Defending 2003's Teen Titans is a hill many of us are more than willing to die on. It was a stark and more mature version of teenage heroes Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy that filled a similar void to Batman: The Animated Series back in 1992. The Teen Titans' adventures were loved by critics and fans alike, all the way up to the TV movie series finale Trouble In Tokyo in 2006.
Seven years later, a series of New DC Shorts led to the creation of Teen Titans Go!, a more wacky and colorful reboot aimed at a younger audience that kept the original team dynamic but junked most of the continuity and tweaked a few of the character relationships. Fans of the original are still griping about the new show a whole four years later, but I'm here to tell you that maybe Teen Titans Go! is actually...good? It can't be the original show or its spiritual cousin Young Justice because nothing can, but here are five ways that Go! works as quality animation.
This is actually a good place to start. Many of us went into this new series hoping for a continuation of the old series, but that's clearly not what Go! is. If you're going to reboot something, you might as well go for a different thematic approach, and a sitcom about teenaged superheroes living in a T-shaped building seems like the best way to go for a new generation.
A bright color palette done over with Flash animation makes for a good time when the pieces connect, and while meme-heavy humor might not be for everyone, it's safe to say the show is connecting with kids the same way the original connected with us. The Titans still have a ton of personality thanks to the returning voice cast (more on them a bit later), but the show's good-natured silliness is a nice parallel in times as dark as these.
Surprisingly enough, a show with jokes about baby hands and sour grapes also has a lot to teach kids about life. There's episodes that manage to bring the show's zany humor through lessons on equity, 401(k) management, and history lessons on top of dealing with older siblings, learning to say "no," and dating advice. There's some kind of method to the madness.
The original Teen Titans theme song, performed by Puffy Ami Yumi, is permanently lodged in the brains of every teenager in the 2000s. The rework in Go! isn't quite as good, but the show itself leans heavier on songs that fit the show's silly vibe. Beast Boy in particular gets more than a few songs off throughout the series (the banger "Catchin' Villains" just went viral for a reason) and the series even helped the oft-unknown 80s glam rock tribute "The Night Begins To Shine" become a hit in its own right.
Even if the sense of humor and music isn't for you, having the original voice cast on deck is one of a handful of constants. Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) crank their personalities up to 11 here, with Robin's overserious leader stauts played as obnoxious and insecure. The team fights as much over movie nights and the last snack in the fridge as much as they fight the H.I.V.E. Five. A show that got "Weird Al" Yankovic to voice Darkseid can't be all bad, right?
It can be easy to look down on shows that rely as heavily on Flash animation as Teen Titans Go does, but the form helps the show's madcap vibe than it hurts. Scenes can jumpy from traditional cels to cutout memes, pencil drawings to shoddy 3D effects and even live-action in the blink of an eye. It's hardly innovative, but it's hard not to be bowled over by the sheer energy of it all.