Henshin Robo Genndyzer (Or, Mike’s Quickie Review of SYM-BIONIC TITAN!)

Going through my referrals, I discovered that the one entry on this blog that always generated a large portion of the weekly hits turned out to be my report of Genndy Tartakovsky’s new series, Sym-Bionic Titan. It wasn’t so much because of it being a hard-hitting article, but rather the wait for its broadcast felt like listening to the first prolonged note of a three-hour opera –you want it to just start already! Thankfully enough, as of Friday night, that first note finally carried into what we came for.

Sym-Bionic Titan finally made its premiere on Cartoon Network, one of the two things worth watching that night (the other being the Star Wars: The Clone Wars season premiere. Screw everything else), and I’ll just tell you right now: It was worth every second of the wait. I posted about it on Facebook straight away, telling my friends “Animation buffs, you will love what they did with the style and backgrounds. Mechaholics, you will love all the homages and nods. Star Blazers[/Yamato] fans, you will cream yourselves at the climax”. Really, that’s the shortest possible way I can best sum up this premiere, but if you want the long-version? Hit the jump.

Now then, this premiere…came and went like a summer storm! It’s not that the pacing was too rushed (though the show could benefit from being extended to 45 minutes) but so many things were introduced and set into place that you could hardly take it in. That isn’t necessarily bad, mind you; it does gives you an excuse to watch it several billion times. However, I can’t exactly make a snap judgement about its plot on account of that, so I’ll hold off on my two cents until there’s an actual arc. Instead, since this is a long-awaited entry for me, I figured I’ll break it down into the areas that really struck a chord with me ala one of my Quickie Reviews. Here goes….

Get Out Of The Way, I Wanna See The Background!

There are few cartoons/anime where one has an actual desire to take the painted backgrounds home with them for the office. Not surprisingly enough, in my experiences anyway, most of these shows tend to ones from the heavy hitters of Cartoon Network (AKA The Small Few That Make The Best Damned Effort To Deliver) who surround themselves with talented artists. Sym-Bionic Titan‘s no exception and it looks like this is one of those few cartoons with paintings I want for the wall of my office.

These amazing background paintings are the work of fantastic artists like Joseph Holt, Kristen Lester, and my personal favorite Kevin Dart (creator of Yuki-7 and the Gadget Girls). They nearly steal away the show whenever you see them, at the same time reminding you of the hard work and creative fire that went into its production. This is the reason why people stop dead when a Genndy Tartakovsky project is on TV.

(BTW, if you fancy those particular images, go check out Kevin Dart‘s site where he’s got these and other backgrounds from the series.)

I Have No Mouth And Yet I Must FFFFFFFFFFFFFF-
(Contains slight spoilers)

I always knew that Tartakovsky had it in for Japanese Pop Culture but this the homages and design cues caused me to have several fangasms. First up, there’s the Titan itself: If you were a fan of the Micronauts/Microman back in the day, this guy may have an all-too familiar look.

C’mon, you can’t look at the Titan and not think of the Henshin Cyborgs, the Japanese GI Joe alternative that transformed into Microman, doing a left turn into Diaclone, which then turned into the Transformers! All I’m saying is that Takara better get on this and make a special edition HC of the Titan. That or Kaiyodo steps in and has Yamaguchi sculpt a kickarse Revoltech. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Meanwhile, you’ve got the obvious 70’s anime throwback that is Lance, the muscle of the team. There are those that call him “American!Duke Fleed” based on his overall look, but that in turn can be applied to almost all the major Super Robot protagonists. Throw in his rash approach to things and yeah, he’d probably be buddy-buddy with Kouji Kabuto in no time. (Ironically, I spotted somebody wanted to jokingly refer to this show as “Genndyzer”–combination of Grendizer and name of the director. I fully support this.)

But the most obvious homage is the one that keeps on giving: The Galactic Guardian Group, the secret organization that’s been designed to protect mankind for other-worldly threats. If any of you first thought Red Impulse from Gatchaman/G-Force meets Sentai, you aren’t alone but they then proceed to take a step further with the reveal of their secret weapon: The Wave-Motion Cannon.

But then take a step further. The name of the group? Galactic Guardian Group? In the show, they’re abbreviated as the G-3? If it doesn’t have to do with this character here, this HAS to be a subtle GaoGaiGar nod. I almost want to do an interview with Tartakovsky just to make certain of this! Worst comes to worse, there this video.

Oh and fun side-note, if any ladies out there have ever wanted their own G-3 shirt, JiveNinja’s got you covered.

“I play a giant space robot named Octus. #fuckingtypecasting”

The above is from a tweet by the actor whose character I’ll be talking about: Brian Posehn (Just Shoot Me, The Sarah Silverman Program) nearly stole every scene he was in as Octus/Newton, the brain of the team. I don’t know if it’s the character itself or just his mechanical optimistic delivery but Posehn just made this guy shine.

All in all, this was a pretty tight, interest-catching for Sym-Bionic Titan. Enough to get me hooked and more than enough to keep me glued to the TV on Friday nights. Here’s hoping this one doesn’t get cancelled in its prime…..

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