I like to think that, despite the fact that I’m no longer a child, I can still appreciate most of the cartoons, toys, and video games that are popular today. However, Hero: 108 threw me for a complete loop. The series was created for Cartoon Network and, despite the fact that I actually watch that channel daily, I had never heard of Hero: 108, which is perhaps an indication of how unpopular it is. Having now watched every episode, I’m still more than a little befuddled on just what the heck was going on the whole time. If anything Hero: 108 is the first show that made me feel that I was simply too old to enjoy it.
The basic premise of the series is that a nefarious villain named High Roller mischievously caused a rift to form between humans and animals, bringing an end to their many years of harmonious existence. Thankfully, there exists a ragtag group of heroes fighting to bring peace back to the land. Beyond that, I’m really at a loss as for what else exactly transpired during my hours of watching the show. At the end of every episode I scratched my head, shrugged my shoulders, and decided it’s probably not worth trying to make sense of it. My wife laughed at how confused I looked each time the credits rolled.
But here’s the strange thing: My two kids can’t get enough Hero: 108. Though I was ready to call it quits after a couple episodes and put a tally mark in the “Absolute Nonsense” category, my son and daughter both told me Hero: 108 is “awesome and hilarious,” and they have regularly been pulling the DVDs off our shelf to request we watch it. I asked both of them to give me a quick overview of what the show is all about, and neither of them was able to do so. They seem just as mystified as me when it comes to the storyline, yet they don’t seem to mind. Obviously, the attraction lies elsewhere.
And, to be fair, there is a lot to like about Hero: 108 when you set aside its kooky set-up and plot. The art direction, for instance, is certainly the show’s strong point, and the smooth Flash animation brings to mind the likes of Mucha Lucha and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There is an overall vibe reminiscent of classic kung-fu films, and the frequent action scenes are filled with speedy editing that helps to capture and retain viewers’ attention. Both the heroes and villains are likable, though they don’t have the same widespread appeal of other Cartoon Network shows, such as Adventure Time. All things considered, the combination of Hero: 108’s parts never congeals into anything tangible and exceptional, though it still has enough going for it that kids will probably adore it.
Would I recommend Hero: 108 as a purchase for a library? That’s a tough call. If a collection is being built strictly on the grounds of quality, then my conclusion would be to give it a pass. Yet, if my son and daughter are any example, the show definitely has appeal, and its artistic merits make it worth at least a look. In that respect, a deeper collection would benefit from its inclusion, and the series would likely be popular enough to garner a significant amount of circulation. Most kids will love the heck out of it, but everyone else will probably just come away puzzled.
Hero: 108: Season 1
Viz, Warner Bros., 2011
directed by Trevor Wall, John Fountain, and Pongo Kuo
580 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, Season set
Company Age Rating: (7+)