Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Teen Titans Go!" and the Lighter Side of Superheroing

Every kid says they want to be a superhero when they grow up.  What they don't see are the strings that come attached; being stranded from your home world, being displaced from time, suffering profound personal losses, etc.  The life of a superhero is a bleak and lonely one where the hero must carry the burden of responsibility for the sake of the greater good, even at the cost of his/her own happiness or life.  Thank God we have Teen Titans Go!

The popular Teen Titans series has been revived in a sense with a new series, again on Cartoon Network.  For the uninitiated, Teen Titans focused on a team of five young superheroes who lived together in their headquarters.  The team was led by Robin (of Batman fame), then there was technically inclined "bro" Cyborg, super-strong and super-naive Starfire, dark and gothy Raven, and plucky but heartfelt Beast Boy.  Their adventures would range from the more typical arc and drama heavy episodes to ones that were lighthearted and downright funny.  The animation itself borrowed a lot from non-comic styles, especially anime, and it is most evident in the character expressions and the show's theme song by J-Pop band Puffy AmiYumi.  The show was cancelled after five seasons, and fans have been clamoring for a revival ever since.

Now their wish has been granted.  Teen Titans Go! features the same characters, voice cast, and same basic design and characterizations as the original show.  The biggest difference this time around is that they decided to cast off any pretense of serious business in favor of pure silliness.  In this series, fighting super villains takes a back seat to the hi-jinks that five super powered teenagers get into when they all live together and have downtime.  The first episode that aired this week focused on Raven sending the team on a wild goose chase to assemble a legendary sandwich so she can watch My Little Pony in peace (a clever joke given that Tara Strong voices both Raven and Twilight Sparkle on MLP: Friendship is Magic).  That then is followed up by Beast Boy getting a job at a pie shop so he can buy Cyborg a birthday present.  Crisis on Infinite Earths this is not.

My only real complaint about the show is the colors sometimes feel painfully bright and the Flash animation makes it look more like a web series than a show slated for TV, but that also isn't new to cartoons these days.  While I have mixed feelings about Young Justice getting the ax to make room for it, Teen Titans Go! is a welcome addition to the DC lineup.  Audiences and studios often get too wrapped up in the dark drama of comics and end up creating a pretty bleak picture of the genre.  I always like to see shows like this and Batman: The Brave and the Bold take a lighter approach to remind us how inherently ridiculous the concept of superheroes really are. It also reaches out to that inner child who deep down still wants to be able to fly and beat up bad guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment