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...the episode consisted of knock down battles, smart ass dialogue, and plenty of hilarity.
Review by Matthew Anderson
TV Network: Cartoon Network
Company: Cartoon Network (an AOL Time Warner Company)
Running Time: 25 minutes (1 episode)
Rated: PG: Violence, subject matter
In the distant future, the human race has been driven to the brink of extinction by the Glorft. With their army of super advanced mechs, they have made short work of the Earth defense forces.
In a dangerous gamble, Kiva has stolen the Glorft's prototype mech, and redesigned it as the MEGAS. Once everything is ready, she will go back in time, and use the "M.E.G.A.S" to stop the Glorft's invasion of Earth.
Before she can enact her plan, the Glorft attack. While programming the Mech, an explosion hurls it into to the 21st century. More precisely, into a junkyard in New Jersey. The Megas is found by Coop, a motor head with a love of video games. After he pays his two bucks to the junkyard owner, he modifies it in his own unique way.
On the day he is showing off his new ride to his friend Jamie, Kiva arrives, looking for her missing robot. So does the Glorft, who followed her into the past. Now Coop is in the middle of a fight that he could care less about. Just as long as he can have fun, it's all good!
STORY: An original series by creators Jody Schaffer and George Kristic, MEGAS XLR combines their obvious love of anime, video games, and cars. It's like "Speed Racer" if it had been written by the guys on "Monster Garage". They infuse the series with a lot of humor, both visual and verbal.
ACTING: The English cast does a great job. David Deluise is perfect as the cocky and oblivious motor head Coop. He gives his character the right amount of New Yorker/Jersey attitude along with this almost primitive response to everything. The same goes for anime mainstay, Steven Blum. Even more violent than Coop, his Jamie is a royal pain in the ass.
As always, Wendee Lee puts in a great performance. While not as sultry as "Faye" from Cowboy Bebop, Kiva is definitely very sexy!
FAN SERVICE: There are tons of anime references packed into just the first episode alone. From "Wave Motion Guns" to Gundam inspired mechs, MEGAS XLR shows us that anime has truly crossed into mainstream culture.
It doesn't stop there. They take plenty of pot shots at American pop culture. Cheese spread, car shows, Dance Dance Revolution, and movies like "The Fast and the Furious" are all open targets.
When the original 15 minute "Lowbrow" short aired in 2003 on Cartoon Network, I became an instant fan. With it's obvious roots in the anime world, I sat enraptured as I watched Coop, Jamie, and Kiva blow the hell out of everything they could find. Sadly, it seemed like it wasn't going to be picked up as a regular series, doomed to pop up at the end of movies like "The Swan Princess".
When the new "Toonami" block was introduced, and I saw the scenes from the original "Lowbrow" short, I was ecstatic. The months couldn't go by fast enough until the premiere. The re-tooled "Lowbrow" was now known as "MEGAS XLR", and once again, I became a total fan.
The first episode "Test Drive" expanded on the original short, giving us quite a bit of background information on how the M.E.G.A.S wound up in the middle of a junkyard. If I didn't know this show was a comedy, I would have thought it was a drama. The first 10 minutes were very serious, starting off like any good anime should.
Then Coop and Jamie entered the picture. From there we went from Sci-Fi drama to "Monster Robot Truck Rally". The remainder of the episode consisted of knock down battles, smart ass dialogue, and plenty of hilarity. While the two different "styles" didn't quite blend as well as it could have, all in all, it was a lot of fun.
"Test Drive" was followed up by a second episode "The Fat and the Furious". After Coop and Jamie have finished fighting a Fake Cheese monster (don't ask), Coop takes his ride to a car show. There, he and another car enthusiast duel it out to see which "ultra custom" job is better. The arrival of the Glorft and a cheese induced malfunction puts a end to the fun. High point of the episode is when Coop fights the Glorft using a "Dance Dance Revolution" style game pad, complete with Japanese speaking Dance Instructor.
I was impressed with Megas XLR. The animation is fluid, and very detailed. The CG, while limited, blended in quite nicely with the traditional animation. The mecha designs were quite interesting, a blend between "Transformers" and "Gundam". The character designs are decent, but nothing too revolutionary.Cartoon Network's selection of voice actors was right on the money. All of them fit the tone and voice of the characters. The fact that they got some of the cast from fan fave "Cowboy Bebop" was a clever move.
With it's fun, in your face attitude, MEGAS XLR is a great addition to the "Toonami" block. So put down that controller, get your cheese and crackers and prop up your feet. This is the perfect appetizer right before "Gundam Seed" comes on.
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