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DVD Review: Slugterra - Return of the Shane Gang

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DVD Review: Slugterra - Return of the Shane Gang

Slugterra on DVD

Shout Factory

Bottom Line:
Slugterra is another cartoon for kids where people throw magical animals in various containers at one another. I like to call it "The Pokemon Effect". If your kid is into that genre, this is another one for your collection. You might also enjoy Kaijudo or Monsuno.

Network:DisneyXD
Age Recommendation: 6-13
Genre: Fantasy
Subject Matter: Magical animal battles
Rating: TV-Y7 FV (Fantasy Violence)
Running Time: Approximately 110 minutes
Release Date: February 12, 2013

Overview:

A fifteen year old boy named Eli Shane descends into the world of Slugterra to become a "slugslinger", following in the footsteps of his likely deceased father, who was basically Slugterra's sheriff.

The DVD includes the first five episodes in the series.

Plot:

Eli Shane receives a letter from his father that was only to be given upon his demise. The letter is delivered to the surface world by a magical slug named Burpee, and tells Eli that on his fifteenth birthday, he can go down 100 miles below the Earth's surface into Slugterra and pick up wherever his father left off as a Slugslinger. Eli follows his father's offer and heads down, where he must learn about slugslinging and the slugs he slings.

Slugs are surprisingly adorable creatures (think adorable along the lines of the "nerds" in Space Jam) who, when shot out of a gun and reach a speed of 100 miles per hour, transform into large magical dueling creatures, each with its own ability. In a duel, the slugs are shot at an opponent or his surroundings, until one person surrenders.

Slugterra has a dark side, and it comes at the hands of Dr. Thaddeus Black, who killed Eli's father Will Shane. Dr. Black has discovered a way to morph the adorable little slugs into evil and unpredictable "ghoul" demon slugs that are practically unbeatable. He plots to turn all the slugs in Slugterra into these ghouls, so he and his minions can run the world.

Eli is a natural with his slugslinging, as he bonds instantly with the slugs and treats them like the special individuals they are instead of just ammo. The slugs respect him, and are always eager to join his team. Eli also manages to gain some non-slug teammates. Pronto is a mole-tracker with a witty personality, but is a little goofy. Cord Zane is a cave troll, who has superior engineering ability and is the muscle of the team. Trixie Sting is an intelligent young female slugslinger who is also interested in learning all there is to know about the slugs and is making a documentary to show both the beauty and the evil that resides in Slugterra.

Review for Parents:

The first thing I noticed is that while we hear a lot about Eli's father, who obviously lived down in Slugterra full time, we neither hear of nor see Eli's mother. Eli was a surface dweller until he was fifteen, so one would assume there was some other parent involved. If I were his mother, most likely I would not be thrilled with my young teenage son moving into the underground to battle potentially dangerous characters with magical beasts. Maybe I'm just a stickler for the details, but it seems to me that this one is a glaring miss.

Younger kids might be scared of Dr. Black and his ghoul slugs. The process by which slugs are transformed into the ghouls is obviously painful and cruel to the slugs, and it is shown several times. Kids that are sensitive to animal welfare might not be the key audience for this program.

Also, while there is a girl character (Trixie), this program is more for the boys in the audience than the girls. However, I will admit I'm happy to see that the girl character has some serious brains and is one of the best slugslingers in the group. Strong girl characters are key to giving little girls decent role models to which they can relate.

There is a little bit of crude humor in the episodes on the disc. This includes things like slugs that fart as their primary weapon, injuries to rear ends, and the phrase "kick your butt" used more than once. If this is something your family isn't keen on, I'd suggest skipping the program. Overall, I think it's minimal though. It does air on a Disney channel after all.

Special Features:

There are two special features on the disc. First, there is a nice "behind the scenes" interview piece with a couple of the Executive Producers talking about the world and characters of Slugterra. Having never seen the series prior to this disc, I watched this first to see what I was in for. They do a fantastic job of explaining the story line and describing the characters and their traits, to the point that I felt like I understood what I was watching when I dove into the episodes themselves. The other is feature is a group of five little "slugisodes"; animated featurettes that talk about how to become a slugslinger.

Also, included with the disc is a code to get an exclusive item for the Slugterra online game or iOS version. The iOS game costs $.99 in the Appstore, but the game on Slugterra.com appears to be free to play.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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