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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/15/2006 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1"

Viewtiful Joe Vol. 1 (DVD)

Review by Tom Good

Viewtiful Joe is a bit like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of 2006. But where TMNT began with Eastman and Laird's black-and-white comic and eventually spawned videogames by Konami, Joe began as a side-scrolling video game from Capcom, and appears here as an animated cartoon.

Joe is an average guy who is a huge fan of superhero adventures, especially his favorite Captain Blue. One day while watching a Captain Blue movie with his girlfriend Sylvia, he watches in horror as she is kidnapped into the world of the movie by the on-screen villian. He follows her in, where he learns to transform into the superhero Viewtiful Joe by saying "Henshin a go-go, baby!" (Henshin means metamorphosis in Japanese, and is also the name of a genre of movies featuring transforming superheroes.) As Viewtiful Joe, he has a variety of powers including slowing down time.

Like TMNT, Viewtiful Joe has a strong, distinctive visual style, parodies superhero comics, and features a large helping of pseudo-streetwise "attitude." The voice acting for the villians made me laugh time and time again, because they sound more exasperated and eccentric than evil, perfect for a parody. But when Joe speaks, I can only cringe at how often he says dude, yo, awesome, like, totally, and whoa. Joe sounds like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and it only gets worse when he tries to use modern street slang. "Dude, you frontin'?" he asks, and later remarks, "Kind of hard to concentrate with a monster all up in your grill." Maybe his speech pattern is purposely awkward and intended to be funny, but I just found it more and more irritating the longer I watched.

I was intrigued by the visuals and character designs. Sylvia is an attractive character without being an over-the-top sexpot, Captain Blue amused me as a greying, out of shape superhero, and the motorcycle-riding green rhino monster is pretty funny. But I suspect that this title may be better as a video game than as a cartoon, and it will probably have more appeal for younger viewers than for adults. It did not really have enough depth to hold my interest for more than an episode or two.

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