Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: First Impressions

by Tito W. James

Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the latest animated incarnation TMNT on Nickelodeon. The network’s previous series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles directed by Michael Chang (Teen Titans) creatively combined 2D and 3D and had a gripping overarching story. Rise Of The TMNT is following up on what the original comic creators called “the best iteration of the Turtles.” How does the new series compare and is it able to forge its own path?

Rise Of The TMNT  is inconsistent with its episode length. Episode 1 Mystic Mayhem runs for a satisfying 22 minutes with an ad-break in the middle. The episodes that follow are less plot-focused and and downgrade into 11-minute comedic episodes. The shorter episodes feel like filler and aren’t very funny.

Rise Of The TMNT really shines in its bold, new art direction. It’s one part comic art, one part street art, and all Ninja Turtle. The character designs are more than just a fresh coat of paint. The characters are different turtle species, with Raph being a snapping-turtle and Donnie being a soft-shell turtle and so on.
It’s great to see the gang in hand-drawn animation again.The animation quality is beyond anything I’ve ever seen or expected from television. Rise Of The TMNT has more in common with Studio Trigger than The Fairly Odd Parents.The fight scenes are fluid and use exaggerated perspectives to highlight the crazy combat moves.

A big thing that attracted me to the series was the inclusion of new villains.  From creepy pizza-joint animatronics to ninjas made from origami, these latest foes feel fresh but also fit into the Turtles particular world. Also, move over Shredder because the Turtles have a main antagonist in the mysterious Baron Draxum (John Cena). The Baron’s design and power-set create some amazing pieces of fight choreography. Those shoulder pads he has are actually living gargoyles!


Ninja Turtles has a special place in my heart, not because I’m attached to the characters of the franchise but because it is one of the few indie-comic creations that became a household name. The fact that people have a favorite iteration of the Turtles and that it’s endeared itself to multiple generations speaks volumes. It’s a legacy I hope more indie comic characters attain.
While I was disappointed that all the episodes were not of the same quality as the pilot, the new villains and stellar art make the series worth watching. There’s a hidden world beneath New York City filled with mutant monsters and mystic weapons and I want to explore it with the Turtles.

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