Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: Wolverine 4

Having your life-force sucked out by metal tentacles IS the context.

When some of my anime watching/reviewing friends asked me why I kept on watching Wolverine, my defense was simply that the anime was ‘so bad, it was good.’ The cheesiness, and shockingly bad writing, animation and plot were enough to keep me going, but as time went on, my patience wore thinner and thinner.

This week, I was treated to Wolverine’s fourth episode, entitled OMEGA RED. Again, Wolverine went beyond the impossible, and somehow managed to hit an even lower low, to the point where the best compliment I can honestly give it is, “At least there was new music.” Did Wolverine continue to entertain me in its mediocrity, or have I finally reached my breaking point? Find out after the jump.

The episode opens with Wolverine fighting Omega Red, and it looks about just as boring as some of the other action sequences to date. Just like before, we are given no reason to care about the outcome of the battle, and the stakes are minimal at best. Omega Red, despite his status as a ‘classic’ Marvel supervillian is a fairly uninteresting one, both in terms of powers and backstory, which we’ll get into in a moment.
The animation is noticeable worse than previous fights, which were often little more than a series of gif-animations with speedlines. In particular, the gifs weren’t consistent: Omega Red’s gif might show him swinging his giant indestructible metal tentacles vertically, and the next gif would show Logan getting sideswiped by them. A few pieces of new music were the only redeeming parts of the scene.

Luckily, the writers anticipated my boredom, and barely let the fight get started before unexpectedly tossing us into an even more mind-numbing flaaaashbaaaaack. The purpose of the flashback isn’t really made clear, and padding is the only thing I can think of for its inclusion in the episode. It does give a little bit of backstory about Omega, but was unnecessary, and distracts the viewer from what should have been a really good fight scene.

The flashback gives some unimportant information about how Logan and Omega Red met: ‘Logan was an American spy, Red was a Soviet Supersoldier. They fought.’ (It ten minutes of flashback to establish that . . . why?) We do get Red’s backstory, which boils down to ‘Soviet serial killer brought back to life with SCIENCE!’ . . . and that’s about it. It’s also the only piece of character ‘development’ in the episode.

He can shoot indestructible metal tentacles out of his arms, which is the only piece of information in the flashback that’s plot relevant. Of course, the flashback doesn’t include the really relevant information about Red, specifically that his claws can ‘drain the life’ from their victims, which would allow him to kill Wolverine.

This one crucial piece of information which could have given the fight scene some weight isn’t mentioned until about 10 minutes into the episode: or in other words, after the fight scene is more than half over. We do get to see the animators struggle to come up with appropriate expressions for Wolverine getting the life sucked out of him, the results of which are unintentionally hilarious. (See above: You are now free to giggle like a six year old. It’s okay, I did it too.)

Then suddenly, Wolverine throws a gas can at Omega Red, which explodes, giving the hero enough time to . . . run away. Again. Is this really going to be a thing for him? A hero generally doesn’t run away from the monster of the week midepisode, and leave them alive at the episode’s end. Sorta defeats the purpose of having ‘MoTWs.’

Omega Red at least fulfills the 'MoTW' rule #1 with great aplomb: Have as little connection to the overall plot as possible. The Big-Bad openly admits he has no idea who Omega Red is, making the entire episode even more pointless. This stupidity is borderline infuriating, when you consider it would have taken just as much time to write Omega Red into the plot. Instead, we have an open admission by the characters and writing staff that this episode has nothing to do with anything.

The final 8 minutes are spend on redundant exposition before Omega Red ‘Kool-Aid Man’s himself out of a nearby wall, leading to a DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNN . . . cliffhanger, ending another boring episode of Wolverine. How did Marvel’s most badass hero fall this far?

Everything about this episode seemed wrong. Just like before, everything seems out of order and mistimed. A scene we should have gotten at the start of the episode is shoved into the middle. Parts of the plot are entirely unnecessary as well, namely the flashback. If Omega Red were the big bad, then maybe I could have justified spending an episode on him. At this point however, we’ve spend more time on his backstory, than we have on the antagonist of the series proper.

In conclusion, Wolverine has gone beyond the impossible, and in becoming even worse, has managed to painfully strip itself of its flimsy ‘so bad it’s good’ label. Everything about this show production seems lazy and uninspired, and whether you want to blame it on the current writing staff, or the original 80’s comic series on which the anime is based, it changes nothing. Next episode promises some craaaaaaazy plot twists, so while you can expect my review of that, Episode 5 could easily be my tipping point. I'm not that much of a masochist after all.

Wolverine 4
Plot Advancement: 0/5
Action/Fight Scenes: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Episode Plot: 1/5
Animation Quality: 1/5

Overall: 1/5

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