Animation Round-up: Rook Goes Home on Ben 10, the Droids Succeed on Clone Wars, and Aya Interrupted on Green Lantern

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Jan 12, 2013

Happy Saturday, and welcome back to the animation round-up! This week, Ben 10: Omniverse visited Rook’s home planet, Star Wars: The Clone Wars wrapped up the D-squad arc, and Green Lantern: The Animated Series got the band back together and introduced a new Blue Lantern.

Ben 10: Omniverse S02E07: "Bros in Space"

Rook hass easily been my favorite thing about Ben 10: Omniverse, so an episode devoted to fleshing him out a bit was a welcomed one. But "Bros in Space" was sort of wheezy and tired, as episodes about people returning to their agrarian homes go.

Rook, it turns out, has been the black sheep of his family since he left Revonnah to become a Plumber, a move that sat none too well with his dad, who quickly fell into the traditionalist, disappointed parental figure role, complaining about heritage-denying and annoying offworlders. You’ve seen it a gazillion times, and there was a de-thawing of Rook and his father's relationship by the end as Rook assisted in fighting off the muroids (the only predators that seemed to exist on the planet) and saving the amber ogia harvest (a true super crop that can be food, fuel, made into tables, whatever).

I may’ve been less bored by the episode if Fistrick hadn’t been around and training the muroids to steal the amber ogia, because the tensions between Rook and his father, the presence of a large family, and the fact that Rook seemed to be a real ladies’ man offered lots of opportunities for interesting stories that the episode half-baked or outright ignored in favor of the action sequences.

Yes, this is an action show, but there are all sorts of types of action to explore, and it was possible to just have the muroids be a threat without Fistrick and his starbeam platform, while still exploring Rook’s roots.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars S05E13: "Point of No Return"

Much to the delight of likely all of you who read this, the D-squad arc has concluded, as Gascon and the droids managed to stop a hijacked Republic cruiser from colliding with, and blowing up, a strategy conference that the Republic was holding in the Cardia system.

I liked this arc. Yes, Gascon annoyed me to practically no end with his overcompensating puffery and bravado, but this storyline has given us an interesting break from Jedi and clone troopers, with imaginative bits of action, including here in "Point of No Return," particularly R2’s chasing of the buzz droid followed by the buzz droid swarm and BZ’s sacrifice. And how about that explosion? Pretty epic explosion. It demonstrated an inventiveness on the writers’, storyboarders’, and directors’ parts in staging action sequences that lack lightsabers and blasters, and in that regard, the D-squad arc was engaging.

Likewise, the arc showed that, Gascon aside, it's possible to keep a compelling narrative moving with droids, and not even R2 too much until this week. WAC, while a bit annoying at the start, came into his own as a character by "Into the the Void." I won’t say that he completely managed to keep Gascon’s foolishness in check, but he at least provided an alternative perspective. Imagine this arc without WAC, and I think we’d all be cringing.

But, hey, if you didn’t like this, you get Darth Maul and the Death Watch starting next week. You guys really like Darth Maul, right?

Green Lantern: The Animated Series S01E17: "Blue Hope"

I’d been wondering where Razer was hiding out, and it made a pleasant amount of sense to see him on Odym with the burgeoning Blue Lantern Corps. Not only did his Red Lantern ring not work there, but he was also trying to learn how to control his rage and anger (though not very successfully).

So while the whole team was back together by the end of the episode, let’s talk a little a bit about robots. Aya’s been a problematic character for me in this series, as it often treats as both a “her” and an “it.” And while the conflation of women as objects isn’t exactly a new thing to any sort of media, it's a little troubling in GL:TAS since the series wants us to think of Aya as a female character (indeed, the show’s most prominent one) but also wants to reserve the right to inflict lots of bodily harm on her and get away with it because she’s a robot (standards and practices cares if you reduce a living woman to a torso, but if "she" is a robot, it’s A-OK).

That debate, of Aya as a “her” and an “it,” was central to the tensions between Aya and Razer here. Razer dismissed the Manhunter as soulless because it was a robot—something with which Aya took considerable offense, and which led her to storm out of the ship. It brought into focus the romantic aspect of Razer and Aya’s relationship, something the show directly addressed, not only by Saint Walker needling Razer about his feelings for Aya, but by Aya registering emotions on the Manhunter’s scanners.

Running parallel to this was Aya’s attempt to coax a damaged Manhunter beyond its programming, to move beyond its programming to become an “artificial intelligence” instead of a “machine.” While this was Aya attempting to differentiate herself from the other machines, to reassure herself that she is not the same as how Razer described the Manhunter, it was also an attempt to prove that other robots, other machines, can achieve her level of... post-programming existence.

It didn’t appear to be very successful, but the episode raises questions about what the series sees as an ethic toward robots. Hal had no problem swapping out Aya for L.A.N.O.S. in “Reboot,” leaving him to be experimented on by the Guardians’ scientists, but clearly Aya is something different—to both the team and, to an extent, the show’s writers as well. I’m not sure where the episode or the show as a whole falls on this issue, but it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye out for, and I’d love to know what the rest of you think as well.

DC Nation Short: It was the first installment of “Batman of Shanghai,” a stylized interpretation that pits Bats, Catwoman, and Bane in 1930s Shanghai. The shorts aired during the summer at some point, and are easily found online if you want to see all three parts. I really liked Wolf Smoke’s style and the animation here, especially the ink effects near the end, which become very prominent in the final installment.

What'd you think of this week's episodes?

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  • JetixMasterDan Jan 14, 2013

    Gascon was hilarious. Being new to Green Lantern actually made it where I enjoyed the episode more than most would have. I enjoyed seeing how the Blue Lantern powered up the Green Lanterns and the mandroids, and I wasn't annoyed by Aya in the shortest. Finally Rook is slowly making me enjoy Omniverse. Rook seems to be more of a throwback to the original Ben 10 series, and learning about his past didn't hurt things in the slightest.

  • mcepin3 Jan 13, 2013

    explosion was awsome. Goes to show,that animes can pull awsome explosions as well as "real tv"(hinting at my GoT discussion). If it were any other droid,who would set off that bomb other than R2-D2,it/they would be dead. R2-D2 was at very center of explosion and all he got was torned off legs. Wow,really?!?!? And if that explosion couldn't kill R2-D2 at very center,how could it then cripple Repulic's fleet?? I liked this episode better,then last 2,just because it was better in my eyes. It was full of cheesy stuff,but it redeemed itself with that explosion. Of course you don't leave R2-D2 behind and you start with that talk "no one gets left behind",but when it comes to any other droid or non-important clone....well sucks to be them,I guess...they will be remembered though...for 5s,then bye,bye. They didn't even mention Gregor after they did that big speach of how,he will be remembered. This kind of stuff pisses me off...hypocrites. And that is the reason,why I hated those 2 episodes so much. They make some speaches,but can't back up all that talk later,when it counts.

  • EsmeBuffay Jan 13, 2013

    I wouldn't have minded the most recent close wars arc if not for Gascon, it would have been fine. But the camera was always on him and every word that came out of his mouth made me want to turn to episode off that much more. I'm just glad it's done.

  • nexpose Jan 13, 2013

    I always want more Ventris in these Clone Wars. The first two Gascon eps. were really bad, probably the worst Clone Wars eps. But then these last two were pretty good. Remember when Ashoka was in nearly every ep.? At least they vary what's in the eps. but it's about Lightsabres and Jedis for me. :D

  • Writerpatrick Jan 13, 2013

    One downside of Clone Wars spending so much time on the droids is that this is suppose to be the last season of the show, which means they've used up episodes that could have been spent on other stories. And the supposed live-action series looks as if it's going to be a jedi-less, light-saber-less bore. Even the supposed next movie could wind up making Phantom Menace look good.

  • Gislef Jan 13, 2013

    So how is Ian Abercrombie still credited as Ganthet on Green Lantern when he died a year ago? They're not that far behind in airing episodes, are they?

  • noelrk Staff Jan 13, 2013

    They very well could be.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 12, 2013

    Dang, these were fast, are they all from screeners or are you just that good?

    How many times does BZ have to get killed in this saga? And why risk 2 crucial missions over a pair of GNK droids, a hilariously tragic Treadwell, a MSE, and a LEP droid? That was cheesy. How many times is R2-D2 going to get blasted to bits only to be repaired? Where did the CIS get a perfect Republic Attack Cruiser, and where did it get holograms far better than anything previously shown in the Star Wars universe? Why did nothing else survive the explosion relatively intact but R2? Why does the CIS keep using Battle Droids if they're this inept? How did WAC imitate a Battle Droid voice so well? (That bit did crack me up though.) How did Gascon get the encryption chip back after BZ took it out into hyperspace? (You can see Gascon doesn't have it after BZ takes off.) Why didn't the astromechs use more of their super weapons to set off the airlock or other areas of tactical advantage?

    For me, this was a threadbare episode, some of the stuff that the droids did was cute, I liked BNI the LEP droid and the Treadwell droid's hopeless antics, but Gascon is a damned fool yet again for trying to not handle the trojan horse attack at all and it's tiresome. The enemy is also just not convincing or compelling even for a kids' show, these are dumb moves on both sides so it could be a straightforward-enough action show - viewers of all ages deserve better.

    Oh, and no we don't like Darth Maul, he was ok in the Episode I script but half his lines got cut down until his personality evaporated, and then he died, and now that he's back it's embarrassing and he's not even good at being Darth Maul anymore.


    Batman of Shanghai short was engaging but didn't have enough story to make it feel worthwhile, it didn't even feel like a short but a piece of one. Looked good though.

  • noelrk Staff Jan 12, 2013

    Awwwww, you're making me blush. No screeners (I've only ever gotten screeners for Ben 10, and even then just one time). Just a combination of me getting these filed and then Jen posting them. I fully expect things to take longer once TMNT and MLP come back.

    In order:
    --> Twice. But this time I think he's really dead.
    --> Because droids are people, or didn't you watch Green Lantern this week? (I know you don't watch it.)
    --> Probably a lot more.
    --> Probably Hondo, and serious R&D.; Doku likes to look good.
    --> The Force.
    --> They're cannon fodder, and supplied by the Trade Federation. Though, seriously, the Techno Union could help more.
    --> Did he? I don't remember him talking, but I may've missed it due to laughing.
    --> The Force.
    --> The laser is pretty unpredictable, and I don't know that the magnet would've helped much.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 13, 2013

    Hey Noel, my stupid wireless mouse just tapped the pointer on "remove" on my post, anything you could do to salvage it?

  • noelrk Staff Jan 13, 2013

    I do not have access to anything on the backend of the site. Sorry. :-/

  • JT_Kirk Jan 15, 2013

    Nah, that's ok, I totally understand. Besides, it looks like someone (Jen?) did it, and thanks for that.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 13, 2013

    Well, great work then, very very fast writing, most impressive.

    - Interesting, but would he actually be dead this time? We've seen astromechs survive in space before, yet we've never seen anything except starships in hyperspace, so is hyperspace dangerous in a way that space isn't? Is being in subdimensional space worse for a droid? I've never thought about that one before.
    - Granted they're people, SW has also argued that since day one, but this is now two REALLY important missions, casualties have to be accepted.
    - I hope not.
    - Hondo only sells tech, not invents it, but I guess that's all we get to go on here.
    - Oh boy, The Force saving R2? Now we're really out on a limb, good job.
    - Nobody really wants to create cannon fodder though, they'd prefer it go the other way. The Trade Federation have Super Battle Droids and Commando Droids, both of which have shown to be more effective.
    - WAC was puppeteering the dead pilot battle droid (blue shoulders and chest markings) when in the little room and the dead pilot droid spoke to the regular battle droids in a regular battle droid voice. If not WAC, then who spoke? Astromechs can't speak, and Gascon never showed the ability to do anything like this.
    - So "The Force" is akin now to The Simpsons' "A wizard did it"? Or are you... oh god, are you saying Gascon is secretly a Jedi? Oh god no. I'm sad now.
    - The laser was predictable in this episode the one time he whipped it out in that little room and blasted the hell out of that poor battle droid. The magnet flies by remote control and could have poked a button.

    That was fun.

  • dragon22a Jan 12, 2013

    At least Ben had control over the Omnitrix in this episode a bit more than before. Also, it was interesting to find out that Rook is actually the surname and Blanco is the first name. His culture puts the surname first like some cultures on earth.