Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sushi Pack - Red Hot Chili Planet and Sweet Tooth

I can't believe I'm blogging these eps before So Says Who and Darkness and Spice. But I have to get this out of my system, so here we go. These two eps combined make up the Sushi Pack Handles the Issues combo, the issues being global warming and childhood obesity, respectively.

Red Hot Chili Planet, or Some Like it Hot
"That's not Wasabi-talk; that sounds Dutch."
Ben sneaks the Pack members into the local cinema via a Styrofoam container while funky music plays in the background. Inside the container, Maguro eagerly anticipates the documentary they're about to see, but Tako would rather see a sci-fi flick, and Ikura agrees, until Maguro points out that other movie involves bears, then he retracts his statement. Safely inside the theater, the Pack relaxes in the A/C, but Wasabi is way too cold and tells Ben to complain to the management. Ben, as you may recall, cannot understand him, so Ikura translates. The others point out that the cold is just fine with them, and since the majority wants it cold, that's the way it's gonna stay. This will be important later.
Hearing Wasabi's complaints, someone from the row behind them gets his attention. Who is it? Why, yet another group of returning for the first time villians, the Hot Squad! They invite Wasabi to join them, since they're all about the heat, but Maguro wants to know just what they're doing at a documentary about global warming. The Hot Squad leader claims they're just there because they like movies, but the documentary starts, so everybody quiets down. Until the narrator starts describing the effects of global warming, and the Hot Squad breaks out the cheers and wolf whistles. Even Wasabi chimes in at one point.
The question I have is, are we meant to take this seriously, or are the writers just poking fun? Knowing the forces behind the show, I'm guessing that the film is more a parody of An Inconvenient Truth than anything the viewers are meant to take to heart. I haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, though, so I can't say how much of a parody it really is. But what it's really here to do is to help explain what the Hot Squad's plan is all about later in the episode. Once the film is over, everyone cheers, except for Wasabi, who froze into an ice cube during the show.
Back at The Green Donut, Wasabi, still freezing, cranks up the heat, but Tako cranks it back down when he notices. Wasabi is not pleased, so Tako puts the issue up for a vote. Predictably, only Wasabi votes for warmth, so the majority rules against him once again. Wasabi tries to appeal to a higher power, in this case, Ben, but as we've established, communication for them is nil. Ikura translates again: Wasabi wants a recount! Ben, seeing the futility of this, suggests a compromise, but gives no advice on how to actually go about this. The others fail to see a good way to compromise anyway, so Wasabi splits. Tako puts his many-headed thought process into action, and I think it says a lot about their relationship in that he describes Wasabi as "innocent, yet dangerous" and "daring, yet gullible." He tries to figure out where Wasabi would go, and immediately thinks of the Hot Squad. Now, when I first saw this clip on the official website, I thought that this was his view of a generic "stranger," and that made this scene much, much funnier. As Tako freaks out, Ben tells the others they should have compromised, although he still doesn't give them any ideas on how to do it. Break for commercial.
By the end of the break, Wasabi is already on the other side of town, grumbling to himself about the others. His ranting is cut short by a most curious sound coming from the old abandoned warehouse... His investigation shows the Hot Squad polka-ing their eyes out, proclaiming this as their only weakness. With their dance break over, they gather around their plans for a huge cover that will trap all the smog and stuff in the city, heating up the city enough to destroy the Sushi Pack, naturally. I'll be honest, I don't really care about their plan, so I'm not going to give all the technical names of the stuff involved. All you really need to know is that their overall goal is to heat the entire planet up to epic proportions.
Wasabi accidentally makes himself known to the Squad, and when they corner him, he whams Play on their boombox and gets away while the Squad members dance helplessly. He hightails it straight to a payphone and calls up the Green Donut, but unfortunately, Ben is the one who answers. Wasabi tells him everything anyway, and Ben tries to understand, but the leader of the Hot Squad shows up and melts the phone receiver with his breath. Ben tells the other members of the Pack about Wasabi's message, but can't seem to get Wasabi's words down pat, though not for lack of trying.
The Hot Squad assumes that Wasabi was sent as a spy, but Wasabi denies this, so they assume that he wants to join them. Wasabi hadn't thought of that tactic, but agrees, and the others welcome him into their group. Back at the Green Donut, Ben is still trying to talk like Wasabi, but to no avail. Then Ikura gets an idea(!): super-hot chili sauce will give Ben the kick he needs! Surprisingly, this works, and Ben gives them all the details he got from Wasabi . He doesn't seem too pleased with his new power, though. Wouldn't it have been faster to just go searching for Wasabi? What about the trackers they have, as seen in Wassup Wasabi? and So Says Who?
Meanwhile, the Hot Squad is conflicted about Wasabi. The red guy doesn't trust him, but the leader is sure Wasabi loves heat as much as they do, but changes his tune once they catch Wasabi ripping up their plans. They rush him, but once again all Wasabi has to do is hit the boombox and the Squad is powerless against the music. Then, like a dummy, he turns it off again, only to turn it back on again, but on a country station this time. Oops. The leader wisely melts the entire boombox this time, but it's too late, the rest of the Sushi Pack shows up in their plane. The two factions leap up for an epic battle, but both are distracted by Wasabi sneaking off in the plane. Tako wonders if it was all an elaborate trap, and it certainly seems so, as the Hot Squad attacks and easily overpowers the Pack. Just as the Squad endulges in a victory dance, a familiar refrain plays in the air: more polka! It turns out Wasabi just left to get a new boombox and tuned it to a 24/7 Polka Power station. While the Hot Squad is incapacitated, the other Pack members make up with Wasabi, apologizing for not compromising, but they still don't come up with any ways to actually do it. Instead, Wasabi just leads them in a cheer of "Sushi Pack forever!" while the Hot Squad dances in the background. And then the episode just ends.

Sweet Tooth, or The Power of Positive Snacking
"Show your face, Red Alert Code Seven Alarm Activator and Evil Doer!"
This episode opens late at night, with a dark figure on the prowl. A periscope from the hole of the Green Donut's sign spies what is obviously Maguro dropping a candy wrapper on the ground. Secret snacking, Maguro? The dropped wrapper sets off an alarm, warning the Pack of a Code Seven, and Kani, Ikura, and Tako leap into action! They arrive on the scene, spout some lines, and then goggle in shock when they find out it was just Maguro testing their reaction to the alarm, and not having a secret snack after all. She berates them for arriving without Wasabi in tow; apparently the others didn't notice, and have to think pretty hard to realize that he's the one missing. Speaking of the little glob, he shows up shortly after, panting and wheezing. The others are shocked, simply shocked, at Wasabi's out of shape condition, and send him back home to bed. Wasabi does not appreciate their concern. While he goes back to the Green Donut, Ikura asks just what a Code Seven is, anyway. A litterbug, according to Maguro, and the others freak out, although whether because litter is really that serious of a problem, or because she wasted their time with that, we don't know.
Or maybe it's because the next scene immediately shifts to some kind of cah-razy cartoon (except live action) starring a redheaded kid with a very toothy grin named Sugar Jimmy. Living in a world populated by animate flowers and clocks, he puts on his peppermint specs to see his viewers, ala Romper Room's magic mirror. Jimmy reveals the worries of a few of his viewers, and reminds them that all their problems disappear with just a bit of his ridiculously named and supposedly nutritious chocolate bar. We cut to Wasabi watching the show and chowing down on the bars, while Jimmy extols their virtues and declares 12 to be the recommended daily dosage. Meanwhile, the other Pack members arrive and Kani, spotting the many wrappers surrounding Wasabi, assumes that the real Code Seven activator has been there. But no, it's just Wasabi, who falls from the counter to the floor, much to the others' surprise. Back on TV, Jimmy leads his viewers in his pledge to eat all the bars they can find, which Wasabi relishes with glee. Tako calls him on his bar addiction, but Wasabi denies it, and Jimmy's show ends.
During the show, Ben pulled out his chemistry kit and analyzed the nutrition content of the bar. ....Oh, Ben. He can do anything the plot requires him to do. Anyway, his analysis shows a nutrition value of less than zero. Wasabi just can't believe his beloved Jimmy (he even has a doll!) would feed him a load of bull, but Kani shows him the evidence in his very own body, and Tako points out his lacking flame powers. With Wasabi essential out of commission, the others huddle up to make their plans: Tako and Maguro will investigate Sugar Jimmy, and Kani and Ikura will slim down Wasabi.
Since it's a commercial break, I want to take a moment to say this: fat Wasabi is the cutest! It may not be the proper sentiment the show wants to convey, but it's true. He's just so plump and squishable! *squee* Seriously, if he stayed like that (and nobody harped on him for it), he might have moved up to three on my Sushi Pack rankings list. Yes, I am that shallow.
The next day, Kani and Ikura wake up Wasabi and tell him about their plans for a Sushi Pack music video: all they need is a theme. Ikura suggests some whole grain cereal and juice while they think it over, and Wasabi doesn't even realize what's going on. Later, they get dressed up in Jazzercize wear (Kani is so cute!) and get down to exercising! Ben mashes play on the boombox and watches, equal parts bemused and concerned while Wasabi benchpresses, jumps rope, and jogs on the toilet paper. After their workout, Kani "just happens to have" some teeny tiny apples and carrots, which Wasabi wolfs down, none the wiser. You know, I think that the bars were less to blame for Wasabi's weight gain than the fact that he'll eat whatever you place in front of him, both figuratively and literally. Ikura reminds him that they still need a theme for the music video, and Wasabi enthusiastically shares his inspiration.
Over at the studio, Tako and Maguro witness the end of Jimmy's latest show. Once the cameras are off, Jimmy becomes an absolute brat, demanding imported bottled water and complaining about how the chocolate in his bars rot his "shiny Jimmy-teeth." He berates his costars and fires his stage manager, who also happens to be his mother. Maguro and Tako have to let Wasabi know about his idol's true nature, and they have the perfect plan...
Later that day, Wasabi is back to his lean self (aww...). Ikura comments, "It's amazing what a little exercise and healthy food can do." Yeah, amazing. You know, considering the Pack's reaction to Wasabi's weight gain earlier, it's likely that he put it all on within a day or two, so it's not surprising that it all came off fairly quickly. What I'm really wondering now is how Wasabi had the stomach for a million human-sized chocolate bars in the first place. I mean, seriously, he's tiny! And why did Ben buy him all those bars in the first place? Regardless of my questions, Kani rewards Wasabi by telling him they're all going to see a taping of Sugar Jimmy's show.
The next next day (I'm assuming), the Pack watches the show from high in the rafters, and Tako slips off, donning a maintenance disguise. He goes to the Grandfather Clock character and gives him a tune-up. "It'll only take a minute," he says, "and you've got plenty of those." Haha. Back on the show, Jimmy uses his specs time to propagandize against those who, like Ben, analyzed his bars on their own time and found them nutritionally lacking. According to Jimmy (dressed as a scientist), his bars are made by leprechauns. Maguro makes a few disparaging remarks, and Tako, showing up again, pretends he heard what she said, but it's obvious he didn't.
The Grandfather Clock announces the end of the show, and Jimmy's mother resumes her stage manager duties. Jimmy is not pleased to see her, but she's the only one who knows where to get his bottled water. Only this time she slipped him water from the janitor's sink. When Jimmy rebuffs her, she rips off his mask, revealing a 22-year-old brunette beneath a nine-year-old's facade. Wasabi is shocked! Jimmy's mother tells him he's through, but Jimmy is confident that even without the bars he can merchandise himself to death, until the director reveals that the Grandfather Clock was ten minutes fast, and everything that just transpired was seen by his viewers coast to coast! (Apparently, it's a live show.) Even Wasabi can't hide his contempt for Jimmy, and his mother slimes him and announces he's finished. Jimmy reacts appropriately (as appropriate as falling down and crying is, anyway).
With a couple of minutes left in both Jimmy's show and the episode, the Sushi Pack hijack the cameras to debut their music video, which they probably shot the day before, in between scenes. And it is...not good. A bad rap about eating fruits and veggies, and then the episode is over.

I think it could have been interesting if the end had revealed not an adult Jimmy, but that he really was this bratty kid who truly believed his bars were good for you. I mean, what if there was some kind of flashback scene that showed Jimmy in a meeting with the show's producers and/or head of merchandising, coming up with an idea for his chocolate bars, and Jimmy insisted they make them really healthy, but taste good, and be made by leprechauns, and all that. And they told him they would just to shut him up, or something? And then at the end, the truth about the bars would be revealed to Jimmy as well as Wasabi, and he would be shocked! And maybe even stop being a brat and start endorsing something really healthy, and everyone could learn a lesson, and there wouldn't be that awful rap video at the end. That's just a thought I had.

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