Teen Titans Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Teen Titans
  • Season: 1
  • Date:  2003
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Ron Perlman
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers Animation

Teen Titans is based on the DC Comics book of the same name. This animated version features the characters of Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy, with the season-long villain of Slade (aka Deathstroke, although that name is not used in the season). The five teen-aged superheroes are based in Titans Tower, where they do what superheroes do – they solve crimes and stop super villains. The first few episodes of season 1 are focused on team-building, as well as introducing Slade as the villain for the season. Then there are a series of episodes that focus on individual characters. Starfire’s episode introduces her older, cooler sister, Blackfire – though Blackfire also turns out to be a thief. Cyborg’s episode focuses on his custom-built car which is immediately stolen and destroyed. Raven’s episode, “Nevermore”, is perhaps the most interesting, as Starfire ends-up in Raven’s subconscious during her meditation. In Raven’s subconscious we meet Raven’s emotional spectrum selves and her demonic father, Trigon. The season concludes with the two-parter, “Apprentice”, in which the team goes after Slade, only for the entire thing to be an elaborate trick by Slade to get his hands on Robin. Slade then exposes the other Titans to destructive nano-bots – and threatens to kill them if Robin doesn’t do everything he says, including being his apprentice and stealing for Slade. Slade also forbids Robin from even talking to the Titans. However, at the conclusion of their fight on the top of the Wayne Enterprises building, the other Titans realize that Robin is being controlled. They go after Slade to rescue Robin. Robin exposes himself to the same dangerous substance as the other Titans, knowing it will stop Slade from hurting or killing his friends. The Titans win out, but no doubt Slade is still obsessed with Robin.

Teen Titans has a Japanese Anime styled theme tune (which is performed in either English or Japanese depending on the episode). The animation style is also closer to anime than other DC Animated Universe series (which have a traditional American animation look). The series also, at times, uses animation to express the characters emotions – when one character gets extremely angry at the rest of the Titans and yells at them – the rest of the Titans are drawn to be very small and frightened-looking. If a character is surprised or shocked his or her eyes pop-out of their heads. However, this isn’t distracting but rather emphasizes the characters’ emotions.

Watching Teen Titans, I couldn’t help but compare it to Young Justice, a show that I dearly love from the same team. The characters in Young Justice seem slightly older than the ones in Teen Titans – although both shows revolve around teen-aged superheroes. Young Justice is much more serious, and that show is a master at the “last few minutes reveal”. Titans, by contrast, tends to be lighter, though episodes like, “Nevermore” and “Apprentice” are a bit more serious. Also, in Teen Titans the characters always appear in their costumes, and thus are always called by their superhero monikers, rather than their real names. I missed having any sort of connection to these characters other identities. Certainly, as they are living in Titans Tower, the characters would kick back and relax occasionally. We see them playing video games, watching movies, and eating pizza, but always as Robin, Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy – never as their alter egos. I wasn’t even sure which Robin this is. I’m going to assume it’s Dick Grayson until proven otherwise, though the behind-the-scenes interviews also mentioned Tim Drake but didn’t specifically state this was Tim Drake’s Robin (Tim would eventually take the name, “Red Robin”, and was more of a computer/electronics expert and hacker than a fighter, though like all the Robins he could certainly take care of himself.) I thought it was a missed opportunity to not include more about the characters’ civilian backgrounds.

Still Season 1 of Teen Titans is Recommended and I have ordered Season 2.

 

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