Talking about Ninja Turtles: Volume 2

My journey through the entire series of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon continues. Last time I made a big wall of text about it, I had just finished up the fifth season: the halfway point of the series. Let’s go over some stray observations I have about seasons six through eight.

  • The turtle colour/voice flubs are still out in full force. I would have thought that this was a problem that would have been ironed out by this point, but I think it might actually be getting worse as we move on. At least I’ve been noticing more instances of it. You never see such egregious errors in other cartoons, so I can only imagine that it’s the result of having four characters that look exactly the same.
  • Season six was basically just your normal average season. Though a run of 16 episodes is positively quaint after the massive number of episodes in seasons three and four.
  • The first half of season seven was produced for season four, but held back for whatever reason. So that means that you’re rolling back a couple years worth of animation improvements, and it’s visibly uglier than the latter half of the season.
  • Also, it goes back to using the original intro sequence, which IMO is the better of the two.
  • By this point, Michaelangelo has permanently traded in his nunchaku for a grappling hook. Which I suppose is more useful, but way less cool. And it’s all thanks to those super-lame Europeans who thought nunchucks were too violent.
  • But swords and laser blasters were okay? Get bent, Europe.
  • The first half of season seven also happens to be a hole “TMNT visit Europe” series, which makes for a nice change of pace and allows for a little cultural edutainment, but the stories go to pot. It made sense that when Krang and Shredder were constantly attacking New York, the Turtles would always be there to stop them. But then somehow they always manage to be attacking exactly the European location that the Turtles just happen to be in at the time. Why not attack New York when you know that the Turtles are away in Europe and won’t be there to stop you? Or vice versa? You guys have a teleporter that can take you anywhere. Steal something from anywhere else in the world.
  • It would make way more sense if the Turtles simply faced other villains while on their vacation.
  • The other half of season seven not only goes back to being more visually appealing, but the storylines also get a hack of a lot better than ever before. Well, some of them. The episode where they travel back in time to an ancient Japan where everyone speaks perfect English was a little silly. Overall, though, much better stories.
  • The episode “Invasion of the Krangazoids” shows us a glimpse of what Krang’s true form looks like, when he creates clones of himself that evolve into giant reptilian monsters. But it also made me consider that it doesn’t make any sense that Krang’s brain was removed from his body as a punishment for his war crimes. It’s more than I want to type out, but just think about it a bit for yourself. No wonder that’s never mentioned in any other incarnation of the TMNT.
  • Tokka and Rahzar show up in season seven. That’s cool. Except that Rahzar got a significant intelligence boost while Tokka remains kind of a stupid baby.
  • Everything goes way off the rails in season eight. The intro and theme song change. The visual quality improves considerably, but the visual style goes to poop. April gets a new costume. TMNT now wants to be X-Men. It’s crazy. Complete insanity.
  • Let’s start with the intro. The theme song has gone from awesome to some kind of gross 90’s rock abomination. It also seems really long. Or maybe it just feels that way because it’s awful. Oh and also it intercuts footage from the cartoon with footage from the live-action movies. It makes zero sense.
  • And on a separate point, all the cartoon footage is pried out of the episodes, rather than being completely unique animation like the other intros. It’s so lame. I just can’t get over how lame it is.
  • It’s kind of fun that the season is a single long storyline, rather than Shredder’s capers mixed with random other one-off villains.
  • Oh right, X-Men. Channel 6 is now calling the TMNT (all mutants, really) an evil scourge and the people of New York are terrified of them, even though they’re obviously out to do good. Also there is an organization of mutants that are trying to take over and establish mutants as the dominant species. Sound familiar at all?
  • The art is way darker and more detailed, but not as good. I hate the change to the Turtles’ bandannas, specifically. Their more angular appearance isn’t too bad, and makes them look a little more in line with the 2003 TMNT. I mostly just dislike that the New York sky is now constantly reds and purples, and that even the water is rarely ever blue any more. The attitude shift is not selling me, especially since the scripts are still pretty hammy, so there’s a very noticeable mood dissonance.
  • I like April’s new jacket and shoes. So much less garish than the yellow jumpsuit and white boots.
  • I was actually really shocked when Shredder asploded the Channel 6 building. Like, this is a Saturday Morning Cartoon. It’s not supposed to have major events that don’t get magically wiped away at the end of the episode. But it does, and it influences the entire rest of the season. Like I said before, there’s a much higher level of continuity in season eight, to the point where it could almost be a stand-alone mini-series, much like the first season.

I am already aware that things take another sharp turn in season nine, but I don’t know all of the specifics. I guess we’ll just have to start watching and see!


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