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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes (2005) animated series review. 26 Episodes


Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The Good: Well detailed artwork, generally smooth animation, good integration of 2D and 3D CGI, crafts original tales instead of copying the comics, tactful usage of anime tropes, 

The Bad: repeated use of stock footage, mediocre voice acting, boring action sequences, lack of character chemistry, superficial plots, lack of narrative continuity
******************************Review*****************************
In the wake of Fox's 2005 FANTASTIC FOUR movie, marvel commissioned a new fantastic four animated series. This time, marvel rode on the wave of Japanese anime and turned to Moonscoop animation, a French studio famous for such anime styled cartoons like Martin Mystery. They even got voice actors who were best known for dubbing anime to portray the characters here. The result is a decent blend of East and west, traditional 2D art and CGI animation. Decent yes but no where near fantastic.
Visually, FF: WORLDS GREATEST HEROES or FFWGH as I will call it, is a real treat to watch. The vibrant colours have this luminescent glow and The art is pretty to look at once you get past the whole anime styled designs. No it's not all doe eyed little girls and big breasts. This show takes its visual cues from anime aimed at an older audience.


Yes there is spikey hair, yes the characters look anorexic and a little on the long side but nothing that sexualises them. The animation itself is smooth for a TV show and with a decent level of art detail: there are action lines, freeze frames and a few cost cutting measures but nothing as obvious as the typical TV anime.

At 26 episodes, each episode features an original story not directly lifted from the comics but containing elements inspired by the comics. They are relatively self contained with only thin threads of continuity like Doctor Doom's recurring presence. Other than that you get guest stars like Guardians of the Galaxy's Ronan the accuser,


She-Hulk


AntMan,


Squirrel-Girl for goodness sakes!


Namor The Sub-Mariner


Avengers like Iron Man


 and even the Incredible Hulk (whose brawl with The Thing is always something fans look forward to).


With original stories comes the good and the bad: it's original so it allows for some surprises. However it does not achieve the level of storytelling that the comics did instead choosing to go with an overall light hearted juvenile tone. There is no sense of peril no matter how many times the world is at stake. There is no thrill seeing as how formulaic each episode can get. Then There are episodes that left me bored beyond belief and it wasn't for a lack of action.
It was the lack of chemistry. Touted as "marvel's first family", the FF here are more like "marvel's college dorm buddies". You never get that sense of togetherness and most of the time they come across as flat archetypes. While the comics and some of the previous cartoons delved into their inner demons and insecurities, FFWGH barely skim the surface with story after story offering little depth and even less world building. It doesn't help that only half the cast do decent voice acting.


TV actress Lara Gilchrist does well in the role of Sue Storm and Brian Dobson does an impressive (for a Canadian) tough Brooklyn accent as Ben Grimm but Christopher Jacot as Johnny is a one note loudmouth and Hiro Kanagawa's Reed Richards sounds like he is on the verge of yawning half the time.
As history shows, Fantastic four once again got the short end of the stick. Mainstays like Galactus and Silver surfer were prevented from being used and Marvel promptly dropped the anime styled property to focus on direct to video productions and the more Bruce Timm inspired Wolverine and the X-men.

FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLD's GREATEST HEROES is no travesty but neither is it a smash hit. Not bad, just unremarkable. Everything about it pales in comparison to other super hero animation of the era. So If you do come across a copy going for cheap, it wouldn't hurt to give it a spin just don't expect anything....you know...
...fantastic. 


*****************************Review End***************************

Entertainment: C+
Art: A-
Animation: B+
Story: C-
Voice Acting (English): C
Characters: B-
Music: C+
Replay value: C+
"Brains": D+

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