July 12, 2007

Invader Zim

GazInvader Zim is an amazing Nickelodeon series by comic author Jhonen Vasquez. It's funny, off-the-wall, exciting, and as exaggerated as any children's show full of satirical imagination can be. Pictured here is Gaz, who is the most awesome angsty goth girl you'll ever find. Luna and I laughed a lot. Enough to make you hurt. The show isn't perfect; there are a few times when an episode or sequence lacked that extra spiciness, but overall its excellent.

Zim is an Invader of the Irken military, at least in his mind. As an Invader, he's maniacal, insane, and while technically competent, about as likely to conquer a planet as a shoelace. Havoc is very easily possible, its just conquering that's a problem for him. His sidekick is GIR, a dysfunctional robot slave who has more interest in TV and junk food than in fulfilling their mission.

Zim's archnemesis is Dib, a super-intelligent dweeb who sees Zim as the Invader he is, but lacks the ability to convince anyone else of this fact, despite Zim's inhuman behavior and physical appearance. As the lone defender of Earth against Zim's incompetent invasion, Dib struggles mightily against Zim without once receiving acknowledgement by anyone else. Dib's sister Gaz is the only other person who knows of Zim's true nature, but she's intelligent enough to know Zim's doomed to doom to fail with doom, his doom, and would rather spend time playing video games.

Some episodes are short at about 10 minutes, while others span a couple of episodes clocking in around 40 minutes. There's usually some simple social situation or human characteristic that an episode explodes into a comic force, like teenage acne or avoiding late fees at your local video store. The hilarity of a water balloon the size of Greenland, with a big stylized smiley face on it, is genius.

Besides all of the wonderful content, Zim is outstanding in two other categories as well that aren't often so special for an afternoon television show: art and music.

The majority of artwork is CG and its amazingly good. Lines are bold; figures are animated and vibrant; movement is smooth and appears like what you might expect from a hand-drawn character. The shapes and colors are basic, but filled out to provide depth and texture. The only ugly is the poor deinterlacing or cadence flags that was done during the transfer to DVD.

The music is amazing. This is music you'll want to buy on CD and use as background music or personal theme songs all the time. It's heavily influenced by techno, although extremely well matched to the mood and action, and full of awesome little surprises like the choir of piggies. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the tracks (which are not recycled) are available for purchase.

Lastly, although extremely important, the voice acting is excellent. The tone, pacing, and speech patterns are perfect for each character, sounding realistic but exaggerated enough to make the characters really unique. Zim, in particular, must have been extremely difficult to voice because of his constant tonal and pacing changes. But Richard Horvitz pulled it off amazingly.

Posted by josuah at July 12, 2007 7:15 AM UTC+00:00

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