TMNT: “Tokka Vs. The World” Review
Yet another wait has finally come to an end, as TMNT comes back with an episode focusing on the fallout of the Turtles’ adventure in space. “Tokka Vs. The World” was an emotional tale at the center of an action set piece of gigantic proportions. The audience was treated to some new faces in the introduction of General Griffen and the Earth Protection Force, as well as some returning characters like Bishop and, of course, Tokka.
One of the best things about this TMNT series is how the writers and artists do send ups of various genres. It’s been really entertaining to see the Turtles in these different situations, and “Tokka Vs. The World” is no exception. The Godzilla reference was readily apparent, but it didn’t diminish the fun of the episode. By virtue of the genre, we know the Earth Protection Force is going to be unsuccessful in attacking Tokka. We know that Tokka is not evil and doesn’t aim for destruction. We know that the Turtles will prevail by finding a non-violent solution. So the episode wasn’t aiming for surprise, rather a fun (and literal) monster of the week tale.
We also got another dive into the character of Raphael. I think this series has done such a great job showing that he’s more than just “cool but rude.” There’s real heart to the character, and what could show it more than his love for Chompy? We’ve always seen Raph as a passionate hot head. He obviously cares about his family, but this episode, and previous ones too, show that he has the ability to care without the temper. It’s a great development and one I’m pleased they keep returning to.
I know I always talk about this, but the art direction for the show is always top notch, and they kept the train rolling in this episode. The sense of scale they created with Tokka, the way the camera followed the stealth ship, the ground fight between Leo and the EPF, and even the examination scene all come together in such an amazing way. The audience gets to cut back and forth between the urban NYC streets and buildings and the Utrom influenced EPF facilities, and yet none of it is disorienting. The arrival of Tokka is just so impressive, dwarfing the city, and has some of the best looking animated flames I’ve seen. One of my favorite animation details, however, has got to be Bishops fighting style. There is such a flow about his style and it comes off as a truly alien martial art.
I hope the writers continue to explore what it means for the Turtles to live in a world that has now been visited by aliens three times. The EPF feel like a genuine payoff to the invasions, an until now oversight of the government in the show. How does it take two alien invasions for your government to set up a response team? It was interesting to see the EPF immediately jump to calling the Turtles aliens. Obviously, that’s their whole deal, so maybe it makes sense for them to jump to that conclusion, but New York City has seen it’s fair share of mutants as well, and yet they seemed sort of clueless about that fact.
It’s very natural for Mikey to react the way he did when called an alien by the EPF. The desire for belonging has always been a through-theme for the TMNT. However, I’m interested to see if they go the route that the comics and the 2k3 Turtles series did, where the arrival of aliens means that the Turtles no longer have to hide. It should be interesting to see if they get to this point.
Bonus points go to spoofing the elevator scene from the first Platinum Dunes TMNT movie. I’m not going to lie and say watching Raph punch Mikey to stop his musical interlude wasn’t satisfying.
“Tokka Vs. The World” found that great, yet elusive, middle ground of having a heartfelt character arc at the core of an action heavy episode. With a quick pace, the episode moved from set piece to set piece, fight to fight, all while continuing to develop one of the most nuanced portrayals of Raphael ever. Due to the kaiju send up, the episode was a bit predictable, but that didn’t stop it from being a very fun ride. I’m looking forward to how the EPF stacks up in future episodes, but also returning to the main Super Shredder storyline.