Friday, February 24, 2012

Monsuno Episode 1: First Impressions.

So, due to my lack of cable, I had to watch the first episode of Monsuno through iTunes.

A summary of the episode "Clash":

We start with the protagonist, Chase Suno, running away from a T-rex for some reason. After that short non-sequitur, we are introduced to the theme song, which sounds a bit like it's sung by T-Pain. I've heard it gets catchy after a while, but it's a bit unbearable the first time I hear it with slightly weak lyrics.

Back with our protagonist, as the T-rex is about to devour him, suddenly, the planet becomes inflamed, turns into Meteor from Final Fantasy VII, and explodes in an earth-shattering kaboom, killing everything. Huh... that was a quick series.

Except it was a dream. Chase shoots awake and is comforted by his friends Bren and Jinja. They talk about how they have been in the forest for almost a week trying to reach the lab of Jeredy Suno, Chase's dad. Chase is concerned due to his father's lack of contact and the three are going to see if he's alright.

They arrive at the lab the next morning to find it ransacked and Jeredy missing. They are then met by Jon Ace, an agent of S.T.O.R.M. whom Chase had met before. Jon explains that Jeredy's disappearance also worries him.

Jon leads Chase to a vault which only Chase can open. Inside is a glowing core and what is no doubt this series's Pokedex, the "Core-Tech Tablet", which Jinja and Bren argue over while Chase retrieves the capsule.

All is not well, however, as a large squad of S.T.O.R.M. agents armed with rifles storm the complex, lead by Commander Trey. Confronted by this, Chase panics and hurls his core, unleashing the creature inside, a monstrous Polar Bear that the S.T.O.R.M. forces dub "The Linchpin".
The S.T.O.R.M. squad's weapons are useless against the creature who proceeds to rampage around the complex, finally triggering an explosion due to a gas leak which destroys the lab. Chase, his friends, and the S.T.O.R.M. squad escape unharmed. The creature then pursues our heroes into the forest. When it catches them, it turns docile, giving Chase a ride on its back.

Later, they peruse the Core-Tech Tablet and discover an entry by Chase's father explaining "Monsuno", an unstable, living energy that could be combined with elements and DNA to create monsters. Chase also learns that the monsters made of Monsuno must rest within their core capsules and returns the monster to his capsule, complete with the Pokemon "Return" slogan.

They don't get much of a chance to rest, though, as they are set upon by a flying monsuno! The flying Monsuno herds them into an ambush set by S.T.O.R.M.. Another S.T.O.R.M. agent releases a second Monsuno. Acting on Jon Ace's advice, Chase releases his monsuno as well.

Things get bad in a hurry as The Linchpin is ganged-up on by the two S.T.O.R.M. Monsuno. One pins him down while the other one shocks him. The Linchpin becomes disoriented as the S.T.O.R.M. Monsuno prepare to do the same move again. Chase finally musters the courage to cheer on the Linchpin, granting it the sense to evade the attack, causing it to backfire and defeat the flying Monsuno. The Linchpin then glows and performs what I can only describe as a re-enactment of Abel's Super-Combo from Street Fighter 4 on the other Monsuno, hurling it into a truck that explodes. The chaos allows Chase and co. to escape.

At the S.T.O.R.M. command center, Jon Ace is reprimanded for aiding Chase, but not punished when he slyly mentions Trey's use of force against children. Charlemange, the leader of S.T.O.R.M., declares Chase Suno an enemy of the state and reveals that a war is brewing.

As they escape, Chase reveals that he has decided to name his Monsuno "Lock", after a poem his dad liked.

Meanwhile, at the EEEVIL fortress of...EEEVIL, a goatee'd man watches footage of Lock and laughs...EEEVILLY!

Now, as for the episode itself, it at least feels like a pilot episode: The characters are introduced and the conflict gets underway. It feels a lot like the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam where the son stumbles into his father's greatest creation and somehow gets it to work well enough to escape the clutches of his enemy. It feels less like Pokemon in this sense; In Pokemon and other shows like Beyblade and Yugioh!, the subject of the series is presented as already concrete and well-known. In Monsuno, it starts with all hell breaking loose.

Another purpose of the pilot episode is to get to know the characters and sympathize with them. However, I don't really get that much from Chase, Jinja and Bren just yet. Maybe it's due to the fact that TWO episodes premiered and I have yet to see the second one.

If there's anyone who got good character development that I sympathize with, it's Jon Ace. Had he been allowed to finish his plan uninterrupted, he might have gotten Chase to cooperate better and have a different sort of story.

We also get to see his true character when he helps Chase even after the ruse is over. It also goes to show that S.T.O.R.M. isn't entirely made up of bad people, sort of like how Karl Schubaltz of Zoids: Chaotic Century's strong honor code revealed that perhaps the Empire isn't really evil after all. Then again, he could just as easily be like the idealistic Emma Sheen tangled within the corrupt Titans from Zeta Gundam. Remember that "Idealism vs Cynicism" thing I mentioned in my video? Well, Jon Ace is already experiencing that conflict.

So, unlike the pilot of Redakai that made me hate everybody, I at least found a character I enjoyed watching. I hope Jon Ace will be a frequent sight in this show and that any other members of S.T.O.R.M. will have good diversity as well. I suppose when Chase recovers from the shock of episode 1, and stops using "Crag" as a replacement for cursing, I'll like him more.

At least the characters are believable: Chase acts like how a frightened kid caught up in a situation he doesn't understand would act; he's scared and a bit selfish. Odds are this conflict will force him to grow up fast. Jon Ace acts as a bastion of honor in the army of S.T.O.R.M. with Trey being the cynicism with questionable morals, sort of like Schubaltz and Marcus from Zoids (Heck, Trey even LOOKS like Marcus...)

It's also easy to understand why S.T.O.R.M. would have a strong reaction to Jeredy's work. Monsuno are likely considered WMD's, and if somebody you funded said "I'm gonna make one of these WMD's for my teenage son," you'd probably flip out, too...

There are also some things we learn beyond how Monsuno work in the pilot episode:

* Core-Tech is a subsidy of S.T.O.R.M.
* Chase, Jinja and Bren know how to rough it, but they are almost out of supplies.
* Jon Ace's slip might mean S.T.O.R.M. is also unaware of Jeredy's whereabouts.
* Jinja is good at fixing stuff while Bren is good at hacking stuff.
* Monsuno can fight and use special moves autonomously.
* S.T.O.R.M. isn't exactly villainous, but does have questionable morality.
* Eklipse is likely EEEVIL!!

So, while a bit mild, the pilot seems to land closer to my "Best Case Scenario" prediction, which is a good thing. The series has some great potential and if this episode is any indication, I might have called it right.

It's better than Redakai, no doubt. I think I'll keep watching it to see how it pans out and see if the complex conflict I predicted comes to pass.

But, for the love of god, fix that theme song!


  1. What are you talking about? I love the theme song! A show that actually has words in their theme song deserves some credit. How could you not like it?

    1. Eh, what got me mostly was the sorta lame lyrics and the auto-tuned not-singing. It wasn't catchy quite like the original Pokemon theme was. I was hoping for a little creativity or something licensed, like most Japanese anime gets

      There are plenty of family-friendly epic songs that would work. One that pops to mind would be Ready To Roll by Jet Black Stare. Then again, licensing is expensive. Ah well, at least hire a better musician. It's not catchy like what you got from Pokemon or Power Rangers.

  2. The theme song was the first piece of dubstep I ever heard.

    As for the show, I am trying not to use the "P-word" when talking about it. Redakai is dying out, and people like you have at least channeled their hate for it into positive outlets, like your "Rifftrax" of it.

    If I had to talk about this show without using the "P-word," I'd compare it to Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, as the Monsuno energy bears a similarity to Dust, E-Klipse strongly resembles the Magisterium, and even Lock looks alarmingly like Iorek Byrnison. I agree with you that this is not as bad as Redakai; but it still is pretty corny.