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Invader ZIM is an eccentric alien soldier from the planet Irk. He was banished from the Irken Empire after nearly destroying his home planet on an early mission. After begging his superiors, the Almighty Tallest Red and Purple, for another chance, they decide to get rid of him once and for all. They trick him into going on a "secret mission" to an obscure planet at the edge of the universe, a planet with the unlikely name of Earth. Their trick works, and now ZIM is intent on bringing down the human race. He disguises himself as a schoolboy, and now the only person who can stop him is one kid - Dib Membrane, a somewhat insane paranormal researcher, who sees straight through ZIM's disguise and is intent on stopping his reign of terror. But neither ZIM nor Dib is very good at their job, and what results is everything imaginable, from a giant hamster destroying the city to both ZIM and Dib being turned into bologna meat. Written by
What a brilliant risk for Nickelodeon to take. And if you familiar with any of creator Jhonen Vasquez's other works, you'll know what I mean.
Jhonen has been called one of the most impressive young comic artists in recent years, despite his debut comic, "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac", being anything but "uplifting" material. That depends, of course, on who you talk to, though. Jhonen has a twisted demented style all his own that is at the same time disturbing and beautiful with just a touch of black comedy for taste. "Invader Zim", although mellowed out enough for youth viewing, is a perfect, less violent example of his work.
Zim is a tiny alien sent by the tall leaders of his planet, where status is judged by how tall you are, to "conquer" a mysterious planet just to get him out of their hair. He is accompanied by a robot named Gir, who was quickly manufactured by Zim's leaders and given a paper clip for a brain. Gir is barely an aid in Zim's efforts, since Gir is much more interested in singing the Doom Song, eating tacos, and watching TV. When Zim arrives at the "mysterious" planet, which is Earth, he disguises himself as a "perfectly normal human worm baby" with the aid of contact lenses and a wig. His green skin remains, which he calls a "condition" and apparently, almost everyone buys it. Gir's disguise consists of a green dog costume with a zipper up the front and this combined with his Tom-foolery makes him an adorable character to the cast. Zim's enemy no. 1 is a schoolboy who goes by Dib, is a bizarre cross between Fox Mulder and Jhonen's very own Johnny C. He easily sees right through Zim's attempts to blend in with the humans and has a desire to make a alien dissection movie out of him. Rounding out this cast is Dib's gothy sister Gaz and their school teacher Ms. Bitters, who is almost a direct duplicate of the teacher in another one of Jhonen's comics "Squee".
Any fan of Jhonen's work knows the detail he puts into his art and "Invader Zim" is no exception. The gigantic robots that sometime come to play in the episodes are done in smooth CGI that is absolute perfection. The animation is far from "cookie cutter" and the character and background designs hold very true to Jhonen's style. There is enough "black humour" to go around and entertain young and old alike. No programme has dared to push the envelope in such a way since "Ren and Stimpy" and it's a refreshing relief to see a cartoon for kids that has such cerebral depth and original artwork.
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