Titans, GO!

I hate to push down my lengthy discussion of fat sexuality, but it was pretty disorganized anyway so I'm not too broken up. Just I know people don't always check my blog on a regular basis, especially since I've been blogging so in frequently. But anyway...

A while back I posted about my love of Cartoon Network, specifically [adult swim]. The other thing I watch faithfully on CN are their superhero programs. Initially, this was just their Jusice League show, but they took it off the air just before the season finale was to air, and are holding off on it until closer to when the next season is ready. Grrr. So, to fill my superhero fix until Justice League returns in the summer (and the new Batman animated series starts up in the fall) I've been watching Teen Titans, a show I initially hated by am quickly coming around on.

The problem with Titans is that its style can be off-putting to folks like me who've been drawn into superhero cartoons by the 90's Batman and Superman cartoons, and their successor Justice League. Instead of the dark, realist style of the Batman cartoons, we're treated to a show which very intentionally echos kiddie-anime style. The character and scenary designs are simple and exaggerated. It focuses a lot of kid-stuff interaction between the teen superheros. Its all brightly colored with distinct swaths of color. Most of all it incorporates what is called "Super-D" animation. The "D" being short for deformation. Basically, it describes a style of animation where the laws of physics are routinely ignored for very little reason. We're not talking about Bugs Bunny breaking the law of physics, either. More like people's heads growing huge when they are angry, becoming childlike when they are crushing on someone, or other such deformaties. Esentially, the character emotions are expressed on screen physically. Its something I hate about most kiddie anime. It just pulls me out of the story instead of illustrating.

Still, something works about it. It takes the Japanese techniques and reinvents them for an American audience. It really revels in the Super-D stuff. Usually, its just used as a gag in anime, but Teen Titans very expressly uses it to convey emotion and character sentiment. Instead of a gimmick, it feels stylized. It plays off the character relationships.

Indeed, the show really is into character relationships. While aimed squarely at kids, there is a lot of mature stuff going on just beneath the surface. It also made good use of the lesser known characters they chose for the show. Instead of the original Teen Tians, which were a bunch of kid-versions of major superheros, they went with what I'm told is an 80's incarnation of the team. Although mainstay Robin is the anchor of the group, the remaining Titans are unfamiliar to average fans like me who don't read comic books. This allowed them to really establish the relationships without worrying about expectations or having the adult versions overshadow the Titans. A couple kiddie-versions have snuck into episodes, but they exist on their own. They are not their fathers children (or their hero's sidekick). They even took one of the goofiest heros in DC's books, Speedy, (the junior marksman sidekick to the Robin Hood-esque Green Arrow) and made something of him. The core Titans have easily identified motivations for interacting with each other. They are patient enough and confident enough to keep up with this. These are very fully formed characters.

Moreover, the stories are more than the usual villian of the week fare these shows usually have. Oh sure, it has the obligatory rogues gallery, but the team has a genuine arch-enemy. He may not factor into every story, but he's there. They're really respecting the comic book background, too, which I respect, while not being beholden to it, which I appreciate. Thus, they are adding a layer of understanding without adding a layer of difficulty.

All told, I'm pretty impressed by a show I had quickly written off. Its fun, action-packed, and quite enjoyable. And despite the Super-D stuff and kid friendly coloring, it still can look very, very, very cool. Its not everyone's cup of tea, but I like it.

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