We Bare Bears

This isn’t really a webcomic recommendation, but rather an encouragement to check out an adaptation. (It’s been a couple of years since I last did that.) We Bare Bears is the latest original series from Cartoon Network, and they did a bang-up job with the limited material they had in the first place.

The reason I’m not discussing its webcomic first is because there’s a reason I stated “limited material”–there isn’t much to discuss regarding the webcomic itself. The Three Bare Bears was a very short-lived webcomic created by Daniel Chong. You can read the archive here. The comic is about three bears who get into silly antics, and…that’s it. There’s not much to talk about because of how short the archive is–there were barely a dozen strips before Chong decided to pursue his career in animation. He worked with Pixar and Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me franchise) for a while, then eventually decided to adapt his characters into an animated short, which won him an award at the KLIK! Animation Festival in Amersterdam. This impressed Cartoon Network enough to pick it up for a full series, and what I’ve seen for the first few weeks of premieres can proudly sit alongside CN’s other stellar hits from the past five years.

We Bare Bears centers around the three same characters from the comic: Grizz, an outgoing grizzly bear who desires fame and friends; Panda, an introverted panda bear who browses the Internet and is awkward with social connection; and Ice Bear, a deadpan, no-nonsense polar bear who speaks in the third person and has impressive fighting and cooking skills. The bears try to blend into human society at the San Francisco Bay Area and hijinks ensue. The premise is simple and basic, yet the writers have gotten a lot of mileage out of this setting. The characters bounce off each other very well, and it leads to hilarious, and at times, heartwarming moments. (Check out the episode “Burrito,” the most famous episode in the season thus far.)

This series was already recently greenlit for a second season, despite being relatively new, and that’s an indication of the show’s quality: there’s no reason not to check this series out. We Bare Bears premieres every Thursday at 6:30PM on Cartoon Network, and you can watch previous episodes on Cartoon Network’s website.

Axe Cop Season 1, Part 2 (Also, a few updates.)

Before I begin my next review (which is in the next post), I realize I’ve been gone for way too long without an update, and I feel I should apologize and explain my long absence. I was dealing with a few things in my life:

1) Computer upgrades. I’ve been using an ancient Dell machine with Windows XP for 10 years, and Microsoft announced that they’re dropping support for XP in April, so we finally had to say goodbye to the old girl. I spent $500 on a new HP case and an extra $200 for Windows 8.1 Pro. It’s a beauty and I love it!

2) Work. I had to find myself a job and I’ve also been working around the house. I’ve had to deal with travel and setting up food and decorations for holidays and family events. So yeah, I’ve been a busy bee.

3) Indecision. I wasn’t sure what to do for my next update. Should I cover one of the many webcomics from my growing list or review the second half of the Axe Cop season, which recently wrapped on Fox? I figured it would be best to settle on the former option while I just briefly summarize my thoughts on the next batch of Axe Cop episodes.

The series continues to be awesome as always, but it’s increasingly starting to diverge from the webcomic. While the first half of the season mostly consisted of adaptations of chapters from the comic, the second half mostly came up with original material, so it now has its own identity. The only exceptions would be episode 7, which adapted chapter 1 and FINALLY brought Dinosaur Soldier into the cast (although it seemed to be a single episode deal; he hasn’t shown up again since then) and episode 11, which explained the origins of Axe Cop and Flute Cop in a more epic fashion than the comic did. Other than that, everything else was original and fresh, so there isn’t much to compare for reference this time around, and that’s why I chose to review a webcomic instead for my next update.

This update post seems to have gone on long enough. I didn’t want to pollute a review with several extra paragraphs of other off-topic material, so I kept them separate this time. See you in the next post with my next review!

Axe Cop: The Animated Series

It’s my 20th review! And it only took me two years to get this far! (Yay! I’m lazy! :))

To celebrate this milestone, I thought I’d try something a bit different. The Axe Cop animated series premiered on Fox last month, and now that the show is on a mid-season break, I thought I’d discuss the six episodes that have aired so far. If you wish to see them yourself, all six episodes are available on FoxADHD.com and Hulu, or you can watch the reruns on Fox every Saturday at 11PM. If you need a refresher on the comic itself, here’s my original review.

For starters, I’d like to congratulate Fox for getting out of their comfort zone and escaping their same-y animated sitcoms. Frankly, their formula was growing stale and Fox needed some fresh blood and new ideas (god knows we need another MacFarlane rehash). Axe Cop was a brilliant pickup for them to kick off their new ADHD block, and they couldn’t have picked a better series to show that they were willing to go against the grain. The animation is great, the voice acting is top-notch, and the humor matches that of the comic. The humor was my biggest concern on the new series, like it would be watered down for Fox’s LCD typical animated fare standards. Thankfully, Fox managed to adapt it faithfully and kept the surrealism intact, so this series succeeds on all possible levels. Now, let’s talk about the episodes…

Episode 1 – Night Mission: Stealing Friends Back

This episode is a direct adaptation of Chapter 4. Axe Cop helps Bat Warthog Man to find his friends, who have all been kidnapped by the King of All Bad Guys. Due to each episode being 11 minutes long rather than the standard 22, they had to cut out some material from the chapter (which is why I’d recommend clicking that link and reading the chapter for the sake of comparison). Strangely, they also added a subplot featuring Flute Cop which wasn’t in the original, so it makes you wonder why they bothered adding things in when they could have used that time for whatever was removed. Thankfully, it doesn’t detract from the quality and it’s a good start for the series.

P.S. As a side note, unlike the comic, Dinosaur Soldier doesn’t appear in this series at all (or at least so far). I wonder why they would leave him out…?

Episode 2 – Zombie Island… In Space

This episode is an indirect, abridged, veeeeeeeeery loose adaptation of Chapter 3. Chemist M is captured by Adolf Hitler to create a zombie army on Zombie Island… In Space! When Axe Cop heads to the island, he discovers that the zombies have built a giant robot under the command of Dr. Doo Doo.

This episode is easily the weakest so far due to its lack of focus. We never find out what happens to Adolf Hitler after his initial introduction; he is neither seen nor mentioned again (he’s also not in the comic, so putting him in the pre-intro sequence seems pointless) and the sudden switch of antagonists is utterly jarring. What I find interesting, though, is that they actually gave Dr. Doo Doo a plan–and even an origin, albeit vaguely explained–rather than just some random villain who shows up and is quickly killed off in the comic (he only lasted 7 pages). His death is also different. I’d recommend giving this episode a skip.

Episode 3 – An American Story

This episode is a direct adaptation of Ask Axe Cop #39 and #40. Axe Cop tells a story about his ancestor Book Cop and his participation in the American War for Independence. He single handedly destroyed the entire British Army and killed the King of England. This episode expands on the original story by justifying the antagonism between Book Cop and the King–they’re both fighting for the Secret Attack Almanac, a book which would turn the tide of the war. They also changed Book Cop’s parents’ death and showed more of the war and the epic battle with the King. This episode is my favorite in the series so far. If you thought Axe Cop was hilarious, Book Cop is even funnier. This one is definitely worth seeing.

Episode 4 – Babysitting Uni-Baby

This episode is a direct adaptation of Chapter 5. Axe Cop is hired by Flute Cop (although in the comic it’s Uni-Man) to babysit Uni-Baby while Flute Cop and his fiancĂ© (or Uni-Man’s family) are on vacation. Axe Cop can’t stand babysitting her because she poops too much, so he invites his friend Sockarang (Dinosaur Soldier in the comic [seriously, what’s up with the show purposefully avoiding using him?]) to have fun in Magic World while cyborg versions of themselves babysit in their place. Unfortunately, the cyborgs have turned evil and they must be stopped.

Not much to say on this one. Save for the minor changes and the shortened ending, this episode remained mostly intact from the comic version. Still, though, why are they keeping Dinosaur Soldier out of the show?

Episode 5 – Birthday Month

This episode is surprisingly not an adaptation of the comic, although it does combine minor elements from Episode 0, Chapter 6, Ask Axe Cop #50, and the 2010 Christmas special The Power of Christmas. It also features a one-off character from Episode 5 as the antagonist. On his birthday, Axe Cop learns that his parents were killed by Santa Claus (or rather, an evil version of him). Axe Cop travels to South Pole World to exact his revenge before Bad Santa enacts his plan to kill God and become Jesus (yes, seriously).

This episode is tons of fun. Bad Santa is way cooler in this version, both in terms of character design and character development (in the comic, he’s overweight and devoid of personality). In fact, I’d say he’s the best antagonist so far in this series. Out of all the changes that were made in the adaptation, this was certainly a good one. It’s certainly one of the most awesome Christmas specials you’ll ever see and I hope it becomes a staple for years to come.

Episode 6 – The Rabbit Who Broke All the Rules

This episode is an expanded adaptation of Ask Axe Cop #43 as well as Ask Axe Cop #18 and #46. It also contains minor elements from Chapter 7. Axe Cop’s first kill as a young child was a rabbit that didn’t eat carrots and walked on two legs rather than all fours. That’s where the original comic ends. This episode continues decades later, where the rabbit’s ghost returns and possesses a young boy, ready to take revenge on Axe Cop. Another fun episode, although I wouldn’t say this one is for the faint of heart. The ending is heart wrenching.

In summation, WATCH THIS SHOW! This is the best animated series–no, make that BEST SERIES–to air on Fox in years. This show has definitely gone on my list of personal favorites and I can’t wait for the second half.