Tokyo - a center of trade, technology, tourism and.'toons? Apparently so. As the Universe Explorer nuzzles into port, the Road Rulers are nestled inside their cabin, clue in hand. With enthusiastic cheers and hollers, the kids celebrate as they learn that they will be taking part in an authentic Japanese animated feature. Anticipating their forthcoming mission, the smiling travelers hustle to meet their mayors, Yugi and Jonathan, who will be directing the cartoon. Ushered inside a bustling office, the Roadies are given an overview of the tedious animation process. But we're not talking a few machine-replicated Crayola sketches here. This intensive procedure involves thousands of cells, painstakingly colored and reproduced by hand. Yes, an artist himself, is particularly awed by the strenuous effort it takes to produce an entire "Animae." Time is money, and the mayors remind them of that as they instruct the Rulers to write their own script to accompany a currently plot-less Animae. Eager and excited, the gang repeatedly watches the silent feature, trying to hammer out a storyline. However, the democratic brainstorming session quickly dissolves into a near dictatorship, as Ayanna begins to make all the decisions for the group. Pua seems especially bothered by Ayanna's take-charge approach, and remains strangely quiet as the others continue to throw ideas around. With their script finally finished, the Roadies shuffle into a recording studio to dub their respective characters' voices. But reading lines isn't as easy as one would think. Take after humorous take, the Rulers screw up as they attempt to make their dialogue match the characters' movements. It's frustrating, but everybody soon falls into the routine that is, except Pua, who is having a great deal of trouble mastering her role. Eventually, the directors wrap the production and invite the kids to the world premiere of their cartoon at a local club. Primped and polished, the expectant Rulers taxi toward the culmination of their hard day's work. Sandwiched between Shawn and Veronica in the cab, a disheartened Pua reveals her disappointment with Ayanna's earlier tyrannical control of the cartoon. Veronica is empathetic, but regards the comment as a further example of Pua's rampant insecurity. Stepping into the crowded social scene, the wide-eyed Roadies laugh and applaud as their animated alter-egos come to life on a jumbo screen. Pua, however, is embarrassed to discover that her voice has been substantially altered and no longer resembles her own. Their job completed, the bunch thanks their mayors for a most memorable mission and steps back into the city streets. But don't re-board that ship just yet. Japan has another surprise in store for our fearless explorers. This chilly challenge takes the kids to an indoor Skidome to face off against a Japanese team in a series of races for a ski package prize. Olympic gold-medalist, Eric Bergquist, coaches the gang before the initial slalom event. A first-time skier, Pua is visibly frightened by the steep slope ahead of her. Fighting her shaking knees, she pushes off and erratically wobbles down the grade. Unfortunately, her gumption can't outweigh her lack of experience, and she ends up with a face full of snow. With the Japanese team in the lead, the kids get set for the freestyle race. Mounting sleds, snowboards and skis, the gang heads for the finish line, but not before Ayanna starts hilariously tumbling out-of-control. The final tandem race is the deciding event for our adventurers. Two of the Road Rules' teams successfully close the gap with their Japanese competition, and it is up to Pua and Ayanna to push them over the top. Swallowing her fear, an extremely-nervous Pua grabs a trusting hold of Ayanna and they complete an unbelievable run down the man-made mountain - winning the race for Team Road Rules! As her castmates cheer her on, Pua clasps her hard-earned gold medal and smiles with newfound confidence. from BMP.commoreless
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