Sym-Bionic Titan (2010-2011)

Sym-Bionic Titan, the most recent animated TV-show by Gene Tartakovsky, lasted only one season. While that is regrettable, I think it’s also understandable. If you watch Samurai Jack or his Clone Wars adaptation, you realize one thing: he’s a near-perfect visual storyteller. But while those shows played to his strengths, SBT does it only half the time. And it looks like conventional storytelling isn’t Tartakovsky’s or his stable of writers forte.

Sym-Bionic Titan, which is like a love letter to old-school Japanese animation with kids donning gigantic robots and fighting Gozilla-sized monsters, mixes high-school drama with the giant robot/monster fights. And that requires convincing characterization, well written dialog and so on. Nothing that you’ll find here. Everyone acts like a walking cliche, from the main cast to the secondary characters and the throwaway ones.

The only episodes were Sym-Bionic Titan managed to rise above it’s own dreary content was when it left the school-setting and told flashback episodes on the faraway alien homeworld (Shadows of Youth and Escape from Galaluna). Especially the latter worked toward Tartakovsky’s strengths. It’s basically a twenty-minutes no holds barrel action sequence that has some of the best fighting scenes I’ve seen for some time in animation. It’s incredibly intense and reminded me of why I liked Samurai Jack so much. But it’s also a reminder of what the series could have been, and wasn’t.