X-Men Episode 4: Proper Animation Would Be Helpful

"Mom, Dad, I'm back! And they said I could join them- look at my new Man Harem! The one with the glasses is a tool, but that doesn't matter in the dark."

Summary: This week, I would say Armor kicks ass and takes names, only Armor doesn’t care what your name is unless your name happens to be Emma Frost. A pretty decent breather episode is marred by some poorly animated, bafflingly dark action scenes, but on the plus side, we get to see Beast do some more SCIENCE!, and the X-Men have a pretty bitchin’ coffee machine.

Apparently a secondary mutation brings you up to 54% "mutantcy"...does that mean it takes a tertiary mutation to bring you up to 77 percent mutantcy? I'm dying to know how these things are calculated, and I doubt Madhouse is going to hook me up here.

First thing’s first, everyone blaming Madhouse for the name of the “U-Men” should probably be informed that their ire is misdirected; Grant Morrison came up with that idea a decade ago in New X-Men. I don’t remember if this was made explicit in the comics, but I think the idea was that the U-Men had named themselves after the X-Men, because they thought “if you mutants can have powers and organize yourself into para-military teams, then dammit, so can we.”

I thought it was weird that they didn’t call themselves the Y-Men- since, in theory, they would like to surpass the X-Men with their combination of harvested mutant biology and technological savvy-but everything in New X-Men was just slightly off-kilter like that. Anyway, it made sense in the context initially, which is hard to tell from Madhouse’s adaptation; I’m just pointing out that it’s not Engrish, as much as this show may be littered with it otherwise.

Second, this episode kind of had to wage an uphill battle with me, since I’ve never been keen on the concept of secondary mutations. It seems to me like the writers just take characters whose powers have become outdated (Angel), or where the writers have exhausted what they think they can do with a particular power (Emma and her telepathy), and just make up a convenient excuse to give them a new trick they can play. Furthermore, they seem to reverse-engineer the mutations from whatever the characters’ name/image is; how convenient that Emma’s mutation allows her to turn into a glittering diamond- she looks downright frosty.

I generally don’t nitpick the “science” in superhero stories- if your premise is the guy is an alien from a planet where everyone has superpowers, fine, I’ll bite- it’s fantasy. The problem is that X-Men in particular often makes a big deal about being tied to actual science, hence the emphasis on genetic mutations rather than flowery origin stories. To put it another way, I can accept hard sci-fi and I can accept magical origins, but if you give me one and and pretend it’s the other, I feel betrayed. I just can’t believe that these uber-convenient, new-power generating “mutations” are fair game in a world where favorable mutations are still rare.

All that said, I was presently surprised when they got Emma’s mutation out of the way relatively quickly- instead of belaboring the “what happened to Emma?!” idea for the whole episode (which the trailer led me to believe they were going to do), they diagnose it as a secondary mutation immediately. Better yet, Beast is like, “Did I mention I made a vaccine for that?” Thank you Madhouse, for dealing with a plot point quickly and sensibly; I am not being sarcastic here.

When Everyday Battles are Mysterious Affairs

I would love to be able to tell you what happened in this action sequence, really I would...I just know Wolverine was grunting a lot. It was Wolverine, right? It sounded like Wolverine-grunts....

I don’t know if this episode aired on television with poor visual quality, or it was just my particular file, but their were major problems with the visuals. About half the episode was way too dark, making it impossible to tell what was going on in the two action sequences. Fortunately, Hisako’s inferno-palette made her easy to see, so we could see the all-important moment when she kicked one the of the U-Men in the face, which was probably the best part of the episode anyway, but still; I should be able to tell what’s going on in a scene. If I can’t even tell what’s going on, then I’ll just have to make up stuff to bitch about.

Also, even though Hisako’s powers continue to be the highlight of this show, I didn’t think her “armor” looked as good this time around- I don’t know what it was, but in the last episode it was amazing, and this time she kind of looked like a red blob. I wonder if their animation budget was slashed for this episode for some reason.

The action scene between Wolverine and the tentacle-mutant (pictured above, for a given value of ‘pictured’) was particularly egregious; I wasn’t even sure which X-Man was fighting until the end of it. It just looked like a vaguely man-shaped blob fighting some tentacles.

This is from Ep. 1, because I can't be bothered to take a new screen of Cyclops every time he does something stupid.

Your Weekly Nerf “How Stupid is Cyclops?” Indicator

Apparently Cyclops is still pissed at Emma because they didn’t find any Cerebro-blocking tech at the U-Men’s base, therefore- by process of elimination- Emma must be screwing with Cerebro. I know he’s grasping at straws because he can’t bring himself to trust Emma, but seriously, how stupid is that?

They don’t know the full-extent of the tech the U-Men possess, because they had nowhere near the time to do a complete inventory of the U-Men’s base- and what time they did have, they wasted interrogating Emma (but enough about that.) Meanwhile, I’m not sure if they investigated any of the U-Men’s tech; they only found out that the U-Men had a device that was monitoring their powers because Emma was kind enough to tell them.

Actually, while I’m picking on Cyclops for being stupid, I’m more annoyed that no one called him on it- it would have totally made the episode for me if Beast said “Scott, that doesn’t make any sense because we still don’t know bollocks about the U-Men’s tech, stop projecting all of your crap onto Emma.”

I have to say though, as much as I bitch about Cyclops, the animators have made him a very fine specimen of two-dimensional masculinity; he’s much prettier than the X-Men:TAS Cyclops from the ’90s, who looked kind of like Vin Diesel with brownish/red hair. I can’t blame Emma for being into him, even if she can think rings around him- even in her diamond form, when she’s technically a rock.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

I don't know if Storm's actual coffee preference has ever been revealed in the comics, but isn't it just so predictable that "Stormu" would drink DECAF with cream and sugar? Even her BEVERAGE is feminine and impotent.

The scenes at the mansion were fairly enjoyable, although I’d be hard pressed to say why- other than Beast looking at some monitors and examining people, very little actually happened. I think I just enjoy it when the X-Men are in the mansion because then I feel like I’m actually watching X-Men, not “vaguely familiar super-team goes to Japan.” Epic battles aside, to me X-Men has always been about hanging around the mansion between missions.

I found it mildly irritating that Beast judged Emma’s condition comparable to the doomed Hellfire Club student’s, even though it didn’t make sense to me that her case could be similarly advanced but also “benign.” So like, her mutation is similarly taking over her body and destroying her mind, but like, in a benign way? I just don’t get secondary mutations, folks.

Wolverine and Cyclops' pool game was cute, but wasn't Wolverine out of character here? I can't believe he'd actually do anything quite this childish. However, I didn't watch the Wolverine anime that predated this show, so it's possible it's a been a lighter interpretation of his character all along.

Next Time, ON X-MEN:

Since when does stopping by the mansion for a visit mean donning a uniform and joining the team? I don't think HIsako's parents were appraised of this....

I was surprised to see Hisako in one of the classic X-Men blue-and-gold uniforms in the next episode preview, as well as what appear to be Danger Room sequences. I think we all knew that Hisako was going to join the team eventually (especially since she puts them all to shame in combat, and yes I’m looking at you “Stormu!”), but as far as her parents know, she’s there to get vaccinated. It seems awfully sudden to start dressing her and training her like one of the team, and quite honestly unfair to her parents. I hope there’s some explanation offered for why the X-Men are apparently treating her as one of the team now, other than “well, she’s here now, and we had a spare uniform….”

On the other hand, seeing Hisako deflecting Cyclops’ optic blasts with her armor (plus the references to her uncontrollable power) means there’s an excellent chance she’s going to be kicking the living shit out of Cyclops again in the next episode, so you know I’m on board for that. There are two kinds of people in this world: people who enjoy seeing Cyclops in pain, and people who wonder what Emma sees in him…wait, I think those two groups are actually the same people. I forgot where I was going with this, make up your own anti-Cyclops joke and I’ll get back to you.


9 thoughts on “X-Men Episode 4: Proper Animation Would Be Helpful”

  1. About secondary mutations. I wouldn’t say they necessarily are at conflict with X-Men’s so-called scientific roots considering that it’s supposed to be a single gene (the X-gene) that causes all these myriad of different powers in all mutants. Some of which even start out with multiple powers from the onset, e.g. Nightcrawler having both the ability to teleport in addition to a mutated appearance giving him extra agility and the ability to climb walls and such.

    I though calling it the David Haller Syndrome in this adaptation was a nice touch seeing as how David Haller is Xavier’s son Legion who possesses a host of various mutant powers, one for each of his many personalities. (Even if it may have been incorrectly translated from “Damon Hall”)

    Emma’s case being “benign” sounds to me like it will stay at its current stage instead of growing out of control and consuming her as it did for the other one. Maybe similar to abnormal cell growth.

  2. You make a good point- I think I always tried to forget about the X-gene idea, because it seemed silly to me, but you’re right that if that stands as the “scientific” basis for mutant powers, then secondary mutations really aren’t that far out there. I guess it comes down to the fact that I just really don’t like the idea of them. It just screams “Writer get-out-of-jail-free-card” to me.

    I do think the scientific wackiness does hurt the franchise in regard to the recent “mutant extinction” storyline; not only have mutants and humans been having fertile offspring together in the X-Universe pretty much forever (thus mutants aren’t a separate species), but the whole idea of mutants being a separate species goes against the point of the X-Men in general, IMO. It was that storyline that pretty much killed the comics for me.

    Thanks for mentioning DHS, I wanted to mention it but I wasn’t sure what to say about it- I remembered that Haller was Xavier’s son, but I couldn’t remember if DHS was something we’d heard of before, or if that was all Madhouse’s doing- I guess Madhouse gets the credit for that one.

    I realize this is nitpicking, but Beast said something along the lines of “Emma’s case is similarly advanced,” and based on what we saw of doomed Hellfire Club kid, that doesn’t seem to jibe. I agree that whole scene probably just meant that she isn’t mutating any further, thus is safe from suffering the same fate.

  3. I wonder if you laughed when Beast said “Vaccinated” I LOL’D HARD…it just seemed kinda funny coming from him.

    I was hoping Cyclops would have gotten some Abuse this episode….I got my review of this episode up…[as well as more screenshots as well at my blog]

    Again this episode certain scenes giving me Hisako X Emma vibes again……


    I wish Storm would get more action too, it’s like she just had a few lines this episode…

    And The Pool Game was funny too.

  4. The writers seem totally at a loss for what to do with Storm, which is weird because her powers are so varied and versatile; it shouldn’t be that hard to give her something to do. I don’t know what the problem is.

    Didn’t laugh at the vaccinated thing, I think of Beast as a scientist first so it wasn’t odd coming from him.

    Anyway, I think we can both have high hopes for Cyke abuse in episode 5:).

  5. Poor Storm! I mean she hasn’t gotten much Screen Time in this series….she’s barely cracked a thunderbolt or two as well.

    I wonder if by Episode 10 if this thing gets to that if I need to do a Tally of what Storm did in every episode up to that point.

    This series is “Promising” Some Action, but really isn’t Delivering so far….sure the U-Man Base and that was Decent…but other than that we’re in the boring part before the next plot line shows up in the series.

    I’d love to see Cyclops getting Abuse, I mean seriously have you ever watched a show that’s literally made you watch for the hope of one character you want to see getting slapped, beaten, and punched every episode cause they’re emo??

    Reason why I laughed at Beast is cause this one to me the whole catlike appearance just makes you think he’d be a poster for the Vet’s Office “Get your Pets and Mutants Vaccinated!”

    Still, seemed almost a Predictable episode:
    Hisako and Emma stop the crazed organ dude, Beast wants to take her back to the Mansion, Hisako says she has to go too, get attacked during midflight[almost TOO Predictable], lounge around the Mansion chatting while Emma gets Examined, and the old Ominous “This isn’t over” Statement from Professor X at the End of the Episode…

    I hope the next couple episodes are good….and I wonder how many times they’re going to Make Wolverine do something that’s totally out of character each episode.

  6. OMG I totally forgot about that! I was going to make fun of the fact that they actually ended the episode with Prof. X saying “This isn’t over,” but I forgot ><. It was really silly. Actually, lately when I watch Doctor Who I just watch it in the hopes that the Doctor will get the snot kicked out of him- not because he's emo, just because it makes me happy:). So this isn't a new thing for me.

  7. Well guess that’s no more different than me watching Stargate Atlantis to hope that Dr. Mckay gets beaten every couple episodes though I laughed my ass off when he got shot in the ass with an Arrow.

    Still the whole end of the episode and when her schoolgirl friend showed up I half thought that if Hisako went back to school and started talking about everything it’d be like “I totally made the X-men look bad in that battle! It took my fist to stop that guy! That Cyclops dude didn’t do anything except be whiny emo!”

    Oh Great, now I’m thinking of that Hisako X Emma thing again….seriously this series gives off that Subtle Yuri vibe every single Episode now.

  8. Hi Karen,

    My name is Catherine Meyers, I’m the admin of a web blog directory, while reading your blog and it’s reviews and articles about anime and everything otaku related, (I particularly liked this detailed X-Men episode review. Usually high quality animation is reserved for the first 2 episodes in anime hehe), I was wondering if you might be interested in a link exchange (no money involved), I would add your blog in my directory so my visitors will also visit your site and in exchange you add my website to your blogroll or links. Please let me know if you are interested and the best of luck with The Otakusphere.

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  9. 1. Both the cartoon and the TV show mineepresestrd Cyclops. In the comics, he’s probably one of the most well-rounded characters, but because everyone’s obsessed with Wolverine and the two of them are always at odds, Cyclops is depicted as a douche bag when he’s much more than that.2. I stand behind the belief that most of us went through puberty early because of the cartoon’s depiction of Rogue. I’m not a fan of censorship, but that body should be illegal! I think that’s why she was always wearing that jacket. Otherwise, she would have looked to naked and perfect.3. I straight up cried while watching the last episode of the X-Men animated series and the thing about that is that I watched it just over a year ago. (I missed the last two or three episodes on the original run. Probably for a Saturday morning soccer game or something.)

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