Nick's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles loves to give nods here and there to the horror genre, but this week's episode goes in a totally different direction: comedic heists!
With a funky and energetic score, this latest chapter introduces a skilled thief named Anton Zeck (his visor and hair looks pretty familiar, don't they?). The smooth criminal is by voiced by the charismatic J.B. Smoove and it's clear the actor had a blast with the role. You can't help but smile whenever you hear him deliver his unique laugh. Zeck's goal to snag Shredder's helmet also gives us some insight into the Foot Clan's history. This tale is given the "comic book-ish" style of animation (I believe they're illustrated by Ciro Nieli) and it was an incredibly cool way to give us all of this new information. I especially loved how the unique style began while Shredder was still standing in the foreground. The contrast of styles worked very well and the backstory was legitimately interesting.
One thing that I really loved was a whole new focus on the villains. Sure, they're basically reduced to slapstick comedy in this episode, but the banter between them was priceless. The bit between Tiger Claw and Rahzar was hilarious (although the shot lingered for a little too long after the dialogue ended), and Xever's remarks were equally amusing. We often see these characters when they're trying to be intimidating, so it's a nice change of pace to see them banter just like the Turtles do. Honestly, I'd love to see an episode all about what a regular day is like for them. There really is a lot of potential with these villains. I have to admit I'm a little bummed out to see Tiger Claw treated like less of a threat so soon (especially after the last episode's supremely badass fight), but it's still massively entertaining set of scenes.
There's a fair amount of good action in this episode, but that all becomes a distant memory when we get round two of the heroes in a half shell vs. Shredder! It's short-lived but every bit as exciting as you'd want it to be. Shredder isn't downplayed one bit and you have to appreciate the courage they gave Leo and his brothers. Oroku Saki's role isn't limited to just being a badass in this one, though. Much to my surprise, they made him open up just a little bit to Karai. In his own twisted way, we got a glimpse of what a more "caring" version of Shredder is like. Hopefully we'll get to see more of this dynamic in the next episode.
As enjoyable as this episode is, I found myself asking a lot of questions along the way. There's nothing major that would make me want to give it 3-stars (implying it's just okay), but little things began to pile up. Zeck's able to sneak into Shedder's lair -- something I'm perfectly cool with -- but he slips in through a hole in the window that's the size of his hand. The dude's skinny, but that skinny? And maybe I'm missing something, but why can't Baxter Stockman speak like a human anymore? If the answer is his mutation progressed, then wouldn't the same happen to characters like Xever and Rahzar? Also, when Baxter unleashes his projectiles, it looks like all of the acid blasts hit the ground, but it's later revealed they hit an object nearby. Maybe he fired more that I missed? Unfortunately, the most noticeable issue is Jason Biggs isn't voicing Leonardo in this episode. Dominic Catrambone does sound similar to Biggs, but when he has several lines -- which he does in this episode -- the difference can absolutely be heard and it's a little jarring.
The Legend of the Kuro Kabuto is a ton of fun. The heist vibe is delightfully lighthearted (Steranko's line in the helicopter had me cracking up) and the introduction of Zeck is almost guaranteed to get any TMNT fan thrilled about this show's future. Yes, I have a good amount of small issues with the episode, but overall, there's a lot of solid laughs for us to enjoy and it's a consistently exciting adventure. Now we just have to wait and see what'll happen next with Zeck and Karai!