Young Justice Ends

I just watched the series finale for Young Justice today, and I have to say it ended like it began- with a resounding thud!

I found the very first episode of this series clunky and a little dull, and this finale was pretty much the same- it was supposed to be cool and epic, but instead it came across as rushed and kinda forced. The cool finale was really Episode 2×19- The Summit, and this episode was just 20 minutes of housecleaning that felt like a really forced attempt to bring together all the plotlines this awkward and uneven season had been scattering about.

Season One started so-so, but got better fast and ended strong, Season Two started oddly, got better, and worse, and then really cool for a few episodes before finally it came to its natural but awkward conclusion.

I keep using the word “awkward” because I don’t think there’s a better word to describe this season of the show. Too many new characters, and not enough time to focus on the old characters or the new, so the whole thing just turned into a mess at times. In fact, the only time the show really worked was when it reverted back to the Season One cast and focussed on what they were doing. Most of the new cast, with the exceptions of Blue Beetle (who they were pushing really really hard during the second half) and Impulse were pretty much cyphers, and then on top of that they added another team of young heroes to an already overstuffed season- just because.

I don’t know if they were driven by the toy makers to pack the show with action figures, or just couldn’t wait to expand the team and decided they wanted to get as many cool characters in there as possible. Either way, they messed up what had been a solidly good alternate take on the DC Universe with great continuity and some really good character development in the first season. These characters really felt alive and unique, and the whole story felt more organic than forced. (With a few exceptions, like this week’s finale.)

When it first started, I worried that the show would fail the logic test because each week the characters would be in situations where the “real” heroes should be dropping in to help them but didn’t because the plot called for it. With a single exception (the one with the Injustice League from Season One), the writers did a great job of avoiding that trap, and these never felt like “sidekicks” but actual young heroes in training. The senior heroes did show up, but didn’t overshadow the team except when it made sense for them to, and they felt like mentors instead of guardians.

Actually, the show Young Justice most reminded me of was Naruto, and I’m positive that Naruto was indeed a huge influence on the production end of the show. Robin even does Naruto’s signature clone-jutsu move during one of the episodes near the end of Season One (with a little help from Zatana). The whole feeling of the show, with the young heroes going out on missions assigned them by the senior heroes, who were still there and active in the background, really made me think of Naruto, and if they’re going to borrow, then I think they picked the perfect show to borrow from.

The problem is that while they borrowed Naruto’s style and some of its story structure, they forgot one important element- a central character. No matter how scattered or epic Naruto became, it was always still about Naruto growing and developing as a Ninja, and even if that show wandered off to follow side-characters doing things it was still anchored around him. Even in Season One, Young Justice had a problem with focus, and I always found the team a little bit dull because of it. It kind’ve worked when they concentrated on the personal problems each of them had, but they never really got deeply enough into any of them for my tastes and those problems were all resolved in the Season One finale.

Then, when they hit Season Two, that whole problem exploded like a grenade. Suddenly we were overwhelmed by characters and events, and a show which could be a little unfocused became a mess of people we didn’t know or care about. The action was good, the storylines usually interesting, and the animation high quality, but the show’s heart was missing. What depth it had before now gone under a tide of events not really related to any one character.

Just like the show’s finale.

Yesterday, I thought it was a shame this show got cancelled due to low ratings (among key demographics) and poor toy sales. Today, I’m okay with it ending. It was a fun show that I enjoyed while it was around and might re watch someday (well, Season One), but its time is done.

Thanks to the writers and producers of the show, it was fun while it lasted!

Rob

Stuff I watched this week

Avatar: The Legend of Korra– a friend sent me a link to a slightly grainy copy of the pilot episode of the new Avatar series. I have to confess, I’ve only watched a handful of episodes of the original series. I’ve tried to watch it a couple times, but it always failed to keep my attention despite being very well done. Korra seems a bit more up my alley, and is extremely well all around. I found myself entranced by the pilot and enjoyed it greatly, although I do wonder what exactly it is they’re setting up. It almost seems like Korra is to be Republic City’s resident superhero or something, which could be an interesting twist. I adore the setting they’ve created with it too, an odd mix of 1920’s American culture with a heaping dose of Chinese culture thrown in, a bit like the legendary city Shanghai was during the early part of the 20th century. A+

GoBuster– Each year Toei puts out a new Sentai series, and each year I watch the pilot hoping that it won’t be awful out of a sense of nostalgia for series like Timeranger, Bioman and Jetman. Pretty much every year they disappoint me, especially recently, so I was shocked to discover that this year’s sentai is actually pretty good! It’s a Spy-Themed Sentai this year, and they’re going out of their way to try to be more like a superspy series instead of a generic sentai series. The production values are great, they have a good (if typical) premise as to why the badguys are showing up, and they actually did something different with the badguy giant monsters for once. (The bad guys seem to actually attack in pairs, a human-sized monster of the week backed up by a slightly customized giant robot.) A lot of thought was also put into how (at least the pilot) is filmed as well. I might not watch it for long, but I will definitely give it a couple episodes. You can find it on Youtube subbed in English. B

PRIEST– This is a movie based on a Korean comic of the same name about a post-apocalyptic future where humans fought a great war with vampires and the remaining surviving humans live in giant walled cities. The Priests (read: Jedi) are the supersoldiers who won the war for humanity, and are now treated like crap since the vampries are gone. (or are they….? Dun Dun DUN!) This is an odd movie, which like Korra is a weird fusion of Asian and American aethestics that produce something visually unique in its own way. Of course, the things that aren’t unique are the plot or the writing, which are fair, but neither especially good or bad.  Actually, the writing style did remind me of Korean Manhua (comics) I’ve read, and had all the poor elements I associate with them as well- stilted uneven storytelling, odd dialogue, and weird moments of comedy. (They produce fricken amazing Historical Dramas, why can’t they produce good comics?) The fights were fairly well done, and the odd thing is that the acting wasn’t bad, in fact it was pretty good! The movie’s cast are all A-List and B-List American actors! They just have really mediocre material to work with. It’s showing on the Movie Channels here in Canada right now. C+

Justice League: DOOM– This is such an odd animated movie. It’s based on a comic by Grant Morrison, voiced by the cast of the old Justice League animated series (together one last time!), and produced by the team doing the current Young Justice TV show who even use the Young Justice character designs for the League. Considering all of these elements were A-List, you’d think it would be an amazing film, but the result is a little underwhelming. It’s not a bad story or premise, and the presentation is good, but its a little too action-oriented for its own good and loses most of its depth in favor of- “and they fight!”. The only one who gets any characterization in it is Vandal Savage, who is oddly the main badguy in the Young Justice TV series as well. (I think the current producer guy adores him, which is kinda refreshing in a way since he’s a really underused villain.) It looks great, and if you’re a fan its worth seeing, but I can only give it a B+.