Monday, 3 October 2011
Teen Titans - The Non-Slutty Ones
While Justice League and Batman: The Animated Series are often touted as the best of the best when it comes to DC's superhero cartoons, I think that the Teen Titans needs to be given serious consideration to be in that elite group. I have the entire series on DVD and have re-watched it in its entiriety multiple times, and usually find myself picking up on little details here and there every time that just enhance the overall awesomeness of the show.
I was a little reluctant to get into the show at first, as I've always preferred a more "play it straight" animation style like on Justice League or Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The anime-like stylings of Teen Titans were a turn off at first. I'm not sure how I got into the show, but once I watched a couple of episodes I was hooked.
I had no idea the range of emotions that can be portrayed using "Murkianime", the name of the animation style on the show, named after Titans architect Glen Murakami. This show can go from childish tomfoolery to amazing action to intense emotion at the drop of a hat, which simply cannot be done in a more straight-laced cartoon. To this day I swear the most touching, beautiful vignette showcasing the pure and delightful notion of young love is that of Beast Boy and Terra going out on a date. I looked on Youtube for a clip but there are so many fan made Beast Boy & Terra videos I had no hope of finding it, though that should lend credence to my assertation that the romance between these two was very well done.
The main Titans characters are all very strongly defined.
Cyborg is the jock, the big man on campus who is out to prove how tough he is. Next to Raven, however, he is perhaps the most tragic character on the team. Cyborg is a fun loving guy, but when you dig a little deeper he is very self concious about his appearance and his handicaps. Yes, his arm can turn into a sonic cannon capable of knocking down a building, but he also can't really feel somebody hold his hand. The armor, as he put it in one episode, does not come off. His emotional armour can be breached at times, however, where we learn just how deep of a guy Cyborg is.
This cast of characters let you tell an amazingly wide array of stories, just as their comic book predecessors were designed to. One of my favourite episodes is one where an alien superhero shows up battling presumably evil aliens, and the team ends up going with him to shut down their evil empire. At first he seems to be a real hero, and the Titans all take a quick liking to him. We learn later though that he is extremely racist against Tamaraneans, which is Starfire's race. She is ashamed to tell her friends, but once they find out they quickly put a stop to it and tell the alien to leave. In an older cartoon he would have repented his ways and left a better person; in this story he leaves with his mind unchanged, he is still a bigot. This is something that kids will have to deal with in real life so it's okay to show them that some people have hate in their heart no matter what you do, it's the people who love you that are important. It's a great "teaching" episode that doesn't preach at the audience.
If you haven't had the chance to see this excellent show I would encourage you to check it out on DVD, you can get it online for a pretty reasonable price. Enjoy!