Sunday, April 19, 2009

ExoSquad: Analyzing Season 2

Now, I just want to talk about Season 2 for a bit. If you watch it, you'll obviously notice that it isn't quite as good as Season 1. Season 1 was what hooked me into the show, and you can easily tell why... it's incredibly well written and plotted for all 13 episodes and the animation was quite good for that time. There's not a stinker in the group, they're all really enjoyable.

For season 2, the show was gaining popularity and they decided on a much more ambitious 39 episode run. This was triple the number of the original season and probably placed a great deal more pressure on the writers. Like I said, some of the episodes are quite good and the equal of those from the first season, but you can see that a lot of them were just filler and that they were trying to stretch the whole war out to accommodate this larger run. The entry of the Neo-Warriors and the later Neo-Lords can be seen as the point where they may have started to jump the shark, as well as the appearance of the kid-friendly Exo-Scouts. The Neo-Warriors and Neo-Lords were a pretty extreme example of Villain Decay, as they were introduced as invincible new soldiers for Phaeton, only to be mowed down by the Jump Troopers by the end of the season.

The part of the show that took the biggest hit in quality by far was the animation. You really get a sense by watching that they probably contracted out a lot more Korean animation studios to handle the increased workload and that many of these studios were probably far shabbier then the few used for the first season. There are some extreme differences in animation style and the consistency between episodes suffers greatly. For example, you might see a shuttle change designs from one episode to the next. In another, Maggie Weston's Exo-Frame will have an open cockpit requiring her to wear a helmet, when every other episode has shown her cockpit to be enclosed. This sort of thing does get noticeable, but if you've fallen in love with the show from the first season like me, this decline in animation quality will be tolerated just because you're eager for more episodes of ExoSquad.

It's nice to wonder about what would've happened if they'd been a bit more prudent and gone for a smaller episode run for season two. The quality of the writing and animation may have gone up to match that of season one. However, the possibility exists that the show would've still been canceled at the end of season two, in which case we would be left hanging without the conclusion of the entire war. Given that this was a kid's cartoon that managed to deal with war, slavery, prejudice, betrayal, honor, and duty... the fact that it accrued 52 episodes is pretty damn impressive. Ultimately, the show ended with a wholly satisfying end to the Second Neo-Sapien War, and that's much more then you can say for another scifi show, Space Above and Beyond.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed: the second season isn't as consistent as the first. But the final arc is awesome (though I could have done without the doomsday device).