When I was last at MOD Pizza they had a fundraiser offering named after an “Issac” where a minimum $50,000 through the Issac will be sent to the JED Foundation to address teen suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. between the ages 10-35 (See more here: https://modpizza.com/isaac/) I found to not be filling enough for me, and needed to add white meat chicken, which created a different product. I noticed the Issac Pizza as I was trying to come up with (of course) a unique order to ring in the new “Rise of the TMNT” on Nick.
(First Episode here free official)
Before I describe my original concoction below, I’ll give my thoughts on the first 5 episodes handed out for free.
Let me just get this off my chest right now. You’re about to read something I have been sitting on since I was entering 6th Grade and watching Next Mutation, which not even a crossover with Power Rangers IN SPACE could not redeem. You have been warned. These turtles were in a bowl post-purchase. And according to the artwork, they’ve consistently been TORTOISES which have legs as opposed to Turtles which have flippers, and we never saw them getting selected for purchase. So there was NEVER any evidence that they were bio-bros. (Biological siblings, that’s how we’re saying it now) Besides, how many times have we seen it established that Splinter was their father. Despite the fact that he’s a rat. And therefore, he ADOPTED them, and is NOT related to them by blood. We never minded that before, but when that series suggested they were grown together on a turtle farm, THEN the fans were up in arms. Now, the reason for the change at that time seemed to be so that it became less squick for two bros to have a love triangle with their sister. Long-Lost sister, but still sister. Take it from an adoptee with a step-sister, a surrogate sister, and a sister-in law. STILL. NOT. OKAY. This time they embrace the “pet shop angle” (S’what we’re calling it now) that relationships are what makes a family more than simply blood.
Now let’s talk about the style. All the turtles are different types, and even April is a race she’s never been before. (But I noticed that this is the first time she’s had hair as curly as she did in the original Mirage comics. Not even in the original movie. I figured it was just an animation limitation. But that brings us to the animation itself. The previous 4 series were all different styles. 87) hand-drawn animation, 97) body suits in the style of the Golden Harvest/Jim Henson movies, 03) digital animation, 12) full CGI rendering. But this series is the first to return to a prior animation medium (throughout it’s run, we know the ’87 and ’12 first crossover happened in a digital hand way to better resemble the ’87 Hand drawn version.) But this time the movement reminds me of a slingshot. Many slow-moving or stationary moments like the drawing and holding of the slingshot’s pouch. Then sudden shifts to very quick, dynamic and stylish animation like the release of that pouch. Other shows that employ this technique include Black Dyamite and Panty & Stocking.
And can we talk about the theme song?
87 OP 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sl_9yoONzM Here is the original theme song (set to their appearance in the latest Injustice 2 DLC).
87 OP 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTlCfuTl2EE (and here is the second opening from the Red Sky seasons). From the beginning, subsequent openings have built off of that original theme more often than not. The only noteworthy exception is the 2003 series that tried so hard to keep separate from the ’87 series. (We’re not here to criticize THEIR crossover with the ’87 turtles, so many others already have)
In “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the music opens on a “slingshot” note like the animation, but after that note the ride. Does. Not. Stop. Which I like. The point of an opener is to get you hooked.
Now for what we can glean about this series through how we see the principle characters from the 5 sampler episodes: The first establishes April, the Turtles, Splinter, and a strange new foe. While saying a little on each, we actually discern a lot.
About April, we learn that she’s already a friend of the turtles and that she takes part in their antics like cannonball night.
The creators will likely address how she knows the turtles in these upcoming new episodes. However, that was entirely on addressed before hands. They start the series on what looks like is going to be the traditional dropping the villains scene, but they instead are doing Cannonball night. April’s already with them on Cannonball night. She seems to value technicalities of responsibility, saying that her work is done when all she does is throw up dry cool and wet floor signs, not cleaning up any of the volume. Meanwhile she’s delighted to use the name Mayhem for their new teleportation cats. What is it with the Nickelodeon series as in giving them cats, I know there was calling in the comics and they are for also in the 2003 series, can’t believe it’s been 15 years, but once it got to Nickelodeon you had ice cream. But, but I thought it was odd.
She still wears yellow, which I think is a nice touch your continuity, she even has any other work uniform and of the animatronic episode. So that brings back memories of playing the classic side-scroller, in which case you have to once again rescue April O’Neil in her yellow jumpsuit. And does anyone else think it’s hilarious that she works in a Chuck E. Cheese setting? It doesn’t just let the teens battle a Freddy Fasbear type of barely sentient animatronic. She also works at a place with SO. MUCH. PIZZA. I might just like this version of the character better than any of the others. I need to research the Red Sky, Archie Comics, 2012 and a few others more before I can say for sure.
About Donatello, a cyborg who constantly wears goggles. Are these yet another nod to the “Next Mutation” movie that didn’t get made, or to the Image comics where he was also a cyborg? Speaking of cyborg, we see him sprouting April’s hovercraft from his rear shell. Yes, she rides him and he elevates her. Physically AND literally. That’ll provide fresh fodder for the fan pairings. This shows Donnie’s penchant in this series for going overboard, to the point where he might make more problems then he was trying to solve. That he applies this to April’s Freddie Fasbear’s Job illustrates this (and a continuity of the love interest explored in Nickelodeon’s LAST TMNT series) beautifully.
Speaking of going overboard, what about that BO staff he uses? In the first episode alone, we see a zipline, a pair of rocket powered HAMMERS and a casing that seems indestructible. It seems to be the utility belt of this series. It also highlights the way the show’s direction treats physics and pocket dimensions.
Possibly the biggest changes are to Raphael. This new series has different Turtle types, and while the other 3 in this series are the same size, he’s able to perform a Fastball Special (a la Uncanny X-Men) with Michelangelo. They call it “Brother Ball.” I haven’t seen personally them use the shells on their backs to any great effect since the early 90’s in the movies and some of the video games.
But since Raphael is supposed to be the guy who brings the attitude, does he still have it? And how does he hold up in this modern era of Animation storytelling? Since this is an origin story, he doesn’t have to be the same Raphael from 80’s comics or cartoons. Right now he has problems with pressure, which acquiescing to Leo someday might help. But how much is this deliberate character development, and how much is this moving in the direction of “Teen Titans Go,” “Thundercats Roar,” and other sequels/reboots of existing franchises?
Can we discuss the new weapons? Raph gets my favorite change, going from versatile sai to tonfas. Amidst the other appearances tonfas have made in the TMNT franchise, the fancomic MNT Gaiden (That I have previously reviewed here: ) features Raph’s apprentice who uses tonfas of his own.
Michelangelo gets only one moment to shine on his own in the first ep, when he draws the portal symbol. He also demonstrates that nunchucks are COMPLICATED, and not something to emulate at home. He has a command of pop culture that he is able to use to evade Repo Mantis during the chase scene. We do get to see his people skills get used as an asset later, to psyche out the animatronic Teddy Bear in episode 5. *Best Birthday Ever* With so many mutations running around after the first episode, does this mean that the turtles can run around in public like the ’87 turtles in the future?
Michelangelo’s new weapon, the manriki-gusari, is actually the most familiar to him. He used such a (though less magic) device at least once in the 80’s series. As well as the Black and White Comics. And in the prior Nick series, Mikey’s nunchucks extend to function in such a manner. This just grants it supernatural fire and an extending wire.
Leonardo and Raphael seem to be a 2-Turtle running gag, though beyond that I didn’t notice much about Leo himself. But given that this shows us him becoming the leader, and leadership/narrative lead were Raphael starts up with something elaborate and RAW, then Leonardo presents the solution already in hand. Given that this is about them BECOMING the heroes we will later recognize, Leo being the natural leader but not in charge at first makes sense. We’ve seen Raph as a capable leader in the 2007 film, so his own turn at the head is a welcome change of pace to me. And in narrative, it’s a rare opportunity. We typically just see Leo as default the leader. This establishes how he gets there, and earns everyone’s trust in his lead. Also he’s the first I’ve seen/read to use the “Science Fiction Convention” dodge. Normally people in SF/urban fantasy can only hide behind Halloween to excuse coming out for the shadows. Being a regular con attendee myself, I always found it strange that Halloween was the only night out for those so close to human.
Leo using a single sword to battle strange new magic foes is reminiscent of the “Next Mutation” series. Which naturally turns me off a bit. Can anyone tell me why lead heroes ALWAYS have to use a sword? They’re complicated to learn, so it takes longer than the hero has to use them optimally, and the shape of this blade does not help. The unique and elaborate curvature of the blade doesn’t help with these issues, either.
I mentioned Raphael having possibly the biggest changes, but #2 would have to be Splinter. We see him in a chair watching things from a projector, fat and crabby. He never leaves the chair, but he has the talisman that leads them to the villain lair/city. What is their history together? That talisman is held in his “forbidden” box. He does not want his son messing with the key to a mutagen master’s domain. As most fathers are want to do. But not even in the Foot episode does Splinter appear again during these 5 sampler episodes.
Here’s the Pizza I designed (From Mod’s options) I based the criteria on what I learned of a ninja’s diet from Gaijin Goomba’s Ninja evaluations (Only rice and select vegetables in order to be so light as to leap from rooftops) So you start with a gluten-free crust, make abundant pesto the only sauce (before you bake) use every green or leafy vegetable double, any other fruit or vegetable minimum, dairy free cheese, then when it’s been baked, top it with every green option single, then a mask drawn with sriracha or buffalo on every slice. Clearly I did not make that last one clear. Oops. It’s pretty spicy and eats like a salad.
And for more on Goomba’s take on the Heroes in a Half Shell, including his first take on this new series, look here.