers and plot developers to give them something fitting to create.

Some well done background art.

Well done background art. (That cave is like a gemologist’s dream.)

Huntik_season_2_Zhalia_storyboards

Season two in an outrageously long sentence: After kicking the professor’s butt (we miss him now) the team takes on his former right-hand man Rassimov and the eerie blood spiral cult as they apparently want to bring about the end of all life on earth, a rather dubious goal to be sure, and along the way both sides add a newbie to their ranks which ends up gobbling screen time but yields little value to the plot, action, drama, or resolution, yet probably reinforces some lesson we’re supposed to learn.

Two interesting villains.

Two interesting villains (doing classic villainous grins).

Two time-gobbling dipsticks we did not care about and a ridiculous bag of bones titan.

Two time-gobbling dipsticks we didn’t care about, and a ridiculous bag of bones titan.

The Huntik season two recipe?

  1. 1 part Pokemon
  2. 2 (many) parts civil war drama that pits brother against brother
  3. 1 part later Harry Potter (where the plot grew hazy & heavy)
  4. A pinch of the reviled Scrappy Doo (the newbs)
  5. Mix together with a tasty but unfitting dash of Power Rangers

Huntik_Season_2_Sophie_fan_art

Don’t get us wrong, Huntik is a lot better than most schlock out there, and the first season was so good that any show would be hard-pressed to live up to it. There were many times during second season where it did indeed do so. A great plus we have to mention is that for 99% of the season, they managed to not emasculate Dante Vale, super operative for the sake of making his young apprentice Lok look good.

Won't anyone help this man? Dante Vale, as usual, carrying the load... into space?

Won’t anyone help this man? Dante Vale, as usual, carrying the load… into space?

Huntik_Sophie_Casterwill_01_by_AuraRinoa

What about those important plot threads from season one? They were pretty much left dangling, and replaced by stuff not quite as interesting. What about Lok’s father in the titan world? What about Cherit’s past? What about Dante and Zhalia’s feelings for each other? Heck, Zhalia had a greatly reduced role this season, and she used to be a lot more fun.

Early on, they tantalizingly teased us with possible movement about Cherit's memory. Still, Cherit was handled so well this season, growing in power, wisdom, and likeability.

They tantalizingly teased us with near-revelations about Cherit’s past. But no dice. Still, he was handled well this season, growing in power, wisdom, and likeability.

Can you find Zhalia in this picture? Can you find her in this season?

Can you find Zhalia in this picture? Can you find her in this season?

The return of Sabriel in an early episode, Sophie’s favorite titan, was one of the most moving moments of the season. Sophie’s fight for the leadership of her clan, and the avenging of her childhood tragedy were all good stuff.

The return of Sabriel was great. One of the few things set up in season one to be paid off.

The return of Sabriel was dramatic and well done. One of the few things set up in season one to be paid off.

The mid-season climax, a tremendous budget busting battle, was one of the best episodes we’ve seen. But all of these were in the first half of the season.

Huntik_Season_2_title_card_the_spiral_war_episode_40

This battle was so chock full of budget busting assets and planning that we would not be surprised if it was far and away the most expensive and difficult episode of the season.

This battle was so chock full of budget busting assets, choreography, and story that we wouldn’t be surprised if it was far and away the most expensive and difficult episode of the season.

Who were the “Nullifiers” we kept being threatened by? Who was the “Betrayer?” Whom did he betray? The blood spirals and their goals were poorly defined, and thus the later episodes lost drama energy. And honestly, Rassimov was a good henchman, but not a charismatic lead bad guy. It was almost as if there were two Huntik season arcs crammed into one season. Neither got the full attention and revelation it deserved.

"I summon plot answers!

“I summon plot answers!

Who was this weird "betrayer?" Who did he betray? He just kind of came to life at the end of the season. "I'm the bad guy!"

Who was this weird “betrayer?” Whom did he betray? When? He just kind of came to life at the end of the season. “Look at me! I’m the bad guy!”

Straffi and the gang proved to us they still have what it takes to make awesome episodes (and apparently a theme park attraction). We just hope that they bring more of it, enough for the entirety of season three.

Dante Vale looks happy. The rest look like they're ready to punch you in the face!

Dante Vale looks (a little too) happy. The rest look like they’re ready to punch you in the face! Why so mad Sophie?

Now check out this guy rawking out with the Huntik “rock anthem” opening!


Huntik Related Takes:

Huntik: Secrets & Seekers [2009] Season 1. 26 Episodes

Huntik: Secrets and Seekers [2012]  Season 2. 26 Episodes

Top Ten Animated Pictures Vol 2.

Also By Iginio Straffi:

Winx Club Season 1 – (The Trix)

Winx Club Season 2 – (Darkar)

Winx Club Season 3 – (Baltor/Valtor)

Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom

Winx Club Season 4 – The Black Circle (part 1)

Winx Club Season 4 – The Black Circle (part 2)

Winx Club 3D: Magica Avventura


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Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2011] Season 2. 26 Episodes

Armor for everybody! (except you, Hulk.)

Iron Man and his Amazing Friends! Co-starring "War-man" and "Pepper-star!"

Iron Man and his Amazing Friends! Co-starring “War-man” and “Pepper-star!”

Seriously. Check out Blizzard's homage to Iceman's classic means of travel.

Seriously. Check out Blizzard’s homage to Iceman’s classic means of travel.

After a three-year hiatus, Iron Man: Armored Adventures returned for a second season. It was not a good time to be a Stark. Neither Howard nor his son Tony had much go right, but in the end they did overcome kidnapping, financial ruin, corporate shenanigans, maniacal mutants, maniacal armor wearing morons, megalomaniacal armor wearing doctors, manic Pepper Potts in armor, and oh, an alien invasion.

Does this kind-hearted soul look megalomaniacal to you?

Does this kind-hearted soul look megalomaniacal to you?

Justin Hammer's Titanium Man used a derivative name, but was rather maniacal.

Justin Hammer’s Titanium Man used a derivative name, but was rather maniacal.

The look was even better than season one. The cel shading style still closely emulated Skyland. The number of quality assets constructed for this season was large, yet the French and Indian animation houses produced fantastic visuals on a television budget.

Madame Masque's 1st season episode was strong. This season's not-so-much. This looks like a bad date...

Madame Masque’s 1st season episode was strong. This season’s not-so-much. (Alternate caption: ‘Your costume party date… is unhinged.’)

Real-iron-man-cosplay-costume

"How do you keep kicking my butt in those heels?"

“How do you keep kicking my butt in those heels?”

Where season two could have been better was in the writing department. Many of the individual episodes were well composed, but the overall flow, the arc of the season lacked focus. The finale involved Gene Khan’s Mandarin, but the set-up was weak. We see across multiple episodes, frustrating cameos of Gene manipulating cruelly a kidnapped Howard Stark. But there is no development of Gene since last season, except that he is less palatable.

Howard Stark says things like, "We can do great good for this world, son." Gene Khan's mom said things like, "You will complete our purpose rule the world."

Howard Stark says things like, “We can do great good for this world, son.” Gene Khan’s mom said things like, “You will complete our purpose and rule the world.”

Iron_Man_literal cosplay

So the Mandarin's ten magic-- er, 'Makluan technology' rings are actually artifacts from these goofy looking aliens?

So the Mandarin’s ten magic– er, ‘Makluan technology’ rings are actually artifacts from these wacky looking aliens?

Let’s cram season two into a sentence: Tony’s father Howard is not actually dead but kidnapped by the Mandarin and forced to help him acquire more power while Iron Man tries to carry on despite his company being stolen, and just about everybody from corporate big wigs to AIs and even nutjob students taking aim at him, though ultimately unsuccessfully thanks to his whiny friend James Rhodes, bi-polar friend Pepper Potts, and an almost completely reassembled cast of the Avengers movie.

Hulk shows up for the finale, and punches a big alien machine... Where have we seen that before?

Hulk shows up for the finale, and punches a big alien machine… Where have we seen that before?

Iron_Man_boy_hulk_cosplay_

Sure,, this season's sudden focus on the Avengers cast was just coincidence...

Sure, this season’s sudden focus on the Avengers cast was just coincidence…

Who dons armor this season? (The shorter list would be who doesn’t.) Yes, Pepper does, to our chagrin, corporate nutjob Justin Hammer, Howard Stark, even Tony’s grandson from the future, plus of course the entire armored rogue’s gallery of the Marvel Universe. Even non-armored characters like Magneto wore armor.

The Ghost is still a cool character not easily beat. Magneto in armor? Hmmm. And the winner of this season's goofiest armor is Iron Man 2099. Are those your glow in the dark pajamas?

The Ghost is still a cool character not easily beat. Magneto in armor? Hmmm. And the winner of this season’s goofiest armor is Iron Man 2099. Are those your glow in the dark pajamas?

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_doctor_doom_castle

But the stand out depiction, and the most pleasant surprise of the season was that of Doctor Doom. It was the best depiction we have seen of him since John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run back in the day. A great voice and modulation, and his wacky mix of tech and magic. Okay, they retconned his magic to be “really advanced quantum technology.” It was the only slip up, and unnecessary.

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_doctor_doom_victor_beat

"Kneel before doom!"

“Kneel before Doom!”

It was great to see young Iron Man, before he came into the fullness of his power, get his butt swiftly and mercilessly kicked. He was totally outclassed, which was a nice change up since he kicked butt all season long. Doom’s visual effects were different and exciting. He was not dumbed or powered down. We give props to shows when they do not emasculate the powerful veteran to make the newbie star look good (Huntik also handled this well).

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_Season_2_doctor_doom_advanced_rendering

"Check out my cool stealth armor and space armor. Huh? You think the red lights give my stealth armor away?"

“Check out my cool stealth armor and space armor. Huh? You think the red lights give my stealth armor away?”

Iron Man: AA offers a fun glimpse into lesser known Marvel universe characters. Their depictions are solid and worthy of them. We can even forgive the shameless latching-on to the phenomenally successful Avengers movie cast. Tony, in slightly unbelievable fashion, cranks out new armor types to please fans of the franchise. (Most of them, thankfully, retain the round uni-beam.) Overall, it is a finely crafted show still worth watching.

PS – This looks like the end of production for Iron Man Armored Adventures. It was a good and entertaining two-season run. We would enjoy seeing more of it.

When in the Hulkbuster armor, Tony needs only say, "Talk to the hand."

When in the Hulkbuster armor, Tony needs only say, “Talk to the hand.”

"This commute is really starting to stink..."

“This commute is really starting to stink…”

Check out another rock anthem theme song. It rawks:

Check out other Iron Man related takes:

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Check out some of our other Marvel takes:

Green Lantern: The Animated Series [2011] Season 1

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Ultimate Spider-Man [2012] Season 1: 26 Episodes

Made for 6th Graders…By 6th Graders?

Ultimate_Spider_man_peter_parker_two thumbs up

Some takes, like the ones on Sleeping Beauty, Wing Commander, and Brisco County Junior are labors of love. This take on Ultimate Spiderman was just labor. This show straddles the borderline of being below the criteria for our attention. The shows schizophrenic nature yields scenes that are definitely way below our criteria, and some that are just barely above.

"I hope you do not mean me."

“I hope you do not mean me.”

An evil dark elf? Hellboy? Man-bat? Huh, it's the Green Goblin? Really?

An evil dark elf? Hellboy? Man-bat? Huh, it’s the Green Goblin? Really?

If you’re looking for show that’s trying to be hip to grammar school boys and their fantasies of heroic action, this is it. The “Peter Parker – average kid” angle is hit very hard. Almost every episode includes the “amusing antics” of his life with aunt May, bullies at school, problems with friends, and generally life balance issues.

Oh no. The Hulk AND Aunt May both get a cold the same day. ANd peter has to nurse them both while they reside in the same house. ...yes, this really was a plot.

Oh no. The Hulk AND Aunt May both get a cold the same day? And Peter has to nurse them both while they reside in the same house? Oh, the hijinks ensue… ugh. (…yes, this really was a plot.)

A schizophrenic season in a sentence? Spiderman is unfathomably recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. and given a Spidey cycle (*cough* toy marketing *cough*) and for some reason groomed to be a leader, even though he’s one of the most solo acts of the Marvel universe, and in that contrived role is forced to team up with a group of multi-cultural teenaged superheroes as they battle super criminals out of their league, come across questionable depictions of established Marvel characters, and bash you over the head with trying to be hip.

"A wise man knows that bashing people over the head is a last resort." Well voiced Iron Fist was one of the few consistently enjoyable characters.

“A wise man knows that bashing people over the head is a last resort.” (Well voiced Iron Fist was one of the few consistently enjoyable characters.)

In contrast, the similarly off-beat Batman the Brave and the Bold started out semi-seriously (in its first 13 episodes) and had just enough good shows and clever writing to appeal broadly. Ultimate Spiderman smashes you in the face with constant cutaways to super deformed versions of characters doing inane things.

What is with that jaw? It is like the roundest one EVAR. Note they did NOT leave it so when he donned the mask.

What’s with that jaw? It’s like the roundest one EVAR. Note they did NOT leave it so when he donned the mask.

That touches upon our chief criticism of the series, it’s constant cutting away out of the narrative. Under the guise of being hip and different, the producers freeze anytime they want in order to fill in plot holes or say something to keep the viewer interested. It can allow the storytelling to become lazy when you know you can always explain something away in such a segment rather than showing it.

"Ah, before you do your crazy Wolverine thing again, can you explain what you are doing here in Times Square, New York City?"

“Ah, before you do your crazy Wolverine thing again, can you explain what you’re doing here in Times Square, New York City?”

This also has the unfortunate side effect of breaking up the action beats and diluting the drama. It does have its fun moments, but this mechanic was overused. Some of the cutaway content also seemed overindulgent. While we may have understood 1950s style “Leave It to Beaver” and 1930s style the “Wizard of Oz” theming for a couple of these segments, we wonder how many sixth-graders did.

One person who would get those references is Stan Lee. He voiced Stan the Janitor.

One person who would get those references is Stan Lee. He voiced Stan the Janitor.

The plots were contrived. And to use a cliche, forcing a leadership role onto high school aged Peter Parker/Spidermen is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The last two episodes, the finale of the season, were particularly filled with forced contrivances with Spiderman telling his team to, “Stay out of this! I need to do it alone.” Please.

MJ, like everyone else in this series, did not listen.

MJ, like everyone else in this series, did not listen.

It was fun seeing Clark Gregg reprise his oft-played role of “Agent Coulson.” Overall, the show had some decent effects, some decent action scenes, and rather standard art direction.

Ultimate_Spider_man_concept01

Marvel Universe Character Depictions Rated:

  • Ironman: Playboy angle overplayed, and not very likable.
  • Hulk: Rather contrived usage.
  • Doctor Doom: Decent effort, but lacking… something.
  • Captain America: Solid and well done.
  • Wolverine: Eh. Kinda one-dimensional. (And out of place!)
Ultimate_Spider_man_wolverine_is nice and patient

“Whoa! Okay, sorry Wolverine. Take it easy. There are nine-year-olds watching.”

We will spare you talk about the “Spider-ham” episode. we may watch next season for casual entertainment, but we doubt, unless it changes greatly, we will be doing any more takes on the series.

Spiderham and THIS guy in the same show?

SpiderHAM and THIS guy in the same series?

Check out some of our other Marvel takes:

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

The Legend of Korra [2012] Season 1: 12 Episodes

All Your Old Friends (are poorly replaced)

Look, it’s Aang from the original show! Why so angry? Oh, you watched this series… Well, we only get a few confusing flashbacks of you anyway. (Nice hipster beard.)

If you liked Avatar: The Last Airbender for all its interesting qualities, the sequel series, The Legend of Korra may not be for you. Avatar groupies who like anything Avatar (including the live action movie, and even James Cameron’s Avatar) should read with caution.

Brace yourself for the world’s worst love quadrangle.

We were fond of the original Avatar series. It depicted a carefully crafted universe influenced by the few who could “bend” elements. It featured a likable cast, deep backstory, and plots both personal and grand. Korra portrays:

  • The entire bending universe haphazardly transported to the American 1920s.
  • One supporting cast brother who is overly stiff and unlikable.
  • The other supporting cast brother who is a total goober and whose misspeaks get old.
  • A lead character who goes from annoying to… er, no change there.

Meet the new avatar. She’s churlish and puerile! (Uh, those aren’t good qualities.) She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.

You will also find episodes that are consistently no fun because:

  1. The “good guys” always lose, being one step behind.
  2. Our “heroes” make the world’s worst decisions without fail.
  3. The romantic narrative is purposely uncomfortable.

Tensin is opposite to young Aang in every way, despite being his son. (He also spends the season being the straight man for every joke at the hands of his kid’s and Korra’s childishness.)

Why are we in the 1920s? Was the previous setting so bad? Dull? Uninteresting? They went all out: Cars, airplanes, and even a 1920s radio newsie narration. For technology to have advanced so far in just 70 years was bizarre. Seeing Korra ride down the street on a polar bear was just dumb.

Oh, did we mention there are also combat mech suits? What the heck?! Someone mentioned to us that the show felt a little like a “Batman Universe.”

One of these characters is interesting, and the other a dipstick.

The show does have some bright spots. The voice work was well done. The main villain’s voice especially, which carried well his malevolent intent. Most of the voice cast hit the mark, but this does not mean the lines they said carried an enjoyable plot.

The art direction was also very good, especially noticeable in the vehicles (airships, mech suits, etc.) and specialty sets (like the bending competition arena). The character design was less impressive overall, but with solid hits like Amon and Asami. She was visually different and well done. Almost out of place among the standard dull designs of many other characters.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful… or rich, or smart, or brave, an excellent driver, master martial artist…”

The new avatar is an aggressive, annoying, headstrong, unwise, impulsive (have we said annoying?) teenaged girl. She lacks respect. This is the lead protagonist of the entire show? A poor foundation indeed. If she has a true internal arc of growth, it has not started despite a whole season’s worth of episodes.

A stiff, a fox, and a dullard (in that order…). Is this show even about bending?

The romantic interaction was a real turn-off. Manipulative on purpose. The stiff, dull brother has a brief infatuation with Korra before getting into a relationship with the surprisingly smart, competent, pretty and undeniably interesting Asami. Then he makes an abrupt, completely witless, and disrespectful turn back to Korra. Those two dull lumps deserve each other. Never was there a romance for which we rooted less…

Ugh. Korra actually surpassed Bella from Twilight (okay, almost) as the new “least interesting girl in the world.”

There were a lot of political messages. The shallow appeal of the communist, “Equalist” message apparently appealed to the moronic city populace, and we gained little care for their welfare. Nor did we for the feckless and impotent ruling council swayed by the underhanded antics of every bad guy that came along. The whole season felt insular and small.

Asami knows how to strike a pose, but does she know her own father? (She may also wonder what she is doing in this series). She turned out to be genuinely nice and true, and did not deserve the treatment she got.

The most fun we had with this season was during professional arena bending games shown in the first few episodes (and then stopped in lieu of stupider plot prospects). It was an interesting set up with engagement zones and 3-person teams, each set up with water, fire, and earth benders.

“Wave to the crowd and have fun! (It’s the most you’ll have this season.)”

If this show was no relation to the original Avatar series, and just called “Fred’s Elemental Powers Adventure,” we’d cut it more slack. But it’s not. So do the franchise justice, producers.

“Do the franchise justice, or I’ll use this on your face!”

Lin Beifong, daughter of the original series earthbender Toph, was one of the few characters that grew on us. She started brusque, but had a significant (and rare for this series) arc.

At the rate technology is advancing in the Airbender universe, Korra’s grandchild will be the space avatar of distant world Rigel 12…

“Is this Mars?”

Check out our Avatar related Takes:

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005–2008)

The Legend of Korra [2012] Season 1

 

She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [2012] Season 2: Conclusion

The 2nd (& final) Season Delivers Super-Heroically

The first season of the show was somewhat disjointed, but showed great promise. We are happily surprised to say that the second season lived up to that promise and then some. The shows credits are expansive, so we shall suffice it to say that whoever took control this season knew what they were doing.

What happened to the Enchantress? Oh, she’s agreeing that this season was on fire.

Oh look, Agent Hill was back. And she’s still an uber-jerk. (She needs to go on a date or something…)

It is not a kids show, although they will enjoy the action. It is a serious show well-suited to adult fans of the Marvel universe. The series smartly called upon some of comic’s greatest storylines. It is of course nearly impossible to do a multi-issue comics storyline in one or two twenty minute animated episodes. But props go to their trying, and for the most part succeeding.

Is Thor free from girl trouble? “I say thee nay.”

Uh, there’s no shortage of powerful females… with attitude.

This season dug into the personal stories of the avengers. Pulled from the pages of comic books, we got to see Capt. America learn of the Winter Soldier story and face off against his arch enemy, the Red Skull. We went through Hank Pym’s draconian Yellowjacket phase. And they did a pretty good job retelling the classic Beta Ray Bill story from the pages of Walt Simonson’s Thor.

“Verily, NONE can wield Thor’s hammer Mjolnir!”

“For sooth! Perhaps I was hasty…”

While the animation is just okay, the art direction is classic and well-done. The voice work is fitting and a lot of fun The soundtrack is good for such a series; listen for the awe-inspiring choral arrangements when Thor cuts loose. We still maintain that this show displays the best and truest depictions of Thor and Ironman we have seen in some time.

Uh, not that one.

Ah. that’s more like it. Yay repulsors!

Of course it wasn’t all flowers and roses. There were too many “evil twin” episodes for our tastes (oh those crafty shape-shifters). The depiction of the fantastic four was particularly bad (aside from Ben Grimm). Try not to cringe when you hear Reed Richards voice. also, the finale was fittingly against Galactus, arguably the heaviest hitter in the Marvel universe. However what could have easily been a two-parter or even an arc was crammed into one short twenty minute episode.

You can’t cram a foe of this scale… literally, into one episode. (We could barely cram him into one picture.)

They did, for the most part, keep the avengers foes on the upper and where they should be. This is, after all, a collection of Marvel’s most powerful heroes. So Kree and Skrull invasions, Doctor Doom, Kang the Conqueror, etc., are all in a day’s work. There was also excellent sub-plots with Hulk versus Red Hulk, and Ultron’s creation, the Vision.

“Red Hulk smash? …er, scheme!”

The “Emperor Stark” episode was incredibly ambitious, and our fave of the season. You sleep for a few days and wake up to this? Huh!?

They had a good grip on the characters, and few were shortchanged. Thor was depicted properly as super powerful, yet did not have to lead. Captain America was rising into the leadership role to which he is so well suited, despite being on the low-power end.

“I’m looking at YOU thunder god.”

The season was delayed. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. The show just hit its stride, and while not being cancelled, is transforming into Avengers Assemble, a new series. Was this season too good to be true? Hopefully this transition will be weathered as well as Justice League to Justice League Unlimited (although we did prefer the former).

Repulsors for everyone!

Bonus Quiz!

Who is this mysterious character?

  1. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Darkseid.
  3. One of those Michael Bey transformers… they all look the same.
  4. War Machine

Check out our Takes on All Seasons

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Check out related takes:

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1. 12 episodes

Anime has some strengths. However Marvel Entertainment captured only a few with this version of Iron Man. They were more successful at capturing numerous drawbacks.

But on the bright side, Iron Man likes puppies.

“I know you must have a cold metallic heart, not unlike my own. But my dear Dr. Tanaka, how can you resist my boyish, billionaire charm?”

A season’s plot in a sentence: A slightly off version of Tony Stark visits Japan to give up being Iron Man, give away top-notch versions of his armor to doofuses, give obsessive attention to world peace, and give a loose collection of enemies under the supposed banner of Zodiac a halfhearted fight while interacting with a bunch of second-tier characters before they die, and smooching with a cold hearted scientist cyborg before she dies.

The supposedly “supersmart” organization Zodiac fields the uber goofiest contraptions. Was that top one supposed to be a turtle? And the middle one was some mighty tornado creation machine. You’d think with that kind of power… oh never mind. And we think the bottom one was supposed be a bull. Zodiac is really hurtin’ for ideas…

“Hey, are we tragic secondary characters who die or goofy comic relief?”

What is one strength of anime? Deep and complex plots. We are sad to say that Iron Man anime’s plot was shallow and obtuse. The whole zodiac plot could have been dropped in lieu of the two bad guys. The result would have been a little more clarity and a lot more satisfaction. Zodiac is supposed to be some sort of high-tech offshoot of A.I.M. We never see this organization. Their presence remains too amorphous to be menacing.

Iron Man technology for everybody! What could possibly go wrong?

Pepper Potts has really grown into her role… (She had about 3 lines.)

For a few episodes zodiac’s greatest contribution to the series seems to be sending in a few nonsensical robot enemies-of-the-week. Why were they doing it? What was the point? What about all those suits of armor stolen in the first episode? Do we even care anymore? For 12 episodes this series creates more questions than answers.

The goofy Zodiac robot on top disabled Iron Man- but did not finish him! Instead it brought him into the delicate inner workings… You can imagine how that worked out. The bottom one? A robot designed to look like …a creature from a monster movie? *head shake*

But Iron Man likes charity walks!

The top bad guy barely appears, however we do see runner-up bad guy, Yinsen, a little bit more. They tried but failed to give him coherent motivation. Certainly not enough to justify his inexplicable desire to destroy Japan when his problem seemed to be that Stark once made weapons.

“You thought I was dead Mr. Stark, but I’m not. You thought I was a good guy, but I’m not…etc.” Yinsen pretty much beats up Iron Man for a whole episode. It was so much fun! (not really)

“So Sakurai, you’ve got armor too?” Who DOESN’T have armor in this series?

Another strength of anime is mecha. Tony Stark’s classic-ish armor (the only shown aside from some space add-ons) looked good, and so did the blue versions he was giving away- if you were one of the first five people to buy his book! Anyway, the rest of the robots and enemies were not very inspired. The machines were computer-generated and the people 2d animation. Neither art direction really thrilled us.

Our runner up for dumbest Zodiac robot: The centaur! Why? Why a centaur? And the winner: …uh, a giant floating head? Was there drug use going on during production?

But at least Iron Man likes cupcakes.

The show took itself too seriously without any serious payoff. 12 episodes of somberness, struggle, frustration and death with little balance or upside. A better more satisfying Iron Man show that had a serious plot yet without taking itself this seriously was Iron Man Armored Adventures. (It also had better fight choreography.) It was somewhat surprising because the show starred teens, and probably appealed to a teen audience. Yet it still had a serious enough plot to carry adults.

Oh surprise. The big baddie also has a suit of armor. Get ’em while they last! Buy one get two free!

Dr. Chika Tanaka eventually falls for Tony Stark. A woman after all… or is she?

The bad guy organization Zodiac was no Mandarin. Zodiac wasn’t even a presence. Supposedly they were the doofuses who sent random robots every episode. We are still not sure what Zodiac was, except to say it was a name thrown around that made people say, “Oh no” and “I’m scared”. We deserve better after watching 12 episodes, especially considering the body count.

Huh? Dr. Tanaka “transforms” into …this cyborg? Robot? The armor was inside her? Is she even human?

If you like Iron Man, and you like anime, the show is worth checking out. But do not expect it to be a great mix like peanut butter and chocolate. To not even expect it to be a substantial mix like peanut butter and jelly. It’s more like dehydrated astronaut ice cream. All the calories of ice cream without the satisfaction. Iron Man anime had its fun moments, but was not a very satisfying 12 episode experience.

Talk to the hand.

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Iron Man Related Takes:

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [2010] Season 1

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

This production is not for young kids. We are not saying it is as monotone, adult and unappealing as The Dark Knight [2008]. However it deals with adult themes, diplomacy, betrayal, bitter feminism, some womanizing and a few atomizations.

Why so grim Hogun? Lighten up.

That description may be at odds to an art direction more reminiscent of The Next Avengers. Cutesy Thor and Loki have skinny legs and big feet, not having grown into full manhood. Of course that does not stop them from causing man sized trouble.

Odin fights the demon Sutur. Note the size difference. Yes, that is Odin in the circle. And he won this match too.

The opening credits were pleasingly classy and interesting (especially for a direct to home market release). Though to us they clashed a bit with the stylized, less detailed animation. They also seemed somewhat at odds with Thor’s teenage angst and naïveté.

Could Loki's brooding expression foretell a future path of evil? ...nah.

Is the enchanting Enchantress Amora teaching Loki sign language? We know the question you might be asking, "Why did Thor never go for her?"

How about a one sentence synopsis? Teenaged Thor thinks he’s a man but is really a weenie, so he tries to prove otherwise by stowing away on a mission with his younger brother Loki easily finding a legendary blade no one for generations seemed able to find and causing a chain reaction of events leading to some fried frost giants, war amongst the Asgardian lands, interruption of feminist Valkyrie river bathing, some pointless battles and an ending which leaves you saying, “eh”.

Uh... very inconvenient. Unless you can teleport or fly. Great view though.

Could this innocent looking dark elf possibly be holding in resentment, rage and a hunger for vengeance? ...nah.

This tired story really did not have to star Thor. The spoiled prince, some womanizing knights, the fiery attitude filled girlfriend denied being a warrior in a male-dominated society, kingdoms separated by a fragile truce… Yes you have heard it all before. Thor did not do a thing normally associated with the character. He did not use his hammer, call down lightning, or even utter, “I say the nay!” It is not even “Thor Year One”. It is more like “Thor Year Minus One” (because at least in year one he would get his hammer.)

Sure Sif, train with the Valkyries. That will help your anger issues. (Although we are partial to archers...)

Tales of Asgard was not bad. It had interesting moments and is worth watching. However it carries no surprises, earth shattering moments or a very satisfying ending. And some of the teen angst between Thor and his father Odin was ripped almost line for line from “The Little Mermaid”.

  • Thor/Ariel: “But father I want to see the outside world.”
  • Odin/King Triton: “I forbid it.”
  • Thor/Ariel: “I’m grown up, you can’t keep me here!”
  • Odin/King Triton: “I am your king and your father and you will obey me!”

How did this picture get in here? Wrong undersea king.

Asgard itself was a little hard to pin down in regards to its technology and even era. Sometimes it was ancient Greek, other times medieval England. We are not sure what exactly they were going for. However at least the depictions of the Frost Giants was adequate. Unlike the live-action Thor movie, Frost Giants were actually… well, giant.

Flaming swords and frost giants... No, don't try to make it make sense. Just be pleased they were actually big.

The depiction of the Warriors Three was well done. But they are easy and fun stereotypes to work with.

One of the least fun depictions was the Valkyries. Led by Brunhilde, they were male hating, cold hearted, duplicitous, murderous wenches. That is no exaggeration for the sake of humor or wit. Yet another island of bitter females who “throw off male subjugation” with ill temper and stifled aggression. A sect not satisfied until every female who ever experienced a bump on their romantic highway joins their unhappy enclave. Misery truly loves company.

"See how happy I look? Join us Sif and you will be this happy too."

If you go into this production with no expectations you may get one hour and 13 minutes worth of mild entertainment. Even if some of the characterizations are a little much, the overall plot stayed rather safe, although perhaps a little staid.

It was pretty much nothing like this. Talk about violating truth in advertising laws.

Check out related takes:

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Iron Man: Armored Adventures Season 1 [2008]

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1 [2010]