Dinosaur King DVD Review
Dinosaur King tries to eat Jason' brain...
I realize I'm dating myself with this admission, but when Pokemon first hit American shores, I was just starting high school and I was a FAN. This was before the cards, the inane TV show, the endless theatrical films; this was OG Game Boy Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. For me, the formula just worked. It appealed to a lot of my personality traits; the RPG fan, the obsessive-compulsive collector, the kid who would rather sit in the back of class and level up his Abra (no, that isn't code for anything it was a Pokemon. Get your mind out of the gutter) rather than learn about Romeo & Juliet, Pokemon was an honest-to-goodness obsession. After the show hit and every eight-year-old in the world was scratching each other's eyes out for another pack of playing cards, the luster faded. But I knew one thing for sure - the Japanese hold all the cards (no pun intended) when it comes to marketing a new toy, game or whatever else with a cartoon television show.
More years than I care to count later, our friends from across the Pacific are still trying to replicate Pokemon's success. Yu-Gi-Oh came and went, along with about a zillion others (my mother, a second grade teacher, tells me Bakugan is the new thing, but I can't for the life of me see the appeal), and now Sega is throwing its hat into the ring with a new show/toy/card game called Dinosaur King. On the surface, it seems perfect Pokemon, but with every kid's obsession - dinosaurs - and a flashy new card game to go with it. I can't speak for the toys or the card game, but the first five episodes of the show on DVD make Pokemon look like Alan Moore's Watchmen when it comes to characters, plots and the ability to follow a storyline. The bottom line is that Dinosaur King - the TV show - is so completely without any sense that watching it convinced me that somehow, without me noticing, I had developed schizophrenia and this was my latest hallucination.
For the sake of not repeating myself over and over, I'll only say this once: Dinosaur King is almost shamefully similar to Pokemon in every way. A team of three kids collect and fight dinosaurs while sidestepping impossibly dumb and completely harmless villains. Yeah, there are other shows with this premise, but Dinosaur King is so blatant that good listeners will realize that the English dubbed version of the show uses, and I'm not kidding here, the same voice actors for it's villains as Pokemon used for Jesse and James of Team Rocket. No, seriously.
But if ripping stuff off was the worst offense, I could see past that. Dinosaur King's main issue is that it simply makes no sense. The first show opens with the main character Max, whose dad just happens to be a paleontologist, finding a card and card-reader thing in the woods. Max and his friends discover that by using these items, they can make a cute baby Triceratops appear and everyone takes this as a normal, everyday occurrence. Giant anime eyebrows aren't raised until they discover that a different combination of the card and card reader will transform the Triceratops into a full-grown, raging dinosaur. Max's two friends have cards and dinosaurs too, and there is an evil genius from the past or future or something who wants those cards back.
But you won't get that from watching the episodes that kick off the series. Even after I watched the five on the DVD, some of them twice to make sure I wasn't missing something, none of this was immediately clear. I actually had to visit the show's website to make sense of all the quick cuts, overblown, computer generated dinosaurs and paint-by-number anime characters with giant eyes, no brains and seemingly no purpose or motivation. As I said before, I was all about some Pokemon back in the day, and I very rarely derive no joy from checking out the new kid-friendly anime that makes it to our shores, but there is just no excuse for this program.
It may have added to my disappointment that mere days beforehand, I watched and reviewed Dragon Ball Z: Season Six; easily my favorite animated program of all time. But DBZ aside, I still couldn't follow what was supposed to be going on in these episodes. I sincerely hope that I'm not just getting old and missing the point of next-big-thing anime programs isn't something that comes as one nears the age of 30 (I've got a few more years, but it's looming). Add to all that an American theme song that makes the American "Poke-rap" and American Dragon Ball GT theme songs look like the pinnacle of songwriting, and Dinosaur King, without a doubt, out-stupids (not a real word, but stay with me) just about every other show I've ever seen.
But if the second graders have latched onto Bakugan as the next big thing, rather than this mess, I have hope for the anime fans of tomorrow. Let's just hope that the upcoming Dinosaur King DS has a little more to it than this disaster of a show. Steer clear, kids steer clear.
Transmitted: 4/23/2014 12:34:32 PM