Nick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles impressions

Oh man is this post long-overdue, but here goes:

Like I last posted about, Nick’s new TMNT show premiered a few Saturdays ago on Nickelodeon in the US and on YTV here in Canada.

I actually had to wait until Sunday (which was painful) to see the episodes since I bought the season pass on iTunes and episodes are released a day later on there. I suppose I could have just found it online somewhere, but I’m honestly glad I waited. The episodes look great in 1080p. So far, I’ve seen the first four episodes that have been released, so I figured I should do an impressions post.

So, how is it? Short version: friggin’ sweet. Long version? Keep reading.

I wasn’t sure how they were going to introduce the Turtles in this new show, so when I was watching I had next to no idea of what was going to happen. But in the end, “Rise of The Turtles” parts 1&2 are just excellently done, and easily defeat both pilot episodes of the 2k3 series.

Part of the reason for this is that in the 1988 and 2003 show, the Turtles are shown to be somewhat familiar with the massive, sprawling metropolis of New York that sits just above their native sewer habitat. But in this new show, we get to see them explore the city for the very first time. Not only that, but we get to see them discover pizza after previously living on a sole diet of algae and earthworms. I won’t ruin anything, but it is easily my favorite scene of the episode and possibly the whole series so far. Yeah, it’s that good.

One new aspect of the show I didn’t really foresee until I actually watched it is the anime-style expressions. This is a totally new thing, and admittedly it kind of works. At first I found it kind of forced, especially since Ninja Turtles has never previously incorporated this sort of thing as far as I know. But like anything, after watching a few episodes it started to feel more normalized and I now I can legitimately see why they decided to include them. There’s a focus on more character expression than usual in this new series, and this just adds to that.

As for the Turtles themselves, they’ve undergone a few changes. Leo is as loyal and courageous as ever, but the first two episodes make it clear that he’s still figuring out the whole “leader” role, which I like. There’s a whole scene where he tries to use overly-complex hand-signals, to which the other Turtles just go “…what?” They figure out the system later, however, but I just thought it was interesting to watch them evolve as a team.

Raph – my favorite turtle by far – gets a rightful role in this new series as the best fighter among the turtles. Usually Leo is seen as the strongest, hence his leadership role, but here Raph is announced early on as the most capable in combat. This is a welcome change, because why shouldn’t he be the best fighter? It only compliments his arrogant and stubborn nature more if he is the best and knows he’s the best. One notable change to Raph this time around is that he no longer talks with a distinct New York accent – something some might applaud, but that I personally liked in past TMNT incarnations. I guess it makes sense that he doesn’t have an accent – after all, that would mean he’s been spending a lot of quality time around other New Yorkers, which he hasn’t according to this new canon storyline. I do kinda miss it though, it only made the gruffness of his character more believable.

And what of Donatello? I guess you could say he seems a lot younger and less experienced in general – but so do all the Turtles. He’s got a squeakier voice in this one which I kinda like, since it better establishes him as the “geek.” As far as subtle design changes go, he’s missing one of his front teeth, probably to make him look younger or something. It works, but the first time you see it (or rather, don’t see it), you kinda go “WHOA!” Subtle, but unexpected.

Oh, and Mikey? He’s changed quite a bit from the 2k3 character. In that show, the writers had a tendency to write him in as sort of a pansy, something a lot of fans didn’t like. They’ve done away with that aspect since then, though. Mikey this time around is more about being expressive, energetic, and generally high-energy. He hasn’t really been established as a “party dude” quite yet (do the Turtles even know what a party is yet?), but I’m sure that’s something we’ll see later on in the show.

I wrote last time about how I really liked the new CGI look of the show, and since finally getting to see some full episodes, I can’t say my opinion has changed – the majority of the CG looks really damn good. Unfortunately, I was lead to believe from the theme song that the show would be heavily stylized all the time, when it actuality it really isn’t. The only time the awesome stylization kicks in is when the Turtles go into fighting mode, during which their pupils disappear, people get smacked around, and you forget all about the goofy nature of these characters. It’s just total badassery for about a minute or so, and then it’s back to Turtles with anime eyes. It works, yeah, but the show definitely looks the most impressive during these fight sequences – almost so good that when they go back to standing around I started to realize how awkward they looked. Each episode as a whole though is full of visual splendour – I absolutely love a lot of the color choices here. The Kraang, especially (Kraang is now a reference to the entire alien species, formerly “Utrom”) look vividly detailed and wonderfully shiny in their robotic suits. By the way, why the hell did they all decide to wear the same exact human skin? If I saw two or more of the exact same person anywhere, I’d flip shit. Isn’t that a dead-giveaway that they’re aliens? I think they need to work on that.

But overall, this new show is really damn good. It’s got much more flair and personality than any TMNT show before it, I’d argue, and the CG look definitely makes for some great-looking animation and fight scenes that I doubt could have been created equally using 2D methods. I was unsure at first about it, but now that I’ve seen the show, I’m all for the new CG look and feel. If you’re on the fence, definitely give it a watch – the trailers and such don’t really give the show enough justice, but the first two episodes definitely will.



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