Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1995–1996)
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Set after the events of the Paul WS Anderson Mortal Kombat movie and thankfully discarding the events of the o-so-horrible "Mortal Kombat Annihilation", Defenders of the Realm sees the chosen fighters of earth team up under the leadership of the thunder god Raiden to battle against the evil invaders from not just Outworld but "other domains as well". Essentially, it is G I Joe styled "good team vs bad team" all over again except with special powers and stiff kung fu replacing laser guns.
There are some episodes that stand out, offering a deeper insight into the characters. The character of Jax is particularly well developed as he comes to terms with his inferiority complex and no longer relies on his bionic arms as a "crutch". Sadly the rest of the team are as two-dimensional as they are drawn; nothing beyond lame jokes, stock character archetypes and cheesy one-liners. Honestly! Yelling "Kombat Time" every time a fight is about to start might have sounded cool to a 6 year old but even a kid would find it really silly after an episode or two.
And speaking about the fights, no one would have faulted the creative team if an animated series based on a fighting game had a weak plot and characters but at least delivered some intense, beautifully choreographed fight sequences. Instead, what this show delivers is highly inconsistent animation that tends toward the "terrible". One wonders where most of the animation budget went into. Definitely not the art, as all the characters sport an angular, highly stylized look with minimal art detail and flat coloring. I also could not have been the animation as most of the characters' movements are very stiff thanks to an embarrassingly low frame-rate. Obvious animation errors pop up occasionally, as well as the regular "off model" drawings.
The overall quality of the animation did improve a lot by episode 13, featuring smoother movements, higher frame-rate and a greater level of detail in the art. But alas it was already the final episode(which by the way is one HUGE letdown of a conclusion).
With none of the games' trademark violence or even the fight choreography, production design and witty dialog of the movie, "Mortal kombat: Defenders of the Realm" is nothing short of the ultimate brutality on the brain. At most, you can get a kick out of seeing your favorite characters in animated format and a big laugh or two at the cheesiness. This series scores a "flawless victory" in the realm of "stupidity and shoddy", even among other animated shows based on games.