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11 - The Forest of Magi Oar

Sorry for the lack of updates last week. Was really busy. I will make up for it with a double updates this week! First comes episode 11.

Tygra: Did they just defeat them with paper?
Panthro: Nunchuks are a weapon. Swords are a weapon. Paper isn't any sort of weapon.
Panthro clearly never has had a paper cut. Those things sting!

Our episode begins with the cats having reached the Fangorn-esque forest of Magi Oar the useless elephants pointed them to. Lion-O is trying to get the sword to give them more info on the gem's location, but he's making no progress. We get some padding about ghosts and the forest feeling haunted, showing the kittens having fun with Snarf. Not critical, but nice. We also get a character moment for Tygra of all people, who shows that his rivalry and jealousy with his brother has not vanished. No, the writers just didn't feel like including or mentioning it for about 7 episodes, even when it'd be relevant. But he still shows a brotherly bond with Lion-O, reassuring him over his self-doubts about his many, many failures. Tygra also finally formalizes that he too has an interest in Cheetara, and Lion-O states they will have to settle this sooner or later. It's a very nice scene all in all, because Tygra's position is very understandable, and he manages to rise above his rivalry to remain a good, supporting big brother, rather than coming across as a petty, jealous jerkass, which could have easily been the way the scene would have gone.

Our main plot resumes when wood the kittens have gathered is tossed into the fire, causing ghosts to rise out of the wood. Incidently, Lion-O tossed the wood in the fire. Proving again that anything he does will initially turn to shit. The cats' weapons do nothing against the ghosts, and Lion-O suffers from sword impotence as the Sword of Omens refuses to obey him.

Thankfully our cats are saved by a trio of people covered in paper armor called the "Wood Forgers" who use origami, paper snowflakes (to use like shurikens) and paper drawings (not unlike those Japanese paper ward thingies. Don't know what they are called. Don't really care ;-P). Eitherway, it is interesting, managing to make paper look baddass. We are never told what species the Wood Forgers are, but they look awfully similar to the Thundarians, only with slightly less pointed ears and creepier eyes. The boss doesn't bother to tell us his name, while his mooks are Snips and Gami.

The trio bring the cat to their home, the School of Paper Arts. Yes, it is made out of paper. Boss Wood Forger tells us he's the headmaster, and STILL doesn't tell us his name.

Nameless Headmaster explains that the school trains people in Wood Forging to defend those in need. They use the forest's magic by turning the wood into paper. They protect it from some griffon-like creature called Viragor. They have a paper mill to make sure they never run out of paper, and the camera zooms on the smoke the mill is belching, making me hope we aren't in an ecological aesop episode. And no. He still hasn't told us his name! This is a problem we've twice had in the show, where a group is presented, and the minions are all named but the leader isn't till way, way later. The Lizard commandos did the same thing. And it annoys me. Coz we all know the minions aren't going to be important. So how about the writers give us the name of the character that is? Is that too hard? I watched the episode three times. He doesn't say his name.

We also never see any students in this school. Only the trio. Later, nameless Boss Guy comes across Lion-O, contemplating his impotent sword. Using some perspective tricks he teaches Lion-O to step back and see the whole picture. And he still doesn't tell his name. I REALLY like this scene though. The guy's lesson, while abstract, is to the point. It makes sense. Unlike the drifter or the elephant. He makes his point clearly and succinctly, without hammering it in or sounding idiotic.

Viragor then attacks. He's voiced by Héctor Elizondo, which I will forever remember as Bane on Batman: The Animated Series. Virago tackles a tower and it falls. Guess they should learn to not build towers out of paper. Idiot. They deserve getting their school trashed. We get a transformation sequence as He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named summons his paper armor. The wood forger begin fighting Viragor, who finally gives the headmaster a name: Zigg. About f*ing time. The Woodcrafter get their asses handed to them. Lion-O steps up, but sadly he still has sword impotence. Tygra teases him that maybe the sword changed its mine. Cheetara's staff is snapped by Viragor, to her dismay ("I loved that staff!") and Tygra catches her as she falls. Lion-O, showing the kind of bonehead lack of foresight that constantly gets him in trouble, shoots out the clawshield's grapple gun fingers at Viragor.

Tygra: Maybe this is a bad idea.
Me: When has that ever stopped you?

Of course, if Viragor could topple a giant tower of paper, he barely is affected by Lion-O, and takes off with him. Lion-O manages to grab his ears eyebrows and force him to ram a tree.

On the ground, Lion-O tries again to get over his sword impotence. But no luck. He then remembers the lesson the-formerly-anonymous-Zigg taught him, and lets Viragor snatch him.

Zigg declares Lion-O dead. Panthro doesn't think so.

Lion-O and Viragor banter. Lion-O realizes Viragor is not evil. That's why the sword would not work against him or the spirits. Viragor concedes the point. He explain he's the guardian of the forest. The wood forgers are mere guests. Once they only used fallen timber to make paper. They now began stripping the forest to make more paper using their mill. Lion-O agrees to destroy the mill. Viragor shows the stripped forest. So if the school is in the middle of the woods, why do the Wood forgers get their lumber so far from their mill rather than the wood that is growing right next to them? Do they like adding useless transportation effort?

So why did the spirits attack the cats, who were using fallen branches for their fire, if that was okay?

All three shots appear in this order, within a few seconds of each other. So how did Gami escape Panthro? Why is Cheetara outside the cage when she is freed only in the next shot?
Anyway, Viragor and Lion-O return to the school, and Lion-O exposes Zigg's lies to the other cats. Lion-O offers Zigg tries existing in harmony with the forest, but Zigg will hear none of it. And him and his goons attack the cats and Viragor. Zigg gives himself wings of paper and flies off, followed by Lion-O on Viragor. The goons attack the cats, and in an inverted Redemption Demotion, them being revealed as evil somehow made them more powerful. While the three of them could barely fight off Viragor alone, they now hold their own against Viragor and the Thundercats. Gami makes a paper dragon, which Tygra struggle against (Dude. You have a laser gun. It's made out of paper. Paper burns. Just saying.) Snips makes a paper cage locking Cheetara in it. The Kittens free Cheetara, stealing Snips' scissors. And Cheetara uses her super speed to disarm Gami.

In a weird moment, we see Panthro wrestle with Snips (unarmed). He then pulls his nunchuks out, but snips disarm him. Somehow this causes Panthro to vanish from the fight. WTF? You were doing fine with your bare hands! The animators did the same thing in Berbils, causing a cat to simply vanish from the fight for no reason. Heck, in one shot, we see the whole battlefield, and Panthro is face to face with Gami, and she has no place to hide from him. Then the camera shows Cheetara running at superspeed, and now Gami is hiding in a dark corner, and gets disarmed by Cheetara. Where did Panthro go? How did Gami lose him? Not only that, but in the far shot, Cheetara is outside the cage, yet she is only freed in the next shot. This is HORRIBLE fight choreography. Someone dropped the ball big time on this.

Meanwhile Viragor and Lion-O avoid a paper Macross Missile Massacre fired by Zigg, only for Viragor to be hit and crash. But Lion-O uses the Holy Avenger to fire a big laser beam at Zigg when he lands to gloat, blowing the paper off him. He runs away, and Viragor says he will take over the school now. Viragor gives Cheetara a new staff. Lion-O uses Sight beyond Sight to figure out where the gem is, and the episode ends.

Overall I did like this episode. I enjoyed that it is the villain that teaches Lion-O the Aesop, and that the Wood Forgers were not Obviously Evil, so them being the villains could be a surprise. It is also nice to see Tygra get something to do. It was a very strong episode overall, despite the hiccups in animation.