Sym-Bionic Titan (2010) (TV)

From IMDb: “Three young alien beings with the ability to form a giant robotic warrior attempt to blend into suburbia, all while battling the tyrannical forces that ravaged their home world.”

What I liked:

  • A forgotten gem from master animator Genndy Tartakovsky, who I’ve mentioned before when reviewing his latest show, Primal. Paul Rudish and Bryan Andrews, who worked with him on his masterpiece Samurai Jack, co-created the show along with him.
  • I didn’t enjoy the show very much during its initial 2010 run and I lost also lost track of it before it was initially canceled by Cartoon Network. But that last episode (Episode 10) that I did watch had one of the best uses of pop-music and animation I had ever seen, which stuck with me. I remember it resonating as something deeply beautiful. Now that it’s on Netflix, I decided to re-watch it on the strength of that sequence. Watching it now with different eyes had me fall in love with its takes on teenage life. Social issues, school hierarchy, vapid popularity, etc., are all touched upon. The show even touches on mobile device addiction, before it was even a thing that people actually suffered from nowadays.
  • This show is basically if John Hughes and Jack Kirby mashed the Breakfast Club, Voltron & the Iron Giant together in an anime studio back in 1982, thus creating two perfectly balanced tones for the show: One tone is positioned as the action “Monster of the Week” / Scooby-Doo concept, but the other is an emotional one, spinning fun characters with poignant, teenage drama.
  • Unlike traditional cartoons, some characters actually change their clothes!
  • Any show with Genndy and his team involved always produces fantastic compositions & framing, and this show is no exception. There are even some fun Ren & Stimpy-esque extreme closeups.
  • Stakes, stakes, STAKES. People forget that stories (whether presented through animation or live-action) need stakes, no matter the genre. There need to be events and consequences that affect the livelihood of the protagonists, and thankfully this show remembers and nails them.
  • Oh hey, it’s a Paul Dini written episode!

What I didn’t like:

  • I have commitment issues when it comes to television, and love when a show can knock out a whole story in a single season or two (like Over the Garden Wall and Gravity Falls, for example). This show was canceled after one season but left us with an incomplete story and some important questions to ask. It would be nice if Adultswim (or even Netflix) would let them do one final season, much like they thankfully did with allowing Samurai Jack to close out its epic tale.
  • Is there really a “Wazzuuuppp???!!” reference? Eh, the show is from 2010, so….I GUESS.

Overall: Sometimes we need to revisit something in order to fully appreciate its brilliance, and Sym-Bionic Titan was better than I had remembered. Maybe I didn’t give it much of a chance when it originally aired, or maybe the nine years that have passed have changed my perspective. Maybe it’s both. But thankfully, it’s a show that gave me characters that felt real, and had emotion and heart. It not only reminded me why I love Genndy Tartakovsky’s work so much, but it also reminded me that heart is the focus of everything even when you’re a kick-ass action cartoon. Watch it on Netflix.

Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production and has been published both online and in print for Los Angeles City College’s award-winning Collegian newspaper. He is also a news writer at DC Comics News. Jose is on Twitter and Instagram, and is also currently writing his first short novel.

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