Anime Corner: The Misfit of Demon King Academy Review

Ha! You thought just because you killed the Demon King he’d die? You fool!

What’s the Story?

Two Thousand years ago, Anos Voldigoad was the reviled tyranical Demon King, despised by all but his own subjects. Yet all that changed when he proposed a plan to the human hero Kanon, to split the world into four realms, one for humans, demons, spirits and gods each, all in the hope that when he is eventually reincarnated there will finally be peace. Yet, as Anos is finally reincarnated, he finds the world is not quite as he envisioned it. For one his name has been lost to history and an imposter stands in his place. Even the demons who once served him no longer remember him. Can Anos uncover what has happened to the world and set it back on the path towards peace? Of course he can! He’s our one and only Demon King!

The Review

Stupidly good, that is really the best description I can offer for this series. I mean there were points in this series that should have had the writer in me screaming in frustration, but was I? No, I was clapping and cheering on Anos with the rest of the characters. A couple of times I was even on the verge of joining Anos’ fan union with their songs. Yes, the main character has his own cheering squad that burst into song whenever its a climatic fight, what good power fantasy doesn’t? There’s a point in the series, I won’t say when, where our main character’s source is shattered. Now it’s very clearly established earlier in the series that when someone’s source is destroyed that’s it, they’re gone forever. No resurrection spells will work, there’s no possible come back, nothing. Yet what happens five minutes later? Anos resurrections himself and proceeds to laugh in the bad guy’s face for thinking he was dead. I mean, how can you even be that brazen? I’d call it lazy writing but I’m fairly certain that it’s completely intentional because Anos is a character with god mode switched on 24/7 and he is glorious because of it.  

I know I’ve complained about overpowered protagonists before and, nine times out of ten, they are just utterly boring to me, but this show goes to prove that it’s not what you do, but how you do it. Anos is so ridiculously overpowered that it’s actually hilarious. All the time these stuck up snobs come in bragging about how powerful they are and they challenge Anos, only to end up bleeding on the floor ten seconds later. Then Anos resurrects them and does something really nasty to them. It’s a complete power fantasy and, yeah, I admit it there is something cathartic about seeing close-minded idiots having their backsides handed to them time and again, but that’s not really what makes this series so special. You can find that sort of thing in any power fantasy, so let’s breakdown the Misfit of Demon King Academy’s guide to writing an overpowered character.

Step one, give your character something they can’t just punch away. This was really the point that caught my attention in the first place because at the centre of this series is a mystery, why has Anos’ name been changed in the history books and to what end? Who is this imposter that has taken his title and what exactly are they up to? It’s a great set up, as it means Anos has to play detective, overwhelming power is only really useful when you have a target to aim that power at. Admittedly most of the time Anos is sending off other people to investigate for him and come back with little bits of plot info, but it’s something at least. What really surprised me was that the series even gives us an answer by it’s final episode (no ‘go read the light novel’ ending here. I know, shocking isn’t it?). I mean I’m pretty sure that the answer will completely fall down if we give it any scrutiny whatsoever, but on the surface it works and answers all the relevant questions.

Step two, overpowered, I’ll show you overpowered. I used the word earlier and it really fits this series, brazen. Anos isn’t just overpowered, he is completely overpowered and the series isn’t shy about showing that off. There’s a point early on where Anos takes on the God of Time and beats him without even breaking a sweat, that’s the kind of power we’re talking about. You’re never going to get any kind of tension out of a fight with Anos, you know he’s going to win before the fight even starts. So instead this series pulls it’s entertainment from the fact that it’s going to be completely crazy with Anos’ powers. You want him to warp reality, bend time round his little finger and generally stick two fingers up at the rules of causality? He’ll do it. Each fight gets bigger and bigger, using crazier and crazier techniques until you just have to start laughing because it can’t get any more overpowered than that and yet it finds a way.

Step three, who needs one overpowered character when we can have several! In tandem with the continually raising stakes, we also have a supporting cast who are all ridiculously strong, making mincemeat out of whatever low-grade minion dare stand in Anos’ way. It stops Anos’ displays, I won’t call them fights because they’re really not, from hogging the limelight entirely and ever getting monotonous. Add on to that Anos’ fan club who, as I mentioned earlier, burst into song at appropriate points and you have a recipe for a series that is incredibly stupid and yet so much fun at the same time.

The Verdict

The Misfit of Demon King Academy is, at times, incredibly stupid, poorly written and completely over the top, and it is glorious because of it. I can’t in good conscious call this the greatest series ever, but it is just so much fun, whether it’s seeing Anos pull out another impossible win from his backside, watching some smug villain get his comeuppance or just joining in with the fan union’s songs, there’s so much to enjoy here. This is a series that definitely needs to be experienced to be believed, so do yourself a favourite and check this out!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Deca-Dence Review

Deca-Dence. Decadence. Get it? (It took me an embarrassingly long time to)

What’s the Story?

Humanity has been brought to the edge of extinction by mysterious creatures known as Gadoll. Now what’s left of the human race cling to life in the moving fortress of Deca-Dence, protected by the Gears, fierce warriors who have made it their mission to fight the Gadoll threat. For Natsume, joining the Gears is her dream and she’ll see it through even if everyone else tells her it’s impossible, which they do. Luckily she meets Kaburagi, a former Gear, now an armour repairman, who takes an interest in her plight. Not all is what it seems though. There’s more to Kaburagi than meets the eye, as there is to the Gadoll and even Deca-Dence itself. The world is a lie and it shall not suffer a bug to live.

The Review

Not for the first time I find myself sat in front of my laptop, having just watched the final episode of a series and trying, desperately, to put all my thoughts into words. Today that series is Deca-Dence and the only words that are coming to me at the minute are ‘it’s complicated’. Deca-Dence is a series that I wanted to love. I did in fact love the first couple of episodes and there are several points throughout this series where I felt myself standing on the precipice of really falling for this show, but I just couldn’t take that final step. There’s always been that one corner of mind reminding of the bits that just aren’t clicking together, and so I find myself in the state that I am. Stupid brain, this is why I can’t have nice things!

This show had so much potential, with just a couple of tweaks I thing it could have been one of the greats, or at least one of my personal greats. As it stands, even without those tweaks there’s still a lot to enjoy. It’s well animated, has some great action sequences, fun characters and a really interesting story, which I’ll get to in a minute. Natsume and Kaburagi are great protagonists. You can’t help but cheer on Natsume as everyone tells her again and again to give up and she just point blank refuses. Not that it’s all just a simple matter of willpower overcoming all, Natsume has a lot to learn if she’s going to take on Gadoll and there are moments where she breaks and her resolve cracks. All good bits of character development and it works to endear Natsume to us. Kaburagi gets the role of the jaded mentor and while that’s just as well-worn an archetype as the plucky rookie, seeing him reignite his lust for life through his interactions with Natsume is a joy to see. All in all, I do recommend this series, it’s worth checking out. There’s just a few things I wished it didn’t do, or at least did differently.

Okay, I’ve held off on this for long enough, let’s finally get to what my issues with this series are, but to do that I’m going to have to talk spoilers for a second. Normally I try to keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible unless there’s a specific plot point or character aspect that I really need to talk about, even then I try to keep it vague. Here though my issues are connected to a pretty big plot revelation that comes early in the series, if you’ve watched the show you already know what I’m going to talk about. So, this is your last warning, there be spoilers ahead!

I have a bone to pick with the cybrogs. The reveal comes pretty early on (part of me wants to argue that it’s too early) that most of the Gears are actually human-shaped avatars being used by a bunch of cyborgs. Said cyborgs treat the whole of Deca-Dence and humanity’s battle for survival like it’s just a big game, because to them it is. Now, on the whole, I have no issues whatsoever with this plot point. It raises several fascinating questions that are slowly answered across the series and gives the show a wealth of ideas to chew on. What’s more there’s now an added sense of dread to certain events as you see Natsume and her friends risking their live for what is essentially a bit of frivolous entertainment. I mean, have you ever been concerned when an NPC bites it in a game, are you even wondering what’s happening to them while you play?

Where the problem comes in, for me at least, is that Deca-Dence tries to have its cake and eat it too. We get this shocking revelation and we see the cyborg’s side of things from Kaburagi’s point of view, but we’re also still getting Natsume’s dystopian future story at the same time. Both plot lines are great by themselves, but together it feels like the two stories are fighting for the space. I just about get settled into one storyline when suddenly we switch over to the other one and I have to get settled all over again. It doesn’t help that the cyborgs have such a drastically different look to the humans, so much that they really look like they belong in different series. It’s jarring to say the least and while the plotlines do start to properly merge within the last couple of episodes, by then it’s too late. If you love this series, if none of this was a problem for you then I completely get it, and I’m really envious of you, but for me it was the nail in the coffin of this series.

The Verdict

In the end, Deca-Dence is a series that I so wanted to love, but one narrative decision and one aesthetic choice was enough to stop me in my tracks. If you love Deca-Dence then I can completely see why, and again I’m really envious of you, it’s a very good series with plenty of action, fun characters and some really great moments. It’s just that the narrative never quite decides what it wants to be, and as it tries to support two opposing story threads it ends up fumbling them both. Still, it’s worth a watch so if you’re even slightly interested then I’d recommend giving this a shot.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: BNA: Brand New Animal Review

Howling like a wolf!

What’s the Story?

Throughout history there has been another race that has walked alongside humans, the Beastmen. Able to change form between their more animalistic appearance and something indistinguishable from human, they’ve often been met with fear and suspicion. Something that has only gotten worse over the centuries as the human population has grown and spread across the world. There are very few places left where a Beastman can feel safe, but one of those places is Anima City, established 10 years ago as a haven for all Beastmen. To Michiru Kagemori this is great news, see she was born a human but woke up the other day to discover that she’d transformed into a Beastman! What is the cause of Michiru’s sudden transformation and will she ever get used to the crazy life of a Beastman? She’ll have to learn fast as dark clouds are gathering over Anima city and it’s tenth anniversary may also be it’s last…

The Review

I’m a big fan of Studio Trigger, you just have to tell me that they were involved in a show to get me excited. Sure some of their shows I’m probably never going to watch again (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Darling in the Franxx), but others I keep coming back to again and again (Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia). I just love their whole aesthetic, from the character designs to the energy and bombast they typically inject into their shows, it’s my jam. So, in the great scale of Trigger shows, where does BNA fall? Probably somewhere in the middle. BNA is a good show, I want to be clear about that, I had a tremendous amount of fun watching this show and I’ll probably watch it again at some point in the future. However, it has some pretty big flaws that stop it from reaching it’s truest potential, ‘cause I think this show could have been amazing. I mean with the world as it is at the minute an allegory about race and coming to understand others should be really meaningful right now.

Let’s start with the positives though, the show looks great. The character designs and animation are up to Trigger’s usual standard, though I really like the colour pallet that they chose for this show. Some of the scenes, especially with elements of the soundtrack just gave off this 80s vibe that was entrancing. Add on a stellar OP and ED and this series was a delight to both listen to and to watch. I also really love all of Michiru’s transformation sequences, whether it’s taking flight or jumping around with feline grace, they’re some of my favourite moments in the whole series. It probably helps that Michiru is such a likeable character and I can’t help but root for her.

Let’s get to the real issue of this series though, it should have been two cours long. Twelve episodes is just not enough to fit all of these character and this world into, and I’m not saying that just because I want to spend more time here (it’s part of the reason sure, but not the entirety of it). By the time we hit that final episode, it just feels like there’s so much more left to be said. There are several conflicts that feel wholly unsolved, or rushed to their climax and it’s incredibly frustrating. Let’s take Michiru and Nazuna as our first example. Their relationship is complicated to say the least, they’re clearly both in awe of one another without realising that the other feels exactly the same. Nazuna, for her part, honestly comes across as a bit jealous of Michiru and her carefree ‘let’s just do it’ attitude, though she’s right to call Michiru out for rushing into things without thinking. Maybe Nazuna was a bit lonely in her personal life and her desire to be an idol comes from a need for approval and acceptance, more than just one person can give her. I have no idea if that’s the case or not, that’s just my read on her because the show never gives up much detail on Michiru and Nazuna’s lives prior to the series starting.

For Michiru’s part she just wants her best friend back and to put things back exactly as they were, but events keep driving them apart. The problem is we never get a true boiling point between the characters. They have arguments, sure, and moments where it looks like every thing’s about to take a turn for the worse, but it never truly does. Michiru will always go back to Nazuna and eventually they return to being friends and Nazuna proves her friend’s faith in her. It’s lacking the oomph that it needs, that ‘darkest before the dawn’ moment to make the resolution truly cathartic. As it is it’s just…fine, nothing more, nothing less, which is disappointing especially from a studio like Trigger. Even looking at other relationships, like Nazuna and Boris, there’s a lack of development that robs the plot line’s resolution of it’s punch. I mean what exactly is the power dynamic between Nazuna and Boris? One episode he’s got his hand around her throat, telling her to be beautiful, the next he’s acting like a kicked puppy when Nazuna calls him creepy. This relationship needs exploring and if we’d had a few more episodes we could have! Don’t even get me started on that last minute reveal about our Big Bad either because that came right out of nowhere.

I can see it all in my head, an episode to explore Michiru and Nazuna’s relationship in the past, an episode exploring Nazuna and Boris’ dynamic, a couple of wacky adventures for Michiru to practise a bit more with her transforming abilities, an episode dedicated to our main villain, maybe a couple showing Ogami questioning his prejudice about humans, maybe he meets a nice human besides Michiru for a change. This show could have been amazing, but as I said at the start, I still had a good time watching this. The characters and world are fun and there’s plenty to keep me entertained, even if I can see some of it’s wasted potential.

The Verdict

In the end, BNA:Brand New Animal is a good show that could have been great. It’s packed with fun characters, an intriguing world, Trigger’s usual standard of animation and a great soundtrack. It’s faults are really in its pacing and trying to do much with not enough time, but there are much worse problems for a show to have. So if you’re interested in a walk on the wild side and don’t mind a bit of missed potential, then check this show out. It’s more than worth it.

Yes, I’m finally back to anime reviews and will be for the next few weeks at least. Happy New Year everyone, bring on 2021!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Infallible Fish Reviews: Doctor Who: Fury from the Deep

“It’s a sonic screwdriver. Never fails.”

What’s the Story?

The TARDIS lands the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria off the coast of England, where the ESGO complex is drawing natural gas from under the North Sea via a huge network of pipes and off-shore rigs. However something is interfering with the gas flow and there’s a strange sound, pulsating like a heartbeat, inside the pipes. Something ancient has awoken in the sea and this time the Doctor may not be able to stop it, but perhaps Victoria can? Regardless, soon the TARDIS team will be facing the fury from the deep!

The Review:

Season 5 of the classic era is one of my personal favourites in the show’s long history. Not only does it feature a TARDIS team quite close to my heart, with Patrick Troughton’s mischievous Doctor paired up with the ever-loyal Jamie and the sweet Victoria, but it also happens to be the ‘Base Under Siege’ season. Now a ‘Base Under Siege’ is a story archetype found throughout Doctor Who and it’s fairly self explanatory, the Doctor and co find themselves in some sort of facility or structure, a base if you will, and it’s under siege from some invading force. The majority of Season 5 is made up of stories like this and while they can be a little formulaic , they can also be the best of Doctor Who. They’re perfect for that teatime terror the show is so good at, throwing the characters into a pressure cooker and turning up the tension and unease.

Fury from the Deep is one such story, and it’s married with another of Doctor Who’s favourite tricks, taking something innocuous and making it creepy. In this case simple seaweed and foam suddenly turns into a writhing monster that could doom the whole human race! (Have I mentioned how much I love this show enough yet?). This story also gets points for being the first time that the Doctor uses his signature tool, the Sonic Screwdriver, and he uses it to actually unscrew something!

Before we get into the story though, let’s talk about the animation. We get a change in art style with this release and I’m not the biggest fan. It might just be a case of taking some time to get used to it, there’s nothing really that bad about designs themselves but the arms really bug me. They’re too long and thin, in some shots they look alright, but in others they look really exaggerated and off putting. Add on to that a couple of awkward movements and some shots were characters are a little too still as they stand around and it feels like the quality’s regressed. I’ve no doubt that this being made during the pandemic has impacted it, so I’m willing to cut it some slack, but it’s still a little disappointing.  

That brings me to the story itself and while it sticks pretty closely to the formula of a base under siege, it’s well written with a good escalation of the tension and some nice bits of character and dialogue throughout. There are also some nice little inversions to keep things fresh. For example we’ve got Robson, the man in charge who trusts in his own practical experience, to point where he blatantly ignores anything else. I’m so used to seeing some by-the-book snob in charge who refuses to listen to anything practical that it’s nice to see it the other way around for once. It’s also nice that the story clearly shows that Robson does know what he’s doing under normal circumstances and he has the respect of his employees. The problem is that this is an entirely new situation and his blinkered, narrow-minded way of looking at things can’t bend enough to be able to cope. It’s little wonder that he starts ranting like a lunatic.

Let’s get to the TARDIS team though and out of all of Patrick Troughton’s run, his adventures with Jamie and Victoria have always been my favourite. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, the very first black and white Doctor Who story I ever saw was Tomb of the Cybermen featuring these three, but I love their dynamic. The gentle way that the Doctor and Victoria interact, and the unspoken romantic tension between Victoria and Jamie, there’s a lot that can be gotten out of this team and Fury from the Deep does its best to show that. The best scenes in this release are the quieter moments with Victoria. She’s tired of the endless danger and adventure that the Doctor and Jamie get so much of a kick out of. You can tell it’s not an easy thing for Victoria to admit, she loves the Doctor and Jamie, but she wants something else and it’s a great performance by Deborah Watling.

All in all it’s a really well done companion exit, unlike the Faceless Ones where we only got a goodbye scene with Ben and Polly, here there are moments throughout the story where we see Victoria coming to the conclusion to leave. I genuinely wish more companion exits had been handled like this where they get more focus throughout the story rather than just at the end. Also bonus points for not just introducing some guy for her to settle down with as often happened to female companions in Classic Who, instead Victoria gets a place where she can have some peace with a welcoming couple. Extra special bonus points are also earned for taking the stereotype of the screaming female companion and using it against the monster. Victoria isn’t the most egregious example of the trope, but she can sometimes fall into it. By the time the last set of credits roll I’m sad to see Victoria go, but I’m glad she got such a good story to exit on.

The Verdict:

In the end, Fury from the Deep, is a classic episode for many reasons. Not only does it introduce the sonic screwdriver, but we see a companion depart and a showcase of one of the series’ core story archetypes, a base under siege. Dark corridors and creepy tendrils of seaweed evoke an eerie atmosphere and when matched with the quieter, more characterful moments it makes an effective story. This story has been missing from the archives for more than half a century and, while the animation may not stand up to other releases, I’m still overjoyed that these episodes are back for people to see at last. After all, that’s the whole point of these recreations.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas so far, thank you for taking the time to read this silly little review. Here’s to the New Year, may it be everything we need after the disaster that was 2020. Merry Christmas.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Infallible Fish Reviews: Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones

“It’s a flying beastie!”

What’s the Story?

The Doctor and his friends, Ben, Polly and Jamie land at Gatwick airport, right in the middle of a runway! Immediately on the run from airport security, the gang soon find themselves stumbling into a sinister plot when Polly witnesses a man being murdered by a strange weapon. Something is happening at Chameleon Tours and it may just be connected to the recent rash of missing teenagers. As the Doctor tries to convince the Commandant of the seriousness of the threat he’s facing, he finds some of his friends suddenly don’t recognise him and there’s very few people he can trust. The Faceless Ones are here and it won’t be long before they get exactly what they want.

The Review:

I debated for a long time whether I was going to review this story or the animated recreation of Shada for this theme month. On the one hand I have this unwritten rule that this blog is purely for reviews of animated projects, tag posts and shameless plugging not withstanding. I don’t review live action stuff here and Shada does use live action footage as part of its reconstruction. On the other hand Shada is so much the better story, I mean it’s Douglas Adams writing Doctor Who , what more could you want from this world? Look, it’s not that The Faceless Ones is a bad story, all told it’s decidedly decent, it’s just overly long with a rushed, confusing ending. There is a small part of me that wonders if my real problem with this story is just that I seem to be the only one who doesn’t like it. Every review I’ve ever seen of this story is fairly positive, no one is shouting from the rooftops about it or anything, but people do seem to like it. That’s really why I’ve decided to review this story, I just need to get this stuff off my chest so bear with me.

Let’s start with some positives. The first few episodes of the story are surprisingly effective, the mystery of what exactly is happening with Chameleon Tours builds a great deal of tension. Also you’ve got to remember that stories set in the present day were a rare thing back in the early days of Doctor Who. Prior to this there was only the very first episode and The War Machines (where the Doctor took on Skynet 20 years before The Terminater came into being). Seeing alien body snatchers on the loose in a well-known public place would have been quiet the frightening story in the 60s. Unfortunately this plot has been done rather a lot since then and that does blunt it’s impact somewhat for a modern viewer.

Getting back to positives, let’s talk about the Doctor. The wandering Time Lord does get plenty of great moments throughout, whether it’s arguing with the close-minded Commandant, outwitting the Chameleons or just keeping ahead of the authorities, the Doctor is on top form. As for his companions, Jamie gets some highlight moments. Not only showing off the great performance chemistry that Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton share, but also demonstrating that he can easily take charge when his character is left to his own devices. There’s a reason Jamie is one of the best companions in classic Who and these episodes are a good example of why. Jamie is forever loyal and brave, with his own kind of intelligence on clear display.

Unfortunately the same level of attention isn’t given to the Doctor’s other companions, Ben and Polly. What makes this doubly sad is the fact that this also happens to be their last story and they disappear halfway through only to turn back up for the final few minutes of the last episode. I know why it happened, the contract for Ben’s actor was coming to an end and the higher ups didn’t want to renew it (after all they’d been struggling with three companions in the TARDIS, a lesson I wish the current production would have paid attention to). Polly’s actress wanted to show solidarity and she left too. At least we got a goodbye scene filmed, which is more than some companions got when their contracts ran out midway through a story. Dodo famously left off screen in the aforementioned War Machines.

Let’s get to the real problems of this story though, it really shouldn’t be six episodes long, that’s just too much. The mystery of Chameleon Tours has some good build up in the first few episodes, but the tension it manages to build starts to wear thin as it drags and drags on. It doesn’t help that the number of locations in the story is limited, the amount of times someone decides to go back to the Chameleon Tours warehouse is extraordinary, every five seconds it feels like someone is suggesting they go back to it. Just look around and get what you need, stop going there and coming back over and over again! When we get to the later half and see the reveal of the Chameleon’s space station I should be excited, instead I’m too zoned out because I’m just so done with this story.

The final nail in the coffin comes with the conclusion of the story, so spoilers ahead. First we’ve got the explanation of why the Chameleons are doing this and, okay I’ve watched this story three times now and I still don’t understand it. There was some sort of explosion and this robbed them of their faces and all memories of who they were. So they steal the appearances and identities of young people. Err…okay so they now no longer look like mouldy cabbages, but how exactly does that solve their problem? They still have no idea who they were or what happened, stealing other people’s memories and faces doesn’t change that in anyway. In fact it creates a new problem in that their lives are in immediate danger the second someone interferes with their body-snatching equipment. Also they chose to hide their victims in the airport car park, did they really think no one was going to notice dozens of parked cars with bodies inside? Eventually someone is going to notice that and I remind you that if someone interferes with the equipment on the bodies they all die!

The Verdict:

In the end The Faceless Ones is a pretty frustrating story for me. It starts off well and the Doctor and Jamie get some good moments, but the story is overly long and the conclusion is not only rushed, it’s confusing. The animation is of the same quality as the previous The Macra Terror, if not slightly more refined and there’s the usual eerie soundscape that comes with classic Doctor Who. I won’t personally recommend this story, but there are plenty of people who do like and I can kind of see why so feel free to check it out. Maybe then someone can explain that ending to me.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Infallible Fish Reviews: Doctor Who: The Macra Terror

“There’s no such thing as Macra! Macra do not exist! There are no Macra!”

What’s the Story?

The Doctor and his companions, Ben, Polly and Jamie, land in the far future, at an Earth colony where everyone is as happy as can be, possibly a little too happy. Oh they have parades and the music is ever so cheery, making the colonists just that bit more willing to work under the watchful eyes of the Controller, but what exactly are they working towards? There are mines were they extract a deadly gas, but no one can seem to say what for, just that the colony depends on it. There are also rumours of strange, crab-like creatures roaming the colony at night, and as the Doctor and co are soon to find out, where the Macra roam, terror is sure to follow.

The Review:

The second fully animated Doctor Who reconstruction to be released and one that I utterly adore. The Power of the Daleks is by all merits a better story and I knew I was going to love it the moment I first read what it was about. The Macra Terror on the other hand is one I’ve always had very little interest in, I mean on paper it sounds incredibly goofy and I suppose it is, but there’s such a sinister tone to the execution that it makes the whole thing work. Without this release I never would have given this story the time of day and I can’t help feeling a little guilty about that.

Before we get into the story itself though, first I want to take the time to talk about something I skipped over in my last review, and that’s Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. Everyone has their own favourite incarnation of the Doctor, and mine is Patrick Troughton’s second Doctor. As I mentioned before I grew up with the likes of Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy, but to me Patrick Troughton is the quintessential Doctor. He’s a guileful trickster, playing the clown and the fool, but all the while you can see the cogs turning behind his eyes. He’ll prod and he’ll probe until he’s found his enemy’s weakness and then he’ll go right for it and this story is a perfect example of that. Asking questions, pointing out the flaws in logic and all the while manoeuvring to expose what’s really going on. It’s brilliant to watch and it’s just a shame that we don’t have the original footage because no one does a facial expression like Patrick Troughton.

Speaking of facial expressions, let’s talk about the animation. My one real complaint about Power of the Daleks was the humanoid character animation and thankfully this release is a huge improvement. The animation is so much more fluid and expressive, add on the fact that we can now see it in colour and the improved effects and lighting and this whole release is a treat for the eyes. I also get a kick out of the backgrounds which look like they’re straight out of a 60s comic strip. That brings me to the Macra themselves and, much like Power of the Daleks, the animation on the monster is the best of all. These huge, lumbering crabs are quite terrifying as they stomp their way towards our protagonists, though it does bring up an interesting question.

You see I’ve seen the original Macra props and they’re, well, pretty rubbish. A wheelie bin looks more realistic and menacing, but that’s not a restriction the animators had to stick to and they didn’t. The animated Macra are far better looking, which raises the question of should these reconstructions stick to the original as much as possible, or should they make improvements where they can? Honestly, when it comes to the Macra I’m all for it, even if Who purists want to sting me up for such a sentiment.

Let’s get on to the story itself though and that is where I think The Macra Terror shines brightest. On paper it’s incredibly goofy, a colony full of happy-go-lucky people, filled with jaunty music and forced smiles secretly being run by giant crab-monsters? That’s so 60s an idea I want to hug it. Yet its the sinister edge to everything that makes this so good. The cheery singing voices telling people to obey, the almost order-like way they’re told ‘it will be fun!’, the hypnosis machines, the correction facilities. Everyone looks so happy, but it makes your skin crawl with how wrong it is. We get to see all this play out on a personal level when one of the companions, Ben, becomes indoctrinated into the colony. Suddenly he’s turning in the Doctor and telling everyone to obey the rules, even when a Macra is stopping it’s way towards him he refuses to accept its existence because he’s been told they don’t exist. In fact it’s only Polly’s life being in danger that snaps him out of it, but as soon as the threat is over the conditioning kicks back in and he’s a loyal drone once more. Ben isn’t my favourite companion, but he’s not a bad one either and it’s genuinely heartbreaking to see him struggle against the mind control.

As for the Macra there isn’t much to them outside of their threatening appearance and the horrifying society they’ve put in place and yet I can’t really dislike them. What’s so wrong with great shadowy evil controlling society being something like a giant crab-monster? It’s goofy, but I love it. That and the mad hysteria that creeps into the Controllers voice when he goes on about there being no Macra.

The Verdict:

The Macra Terror is a joy from beginning to end, taking such a goofy concept and twisting it into a sinister nightmare. The Doctor is at his best, poking holes and beguiling the opposition as he gets closer and closer to the truth. Add on Ben’s own personal struggle as he falls victim to and then tries to fight against the colony’s mind control and you have a great story from Troughton’s era. The animation is much improved from the previous release and having the option to view it in colour is a real treat. I thoroughly recommend it.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Infallible Fish Reviews: Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks

“Life depends on change and renewal.”

What’s the Story?

Having bested the Cybermen and saved the Earth yet again, the Doctor finds his body wearing a bit thin and it’s time for a change. Regenerating into a new, younger form, the Doctor is quite literally a new man, but while his companions Ben and Polly struggle to come to terms with that fact, on the planet Vulcan a strange capsule has been found in the mercury swamps. While tensions rise amongst the colonists and plots for power are put into motion, the Daleks bide their time. They may be weak now, having to play at servants, but before long the colonists will be facing the true power of the Daleks!

The Review:

First broadcast on November 1966, this is probably one of the most important episodes in the show’s long, long history. This is the very first regeneration story for Doctor Who, the changing of the guard from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton, setting the precedent that would allow the show to replace its lead actor for decades to come. If this had failed then the show would have most likely ended in the 60s. Thankfully that’s not the case and outside of its historic significance, this also happens to be one of the best Dalek stories put to screen. It breaks my heart that the chances of ever finding the original episodes is remote at best, but that’s what these animated episodes are for, to give us a way to experience this story in as close to all its glory as we can get. I’ll warn you all now this is going to be a heavily biased, heavily gushing review so be prepared.  

First though, let’s talk about the structure of classic Doctor Who, this is one story, but it’s comprised of six episodes, each roughly 30 minutes long. I suppose nowadays with more serialised shows its less of a shock to the system than it used to be, but it can take a moment to become accustomed to the style of Classic Who for all those who are interested. Just bare that in mind if you’re planning on using this as your first step into classic Doctor Who. It’s not as pacey as modern stuff, which does give more time to explore a location and characters, which I greatly enjoy.

On that note, let’s start with my one and only real gripe with this production, the animation, specifically the humanoid character animation. Look, I know this project was rushed out by the BBC for one reason or another. In a way it’s very in keeping with the production of classic Doctor Who, done on a meagre budget with extreme time constraints. On the other hand though, these episodes have been missing for more than 50 years, what exactly is the rush to have them produced now? Why not give the animators the time to make this look as good as it possibly can? It’s not as if the animation is terrible, there are some nice movements, but more often than not the humanoid characters move really awkwardly and there’s no nuance whatsoever. Take the scene where the Doctor is supposed to be studying Bragen’s expressions, he’s meant to be subtly watching him, but the animation has the characters stood right on top of one another with the Doctor being as obvious as possible. He might as well be wearing a flashing neon sign that says ‘I’m watching you’. Thankfully this improves with later releases, but I’ll get to that next week.

The animation is much more successful when it comes to the Daleks, they move and look exactly like classic Daleks, rolling around with all the menace the metal pepper pots can bring to bear. There are also a number of shots that the original production would have struggled with, like when the camera pulls back to reveal a room filled with newly built Daleks, or their gruesome production line. The original production had only a handful of Dalek props to hand so, yeah, this time a point goes to the animation for making those scenes as good as they are.

But let’s talk about the real strength of these episodes, the story. David Whitaker knows how to write Classic Who, he’s one of my favourite writers of the era because he knows how to write interesting characters. This may be a Dalek story, but it’s also a story of the people on Vulcan (no, not that one). Whether it’s Lesterson tinkering away with the capsule in his lab and not caring about much else, Bragen plotting to take power by any means necessary or the governor who has no idea about the death and destruction that’s about to befall his colony. All these people have their own motives and plans and they all think they can use the Daleks for their own ends, not realising the danger.

Personal opinion time, for me, the Daleks are at their best when they’re on the back foot. Seeing an army of murder-crazy killing machines is terrifying in its own right, but its the creeping dread of this story that makes them genuinely scary here. If you’re a Who fan you know what the Daleks are capable of, so to see all these people squabbling over petty things while the Daleks are getting stronger and stronger. It puts you in the same position as the Doctor, screaming at everyone to just listen and understand how much danger they’re in. The colonists are so convinced that they’re differences are worth fighting for, that they can use the Daleks to achieve their ends, but how does that all end? With slow panning shots of dead bodies filling the corridors. To the Daleks the differences don’t matter, we’re not Daleks and that’s all the reason they need to kill us. When a Dalek asks Bragen why humans kill other humans it’s chilling because, in truth, a Dalek would never kill another Dalek.

I suppose I should put some words towards talking about the Doctor in this review of Doctor Who. I love Patrick Troughton and he gives a fantastic performance here, but while this is a regeneration story, it’s not a story about regeneration. The first episode is really where the Doctor gets the most focus through his interactions with Ben and Polly and their trying to come to terms with his change. Regeneration is given a simple and effective explanation, with enough vagueness to it so it can be expanded on later. The rest of the time is just the Doctor acting strange while his new personality settles in, though there’s also the suggestion that the Doctor is doing a lot of this to only appear the fool (Sylvester McCoy isn’t the only chess master persona). Of course he’s there to stop the Daleks and prophecies the deaths to come, but really this is a story of Vulcan and the Daleks.

The Verdict:

The Power of the Daleks is a seminal story in Doctor Who’s history, the beginning of the second Doctor’s adventures, the very first regeneration and a terrific Dalek story to boot. For any Classic Who fan this is a must see and I’d recommend it to anyone else as well, though it might be an idea to watch a few other stories first, just to become acclimatised to the style. The animation of the humanoid characters is the one weak point in the production, but the soundscape, the writing and the Daleks themselves more than make up for that.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Introducing Doctor Who-cember!

It’s December and regular followers of this blog should know what that means, it’s time for a theme month! In the past I’ve covered episodes of Batman, Scooby-Doo, Spider-Man, random Christmas things and the One Piece films, but this year (because 2020 has been so absolutely terrible) I want to go bigger. The biggest in fact! As such I’m going to be taking a look at one of my all-time favourite shows, Doctor Who!

Let’s be frank, I’m a die-hard Doctor Who fan. I grew up on this show and I’ve loved it in each and every one of its iterations, of course there are some eras I prefer to others, but that’s part of what I love about this show. It’s not afraid to grow and change, testing out new ideas and generally providing something for everyone across its long history, it’s why the show has lasted as long as it has. I was born in the 90s, which are generally considered the ‘wilderness’ years of Doctor Who. The show had been cancelled in the previous decade and the 2005 revival was still a ways away, thankfully my mum was paying for Sky at the time and I managed to stumble across early morning omnibuses of Classic Who on the weekends. I still remember crawling out of bed early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to switch on the TV and get lost in another mad adventure. I had no real idea what was going on and stories were often played out of order, but I loved it all the same. I got to see Jon Pertwee judo chopping possessed engineers, Tom Baker grinning maniacally at deadly danger, Peter Davidson on the brink of death, careering towards a planet with his only concern being for his companion, Colin Baker lambasting the Time Lords from the stand in his own trial, or Sylvester McCoy talking a Dalek to death! I love this show!

Now before I get into what’s going to be happening on this blog in the coming month, first I need to give a quick history lesson (actual history this time, not just my own personal history with the show). Let’s talk about missing episodes! As I’m sure most people are aware, Doctor Who started back in the 60s, 1963 to be exact and that was very much a different time for TV shows. I’m not just talking about shows being in black and white, but the whole mentality of television back then. TV was thought of as just another form of theatre, and much like theatre if you missed the performance, then that was it, you weren’t going to see it again. This was a time when even videotapes for home purchase were a far off dream, and living in the age of streaming as we do I know how strange an idea that must sound. Now there were tapes at the time, but these were used purely for broadcast purposes and were also huge and expensive. In fact a lot of the time these tapes were recorded over to save having to buy a new one and I bet you’re starting to get an idea of how the missing episodes  came to be right now.  

It took decades for the BBC, and other broadcasting networks, to realise that maybe, just maybe, we should be holding on to these recordings and put some sort of archiving system in place. Doctor Who is only the most prominent example of this issue, there are vast swathes of British television history that are lost to time because we just don’t have recordings of them any more. As a fan it’s tempting to be angry about an issue like this, but again, TV was thought of as theatre. The idea of holding on to a recording so that people could watch it back at their leisure, in their own homes, was a ludicrous notion in the 60s. You can’t be angry at someone for not having the foresight to realise how important something is going to be half a century down the line. Heck, the idea that Doctor Who would still be airing more than 50 years later would probably sound insane to people at the time. There have been efforts over the years to try and find missing episodes, searching overseas broadcast stations that tapes might have been sold to, or prising open private collections and as it stands there are still 97 missing episodes of Doctor Who, which are not many as there used to be, thankfully. However, and I realise that I’m only now getting to the point, in one way there are no missing episodes.

You see we Doctor Who fans are an enterprising lot and while we may lack the visuals of 97 episodes, we do in fact have the audio of every single episode, all thanks to fans who hooked up audio recording equipment to their TVs back in the day (some of them even recorded by holding a microphone to their set!). That, finally, brings me to what I’m going to be reviewing for this December, you see the BBC has recently been releasing fully animated recreations of missing episodes, using these audio recordings and I’m going to be reviewing four of them this month! So below is the schedule for December, hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I’m going to and thanks for making it through this long-winded history lesson.

4th – Power of the Daleks

11th – The Macra Terror

18th – The Faceless Ones

25th – Fury from the Deep

See you Friday for our first trip in the TARDIS!

Cartoon Corner: The Owl House Review

“This is clearly not the PG fantasy world I always dreamed about.”

What’s the Story?

Luz is a self-assured teen just bursting with imagination and creativity, unfortunately that often gets her into trouble. Her latest stunt, a book report involving live snakes, is about to get her sent to summer camp to learn to curb her wild behaviour, that is until a tiny owl steals one of her fantasy books! Giving chase, Luz finds herself transported to a strange, and often grotesque, world, the Boiling Isles! There she is taken in by rogue witch Eda and her adorable demonic partner, King. This may not be the kind of fantasy adventure that Luz has always dreamed about, but it could be just the one she needs. Who needs summer camp when you can instead become an apprentice witch!

The Review

One last stop on the Disney train for this year (they’ll be more next year. Sorry, not sorry. The last couple of weeks have really put me in the mood and there’s a couple of shows that I should have talked about before. So look forward to them!) Anyway, let’s talk about The Owl House. I have been dying to watch this series ever since I saw the promotional images for it last year, it’s first season has finally dropped on Disney+ (part of the reason I even signed up to that service) and it is pretty much everything I wanted. Now I’m not going to claim it’s the ‘Greatest Thing Eva!’, it’s only a first season after all and it’s still got plenty of potential it can grow into, but at the same time I had a lot of fun with this show. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for the current tend of fantasy cartoons with an often hinted at mystery in the background and The Owl House handles all of those elements really well. I like the Boiling Isles as a setting, the series has a great colour palette and I love the grotesque-without-being-gross designs of the locations and inhabitants. What’s really hooked me in though is the humour and the characters.

I knew this series and I were going to get along with the very first joke, in which we see a typical fantasy witch confronting a snake monster and declaring that she’s a ‘warrior of peace’. Then she screams ‘Now eat this sucka!’, turns her staff into a bazooka and just blasts the monster. ‘My only weakness! Dying!’ I could quote the jokes of this series all day long and never get tired of it. That’s not to say the series is wall-to-wall jokes, some of my favourite moments are actually some of the more quieter, characterful ones, like when Luz admits to Amity that she’s not a witch, but she’s training hard to be one (that scene breaks my heart every time).

Let’s talk about the series’ two best girls for a second (Yes I’m a Lumity shipper, what of it?). Luz is energetic and impetuous, which often gets her into trouble even though she has the best of intentions. The series is very obvious with it’s themes of Individuality VS. Conformity and Luz is right in the middle of that. She has her own way of seeing and doing things and the series is very much on her side when it comes to her expressing herself as she wants to, as the show says “Us weirdos have to stick together”. Yet, at the same time, it’s not completely dismissive about joining in with the group either. There are benefits to being in a group, not least surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Eda may gripe about the series’ coven system that locks you into one way of magic, but it’s pointed out a couple of times that Luz has to make up her own mind. Conforming without compromising your individuality, that’s a more nuanced lesson that I’m glad this show is putting forward. Plus Luz is an adorable dork that I just can’t help but root for, watching her learn magic in her own way is a joy across the season.

Now let’s talk about Amity, who may just be the most well-developed character in this series. When we first meet her it looks like she’s going to be the typical school bully character, picking on a fellow classmate for being weaker at magic than her. Yet with each episode she appears in we learn a little bit more about her, and why she’s the way she is. From her overbearing parents to her tormenting siblings, Amity strives for perfection and doesn’t believe she can show any weakness. Yet each time she comes in contact with Luz, her character grows, adapting to this strange new person in her life and pretty soon Amity has evolved from the bully into a potential love interest. (On a side note, check out the song ‘Little Miss Perfect’ on the Write Out Loud youtube channel, it perfectly sums up Amity and has been embraced by us Lumity shippers as our national anthem.) I’m really looking forward to where the show is going to go next with her character and what more we’ll learn about her history.

As for the rest of the characters, Eda, King and Hooty probably take my third, fourth and fifth favourite spots, in that order. They’re all really fun and the banter that they share always brings a smile to my face. Before I wrap this up though, there’s one last aspect of this show that I really want to talk about, the animation. Disney always has quality animation, even when it’s stuck with a TV budget, but there are some spectacular moments throughout this series. The duels between Eda and Lilith and Luz and Amity’s dance magic combo in the Grom night episode being my particular highlights. The animation just flows so beautifully I couldn’t help but be carried away by it.

The Verdict

The Owl House is a good show and a great starting point with a lot of potential going forward. The characters are all funny and likeable, each in their own adorkable way, and they continue to grow and change across the season. There’s a strong theme of Individually vs. Conformity, with a more nuanced answer than I was initially expecting. If you’re after a fun fantasy adventure and don’t mind some grotesque character designs and setting, then I’d definitely recommend this. I can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store for us!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Cartoon Corner: Tangled the Series/Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure Review

Plus Est En Vous!

What’s the Story?

Freed from the tower and the clutches of her kidnapper/abusive parental figure, Mother Gothel, it looks like Rapunzel finally has her happily ever after. She’s reunited with her real parents, has the man that she loves, Eugene, in her life and the whole kingdom of Corona to welcome her home, what more could she possibly want? Whatever it is that’s missing it’s enough to convince her to take a late-night trip out beyond the walls with her new handmaiden, Cassandra, to where the Sundrop Flower once grew. Now there are indestructible black rocks growing out of the ground where the Sundrop fell, and when Rapunzel touches one they suddenly begin to grow. That’s not the only effect though as the magic inside Rapunzel is reawakened, giving her back her incredibly long golden hair and brand new magical abilities. Adventure is calling for Rapunzel, it will take her to the Dark Kingdom and back, test her closest friendships and even see her facing a near-immortal evil from Corona’s past. Nobody said being a princess was easy…

The Review

I love Disney, always have always will. Doesn’t mean I won’t make fun of them or call out the machinations of our corporate overlords, but when the business suits get put away and the creators and talent working behind the scenes can just do their thing, Disney produces some of the best in the business. That brings me to Tangled the Series (also known as Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure from the second season onwards). I’ve talked about this show a couple of times before on this blog, which you can check out HERE and HERE, and I am very much in love. Is it the greatest cartoon that Disney has ever produced? No, that’s a three-way death match between Gargoyles, Gravity Falls and the latest DuckTales cartoon (potentially the Owl House, but we’ll talk more about that next week). That being said, Tangled the Series genuinely inspires me as anyone who’s ever visited the Disney folder on my Deviantart account will probably be able to tell. (In fact, to save you the trip I’ve put some of my favourite pieces throughout this post!)

This show is proof that it doesn’t matter what your idea is, what matters is how you do it. I have no idea how this series got the initial green light. You want to make a series following on from Tangled? A film that pretty succinctly wrapped up its plot, has no dangling plot threads left over and even has a short to give us all the wedding scene we wanted. Also you want to set the series in-between the film and said short so we know for certain nothing is going to happen to any of the characters that appear in the short, because they have to be there. What are you supposed to do with that? If it was me I’d have thrown my hands up in defeat at the first script writing session, but luckily I wasn’t on staff for this series because they did have a plan. Not only that, they pulled out literally all the stops, bringing back Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi to voice their characters again and putting Alan frickin’ Menken on music. Tangled the Series is what happens when you take an idea and pour as much talent and passion into it as possible.

Let’s talk about the animation, which is another highlight of this series for me. I’ll admit it took me a few minutes to get used to it, but now I’m fully onboard. Disney’s been trying out this style in some of their shorts for several years now, it’s this weird mix of 2D and 3D where I’m not sure if it’s 3D models textured in such a way that they look 2D, or if it’s 2D characters somehow ported into a 3D space, or a mix of the two. Whatever it is it really works, even on a meagre TV budget. There are certainly some shots where you can tell that something is off, but then there are other times when the animation is free to dive into these big sweeping shots that just take your breath away. Add on the utterly gorgeous backgrounds and the storybook look to everything and it’s like you’ve stepped into a Mary Blair sketchbook. (FYI, Mary Blair was an artist/animator who worked for Disney back in the early days, think Sleeping Beauty and you’ll get the look I’m talking about. Also, check out her concept art because it’s all gorgeous). When I’m in love with a series’ art style I often say I want to take each frame of animation and hang them up on my wall, well, for this series I want to cover every wall of my house with frames from this show. I love it and, honestly, I’m praying that Disney will try this style with a big budget film some day.

What about the story though? It’s all well and good bringing in all these talented people and making everything look really, really pretty, but it’ll all fall flat without some substance behind it. Thankfully I love the story of this series as much as I do the artwork. What took me by surprise the most was the attention to character detail. Admittedly I was just expecting this series to be silly princess hijinks in the capital, which is how the series starts, but there’re little bits that show just how much the creators get these characters. Rapunzel’s reaction to returning to the tower for the first time, her dad waking up in the middle of the night, terrified that he’ll lose his daughter again and the things that fear makes him do… all of it is spot on.  Rapunzel is by far the most interesting Disney princess to me, she’s spent her whole life trapped in a tower, she knows nothing of the outside world and is probably the most child-like princess in the Disney canon. She’s never had to make difficult choices, she’s never had responsibility, but now she does and we follow her as she struggles along that journey. Honestly it’s been a joy to watch her grow up as she’s tackled everything from friends betraying her to ancient evils and shocking revelations about those around her.

That’s something else I have to give this series credit for. It effortlessly adds and expands on the mythos of the film, turning it from a fairy tale story about a flower with healing properties into a grand adventurous epic. I mean I never expected ancient wizards, goat-headed demons and alchemists’ robots to turn up in a Disney princess story, but somehow it all works. The only real complaint I have about the story is the amount of filler episodes it has. Tangled the Series works very much on the tent pole format, where there are several episodes in each season that progress the series’ arc and need to be seen, but all the ones in-between just tend to maintain the status quo and keep things chugging along. The tent pole episodes themselves are all fantastic, and I love them, but the filler are a bit more hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, some of the filler episodes are my favourites in the series, but others are very much just padding. Fun padding, but also obviously padding. It’ll probably be less of a problem on a binge watch, but watching it week to week it can wear you out waiting for the story to get properly going again. It’s not a major problem though and I do enjoy if not outright adore 99.9% of this series.

On a final note, I can’t leave this review without mentioning the music of the series. As I mentioned earlier they got Alan Menken back and I am so glad that they did. The songs of this series, in my opinion, are actually better than the movie’s. Nothing against Tangled’s songs, I do have a great deal of fun with them, but nine times out of ten, the ones in this series pack so much more of a punch. From the sheer joy of songs like ‘Wind in My Hair’ and ‘The View from Up Here’, to the heartbreak of ‘Waiting in the Wings’, the Broadway power of ‘Nothing Left to Lose’ and the epicness of ‘Ready As I’ll Ever Be’. These songs are scattered throughout the series, mostly in tent pole episodes and the majority of them knock it out of the park, especially the villain songs (though personally I think of them as ‘antagonist songs’, but I can’t talk about that without spoilers so I won’t). Just go listen to them, you won’t be disappointed, though some songs may come with spoilers so be warned.

The Verdict

All in all, Tangled the Series/Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure is a fantastic series and a true testament of what you can do when you put talent and passion into your idea. Combing a clear understanding of the characters with a dramatic storyline, expanding mythology, breath-taking art style and some toe-tapping songs, it’s been a joy to watch. I’m still sad that this series has ended now after three brilliant seasons, but I’m also incredibly grateful that I’ve gotten to go on this journey with these characters in the first place. It’s not perfect, but this is the series that cemented Rapunzel as my favourite Disney princess, potentially my favourite Disney character period. Check it out, maybe you’ll have had as much fun as I did.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

There’s one last stop for the Disney train this year as we take a look at one of Disney’s latest productions, Next Week…

Take a trip to the Boiling Isles!