Episode Reviews - Trouble in Tokyo

Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo
Original Airdate - September 15th, 2006 (Cartoon Network)
Original Release Date - February 6th, 2007 (DVD Release)

When a high-tech ninja attacks Titans Tower, Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven and Beast Boy spring into action. Robin finds out that the ninja was sent by a mysterious and menacing Japanese criminal known as Brushogun, and the Teen Titans travel to Tokyo to track the villain down.

Reviews by Bird Boy
Media by Bird Boy
Titans Staff
Written by David Slack
Directed by Michael Chang, Ben Jones, Matt Youngberg
Exec. Producer Sander Scwhartz
Producer Glen Murakami, Linda M. Stenier
Associate Prodcer AJ Vargas
Casting and Voice Direction by Andrea Romano
Music by Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis
Animation by Dongwoo Animation Co., LTD.

Titans Voices
Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
Scott Menville as Robin
Khary Payton as Cyborg
Tara Strong as Raven
Hynden Walch as Starfire
Robert Ito as Mayor, Bookseller
Janice Kawaye as Nya-Nya, Timoko
Yuri Lowenthal as Scarface
Cary Tagawa as Brushogun
Keone Young as Daizo, Saico-Tek, Chef


Screen Grabs

[ More on the Screens and Pans Page ]

Many will find it surprising that I never watched Trouble in Tokyo until it came time for me to review the DVD. It aired on Cartoon Network months and months ago (September, to be exact) and it had repeat airings, so it wasn’t a case of missing it—heck, I had the thing recorded and ready to watch whenever. I had the time, but the desire to actually watch the film just wasn’t there. At the time, I was still burnt out on the Titans rapid five-year production and airing schedule and didn’t care to revisit the crew anytime soon. Even watching it now I feel it was too soon for me to join the Titans on another adventure, but this time it was mandatory for me hitch along.

The plot of this feature-length Titans adventure revolves around a mysterious villain from Japan showing up in Jump City and wreaking havoc. After defeating him, the Titans learn that he was sent by the mysterious Brushogon. Traveling to Tokyo, the Titans hunt down Brushogon to get their answers and amidst their tumultuous journey they create new allies, villains and learn a few things about themselves (well, Starfire and Robin do anyway). After debuting at SDCC and then airing on Cartoon Network month later, the plot and details are pretty much everywhere by now, but just in case you don’t know the big reveal at the end, I’ll leave that plot point up to you to be surprised by.

For as long as a wait and big to-do this film received by the fans and Warner/Cartoon Network, it, for me, kind of fell flat. Sure it was nice to see the Titans again, but somehow the airing of it on television almost half a year before its DVD release made this film feel much less special to me. Watching it, it really felt like a long, drawn out episode of the series with really nothing making it worthy of being a seventy-minute long ride. Sure, the animation, as always, was astounding and great to watch (as was the fight choreography). Yeah, the music was a pleasure to listen to (particularly the end credits music with the Titans singing verses of the theme), but so much of it was filler that it astounds me. The plot could have been easily done in a two-part episodes of the Teen Titans show…in fact, this is almost what it feels like. Had the Titans not left their city, it almost certainly would have felt like a padded episode (most of the padding can be placed on Cyborg and Beast Boy as their plots were nothing more than quick humor).

As mentioned before the animation is incredibly nice in this film. Not only is there a fair share of pans making Tokyo feel larger than life but it also manages to bring in some wicked fight scenes to life. The animation style Teen Titans uses doesn’t change a bit in the feature film and it manages to throw in a fair share of “Anime-isms” without making it overkill. Particularly nice to witness was the full 2D animation with no CGI (from what I could tell)—having just come off of watching The Invincible Iron Man, I was in no mood to see more mediocre CGI (which went along with Iron Man’s mediocre story, but that’s for another review!).

The music was also a wonderful part of the film, even if it did feel as if it was a departure from the show's usual theme. The music in the opening of the film remained Titans-esque, but once we get to the movie intro and into Japan, we get a much more Western-sounding style (obviously). While this fits the movies theme, it almost feels alien to see the Titans fighting with this style of music. Still, between the Titan 5 singing the Puffy AmiYumi theme song and the other small musical cues it feels like home enough to strike a balance between the two very different music styles.

I don’t have any other major issues with the film, as it served it’s purpose as a final Titans adventure, even adding onto the characterization of Robin and Starfire more (something I’m glad they left till the movie, as seeing this go on for a season or more in the series would be a bit too annoying to watch [Smallville has jilted me into hating “destined to be soul mates!” relationships]). Having been burned out on the Titans prior, I guess I was hoping for a more fulfilling, well-rounded story cap to the series, but instead I got a shallow, albeit entertaining, movie in the series ending’s place.

Overall if you’re a fan of the show, the films a must-see. It may even bring in a few new viewers to the series for those who haven’t had their fair share exposition to the show, which is great both for their animation library as well as sales of the DVD sets (season three in April, folks!). Since Tokyo is commanding a the same MSRP as a season set of Teen Titans, the price is a bit harder to swallow for much less content—at the very least the film is worth a rental and maybe a purchase down the line when the price drops.

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