As it was once again it was my pick for the “misery loves company” club, I (stupidly) decided that it was time for a card battles anime. Having already seen Yu-gi-oh and Duel Masters, I figured it would be “fun” to start with the worst-rated in the genre based on the current Anime-Planet ratings. Please bear in mind that this brand of fun is unfortunately the equivalent of repeatedly running sheets of paper between your toes just for shits and giggles: and paper cuts.
Quickly explaining that, one day, the sky started raining magical cards that groups of kids gathered up and use to play a fighting game, Bakugan Battle Brawlers launches an onslaught of tedious battles that assume you know the game inside out. I don’t. Fifty-two episodes later, and I still have no fricking clue how the different gates or character attributes work, and neither do I care. As the core characters are introduced, the writers miss out on the opportunity to drip-feed strategy and rules cohesively to the viewer, instead preferring to plough on blindly and disregard the chaos in their wake. I swear most of it was made up on the hop, especially when some completely random “Armoured Tuskinator” card or the like is thrown out.
The plot soon spreads itself even thinner, with areas that are nothing but deep holes. How do the Bakugan know the rules of the game if they are supposed to be creatures from another dimension? Why don’t the Brawlers' parents worry where their young kids are when they disappear for days on end? And if the fact that these burning questions are left unanswered isn’t bad enough, the tenuous excuse for a story jumps about without a care for continuity. Many relationships are left unexplored, good and evil changes sides on a massively predictable scale, and ultimately, I just don’t care about a show that makes zero sense.
The show is definitely aimed at the 5- to 12-year old male demographic and uses a very thinly veiled excuse of “entertainment” as a pretext to produce the next big thing for the toy shops. Why do you need a coherent storyline when you can make billions from the needy brats who want the latest playground fad? What makes it even worse is the fact that a second season has been set up perfectly – I guess healthy-minded parents will be cursing the corporate morons who are more liable to exploit childhood naivety to line their pockets than they are to produce quality entertainment.
When it comes to animation there’s bad, and then there’s Bakugan bad; lip synching is unheard of, the characters are extremely odd looking and physical movement is the equivalent of your grandmother doing the robot. Magically, before your eyes, the facial proportions of each Brawler keep changing and distorting, almost as if they’ve been run through Photoshop by an overenthusiastic monkey. The Bakugan monster-things don’t fare much better: switching between a rather well created CG ball that is completely ruined by lack of movement and a poorly drawn creature borrowed from a seven-year-old's colouring book.
Much like Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, it seems that the original Japanese soundtrack is not available to western audiences, and so the English dubbing is an unfortunate “must”. With vocal skills that make kids in Africa cry, the seiyuu for the main protagonists deserve to be lined up and shot. The worst offender is the moronic valley-girl Runo; her grating tones have me reaching for the remote, not to turn down the volume but to launch it as a projectile weapon at her wide-eyed, cretinous face.
The music accompanying the dire series is hilarious, and for all the wrong reasons. Trying to be cool to appeal to the kids, the opening rap-mumble-noise-rock-wannabe-thing has some hard-hitting and inspirational lyrics. When I say hard-hitting, I mean annoying and by inspirational I actually mean crap. Really crap. At least I can say the entire soundtrack was consistent.
No development, no rationality and no empathy make for an entire cast that would be better portrayed by cardboard boxes. It is almost as if the writers took every cliché in the book, and added them to the show. From the schoolgirl tsunderes-in-training, to the skilled loner, even the meat-headed protagonist is not forgotten! Continuing in this tacky vein, there are numerous antagonists who randomly decide to swap sides to bolster the good-guys’ numbers and take on the stupidly overpowered Naga.
My sanity is slowly slipping away. Especially as I’ve just been informed we’ll shortly be watching Bakugan: New Vestroia.
If you read this, please send help.
One day, a flood of magical cards rained down from the sky and were collected by unsuspecting children. Unaware of the great power of the cards, the children created an exciting new game called Bakugan Battle Brawlers - but once they began to play it, they discovered that the monsters were real! Now Daniel and Drago must try to save Vestroia, the home dimension of the monsters in their new game. To make matters worse, they also have to contend with the mysterious player known as Masquerade, who has been taking other players' Bakugan from them.
As a not-so-closet perv, I love watching anything involving panty-shots, handfuls of cleavage and an innuendo fuelled plot. Although most of my reviews will err on the risque, I also love the obscure, the twisted and things that make you think - drop me a line if you want to discuss any of them!