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Rise of ‘Rise of the TMNT’

The other day, we "finally" got our first look at the character design for the new Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Rise of the TMNT) show coming this fall from Nickelodeon.

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To me, the best aspect is the logo.

As I posted the other day on Twitter, my first reaction is that these are atrocious:

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Seeing the "full/action" image and the individual images all over the place for a few days, I’ve grown used to these particular ones. But I stand by my original feeling of these being atrocious designs.

I’ve long held TMNT to be an "exception" to most of my usual personal "rules" (variants, what I’ll spend on them, accepting more "crap" regarding TMNT than I will most things, giving them a "pass" on stuff I won’t other properties, etc). At the same time, I hold the assumed "right" to be that much more critical–as a fan in my late-30s who has to some degree "been there" through most of the TMNT history–nearly 30 of their almost 34-year existence.

And whether it was certain of the "Specials" from the Archie comics, or the general Archie series compared to the ’80s cartoon compared to the original Mirage comics…then the Image series, the Mirage volume 4 series and Tales of the TMNT vol. 2, to the IDW series; the 2003 cartoon and the 2012 cartoon… I’m used to all sorts of differing visual interpretations of the characters. Some good, some bad, some wonky, some weird, some just…blah.

But as the "mainstream, main on-going publically-pushed" (’80s cartoon, 2003 cartoon, 2012 cartoon; all the films…even Next Mutation) designs go, I find these the worst.

Various designs in the comics tend to work short-term; even if I’m not thrilled with a style, often it hasn’t lasted all that long or been more than basically coming across "an alternative design." I’ve never had an actual distaste for a visual style like this. I’m not thrilled with the 2014/2016 film designs, but as live-action only-2-films takes, I’m ok with those…especially by comparison.

I also highly resent what my current understanding is–that "essentially," the 2012 series was ended to clear the path for Rise of the TMNT; that especially with the 2012 series only just having ended and this one having been announced prior to the end of the 2012 series, it is intended to REPLACE the 2012 series.

Previously, there were significant gaps of time between series. As such, I especially compare these to that, and may be more critical due to the feeling of this being the "replacement" rather than the "next iteration" of the property.

On the individual character designs:

rise_of_the_tmnt_splinterSplinter: he just looks like an angry little ugly rat to me; almost a caricature. While he has the ‘signature’ kimono and walking stick, and in context is recognizable, I get none of the fatherly/mentorly vibe from this design. He looks mean and more of a show-up-and-mess-someone-up character than father-figure/leader.

rise_of_the_tmnt_leoLeonardo:  partly the angle, but the character looks like some scrawny little thing, more like he’d be an "annoyance" than formidable. I also really dislike the sharp, angular design, especially for the legs/knees. While I don’t want my turtles to be balls, I also don’t want my turtles to be scissors with masks. I’m also not thrilled with the facial markings, though I can’t tell if that’s supposed to be facepaint or species markings. The latter I can live with, the former just seems stupid to me.

rise_of_the_tmnt_raphRaphael: The character is far bulkier than the other turtles, which sets him apart, sure; and while I’m not thrilled at the full head-covering vs. mask-strip around the eyes I don’t have any great problem with it, either. My main problem is the apparent change in weapon, from the sai to the nightstick. Especially as Mikey has "small sticks with strings" and Donnie has the "long stick." For whatever reason, offhand, it just reeks (to me) of something thinking simply "wouldn’t it look cool if…" and running with it.

rise_of_the_tmnt_donnieDonatello: This may be the "best" of the designs to me. The character doesn’t seem nearly as scrawny/angular as Leo, and while I get a bit of a 2014 movies vibe with the headgear, something to the face even just looks like a Donatello: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. It looks like he’s carrying some sort of scepter, which won’t thrill me; but it it’s more of a fancy stick, I guess I’m mostly ok on it.

rise_of_the_tmnt_mikeyMichelangelo: I don’t care for the prominent kneepads in the promo image, nor that he basically seems to have some kind of bladed ball attached to a stick…another "replacement" weapon; a factor I’m not keen on. The kneepads seem odd to me in a way I can’t quite place…like they’re more for skateboarding or such than the kneepads/wraps of previous versions of the turtles.

rise_of_the_tmnt_aprilApril: I’m not sure what to think here; I have a number of feelings on the matter. I sense some slight ties to some interpretations of the original comics; as all of this Rise design is so different anyway, no huge issue with the "race-bending." Moreso I feel like the pose for the promo image draws significantly from DC‘s Superhero Girls, as virtually every time I see her solo image, I’m put in mind of the Bumblebee character from that show/series, at a glance. I feel like she looks way too young; it’s one thing for April to be a high schooler or such, but not looking this young just seems rather "off."

As I’ve seen others comment–these may look better "in motion" and such; in action rather than these singular "still" images. And I will be interested to see how these translate to toys, the inevitable action figures. I’m probably more interested in the action figures than the show.

And of course, I’ll almost certainly check out the show itself at least to try…but it’s going to have to be pretty darned good right away from the first episode or two to "keep" me–it’s not gonna get much of a "grace period" from me to spend MONTHS to get several episodes to get a glimmer of what it "can actually be."

Whatever the case, I still have the original cartoon on DVD, 2003 on flashdrive (c’mon, Nickelodeon…release the 2003 series on DVD!!!), and the 2012 series on DVD, as well as all my comics and such already.

As some folks would say…I consider this whole matter to be:

(developing…)

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