Thursday, January 15, 2015

Marvel Disk Wars The Avengers - Episode One: The Mightiest Heroes!

If I told you that toilet-centered video games were going to be the second most bizarre thing I'd be describing that came out of Japan this week, you might find it hard to believe.

That is, unless you know just how twisted and demented things out of Japan really are.

This, though, isn't quite as mind-boggling in the sense of "what makes this socially acceptable."  Rather, it's simply leaving me wondering "why was there a need for this?"

While there is a Disk Wars game out there, it's made by Fantasy Flight Games, has nothing to do with the Avengers, and isn't from Japan.  I know a video game based on the animated series came out in Japan (which, I'll admit, I want purely for research reasons), but I can't really figure out what the original "core" idea was besides "The Avengers are popular, Pokemon is still popular, let's have people summon superheroes with weird gadgets."

But my place is not to criticize the reason why things exist, it's to- actually, okay, it is my place to comment on why things exist, because this is my blog.  But still, let's focus on the show itself and see if we can't figure out just why it felt the need to be.

So, because this is from Japan, obviously there's going to be a slight difference in styles.  For example, here's Captain America:

As much as I want to have a knee-jerk reaction and complain about him wearing armor...I really can't.  Him wearing protective armor in an animated series where the country responsible is kinda known for having acrobatic/athletic heroes in super armor (too many to mention here), it makes sense.

We also have the Wasp, taking the place of the Black Widow because, well, she isn't really "flashy" enough for a Japanese animated series.  The Wasp is just a better visual, and I've gone on the record as saying I think she should always be on an Avengers team.

How about everyone's favorite Jade Giant, the Hulk?

I'm...really not sure about that face.  It's not bad, it's just....nnnnnh, I dunno.

Let's move on.  What does Thor look like?

That's...not a bad look for him.

But this is Japan, where suits of power-armor can be anything from giant bug creatures to robots taller than skyscrapers, so how's Iron Man looking?

Honestly, I kinda expected something a bit more outrageous.

The episode begins in the middle of a huge fight.  On the Raft, the (in)famous prison for super-powered criminals, it appears Loki is up to some sinister plot, leaving the Avengers to fight the Absorbing Man, Green Goblin, Abomination, Whirlwind, and some guy I don't recognize.

And before you ask any questions, yes, I said the Green Goblin.  The nice thing about this animated series is it doesn't have to deal with any of those pesky movie rights.

The action quickly cuts to the title sequence, and just for you guys, I'm going to share it here:

We jump back some time to a school about to get out for break.   A kid named Akira Akatsuki is eager to get out because he's going to get to see his father after two years.  His father went off on business, essentially ignoring his two sons since he left aside from occasional video calls, but now the two have the opportunity to fly out and join him.

However, he's held up when he finds a small child separated from his mother in a public shopping plaza and needs to reunite the two.  This takes more time than he hoped it would, and after borrowing a pair of roller blades from a friend of his (and a rather amusing crash when Akira manages to know to rush and jump but forget how to land), they find that they missed their flight.

Fortunately, their father's boss sent someone to go pick them up at the airport and arranged for a chartered jet.

No, that's Pepper Potts, the sometimes love interest superhero named Rescue secretary personal assistant for none other than Tony Stark.  Tony treats his employees well (at least the ones who come up with something as innovative as "DISKs" which Pepper refuses to share any more about), and even broadcasts his face onto the televisions built into the plane to speak to the kids.

So, why couldn't Tony come get them himself?  Well, he kinda did.

Admit it, even if you had your own personal jet, you'd still choose to fly alongside it in your own power armor.

I want to point out they still haven't told us the older brother's name yet.  It's not that I'm forgetting to share it, it's that the show has actually failed to introduce a character who's had more screen time than any of the Avengers.

But the good guys (or the good "kids" anyway) aren't the only ones interested in DISKs, as evidenced by the fact that a man wearing a bird mask has managed to sneak his way into the prison cell of (according to Google) King Cobra, leader of the Serpent Society.

Now, the show hasn't gone as far as to indicate whether or not that's a costume or if some freakish accident has just transformed King Cobra into looking like a snake is trying to eat his head, but for some reason I love the idea that these criminals are so irredeemable that the guards just let them wear their blade-covered costumes as long as they can fit a purple-ish shirt over them.

The man holds out a small triangular device, promising King Cobra freedom and all that other great stuff if he'll work with the guy in the bird mask.  King Cobra agrees, and the device, a "DISK" if you will, seems to digitize King Cobra and then absorb him, storing him within it.

Meanwhile, outside the Raft (you know, that prison where the most dangerous criminals are kept), Rosetta Riley (great name), a blond reporter for BNC News, is covering a technology presentation sponsored by Stark Industries.  Advanced technology.  Demonstrated on The Raft.

Tony's kinda asking for whatever happens next.

Military officers, businessmen, musicians, and all sorts of people are gathered to view or perform at the event, with even the Hulk and Wasp hanging out at the buffet table.

I love the fact that the Hulk is pigging out on fruit.  "Hulk needs potassium from bananas to keep joints from being sore!"

Inside the Raft itself, Agent Coulson makes an appearance, giving tours to civilians through the inside of the Raft.  Again, as even he says, this is where "all violent criminals who possess superpowers are locked up."  Just the sort of place for the Jefferson family reunion to take place.

There's a rather impressive list of villains given as examples of the current inmates, such as Green Goblin, Abomination, MODOK (this show immediately earns points for having him), Whiplash, Tiger Shark, King Cobra, and Baron Zemo.

And yes, the Green Goblin is still wearing his costume.under his purple-ish prison clothes.

Three of the people in the crowd of civilians are three kids.  They are Edward Grant (diehard Cap fan and runner of a superhero fan site online), Jessica Shannon (ridiculously rich girl), and Chris Taylor (emo kid with a knit cap and giant headphones around his neck).

Oh, but all of those cells filled with prisoners?  They're all illusions, as a quick cut to each cell shows that they're all actually empty.

Back with Akira and his mysterious unnamed brother, they finally get to meet up with their father and his assistant, Peter.  While Akira goofs around with some random bits of technology around the lab, they're surprised when Tony Stark himself comes to say hi to everybody.  Tony's there to confirm that the boys' father doesn't want any of the credit for inventing the DISKs.  This, needless to say, surprises Akira.

Out on the observation deck about a football field's distance away from the stage, the three kids realize that they have no chance of seeing anything where they currently are, and start to hatch a plan to sneak off to try to get closer.

Sneaking away, in a prison full of criminals, with no adults around you.  Brilliant.

A character identifying himself as Master Brain gets in touch with some guys in masks in various locations, letting them know that their plan is going to begin soon, and I have to call to task this guy's idea of being "subtle."

Maybe where I work is just unusually strict, but I was once called out for wearing shorts at work because they didn't have a hem at the bottom, just a slightly threaded look.  Whoever that guy is, I think someone's going to be contacting a higher-up the moment anybody sees him.  Maybe he wandered in accidentally from a different show.

Tony finally shows up to present the DISKs, arriving with his trademark "punch the ground" landing which, let's be honest, makes no sense at all.   Hulk, meanwhile, is busy eating an entire pineapple, apparently starting from the leafy end.

"Digital Identity Securement Kits" (read: Pokeballs) are the wave of the future, but while Tony starts talking about them, Akira's frustrated that Tony's hogging all the credit.  That is, until his father explains that being an inventor isn't about the glory.  He asks his other son (whose name is Hikaru!  Thanks, show!) if he understands.  Akira and his father start to get into a huge argument about responsibility when Peter shows up again.

I'm sure he won't be important to the show at all.

Peter explains that since the DISKs are for capturing supervillains, whoever invented them might become a target by said criminals.  He's turning down the right to be world famous for the sake of his children.  This defuses the situation a bit, while Tony is introducing a group of heroes who will help in implementing the DISKs in crime fighting.

With Captain America being the headliner, we get a rather impressive "Who's Who" of Marvel Comics characters.  For example, there's War Machine and Doctor Strange!

Thanks, captioning, I just said that.  Also, Doc, three words: "Just For Men."
Beast and Cyclops from the X-Men are there as well, because movie rights can go cry in the corner, you have no place here.

And, as the subtitles have already spoiled, there's also Iron Fist, who wins my award for "most amazing Japanese redesign."


That.  Is.  Fantastic.

But what of the three kids?  They're currently lost in the prison, randomly wandering around.

Tony gives the floor to Cap to make a speech, but it's immediately interrupted by a lightning bolt crashing to the ground and the arrival of Thor.  Thor's there to reveal that Loki is putting a terrible plan into action.  He (and his masked goons scattered around the prison and the SHIELD helicarrier chilling out overhead) unleash DISKs, setting loose a small army of supervillains.

Akira and his family watch the chaos ensue, when Peter volunteers to go find out what's going on.  This is when the Crimson Dynamo (no, seriously, the Crimson Dynamo crashes through the ceiling and backhands Peter out a window to a multi-story death.

I'm sure we'll never see him again.

Akira's father gets picked up by the Dynamo, who demands to know where the "installer" is.  Before anybody can react, though, one more figure appears to help the kids and their dad.

That's right, it's the kid in the store-bought costume who stared down the Rhino at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2!

No, actually, it's Peter, but I'm sure you guessed who he really was by now.

And then...the episode ends.

Seriously, that's how the show opens, leading up to a HUGE superhero fight in the next episode, and I have to say, I'm really looking forward to it.  I've always complained that there isn't enough crossover between heroes and their villains, so seeing Spider-Man take on an Iron Man villain (and Tony fight the Green Goblin) should be a blast to see.

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