I'll admit, when I was a kid (And even to a certain degree during Jr. High, which we in Canadaland call Middle School), I was easily entertained by cartoons. Very rarely would one come along that I did not like, and these two infamous shows were among them. The funny thing is that when I saw ads for them, I thought they looked stupid. Then when I got bored and gave them a shot, I thought they were cool. Revisiting both shows as an adult, I now realize these shows really are as stupid as the ads made them seem, and yet, much like Don Bluth's first four 90's films, I can't bring myself to hate them. Yeah, I know they're bad, but I still find them entertaining, though for different reasons. I'd say it's purely nostalgia, but then again, I also used to like Mega Babies back in the day yet despise it now, so pretty sure it's not just that. Either way, I'm gonna do something similar that I did with the bad Bluth films and pit these two up to decide which one I feel is the least bad. As always, this is all opinion-based.
Setup- Alright, both shows are essentially monster of the week action shows with the occasional character struggle here and there. Ultimately, it all boils down to the execution, and this one easily goes to Butt Ugly Martians. Now, to be fair, Super Duper Sumos is clearly the less serious show. It's more of a satire of superhero shows, so it seems odd to judge it from a story standpoint. However, even with that in mind, it's much more formulaic. Each episode centers around the members of Bad Inc. coming up with a way to destroy the sumos, the sumos are dealing with an internal conflict that gets in the way of victory, they have multiple flashbacks to help them overcome the problem and save the day. On top of that, there are some episodes with entire story lines centered around Booma's butt. Yes, really. And while BUM (Yes, the title spells 'bum'. I hope you found that funny) has a main villain, specifically Emperor Bog, he and his followers are not the only threats the martians have to face. Sometimes, aliens from other areas will threaten Earth and in other cases, neither side is actually evil and the major conflict is brought about by a misunderstanding. Because of this, the show is less predictable. There are still a few familiar story beats with each one, though the most prominent examples are the martians waiting until the last minute to activate their ultimate battle suits instead of doing the smart thing and using them right away and an amateurish alien hunter named Muldoon having his memory wiped, even if there's no reason for the martians to do so. Still, at least this series has more creativity with its premise, so it gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 1
Super Duper Sumos- 0
Animations- It's no mystery that both of these shows are very cheaply made for the styles they went with. Super Duper Sumos goes for the more traditional 2D look, but movements are very limited. Even so, I'll give the animators some credit for doing a relatively good job with facial expressions and even some of the slapstick. Butt Ugly Martians, on the other hand, uses very early CGI. You'd think I would be a bit more forgiving for that reason alone, but considering how much better Reboot looked, I do not consider this a valid excuse. While it's not the worst I've ever seen from TV CGI, it's still painful to look at. The movements of the characters are very stiff and at times are even more limited than those of Super Duper Sumos. On top of that, many characters just don't look right. I'm not sure how to explain that, but they just don't. To be fair, this style is at least okay for the aliens when it comes to character appearances, but it does not work so well for the humans as they wind up looking kind of creepy. However, the biggest thing going against the animations for me is the extreme lack of people in this show. Yeah, for some reason, this show is perfectly fine showing plenty of aliens whenever they cut to a location in space, yet whenever the show is set on Earth, we rarely get to see any humans who aren't reoccurring. We never see the human kids' parents on screen, somehow there's never anyone outside whenever an alien is threatening the planet (Seriously, how does no one figure out Muldoon was right about the existence of alien life after the first few episodes?) There's an episode where the martians meet a famous pop star, but then the audience that came to see him live is blurred out, so you can't even see them. There's one episode where three humans are standing in front of a radio and listening to it. But moments like these only stand out because they rarely ever happen. Seriously, were the animators really this lazy or is the show just that cheap? At least Super Duper Sumos constantly shows other citizens, proving there are people to protect. As such, while neither of these shows are well animated, the bad superhero parody gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 1
Super Duper Sumos- 1
Characters- BUM easily gets this one. It just does. Okay, may as well explain it. Since Super Duper Sumos is a satire of superhero shows, it only stands to reason that none of these characters are particularly interesting or deep. You pretty much learn everything you need to know about them from one episode. Each one of the sumos has a very obvious personality. Kimo, being the Asian member of the group, is constantly honor-bound and always has this zen-like attitude about life. Booma, being the American member of the group, is childish, self-absorbed and loves bragging about how big his butt is. The only one of these three who comes off as remotely interesting is Mamoo, what with him having a love of cooking, but that's about the only really interesting thing about him. Otherwise, he constantly has to remind the audience that he represents truth by inserting said word into every other sentence. And the other characters aren't that great. Their cousin, Prima (Get it? Prima is Spanish for cousin. That's the joke) is just there to either react to the sumos or get captured and the sumos' mentor, Wisdom San, mostly just exists to spout some of the show's better one-liners and provide whatever lesson the sumos have to learn by the end of each episode. What I'm saying is that all of these characters are extremely one-dimensional. I will admit that I do at least enjoy the villains to a certain degree, but only because they provide some of the show's better humor. Since Butt Ugly Martians is more serious, its characters at least have a bit more depth to them. While each of the martians has his own prominent traits, they do at least have moments here and there to show that there's more to them than just their roles. (Though I still don't understand why they're all named after forms of music. At least there's an explanation behind why the Ninja Turtles are named after renaissance painters. This is just weird) The human characters, while not as useful in combat, are still able to help the martians in their own right and have their own unique personalities. There are also a ton of side characters who actually have a decent amount of depth to them, with my personal favorite being Koo Foo, an alien who's immediately mistaken for a villain but actually has a heart of gold. While the characters aren't expertly written or anything, they do at least have depth to them. Even Muldoon and Ronald, arguably the two least interesting characters in the entire series, have little moments here and there that make them slightly more tolerable. Honestly, the only real issue I have with most of the main characters is their dialog. Muldoon, being the one prominent human we're not supposed to take seriously, talks like an old fogey and spouts out-dated slang terms while the kids and martians frequently say 'hip and cool' phrases without even trying to be clever. There's also this weird subplot where the Martians try to fit in with humankind by posing as a boy band wearing costumes and the watchers have to be subjected to their painfully generic pop songs. But, still, they are more interesting than the sumos.
Butt Ugly Martians- 2
Super Duper Sumos- 1
Humor- While these are action shows, they're also aimed at kids, so as you can imagine, there is a lot of humor littered throughout. It's difficult to decide which one I find less painful in this department. The thing is, every now and then, Super Duper Sumos can have a decent joke. For instance, the place it's set in is called Generic City. The villains run an organization called Bad Inc and their leader is named Ms. Mister. And as I said earlier, not only are the villains actually funny at times, but Wisdom San gets some of the funniest dialog in this show. However, you also have to get past the copious number of jokes centered around the fact that the sumos are fat and have big butts. Yes, this takes up at least half the show's humor and it gets old super fast. I already mentioned it earlier, but there are entire episodes centered around this. At the very least, Butt Ugly Martians has much more variety, which is impressive for a show that has less humor. Now, the ads for the show do let you know in advance that there is toilet humor in it. After all, the first commercial showcased a burp joke and there's a scene in the second episode where Do-Wah knocks out the episode's villain by farting on his face. And while this type of humor is higher in number than it should be, it doesn't dominate the show like SDS' butt jokes. Most of the humor centers around Muldoon and how stupid he is, and sometimes, it can be genuinely funny, even if the show is a tad in-your-face with it. Ultimately, I feel like at the very least, a tad more thought went into this show's humor as it's not constantly centered on stuff that would only make a toddler laugh, so point goes to the Sci-Fi show.
Butt Ugly Martians- 3
Super Duper Sumos- 1
Fight Scenes- Yeah, I'm giving the point to Butt Ugly Martians again. Okay, one of the major issues I have with Super Duper Sumos is that for an action show, its fight scenes are really lazy. A lot of the time, you don't really feel like the sumos are in any real danger, but even when they actually lose, the fight is always over with so quickly that it hardly seems to matter. And often times, once they get their head in the game, that's it. The opponent goes down in one hit from each of them. When it comes to Butt Ugly Martians, though, for the limited animations they had, they did the best they could. First off, the martians themselves have a wide variety of different weapons and abilities to use against their opponents. The various adversaries they face all have their own unique fighting patterns and pose a legitimate threat. Many times during the episodes, you feel like the martians are going to lose. (Granted, again, part of that is because they always wait until the last minute to use their best abilities for no explicable reason, but still) Yeah, it's easy to see why this show gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 4
Super Duper Sumos- 1
Theme Song- Say what you will about the theme song to Super Duper Sumos, but you can't deny that it's at least the most memorable thing about it. Now, I think I've mentioned only once in the past that I'm not the biggest fan of theme songs where all they do is repeat the title and a few extra lines over and over again. It's a big part of the reason I'm not a particularly big fan of the English opening for the first 3 Digimon seasons and 'Rock the Dragon' from Dragon Ball Z. And while that does also apply to the Super Duper Sumos theme, for what it's worth, it still has a very catchy beat to it. When it comes to Butt Ugly Martians, I actually don't think the melody is all that bad. It's more the lyrics. First off, it opens up with the main leads shouting 'BKM' without explaining what it means. They vaguely hint at this during the second half of the song, but they still don't explain it (It stands for 'Butt Kicking Mode', by the way), and I don't even get why it's in the theme song. It's not the most prominent part of the series and has little to do in the way of its plot. I feel like a song centered around BKM would be more suitable for a commercial than, you know, the show's actual theme song. Now, when the song does focus on the actual setup, the lyrics are okay but still nothing special and the melody never truly goes beyond passable. Yeah, Super Duper Sumos' opening is lyrically lazier, but it does have the more memorable melody to it, so it gets the point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 4
Super Duper Sumos- 2
Transformation Sequence- Yeah, something I've vaguely hinted at a couple of times in this post is that both these shows feature transformation sequences. I think this is the number 1 reason these shows appealed to me so much as a kid because I used to be a sucker for transformation sequences. A part of me still kind of is, but I'm no longer a huge fan of those that last about as long as the ones in these shows. Even so, I'm giving this point to Butt Ugly Martians. First off, the music that plays during this sequence is grand and epic. It always gets me really pumped and excited to see what the martians do with these power suits. The martians also give a heroic speech talking about their purpose, and while the opening statement feels unnecessary, it just carries so much weight to it. The only complaint I do have is that the sequence ends before the musical score and only sometimes does it continue after the transformation is complete, thus audiences aren't always allowed to listen to the whole score. (I am also a touch disappointed that in one episode, they introduce a more powerful version of BKM but couldn't be bothered to create a new sequence for it) With the Super Duper Sumos' sumo size sequence, I can tell this was added specifically for budgetary reasons. This was an excuse for the animators not to animate too much. First off, this transformation happens at least twice per episode, and considering it lasts about fifty seconds, that's one minute and forty seconds worth of recycled footage per episode. (Well, okay, sometimes they shorten it the second time, but not always) And even then, the majority of the sequence is pure filler. It's just the sumos making various different poses and doing random things that are supposed to make them look cool. They also perform a pointless dance number before actually showing audiences what the point of the whole sequence is. But to add insult to injury, this entire segment ultimately builds up to nothing more than the sumos expanding their muscles. Yes, the martians go through a shorter sequence to form powerful metal suits around them while the sumos just make themselves bigger. Seriously, if it wasn't for the theme music playing the background, this sequence would have nothing going for it.
Butt Ugly Martians- 5
Super Duper Sumos- 2
And finally, the better series finale- One thing I will give these shows massive props for is that they came out before the Internet was as big as it is now, and despite them not being entirely story driven, each one still had a proper series finale. I can't help but kind of admire the people behind these shows for going to the effort when, let's face it, I don't think most people cared whether these shows had real conclusions or not. When reminiscing about both shows and their finales a couple of years ago, I initially thought there was no way Butt Ugly Martians could possibly lose this category, because I remembered this show having a genuinely epic finale. There was a two-parter where Bog found out that the martians were secretly helping the humans. The martians also lost the ability to use BKM and this big epic battle took place with past characters coming in to help out and 2T inventing BKM Ultra, a form of BKM so powerful, there's no reason for them to use the older version. And then I discovered this wasn't the series finale. No, it was the finale to season 1. Instead, the true series finale was a very underwhelming episode that I thought was created as a what-if scenario that was technically non-canon. The only remotely interesting thing about this episode is that Damage (Seriously, Bog's henchman is named Damage, but it's pronounced 'da-maj') sends a robot that looks exactly like a human to attack the martians. However, the martians very easily defeat said robot and even see through the trick without hesitation, thus rendering that plot point completely useless. Oh, but Muldoon sees them destroy the human-like robot and thinks they're evil. This is very quickly dropped when Bog shows up and wages an attack against the martians. In other words, every single interesting plot point isn't given enough time for the audience to care. They had this surprisingly awesome two-parter to cap off the series and instead gave us this underwhelming mess. Because of this, Super Duper Sumos already has a lot going in its favor, and it also helps that the series finale actually has a really interesting setup. Basically, Genghis, the ghost of an evil war general who was defeated by Wisdom Son years ago, hatches a plan to go back in time and kill the old mentor in order to prevent him from ever training the sumos. On top of that, the sumos meet themselves as babies and there's even a point near the end where they get to meet their older selves. On top of that, because they're in the past, they can't use any flashbacks to help them out of tough situations and for some strange reason, they also can't sumo size until the very end when all three timelines meet. Granted, yes, the final battle itself is as underwhelming as one would expect from this show what with them powering up and then taking down the three toughest soldiers with no trouble whatsoever, but at least there was more effort put into making this feel like a true, solid finale. Thus it only stands to reason that Super Duper Sumos gets this point.
Butt Ugly Martians- 5
Super Duper Sumos- 3
Ultimately, both of these shows are bad, but at the very least, with Butt Ugly Martians, I see an ugly duckling trying its hardest to become a beautiful swan and teach kids a 'don't judge a book by its cover' message. Super Duper Sumos is just, well, stupid, even by satire standards. In the end, BUM is the least bad of these two shows, at least in my eyes.