Who's joining me to watch the premiere?
11/8/14, 7:45 PM:
I just finished watching the premiere of Sonic Boom.
Both episodes were excellent, as I was expecting. The episodes are only 11 minutes long, but the two today (Sidekick / Can an Evil Genius Crash on Your Couch) were surprisingly well-written. They both felt very well-paced within the 11 minute time frame, but that time frames doesn't work to the series' advantage. Trying to pack those plots into 11 minute segments only made them feel rushed (but even still, it could be much worse in this aspect). A 22 minute episode length would be much better. Let's hope for that in Season 2. The episodes have a smattering of humor, but there also some touching moments in there as well and the action scenes are generally exciting. It's a good combination of moods.
The characters are portrayed well for the most part. Sonic, Tails and Eggman are indistinguishable from their game counterparts (in terms of personality). Knuckles has a more egotistical and blustering personality than he does in the games, but it's an interesting change and certainly an entertaining one. I still can't get over his design in Sonic Boom, but at least he's entertaining. Amy came across a little too nice, but at least this is usually for humor. Her temper, one of her most entertaining personality traits, has all but vanished. However, I like that she comes across a little crazy and erratic, which is a personality trait of hers I've missed since the GameCube era games. Sticks is an interesting addition. I like her much more than I dislike her, but I'm not totally sold on her yet. Her personality adds a little edge and energy to the main cast, and she has an interesting character design. Unlike many of the new characters appearing in Sonic Boom, she actually looks like she fits in the same world as the game characters. She doesn't do all that much in this episode, but I'm intrigued to see where her character will go. I hope to see an origin episode for her and how she came to know Sonic and friends. This will most likely happen in a later episode in some form or another.
I do have one major complaint, one that many people who watched the premiere share. THE TIME SLOT. Sonic Boom aired at 7:00 in the morning, and that's only in Eastern Time. People on the West Coast had to watch it at 4 A.M. Now I don't feel so bad about waking up at 6:50.This airing time is going to kill me...I'll give Sonic Boom a few more weeks of watching at 7:00 AM on Saturday, but hopefully the time slot will change. If not, I'll find other avenues to watch the show from. I'd like to support the TV airings, though, since I don't want the show to get cancelled because of a bad time slot, like Case Closed.
I'll have more to write in the late afternoon, after I get out of my dress rehearsal for the latest belly dance performance. At the moment, I'm going back to sleep.
Also later in the day, while I'm on the topic of animated children's shows, I'm also going to post some commentary on Kaito Joker, which I started watching a few weeks ago (and I'm also very happy that new episodes are being aired; for a while I was afraid the show stopped airing or the subtitlers stopped subbing it)
11/8/14 8:18 A.M.
I take it back. I'll start my commentary right now, since it seems unlikely I'll be getting back to sleep any time soon. Campus maintenance has this obnoxious habit of running their leaf blowers and lawn mowers at 8 in the morning. Worst of all, they always end up right in front of my dorm and it's woken me up for the past few weeks. I'm glad that winter is coming soon, and there will be no more leaves to shred.
In the beginning of October I started watching Magic Kaito 1412, and eventually I noticed Kaito Joker appearing in the sidebar listing newly uploaded anime episodes. Naturally, this intrigued me, so I began watching it on a whim. When I started, episodes 1-3 were available, and episode 3 had just been uploaded that day. I have a sixth sense for when new episodes of shows get uploaded; I can consistently predict when they will appear on a website, and it's happened multiple times where I've visited a site and sure enough, there's a new episode.
Anyways, I immediately liked Kaito Joker. The visual style is absolutely adorable. It's so vibrant, cheery and energetic, and I frequently find myself pausing to remark on how cute something is. I think I say "It's so freaking cute!" at least once an episode without fail. Interestingly, it reminds me a little of my own style, with its semi-chibi look, and that isn't something I can say about a lot of things. The characters are very entertaining with charming and larger-than-life personalities, and the designs are great. Humorously, the normalcy of a character's appearance seems to be directly proportional to their role in the story; all the extras look like normal people, whereas the major character all look very "anime". (For this reason, I think Viridian will be a recurring character. I hope so; he's awesome.) There's never a dull moment in Kaito Joker. The show moves along at a quick clip, and there's always plot twist after plot twist. You can rarely predict exactly what will happen; I find I come up with multiple solutions then second-guess myself about what will happen. It's childish, sure, but it's goofy fun, and it's impossible to be in a bad mood after watching it. I've read (what little I can find of) the manga, and the anime is much better. Something about the paper format and grayscale sucks the life out of Kaito Joker, and I don't like the manga's visual style nearly as much.
The theme and ending songs are very
catchy, though the music in between is decent, if unremarkable. There are a couple themes and motifs that stick out, such as a fiddle-based tune that sounds more in-place with The Dukes of Hazzard that plays during some action scenes. The animation and art are very good quality, and the production values of the show are considerably high for an anime based off an unpopular manga (or at least it appears to be unpopular, since I can hardly find anything from it online that isn't directly related to the anime). Magic Kaito 1412 does not look anywhere near this nice.
Speaking of Magic Kaito 1412, I will address a complaint that I've been noticing in my search for Kaito Joker content online. People have been saying that Kaito Joker is a knock-off of Magic Kaito, which I disagree with. Superficially they have similarities, but the differences greatly outweigh the similarities. In that way it makes me think of Professor Layton and Doctor Lautrec. The only similarities I can think of is that both Kaito Joker and Kaito Kid is that they're both phantom thieves who wear flashy outfits with capes and top hats (and Joker's hat isn't exactly a top hat; the brim is as wide as the crown), send out advanced notices of their thefts, have obsessed inspectors chasing after them, and both have something to do with cards and magic. However, the card motif carries much further with Kaito Joker, and many other characters also have card themes and even perform attacks with cards (interestingly, while Kaito Kid has a card gun, Joker throws
his cards, and he's able to cut metal and glass with them. Either has a LOT of hidden strength in those scrawny arms of his or those cards are made of some kind of super aerodynamic, strong and sharp material). While Kid's magic is clearly stage magic, Joker's magic is somewhere between stage magic and real magic. It's left ambiguous if his magic is highly advanced technology that isn't explainable by current science or if it really is powered by magic. Their personalities are also very different. While Kid has his moments of immaturity and goofiness, Joker is like this almost all the time. I'd say that Kid's moments of immaturity are proportional to Joker's moments of maturity. Kid at least tries to "remember [his] poker face", but I don't think Joker even has a poker face to try and remember, and his wearing-his-heart-on-his-sleeve tends to get him into conflict.
While Kaito Kid steals jewels (although he will steal other things) to track down a specific gem called the Pandora, Joker will take pretty much anything that's worth stealing. Kid returns the jewels he steals (since they've never turned out to be Pandora) whereas this isn't the case with Joker. Kid's thefts are always centered in Japan (although his father, the original Kaito Kid, operated around the world), and usually in Beika-cho, or in Magic Kaito, the city where it's set, which is never named (and may very well be Beika-cho or was later retconned into Beika-cho). In fact, when he's not Kaito Kid, he lives a relatively normal life and is a high schooler named Kaito Kuroba (Kaito is also his name. It's a pun that doesn't work in English, since I think they're homophones in Japanese. I've seen some people use the spelling "kaitou" for Kaitou Kid, but I don't like how it looks, since it's not phonetic). However, Joker is a "full-time" phantom thief; he doesn't have a secret identity and lives out of an airship that he uses to travel around the world. I have to wonder how he parks it without anyone noticing. I'd think people would notice a large, bright red airship, but then again, this is the kind of anime where abnormality doesn't stick out in-universe. For instance, no one in-universe notice Joker's bizarre appearance and attire, even though he (and other characters, such as Spade) clearly stick out amongst the (mostly) normal looking extras. The most notable examples of this are in Episode 2 (pretty much the entire episode) and Episode 4 (though to be fair, he was at least trying
to look inconspicuous. It's a little hard to do that when you have a squirrel's nest of shoulder-length white hair and a purple scar/make-up on your face.)
Also, the tones of the two manga/anime are completely different. Kaito Joker is definitely aimed at a younger audience, and the aesthetics are very vibrant and high-energy. Magic Kaito never has the same level of silliness, though it has its moments, particularly in the manga but less so in the anime.
And because someone will probably comment on this, "kaito" is a word denoting a specific type of thief, otherwise known as a phantom thief. There are a number of other "kaito" out there as well.
(wow, this comparison is a lot longer than I intended...)