A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series features a somewhat lazy superhero with questionable motivations. While Joe is a reluctant role model, his sidekick Blue, when he appears in an episode at all, always nudges him in the right direction. Parents should also be aware that the show's villains include a gigantic, weapon-laden lizard, a bat-like creature with a French accent, and a half-man/half-shark monster that could be quite frightening to younger viewers. A quick preview might be a good idea.
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What's the story?
Joe is an average guy whose girlfriend, Silvia, is whisked away to another dimension called Movieland and held captive. Joe's favorite superhero, Captain Blue, gives Joe super powers, transforming him into \"Viewtiful Joe\" so he can go off in pursuit of her captors. His sidekick is a pre-teen called Captain Blue, Jr. -- a kid version Captain Blue.
Is it any good?
VIEWTIFUL JOE is a terrible cartoon on a number of levels: The animation is shoddy, the dialogue is limp and forced, the pacing is awkward, and the plots don't make any sense. That said, the sad fact remains that a lot of younger viewers might really like it. It's a flashy, fight-filled, Japanese-style action show led by a super-cool hipster dude who slings one-liners and loves a good cheeseburger. What's more, no explanation is ever given as to why Silvia has been taken, why Joe is given his powers, or what the name "Viewtiful Joe" even means. Beyond that, Silvia doesn't even appear in many episodes -- Joe seems to just go on various nonsensical adventures involving random characters, and never in Movieland -- making the show's opening credits exposition of the "main" plot a complete waste of time.
With its aggressive fight scenes and slangy language, Viewtiful Joe seems aimed at 12- to 14-year- old boys. The problem, however, is that the show's messages are so simplistic, and the dialogue so lame, that no child past the age of 8 would want to sit through it. Children younger than 8 will probably feel mature when they watch this "big kid" cartoon, but some sequences are oddly terrifying -- for instance, a scene on a ghostly train in which a room full of floating toys suddenly turn on Joe and attack him for no apparent reason. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different characters' motivations from episode to episode. For instance, why might a child think running away from home is a good solution to their problems? What other solutions could be better? Parents could also talk about the importance of working toward a desired goal, rather than just doing as little as possible and simply hoping for the best. When Joe really wants a cheeseburger, is it okay to ignore his responsibilities? What happens when we ignore the things that need to be done?
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