That’s right! Two. Friggin’ days.
I’m not sure if everyone is aware just yet, but Nickelodeon’s new Ninja Turtles animated series is debuting this Saturday on TV and on content providers like iTunes.
This “new show” is a reboot of sorts, but it works on a different level than the previous TMNT 2003 animated series. From what I can tell, it still closely follows the original Mirage comics, but there are more than several key differences that separate it from previous incarnations.
The first is the animation itself. This time around, TMNT is being produced exclusively using CGI, following in the footsteps of the 2007 movie. The second, is that instead of the questionable look of the 2007 movie, TMNT 2012 goes for a more fun, well-rounded brightly-colored look. Don’t be fooled though – it still looks to have the same dark undertones and accompanied stylizations that make this feel like a show that’s really about Ninjas. If you watch the trailers or any of the clips in general, you’ll probably notice the abundance of shadows and darkness in general. There is bright lighting where appropriate, but it’s clear that they’re going for the visual tone of the original comics and 2003 show. I’m more than okay with this, because I don’t like how the 1987 cartoon made them out to really just be superheroes when really, they’re supposed to be all sneaky and ninja-like. Makes sense to take this new show in the original, opposite direction, so I’m incredibly glad for that.
Still, this new show isn’t quite like the 2003 one. The characters and style in general seem to be a lot more expressive, and there’s also more stylization to be found in the anime-esque expression scenes they have (see this video for example). I’m really liking this approach so far, because while I’m all for a darker setting, the Turtles are supposed to be fun dudes, and that wasn’t really captured as well in the 2003 show. This new direction though is looking just right. A good balance between serious and silly. I like that.
I also like the character designs and general aesthetic in general. When I found out the new series would be produced in CGI, I was kinda skeptical. However now that we’ve been able to see more than ever about the show, my fears have been put at ease. In fact, I love this new style. It’s 3D, yes – but there’s this focus on simple 2D backgrounds and backdrops which just looks great. Watch the theme song and you’ll see what I mean. The 3D on 2D contrasts so well, and the whole thing just oozes style and flair. That’s another great attribute here that the 2003 series (and 1987 show, actually) lacked – flair. This new show captures that look, that gracefulness, that flair that I think should always accompany anything Ninjustu. I’m just so impressed with the focus on that sort of thing with this new show, especially because I think CGI cartoons I’ve seen in the past have always looked so awkward and artificial, unnatural even. I’m glad to see the Turtles in this incarnation sport more energy and expression that ever before.
And what of the theme song? Theme songs are key for TV shows. It’s a make or break sort of thing, since you basically have one song accompanying every single episode. In a nutshell, it better be damn good since your viewers will be listening to it every time they turn on your show.
The challenge here is that the TMNT theme song – y’know, the 1987 one – is friggin’ classic. It’s like, one of the most memorable theme songs in the world. So how do you approach essentially re-making something that has already been perfected and deeply saturated into pop-culture?
Well, the 2003 show did it well. Still catchy, wonderfully upbeat, and overall, much more energetic accompanied by some great visuals. Ultimately, it gets a little tiresome though, since the singer kinda overdoes it for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But while watching two or more episodes in a row, I almost always skip it – something I don’t usually do for other shows.
This new TMNT theme though is actually really well done. It’a a very similar upbeat feel, but framed as sort of a rap type-deal and with much less over-exaggeration in the lyrics. Sometimes I feel like the guy singing it actually should be a little more into it, but honesty it works really well as it is. It also wonderfully showcases what the show is all about, as well as giving you a good, brief look at the stylized nature of the show. So put simply, yeah – I dig it.
I only have one complaint about this new show so far. I really don’t like Splinter’s new design. The amount of contrasting colors on his face takes away from the fact that he’s a rat. And that mustache – um, what? Why is that there? Who put that there?
I mean, he looks okay, but I don’t think I’ll ever learn to like this new design. Everyone else transitioned well – Shredder looks as badass as usual, April looks, well, young, but that’s the point, and the Foot Soldier design is a good throwback to the 80s movies. But Splinter? He sticks out like a sore thumb.
Other than that though, I am pretty excited for this new show. The last time I saw a new Turtles show premier on TV was back in 2003 when I was in the 3rd grade, so this is pretty exiting stuff. More thoughts to come.