Sunday, July 20, 2003

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Yeah, I watched the new Teen Titans anime, I mean animated series last night. And you know what? I kinda liked it. It's fast-paced and fun. Now I fully expect a lot of those dyed-in-the-wool Titans fans, who just can't let go of Saint George Perez's definitive rendition of DC's original teen sidekick group, to be in caniptions over the manga-izations of those iconic characters like Raven and Starfire, but myself, and I speak as one who bought the very first Teen Titans appearance in Brave & the Bold 54 (well, my Mom or my dad bought it, because I was 4 at the time), buying the 60s and 70s book periodically (no pun intended), and was also there at the beginning of the storied Marv Wolfman/Perez run which began so fresh and promisingly but devolved into standard, melodramatic superhero sludge before it limped to a finish many years later by other hands...I didn't have a problem with this new cartoon version at all.

True, this is only the "getting acquainted" opening episode, and it was rather slight...but hey, it was action all the way and was never dull. The re-imagining of the DC characters in manga style was a great idea, and in their individual characterizations Robin falls into his junior Batman role quite nicely, Beast Boy nee Changeling (I've heard people bitching about this namewise change-back, too) was fine comic relief, and if Starfire's a bit ditzy in this incarnation, well who cares. She was kind of a wet blanket back in the day, if I recall correctly. My favorite re-imagining is the Raven character, who became tedious, then evil, then who knows what (I had stopped reading long since) in the original comic. Here, she's the Janeane Garafalo of the group, always with the wry quip or observation. The Cyborg character is probably the least changed from his comic incarnation, except he, too got an emergency angst removal operation. I also got a chuckle at the Gloom Cookie-ization of the bad-girl Jinx character.

Gotta mention the nice Glenn Murakami-designed opening title sequence, with a Japanese girl group bashing away in best Shonen Knife fashion as ribbons snake along the screen, leading to shots of the principals, punctuated by a cutesy exclamation of "Teen Titans!" at varied intervals. Fast and clever, and definitely an indication of the nature of the show.

Hopefully, as the series unfolds, we'll get to know these similar-but-different Titans and their world a lot better. I know some will miss the sturm-und- drag, but that's why God made back issues.