I do agree with some of that, but I have to disagree about some of the characterization. I think Tygra had plenty of depth and enough to be his own character, it just happens that much of that characterization is tied to Lion-O as much as Lion-O's is tied to him. Tygra has some pretty clear character flaws, but also strengths to go along with those. He's ambitious and determined, having goals and striving to better himself. He is flawed, which tie into his insecurities caused by Lion-O, not to mention his narrow mindedness and overall more self-centered attitude. Tygra's actions tend to be either for his own benefit or for the benefit of people close to him, and that's not a bad thing, but he doesn't have aspirations for something much bigger than himself, to contrast with Lion-O's overall goal of getting the races to unite. Overall, I think all of that makes for a good character, and I feel pretty satisfied. Now, I agree that there's still room for development, but imo there's a great baseline for it.
The same goes for Kit and Kat, to a lesser extent. They don't have a whole lot of development, but there is a good baseline for each character that they work off of, and it resembles the contrast between Tygra and Lion-O. Kat's a lot more practical and concerned with the here and now, trying to gain very real and material advantages in every situation to make things easier. Kit, on the other hand, is shown to be much more spiritual, willing to put more faith into things that aren't certain, and shares Lion-O's vision of thinking outside the box and seeing a bigger picture of the world. Perhaps in a second season these aspects could be expanded upon.
I do agree that Cheetara got the short end of the stick. I already talked about her a lot in my analysis, so I'll just say that she's got more depth if you try to look for it. The big problem, and it's a consistent problem for all the other main characters, is that we never see things from her perspective. I think that in the first half of the season this worked at hiding the reveal of her choosing Tygra, but after that it really would have benefited if she had her own episode. I'm trying to remedy that in the fan comic (which has one chapter written with concept art in the works). But I think what characterization she has stems from being an orphan who was then raised in a very close knit and rather secretive group. Showing affection is a big deal for her. Tygra giving her that flower may have the nicest thing anyone had done for her. Cheetara's experiences may have conditioned her to act in a way that made her overly affectionate towards Lion-O without realizing it. That's my theory anyway.
The series probably would have benefited a lot though if they did take more time to flesh these things out, because I'll admit that a lot of this is mostly gaps I've filled with my own imagination. Like how Tygra and Cheetara's relationship might have developed since that flashback, through little silent actions and glances like that wink he gave her. But I can enjoy a show that makes me use that imagination, though I realize it can be frustrating for others who aren't that interested. Being able to actually see it is a lot more validating.
As for the Tank's upgrade, eh, you got me there. Perhaps they had planned more with it in the concepts, like how they wanted the original tank part to be able to split off. But you could see it as the Cat's firepower growing as they begin to face tougher enemies and bigger obstacles. It also shows their overall living conditions improving as they enter the next phase of their travels, no longer being on the run and outgunned but being more stable and not worrying about survival as much.
And I do agree that the way they made Lion-O die was kind of contrived, but I do like the Trials episodes nonetheless. They could have done a better job of explaining why it was a bad idea for them to climb up that cliff. A theme of the first half of the show seems to be how Lion-O deals with suddenly being forced to be responsible. He was mainly criticized for being a lazy slacker, and once he becomes king he wants to prove that he can be a proactive person like people wanted, but he often goes too far and he has to find a good balance while not losing sight of what really makes a good leader. Trials Part 1 just didn't show this well. I think the idea wasn't to punish Lion-O for being proactive, just that he shouldn't always go exactly where the Book tells him. In a sense, it's more like he was being punished for letting the Book lead his team instead of leading them himself, not being aware that there was more than one way. But it doesn't work in the episode because we only ever see one option and that's "climb up." And the rest of the team comes off as annoying and nagging because none of them point out an alternate route. It could have come off as Lion-O making the mistake of trusting the book more than his instincts of his friends or himself, but there were no alternatives provided. He could probably have had Cheetara scout ahead for them, just as an example.
The trials themselves, they can come off as kind of redundant when you consider they seem to be trying to teach Lion-O lessons he should have already learned. But I believe that the trials are more about playing on Lion-O's self doubt. He may have learned to not rush into things, to think outside the box, see the big picture, etc, but those lessons he learned may have caused him to question himself later on, causing Lion-O to worry that he isn't able to do these things even after those incidents, because he can't always identify where those lessons should apply.
It's likely Lion-O believed that following the book's direction was the right and responsible thing to do, and didn't think he was rushing in blindly, but it ended up getting him killed anyway. It may not have been entirely in his control, but it still makes him question himself, question if he was just rushing in again. The spirit stone's trials seemed to be more about making Lion-O deal with his own self doubt than reteach him a lesson he should have already learned. He isn't really taught a lesson, he has to apply his lessons to the trials in order to assure himself that he learned them correctly.
The trial with Tygra was seemingly designed to be unwinnable, so that Lion-O would be forced to go through a Secret Test of Character
and sacrifice his soul. I think this works on a different level though; the trial Lion-O fails is the only one that doesn't appear to have any catch to it; there isn't a way he can cheat or bend the rules, he has to ring the bell before Tygra, and he can't do that because Tygra is always knocking him down. Lion-O can't knock Tygra down because Tygra has made himself bigger and stronger and knows how to beat him every time. Lion-O doesn't feel like he should be king because he feels inferior to Tygra, and as long as he feels this way he's always going to have doubt. Lion-O can't overcome this doubt just by beating Tygra though. Tygra shares these same doubts despite having proved himself against Lion-O time and again, because he discovers there's a lot more to being a good leader than being the superior fighter, and that's another theme which I think makes this series worth watching and exploring.
Lion-O makes a good king because of his willingness to sacrifice to others, not his combat ability. Not just his life and soul, but also way back when he sacrificed his standing with his people and his own father's approval by defending the lizards. Tygra would never have defended a lizard or a dog publicly because it would make him look bad to other Cats, and his big goal in life is to be adored by those around him, as his way of dealing with his own insecurities. Lion-O does though, because he's had to learn humility and can deal with it, and he's willing to risk being humiliated if he can do the right thing or has a chance to prove himself. Lion-O risking his soul is what helps him realize that he can be a good leader, even if events after that episode might cause more doubt.
But how well the series actually goes about portraying ^all this^ can be, I admit, poor at times. I give it credit for being ambitious, if that's indeed what they were going for.
edited 3rd Oct '12 1:01:12 PM by StarOutlaw