I have debated about whether or not I should do another Teen Titans review. Recently, people have been looking back at the old show thanks to new interest in the property and it seemed this would be a perfect time for it. As we all know though hype-trains tend to have very short tracks. After thinking it through, there is a lot more to be said about each episode though. I might change the format every once in a while, but I am a creature of habit. So let’s dive into Episode Two: Sisters.
We start off at a fair where Robin & Starfire are enjoying fireworks while the rest of the Titans are off playing carnival games. Out of nowhere, Starfire is attacked by what looks like a robotic flying squid. The Titans manage to fend off the creature in a pretty well paced action scene. Then out of nowhere, Starfire’s sister- Blackfire -appears at the Titans HQ. She quickly impresses Starfire’s teammates with her strength, sense of humor, and her knowledge of both the occult and superhero armor. This puts up a wall between Starfire & the rest of her friends that only grows as the story goes on. Blackfire drags the team to a club where Starfire feels even more distant. To make matters worse, the robot squids attack the team again, but this time, they manage to capture Starfire. Robin follows the machines to a spaceship where he helps Starfire escape from some aliens. They get back to their HQ where the aliens follow and the rest of the team catch up. They find out that Starfire is actually being hunted by alien cops under the impression she stole something from them. Of course, Blackfire is the real culprit and tried to frame her sister. The two have a spat, but our favorite super-powered red head manages to defeat Blackfire and send her off to space jail. Our tale ends with Starfire staring at the sunset wondering if the Titans liked her sister more than her. Robin reassures her that while Blackfire was interesting, Starfire is their real friend.
The animation itself is great as always. Everyone is extremely expressive jumping from the “super-deformed” style to semi-serious with deep shadows. Where this episode shines is in the new character designs. Blackfire’s costume-like the character-is a great mirror opposite to Starfire’s. Starfire wears a violet cropped top with a skirt and high boots, while Blackfire sports a similar outfit but with metallic coverings over her arms & legs showing not only how cold she is, but how Blackfire hides who she is. The alien cops & squids have a unique design remind me of something you might see in Ben 10. That being said there is one major flaw: the background. While the Titans are at the club dancing, they are surrounded by other people. When they get attacked by the robots however, it seems everyone else disappears. You don’t see anyone leave, it’s just like they all turned into thin air. There’s an odd facet of the show where no matter where the fight happens, it seems like the place turns into a ghost town once people start throwing punches. It’s a head jarring experience to be honest and takes you out of the story for a second.
The episode moves at a pretty good pace, establishing Blackfire as the “cool, new kid” in less than a minute so we can move onto the good stuff: the action & Starfire’s dilemma. From day one, Starfire is made out to be the “quirky, foreign exchange student” who doesn’t quite understand the culture around her. Her rather naive observations about earth-life and earth phrases makes her both enduring and establish how out-of-place she truly feels. It takes no time for us to understand what she’s going through when her older sister seems to fit in more on Earth than she does. The episode is obviously about how true friendship isn’t about who interests you the most, but who you trust the most. Blackfire is a great lesson for kids showing how “cool” people can have sinister motives. One of the bigger downsides is how Starfire’s jokes tend to be much more kid oriented. While there are some bullseyes, quite a few do tend to fall into the cringy territory. Forewarning you.
As usual the music is fine except for during battle sequences. The tune seems to be slightly off from what’s happening on screen. It feels like they found some generic battle music and slapped it in there at the last second not caring if it matched the pacing. Again like the disappearing crowd, it gives off a very odd feeling. It’s unfortunate but for the most part, it stays in the background and doesn’t distract from the story. Which depending on how you feel about music in film, can either be a good or bad thing.
As a whole, this episode is pretty solid. The art and writing department have a few failings, but for the most part, it sticks the landing. In ways, it reminds me a lot of Marvel movies with fun dialogue, good characters, but could have used a little polishing. Until next time friends.