The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise has had many animated renditions throughout the past few decades: 1987, 1997, 2003, 2012. Rise of the TMNT is its latest iteration, with it’s first episode being released on Nickelodeon’s YouTube channel during the days following the 2018 San Diego Comic Con:
As a first impression, Rise of the TMNT completely exudes style. The characters’ movements are dynamic; the storyboarding is unique and utilizes various interesting angles; and the breaks in fluidity of its animation suits the fast-paced and humorous feel that the series is going for. No longer can critiques say that Flash animation is cheap and lifeless—this series single handedly debunks this now-dated concept. The colours chosen present a cyberpunk-inspired feel, which suits the inner-city personalities and settings that defines the series’ premise.
Right from the start of the episode, our 4 humanoid turtles are ziplining across New York City appearing as though they are about to bust a swindle in the middle of an exclusive penthouse gathering; however, this is far from the case. Instead our protagonists are hang-gliding across the skyscrapers of New York City with the objective of jumping into a rooftop pool. Within the first two minutes, the series emphasizes that fact that the mutant ninja turtles are young and naive. They like to have a good time and are not involved in patrolling the city for the sake of busting every crime in the making; instead, it is implied that they only involve themselves in missions that they get roped into and leave everything else for the city’s police force—a refreshing and realistic take relative to a modern superhero narrative.
April O’Neil is a lovely addition to the TMNT team as well. She is a firecracker: ambitious, fearless, and more than happy to lend a helping hand to her close friends despite her involvement placing her in dangerous scenarios. She will likely act as a storytelling device through being a bridge between her mutant friends and life as a regular NYC resident—as defined within the context of the series of course—while doubling as a human point of connection for the audience.
April is a strong female character who doesn’t hold back when it comes to taking charge. More importantly, the ninja turtles do not question her authority when she steps into a role of leadership, they simply go with the flow. Although a single episode is not enough screen time for the turtles’ individual personalities to truly be showcased, it’s obvious that they each have their own unique quirk that heavily defines them. So far this dynamic showcases plenty of promise to be a lovable collection of personalities that fit together like the perfect jigsaw puzzle—balancing one another out to form a harmonious entourage.
It’s no surprise that television reboots are inherently expected to satisfy both new and old audiences by living up to earlier well-loved renditions. Recent animated reboots have been in the midst of controversy as of late in “lacking complexity” to appeal to younger audience members. Additionally, the sole purpose to many recent reboots is assumed to be tied to merchandising. The mixed feelings towards Rise of the TMNT are not evaded in this respect as merchandising is already being churned out for this series. So yes, many might assume that this is yet another complexity-stripped reboot targeted at children for the sake of selling toys (Teen Titans GO! and Powerfuff Girls 2016 have surely helped to pave the way in disdain for cartoon reboots).
This, however, is far from the case when it comes to Rise of the TMNT. The series has plenty of charm, and its dialogue is well thought-out in incorporating a sense of humour that appeals to both younger or older audiences. This series screams the idea that it is not just a simple cash grab—there is plenty heart in it along with clear admiration for the original franchise. The desire to create something refreshingly different is more than evident within its pilot.
Rise of the TMNT has plenty to offer its audience, and I truly believe that it can act as a bridge to connect new and old fans to one another. Overall, the series gives off a promising first impression. I highly recommend that everyone’s whom interest is peaked should absolutely give the pilot a try with an open mind.
A/N: For as long as I could remember, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise was the epitome of an obscure concept. I never even began to imagine a day where I could enjoy a rendition of these sewer-dwelling anthropomorphic reptiles in any way, shape, or form; yet here we are, after watching the first episode I found it to be quite an unexpectedly entertaining watch.