Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sushi Pack - Taming the Gaming

Before moving forward to the new season's episodes, here's a look back that I promised a while ago.  The exceedingly Tako-centric Taming the Gaming gets massive points for lots of Tako (obviously), but negative points for a storyline that's kind of a mess.  Here's how it all went down...

The episode starts with Tako doing some kind of face-off with something, but it turns out he's just playing a video game.  He did make it all the way to level 870 already, though, so he's pretty proud of himself.  While he crows about his victory, Maguro finishes making dinner for all (do they switch off, or is she the homemaker of the group?), veggie burgers and wild rice, which the others prepare to eat with chopsticks (how?).  However, Maguro points out that not everyone is there, so they have to wait.  The missing member is Tako, still playing his game.  Maguro tries to convince him to stop playing and eat with them (even pulling out her "I'm the co-leader" card), but Tako pays her no mind and just keeps playing.
Cut to downtown, where the villain of the day, Paradoxtor, is watching his favorite game show, Even Odds, on his myriad of security monitors.  During the commercial break, he calls on his jumbo shrimp henchmen (congratulating himself on the "perfect contradiction" of jumbo shrimp as he does).  Apparently, he just wanted them to accompany him to the kitchen, where he finishes up his sweet and sour sauce, intended for Wharf City's water supply.  The sauce is made to give anyone who tastes it an uncontrollable urge for sushi, effectively getting the citizens of Wharf City to do his dirty work for him.  Which of course means that he's yet another returning-for-the-first-time villain.  Anyway, with the Pack out of the way, he'll be able to take over Wharf City, although why he wants to do this is not made known to us.  He goes on to reveal the secret ingredient of the sauce, although it doesn't really do any good to know what it is, only that he has the last bottle of it, thus if his plan goes wrong, he won't be able to repeat it.  (Note: this is just my observation; it didn't actually occur to him.) After revealing the secret ingredient, Paradoxtor reveals his name for the first time in the episode, prompting one of his henchmen to ask what a paradox is.  Paradoxtor tells him, and the henchman sees it more as an oxymoron, and hey, wouldn't that be a better name for man-ox villain?  Paradoxtor does not agree, and sends him away while he tends his sauce.
The next morning, Maguro wakes the others for their morning exercises.  Tako, however, never went to bed in the first place, and is still playing his game (I don't understand why he has to use six controllers for the same game).  Maguro inquires after his health, and Tako's game-related rambling does not reassure her.  She reminds him of their morning training, but he insists that the game is training enough, since he's been at it for three days straight.  Again, Maguro is less than reassured.  She tells him that a Pack member has to "alert, strong, and focused," but Tako just takes this advice to get further in his game, laughing maniacally (or as close as Tako gets, anyway).  Elsewhere, Paradoxtor's sauce is ready!  But just as he's about to order his hench-shrimp to action, his timer goes off, reminding him that Even Odds is about to begin.  He once again uses the security monitors to watch his show, and it just so happens to be an all-day marathon.  Fortunately for him, there's a commercial break first thing, so he has just enough time to order his shrimp to dump the sauce.
Later, the Pack (minus Tako) watch the news and see Sophia Tucker report on the sighting of literal jumbo shrimp at Wharf City Reservoir.  Ikura recognizes the shrimp as Paradoxtor's henchmen, confirming his status as a returning-for-the-first-timer.  Kani calls for action, and the others get ready to roll with the lame catchphrase, "Sushi Pack, pack up!"  Tako, however, does not appreciate being distracted from his game, but his days of nonstop playing have finally taken their toll, as one by one he drops his controllers, and though he tries to save them, there is no saving the game, and it's all over.  Tako weeps, but joins the others for the mission, although he is little more than a sleepy slug at this point.
Once the commercials are over, the Pack take off in the Sushi Craft.  Tako pilots as usual, but all too soon he starts to zonk out and thinks he's playing his game again.  He narrowly misses hitting a pigeon, thanks to a timely warning from Maguro.  Somehow he manages to land (or maybe he doesn't, considering it's offscreen), and the Pack is on the move.  Maguro demands binoculars from Tako, but not only does he fall asleep while she's asking, but he left them in the Sushi Craft anyway.  Due to these factors, Maguro strips him of his leadership, despite Tako's protests that he's more agile than ever thanks to all his gaming (he also claims it boosted his inkspray, but this proves to be false).  Instead, Maguro appoints Ikura as co-leader for the mission, and Ikura promises to do his best.  The Pack boards the ship that Paradoxtor calls home, with Tako lagging noticably behind.  Meanwhile, Paradoxtor is preparing to do something in relation to his plan (it's not clear, but it definitely involves a lever), when the commercials end and Even Odds returns.  This gives the Sushi Pack time to get on board, but Tako's lethargic entrance alerts some of the shrimp to their presence.  Ikura is able to waylay them with some well-placed salmon roe, and Maguro manages to prop open a door, but not long enough for Tako to get through.  And thus is Tako captured.
Paradoxtor takes a few moments during a commercial break to gloat in front of Tako, who is being kept in a wire cage.  Left alone again, Tako tries to escape, but lacks the strength to break through.  Where's Kani when you need her?  With the rest of the Pack, of course, sneaking past the distracted Paradoxtor.  They easily find Tako, who is surprised they came for him.  Maguro, of course, reassures him that he's part of the team, and Kani breaks the lock on the cage door.  There are hugs all around, and then the Pack gets ready for action.  There's some fancy scene work of them running.  At the next commercial break, Paradoxtor notices that Tako escaped, and calls for his henchshrimp to sound the silent alarm (of course).  During the course of all their running, the Pack stumbles on Paradoxtor's sauce, and figuring it can only be bad (since it's labeled Sushi Sauce and everything), they attack, knocking over the chamber it was in and dousing the shrimp that were chasing them.  The shrimps' sounds of distress goes unheard by Paradoxtor until the commercial break.  He goes to investigate and ends up slipping on the sauce and into the vat, and the Sushi Pack is quick to replace the lid, locking him in.  Paradoxtor laments the end of his scheme, but is satisfied that it's a paradox at least.  I, however, fail to see how it's a paradox.  If anything, it's just ironic.  Hoisted by his own petard, as it were.
Back at the Green Donut, the Pack reflects on the many things learned in this ep, like "don't underestimate the little guy," "too much of anything is a bad thing," and "less is more" (just like them! um, okay?).  Just as Tako points out the parallels between him and his video game and Paradoxtor and Even Odds, he hears the siren call of the video game saying "press start to play again."  Tako is able to put his gaming behind him, though, garnering "woohoos" and hugs from everyone else (man, they're feeling real huggy in this ep, aren't they?).  But the episode isn't over just yet.  Skip ahead to the next morning, where after a good night's sleep, Tako goes through his morning training (alone, apparently), declares himself "back," and sprays everything with ink.  The End!

So yeah, that was Taming the Gaming.  I hate to admit it, but watching it again, the ep gains a few more points because Paradoxtor is kind of cute. Y'know, for a man-ox.  I also like that we got a little more insight into the Pack's daily life (I think this was the first episode to mention that Tako and Maguro are co-leaders).  But overall, this ep just feels weird.

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