In this day and age, we take computer animation for granted. Pixar, Futuarama? We have seen it a million times. What about if I told you that over 15 years ago, there was a cartoon that was the first of its kind to be one hundred percent computer animation? Well, you might dismiss it or figure it was not much to look at. You would be wrong. Let us take a look at history boys n girls and discover the wonder that can only be known as Reboot.
Bob is a Guardian. He works for the Mainframe safeguarding the vital data and sprites (people and animals) that inhabit his sector. His two closest friends are Dot Matrix and Enzo Matrix. Dot runs a local diner called Dot’s Diner and is in on most of the action in the sector. She is also seen as a leader and tends to help out fellow sprites in need. Enzo is her younger brother and idolizes Bob. He also has a dog named Frisket.
On the villain side, we are introduced to two unsavory characters. The first is MegaByte, a computer virus (described as an “Order Virus”) who employs Hack & Slash as his henchmen. His sister, Hexadecimal (a “Chaotic Virus”) also is trouble and has a face represented by a series of masks. They both want to take over the mainframe, but want to do it on their own which creates an interesting rivalry.
Then there is the User. Usually at some point in each episode, a game comes down and takes over part of the sector. (defined by a purple beam of light) This game can be just about anything from a spaceship star fight to F1 racing to a jailbreak. The User tries to win the game. If he wins the game however, that part of the sector is nullified. If Bob and his friends can make the user lose, they can keep it safe.
The best way to explain this series is envision that there is a world inside your computer. In every computer, the memory is a bunch of binary sprites that don’t always appear human but act similar to one. The computer has to protect itself against viruses by weeding them out. Finally, the user by playing games on the computer creates a chaotic environment that potentially causes damage to the cpu. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the user is really you and me. How dare we play games!
Anyhow, this series really features some amazing things. As mentioned, it was the first fully computer animated television series. The world is surreal and it has an interesting array of characters inhabiting it. Furthermore, they talk in computer speak which isn’t too hard to follow but there are a lot of interesting euphemisms. To be dead is to be deleted or off-lined. To Runaway is to backspace. A barrier is a firewall and so forth.
The storytelling isn’t bad either. The game worlds were often reminiscent of popular genres or games of their time. Heck, even the villains like Hexadecimal had that extra creepy factor. The networks confused it for a kid’s show because of the animation but it was really aimed at teenagers and beyond. To be honest, I think I can more appreciate it now more versus a young college kid when it aired. A fine piece of animation in a very well thought out world.
The video as expected is the 1.33:1 fullscreen ratio (as it was produced before widescreen television). However, the video still looks fantastic for its age. It probably wouldn’t be considering cutting edge for today, but it is darn close. The color will appear a little odd to most folks but it is sharp, distinct and clear. This is as good as animation could possibly get from the early to mid nineties.
The audio is presented in 2.0 English Dolby Digital Stereo. Again, very strong here. There is actual separation on the dialog and sound effects, something you would not expect from a stereo track. The track is also fairly clear with only minor issues here and there. My only knock against it is that sometimes the voices sound stilted but it is an excellent track.
Audio Commentary: This commentary is moderated by Brian Ward who produced the dvds. The people on the commentary are producer: Christopher Brough, designer/ storyboard artist: Blair Peters and animator: Zeke Norton. It runs over the first three episodes on the first disc. Sort of. It runs over parts of the first three episodes and it actually skips to those moments. But it isn’t screen specific at all. By the time you get into a segment, they are pausing the audio and skipping to somewhere else on the disc. There is some good information, but it’s hardly worth the effort to listen to them. They should have ran it over the first episode only or put the commentary to some still images, it would have worked much better.
Rainmarker Animation bought the show in 2006 and was planning to make the show into a trilogy of films. However, the last time we heard anything was back in 2009 when we got a teaser. The content is now gone from the site and appears like the project might be abandoned. At least with the acquisition it looks like Reboot will be released properly on dvd. It was a series ahead of its time and while I hate using that cliché, it really applies here.
There was great storytelling and the animation really went places that had not been explored at that time. It was a marvel, and even though the cost per episode was crazy, it’s a shame it didn’t have a longer shelf life. The dvd package has some fantastic video/audio and even though the extras are disappointing, that should not deter any animation fan from buying the seasons on dvd. Highly (and I mean HIGHLY) recommended.
Season One – Disc 1
Racing the Clock
The Quick & The Fed
The Medusa Bug
In the Belly of the Beast
Season One – Disc 2
The Crimson Binome
Enzo the Smart
Wizards, Warriors and a Word From Our Sponsor
The Great Brain Robbery
Identity Crisis: Part 1
Identity Crisis: Part 2
Season Two – Disc 3
When Games Collide
Season Two – Disc 4
Trust No One
Web World Wars