Review: The Aquabats! Super Show - Season One / by Steve Russell

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Ever heard of The Aquabats? If so, you’ll already know what’s in store for you here, and it’s something you’ll be ready to embrace with open arms, rashguard on and ready. If not, prepare to meet your new favorite musical crime-fighting super group. 

Season One of The Aquabats! Super Show sees our heroes, led by the intrepid MC Bat Commander, encounter a plethora of interesting, hugely funny, villains and obstacles; with their adventures being spread across 13 episodes, the show has recently found a home and well deserved success, on CITV TV here in ol’ Blighty. 

Born from the mind grapes of Yo Gabba Gabba! creator Christian Jacobs, himself a former child star, The Aquabats! Super Show focuses on a world saving, ska punk band who hail from California, traveling from adventure to adventure courtesy of their Battle Tram: The Aquabats. 

Now, for those not in the know, allow me to quickly preface: The Aquabats came first. Christian Jacobs has done wonderful work with the creation of his Family Friendly-centric brand of children's entertainment, just look at the popularity of Yo Gabba Gabba!, but The Aquabats came first. Formed in 1994, they quickly took the pop punk California music scene by storm. Well, kind of like an underground storm, really. Popularized due to their matching costumes and love of on stage theatricality, The Aquabats carved themselves an amazingly unique, and original, niche within the music world. When you go to see The Aquabats live, you’re not there to just listen to their hits (which include, but are not limited to: Pizza Day, Super Rad, Fashion Zombies, Pool Party, and many more!), you’re there to witness a show. And it is exactly that: a show.

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As a long time Aquabats fan and supporter, I can personally confirm that The Aquabats put on one hell of a show, and that they are probably one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live. Seriously. Seriously, seriously. The way they mix in movies, stage antics, costumes and choreographed stage fights was not only super funny, but entertaining throughout. If you ever have the opportunity to get yourself down to a show, do it. They performed once again fairly recently in London, a show that I was unfortunately unable to attend, but from my friends accounts two things stood out to me: 

  1. The Aquabats are still just as good as they have ever been
  2. There are a shit load of kids now attending the shows

And not, like, ‘kids’ in a somewhat irreverent usage of the word; such as “What’s up, kids?”. No. Literally children were attending the show. And you know what?

That’s fucking awesome. 

It’s all down to the wonderful creation of The Aquabats! Super Show. They have managed to successfully translate the formula that made their shows so popular amongst the pop punk crowd and script a genuinely entertaining slice of TV gold. Using the same tropes, characters, ideas and scenarios from their stage show, this band is here to save the world, defeating one bad guy at a time; only, instead of fighting them in-between songs on stage we now have the ability to watch a fully fleshed 20 minutes. 

What’s wonderful about this show lies in its unpretentious nature. Sure, it is primarily a kids show; however, it’s one of those shows that has a greater edge to it, allowing it to also appeal to an older audience. One that, arguably, is this shows actual intended demographic. Comparatively, think along the lines of recent Cartoon Network hits: Adventure Time and Regular Show. Just like these shows, there is an element of “If you get it, then you ‘get it’. If not, you never will”, but it’s good to see that this show seems to be clicking so quickly with so broad an audience. 

I believe that this is partly to do in the way it wear its influences so brazenly on its sleeves, which is something to be commended; taking influence from a wide range of sources, from 90’s cartoons to the Power Rangers. Major props also to the actors they rope in to support: people like Jon Heder, Samm Levine and even “Weird Al” Yankovic all appear in some great Guest Star roles throughout the show. 

Even the mini segments within each episode, in the form of ‘It’s A Cartoon!’ and faux Commercials, that spiral away from the main thread of story are, at first, a little random, quickly become an anticipated break, allowing the audience a chance to breath and enjoy these intertwining adventures-within-an-adventure. 

Smart, funny, well written and referential, The Aquabats! Super Show is a winning formula; one that they’ve managed to succeed in transposing from stage to screen. Each one of the Aquabats gives it their all in this show, hamming it up appropriately each time to get the yuk yuks they’re after. A tremendous first Season, I can’t wait to watch Season Two. 

If you’re a fan of 90’s cartoons, Power Rangers, Kaiju fights in cardboard cities or, frankly, anything fun, then this show is for you. 

I can’t even begin to say how awesome it is that this show will introduce thousands of kids to their music and, importantly, to pop punk as a genre. The Aquabats are practically geniuses in how they’ve managed to create, capture and monopolize upon this kind of unique entertainment; and kudos to them, they’ve been working hard for it since 1994. 

Prepare to meet your new favorite musical crime fighting super group: The Aquabats! 

Until next time manga guys and anime girls, or vice versa; this has been The Other Guy!

As always, feel free to comment and discuss below! 

Steve Russell // @stevetendo 

★★★★☆

The Aquabats! Super Show Season One is available now on DVD (£12.99), courtesy of FreMantle Media 

The Aquabats Complete Season 1 (CITV) [DVD]
£10.08
Starring Christian Jacobs, Richard Falomir, James Briggs, Ian Fowles, Chad Larson