Can't wait for next week's Futurama season finale? Good news, everyone! I've got a sneak preview of it right here. If you don't mind some minor spoilers, step right this way...
Futurama has come up with some truly unique ideas over the years - the likes of Robot Santa, the head of former President Richard Nixon and Hypnotoad all spring to mind - but the season finale, entitled "Reincarnation," may be one of the most unique that the show has ever done. As the title implies, it presents us three vastly different versions of the Futurama that might have been: an old-time black-and-white cartoon, a 1980's video game, and a Japanese anime, all of them with the usual bite we've come to love from the Planet Express crew.
There's a story here, one that involves Professor Farnsworth's discovery of a diamondium comet, but the real star of the show is the trio of presentations of said story, and how well they're brought to life. My personal favorite is the video game segment, which should bring back fond memories for those who were gaming in the 80's. Even those who don't know about Space Invaders or Super Mario Bros. will probably get a kick out of the simplistic graphics and cheesy music. That segment also contains an appearance by one of my favorite characters, the news alien Morbo (voiced by Emmy nominee Maurice LaMarche), and the episode's best line when Bender (John DiMaggio) announces "Byte my 8-bit metal ass. That's 'byte' with a Y."
The others aren't too shabby either. The old-time cartoon gets most of its mileage out of visual gags that fans of any cartoon past or present will enjoy; for example, Fry (Billy West) takes quite a licking but, like all good characters, bounces right back without so much as a scratch on him. It's clear that the Futurama team has a great love for classic animation - and takes great enjoyment in using all its cliches for all they're worth.
Meanwhile, the anime segment looks just one...if it were poorly translated for an American audience. There are suspect subtitles and moments where characters' lip movements don't match the words coming out of their mouth, just like every Godzilla parody I've ever seen. There's the obligatory "cool" introduction of our characters as superheroes - Bender becomes "Mighty Merchandise Robot." If you've ever watched an American translation of anime, you'll be rolling. If you haven't, you'll probably still be amused by the incorrect subtitles and other intentional flaws.
"Reincarnation" is one of those episodes of TV that you can tell was just fun to write and fun to produce, because that feeling comes across when watching the final product. It's certainly a fantastic way to end the show's season. The best compliment that I can give it is that when it was over, I went back and watched it again, and I laughed just as much.
An all-new episode of Futurama airs tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on Comedy Central. "Reincarnation" airs next Thursday, September 8, at 10 PM ET/PT.