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I first saw this show at 11. Now I'm 26. Way better writing than I remember, worse CG.
The CG in the first season is atrocious. The experience is like listening to a well-written radio play spinoff of TRON while watching this. Now that I can put the show in historical context, I realize that the animators made the characters blue and green to cut down on the Uncanny Valley. It helps a little. The animation gets gradually better each season until by the third, you can read the characters’ faces to understand their emotions. The writers understood this and started to take advantage of long reaction shots.
Some of the computer jokes have aged well (hidden messages in binary will always be funny), some haven’t (has anyone here ever used a SCSI port?). Even the idea that a system crash is a real possibility is becoming outdated. I am writing this review now on a laptop that hasn’t crashed a single time in five years of operation. If you are just discovering this show, my advice to you is to pretend the characters live in a fantasy world that works sort of, but not quite, like a computer.
I didn’t expect this show to provide so much to adults that will go straight over kids’ heads. Is that the Pixar lamp attacking Enzo? Look, now he’s dancing “Thriller!” That flock of bicycles is straight out of Blade Runner. There is a wonderfully dark moment near the end of the third season where the Sailor Moon team start the first few seconds of their transformation dance, and then they all die from falling debris. The main cast all have shades of right and wrong to them, and much of the third season has the audacity to focus on a pair of adults who have an implied sex life.
The show also gets high marks for its women characters. (Well, computer programs who look and sound like women…) It passes the Bechdel test left and right. Major props to Dot Matrix, who winds up running Mainframe’s military and does so without becoming a cast-iron Amazon or taking away from the male characters. I had no idea how great a character she was when I watched the show as a kid. But Hexadecimal is still my favorite.
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