It always sucks when you get into a series after it’s over. You don’t get to participate in fan theories or discussions and you can’t go through fanfictions or wikis without getting spoiled to Hell and back. And it doubly sucks when the show is cancelled before its time.
And that’s my case with Sym-Bionic Titan. When it first came, it was 2010. I was 14 years old and at the time, had backed away from my love of cartoons due to bullying in middle school. I’m pretty sure my only familiarity with the show was the infamous “Booty Quake” scene, and I decided it wasn’t for me.
But, as an adult, and having become more comfortable with my interests, I heard the one-season show was actually really good. And it got cancelled because the creators didn’t want to make it a toy line.
But it was on Netflix, so with all my admiration for Genndy Tartakovsky, I decided to give it a go.
I watched the entire thing in about three days…which aside from showing how much I enjoyed also clearly displays my inherent lack of self-control.
But, I loved it.
While, the character designs can be jarring and hideous at times; everything else makes up for it.
Sym-Bionic Titan follows three refugees — Princess Ilana, soldier Lance and AI-robot Octus — who escape to Earth from their home planet of Galaluna after the evil General Modula wages war on the planet with the help of Mutraddi beasts. While posing as high school students, the three must also defend Earth from the beasts sent to kill Ilana, the only heir to the Galalunan throne-with mecha armor. And their suits can combine to form “Sym-Bionic Titan,” a giant robot.
So, it’s a pretty cool premise.
Many episodes have the characters dealing with some kind of issue at school or Earth life as well as having to fight whatever monster gets sent over.
I’m not always a fan of the “mecha” type of anime. I loved Power Rangers as a kid and thought the Mega-Zord was cool, though I tend to prefer combats when it’s more hand-to-hand and stuff. I think it forces people to be more creative. But, I have to say the fight scenes were pretty good.
And it doesn’t gloss over the property damages.
The ones that break this formula, were my favorites.
Two of these episodes are flashback episodes. And I am a sucker for good flashback, and these are some of the best I’ve seen. One deals with Lance’s first days at the military academy and the second shows what happened the day, Galaluna was attacked.
Both are excellently paced, and are well put into the show so it doesn’t break the flow of the story line. They’re emotional and beautiful, and they all have some very intense moments. The fight scene in “Escape from Galaluna” between Lance and a traitor, is one of the best scenes I’ve seen outside of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The other episodes that caught my eye are the ones where the trio is interacting with Solomon, the mysterious leader of an organization called G3. I find him fascinating, and the show was definitely hinting there’s more to him than meets the eye. I don’t know if he would have ended up a friend or foe to the trio, because I could see it going either way.
But what really defines this show and sets it apart from many of the other is how the show handles romance. The main focus, would not be, as you would expect between Lance and Ilana (despite several moments of ship tease but since they’re pretending to be siblings they can’t be too romantic in public). But they don’t have the issues other dynamics would normally have: he isn’t too closed off and doesn’t resent her, she is genuinely sweet and caring. She makes him kinder and he gives her hope.
And then there’s Octus and Kimmy.
During the school day, he maintains the identity of Newton, a large, stout, nerdy looking boy. Eventually, the head cheerleader and “mean girl” Kimmy Meisner asks him for help on her math homework (leading to the infamous Shake It Scene) somehow he talks sense into her and helps her recognize that she isn’t dumb.
And somehow, this Regina George-knock off becomes such a fascinating character when she falls in love with him. This is followed by an ‘electrifying’ kiss, quite literally and my favorite scene of the show.
Titan fights a Muttradi as Kimmy walks home listening to “Space Age Love Song” truly happy. She doesn’t notice the carnage, she only hears one of the best 80s love songs as she walks home. It’s beautiful. Titan’s movements are well in sync with the music.
I love a good diegetic music sequence.
And later in the series, Octus finds himself kind of falling in love with her too. The development of this relationship is so genuine, I really wish we got more of it. For a nerd/popular girl romance, this is groundbreaking.
And it might be one of my new OTPs.
If I had one complaint about the characters, it would be that Ilana doesn’t ever get a day in the limelight during this first season, but I assume she would have gotten it had the series continued. And I don’t mind, since she is still clearly a complex and compelling character.
It’s a pity this show got cancelled. There’s a lot more to explore in this world: What actually happened to Lance’s father? Who is the man with the gauntlet? Why does G3 have Galalulan tech? Is Solomon a friend or foe? What’s the connection between Galaluna and Earth? What is Octus? Why does Modula want power? Why can only the trio form Titan? How will Kimmy react when she learns the truth about Octus?
Will they ever return to Galaluna?
I need to know! I have my theories, of course, but I’m not satisfied with my own fanfictions. I need to see it played out…
I really hope that some other network -possibly Netflix, but at this time it seems Cartoon Network is aligning itself with HBO -could bring it back. And that would definitely allow the creators to push the boundaries and do with the show as they wish.
Though somehow in 2010, they had an underage character blatantly attempt to seduce another, I can’t imagine there’s much else CN would have censored. Seriously though, Tartakovsky said they had 10 more episodes planned and while that’s great, I don’t think that’s enough time to wrap everything up.
Give me more.
Make 2020 the year we bring this show back. It’s been 10 years. It’s time/
And that’s the scoop.
(And come back next week for my Infinity Train: Season 2 review.)
Year of release: 2010
Length: 20 episodes; 22 minutes each
Creators Genndy Tartakovsky, Bryan Andrews and Paul Rudish
Director/Executive Producer: Genndy Tartakovsky
Producer: Shareen Carlson
Voices: Kevin Thoms, Tara Strong, Brian Posehn, Don Leslie, John DiMaggio, Tim Russ and Kari Wahlgren
If you like this please read: Princess Mononoke: a tragic tale of revenge