Teletoon Pilot Project Time | Ninjamaica

Teletoon’s edging close to the lesser parts of its Pilot Project, now that Ninjamaica (Teletoon: Lenz Entertainment, 2008) has aired.  After this, there’s Celebutard Nation, Nerdland, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Chinatown Cops and Space Knights.  I’m looking forward to none of those pilots.

Granted, I wasn’t looking forward to Ninjamaica until I saw parts of it on YouTube a few months ago.  Ninjamaica isn’t perfect, but I don’t hate it.  If I’m to choose between Angora Napkin and Ninjamaica, I have to take AN, but Ninjamaica has some good qualities.  I honestly never thought I’d say that about a show reliant on a portmanteau.

Ninjamaica has, taken at face value, a stupid premise.  Yes, the main character (Kevin Herod) is a black Jamaican ninja…called Ninjamaica.  His origin – at least, as much of it as has been revealed – isn’t mulled over very much.  He’s an amnesiac ninja from Jamaica, and sings for a reggae band.  The pilot neatly sets the rest of the season up, something pilots tend not to be good at.

Ninjamaica embraces its own ludicrousness.  Don Gorgon (Kenny Robinson), the nominal archvillain, is a hitman in both the music and killing fields.  Henchmen include the redneck Bobbybill, J-pop singer Sokituya and token Middle Eastern Hazmat.  These are all pun-based characters, yet they work within the context of the show.

Some people have a problem with the characters in Ninjamaica, given that they’re obvious stereotypes.  I think that’s the point.  How multifaceted and three-dimensional should a show like Ninjamaica be, given the ridiculousness of its premise?  The show deals in lazy humour at times, but it’s at least knowingly stupid.

The animation is surprisingly good for Flash.  The character designs are ugly, but the characters do move.  Ninjamaica isn’t as good at disguising its computer roots as Angora Napkin, but it doesn’t subscribe to the rod-up-ass aesthetic of shows like The Dating Guy and Total Drama Fart Gag.  Ninjamaica can only benefit from more fluid animation and better character design.

I honestly don’t know how to judge Ninjamaica‘s pilot.  Does it deal in stereotypes?  Yes.  Has the “black martial artist” idea been done before?  Afro Samurai exists, so yes.  Could Ninjamaica be funnier than it is?  Most certainly.

Is Ninjamaica worse than Teletoon Detour/at Night’s output over the past five years?  No, which is amazing since Jean Paul, Patrick Haye and Jeremy Diamond are the pilot’s writers.  I’m not familiar with Haye, but Jean Paul was in Buzz and Popcultured with Elvira Kurt.  Diamond co-created, wrote for and voiced a character on Odd Job Jack.  I am not a fan of those three series.

Ninjamaica is a nice surprise for me.  It doesn’t take itself seriously, and its negatives can be fixed over time.  This is different from Fugget About It, which is just flat, boring and uninspired from start to finish.  I’ll give Ninjamaica‘s pilot a pass, if only since Jean Paul’s in something that doesn’t make me hate life.

Ninjamaica has been a surprisingly popular URBMN search term lately.  There’s an audience in Canada for a half-decent black sitcom, period.  Depending on how Ninjamaica develops as a prospective series, it could turn out half-decent or fall apart by the second episode.

If nothing else, Ninjamaica has one hell of a theme song.  That alone makes it better than The Dating Guy.

C. Archer
Le Social