Invader Zim episodes 1-5: Manic Americana

[Screenshot]Observant readers have no doubt noticed that I watch a fair bit of Japanese animation. This isn’t a Japan fetish; I like good animation, and the Japanese are doing most of the interesting stuff nowadays, so they’re kind of the only game in town. But I remember recommendations I’ve gotten from other sources too, and Invader Zim was well-loved by a lot of the comic-book freaks in my life. My main personal knowledge of it before was a sensational mural (probably vanished in some-or-other renovation) in the MIT coffee-house. So I was not exactly intimately familiar with Zim, but I knew it was suppsoed to be good. I was not disappointed: it’s authentically fresh and funny and I enjoyed it. Mostly the appeal is in the dialogue, which is delightfully off-kilter, with lines like: “Have you the brain worms?” and “There’s a pigeon on your head. You have headpigeons.” It’s better in context, really, and snappily delivered. The characters and voices are well-thought-out: I particularly like Gaz, and even more so like that she’s used but lightly. Too much of her would get annoying, but a smattering is brilliant. And, well, the characterization and voice acting are awesome. For the show’s other artistic merits: well, the art doesn’t exactly do it for me, as it’s a bit too angular. I realize stylized is in now, but some styles just distract me. YMMV on this point, of course. As for plot, well, it’s sketches, basically, without too much effort devoted to inter-episode continuity. That’s fine for its brand of broad comedy, but one of the reasons I watch less American animation these days is precisely the lack of plots whcih last longer than 15 minutes. Again, personal preference there. All in all, I find Invader Zim to be terrific wacky fun, but damned if I could say why.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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