Monday, March 3, 2014

Nickelodeon's TMNT to premier in Japan on April 4th

I don't normally do "news stories" here at TMNT Entity, since this is a review site, but not many places are talking about this as it's rather niche stuff.  Anyway, Japanese is the only second language I know, so I take interest whenever Japanese TMNT media pops up.  Your mileage may vary.

The Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon will be premiering in Japan on Friday, April 4th, with a 7:30am timeslot.  It'll air on TMNT's old Japanese broadcasting haunt, TV Tokyo (who aired both the Fred Wolf and 4Kids TMNT cartoons in the past), and will go by the usual Japanese name for the franchise, "Mutant Turtles" (ミュータント・タートルズ).  Here's the only English-language news article I could find on the subject.

The official Japanese website has dropped a few tidbits so far.  Firstly, the show will be receiving a new opening theme song, "Shinobi" (), performed by a band called GReeeeN.

And here's the cast list.  I'm not really into anime, so I only recognize a couple of names:

Seki Tomokazu as Leonardo (the title characters of Viewtiful Joe and Sly Cooper, Sonic the Hedgehog in "Wreck-it Ralph" and "Sonic Unleashed", Skids in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", Yzak Joule and Domon Kasshu in the "Gundam" franchise)

Hiroshi Tsuchida as Donatello (Tron in "Kingdom Hearts II", the official dub voice for Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lightning McQueen in Pixar's "Cars" franchise, the title character of "Skullman")

Kentarou Itou as Raphael (Renji Abari in "Bleach", Choji Akimichi in "Naruto", Lugnut in "Transformers Animated")

Kappei Yamaguchi as Michelangelo (Rattrap in "Beast Wars: Transformers", Ranma in "Ranma 1/2", the title character of "InuYasha", Usopp in "One Piece", Sonic the Hedgehog in the DiC cartoons, the current voice of Bugs Bunny in all "Looney Tunes" media)

Takayuki Sugou as Splinter (Zangetsu in "Bleach", First Hokage in "Naruto", the official dub voice for Jean Reno and Tommy Lee Jones, Elrond in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films, Cranky Doodle Donkey in "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic")

Arisa Shida as April (she seems fairly new to the voice acting business, so I had to use her Japanese Wiki article, sorry; White Tiger in "Ultimate Spider-Man", Angel in "X-Men: First Class", a lot of additional voices in TV drama dubs like "CSI" and "Once Upon a Time")

Akio Hisose as the Shredder (he mostly does on-screen and stage roles so he doesn't have an English Wiki article, sorry; General Zod in "Man of Steel", Dr. Rasa in "Amazing Spider-Man", Scar in the stage production of "The Lion King")

The only member of the cast I'm especially familiar with is Kappei Yamaguchi, mostly because I've watched through all of "Beast Wars" in Japanese (that dub is a trainwreck, though it was the director's fault).  He could make a good Mikey, I think, though he majors in nasally, obnoxious-sounding characters.  ...So yeah.  He could make a good Mikey.

There's no word on how many episodes have been ordered, but I'm going to take an educated guess and suspect it's 52.  That's the standard.  So Japan will at least get the first two seasons of the series, but anything beyond that is up in the air.  The 4Kids series got an initial order of 52 episodes in Japan, but underperformed, leaving TV Tokyo to not bother renewing it.  With that in mind, I'm surprised TV Tokyo is taking the risk with the Nickelodeon TMNT cartoon.  Maybe they're hoping this series will capture audiences in a way the 4Kids TMNT series failed to.

If anything concerns me about the Japanese release, it's that I'm betting the episodes will be cut for time.  The original American versions are already overlong, with the story content oozing into the credits.  The Japanese version will include longer opening and ending sequences (and in Japan, they don't play episode content or commercials over the credits, since record companies pay the shows to play their songs).  To make up the time, we may be looking at 1-3 minutes of footage getting cut from each episode.  TV Tokyo has done it to Transformers: Prime and they've done it to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so I wouldn't be surprised if they do it to TMNT.

Also, TakaraTomy will be releasing the Playmates toyline in Japan, just as they've always done (Takara released the '80s and 2000s toylines in Japan).  I'm not an expert on toys, but I have heard people complain about the meager paint apps on the current TMNT toyline from Playmates.  TakaraTomy is known for lavishing paint apps on their Transformers releases (where Hasbro is more economical about them), so collectors may want to keep an eye on the TakaraTomy releases of these toys.  Also, Takara will be making some new toys strictly for the Japanese markets, such as these 2" tall guys.

So there you go.  I won't be able to comment on the dub until it lands, and hopefully it'll get uploaded onto Nico Nico Douga so I can watch it.  I didn't much care for the dub of the 4Kids cartoon (it was baaaaaaad), but maybe this one will turn out okay.

Though a 7:30am Friday morning timeslot isn't exactly prime time...