Monday, April 4, 2016

SPECIAL REVIEW: The Powerpuff Girls review

By Nico Beland
Show Review: B (3 stars)
Blossom (middle), Bubbles (left), and Buttercup (right) saving the day in The Powerpuff Girls

            Here we go again, another review of a Cartoon Network premiere, seeing how Sonic Boom brought Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the biggest characters of my childhood back to television in 2014, it’d make sense to talk about Cartoon Network’s latest reboot of another big show from when I was a child. That’s right, a mixture of sugar, spice, and everything nice, and an accidental dose of Chemical X and BOOM! A new cartoon series based on Craig McCracken’s iconic cartoon show from 1998, The Powerpuff Girls, one of the biggest staples of Cartoon Network before Finn and Jake came into the picture.
            Going back to the late 90s and early 2000s, I was a huge fan of The Powerpuff Girls growing up, I remembered staying up late every Friday night to watch new episodes on Cartoon Network’s Cartoon, Cartoon Fridays block, buying the volumes of the show on VHS, seeing the theatrical movie, The Powerpuff Girls Movie in 2002, and watching the Christmas special, Twas the Fight Before Christmas around the holidays. Besides Pokémon and Sonic the Hedgehog, Powerpuff Girls was one of my biggest childhood obsessions and I still revisit some episodes from time to time today with the complete series DVD set.
            Not only was The Powerpuff Girls a great Cartoon Network show back in the 90s and 2000s, but it became one of the biggest pop culture icons of its time, basically they were like Cartoon Network’s version of SpongeBob, when you went into a toy store back in the day chances are you’d see Powerpuff merchandise everywhere. Not only that but they had a theatrical movie in summer 2002, had an anime series called Powerpuff Girls Z, a tenth anniversary special, The Powerpuff Girls Rule in 2009, and most recently a special with different animation called Dance Pantsed in 2014.
            Now Cartoon Network brings us a reboot of the original series, under direction by Nick Jennings, best known for his work on Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and Regular Show and Bob Boyle who’s worked on Butch Hartman’s The Fairly Odd Parents and Danny Phantom for Nickelodeon and is currently working as a supervising producer on Cartoon Network’s Clarence. When I first heard they were rebooting The Powerpuff Girls, I was intrigued but skeptical, I’m usually always open to seeing new takes on shows and movies I watched when I was younger, and I enjoyed reboots and spin-offs like The Looney Tunes Show, Sonic Boom, and some of the many re-imaginings of Scooby-Doo.
            But I was concerned when I found out voice actors, Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong, and E.G. Daily, who voiced the Powerpuff Girls, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup in the original show would not be returning to voice them here. So I watched the first two episodes with no critical review thoughts going through my head, so my opinion on the new show would be 100% me.
            And, it’s not bad so far, I can’t really think of my full thoughts on the series itself yet seeing how I’ve only seen the first episodes that premiered today. But for what it is, kooky little cartoon show featuring three pint-sized superheroes people know and love, and the animators do a fantastic job mimicking the animation style of the original show, I was almost convinced that McCracken was secretly behind it, but it also mixes in some anime-style animation, specifically on character facial expressions, so let’s see how this new show holds up compared to the original.
            The first episode was okay, Escape from Monster Island, the Mayor of the City of Townsville (voice reprised by Tom Kenny) is lost on the dangerous Monster Island (if you remember the original show, you know exactly what this is!) and is in need of rescuing, so the Powerpuff Girls, Blossom (voiced by Amanda Leighton-Grey’s Anatomy, Make It or Break It, The Fosters), the smart one, Bubbles (voiced by Kristen Li), the cute one, and Buttercup (voiced by Natalie Palamides), the tough one, are called in to save the Mayor before he gets devoured by monsters, with pickles on the side. Meanwhile Bubbles wins tickets for two to a concert featuring the hottest pop band in Townsville and Blossom and Buttercup fight over who gets to go with her to the concert.
            The second episode was pretty funny, Princess Buttercup (I just now got the reference as I’m writing this!) focuses on Buttercup hanging out with a bad crowd of punk kids with skates that skateboard, while wearing skates, and play Death Ball and in time her sisters start missing her. So Blossom and Bubbles are in need of a replacement to help them fight crime, in comes rich and spoiled, Princess Morbucks (voiced by Haley Mancini) who wants to become a Powerpuff Girl so she could eventually destroy them calls a monster by phone (I’m not making this up!) to cause a ruckus in Townsville to tempt Blossom and Bubbles to have her join the team, what could Princess be plotting and the real question is can Buttercup trust her new friends?
            Overall, this new take on The Powerpuff Girls is decent for what it is, it’d be hard to top the original show, but as an entertaining cartoon series, it manages to pay homage to the original show while still being its own unique creature, the hotline phone is now replaced with Smartphones, Princess Morbucks’ Powerpuff costume doesn’t have those rocket wings anymore, but rather rocket boots, kind of like a Powerpuff version of an Iron Man suit, video game controllers still look like the ones we had in the 90s, and the characters can get wacky and hilarious facial expressions.
            Like Sonic Boom, the humor is hit or miss, sometimes there are a few duds but I can think of quite a few times in the episodes I watched where I laughed my butt off, mainly in the second episode involving one of the members of Buttercup’s punk friend group with a big bushy beard and a voice so funny I dare not ruin it here. It’s not the same kind of humor as the original show but it’s different in the right way.
            The animation for the most part is pretty good, the characters look like they came right out of McCracken’s original show with some updates and slight redesigns, but nothing so major old fans won’t be able to recognize the characters, the facial expression animations are like a mix between traditional Powerpuff Girls animation and Japanese anime, strange but it works.
            So far, I think the show is pretty good and what I got out of it makes me want to see where the show will go, do I miss the original voice cast? Of course but hopefully I’ll get a whole bunch of new ones that are just as good. So in my opinion, I don’t think it’s as good as Sonic Boom in terms of a reboot or re-imagining, but it’s CERTAINLY better than Teen Titans Go, it’s about the same as what I thought of The Looney Tunes Show, and that’s not at all a bad thing.


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