Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Review – Now-stalgia on Disney+

Series' title card

Premise 


For 800 years The Ninja has protected Norrisville. Unbeknownst to the citizens every four years the mantle of The Ninja is passed to a new person, which is ninth-grader, Randy Cunningham. Now he must learn how to use his ninja powers to protect his city from an ancient evil. 

 

The Positives


Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja has several things going for it; a unique look, a great voice cast, and some truly funny jokes. The unique look of the cartoon is mostly credited to Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Invader Zim. Jhonen’s design style is very unique which makes Randy Cunningham stand out from most cartoons out there. Another point in its favor is the voice cast, which is stellar. The cast includes Randy himself voiced by Ben Schwartz of Parks and Rec fame, John DiMaggio from Adventure Time and Futurama, Kevin Michael Richardson from Teen Titans and Green Lantern the animated series, and of course, Tim Curry of Home Alone 2 and Clue fame plays the main villain (even though he only does it for the first season). Because of the pedigree of voice actors, the cartoon never feels dull or that comes from the actors are phoning it in. In fact, it seemed that the voice cast had fun with their characters especially Ben Schwartz. Finally in a world where cartoons and animated films seem only to rely on fart jokes Randy Cunningham also does. Though every once in a while the show can have some really funny jokes which made me laugh that wasn’t fart related. These would usually come from Randy and his pal Howard which is important cause it made you like the characters. I also want to make an honorable mention to another weird but fun part of the cartoon which is the unique sayings they have throughout. These include everything being Bruce or calling people a shoob. I like that they added their own kind of popular language to the characters. It gives the world a special feel even if it’s a bit confusing at times what they actually mean. 

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The Negatives


While Randy Cunningham is an interesting take on the high schooler hero genre unfortunately it isn’t the best example of it. Many shows have come before it and done a similar story better like Kim Possible and Danny Phantom. This doesn’t make it a bad show by any means just a show that had a lot of potential but never used it correctly. Most of my problems with the show stem from there not being any real character growth. Every episode of the series sees Randy learning a lesson but you never see him grow as a character. Likewise the show puts forth a lot of great questions that if answered would elevate the show quality wise while building the world but they never really answer those questions they just kind of leave it hanging. Some of these questions include: why was Randy chosen as The Ninja? Why is McFist, one of the villains of the story after The Ninja when he already owns the town for the most part? Where are Randy’s parents? I believe if they would have answered some of these questions and given the characters some growth through the series it might have made this a classic. Unfortunately, it just falls short of that and with some other classic shows doing it better it can come off as forgettable. 

Final Thoughts 


Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja has a lot of things going for it; a great voice cast, interesting ideas, and a unique animation style. Despite these great things the show falls short due to its lack of character development and world-building. By no means is it a bad show and I say check it out on Disney+ if you get the chance. Just know that it’s not as good as it could be compared to other shows that have come before it and use the teenage superhero trope better.

Series Review Score: B

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures Series Review: A Pac-Man Month Special

Reviewed by Joshua Jordan

Pacopolis is under constant attack by an army of ghost from the Netherworld and there’s only on yellow hero who can stop them, Pac-Man! Along with his friends Spiral and Cylindria and a slew of other allies Pac will have to face off against Lord Betrayus and his underlings to save the city and quite possibly all of PacWorld from certain doom.

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures is a very interesting example in how to have a good foundation of a story but not use that foundation to an advantage. On the positive side this animated series looked pretty good. It had imaginative world that looked both colorful and bright but also used iconography from the real Pac-Man games as intricate designs for everything from the streets to the buildings. Another thing I enjoyed about the show is Pac-Man’s powers. I like how he eats different berries to gain different abilities and I also liked that his friends could eat them too but the berries effected them differently than Pac-Man. All of Pac-Man’s transformations look pretty cool even if they kind of looked like another round video game character named Kirby. One of the more unique aspects of show was a really good set up for the characters with compelling backstories that took a lot of great liberties that could have led to attention grabbing storytelling.

The negative side of Ghostly adventures is a lot of wasted potential. Something that could have been great but turned out not so much. The biggest problem I have with the show is that it never reaches its full potential story wise. Instead of building on the wonderful foundation that the creators of the show made with compelling backstories that could had led to potentially fascinating episodes. They almost completely ignore it and only refer to it occasionally. Another example is the humor. There is a lot of good jokes in this show that made me laugh. My problem is when they start focusing heavily on burp and fart jokes that over stay their welcome. Another good example of wasted potential is the animation. While the animation looks good at times the lip sync isn’t right and most of the time breaks the illusion. Finally, and I know this might seem like a minor gripe but the theme song isn’t good. A lot of shows have great theme songs that either set up the premise of the show or are such a great ear worm that you can consistently hum it to yourself. However Ghostly Adventures doesn’t have one, in fact, it seems like the theme was either thrown together quickly or edited so poorly that it just doesn’t work. So much so that I just tried to skip the theme song every time so I didn’t have to hear it. The Pac-Man games all have a wealth of amazing music and it would have been so much better if they’d just used one iconic tracks and just gave it a remix. As you can see Ghostly Adventures has a ton of wasted potential that stops it from being great.

Is Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures worth watching? If you’re a very young kid like five or six years old, the answer is yes. The colorful world and characters are enough to grab any young kid’s attention. For older kids and adults however I can’t really recommend it. Which is sad because of the potential you can see in the show. A potential that could have reached a wider audience with its story and characters. If you want to check it for yourself out the easiest way is to stream it on Netflix or watch it the reruns on Discovery Kids. There are better shows out there that masterfully bridge that gap between kids and adults but Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures isn’t one of them.

Series Review Score: C+

Clone Wars Season 7 – The Siege of Mandalore Part One: Old Friends not Forgotten: A NOW-stalgia on Disney+ Review

Review by Joshua Jordan

(Warning: slight spoilers for the episode as well as the series if you haven’t finish it)

Obi-Wan and Anakin have just finished up an intense battle when an old friend calls for their help. That old friend being Ahsoka along with former Deathwatch member Bo-Katan who asks the Jedi if they can get help to stop Maul who has taken over Mandalore again. Just when the two Jedi consider to help they get another call saying that General Gervious has attacked Coruscant and intends to kidnap Palpatine. Anakin compromises and gives Rex a promotion and sends a large group to Mandalore while he and Obi-Wan go help the Chancellor. Will Ahsoka and her forces along with the small Mandalorian Force be able to stop Maul?

When art is given the full attention of the Artist it shows and this first episode of the last arc is a great example. That’s not to say that the other episodes of this season didn’t get any attention but I can definitely tell the full focus was on this last arc. The creators undeniably wanted this last arc to feel like a cinematic experience. Even from the first second of the episode where they played Ahsoka’s theme and had the classic Lucas Film logo to playing the original Star Wars Main theme as opposed to using the traditional Clone Wars version.

Another way you can tell is through nodes to other Star Wars Movies. Like at the end of the battle at the beginning as Anakin’s plan started to unfurl they used the same music as they did in Return of the Jedi when Luke save everyone from the sarlacc pit. Another good example is when Ahsoka first arrives on the Republic’s ship and it’s framed exactly like her very first appearance in the Clone Wars Movie.

Star Wars is known for its great action scenes and the creators made sure that this episode continued that tradition. From the very first battle at the top of the episode to the first battle over Mandalore. Incredible detail and care was given to each action scene. My favorite being any scene with Ahsoka fighting as you can see how far she has come since the beginning of the series.

All of this just shows how much the creators really wanted to make this something special. And their work was not in vain this episode by far is my favorite of this season and the only thing that I didn’t like was how abruptly it ended and how I have to wait another week before I can see the end

Episode Review Score: A+

Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 8 Review: NOW-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan

(Warning: slight spoilers for the episode as well as the series if you haven’t finish it)

“You can change who you are, but you cannot run from yourself. “

When we last left Ahsoka and Martez Sisters their failed escape attempt landed them right back into the Pike Syndicate’s prison. However this time Ahsoka’s plan for escape is different and she urges the sisters to trust her. Ahsoka then makes a deal with the Pikes who send the Martez Sisters off to go get the promised spice. Will the Martez sisters get the spice or will they leave Ahsoka to the Pikes? And what is Ahsoka’s full plan?

Building a story arc is very tricky and the writers on Clone Wars have shown over and over that they are up to the task. This last piece of this arc is really well written and brings it to a very satisfying close.

And there are three reasons why I liked this episode. First this episode focused more on Ahsoka. I feel that the expectation for this whole arc was it would be focused on her but the first three episode were mainly focused on the new characters with very little time for Ahsoka herself. While I don’t consider it a bad thing or a strike against the last three episodes this one was different, it was all about Ahsoka. Her growth as a character with the realization that while not being part of the Jedi anymore the better parts of the Jedi’s teaching are still a part of her was a great next step in her characters evolution. My second reason is connections the larger galaxy. While I don’t believe that you always have to make connections to have a good Star Wars story it’s always nice when it can happen without taking away from the story the writers are trying to tell. A good example of this is when a certain character mentions Crimson Dawn introduced in Solo. Thirdly, this episode again like the last sets up for the next arc. Which is the arc that all fans of The Clone Wars, including myself, have been waiting for. I feel the writers knew this which is why they added these connections which I feel pay off explicitly in this episode. Whether or not those connections in this arc were originally intended I am not certain but I feel it works very well regardless.

As stated last week I don’t think the wider audience will like this story arc as a whole, but speaking for myself though I enjoyed it. Also I am both excited and sad that we are a week away from starting the last arc of The Clone Wars. Excited because I know of a few things that are going to happen but I am uncertain how we get there. Yet I am also sad because that means saying goodbye (for reals this time) to a series that I have loved for a long time. As they say though all good things must come to an end and I hope that this end will be one to remember.

Episode Review Score: A

Story Arc Review Score: B+

Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 7 review: NOW-stalgia on Disney+

Review by Joshua Jordan

(Warning: slight spoilers for the episode as well as the series if you haven’t finish it)

“Who you were does not have to define who you are. “

Ahsoka and Martez Sisters are in the Pike Syndicate’s prison. While in the cell Ahsoka and Rafa are blaming each other for their current situation. After Rafa accuses Ahsoka of sounding like a Jedi it prompts Ahsoka to ask why they hate the Jedi so much and Rafa tells her about their past. Not long after Rafa’s story ends The Pikes start torturing the girls to tell them were the spice is. When Trace is lead to the torture chamber she is able to trick the guards and escape. Meanwhile Ahsoka decides to use The Force and escape. Once reunited they try to find a way off the planet. Will our Ahsoka and friends find their way off planet or will the Pikes capture them again?

The last episode didn’t have any action but this episode very much made up for it while still giving a bit more background on the Martez Sisters and why they don’t trust anyone especially the Jedi. I liked how their back story, which I won’t spoil here, connects to events that happened earlier in The Clone Wars series and showed that there are consequences for every decision. I also liked how this episode started setting up for what I believe will be the next and last arc of the series. My only let down for this episode was the ending which almost makes the adventure fruitless if not for the great action and character growth. I feel that a lot of people had very different expectations for this arc and because of those expectations a lot of people are not liking it. However I feel that I can’t fully judge it until all the pieces are in place. So we’ll see how this arc ends next week.

Episode Review Score: A

Milo Murphy’s Law Series and Big Hero Six Season One Review: NOW-stalgia on Disney+

Reviews by Joshua Jordan

Since the launch of Disney+ back in November Disney fans of any age have been able to get access to a lot of the vast content Disney owns both new and old Revisiting their childhood favorite shows and movies is what made older fans excited. That especially included the ability to pass that love down to the next generation. Yet, even though diving back into those shows and movies would give me joy too, I am just as enthusiastic about catching up on some of the more modern Disney shows. Starting with Kim Possible then going to Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, and beyond I feel that Disney is doing a good job at creating modern, hit animated shows. Below are a few shows that I have watched in the last few months since the launch of Disney+. Please bear in mind that these are my personal opinions based on my tastes. 

Milo Murphy’s Law (2016) 

Milo Murphy, descendant of the man who discovered Murphy’s Law which states “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” This also means that a lot of stuff goes wrong around Milo. Which means being his friend can turn a mundane day into an adventure. With Weird Al voicing the main character and the creators of Phineas and Ferb behind the concept was a recipe that automatically made me want to watch it and from the very first episode I was not disappointed. Milo is just like its predecessor smart, funny, and entertaining. I especially love the humor as it is very sarcastic and self-aware. I would say the only downside is that it had a lot to live up to with Phineas and Ferb and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to hit the same cord as Phineas and Ferb did as it only had two seasons. It is a shame that Milo never got the chance that it’s predecessor got Because it is a good show.

Review grade for the entire series: A+

Big Hero 6 the series Season One (2017)

In 2014 The Walt Disney Animation Studio released a movie based off a Marvel Comic called Big Hero 6. The story of the movie was about 14-year-old genius Hiro who after his brother’s tragic death discovers a robot he created as a health companion. Around the same time a mysterious crime wave is happening around the city and Hiro recognizes the tool the criminal is using as some tech that he created. So enlisting the help of Baymax and a few of his friends they join together to make a superhero team to find the criminal and bring him to justice. I won’t go into spoilers here but the series takes place after the events of the movie and deals with its aftermath. One of the things I like about the series is that it has a very Teen Titans vibe (the original not Go) but where the Titans are always superheroes Big Hero’s characters have to balance going to school and being superheroes. Another aspect of the show I like is the villains, the rogues gallery is very interesting and a bit weird. However the stand out of all of them is the major villain of season one. I really like the story they set up and how it connects to the main characters. All in all, Big Hero 6 the series is a great companion piece to the movie and I hope this continues into season 2.

Review grade for season one: A

Liked these reviews? Then check out our others
Click here for my review of Big City Greens Season One and Amphibia Season One.
Click here to start reading the episode by episode review of Star Wars The Clone Wars as they air on Disney+