Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 21-F: From Games to Toons Pt.6

Mina: Ok. We are now gonna talk about 2 of the most obsure cartoons around: Battletoads and Mutant League.

Battletoads was a cartoon show based on the hit video game of the samne name. It was produced by DIC Entertainment and first aired on Fox Kids in 1992. However, only the pilot episode made it to the airwaves. It Was never picked up as a full animated series, despite comic-style ads in GamePro magazine claiming otherwise.

Mina: Y'see the reason why it never became a TV series is because it didn't test well. Only 10-20% of those tested liked the show,while the rest didn't. So,DiC gave up on the series and just aired the first and Only episode.

Mina: A VHS tape with this episode was released on January 15, 1994. This lone episode served more as a prequel to the video game franchise.

Set in Oxnard, California, the show stars three kids (despite the fact that the comic's story revolved around three video game testers). The trio is given the ability to transform into anthropomorphic toads with superhuman strength and the ability to change their arms and legs into weapons,in techniques called "Smash Hits".

Mina: Hsien-Ko,anyone?

Anyway,The Toads job is ro protect Professor T. Bird and Princess Angelica from the Dark Queen, who wants to steal Angelica's magical amulet for her plans of universal conquest.

It is likely that the show was another attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Incidentally, DiC Entertainment would try this again later on by producing Street Sharks and then later Extreme Dinosaurs.

Mina: Now we go from obsure to very obscure.

Yup. Mutant League was based on the videogames Mutant League Football and Mutant League Hockey. The show aired from July 1994 to February 1995.

The show ran for two seasons, with the second typically incorporating more "Mature" stories and issues,while the first seemed somewhat of a hodgepodge with little regard for continuity. There are forty episodes in all,thirteen in Season 1 and twenty-seven in Season 2.

The story goes like this: During a football game, an earthquake reveals buried toxic waste, and the fumes cause all of the attendees and players to mutate,including young Bones Justice (Bones Jackson in the games).

Soon after,A sports federation based around the superhuman beings emerges (the Mutant League) Eventually,Bones grows up and plays for the Midway Monsters.

Corrupt league commissioner Zalgor Prig constantly schemes to get the popular athlete to play for the team he owns,the Slaycity Slayers.

Bones' search for his father,missing since the day of the quake,and his personal quest to bring order and fair play to the league,are subplots throughout the series.

Several other characters from the games such as Razor Kid, Mo and Spew, K.T. Slayer, Grim McSlam and Coach McWimple regularly appear in the show.

Unlike the games, players didn't die from their unique approach to contact sports. Though they were frequently maimed to the point of losing body parts. Whenever a player was maimed,they would recieve treatments in a machine called the Rejuvenator,which bathed them in toxic chemicals.

The show also has no robot players,and only five teams: the Monsters, the Slayers, the Ooze, the Derangers and the Screaming Evils.

It also has the teams competing in all manner of sports and not just the ones seen in the games. Most commonly football,but also hockey,basketball,soccer,baseball,volleyball,and even monster truck races and sumo wrestling. What? No Boxing?

Mina: As with the videogames,the sports were modified with deathtraps and loose rules on violence to accommodate the near-indestructible nature of the players. Some episodes end with a "grudge match" between two particular players.

A line of action figures was released based on the show, but went virtually unknown.

Mina: This was definatly a greusome cartoon and one that's obviously aimed at an older croud. I bet if this show was better known,it would've been a hit?

I think it woud've been. I can't find this show Anywhere on Youtube. However,I did manage to find the Intro. Anyway,we're now gonna be moving on to a less obsure show. Mina take it.

Mina: Double Dragon is based on the video game franchise of the same name. The television series was produced by DiC Entertainment and ran for 26 episodes in 1993 and 1994.

Mina: The premise of the show had the Lee brothers separated at birth, with Billy being raised by an elderly martial arts master known as the Oldest Dragon. In contrast, his brother Jimmy is raised by the evil Shadow Master to become his second-in-command, the Shadow Boss.

Mina: As a result, the Lee brothers meet each other as adversaries after being reunited as adults. By the end of the second episode, Jimmy is betrayed by the Shadow Master,this leads to Jimmy seeing the error of his ways.

The Lee brothers were given magical swords by the Eldest Dragon. These swords contained special powers and added dragon masks to the brothers' outfit.

During the course of the series,the brothers recruited allies in their war against the Shadow Clan. In the second season the Bros. gained stronger magical weapons when the Shadow Master harnessed the strength of the even more evil Shadow Kahn. The search for their father,John Lee,was a running subplot throughout the series.

The plot of the pilot episode {which seemed rushed,btw} is loosely based on the NES version of the first Double Dragon game. Like in the first NES game, Jimmy is revealed to be the Shadow Boss in this episode, with his henchmen being Abobo and Willy, who were boss characters in the game as well.

By the end of the second episode, Abobo and Willy are sucked into the Shadow Mural, never to be seen again. Billy and Jimmy join forces to fight against the series' true antagonist, the Shadow Master.

All of the characters introduced from the second episode and onward were original creations made for the show. The story and characters of the animated series would be used in the Tradewest-produced Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls, a Double Dragon fighting game released for home consoles.

Mina: This game was ill recieved by fans,BTW. As for the Shadow Master,I think he looks and acts like a reject from a Power Ranger series. Same goes for his henchmen.

Mina: The Power Ra...err,Lee brothers transform into their superheroic [yet power ranger clone] identities by crossing swords. Billy says "for right!" Jimmy says "for might!" I guess they couldn't use "It's Morphin' Time".

Mina: Anyway,Then in unison they say "We are Double Dragons!" They usually transform out of those forms by crossing swords again and saying in unison "by the power of the dragon!" although several episodes show that taking heavy injury can also deactivate their powers. Just like The Power Rangers.

Mina! Anyway,A major weakness is that they must both be present to activate the powers. Also,sometimes injury sustained by one is also taken by the other and if one has their powers deactivated through injury,so will the other. In addition to sharing injury,the brothers also infrequently show an ability to sense when the other is in danger.

Mina: The Dragon Warriors aka The Dragon Rangers are granted costumes and super powers through a ceremony in which the Lee brothers lay their swords on the person's shoulders and say "To uphold the code of the dragon, for might and for right, to defend the innocent against the shadow," then in unison "you are [name], Dragon Warrior!"

Mina: The Dragon Warrior can then call up their costume and weaponry by placing their right fist to their chest and saying "by the power of the dragon" or "I am [name], Dragon Warrior!" whenever Billy and Jimmy are transformed. Maybe DiC should've called them Dragon Rangers instead of Dragon Warriors,that woud've been a more accurate name for these heroes.

Most of the Shadow Warriors are mutants. The Shadow Master says in "Over the Line" these mutants are somehow created due to "high levels of EMF [electromagnetic field] generated by [Metro City's] ancient underground power grid."

Although Metro City taps into the EMF and uses it to generate power, it is not established if the power source is man-made or a natural phenomenon. According to the same episode, the EMF gives the Black Flame its power,which suggests the latter.

Mina: The series lasted 2 seasons,though a 3rd season was planned and it was gonna have Mecha.

Even though a 3rd season was planned,the whole "Mecha" thing is just a rumor. All we know about this dropped 3rd season is that Billy and Jimmy's father would've appeared/be found,we'd see the Shadow Master without his mask,ans well as the origins of the Shadows and the Dragons. The origins of the Mystic Dragon Swords and the Black Flame would've also been reveald. Unfortunatly do to mediocre ratings,the show was canned after Season 2.

Ok,you've been seeing Power Ranger references all throughout this part this lesson. We'll there's a logical explanation. Double Dragon had a Power Ranger feel to it because the producers at DiC felt that MMPR was the shows main rival. Back then Power Rangers was Huge,and DiC believed that in order to make the show more popular,they had to turn it into a Power Ranger clone.

Mina: Go,Go,Double Dragons!

Anyway,next up is a cartoon that is both liked and despised by the Mega Man fan community. It's Mega Man,the Animated series.

Mega Man,known in Japan as Mega Man: A Rockman series,is a Japanese-American series multi-produced by Capcom Productions, Ruby-Spears Productions,and Ashi Productions. It's based on the hit game series,Mega Man.

Mina: The TV series began on September 11,1994 and ended in the Fall of 1995. It was aired on many syndicated stations at the time. 2 seasons were produced with a third season planned, but the show was canned despite respectably high ratings due to budget constraints and complaints by fans and Keiji Inafune himself.

Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were brilliant scientists in the field of robotics, who worked together in a laboratory trying to advance the science. One day, they finished an extremely advanced prototype,but shortly after being activated,it went crazy.

Dr. Light immediately believed that the prototype's guidance system,which Dr. Wily had personally programmed,was the source of the problem and concluded they would start over again.

Angered, Dr. Wily attempted to steal the plans later that night, but Dr. Light catches him. Wily is able to steal the plans after knocking Dr. Light down, and goes off to what is apparently an abandoned area,and modifies the old robot prototype into Protoman. Even though we never see him take the prototype.

Months Later,Dr. Light builds Rock and Roll,advanced robots with personalities, along with Ice Man,Guts Man,and Cut Man. Dr. Wily and Protoman steal the robots and reprogram the latter three robots as henchmen. Dr. Wily attempts to reprogram Rock and Roll at his lab later,but Rock decides to trick Dr. Wily.

After doing so,he and Roll escape. Dr. Light decides to reprogram and reoutfit Rock into Mega Man,who from then on keeps the world safe. Throughout the series, Mega Man thwarts Wily's various schemes.

Mega Man starred in a Saturday-morning style cartoon that premiered in 1994. Ruby-Spears,one of the producers of the show,redesigned the characters from the Mega Man games.

Mina: At the time the show was undergoing its early development,anime had not yet achieved a "mainstream" acceptance,plus the producers felt that Mega Man looked too young to be excepted as a Saturday Morning action hero.

The final look of the characters were among many different interpretations proposed and was the most well-received by test audiences. It's worth noting that characters who appeared for the first time in season two were more faithful to their Game counterparts.

The series was targeted towards the late preteen boy audience,though Roll's expanded and much more active role in the series was used to draw in more girl viewers as well. Producer Joe Ruby joked "Also,it showed we're not male chauvinistic pigs as our wives think".

X,along with Vile,Spark Mandrill,and "Cigma" (Sigma) made a guest appearance late in the second season. He was planned to make more appearances in season 3,with the potential for his own spinoff cartoon.

Despite consistent high ratings and being a series Joe Ruby and Ken Spears really enjoyed working on,the show was cancelled after 2 seasons. A single post-season-2 episode was created to complete Ruby-Spears' contractual obligations.

However,Season 3 plans had been put into motion at the time of the cancellation. The decision to end the cartoon was handed down from Capcom,due to complaints by the Fans and their star employee,Keiji Inafune (the creator of the rockman series).

Mina: We'll be talking about the 3rd season later. But for now,we're gonna chat about the character designs.

Prior to the show's premiere a short animated promo was released which contained an artstyle that resembled the official Capcom character art. When the show was being produced,the designs of characters were changed to better appeal to American audiences.

Most characters gained more masculine and realistic looks,as well as different appearances in powers. Mega Man was given an edgier and more realistic look compared to his original anime design.

Mina: Also, Mega Man's personality changed from boyish into a teen with an attitude. Roll,instead of wearing a dress,wears a red and yellow jumpsuit. Roll comes equipped with a vacuum blaster device on her left arm,unlike the games where she is just a civilian robot.

The design also changed as Mega Man and Protoman became taller and more muscular. Often,Protoman and Mega Man would use their fists or wrestle instead of using their in game abilities. Which was a nice touch.

Mega Man and Roll were changed from children to teenagers and Eddie was changed from red to green.Because the Producers never played the games fully,Protoman became a villain who served Dr. Wily. In the games he was a loner hero.

Mina: In the games, Mega Man gains a Robot Master's ability after destroying the Robot Master,but in the series,Mega Man just has to touch the Robot Master. I actually like this method and it makes it look like Mega Man has a Super Power.

The music cues for this show were re-used for Ocean Group's Dragon Ball Z Dub. It was the dub that was produced by the Ocean Group themselves,without the aid of Funimation Entertainment. This vesion of DBZ aired only in Canada,Austrailia,the United Kingdom,and Ireland.

The Ocean Group may have placed the BGM tracks for Mega Man into their archive and retrieved them when they began dubbing the show. Some of the Music was also used for the Monster Rancher dub,another Anime that Ocean Group dubbed.

Mina: And speaking of the Music,Did you know that the Mega Man Cartoon theme was styled after the Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger theme song. Don't ask me why,it just is.

At one time, Mega Man was placed as the number one weekly syndicated kids show in the Nielsen ratings.

Mina: And now, Let's talk about the unproduced 3rd Season.

As stated earlier,the show was gonna get a 3rd season,but due to money issues,as well as complaints from fans,the season was never made. Here's what I know. Mega X making another guest appearence and even his own episode. Protoman would've switched sides,first as Breakman.

Don't ask me why,but judging by an unproduced Protoman figure this seemsd to be the case.(the figure came with a sheild and breakman mask). Flashman,Skullman,Bubbleman,and The Mega Man 6 Robot Masters would have made an appearence. And Finally,Bass would've been brought in as Protoman's replacement. There was a Bass figure in the unproduced toyline,so this is true.

Mina: Facinating.

Indeed. Let's move on to Street Fighter now,shall we.

Mina: Street Fighter was produced by InVision Entertainment based on the Street Fighter video game franchise,though it was more of a continuation of the 1994 Live-Action Street Fighter Movie. The series aired as part of the USA Network's Action Extreme Team block. It lasted two seasons which aired from 1995 to 1997.

Mina: A 3rd season was planned,but due to budget reasons and the fact that the USA Networtk threw out their childrens Block,this season was never made. We'll talk about this later.

Fans of the franchise often and wrongly criticized the cartoon for the overall bad quality in terms of writing,art,voice acting,as well as being too inaccurate to the games cannon.

Mina: We call these people,Stupid Fantards. That's their rightful name.

Amen Mina! Anyway,let's conclude this part by talking about the unproduced The 3rd season.

Season 3 was unproduced due to lack of money and the fact that the USA network made plans to (and eventually) ditched their kids block in 1998. I don't know much about this unproduced season,but here's what I found out.

In Season 3,Ryu and Ken would go their seperate ways and Ryu would travel the world participasting in Street Fighter Tournaments. Chun-Li would've quit her job as a reporter and joined interpol,but still work with Guile from time to time. Blanka would re-gain his human form for another episode. And finally,Dan Hibiki would've made an appearence.

Other than these facts,nothing else is known about Season 3 of the Street Fighter Cartoon.

Mina: Alrighty,we're almost done. Just 5 more Game based Cartoons to go.

Yup. Next up,The widely hated Darkstalkers Cartoon.

1 comment:

KingsSideCastle said...

Double dragons I'm semi-familiar vaguely remember some of the others. Nice entry. ^_^