O.K.K.O: Let’s Be Heroes! Series Review
Now HERE’S a show I’ve wanted to get a chance to sit down and watch forever. O.K.K.O: Let’s Be Heroes! is the rare show that comes along every once in a while that immediately sparks my interest upon seeing some previews. The show is just everything I love as a person. It’s back to good ol’ hand drawn frame by frame, it’s got both fun physical AND well written humor, and it features some of my favorite people in the industry around like members of the animation team behind the also fantastic Steven Universe and the guys behind some of the most phenomenal animation on the web, Studio Yotta, which fans may know created most of the music videos for the band Starbomb. As if the show was literally made for me it also premiered on my birthday no less. It’s centered around one of the coolest concepts ever … FIGHTING. Yeah, I know that recently we’ve been getting pretty tired of violence in the real world and for good reason. The controversial shit is really getting to a lot of people. But there’s two types of fighting: that which is propelled by maliciousness and hatred, and that which is for sportsmanship, adrenaline and honest to God fun. This show is the latter type of fighting through and through, and it is AWESOME. Naturally this show did not disappoint me. I binge watched a whole bunch of it to get caught up and had a big ass grin on my face the whole time.
K.O is a spunky, ambitious and good hearted little kid (Think Steven Universe and Goku from DBZ mashed together, and a bit of Ryu from Street Fighter) who wants to become a hero like the people around who inspire him, such as the towering musclebound badass of a plaza boss Mr. Gar. To do this, he ends up getting employed at Lakewood Plaza Turbo and works alongside Radicles, the pompous macho alien man with the levitation beam who’s secretly hiding a sensitive side (think Lars from Steven Universe but more endearing and less of a pain in the ass), and Enid, the snarky, sarcastic ninja who gives no fucks. They go on some misadventures, learn some lessons about themselves, occasionally Lord Boxman and his goons cause some trouble but they’re never threatening, and once in a while we get some clues into Mr. Gar’s past and how it’s tied to K.O’s mom Carol.
I’ve gone on record before in saying that the best show premises are the ones just broad enough to go in all sorts of different directions with creative storytelling, and this show is thankfully no different. It’s got a great memorable setting with an expansive likable cast, great recurring jokes and a refreshingly fun tone about it. You can definitely tell the Steven Universe team worked on it because that and O.K.K.O have very distinct similarities, especially early season one of SU. The main difference to me though is the level of drama and the quality of humour. It’s a relatively new show that promises to introduce some drama down the line so comparing that to SU doesn’t feel fair at this point in time, but I’m very confident in saying O.K.K.O is funnier. SU has decent jokes, don’t get me wrong, but something about O.K.K.O just got me to laugh more consistently at it’s ultra bizarre humor. My favorite jokes tend to be the ones about Enid hating having to deal with entitled customers, but my favorite joke in the whole show thus far involves a certain coffee pun making mughead named Joe Cuppa. It’s a reveal that is so surreal and so bewildering that I can’t spoil the surprise, but damn if it isn’t funny.
In terms of both storytelling and animation, despite being an action show first and foremost, O.K.K.O’s greatest attribute is it’s humor. The wild faces, the great comedic timing in the cuts, the bizarre movement of the characters at times, plus the combination of both surreal and poignant lines make for a consistently clever ride. There’s one particular episode that I think really captures the harsh reality of fandoms that’s relevant to an eerie extent, and it can all be summed up by this one line by Radicles.
“Who knew people could be so dumb about art they love so much?”
Now, being an animator myself, one of the biggest attractions to this show for me was the fact that it was a return to classic Hand Drawn 2D animation. In a time where the vast majority of television programming is either passable but uninteresting character rigging or bland, texture lacking 3d animation, a return to what is in my opinion the most organic, spontaneous and therefore the most consistently interesting animation style is always welcome. The show even references it’s animation style at 24 FPS in one of the lyrics sung by Rebecca Sugar in the credits, which I adore.
“Every second that you see is 24 connected pieces. Thank you for coming. Thank you for staying. Thank you for watching the show.” - Rebecca Sugar.
Really, that lyric should be a pretty good indication about the kind of passion put into this show. When this show gets going, it’s got some of the most consistently satisfying and creative animation I’ve seen in a long time. The characters feel unbound by typical design conventions which allows for more flexibility in their expressions and their poses, and it makes for both very effective comedy and some of the most dynamic and well choreographed action scenes you can find on TV right now. A large contribution to the studio being able to pull this off is the simplistic art style. Every character is often times sketched pretty roughly with some proportions being askew at times, hands turning into little spheres, backgrounds lacking big details and so on. But what the art lacks in consistency it more then makes up for in fluidity and spontaneity. I’m actually glad they don’t care as much about the little details because it gives them the freedom to put more time into creating the kind of epic grand scale fighting we like to see. It really does feel like they put a lot of heart and soul into how this show looks. The intro and outro alone are hype as hell to watch.
Now that said, the animation isn’t without it’s problems. Sometimes it’s really obvious where they put in minimal effort to save time, especially in large cheering crowd scenes, and I’ve noticed more then a few awkward cuts and transitions unfortunately when I could easily think of something that would have looked better and could be done in the same amount of time. But you can’t win everything I guess. All in all, I dig the way this show works and it has it’s priorities in check.
This show has a great cast that really fits each character. K.O. has a voice that’s kiddish and endearing, but it never gets annoying or grading, which is a flaw a lot of child characters have the unfortunate tendency of having. Chalk this up as another way in which K.O. is better then Steven Universe btw. Enid has a great voice for articulating a snarky give-no-fucks attitude but it’s also always great whenever she needs to be genuine. Radicles is the macho alien man so naturally he has a great voice that’s a combination of every surfer dude and college fratboy you ever heard of. He’s a pompous egotistical jerk certainly but he’s several times more endearing then characters of his archetype because he’s shown to not be completely heartless or needlessly cruel to people close to him. Mr. Gar is great and more often then not gets the funniest lines in the show. Carol is the sweetest most charismatic badass mom in all of cartoon history and I gush whenever she and K.O interact. All the supporting characters do great, there isn’t a single voice in the show I find unbearable. Also this show consistently gets awesome celebrity voices like Keith David, and, more notably, the dude who says “INCONCEIVABLE!” in The Princess Bride.
Not a whole lot to say here other then it’s definitely serviceable. They sneak in some appropriate cartoon sound effects in there. The sound effects for the fight scenes like the crashing and exploding are pretty good. The intro song is fucking amazing. Like literally, I can watch the intro to this show over and over and be consistently entertained, it’s great. That’s the true sign of a promising show; when you can always sit through the intro and not get tired of it.
I’ve already touched upon this point in the animation section, but as I mentioned before the art style is very minimal at times. But that’s totally fine. It acts in the shows favor more often then not because it gives the animators freedom to put their best work in the places that matter. Plus the character designs are great and memorable, they cover the bases for character design 101. You can tell who each character is in silhouette. Their inspirations are pretty plain to see like K.O. is so obviously modeled after headband clad fighting dudes like Street Fighter or Double Dragon. Enid is so obviously a Naruto inspired character. Radicles is probably some alien marvel character, idk. Point being, everyone is distinct and they communicate their personalities through how they look. You know everything you need to know about K.O. through a single picture of him.
*fun fact: K.O’s character design was the inspiration for the design of Ruby in Steven Universe.
O.K.K.O: Let’s Be Heroes is everything I hoped it would be. It’s got a lot of heart, great surreal humor, intense and well choreographed action, great memorable characters and overall just leaves me with a simultaneously light/pumped up heart and a smile. The only thing I can really think of that’s wrong with it is it’s weird editing choices and select moments where cutting corners in animation was obvious, but that’s pretty small fry issues. I can’t wait to watch more.
SOUND DESIGN: 1.5/2
ART DESIGN: 1.5/2
OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10