Chapter 1: Episode 0: Whassat? OR: So I’m a sucker for a theme song drop.
Hello and Welcome to- Let’s Watch The Show! An OK K.O. fan analysis series! I’m your host, Friendly Troll and I. Love. OK K.O. Let’s Be Heroes. It’s a show that’s been on my radar ever since the first couple of shorts dropped! After all, I knew the showrunner from his work on Steven Universe, and it looked fun. But I knew It was something special as soon as I first saw… the intro.
Holy moley. The energy! The intensity! The gorgeous fluid chaotic motion with simplified designs and pure saturday morning toonami FUN! That slammin disco feelin’ intro song! This is an intro that IMMEDIATELY pumps you up, and sets the tone for the whole show! Not to mention, it’s just plain catchy .
And honestly? From the very first episode, OK K.O. lived up to that energy. It’s a big fun fighty punchy celebration! It’s got friendship, and bad guys, and maybe the most over the top fun setting I’ve seen in a kids show. This series’ world has dinosaurs, POW-er levels, future super sentai teams, robots, aliens, halloween monsters, dramatic noir flashbacks, and a maturing sense of emotional empathy and understanding the people around you. ...but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The fastest way to describe how OK K.O. feels to me has always been the same.
OK K.O. is a show that somehow feels like being a 12 year old kid daydreaming about anime felt. It’s the feeling of sitting waiting for toonami to come on, and thinking about my super cool OC and how they’d TOTALLY help my heroes save the day. That sincere love and enthralled excitement, that woah did you SEE that, what’s gonna happen NEXT feeling!
And that’s because OK K.O., above all else, is a sincere show. It doesn’t flinch- or cringe- for even a second.
So is that why I’m writing that? Or is it because intensely scrutinizing media and stories is my default way of engaging with them? Well, yes. Super yes 64 to all of that. BUT it’s also because…
Well. Simply put, when I sat down to re-watch the show on my own time, I kept noting plot details that I’d never given a second glance my first watch through that turned out to be INCREDIBLY important later! I found myself appreciating how smoothly the world building was set up, and how you can really watch the characters develop. And I was REALLY impressed at just how… smooth it all was!
Delivering exposition in a natural way is. Really. REALLY difficult. You ever wonder why so many series set in some fantastical other world then ours have a character experiencing it for the first time? Because having an audience surrogate makes it SO much easier! Need to explain something? BAM! Have someone break down how the M’ageek Wo’odz work to Barry, From Like Nebraska. Done and done. But O.K. KO manages to introduce you to a totally wild world without ever really seeming worried if you’ll ‘get it’.
So in other words, OK K.O. has some really *great* plot development, and really smoothly written worldbuilding. So I want to write this series because I think there’s MORE than enough substance to really deserve being gone over with a fine toothed comb!
Annnd then the OTHER reason is because… I’m not sure people know that! I realized that if you haven’t watched the show, or maybe even only kept up with the early episodes, it’s really easy to mistake the series as a gag show! I love that the plot builds up so subtly and the jokes are so goofy that it takes a while to realize it even HAS a canon. But uh. The downside to that is people… not knowing… it has continuity? And a plot? I sure didn’t, at first!
But from where I am now, I think it’s clear that this show has just as much interesting cannon and character development as it’s cool older cousins, Steven Universe, or Adventure Time. And I want to show that off!
...But really my hands were tied once I thought of calling it ‘Let’s Watch The Show’. I mean, come on! It’s perfect. How could I not. I mean between that and OK KO having honest to cob queer characters I kind of had to.
SO enough dilly dallying! How am I doing this? WELL I’m glad I asked!
This series is going to be an episode by episode scruitizing of ‘OK K.O, Let’s Be Heroes!’ starting from the very beginning.
Each episode will be explored with a set of special categories of discussion, highlights, and things to keep track of! Why? Because it helps me keep track of my thoughts! And oh boy do I have a lot of thoughts? So I don’t want to get off track Just infodumping wildly about the show and my theories isn’t gonna get us too far. That’s a good way to wind up with me just yelling about villians a lot. And… that’s… already going to happen. For absolute sure. The categories are here for your protection
These categories are!
Episode Summary: While I’m writing with the assumption that you’ve seen the show before, I figure a quick refresher on what happens in each specific episode isn’t a bad idea! That way even if it’s been a while since you watched the show, I can jog your memory.
Character Spotlights: One of the things I love about this series is how much we get to learn about it’s characters and who they are. I’ll use this space to highlight the character(s???) who i think developed the most during the episode, or who we learned more about.
Villain of the Episode Every episode has an antagonist! Sometimes (usually) it’s evil robots, sometimes it’s… emotions. The villians on this show are fun! And I love them so much. So they, or abstract conflict goes here.
Minor MVP OK K.O. might have some of the most AMAZING background character designs in any show on TV; so here’s where I’m going to pick someone who’s usually in the background and talk a bit about them!
Highlights: Self explanatory! What moments of the episode do I think are the most important, or the most worth taking another look at?
That Was SO Cool! This show is basically Always Incredibly Cool. What was the coolest moment? A rad fight scene? Or was it a cool wicked awesome moment of… emotions??? Come to think of it, Dragon Ball just did not have enough hugs, you know?
I Just Think It’s Neat I’m That Person who wildly over thinks stuff and likes to pay attention to worldbuilding and background details, so THIS is where I get to ramble about something that isn’t really plot relevant but is… well. Neat!
Good Messages For Da Kidz: It’s important to take a second while in the middle of wildly over-analyzing a cartoon to remember that it’s MEANT for kids- so what’s the takeaway from an episode that might help a lil 6-11 year old out on their own heroic journeys?
We Got The Plot: This show likes to sneak up on you what elements are going to be important or not later, and some are more subtle- and crucial- than others! So I’m going to do my best to use this space to build a road map of what to take notice of for later. If there’s details I feel like would either be too minor to talk about until their context is actually revealed, I’ll leave them for later episodes.
Final Overall Thoughts: After thinking so hard about the episode, I’ll probably have some closing thoughts! Obviously none of this is going to be perfect objective information, but if you want my pure opinion on the episode, it’ll go here!
And I think that’s enough out of me! It’s time to put my technos where my mouth is, and get this party* (* series of entertaining and informative essays ) on the road! Whether you’re a new viewer, behind few seasons, all caught up, or in the ‘examining individual frames to try to figure out what K.O.’s last name is (It’s Kincaid!) dungeon with me, I hope this can be a useful and fun series for you.
Let’s Watch The Show!
Chapter 2: Episode One: Let’s Be Heroes
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an in depth episode by episode fan analysis of the Cartoon Network series OK K.O., Let’s Be Heroes! Also available now at your local scholastic book fair. Ask your parents! I am your host, with both the fashion sense and overal aura of Miss Frizzle’s gay vaporwave nephew, Friendly Troll!
We’re kicking this series off right- with Episode 1!
K.O. tags along with his mom to where she works at Lakewood Plaza Turbo, a mini mall for heroes! Enraptured with the idea of becoming a hero himself, K.O. thinks his answer has arrived in the form of Gar’s Bodega, a hero supply shop. Here he meets the employees of the store, and gets all kitted up with the gear he needs to go from Son Boy Allowed to a super cool solo hero who’ll save the day. But after a robot from the mysterious Boxmore Company attacks the plaza and all his gear doesn’t help a bit, K.O. realizes that he can’t just take a shortcut. He’s going to have to work hard… and maybe working at the Bodega, under the amazing Level 11(!!) hero Mr. Gar himself, might be the way to do it.
While this episode introduces us to the whole cast the spotlight- and my heart- belongs to K.O.! Right from the top, K.O. really is a great little kid. He’s refreshingly sincere, sweet, and even loving. I find it especially charming how when he gets knocked down, he realizes what his mistake was, and genuinely tries to figure out what to do better.
K.O. has a lot of learning and growing to do; really that’s what the show’s about, after all! But even right away, he’s something special. And I really appreciate that it’s not because of anything he can do . It’s a very common trope in action cartoons and shonen series for the main character to have some kind of power or skill that marks them as Clearly The Protagonist. But we’re not introduced to K.O. the kid with a fox spirit trapped in him, or having eaten a magic fruit, or marked by some great evil. We’re introduced to K.O., the kid who just admires heroes, and wants to do his very best. However else the show develops, I think there’s something really charming about that.
And on a meta level, I really, REALLY appreciate having a male protagonist who can be so sweet and vulnerable. It’s more and more common now, but for me it’s still really refreshing to see it in such an action oriented, goofy show. In short, KO is a good kid! Or to put it another way, in the language of my people: Son Boy Allowed.
Villain of the Episode
Darrel! The very first of the Boxmore Robots. We don’t actually know a lot about Boxmore just yet, but this is our first introduction to main, and my favorite, antagonists of the rest of the series. With his red paint job, sharp fangs, cyclops design, and mysterious organic(???) brain, Darrel is the PLATONIC Evil Robot design. Sadly, we don’t really get much of a read on his personality just yet. But luckily, this isn’t the last the Plaza will see of Darrel by a long shot.
Again this is when a LOT of characters get introduced, including a whole host of background folks! But I think for me, the standout has to be Real Magic Skeleton, aka RMS! Why?
...because he’d a dang Real Magic Skeleton! Not only do I just love his goofy simplified (magic!) skeleton design, but I feel like he’s one of the first real serious cues that this isn’t a setting where character types are super… genre bound, if that makes sense? Like sure everything is all martial arts and rad POW.ers and aliens, but just a straight up inexplicable fantasy style (real!) Magic Skeleton just totally bumps it up another notch. It’s cool, there’s just a (real magic) skeleton, he’s chill, he works at the frame store.
Also I appreciate his dedication to filming random cool stuff. You think he has a social media he puts those on? I hope he has a lot of followers. He deserves it.
There’s a lot to love about this episode, especially since it’s how we get introduced to the world! But I think my highlight is going to be when K.O.’s mom talks to him about being a hero. Their relationship is something I really treasure in this show; she really cherishes and encourages him, and he loves and adores her with no reservation.
That Was SO Cool!
Even if it turned out to only take place in K.O.’s imagination, the showdown between Geared up K.O. and Darrel is an absolute treat. It’s a fantastic example of the kind of stylish, fun, hot blooded battle choreography this series pulls out constantly. And the animation is absolutely gorgeous.
I Just Think It’s Neat
Probably the fact that the local wildlife isn’t JUST miniature dinosaurs, but miniature scientifically inaccurate dinosaurs! They’re just so cute! I also really enjoy how POW cards are very quickly established as being real people around K.O., not fictional, by having K.O. associate Punching Judy with her POW card when she’s brought up in conversation. Pow cards existing, representing real heroes and villains, AND K.O.’s dedication to heroes are all immediately established in a very natural way- all while letting us learn just what kind of a kid KO is. And that’s absolutely… neat!
Good Messages For Da Kidz
When you want to do something, it’s not the equipment that lets you succeed. It’s the effort. Not that it would have stopped baby 12 year old me from drooling over packs of microns and copic markers…
We Got The Plot?
Boy DO we! This episode introduces us to what is more or less the overarching ‘A’ plot of the whole show! K.O.’s quest to be a great Hero! While the show’s going to build up more details character plotlines and lore over time, this will always be K.O.’s main motivation, and in the beginning will be our main focus.
I’d also like to highlight a few minor elements:
- Pow Cards! I talked about these earlier, but considering how important they are over the series, it’s worth a second nod. Not only is K.O.’s collection of these cool trading cards a consistent trait of his, but they also become a pretty firm part of the worldbuilding. Everybody has a POW card, and it shows your name, level, and other info. Pretty handy!
-Mr. Gar’s Obvious Crush On Carol. Yeah this one comes up a lot. And honestly, who can blame him.
-Chip Damage! This is a blink and you’ll miss it detail, but when Rad is bending over backwards to impress a literal random child, he presents a pretty obviously doctored shot of him fighting a hero named Chip Damage! Remember this name for later.
Final Overall Thoughts
Even though this episode has to shoulder the burden of all pilots, aka literally introducing you to every important character in the show AND the basic concept of the series, it really manages to compose itself with a lot of charm. A lot of pilots can kind of feel like a lineup of main characters being paraded past the camera. But the hook in this first episode is centered very much on K.O. as a character; and by the time Rebecca Sugar’s charming end credits theme calmly floats by your ears, you’re already rooting for him.
To me a lot of the success here is that the show is okay with taking it’s time with it’s own premise, which is ESPECIALLY important when you consider every episode is a blisteringly short eleven minutes. But despite the fact that K.O. working at the Bodega is going to be p much the core of the series from now on, we actually close out this first episode with him just resolving to work there.
To peek behind the scenes, the confidence that this first series has strikes me as being a result of both the people behind the show’s hard work, and also it’s peculiar early production. Before this first episode was produced, OK K.O. had both an original short pilot, a series of shorts (which I highly recommend watching, even if I’m not covering it), and even a video game! Plus, when the first season was being produced, the first six episodes were ordered in a batch. So they chose to make the first episodes out of order, allowing them to feel sure they had the tone and characterization they wanted for the series BEFORE they made the pilot!
Incidentally, when they first made these initial episodes they weren’t actually sure that Cartoon Network would order MORE after those first 6 episodes, so they tried to make sure it would have a satisfying mini-arc all on it’s own. So even if it’s sad that the show is coming to an end soon, I have to say having 100 episodes is infinitely better than 6.
All in all, a solid beginning! But we’re not done with K.O.’s origins just yet….
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show , an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes, and also the infotainment video game installed in your school's computer lab! I’m your host who’s teacher gave up on making learn Home Row, Friendly Troll! We’re picking back up where we left off with Episode 2!
K.O. makes his mind up: he wants to be a hero, and the way to do it is working at the Plaza, just like Rad and Enid! But after he winds up getting in the while trying to help, K.O. winds up discouraged… and catching the attention of another evil robot. I mean, a totally normal helpful civilian who tells him the best way to impress everyone enough to get a job is to single handedly launch an attack on Boxmore, the evil robot factory across the street rub by the villainous Lord Boxman! It doesn’t go great! ...but his sheer daring DOES wind up impressing Rad and Enid after they come rushing to his rescue enough to recommend him for a job with Mr. Gar! That doesn’t work either! ...but K.O.’s mom telling Mr. Gar to give him a shot sure does.
Lord Buttman . I mean. Lord Boxman .
That’s right! We’ve finally met our main antagonist- a man so ruthless, so wicked, so absolutely EVIL that he’s STOLEN THIS ENTRIES CHARACTER SPOTLIGHT. But honestly, doesn’t he deserve it? All he’s trying to do is make a living producing evil robots! That he sends to attack the plaza for literally no other reason then the fact that he HATES FRIENDSHIP.
And honestly? I love it. Lord Boxman is 100% a saturday morning cartoon style, bad for the sake of it capital B BAD GUY . Goofy, with just a pinch of genuine menace. And honestly? I really missed that. Complex motivations are great and all but. Just give me a villian who’s EVIL and LOVES it. No thinking they’re the hero. No restraint. Lord Boxman’s office is built inside a ROBOTIC RED SKULL overlooking the plaza, and by cob is he going to seethe every single time he sees… friendship . And I love him.
Villain of the Episode
The one and only Shannon ! But also, self doubt . As it often is in life.
While Lord Boxman might steal the show in our second episode, there’s simply NO underselling what a delight Shannon is. Sassy, self absorbed, and… cunning(?), Shannon feels like the kind of character you see a lot. The Girl Villian Who Is Sneaky. Which… isn’t. Thrilling. Except for the beautiful twist:
She’s… bad at it. With a human disguise only K.O. could have fallen for, I honestly kind of adore that Shannon talks a MUCH bigger game then she can really dish out. She’s overconfident, violent, and brash- or to put it another way? Just like her brother, she’s an honest to cob bumbling doofus minion ! But, you know. The 2.0 version.
Well in theory this should go to local anxious broccoli man Colewort but AHA SURPRISE! ANOTHER VILLAIN. Ernesto !
Not every robot at Boxmore is made for deception and destruction, it turns out. After all, it’s a place of business! And Ernesto is just the Bot for Bureaucracy that Boxmore beebs. Er, needs. Ernesto beautifully reinforces the corporate theming to Boxman’s evil empire- and honestly, there’s just something hilarious about suddenly getting totally generic cubicles in the middle of this otherwise imposing villainous lair.
Honestly, this episode is full of little moments that just really delight me! But by far, Rad and Enid assuring K.O. they’re not mad at him in the most over the top friendship filled way possible is the standout. It’s such a passionate, hot blooded way to declare friendship! And it’s only made all the better by the fact that it LITERALLY blows Lord Boxman out of his desk- but I’ll talk about that more soon. So for now, the highlight has to be: overwhelming acceptance, positive affirmations, and friendship POW.er level over 9000 !!!!
That Was SO Cool!
Shannon’s introduction is honestly just a damn SLICK piece of animation, made all the cooler by the distinctive flair of her personal theme music. The soundtracks on these episodes are always stellar, but i have a serious soft spot for the Robot themes. (Ernesto’s Theme full track 10 hour version WHEN???)
I Just Think It’s Neat
As a professional ‘THAT person’ about fictional series’ internal logic, I just adore how smoothly this episode shows you how the Boxmore bots work! At no point does any character stop to awkwardly explosit or explain; it’s pure Show don’t Tell. In fact, most of the info does double duty as a joke! Ernesto’s awkwardly ducking back into their cubicle? Okay, so multiples of the same robot can be active at once! Darryls tragic “...I deserve this.”/“I deserved that!”? One Darryl clearly picks up where the other left off!
In other words, while future episodes state it more clearly, right away we’re cued in that each model of Boxmore Bot operates as a hive mind. So no matter how many you knock a Darryl down, the next one doesn’t really put up with anything worse than knowing he’s failed his ‘Father’. It’s a beautiful detail that really allows for fun guiltless fighty action, and some great opportunity for slapstick.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
I think the message this time is ‘you don’t need to be anything but yourself to make friends!’, but honestly it could also be ‘don’t bug service workers when they’re on shift’, honestly. Take your pick.
We Got The Plot?
Where episode one introduced us to the A throughline of the show, this introduced us to the B throughline! B, for BOXMORE. As the constant antagonist of the show, Boxman serves a vital role in keeping things moving!
Smaller highlights are!
-K.O.’s Power Fist!
While it’ll be a long time before he has control over it, K.O.’s excitement at getting to work at Gar’s Bodega shows he definitely HAS POW.er deep down! He just needs to figure out how to control it.
- The Pickle Spill
...Okay actually it never really comes up again in a major way, but there’s a thematic nod back to K.O.’s unfortunate enthused attempt to fit into the bodega wayyy later on that I think is neat enough to note down here.
Final Overall Thoughts
Well, our first episode set the ball up, and our second knocks it right out of the park! I don’t want to repeat myself too much from the first episode, but I still really appreciate how much space this show makes for introducing these characters. It would have been easy to show Boxman right away, or shove K.O. in a bodega uniform first thing. This show’s in no rush to get to the status quo; which is appropriate, since later on it won’t shy away from changing it, either.
While the first episode gave us our introduction to K.O. and his journey to become a great hero, this episode introduced us to an element of the show that I think is just as strong, and a HUGE part of what makes the show so charming. And this time I don’t mean the villains, I mean K.O.’s friendship with Rad and Enid . Because even though sometimes he might be enthusiastic, or make mistakes, this episode makes it clear K.O. is NOT going to be an annoying kid who has to win and prove himself to his put upon friends. Rad and Enid love and appreciate this kid, and that bond only gets stronger as time goes on.
This went up the day that OK K.O. came to an end, and I'm writing this having just barely recovered from seeing the finale. No spoilers, obviously- I'm not restraining my urge to Pepe Silvia my theories together in these entries just to suddenly pull a jerk move like that for the Finale!
Instead, I just wanted to take a moment to say something here, and soft of... mark my place. After all, where I'm at now I'm still staring down putting up 109 more of these, and yet... I've just seen the very end.
And I think my only regret is not starting this series sooner. Just like how my only regret for OK K.O. is that I wish it could have had more time. With K.O., and these characters, and these places, and these stories.
The finale wasn't EVERYTHING I could have dreamed... but it was everything I'd hoped for. And if there's gaps between one and the other... well. Hell. I have a keyboard, and time. There'll be more. Because we'll make more.
And maybe this silly series of mine can help. After all, I want it to be something people can reference, and for it to be something my enthusiasm can spread through! ...but just like K.O., I still have a whole lot of work to do before we get there.
So I guess I'll just say...
The finale... was magic.
Thank you for coming.
Thank you for staying!
Thank you, OK KO Crew, for making the show.
(Now Let's Watch the rest of it!)
Chapter 4: Episode 3: You’re Everybody’s Sidekick
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes that is FREE inside every box of Sugar Blasted Laser-O’s! I’m your host, a colorful yet vaguely disconcerting mascot who’s commercials used to be WAY weirder in the 70s, Friendly Troll!
It’s KO’s first day on the job at the Bodega, and he’s all fired up to HELP! Who? Anyone, really! But ESPECIALLY his cool new co-worker Enid! But can he HELP Enid learn how great it is… to HELP people? Probably not. But he’s going to give it his absolute best by helping as many people around Lakewood Plaza Turbo as he possibly can! But it turns out even if your intentions are good, some people might take you trying to help as a reason to be… mean . It’s up to K.O. to break through the local Alleyway Teens’ hostile attitudes to see if he can REALLY help them, where it counts! ...and maybe get a “eh, that wasn’t SO bad” out of Enid after all.
Well folks, we’ve reached our first character spotlight split! Because even though this episode focused really specifically on K.O. , I feel like it’s also our first real look at Enid ! Luckily enough, I’m not a man who shies away from talking about characters I love… so lets bring it on!
K.O.- This episode really shows that KO doesn’t just talk a big game- and even though he can be enthusiastic, he really CAN be a big help! But he’s still a little kid, which means he’s the kind of innocent where… well. Sometimes he can’t really tell when someone’s making fun of him. K.O. assumes the best of people, so he doesn’t always realize when they’re actually trying to be mean. But it’s that same good faith in people that lets KO figure out how to help people who don’t even think they want to be helped! And maybe most importantly, even though he finds out the Teens were being mean to him, KO doesn’t crumple! He redoubles his efforts, and does his ding dang best to reach out! And honestly, what could be more heroic than that?
Enid- Anyone who’s worked in retail can probably emphasize a little with Enid; sure, helping people SOUNDS great but when that’s your whole job sometimes… people. Are terrible. Manning the front desk at the Bodega probably isn’t WHY Enid has a heart of ice and a mouth of sarcasm, but it sure can’t help. But even though she’s not receptive to K.O.’s The Joys Of Helping routine, she clearly already has a soft spot for him and his sincere sweetness. Seeing her crack a lil’ smile as he runs to clean up the store is pretty dang cute; and you can ALSO see she has a prettttty significant soft spot (crush) for local unruly wildcard teen, Red Action! So even if her defenses might be high, it’s clear that Enid has feelings, and isn’t just mean for the sake of it. Well. Unless it’s funny.
Villain of the Episode
Mean teenagers!! IN AN ALLEYWAY. Alleyway teens . ...maybe? I mean, they do get kind of turned around by the end of the episode, so I’m not sure that really counts as Villainy! More… mid level knee jerk bullying, even if the lava kinda pushes is. So… I guess the REAL villain this time… is apathy ?? That seems like an even tougher foe then a Darryl. Maybe even as dangerous as THREE Darryls… in a cowboy hat.
Oh cob there’s so many to choose from! But I think I have to say I have a special soft spot for Mr. Logic , the plaza’s resident hair stylist! I mean, haven’t we all had a day where you feel 20% off…? And how can you not love him after seeing him curled up in a sad little ball at his failure to create the perfect hairstyle. Besides, his salon has just the SMOOTHEST tunes?? Why does your soundtrack rule so hard, Mr. Logic. Is that the secret to your stylist perfection, Mr. Logic?? Could his powers come from the soothing groove of smooth, vaporwave tunes…
Hands down to me the highlight of the episode is K.O. riding hard on Helping Those Teens! Not only is it just a really sweet sequence, but it’s also really bumped up a notch by K.O.’s whole. Uh. Energy??? Maybe is the word? Whatever you’d call it, it’s got to be pretty intense having a 6-11 year old totally read out your whole deal. It’s really endearing! And as odd as it might sound, I kind of like that it doesn’t just… fix everything. Sure, we’re not left off on a total bummer note, but I really like that the show doesn’t try to sell you a cruddy bill of goods about Fixing Bullies. LOOKIN AT YOU, LIKE MOST OF THE CARTOONS IN THE 90s .
That Was SO Cool!
It just HAS to be K.O. cleaning up the bodega! Sure he might be new to being a hero, but K.O. really has cleaning the store down to an art. Could he be… THE CHOSEN ONE?? He Who Cleans the Wind?? Heir to a great and terrible power of scrubbing?!?! ...well, no. But he IS pretty dang good at it, and it’s a real nifty piece of animation!
I Just Think It’s Neat
Getting to see the other stores at the plaza is honestly something I enjoy a lot! Why? Because… honestly I really enjoy how they’re just. Genuinely very mundane shops? I guess that’s something I find endearing about the show anyhow; I’m that person who wonders about the day to day life in super fantastical settings, and this show’s literally that! It makes sense though. In a world with so many rad cool anime hairstyles, you WOULD need a place to cut your hair, right? And you can’t just be tossin grand artifacts of darkness our on a knick-knack shelf! You gotta frame that biz.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Even if you try your very best, not everyone you go out of your way to help is going to be grateful. But maybe the people you DO help make it all worth it! Or hey, maybe it’s enough to do it for your own sake.
We Got The Plot?
-Enids Blatant Crush On Red Action. Much like Mr. Gar and Carol, this ain't the last we're going to see of this relationship. And well, can you blame her? Red Action’s just so… wild.
-Wait, is Mr. Logic a… Robot?! Considering every other robot we’ve met is evil, that seems worth noting, right?
-Enid’s Icy Heart. Will it one day melt?? Well, maybe (probably), but I’m actually noting it here for other reasons! ...nerdy, granular reasons, but really isn’t that what this series is all about.
Final Overall Thoughts
With K.O. firmly set working at the bodega, this episode is really our first time getting to roll into the pattern of the show proper! And honestly, it’s a pretty dang charming way to do it; this episode makes it clear that the focus of this show isn’t just rad cool robot battles (and the evil men who cause them). This show is character driven in a very real way! And this episode really lets us focus a moment on how K.O. is beginning to fit in at the Plaza.
It’s charming, it’s sweet, and literally every time I watch it I just kind of crack up at Enid’s super intense, unblinking “ You will NEVER melt my icy heart .” What’s not to love here, really.
Chapter 5: Episode 4: We Messed Up
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes! Now available in ‘weirdly off model popsicle with gumball eyes’ format! I’m your host, that a pink lemonade sherbert and vanilla custard swirl of a man, Friendly Troll!
Mr. Gar is on the warpath testing our heroes might as customer service workers, making sure they’re prepared for anything! And by anything, I mean ‘little old ladies who want to pay with a check and have a coupon’. Which, honestly, is pretty intimidating. Once they’ve passed the test, he leaves for a secret mission with two very simple, and INTENSE orders: Don’t disappoint him, and DON’T go in his office. Rad, Rad’s Biceps, Enid, and K.O. all immediately go into his office! In the process, they find… a picture of K.O.’s mom from when she was younger?? And immediately break the photo?! Yuh oh. Obviously there’s only one thing for two teens and a child to do to fix the situation: ENGAGE HIJINKS.
Rad and Enid distract Gar, while K.O. goes to his mom to try to get a replacement photo! But instead he finds… a flashback?? Backstory?? Carol and Mr. Gar have a past?? Smooth Jazz?? Sandwich ?! ...well sadly there’s no time to figure that out, cause Rad and Enid can’t keep Mr. Gar occupied forever . But when it comes down to the wire there’s nothing more to do but to admit their guilt. ...and be thankful Carol comes in with a last minute save.
I actually consider this to be the first example of a true ensemble cast episode of OK K.O.! It’s got a genuine balance of personality, and feels like one of the first times that the Bodega Trio get to shine as a group! But for the purposes of narrowing my focus down a little, I’d have to say it’s time for Mr. Gar to shine!
Right now in the show, we kind of see Mr. Gar the same way that K.O. does: an enigmatic cool hero who can do anything! He’s tough as nails, and runs the bodega with if not an iron fist, then at least a bronze hand. So this episode really stands out as one of the first times we get to see a little bit more about who Mr. Gar is as a person . Even if it’s only a little glimpse! But man what a glimpse it is.
For instance, this episode we find out that Mr. Gar doesn’t just have a crush on Carol; they have a PAST of some kind! A past that’s important enough to for him to keep a few momentos from back then. Most importantly, an old photo of her in a pretty snazzy outfit! And then… well. It sure seems like something happened. We’re a long way from getting anything cleared up about just what happened there, but if there’s one thing we do know now? It’s that maybe Mr. Gar wasn’t always the man we know him as now…
And also we know that he thinks landing a solid uppercut on Lord Boxman is ALSO worth keeping a photograph on his desk, and that he apparently knows the “President of the Universe”, which arguably ALSO says something about him as a person. ...exactly what, I’m not sure though.
...Oh also: Mr. Gar definitely doesn’t understand kids well enough to know not to say something like ‘AND DON’T GO IN MY OFFICE’. Highly unfortunate.
Villain of the Episode
There’s no actual robots this episode, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a villain. And THIS episodes malicious threat might be even more dangerous than a battle robot. And that villain is…
Hijinks ! Remember kids, if the best plan you have to fix a problem involves the phrase “while we distract him”, you MIGHT be at serious risk of hijinksing. Sure it might seem harmless, but if you’re not careful, this sort of behavior can lead to shenanigans, rigamarole, or even a full blown comedy of errors! Ask an adult you trust about what you can do to keep yourself, and the people you love, from trying to carry out cartoonishly unviable plans. ~The More You Know~
Today I’ll be highlighting the ladies who attend Carols Dojo! Gertie (the one with four arms), Gladys (the snake-ish green gal!), and Ginger (the one with a fanny pack who K.O. nails with a vent cover. whoopsie!). All three are faithful students of Carol’s dojo, and seem pretty fond of K.O. himself! Possibly to distraction, as we saw in episode one. But I have to say, it’s cool that they’re so chill about Carol needing to take a second to help her kid out! Good on you, gals! Stayin’ fit and supporting your single mom sensei!
Fun Facts about each gal: Gertie has 3,000 kids, Glady’s experimented with snake DNA to give herself tougher skin after a rough divorce, and Ginger is a hardened criminal! Cob, I love this show.
While there’s a LOT in this episode I could talk about (sandwich) a lot of it’s ( sandwich ) best left for the Plot (SANDWICH) section! But that’s fine, because there’s so much to love! Carols gently considered “Let’s try long story medium” is just a great line- and I love that she doesn’t scold K.O. for getting in trouble, or even hesitate to help K.O. out the best she can! I also really love Rad and Enids frantic attempts to buy time for K.O.- they really go above and beyond for him with everything from dance routines to puppet shows, to maybe the bravest act of all : Standing between a furious Mr. Gar and K.O. directly! Even if it’s to keep themselves safe too, they really go above and beyond for their lil buddy.
Just goes to show you… the real Highlights was the friends we made along the way.
That Was SO Cool!
While this episode is really solid, I have to say there’s not really a standout moment of cool action or slick animation that catches my eye this time. If I had to choose, the Bodega gang knocking it out of the park with Mr. Gar’s tests was pretty dang slick, though! And K.O.’s imagination of what could happen if he dissapointed Mr. Gar isn’t just devastatingly emotional, but also has a classic Ashita no Joe style drama frame!
I Just Think It’s Neat
The jazzy music from a certain flashback! I’m a huge fan of OK K.O.’s music in general- heck, a lot of these are written while listening to the episode scores over at the Mint Potion soundcloud. But I have a special soft spot for a couple of musical motifs in particular. The Bodega’s distinct background music, the chill tunes of Mr. Logic, Boxmore’s intimidating tones- and quite a few songs it’ll take us a while to reach. And the soft, bittersweet jazz score that accompanies this moody flashback is something that I always appreciate whenever it drifts by.
Also I definitely recommend checking out the Mint Potion soundcloud! ...especially because they only have the music up to episode 31*, and I’m dyin for the rest of those good tunes to listen to.
(*And the Crossover Nexus, and the episode where Sonic the Hedgehog shows up because he exists in the world of OK K.O. and that’s just a thing that’s true in this show????)
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
If you get in trouble, it’s probably going to be a lot less trouble to own up to what you did. ...But that doesn’t mean the other person won’t still be mad.
We Got The Plot?
Cracks knuckles. Here we go. Are you excited? Cause I’m excited. This is REALLY the moment that some of this shows actual lore starts to drop, and I am. So happy to be getting into it. Unfortunately, I still can’t reveal my true powers just yet… but even still!
The Sandwich Flashback is officially in play, y’all! Right now we still know almost next to nothing about this event, but you’d better believe it’s going to keep coming up. Just like K.O. says, it leaves us with a lot more questions than answers, but for now we can certainly look at what we DO know! Here are the facts!
The flashback is triggered by Carol saying she and Gar “USED to know each other”. We see a black and white scene of a heavy thunderstorm. Then, in the pouring rain, a doughnut shop’s windows are blown out. Two people run (towards the sound?), and a sub sandwich falls in the rain, hitting the ground. All set to that sad, jazzy tune- a sound that’s very nearly unique in the series, theme wise.
Like I said, it’s not much to go on, but it’s certainly something… and I personally consider it our first peek at one of the major overarching plots of the series. And that’s not all! It’s time to play a game called
What’s In Mr. Gar’s Drawer?
(sfx: wild studio applause) Right at the verrry end of the episode, Mr. Gar puts away the photo of Carol, giving us a look at a number of
interesting items. These include (going clockwise from the upper left):
-A pair of glasses
-a locked box
-A bow tie
-A framed photo of what looks like some kind of super-team.
-a newspaper clipping that reads ‘P.O.I.N.T. SAVES MAYOR’.
-and a photo of what appears to be a young Carol catching a drink with a muscular man wearing a Luchadores mask, a pair of glasses, and a bow tie...
It’s basically like a Precious Memories box, but for Mr. Gar’s clearly at least pretty melancholy backstory. We’ll have to wait a while to find out the full deal about just what’s going on here, but I think it’s safe to say Mr. Gar has some memories sad enough to hide away, but dear enough to keep next to his heart.
Between the flashback, and Mr. Gar’s drawer, I think it’s safe to say that OK K.O. has kicked off one of it’s major overarching plots, which I’ve decided to call- Grownup Stuff. Strap in for more of that! But that’s not all, we got
A Few Minor Things!
-Rad making his biceps talk is never exactly a plot point , but it does come up enough to establish he just… does that.
-Mr. Gar’s security system!
-K.O.’s emotional turmoil over the possible disappointment of a paterna - I mean, boss figure.
Final Overall Thoughts
Hoowee! Forgive my ‘grew up in a literal rural mountainside’ talk, but this episode is a humdinger . And in a lot of ways, a PERFECT example of why I wanted to write this series in the first place! We Messed Up is an episode that is, for the most part, a perfectly charming goofy episode. ‘Characters mess up and try to cover for their mistakes instead of owning up’ is a story concept that I’m pretty sure goes back to the dawn of man. BUT not only does this episode still feel fresh and entertaining thanks to it’s over the top nature and fantastic joke writing, not ONLY does it have genuinely endearing personality, but it ALSO takes a pretty goofy gag setup to lay in the start of some really clever plot building.
I mean, I’m pretty sure I lost it the first time I saw the Sandwich Flashback - the drama, suspense, the- DID THEY JUST DROP A SANDWICH IN A PUDDLE. It’s such a wild swerve considering the tone of the rest of the series, but gosh dang if it doesn’t wind up working so, so well.
Plus, on a writing note, I appreciate that they REALLY make it clear WHY K.O. Rad and Enid would resort to shennaniganry. By showing us up top how intense Mr. Gar is, and showing us their imagination of just how badly they could be banished to The Unemployment Zone, you’re not left with that annoying feeling of ‘well, why didn’t they just do X’. And, honestly? I LOVE that we get shown that they were totally right to be worried . There’s so many kids shows where this kind of plot gets resolved with a ‘well you should have just been honest/ oh it’s okay thank you for telling me’. And I get why! It’s Good for kids to be told they can trust authority figures when they mess up buut it’s nice to see a resolution that’s true to life in the other direction.
Honestly I just kind of enjoy the incredibly real to life punchline of ‘no but for real, sometimes someone just going to be mad at you for not Doing The Thing They Told You To Do. That’s also an important lesson! ‘Sometimes you heck up, kids. But it might still turn out ok!’.
Chapter 6: Episode 5: Jethro’s All Yours
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes that’s also that one level of a videogame that suddenly has REALLY sick beats out of nowhere*. I’m your host, a fan favorite miniboss from the fire themed area, Friendlytroll! Let’s get into it!
*Looking at you, ice levels in Spelunky.
The plaza is under attack! By a terrifying NEW robot named Jethro, who is. Actually not very intimidating. But he’s a perfect foe for K.O.’s first true solo mission! He makes short work of the tiny blue bulldozing(?) bully(??)! It’s a total victory for our little hero! Only… Rad’s offhand comment about him and Jethro both being simple, KO can’t help feeling sympathy for his opponent. He sets out to prove to Radicles that Jethro isn’t as ‘simple’ as he seems! Even if he’s smaller, and not as powerful yet, and trying his best, and a kid, and- ok, maybe K.O.’s projecting a little. But even if he can’t convince Rad, maybe the appearance of the terrifyingly huge MEGA JETHRO will! K.O. and Rad team up to defeat this goliath, making their way inside to discover that!
...well. Tt turns out that Jethro really is kind of a simple robot, even when you look at what’s on the inside. But that’s okay, because Rad realizes he was being too harsh on his little buddy, and maybe even that a 6-11 year old isn’t really a great target for ‘friendly’ ‘’’ribbing’’’, and lets him know how he really feels! Kind of. Mostly. Well K.O. knows what he means, and that’s really what matters here.
K.O. ! We’ve seen a lot from our little buddy already. We know how enthusiastic he is, and how much he likes to help people! We know he wants to be a hero, and that he has a very sincere, chipper personality. But this episode is when we learn something important about KO we didn’t know before!
When something makes K.O. doubt himself, he doesn’t really know how to shake it off. This whole episode is basically about Rad making an offhand (completely unnecessary) comment that doesn’t SEEM to bug K.O. in the moment… but then we realize not only did it sting more than he let on, but it also is nagging at him the whole rest of the episode.
In other words? K.O. is a worrier , and nothing puts him off his own game then feeling insecure. And I will note that this would be pretty normal for any kid in his position! After all, he really isn’t as strong as he wishes he was, and I think just about anyone would care the way he does about what people you respect think of you. But for K.O., he really hasn’t learned how to deal with it yet. He doesn’t know how to clearly express that something is bothering him, how to reach out for reassurance, or how to deal with the way it makes him feel. Instead right now, he’s more prone to just. Stew on it.
And honestly, I’m very fond of that. It’s another little sign of the depth K.O. has as a person. Not everything about him is positive! And in this case, even though having this kind of insecurity isn’t any fun for K.O., he still manages to turn it around and try to do something good with it. It’s because he feels bad about being compared to Jethro that he demonstrates so much empathy! He’s able to take knowing that he feels bad about being called simple, and decide that means it’d probably feel bad for someone else, too.
And that empathy is an incredibly endearing trait of K.O.’s. I’m always really charmed by the way he tries to call out to Mega Jethro to stop attacking the plaza- sure it’s a little goofy when his opponent only ever says one thing, but it’s also so genuinely heartfelt.
Villain of the Episode
Radicles . ...Okay, okay, It’s Jethro .
With his (usually) small size and fragile construction, Jethro is what you could think of as fulfilling a ‘Goomba’ role in the Boxmore family of products or maybe more appropriately, a Met from Megaman! A simple, but determined ‘lil mook who might not be tough to beat, but by gosh, there’s a lot of him! Or a kind of bigger one! Or a definitely bigger GIGANTIC Mega Jethro! Even if he might be a waste of time to more experienced heroes, that’s okay! Because that’s not what Goombas are for. Goombas are there for you to learn how to deal with enemies! Jethro is the perfect robot for a new hero like K.O. to fight, and I love him. Jethro’s doing his best.
...But also, while I’m here, even if he doesn’t actually count as the episode Villain Radicles is. Seriously a dink in this episode. I don’t know if it’s the dinkiest he ever is in the whole series, but it’s definitely in the top three Times Rad Is A Ding Dang Dink . But… I do appreciate that it’s in a way that makes sense for who he is. Which is… a teenager. I think almost everyone knew, or was, a teenager who went through a period of communicating in ‘jokes’ that were really just insults. It’s a bad habit, but it’s one that’s really easy to fall into, especially when you’re at an age where you’re still kind of learning how to exist socially, and you’re not super sure about yourself.
The fact is, if Rad acts this eay, then it’s probably because his peers do, too. So really, he’s not the bad guy here at all. No. The real villain is, as is so often the case, toxic masculinity . And that’s an enemy I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
The minor MVP for this episode is Brandon ! A brown brown bear with a constantly changing t-shirt slogan and a chill attitude. We’ve seen him around in past episodes, usually checking out what’s going down with the robot attacks, or passionately drumming on the table instead of working. You know. Early Jack Black movie role kinda material. He has some pretttty bad luck this episode, but I have to admit. I have some questions. Brandon. Brandon? How did you drive in both your dad AND your mom’s cars in. I’m not judging him for u sing their cars but. Did his parents drop off the second car after the first one got totaled? Ans surely people have to know not to park inside the Boxmore Danger Zone, right??
What are you DOING, Brandon.
Fun fact! He’s also friends and coworkers with previous Minor MVP award winner Real Magic Skeleton! And I bet RMS knows not to park his car directly between Boxmore and the Bodega. Brandon .
The opening hoedown is just generally speaking a really charming way to open the episode! It’s really cute, and I think it’s smart to open an episode where a character’s being a dinkus maximus by reminding us that the gang has plenty of fun cute pal time. ...but really, I put this here for K.O.’s clapping solo. Because he did his best, and I’m so proud of him.
And emotionally, Rad clearing things up with K.O. is really sweet! It’s clear he doesn’t have the words yet, but he still tries to make sure K.O. knows that he has value. It’s a moment of growth for both of them. That... then becomes somewhat less sweet, especially if you’re watching wearing headphones. But Rad’s still doing his best, and K.O. getting validation from someone he looks up to is soothing content.
That Was SO Cool!
Getting to see K.O fight Jethro is SUCH a blast!! I think this is really the first time K.O. gets to have a Big Cool Dynamic Fight- at least since his cool fight with Darrel that turned out to be all in his head. But this time this is a REAL fight, and seeing K.O. shonen it up- and increasingly lose patience with the wave of Jethros- is both really cool, and definitely a slick piece of animation. I think my favorite part is when K.O. is bouncing off each new Jethro in a wave- you get to see some great, dynamic character acting from him! And I just love seeing my boy getting to feel Cool…
I’d also like to highlight the sequence when K.O. and Ray are climbing up into Jethro. It’s brief, but I feel like the way they climb up is really interesting and dynamic! The sheer sense of scale feels really cool, especially when you see the dizzying heights they’re at. And seeing Rad help KO make it to the top, and KO save rad from falling, really adds a lil more sincere emotional weight to them making up right at the end!
I Just Think It’s Neat
I love how when the Jethro squad is rolling in, their voices don’t QUITE synch up on the ‘I AM JETHRO’. If I remember right, one of the crew has mentioned this was a deliberate choice to highlight how kinda janky Jethro is, and I honestly love it.
Enid’s phone case (seen when she’s AGGRESSIVELY ignoring Jethro) is shaped like a Kunai, a classic ninja throwing dagger! Such a cool lil’ detail~
Rad playing with the cans of grape soda. It’s both endearing in a way that keeps Rad from feeling TOO much like an unlikable dingus, and an extension of the same playful goofiness we saw with him making his biceps talk to each other back in We Messed Up.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Hmm. This episode doesn’t boil down so cleanly- don’t judge a book by it’s cover except sometimes do? But I think the message I’d hope a kid would take away from this is: to be clear with a friend if they say something that hurts you!
We Got The Plot?
This is what I’d consider more of a character piece episode than one with a lot of plot to it, but I still think there’s some little details that are worth taking note of!
-KO’s growing sense of empathy! I highlighted this earlier, but it actually comes up pretty directly a ways on down the line.
-KO’s fondness for Jethro! Adorably, K.O. has a soft spot for Jethro that lasts the whole rest of the show, and I really am incredibly fond of that. He just thinks he’s neat!
-There Being More to Jethro? Alright this is a hell of a called shot, but this comes up again abooouuutt… checks my watch that inexplicably has K.O. episodes instead of numbers... Like three whole literal seasons from now?? Dang.
Final Overall Thoughts
Wow, I wound up having a LOT more to say about this episode then I thought I would when I sat down to write this! I think that just goes to show how well O.K. KO, as a show, structures it’s plots. Sure, this is a goofy episode where Rad’s a dingus and another of the Boxmore bots is given their time in the spotlight. But it’s ALSO using it’s time to tell us more about who K.O. is as a person, and seeing his friendship with Rad start to take form. And I just really admire how elegant that is… especially for an episode that ends with a burp joke.
I also want to highlight something that K.O. as a show is AMAZING at: Action scenes that tell the story . See, sometimes action media decides: ‘oh, a fight scene is just there to look really cool’! And while I’m always a proponent of doing Rad Cool Awesome Stuff in a story, I think it’s a big mistake to not use a fight scene as part of the story. It doesn’t always need to be complicated- a fight scene can tell you something as simple as “Jackie Chan is reluctant to fight, but Wuhoh he’s got a chair now!” and it’ll still be way more rewarding then just ‘it’s Punch Times’. And to me, OK K.O. is AMAZING at that!
And this episode actually serves as a really good example of that principle. This episode’s fight scene makes K.O. look cool, sure. But we also get to see him being surprised at how much hard work a fight is even if you’re winning; something new about being a hero he hadn’t really considered before. We get to see him becoming tired of dealing with Jethros over and over again, which kind of lets us know the reason why Rad and Enid didn’t even want to bother dealing with him. And we get to see him become sympathetic to his foe, which is what lets us- the audience- realize that Rad’s words really got to him.
It’s a handy trick, and something I think you can see a lot of as the show goes on. So until next time- Let’s Watch The Show!
Chapter 7: Episode 6: You’re Level 100!
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes- now, for a limited time only in ‘Purple Energy Crackle Wild Cherry’ flavor (while supplies last)! I’m your host with a hard candy shell and a sweet syrupy center, Friendly Troll!
After a whole week of working at the Plaza, K.O. feels like it’s time to finally undergo a hero’s rite of passage- getting his very own Pow Card! There’s only one problem- the machine’s on the fritz, and won’t spit his card out without a solid ‘knock your bag of chips down’ thumping! But it’s all worth it when he finally gets his own card with the humble beginning starter level of- level 100?!? Excuse my interrobang, but considering Mr. Gar’s level of 11 is the local maximum range before this, that seems like a big deal! And it is!
In fact, it’s SUCH a big deal deal that even lord boxman shows up in his crowd of admirers! Except he’s less here to admire and more there to unveil a gigantic terrifying new Darrel bot that’s negative 100! Luckily even a threat like this would be a piece of cake for a hero of K.O.’s caliber… or. At least it could be, if having his card smashed to the ground while in the middle of being completely walloped didn’t reveal that K.O.’s card just had a glitch; he’s not level 100 at all! He’s level 0. But even with his card, and his heart broken, K.O. still realizes that while HE might not be level 100, when you put the whole plaza together at once, THEY are!
It turns out that what one hero couldn’t do on his own, a LOT of heroes can do together! And with the Darrel sent packing, K.O. might not be level 100… but being level 0.1 is more than enough to send him over the moon.
Aw Jeeze. Oh, K.O. , honey. My poor lil’ guy! This episode is a real rough one for our favorite hero in training. After all, from the very first time we met him, all he’s ever WANTED was to be a big powerful hero. It’s honestly kind of heartbreaking to see him finally achieve that dream when you can tell right away it’s not going to last. And it’s impossible to blame him for getting a little carried away. And I honestly mean a ‘little’! Despite the fact that people are fawning over him, K.O. doesn’t actually act all that different- sure he’s cocky, but he doesn’t suddenly pivot to acting like a big jerk. The only time we really see it clearly changing how he’s acting is when he’s confronted with the -100 level Darrel.
...and I don’t actually mean when he brushes off Rad and Enid trying to step in and help, either. At this point in the series, K.O. isn’t actually very good at asking for help . Remember last episode? K.O. still thinks that he’s gotta lone wolf this biz, which. Oh honey. That’s not a great way to do ANYTHING, let alone fighting evil robots. But it is actually pretty consistent to K.O. the way he is now.
What is new is what happens when hew newfound, tragically unfounded confidence slams into some harsh reality. When Darrel starts to wipe the floor with K.O. we get to see one last new side to our baby boy. One that’s… not really so cute. This is K.O. more than just angry, or insecure, or frustrated. It’s ALL of that! It’s everything turned up to ten and boiling over. K.O. completely loses control in this moment, becoming even more hurt and furious at every step when he just can’t do what he should be able to do. So much so that even though he’s getting pounded pretty literally into the dirt, he just won’t- or can’t- stop himself from trying to keep fighting. And… not really in a classical ‘the brave shonen hero stands on wobbling feet to make a Last Stand’ way either.
This, my good audience, is K.O. throwing a fit . And honestly…? This is something I’ll get into more as the series goes on, but I can’t help feeling for him.
Just like last episode, when we got to see K.O. struggling with how he felt, I’m very fond of getting to see him work through these kinds of moments. He’s not a perfect kid, no matter how much cheer and can-do attitude he’s got. And we’re given a very understandable, empathetic motivation for his feelings.
This episode shows us something important; K.O. won’t always make good decisions. Sometimes he has a rough time. He doesn’t mean anything by it- it’s not like he lied to anyone about his card, or didn’t have a good reason to be confused about why fighting Darrell wasn’t working. He just got carried away. It’ll happen. And I’m glad he has friends who don’t seem to blame him for it.
Villain of the Episode
BIG DARREL . ...Alright not the most creative name, but cut Boxman some slack. What he loses in catchy naming he definitely gains in absolutely raw power. Seriously, did Boxman just. Have. A -100 power level robot… around? Because if you think about it, EITHER he had a Big Darrel loaded in the chamber before this? OR he literally built a robot so powerful it took every single hero in the plaza to take it down, like. Inside of an hour . No matter how you slice it, that’s impressive. And more than a little terrifying.
And also gives me the chance to gesture at the camouflaged pachyderm in the room. The one question you can’t help but ask about a villain like Boxman. If he had, or could BUILD, a weapon this powerful, why does he never use it again? Heck, why not use it before now?
I’m glad you asked, me! Because the beautiful thing is? We know why! Well. Sort of. We can reasonably deduce why, if we look closely at who Boxman is, how he operates, and think about what happens this time.
It’s simply because Lord Boxman just isn’t that kind of villain . He’s Old Dang School! Lawful Evil. Sure, he wants to destroy the Plaza… but he’s going to do it on his own terms , in his own way, by his own rules. Calling it an ‘honor’ code might be a little much… but I think I could make an argument for it. And if you wanted proof, well… there’s one thing I always come back to.
The parking lot. Boxman lands his boxes of robots in the parking lot . Not on the bodega. In an empty-ish area, so the heroes have time to run out and fight them. Because that. Is how. Boxman. DO.
Bottom line? Lord Boxman’s more of a Robotnik or Dr. Wily then he is a Rita Repulsa. He only needs to see ‘make it bigger’ not work ONCE before he tries something else. Something a bit more… creative. More stylish. But now I’m starting to get ahead of myself on a couple of levels.
This episode actually marks the FIRST appearance of one of my absolute favorite minor characters, Dynamite Watkins , Action News Reporter! With her bandana, scar, rockin’ 80s style, and Bizarrely Adventurous dynamic poses you KNOW Dynamite Watkins is the coolest, raddist, and absolutely most DYNAMIC source of YOUR local news! I really just love her whole style, and she really carries through the idea that this whole universe is just. Kind of like this! Local news? Trading cards? Fashion? Accountancy??? There’s probably fire, rad fashion, and coolness involved somewhere.
Above all else, the highlight of this episode for me is Rad and Enid stepping in to protect their little buddy! Before the battle even starts we can see them exchanging a Look about the prospect of letting K.O. go into battle with as behemoth a bot as Big Barrel- uh, Darrel. But they give him his shot- and when it’s clear he’s in REAL trouble, they don’t hesitate a moment to swing in to his defense! It’s a heartwarming moment; especially because, well. I just really like that they don’t rub it in K.O.’s face that he wasn’t really level 100! Sure, the other people at the plaza are kinda disappointed and mad, but I feel like a lot of shows go wayyy too far when they want to have a protag get overconfident and it comes time to knock them back down a few pegs. That’s something this episode’s overall really good at; and the heart of it really shows with how much Enid and Rad are both absolutely on their bittiest bodega buddy’s side.
Also, I just want to note that it’s really nice to see Darrel get some positive validation from his dad. Sure, it might be over thrashing a 6-11 year old who made an honest mistake, but it’s just nice to see them bonding.
That Was SO Cool!
There’s just no denying that even if it’s pretty rough to see K.O. taken to the cleaners, there’s a lot of really cool action animation in the Big Darrel fight! And I really enjoy the paralel we get here from K.O.’s equally ill fated attempt at fighting normal Darrel one on one back in the first episode.
I Just Think It’s Neat
Time exists! Apparently! Which is honestly a pretty important detail here. Despite SEEMING like the kind of show where all events happen in a kind of nebulous, no-cannon void this episode establishes clearly that K.O. has a timeline. Specifically, that the first six episodes of this show have happened over the course of a week! A business week, by my estimate- the first episode takes place on one day, after all. Ain’t that neat?
Also, when K.O. gives Potato (the wee white rabbit girl) his autograph he writes ‘Have a good summer!!! KO XOXO’ and it’s just important to me that you understand how much I love K.O.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
A BIG problem that seems impossible is always going to be easier to deal with when a lot of people work on it together.
We Got The Plot?
Hoo Boy. Hoo AND Boy, I say!!!
-This episode shows a return of Pow Cards - and we actually get a good look at how you get one for yourself! Apparently all you need to do is select the ‘self’ option,and submit to a retinal scan to get your very own POW Card! Which. I have a lot of questions about!! Lots! But I shouldn’t worry about it! But also I’m going to worry about it. I’m not going to get into it yet. But I could get into it. Also I kind of like that you can also hit a ‘random’ option. If you thought normal trading card sets were tricky to complete, imagine if the total set count was literally the population of the planet!
-Heyyy so remember that bit I talked about up in the character spotlights where K.O. Kinda Flipped Out ? Not only was it an interesting character moment, but it also had a really... distinct visual flare. If you’re not sure what I mean, I genuinely implore you to rewatch this one and pay close attention. Because while I don’t want to get ahead of myself… just. Gosh DANG this show’s story planning is. Just. So. Good .
-Also while we’re at it, it’s really a shame that K.O.’s POW Card Is Busted , huh? I mean, he doesn’t deserve that! How’d that even happen, anyhow? Sure, Rad mighta helped him force the card to print before it was really done cookin’, but why did it glitch out in the first place? ...Honestly, your guess is as good as mine, but one of these episodes I’m goin to have a whole pepe silvia board to roll out about it…
Final Overall Thoughts
Man oh man, I have to say, part of why I’ve really been enjoying doing this series is because it makes me REALLY look over episodes I might not have taken a close enough look at the first time. And this episode is ABSOLUTELY one of those, if you can believe it! When I first watched this one, I was SO sure it was going to be a “character gets too full of themselves and winds up getting humiliated as some kind of karmic comuppance, because that makes sense to do to a 10 year old over and over again, Butch Hartman ” kind of episode that I uh. Actually skipped partway through it, the first time I watched the show. I know, I know. Scandalous. But I am SO glad that not only was I proven wrong, but that I’ve come to see what a well put together episode this really is!! It’s fantastic!
...and that’s for good reason. Because believe it or not, this COULD have been OK K.O.’s LAST episode! I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but when OK K.O. was first greenlit for a series, the initial order was actually only for these first six episodes! So according to the production crew blog, something that Ian and the crew worked really hard on was to make sure that if need be, these first six episodes could stand all on their own as a mini-arc all their own .
Thankfully they got greenlit to do more- a LOT more! ...maybe not as many as I woulda liked, but still! From 6 to 111 ain’t too dang shabby no matter how you look at it it. But ever since I learned that, I’ve kind of thought of these first episodes as like… kind of a Season 0.5, if that makes sense! And looking at it from that point of view… I can’t help but find it really impressive. Not just from a story perspective, but from how much courage it takes to look at something you’re making and say- okay, if this is all we get, I want to make sure it’ll end on a satisfying note. That’s hard! I can’t know all the thought and work that went into the decision, but to me I can’t help but admire being able to do that.
...especially since even as they were prepared for this to maybe be the last episode, they still used the space IN this episode to set up some plot things that aren’t going to pay off until later. Some of them pay off not TOO long from now… but some of them? Oh boy. Strap in for the long haul!
Because there’s so much more I’m so excited to tell you about! So as always- Let’s Watch The Show! ...together! After all, it’s more fun with friends!
Chapter 8: Episode 7: Sibling Rivalry
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes, a hotblooded sports manga coming SOON from Boykid Hop Saturdays magazine! I’m your host, the overwhelmingly evil looking flamboyant rival from the first arc who winds up becoming an ally after you unlock my tragic backstory, Friendly Troll!
And Oh, oh I am so excited for this one, y’all. There’s a lot of episodes in this show I’m excited to get to, no question. But THIS? This is something special. This, to just go ahead and lay my already incredibly transparent villain bias on the table, is actually the introduction of one of my favorite characters. So strap in, get out your oversized novelty foam sports cheering hands, and Let’s Watch The Show!
Ya Ha Ha HOOEY!
K.O., Rad and Enid are right in the heat of it as we kick off this episode- finishing off a mighty battle with Shannon and Darrel with a super Triple Team Combo that sends the bots Team Rocketing off into the sunset. Unfortunately, instead of celebrating their victory, Enid and Rad immediately begin to squabble over who deserves the most credit for the win! And to make matters worse, over at Boxmore Lord Boxman is officially fed up with Shannon and Darrel’s lack of results. But instead of just sending them to the boilers, or trying to upgrade them, Boxman’s trying something…. new. Or rather, someone new. And this ain’t no Jethro, either- it’s
RAYMOND! ... coughs . Sorry, sorry. Got a little excited there, too early for bold text. Introducing Raymond! A mean, green sports machine with a sense of flare and a PLAN. He’s going to strike the greatest blow to the plaza yet seen, by STEALING A LETTER FROM THE BODEGA’S SIGN. And worst of all, the Bodega gang is in no state to put together the teamwork they’d need to block his wild charge! For the first time in the shows history, instead of a boxmore taking an L… Raymond’s got the R .
What’s K.O. to DO?! Besides maybe show us the TRUE power of teamwork by- teaming up with the boxmore bots?! It’s a bold play, but it seems to pay off… right up until Shannon and Darrel remind K.O. that they’re. Well. Evil. Still, K.O. uses his experiences with bickering to turn the bots back against each other, and manages to get the errant R back home to Ga ‘s Bodega, where. Surprisingly, Rad and Enid actually have calmed down on their own. One might even say, unrustled .
So this is… Actually kind of a tricky one! There’s a lot OF personality in this episode, but it’s both mostly an ensemble cast situation, with no big insight on any one character. So consider this less of my usual Character Spotlight main course and more like a Character Spotlight trailmix! Just a lil’ of everything~
For instance, we probably could have guessed that K.O. is a big fan of Teamwork! So much so he’s willing to actually try to team up with the evil robots of boxmore- which just kind of goes to show how many chances he’s willing to give even someone who’s a capital B bad guy. And, honestly, the sheer fed up desperation he shows when he’s trying to get just literally anyone - even his worst enemies- to dang well TEAM is really endearing. But we ALSO get to see him pulling off a sneaky move or two! Tricking Shannon and Darrell into letting him escape with the stolen Bodega sign is honestly pretty impressive, and shows just how much K.O.’s fledgling people skills are paying off!
I think it’s not any real surprise that Shannon and Darrell bicker and argue; after all, they’re not only siblings, but also evil henchmen. But it MIGHT be surprising that Enid and Rad seem to bicker just as much as the bots do! Which… I guess makes sense! I mean, they get along ok, but. At the end of the day, right now they’re coworkers. They have fun, sure! But there’s still a lot of friction between them at this point that’s going to take a while to really settle into a more comfortable groove.
Villain of the Episode
You could almost feel bad for Lord Boxman. After all, every day he deals with failure after failure. All he wants is to wipe a local minimall off the map so he can run his evil robot factory without being TORMENTED by the vague proximity of people being friends ! I mean. In theory you could feel bad for him, If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s more than willing to pit his robotic ‘children’ against each other! A parent should never play favorites.
...But I’m not their parent, so I can play favorites all I want! My good gentle audience, allow me to introduce the real star of the hour, the paragon of power, the blooming rose of Boxmore-
✨ RAYMOND! ✨ THE PLAYER OF THE YEAR!
Right out of the gate, Raymond is. Just so MUCH, and it’s all magnificent. While his siblings are no slouches, Raymond has STYLE. He has AESTHETIC! He has a unified theme . He has- an oversized glamor shot of himself?! Clearly this is a robot who not only knows how to plan an attack, but also how to prepare for an entrance . He’s a genuine pompadour powerhouse in every possible way. He has an intense mix of themes- he’s a terrifyingly skilled sports jock and a romantic egotist with just a soupçon of ‘evil rooster’. And he backs up his showmanship with a genuinely terrifying level of raw combat skills, using his sports theme- and spiffy megaman style transforming arm blaster- to their full potential.
Along with just being glamorous, he also brings a lot to the established Boxmore chemistry! And I mean more than even his raw Team Rocket, sailor moon monster of the week energy. Compared to his siblings, Raymond has all the same drive and determination to please their Dad, but has enough focus and planning to be a bit more of a threat.
And that’s important, especially now that the Bodega kids can reliably handle the other bots as a team. Sure, they can handle a Darrel (well, Enid and Rad can). But you never know when things might get… sportier .
There’s actually no real minor characters this time- which I guess makes sense! Not only is this an ensemble cast episode WITH the introduction of a new ~star player~, but the plot also moves along at a pretty fast pace!
So I’ll just use this space to bring up how much I like Potato the rabbit. I just think she’s neat!
This episode has a TON of incredibly hilarious little moments in it. I love how Rad and Enid’s fighting is abstracted to them cartoonishly just making vague fighting noises at each other. And I mentioned it earlier but K.O.’s frantic frustration trying to get the idea of teamwork across when the ‘bots are trying to kidnap him with his outburst of “You win, I win, WE ALL WIN!!!!” is just so endearing. He’s trying so hard.
But maybe MOST of all I have to highlight the sequence where Shannon and Darrel FINALLY get the love and pride from Boxman that they deserve. I always crack up at Boxman bouncing them like babies while making goofy soothing noises just to snap “AND I’VE ALWAYS HATED YOU!”. Add to that Raymond (metaphorically???) throwing himself off a cliff in despair and you wind up with what might be one of my personal favorite comedic sequences in the show. The sheer Smug Sibling Malice Shannon and Darrel radiate just never gets old.
That Was SO Cool!
The sheer love that goes into Raymond’s whole introduction is. Genuinely a gift . This episode goes HARD, absolutely taking it to the paint to sell us on his personality- and threat- with both showmanship and just a dang killer fight scene! I think his face off against Enid might win out as the slickest in terms of choreography and cleverness, even if his beatdown on Rad might be my favorite for how goofy it is.
Music wise this episode introduces another fantastic Boxmore Bot Theme- Raymonds Theme is a triumphant swelling anthem that swoops with passionate romance even as it asks, nay, DEMANDS to know! ARE you READY for some sportsball???
And on a minor note, the animation where Raymond steps not just past but literally OVER poor KO is such a smooth moment that it really sells the bit.
I Just Think It’s Neat
I might be wrong, but I think that this is actually one of the last times that we see the Boxmore bots juggling the title ‘Lord Boxman’ around at all instead of just sticking to ‘Dad’! Lord Boxman preferring they call him by his full title is more or less a bit we only really see in the beginning of the show, and one or two of the shorts made before the series proper started! Pretty much after this point, I think they don’t really have him fighting it anymore.
Personally, I’m on the opinion that you can see this as either character development orrr… just a straight up change in writing! Either is valid. But either way, Raymond habit of trying to toss the word ‘Coach in there is pretty endearing.
Raymond is, as I said, a Lot in general. SO much that I hope you don’t mind me taking a moment to break down some of his design traits. Because I’m doing it anyways!
-Him and shannon are the only bots to have visible eye color! Possibly some of the only characters on the show, come to think of it. And what’s especially fascinating to me is it’s not JUST because they’re evil robots… but it’s a match for Boxman’s eyes! Yes I said eyes. You only see it once or twice in a few exxagerated faces, but his human eye is ALSO red! His robot eye matches his natural eye color.
-I mentioned earlier that there’s a trace of evil rooster to Ray-Ray’s whole steeze, and I think it’s particularly noticeable just after he batters Shannon and Darrel with a delightfully on theme dodgeball. He scuffs his feet back towards them like a chicken kicking up dust! Which is usually behavior you see while they hunt for bugs. Truly an extreme burn… from an Extremely Rude Chicken Man.
-The giant glamor shot he drops when he makes his entrance is still visible in the parking lot later on in the episode. You suppose they have to clean that up later? You just KNOW it doesn’t fit in the dumpster. Truely, Raymond is just that evil .
-Sometimes he has five fingers! Okay, okay, this is technically just an animation variance- something about a character design that gets nudged off model from shot to shot depending on what looks better. You can actually see the same thing happen with Boxman sometimes- his chicken hand usually has three fingers like an actual bird talon, but every now and then it gets rendered with four to sell a pose or gag. And I love seeing it! It’s fluid, and fun, and has a lot more character then, well, sticking too tightly to a character model does, ironically/
(And, realtalk, staying super on model doesn’t. Actually matter? Most people won’t even notice this kind of thing. I notice this kind of thing, on like my sixth viewing. I am an outlier and should not be counted.)
So why do I point it out here? Because Raymond gets this treatment a LOT more then other characters for one simple reason; his posing! Those Evil Anime Upper Class gestures (or the ojou-sama laugh, if you wanna get all TV tropes) probably just look a lot better with a more filled out set of fingies. And honestly I can relate- do you know how much time I’ve spent trying to write a description of ‘loosely holding your hand in front of your mouth, sideways, with one pinky sorta up’ so it sounds natural??? This is why I don’t have Raymond fics up yet .
...Despite all this I actually kind of like the idea that he has extra fingers. I mean why not! He’s a robot. Maybe it helps with the sports. Maybe he keeps spares around.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
“The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy.”, as K.O. puts it. Just cause you share a common enemy doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to team up, kids. That’s how you get betrayed during a game of four-square.
Also we have a pretty great secondary moral in “Hey, if you’re fighting with your friends, maybe chill out a bit. Watch a sunset. See how you feel then”.
We Got The Plot?
This episode is pretty much a pure character focus episode! So while there’s not really a lot tying back to any major underlying plot arcs, there’s definitely some things that’ll come up again, like-
Raymond and Radicles' Rivalry!
Ahhh, rivalry. Isn’t it beautiful? There’s nothing quite as distinctly hot blooded as when two foes of roughly equal strength and contrasting personalities take one look at each other and decide- oh, to absolute heck with THAT . And while it hasn’t quite kicked over into a boil yet, I think it’s pretty clear that Rad and Raymond are already starting to act as foils to one another! Not only does Raymond go after Rad first (right after conceding that he has great ‘form’), but he literally charges past Enid and K.O. to try and deliver the finishing blow. I think it’s safe to say that… hate is in the air, if I can be a romantic for a moment.
But speaking of walking right past someone, I also think it’s worth highlighting that Raymond won’t fight K.O. yet .Unlike his siblings, who are all too happy to go mano el mano with a 6-11 year old, Raymond takes one look at K.O. and keeps on a’ walking. Mind, whether that’s out of chivalry, kindness, or just because he thinks it’s a waste of his time is up for the viewer to decide. But it is actually pretty consistent! It’s never really called to any sort of attention, but Raymond continues to not directly fight K.O. until a lot later on, when K.O. can actually handle himself. It’s cute! I kinda get the feeling he inherited his dad’s sense of a Villainous Code.
Final Overall Thoughts
Oh, man oh man. So One of my personal rules writing this series is that I don’t want to hold back- I want to be just as sincere and honest with my enthusiasm as the show is! Even if that means every now and then things might be a lil ‘soda bottle in a paint shaker’. So writing this was a little bit of a challenge to try and balance expressing myself honestly with keeping a little organized. Slowly twisting over the top, as it were. But now. Now my friends we’re in Final Thoughts, and I’m tossing some mentos in this sonnova beach. And now… now I can ask the important questions.
Namely, how exactly am I supposed to cope with having a favorite character who has, with complete and TOTAL sincerity and menace , said the phrase “Boom Boom, shake the room”? That’s a THING HE SAID. As like a cool parting shot! How am I supposed to live like this . ..I mean, besides magnificently, of course.
...which actually brings me to something I’d like to take a moment to talk about. It’s a little unusual, but I suspect something that’ll happen more as Let’s Watch The Show goes on! I’d like to talk a little bit about a character as a whole… and what they mean to me.
I love Raymond. But it’s more than just that he’s a type that I take super effective damage from. I think what I love most of all is that… nothing about him is really a joke . Sure, he’s flamboyant- but never in a way that feels like the flamboyance is supposed to be what’s threatening. He’s threatening because he’s a threat . And if anything at all about him is used for goofy humor it’s the sporty side of his identity. I honestly always crack up at him just randomly shouting the word SPORTS in combat.
Raymond works because he’s not isolated. He’s not Wildly Dramatic when no one else is; EVERYONE in this show is goofy and dramatic, especially at Boxmore. He’s no more egotistical then Rad is. Nobody Else on this show is a big paragon of Straight Cis Masculine Ideals; even Mr. Gar wears a pink tie.
But Raymonds meant to be cool. He’s meant to be flashy! But he’s very clearly not meant to be… well. Icky. And I’m honestly so glad.
Because I get to see myself in him. Without being the joke, or the gross out.
Basically as I’ve alluded to a few times before, I’m a pretty flamboyant guy! And I’m not only queer as heck, but also a trans man. Which means among other things, my gender had to be more or less hand carved out of freakin’ granite. When I was a kid, I didn’t notice how often the big femmy male villains were supposed to be bad BECAUSE they were like that. I just saw something that spoke to me the way other masculine portrayals never did. I idolized that glamorous masculine beauty. Without. Reaaaallly being able to parse why on a few levels. Later when I started transitioning, well. Trying to stick to the straight, cis standard of “masculinity” actually made me miserable. I only really became happy with how I looked and presented myself when I let myself be more… the kind of man I am, not the kind of man you’re supposed to be.
For me, embracing a sense of vanity and showiness is my armor. It makes me happy, and it’s even a reason to take better care of myself. It’s a genuine source of strength; being as beautiful and showy and Goofy Punk Vaporwave Villain as I can is important to me. I love bright colors- my whole wardrobe is nothing but aloha shirts and neons. I love glitter, and pink, and the way I look. And most of all, I love letting myself have a big personality, and never apologizing for it!
I’m exactly me. I’m not humble, I’m not overlookable, and I’m probably nobody’s model minority on literally any axis. And if anyone doesn’t like it I honestly ~could not care less~, dear.
And OK K.O. actually does me right. Raymond is a fantastic tribute to the great Evil Aristocrat Laugh bad guys of my youth, but made with such genuine love and care that it really blows me away. As an extremely queer person, this kind of writing where you can tell people people like you were making it just. Makes me so happy.
And that is why I am informing you all now that Raymond is definitely a trans man. Sources: I Do What I Want.
And what I want to do now is, until next time- (Let’s ) Watch The Show!
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes, and also a niche arcade rhythm game with a surprising amount of lore and a deeply unwieldy controller! I’m your host, a man who definitely still has a copy of Elite Beat Agents AND a Donky Konga somewhere, Friendly Troll!
It’s time to meet DENDY! Dendy is a somewhat enigmatic kid who knows K.O. (at a distance) from school, and says she needs his help! Her hacking and programming capable technological backpack- or hackpack!- has gone on the fritz, and needs his help finding the parts to repair it. This takes them to Mr. Logic’s salon, and the arcade- and along the way, they start to get to know each other a little bit, even winding up having a carefree game of tag on their way to the last stop, the alleyway full of broken robot parts!
Anyhow, it’s unfortunately here where our fetch quest takes a rough turn for K.O., and he winds up being snapped up by a deadly anglerfish robot! Which leads us to realize that Dendy… might be up to something. Or have realized that about at the top of the episode. But it’s now that she settles in and reveals she has some kind of observational file on our kiddo, which she updates instead of helping him.
But when it turns out they share something in common- POW cards- Dendy has a change of heart. Not only does she release K.O. from his fishy prison, but she reveals that she had. Ulterior motives. She wanted to learn more about K.O., and her Hackpack was never broken at all. But even though her reason for spending time with him was a ruse, the friendship they’ve forged together isn’t!
This episode marks an INCREDIBLY important milestone in the show, folks! That’ right, with the addition of Dendy to the cast K.O. officially has… A FRIEND HIS OWN AGE!! And what a perfect friend for our littlest bean of a buddy, too! Though it might not seem that way at first- after all, Dendy and K.O. are pretty much total opposites. Dendy’s low key to K.O.’s upbeat, technology focused to his physical base, observant to his impulsive! Not to mention somewhat Chaotic Neutral to his Lawful Sweetiepie.
But that’s why they work! Dendy provides a delightful balance to K.O., and opens up story opportunities that wouldn’t be possible without someone who shares his age and interest in POW cards, but approaches things from a completely different direction then he does! ...sometimes a very, very different direction. You get the feeling it’s a good thing Dendy has K.O. as an influence…
Dendy is honestly a total delight to me. I love that she’s a smart kid without feeling like a bundle of stereotypes and outdated references- she still feels like a KID! And a kid that I can honestly relate to the same way I relate to K.O. She’s a little bit separate from her peers. When it comes to things she’s interested in she knows EVERYTHING about it; but things OUTSIDE of that…. well. Just don’t come naturally. But the bottom line is that while we might have just met her, she’s an excellent bean.
Plus, when she smiles it looks like a (-)v(-) emoji, and I think we can all agree that this is extremely good.
This is really one of those episodes where we get to see K.O. at his best! And I think one of the first early episodes where he’s really finding his own strengths. Up till now we’ve seen a lot of him trying to figure out where he fits in at the Plaza, or dealing with his quest to be a hero. But I think when he meets Dendy, we actually get to see him BE the exact kind of hero he is! And I don’t just mean the fetch quest Dendy gives him- but I do enjoy seeing him throw himself into helping someone new, and how this episode shows off how well he’s gotten to know the Plaza.
But where K.O. really shines is how he interacts with Dendy. I am incredibly fond of how K.O. handles Dendy’s misunderstandings and lack of social polish. He just… kind of rolls with it! He corrects her when she risks hurting someone, but otherwise he just. Doesn’t make a big deal about it, and even tells her he admires the way she does things. I especially adore the way he reacts when she misunderstands a turn of phrase he uses- he doesn’t laugh, or make a big deal about it. He just rephrases what he says!
Plus, it really feels like the same sweet instinct that’s lead him to try and fail to reach out to the boxmore bots so many times finally gets to pay off here- and make him a real friend! And gosh darnit, he deserves it.
Villain of the Episode
Well! On one hand the Junkfish (Evil Robotic Anglerfish? BotFish? ... Dominusarcarum mechalophius ? ) in the alleyway is probably the closest thing I can think of to an antagonist this episode… but I don’t know how comfortable I am pinning any blame on Junkfish. Junkfish was just doing all Junkfish knows how to do!
No, the true villain this episode, once again, is Shenanigans . Now I try to never blame the victim; I understand that when social engagement is tough, it can be very tempting to undergo a convoluted scheme instead of having to ask someone you haven’t talked to before if they’d like to hang out! But that’s why it’s important to teach kids when they’re young that Shenanigans are never a good idea, no matter what you see on television.
Once again it’s time to prepare for the classical robot charm and smooth sweet background tunes of Lakewood Plaza Turbo’s premier hairstylist, Mr. Logic ! We actually get to learn a little bit more about Mr. Logic! ...most of which almost but not quite directly contradicts what we learn about him later! Eh, it happens. More on that later in We Got the Plot, though.
But Mr. Logic remains one of my favorite characters- I’d say I wish we saw more of him, but he honestly gets a lot of love over the course of the show! And he deserves all of it.
...Y’ reckon him and Beardo from the Food Truck ever hang out? I hope so.
I think by far the highlight to me this episode is K.O. and Dendy’s game of tag. It’s just so… goofy and sweet and sincere. From K.O. doubling back to make sure Dendy knows he’s inviting her to play tag with him, to their uncontrollable gigglefit after K.O. hits the wall it’s just. Such a good moment! It’s the kind of adorable friendship starting moment you can just imagine them reminiscing about years later and UGH I’M GETTING EMOTIONAL.
I just love these kids so much.
That Was SO Cool!
This isn’t really much of an action episode, I’m afraid! So instead I’m going to count Mr. Logic’s haircut as this week's Cool Highlight. I mean, it’s a haircut so good it changed the animation style! That has to count for something.
Dendy’s killer takedown of the Anglerbot also definitely deserves a mention- I like how it included kind of a plausible variation on “super hacker powers”, too! Probably for the best she left it set to ‘don’t eat a child’, having that sucker in the alleyway kinda feels like a tragedy waiting to happen.
...Reckon they have those safety edutainment films they make you watch in class in OK KO…?
I Just Think It’s Neat
I really love K.O.’s little song at the top of the episode- I might be reading into it a little, but I wonder if it’s not a reference to one of the original names for the series! “Lakewood Plaza Turbo”!
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
As KO puts it: “If you wanted to hang out, you coulda just asked!”. It might seem hard if you’re awkward or shy, but you still gotta just talk to someone you’re interested in getting to know someone. No elaborate ruses! ...I mean a 6-11 year old can just say ‘hey wanna be friends?’ while an adult kinda can’t, but still! A lotta stuffs harder when you’re an adult.
We Got The Plot?
This episode is a proper pick-n-mix of plot details that are going to come up again later! Most of them are pretty small, but one… well. One of them is practically one of the reasons I started this series! It’s one of those things in this show that’s set up as an element SO subtly and SO well it actually took me a long time to realize just what a good job they’d done threading it into the series…
I literally can’t believe how often this show has made me Intensely Seriously discuss something called a ‘Glorb’. I’ve had lore breakdowns, Pepe Silvia Rambles, and some extremely solid theorizing that is, in the end, about a plot element with a name that’s literally the words ‘Glow Orbs’ smooshed together. I love it. It’s literally the most unpretentious possible direction they coulda gone with this. There’s no attempt to make it sound cool, or special, or even remotely important.
Which is appropriate, because right NOW they’re not. But they will be. Oh, they will be. But for right now, we just know about what Dendy’s told K.O., and by extension, us! Glorbs are something that function like a battery, and are apparently standard to power robots! So some kind of compact, efficient energy source. Pretty cut and dry! And… funnily enough, this really is the core info about glorbs . That never really changes. It’s more… well. I suppose context…?
But that’s not all! We have more Plot. While in context these are all kind of minor details, I can honestly DELIGHTED by the fact that every single one of these details is going to wind up being not just brought back later, but pretty majorly so in some cases! Like-
The Robotic Lurefish - alright this one is actually pretty minor, but come to think of it, why IS there a giant robot fish in the ‘busted robots’ alleyway? It’s definitely not a modern Boxmore design, that’s for sure.
The ‘M*Elodie’ Machine in the Arcade! Okay. Okay. This. May possibly be my MOST ‘Blink and You’ll Miss It’ catch SO FAR in this series. BUT if you pause on the establishing shot when K.O. and Dendy are in the arcade, you should be able to see a pink standup arcade with a character we’re doing to get to see more of… relatively soon, come to think of it!
We get a return of POW cards , which turn out to be a big part of sealing Dendy and K.O.’s friendship! It’s genuinely wholesome seeing them bond over their collections, and this shared, special interest between them is something that’ll be a part of their relationship through. Well, pretty much the whole series! And when we get a peek into Dendy’s collection we get our first look in the series proper at…
Professor Venomous. Whoever that is. Some jerk.
Mr. Logic’s Mysterious Past
Delightfully, I can absolutely confirm that later down the line, we really WILL get to find out more about Mr. Logic! Just… uh. Not exactly about the clippers, let’s say. Lemme explain. What he says about ‘giving up all that robot stuff’ does kind of work with what we find out later, but the bit about getting his hair clippers from his grandfather ... doesn’t. I mean listen, I can make it work, and I will when we get there, but.
And to be clear, this isn’t really a big deal! I think at this point they just hadn’t really settled on what Mr. Logics backstory was yet, and when they decided to focus on his past later they didn’t feel beholden to a goofy throwaway joke from episode 8. And honestly I’m all for that. I would always rather a story go somewhere interesting then feel beholden to Never Conflicting With Cannon . I might be a Lore Doofus, but even I think yelling about ‘plot holes’ over minor stuff is just. No? Dull. Stop it. Flexibility, yo! It’s all about flexibility in storytelling, just like how I don’t think maintaining strict ‘on model’ art really matters either.
But I thought it was interesting to highlight once it caught my attention! Especially since as far as I remember, this is really the only time something like this happens in the whole show. (As in a full out ‘offhand cannon detail is contradicted. Not ‘Cannon being a LITTLE wobbly’. We’ll… we’ll get to plenty of those, and they’re all delightful.)
Final Overall Thoughts
Man, this is another one of those really Big episodes! Not in terms of action, or even really in terms of Big Revelations, but to my eye it’s absolutely dense with information- and in many ways, to me, marks the end of the very early “set up” episodes! In fact, I think with Dendy we’re officially locked in for our main heroic cast! ...for a certain given value of Heroic, at least in this episode. Which actually is a perfect lead in to something I wanna talk about with this episode.
See, I can actually remember the first time I saw this episode! I remember my delight at meeting Dendy, and how much I loved seeing her and K.O. becoming friends… and. Well.
I can definitely, definitely remember being tensed up pretty much the whole episode, waiting for the reveal that Dendy was going to turn out to secretly be a robot. Or working for Boxmore. Or just generally Secretly Evil! I really, genuinely thought that was where the episode might have been going. Heck, I figured at the VERY least when K.O. realized she’d been up to something Shady we’d have some kind of big And KO Is SUPER UPSET and HURT kind of point. But… it just. Never came! And I was so, so, so happy
But… why did that take me so off guard? ...weeellll.
Put simply: I’m not used to seeing characters who are so overtly coded as Autistic, or otherwise ‘On the Spectrum’ as Dendy is get to be. Good Guys. Or not be total jokes. Or really awful flat stereotypes. And… also… it’s so common for autistic personality traits to be used for “nonhuman” characters I guess I just. Was braced for the worst!
And honestly? It still makes me giddy that Dendy is part of this show, and a GOOD GUY, and… a girl!! A GIRL gets to be autistic!! Not just ‘haha a girl nerd, as in we threw a bow on this collection of stereotypes that hasn’t been updated since 1965! Isn’t that WACKY!’. She’s a real character! And Important! And good!!!
It’s another example of OK K.O. doing it’s audience Right in ways that just. Mean an awful lot to me. And it makes me happy that it’s not like… the One Weird Kid in the cast of Normal Relatable Kidz. K.O. has his own thing going! And him and Dendy wind up moving forward together in ways that feel really meaningful to me- not to get too ahead of the plot, mind.
But just like with Raymond, Dendy makes me feel like I get to see a part of myself in a show, for once, in a way that’s positive! There’s a lot of the cast I feel that way about; like how K.O. is being raised by a single mom, for instance. It’s just… nice! It’s really lovely, and knowing kids this could make a world of difference for might be able to grow up with this show brings me a lot of joy.
And on a plot detail this episode REALLY does a lot, huh? I figure since they knew they were cleared for a proper season they did NOT waste ANY time laying out the tracks for later. And honestly I love it. I just… love the way this show handles expanding its worldbuilding.
I try not to get ahead of myself, or over hype things in this series. But. There’s just something so elegant about how OK K.O. sets things up. It never feels awkward or like an intrusion, or like someone had to figure out how to crowbar an idea in after the fact. Everything this episode sets up that’s going to be important later winds up just… feeling like it was always there. Like these elements have been part of this story all along , and it’s always been informing the writing! It’s.
It’s like. I really feel like this is a series with a story that unfolds . There’s layers here; and they were a part of the story from the very beginning.
And I can’t wait to get to show you more! So-
Let’s Watch the Show!
Authors Note After the Fact!
Somehow or another I completely spaced checking the official Intended Viewing Guide, thinking it surely couldn't be necessary just yet!
But in the words of K.O. at the end of Boxman Crashes: Whupsiiiieee... yeah. As it turns out, "I Am Dendy" goes before "Sibling Rivalry" in the Intended Viewing order!
SO while I am going to try to do my best to check the Intended Viewing Order (source FROM https://twitter.com/tobytobyjones/status/1116781434482511872 ) from now on, I will settle for just adding this note!
As far as I know, it's not like the Official Release Order really messes anything up (aside from one or two confusing things), and the tweet linked mentions in some replies that it was just to match a better mix of episodes for releasing the episodes new every day for a while. BUT I want to try using the crew's intended order, since my suspicion is it'll have a better flow for the story as a whole. ✌️
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes which could only be the type of wizard that gets airbrushed on someone’s van. I’m your host, a black velvet unicorn painting of a man, Friendly Troll. Let’s get into it!
K.O. and Enid are having a fun time at the Bodega front counter while Enid shows off her kickin’ skills when they’re interrupted by the most terrifying, horrifying, mind bendingly awful threat any super powered customer service worker can encounter! An older white guy who’s decided he’s going to take advantage of you being unable to flee his presence to ramble at you . Luckily for us, Enid is a true hero and valiantly stands up to him by. Just. Not really giving him the time of day. In retaliation the customer, WALLY THE WHITE, swears Vengeance! Which is definitely a reasonable response to a cashier being like kind of rude to you!
Still, that’s enough to get him off their backs for a moment. K.O. worries a little bit about going too hard on Wally- but Enid assures him that she doesn’t really care if someone thinks she’s mean. Not a lot of people ‘get’ her. Except K.O… riiiiiiight? Right?? Enid???
Well it’s a good thing that K.O. has resolved to prove that he Gets Enid, because when he arrives at work the next day she needs him more than ever. She’s been turned to STONE! And because of her usual calm demeanor, nobody else even realizes she needs help! It takes the true love and tears of a sweet lil bean to break her out of this curse! Or… maybe it was on a timer, as he discovers when Wally the White comes back to finish what he started.
It’s a wild chase as K.O. tries to get Enid back before he can turn Enid PERMANENTLY to stone, but K.O. can’t give up! Not even at the last minute when, after he makes it clear to Wally just WHY he doesn’t understand how impersonal Enid’s “disrespect” was, Wally turns his magic against K.O.! Only at the very last minute does Enid break out of her shell (and she’s doing just fine!) to protect her little buddy, and send this windbag packing!
Because after all… K.O. gets her.
Enid gets a really solid focus this episode, with the same dichotomy in play between her standoffish cold personality and K.O.’s cheerful enthusiasm that we saw back in You’re Everybody’s Sidekick! But I’d argue this time we get a closer look at what makes Enid tick, and get to see things a little more from her side. Sure she’ll do her job, but as she points out, Wally the White wasn’t even buying anything. Enid doesn’t care if some random customer (who kind of sucks) thinks she’s mean or whatever; why should she? She doesn’t need strangers approval- or understanding- to be herself. And while she might not care about Some Random Dude, she DOES care about K.O..
K.O. meanwhile is as good a bean as ever- and you really do have to feel for him this episode! Being able to see that something is wrong with a friend when nobody else notices is a pretty rough feeling, let alone when it involves your friend being turned into soapstone. And we get to see the downside to how much he cares! Sometimes when you care a lot, you can wind up worrying about what somebody thinks of you even though it doesn’t really matter a lot. But luckily, when it comes down to it, he’s still on his friends side first.
Villain of the Episode
This episode introduces us to one of the most awful and REALISTIC bad guys of all of OK K.O.’s run- Wally the White . Who is definitely Having A Normal One.
Wally the White is like the phantom specter of awful experiences with working customer service. Is it possible to make enjoyable smalltalk with a teller? Sure! But just kind of talking at someone who’s already doing something? No. And demanding to talk to a manager because they won’t humor you? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Service workers literally can’t escape you!! Heck, the fact that Enid has the authority to sass him instead of actually having to go get her manager is one of the more beautifully wish-fulfillment saturated moments in this show.
In a lot of ways this makes him a FANTASTIC villain, even if it’s one that I’m glad we don’t see much more of. But his blustering, over the top Nightmare Customer personality is fantastically performed by a weirdly. Familiar voice. Almost like it’s a voice of someone I’ve heard hundreds of times…
Well if you had the same thought I did watching this episode, then I’m delighted to tell you the mystery guest star here is the one and only Wallace Shawn! Who you might recognize from great films like My Dinner With Andre, or from his voice roles in Toy Story or The Incredibles! But that’s not where I knew him from! I recognized him from his roles as Vizzini in The Princess Bride! And… also ‘Mr. Hall’ from Clueless. Both of which are movies I think I’ve probably seen at least a hundred times each when I was a kid. Which is kind of a weird combo, now I come to think of it…
But I can’t help highlighting the voice work! It’s a great performance, and A: It’s neat, and B: I swear it drives me crazy every time I see this episode, even if I’ve looked it up before. In fact I forgot between writing this and sitting down to edit it for posting! Selective memory, folks. Its real.
Anyways Wally the White is the Worst and I honestly deeply appreciate that he’s just 100% An Awful Character who’s given no benefit of the doubt. Quit buggin’ workers, people!
We get a couple of quick glances at minor customers, all of who are interrupting Enid when she’s in the middle of important work(showing off and feeding K.O. a hot dog), but I think the one nearest and dearest to my heart is Punching Judy !
She’s one of those really adorable, kind of goofy designs that I honestly just love. From her long Anime Green hair to her simple outfit with those big ol punchy gloves, Punching Judy has EXTREMELY strong Beat ‘Em Up character energy. She definitely looks like she could be ambling around punching bad guys and following a set of flashing arrows to the next fighting destination!
Maybe that’s what she does when she’s not babysitting? After all back in Episode 1 we first met her as K.O.’s sitter, which is just kind of neat! It really encapsulates what I like about this show; sure, your name might be Punching, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to do a kinda mundane job so you can afford some… uh.
Glove-Off. Apparently. That’s what she’s buying. Boy do I have a lot of questions.Do you use it to get something off of a boxing glove, or. Is it something you use to… get… punching gloves… of ? Is… is that a problem? I mean, I guess there ARE some things that’d be difficult to do with them on. I mean. How the crud do you type with boxing gloves on?
We may never know...
There’s a lot to love in this episode! K.O.’s determination to help Enid is adorable- and seeing him break down crying over her predicament is SO cute. But I think for me the best is probably when Wally the White makes the INCREDIBLY poor decision to try to ask CAROL for help dealing with K.O.! It’s deeply satisfying to watch him just. Make that very bad descision. Plus I love that by default she’s on K.O.’s side! Carol’s the best.
...though honestly I kinda wonder if ANY adult in the Plaza woulda taken Wally’s word over K.O.’s. I think everyone knows K.O. is the Best Bean, right? Plus he’s carrying a stone Enid. I’m pretty sure even Boxman would find that creepy.
Also, the phrase “Iiii see. Playing hooky to go gallivanting with a wizard, eh? Reminds me of MY schoolboy days.” just. Like as a series of words that exist? That deserves a highlight. And maybe a cross-stitch.
That Was SO Cool!
Definitely the chase between K.O. and Wally The White! It’s a really slick, fun piece of action. And also I’m a BIG fan of the moment when Enid breaks out of her stoney prison to defend K.O. Not only is it a really great action shot, but it’s just the kind of rad Power Of Friendship moment that I adore SO much. The hot blooded sincerity of it all!!
I Just Think It’s Neat
-K.O. and Enid have CLEARLY been practicing their K.O. kicky ball routine and honestly it is. Healing. I love them so much.
-Dendy going through all that effort just to cheerfully announce that Enid is made of soapstone cracks me up; and I really adore the way she just kind of. Bails? Sorry, K.O., this ain’t Dendy’s skillset in literally any direction, technological or emotional. ’I am sorry K.O. ...Seeya at School Tomorrow!!!’ Always gets me. It’s so sincere.
-Even though Wally the White uses magic, he’s still clearly just creating a smoke bomb effect and still scampering off.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Honestly? “Who the Heck Cares what Some Jerk Rando Thinks Of You” is an EXCELLENT message for kids.
We Got The Plot?
Sort of! There’s nothing that major this episode- it’s really mostly about K.O. and Enid’s relationship! But we DO have some minor details worth keeping an eye on!
- Magic Exists !! ...Actually it took me until I was writing this to remember that. Up until this point in the story, as far as WE knew, this was a strict Action Adventure Martial Art kind of world! You know, that sort of. Vaguely sci-fi ish feeling thing stuff like Dragon Ball has going for it, where you get energy beams and special techniques and talking animals and okay some magic but. Not magic magic. But Wally the White’s just… a straight up wizard! Pointy hat n’ all, so you know he’s old school.It feels very natural as it happens, but it also really makes it clear there’s room for a LOT in this setting!
Dendy’s interest in Radicles
I have to admit I also just think them chatting on the roof is really cute. If this wasn’t going to be a recurring theme, I’d probably have plunked it down in I Think It’s Neat. Because it is.
KO’s Sense of Empathy
Poor bean!! But he IS good at knowing and understanding people- this is just another one of those good moments.
Huh Enid Sure Did Manage To Dispel Some Magic Before It Shoulda Worn Off
Just. Interesting! I dunno! Might be… somethin… who knows! ...Alright listen these were going to have to get a little coy sooner or later. Sometimes something’s a near detail that’s a subtle nod towards a reveal later, but there’s no real way for me to talk about it without spoiling something. That’s how it be!
Huh, K.O. is surprisingly good at handling himself in midair.
Aw cmon what did I JUST SAY about the coyness??? Next segment already!
Final Overall Thoughts
This one isn’t really a big plot or New Character or heavy hitter- and honestly thank GOODNESS. Writing too many giant lore setup kinda recaps in a row would be exhausting after a while. But honestly this is a really solid episode! It builds on Enid and K.O.’s relationship, establishes a few things about the setting, and is overall a really neat little adventure! Plus I really enjoy any episode where the actual specificity of the cast working a service industry job comes up in focus- I feel like you can really tell how many people working on this show have had a dayjob like this sometime in the past.
Also on this watch through I really found myself appreciating that a character like Enid exists. It sounds strange to say it, but I just don’t think a girl character like Enid existed when I was a kid. Sure you got girl characters who were cool, but. Not in this kind of confident, standoffish way. And basically NEVER cool and confident and also getting to be part of the goofy fun! When I was a kid, more often than not girl characters were like. Always the ‘cross your arms and shake your head/roll your eyes while the BOYS do something SILLY’ character. They had to be the no fun ~sensible~ ones and it honestly was just. The worst.
But I feel like more and more, that might finally be a relic of the past. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Heck on the same vein, I feel like when I was younger there was more of a tendency for parent characters to assume that if an adult was mad at their kid, they MUST have done something wrong- and that’s definitely fallen by the wayside now.
Sometimes, the future’s pretty cool. And I know what I’d like to do with mine!
Let’s Watch The Show!
Apologies for the missed update last week! I have a chronic pain condition, so while I'm trying to re-build my buffer, I can't say there won't be missed updates in the future. I may try and take a bit to write some sort of... mini-essays to go up in these kinds of times? Things that I want to talk about but can't find space in each episode's review proper.
Chapter 11: Episode 10: Do You Have Any More In The Back?
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes and also a hot new tabletop roleplaying game with a LOT of good ideas, but a tragically byzantine rules set for fight scenes. I’m your host, that one player who’s going to steal every vaguely redeemable villain NPC that’s not nailed down and has Opinions about these grapple rules, Friendly Troll!
We join our heroes as Radicles works hard at his MOST important task at Gar’s Bodega: Impressing a 6-11 year old child! But dazzling K.O. with his teenage boy Skillz and lifehacks will have to wait! A customer needs their help! And the only place they might be able to find the customers requested item is… in the back of the store .
Well, the Back and Down, Downtown Back Down to be specific, since it turns out there’s a little more to Gar’s storage system then what you’d expect Indeed, as Rad, K.O., and Enid (who came along explicitly to see Rad’s confidence blow up in his face) soon discover the underground area of the bodega is more of a labyrinth than anything else! Minus any goblin kings, but complete with winding mazes, monsters, mimics, mummies and even a magical map! Which Radicles outright refuses to accept because he OBVIOUSLY definitely absolutely for sure knows what he’s doing, and DEFINITELY isn’t getting his friends hopelessly lost. At least that’s what he says, so K.O. believes him!
But false confidence can only take them so far, Enid can only take SO much of this nonsense before she loses her patience with Rad’s refusal to back down, and takes K.O. with her on a search for the proper exit. Or at least that dang map. Unfortunately what they wind UP finding is mimics. And mimic. And unfortunately more mimic then even that when Rad shows back up- twice ! Rad and Enid have to figure out who’s their REAL friend: the Rad who’s apologetic and Learned The Episodes Moral, or the Rad who… really, really hasn’t.
It’s up to K.O. to take a good hard look at how Rad’s been acting to to realize who the REAL Rad is… Bad Rad . But… despite that, it turns out Rad went back for that map after all! Which isn’t exactly the same as an apology and a lesson learned, but at the very least, it’s enough to get everyone back to the bodega! With shaving cream in tow! ...probably.
So just to draw back the curtain on Let’s Watch the Show a little, when I sit down to write these I usually begin with a kind of skeleton outline! It’s basically just a set of notes to myself about what I’m going to focus on that’s pretty bare bones, and gets deleted as I write out a proper draft. Why bring this up, you might ask?? Because… well. I kinda. Accidentally totally nailed it in the Skeleton Draft this time. First try. With the following sentence:
“ Radicles is the “I also wish I wasn’t doing this” John Mullaney bit, as a person, but with toxic masculinity .”
Dusts hands off, satisfied with a job well done!!
...Okay okay, obviously I’m not just going to leave you with that but! In all honesty? To me that’s really the core of Rad’s major Character Conflict, especially at this early part of the show. And this episode is really where we can start to see that!
Like. Yeah, he’s an egotistical doofus who wants approval. But. I don’t think he’s unaware of that. it’s just… he doesn’t really know how to. Not. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, since a lot of this gets explored in more detail later on in the show, but I do think you can spot it pretty clearly in this episode! Specifically, there’s two distinct moments I’d like to crack into….
The first comes early on, with the Out of Service elevator. We can see Rad take a look at the elevator, realize it’s a bad idea, and try to back off. TWICE. And for Rad, brushing off the gentle goading of a 6-11 year old is actually kind of impressive.It’s only when Enid assets leadership, however casual, that he suddenly becomes defensive. Even though this is a TERRIBLE idea, he can’t let himself cede something as light as ‘Enid leading them to the stairs’. Not when he’s supposed to be on top of a situation.
And the second comes, appropriately, riiight at the very end: when Rad doubles BACK to get the map. For all him breaking off from the group SEEMED petulant (and he’s sure in a hurry to kinda sound like a jerk when he rejoins Enid and K.O) he really did double back for the Map. Which. Kinda means he does know they need it. And he didn’t just grab the map and then let his pals hang- which would be the TRULY bratty maneuver. He went back so they could all make it back to the Bodega. Which is to say… the right thing .
He can KNOW what the right thing is, and he can even DO the right thing (kinda), but right now, Rad doesn’t know how to say any of that. Or to put it another way: Rad can’t admit to anyone but himself when he’s messed up.
And honestly? I’m kind of fond of that. Sure Rad can be a little obnoxious; but it’s sympathetic to me. And this episode really marks where I think he starts to change. He just… doesn’t know how to be cool with himself yet. And if you can’t be cool to yourself, sometimes that spills out to the people around you.
Phew! That’s a lot, but don’t think for a second I forgot about-
Who, for the record, I usually have marked down in my skeleton outlines with phrases like “ Diagnosis, still the best Peanut ”. Which is, obviously, ALSO a complete and perfect summary of his character, and certainly still true for this episode! But just like Radicles, I actually think this episode shows also kind of a turning point for K.O., too.
Namely, this marks the first time in the series that K.O. kinda. Learns to look at his friends with a critical eye . We saw him get a little fed up with Radicles a little in “Jethro’s All Yours”, but this episode is different. This feels like the first time we really see K.O. kinda. Think about Rad’s behavior, and thoughtfully respond to it. And honestly, I don’t think it was easy. K.O. ADORES Rad- he looks up to him completely. You can see just how badly he wants to take Rad at his word about how great and infallible he is. Listening to Enid’s advice and taking Rad down off the pedestal for a moment is a heck of a feat for him.
Sure, he might go back to his usual adoration at the end of the episode… but it’s good start. And to me it’s a pretty significant moment of growth for our favorite Helpful Boy. And… also just. A moment of great development for their friendship ; it’s a move towards being pals as equals.
Villain of the Episode
Arguably this is one of those episodes where the REAL bad guy is Toxic Masculinity , and the degree to which teenage boys are pushed into a mindset where they feel like admitting to being wrong or backing down is admitting weakness. BUT as much as that’s true I don’t want to undersell the degree to which The Mimic REALLY pulls it in for the long haul on antagonistic behavior this episode!
The Mimic not only provides a good series of goofs, but also really underscores the fascinating shift in atmosphere of the Back of the Bodega. It feels like a whole other setting then the Bodega we know! It’s more mysterious! More… magical . More uh. Tabletop. And the Mimic has an old school charm I really appreciate. Not only does it show up according to the rules of three, but it even activates the most CLASSIC of tropes with imitating Rad. You gotta respect that kind of professional monster-antagonist behavior.
This is one of those episodes with a great selection of minor characters! There’s the adorable Ms Mummy , who I guess just. Lives in the Bodega? Does she pay rent to Mr. Gar? Or then there’s Fish Dude , which is, and I can’t stress this enough, the real actual name of the minor character who is a fish with human legs who’s request for shaving cream kicks this whole episode off.
BUT I think I’m going to have to give this episodes tip of the hat and MVP title to none other than… Gary! AKA the dude in an ominous cloak who tries to deliver a dire warning to our heroic trio. Namely because Gary has the dubious honor of being the Most Minor Minor Character To Still Have a Speaking Role ! Seriously, I had to check the Wiki just to even figure out if he uh. Ever. Shows up again? And the answer is a RESOUNDING... ‘kinda’.
According to the Wiki, Gary shows up in a grand total of two more episodes, and both of those appearances are in crowd shots. He’s also mentioned by name in one episode after this! That’s a grand total of four total episodes . And that is. Kind of hilarious to me? You have to understand this show LOVES to use background characters as much as it can. Like. To put that in context, Ms. Mummy show up in seven episodes in season 1 alone!
So let’s all take a moment to salute Gary; he’s probably not anyone's favorite character. But he is the Minor of the Minor. And that’s got to count for something.
Ahhh, the Duplicate Dilemma. The Clone Conundrum! When you got some kind of shapeshifter or Doppleganger about, you’re gonna run into these problems! But I have to admit, this might be one of my favorite takes on that kind of bit. And not just because of the ‘the real one is the one being a dink’, even though that is genuinely always funny to me. No, what I love is that the Mimic-Rad is doing a PERFECT Bog Standard ‘~And then They Learned The Moral Of The Episode~’ bit. apologizing, the cleanly articulating what they did wrong. It is STRAIGHT from the end of any random episode of almost any cartoon from the 1990s, and something about that being the big tell it’s a fake really cracks me up.
But also I just. I kind of love that Rad DIDN’T learn his lesson. This show doesn’t just introduce character problems so they can deliver a moral at the audience and then wrap it up with a bow. This is just. Kind of a part of who Rad is, right now, even if it’s a terrible trait. it’s gonna take more time then one episode to see him grow past it. So it’s a great bit to only have the FAKE rad conveniently change for the better all at once.
...You gotta admit tho, that’s probably worked on SOMEONE before. Probably Gary.
That Was SO Cool!
By far I gotta give my shout out to the Mimic Fights ! Plural! This episode really brought the heat with it’s fight choreography, giving us two different really slick, fast, and FUN fights! Not to mention unique; really every fight in OK K.O. is always something new, but I think this episode really does something special with the Mimic concept. First you have the Flashlight fight- the moving circle of light and silhouettes is so cool! And then you get a Mimic one two punch of the map, map fragments,and FLOOR that’d make even the meanest dungeon master proud.
Plus, I really like how K.O. and Enid both get to team up with thier fire attacks. It’s one of those moments where KO gets to help in a fight on equal terms!
I Just Think It’s Neat
-Enid’s Ponytail is revealed in this episode to be tied up by a hidden kunai throwing knife and a rope! Practical AND true to the Aesthetic. Not to mention just really cool for a quick-thinking midair save~
-The way the walls in the Bodega’s Back And Down areas arrange themselves in neat squares feels like it’s meant to be a visual nod to old RPG video game dungeons used tend to use tilesets! (Which are basically just a way of rendering visuals in pixel games as a repeating pattern). It really ups the feeling that the area’s basically a rougelike!
-K.O. is just kinda charming in general this episode, honestly! But I especially love how when K.O. gets startled by the Mimic Map, he kinda sniffles a little before he can tell Enid he’s O.K. It’s such a cute, sincere Little Kid Moment.
-The line “We can’t be trapped here forever! Cuz at five I gotta go home and eat sp’getti!”. Just. As a whole.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Honestly, Enid says it best! “Nobody’s perfect. Not even the people you look up to.” Bam. Boom. Perfect!!!!
We Got The Plot?
BOY DO WE.
Gar’s Bodega is named after Mr. Gar. Shocking, I know. But I’m glad they finally established it as cannon.
The Bodega’s Back and Down, Downtown Back Down . Not only is this new location a really interesting, kinda magical feeling side to the Lakewood Plaza, but surprisingly it’s actually going to come up again! Kind of… a LOT again! Is that surprising? Maybe it’s not such a shock but. Somehow or another I really distinctly remember that when I first saw this episode, I kinda assumed we’d never see it again, if I gave it much thought at all. Just sorta… an exaggerated location so that Rad could get them lost and goofy Hubris shenanigans would ensue. But it turns out over time to mean… a lot more. Heck, even more specific aspects of this location come up again! Particularly
- The Gloops !
- That Weird Glowing Tree.
- Just Like, A Lot!
Like. REALLY a Lot. So much so I- well, tell you what. Meet me in Final Overall Thoughts.
Final Overall Thoughts
Ahhh, there we go. Glad you could join me here! Because, Oh Boy! This Episode!!
Hoo, where to start with this episode. This episode… is part of why I decided to do this series in the first place !
...Alright, actually, lemme back up.
At its core, this is just a great, beautifully solid lil character episode. It’s probably one of my favorites in the first half of season one; it’s charming, and creative, and really starts to dig into the really thoughtful characterization that I love in this series. It builds up a little bit more about these characters in a very natural way, while still having a very fast paced adventure!
And. At the same time. While it does all of that. While it seems like a totally normal, sweet little goofy adventure episode. It also just. Just… casually, and naturally. Sets up some of the most important worldbuilding in the whole show .
It’s just. It’s genuinely hard for me to articulate how impressive I find that. This is something that this show just DOES all the time, especially early on. It communicates ideas and backstory and lore without it ever once really like. FEELING like Lore. It just feels like things we happen to be introduced to during the course of the episodes story, whatever that might be. Just… backdrops and gags that happen while we enjoy the story of a silly lil Hero In Training at his bodega job.
It’s all so natural . So natural that, one day while I happened to be re-watching the series It kind of. Surprised me to come across this episode again. It was this total moment of looking at the screen and thinking- ‘Wait, THAT’S when THAT was introduced?!’. It just blew me away.
And that’s when I thought… man, this show’s writing has so many great moments like that! All these subtle builds and lore that never feels like someone’s just infodumping at you. All this story that’s woven together so well with such a silly, goofy, fun Hero and Villains show.
I wanted to share that with people.
And well. Here we are! And I’m so genuinely thrilled that y’all are taking this journey with me. Whether you’re new to the series, working your way through it, or are just now thinking of checking it out, I couldn’t be happier to be sharing this show with y’all!
Let’s see it through to the end and Let’s Watch The Show!
P.S.: For updates on Let's Watch the Show, you can find all my relevant sites and accounts now at my linktree,at linktr.ee/FriendlyTroll ! Also just a lot of nonsense, but you know.
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes that comes in approximately the same size options as an american movie theater’s fountain drinks; Large, Extra Large, and a kiddie pool filled with refreshing coke raspberry.
I’m your host, a man who has surprisingly vivid memories of being too tall for the booster seat but too short to see out the window, Friendly Troll!
It’s the start of a new day for K.O. as he heads in for another day of learning how to be a hero at Gar’s Bodega! ...But he’s not really feeling all that heroic when he’s still too small to not wind up taking a seatbelt to the face. Lucky thing he has his mom to assure him with some sage advice before he starts his shift!
“A pebble in a stream only travels when it’s a pebble. Not a rock.” Well! Sounds like the episode’s moral been figured out to me!
...or it would be, if K.O. had any idea what she was talking about. But instead after struggling with boxes in the bodega, Rad offers a delightfully ill thought out alternate solution! Mysterious size changing candy with untranslated packaging. And to K.O.’s delight, and our surprise, it works! K.O.’s height problem is solved! And while he’s a little goofy looking scaled up like that, it’s a pretty reasonable outcome that shouldn’t impact his day in any major way.
Except he’s 6-11 years old, so he most DEFINITELY eats like a whole box worth of magical size changing candies. And as a result, destroys the store. Which. Admittedly happens a lot! ‘Specialized insurance’ a lot.
But despite the mayhem he’s causing, K.O. barely seems to even realize how much damage he’s causing! Or how inconvenient being gigantic is for trying to provide customer service. It’s not all running around the world, eating clouds, and having a pocket full of cats! How’s K.O. gonna keep his job if he can’t fit inside the store? And even if he’s not worried about that, Enid and Rad sure are!
But all's not lost! It turns out that Lakewood Plaza’s local food truck master, Beardo, has just the thing to help our favorite Giant Bean! Problem solved? Well. Technically. But they can’t cure K.O. if he doesn’t want to be. And he’s too Definitely For Sure Concerned that there could be an emergency that NEEDS his gigantic size! And he gets his opportunity to prove it when Gar calls on him for help to retrieve his keys from one of those little gaps between his car seat and the thingy in the middle, which he can easily do thanks to his tiny hands.
...Hm. Well. That does in fact wind up being a problem; a problem only compounded when K.O.’s attempt at trying to complete the task in El Grande mode results in the keys being dumped in the sewer. It’s only then that K.O. realizes the value of his moms advice, and is willing to get as tiny as it takes to get the job done!
And it’s not an easy job either, even with K.O.’s miniature size; it takes some scary sewer escapades before K.O. can emerge victorious with Mr. Gar’s keys. But all's well that ends well! ….even if K.O.’s still bitty. Well. Maybe it’ll wear off, even if hopefully the lesson sticks.
It’s probably no real surprise that K.O. worries about his height; being a kid means literally navigating a world not really built for you, after all. But other then the pretty height specific foibles, I’d say this episode pretty much just features behavior from K.O. that’s been built up over the show so far. He’s a little worried about trying to live up to being a hero, he’s impulsive, and he has kind of a hard time appreciating the journey to being a hero instead of being impatient to BE a hero.
But! Something that I do feel is a little more clearly highlighted here is: K.O. has kind of a hard time backing down from a bad idea! Or to put it another way, he’s kind of a stubborn little peanut! Even tho he DOES value peoples advice, well. Sometimes he just get his mind set on something! Other examples besides this episode include Jethro’s All Yours , when he’s convinced Jethro has depth, You’re Level 100! when losing the fight isn’t enough to shake his confidence in his glitched level, or just last episode in Do You Have Any More In The Back when he has a hard time letting go of the idea that Rad is infallible.
And it can take a lot to change K.O.’s mind when he gets like this! Just pushback alone isn’t always enough, as we see in this episode. It takes running into a conflict that just can’t be solved WITHOUT confronting the problem for him to really face up to it! It’s honestly pretty lucky that he has the advice and support of the people around him to help him get back up on his feet. But so long as he has a kind word from his Mom, Enid, or even sometimes maybe Rad, he can usually manage to figure himself out eventually.
And I really enjoy this! It’s not as simple as either just being too stubborn for his own good, or just being purely positive Heroic Determination. There’s two sides to any strong personality trait, after all. And sometimes it’s really easy to wind up chasing bad ideas with good resolve.
Villain of the Episode
Aside from a mutated sewer rat who’s just kinda doin its own chaotic neutral thing, this episode doesn’t really… have a villian! It’s just kind of one of those episodes! Heck, this time there’s not even really any shenanigans to pin things on… maybe some tomfoolery? Like at best . So instead I’m going to deem the villain of the episode to BE: how freakin uncomfortable seatbelts are when you’re a kid . Feel free to update the wiki appropriately*.
*Please do not actually frivolously edit the Wiki, I need it to write this series. The people who maintain it are absolute heroes, and well maintained Wiki is one of those absolutely precious fandom resources. And in my semi-professional Fandom Info Seeker opinion, I’d absolutely rank the OK K.O. wiki up close to the greatest wikis of all time. By which I mean very specifically the Homestar Runner Wiki, and the Muppets Wiki.
Could use some spoiler tags, though. Do not search for major characters if you ain’t caught up!
While I’ve dithered a bit in the past, there’s no contest for THIS episode’s Minor MVP! I am DELIGHTED to introduce one of my ALL TIME favorite Minor characters- Beardo !!
The charm. The panache. The SKILL! It all comes through right away in this episode- the way he dunks on Enid and Rad for making a dumb assumption, but then turns around to actually try and help is so. Endearing to me?? Beardo basically radiates Uncle Energy in the best way possible. Sure, he’ll give you trouble for being a dummy, but he’s also going to make you a delicious burrito to help out! And really, what CAN’T a burrito solve?
Right now we’re kind of limited to a Muppet’s Eye View (waist up, behind a framing prop) BUT I think what we can see of his design is. Incredibly strong. Not just because of his middle aged good looks, but because he demonstrates something I think is really nifty! Even though he’s clearly a nonhuman with fangs, a beefy design, and a distinctly light blue skin tone… he in NO WAY is mistakable for the same alien species as Rad!
Seriously! It’s the kind of thing where you don’t notice when it’s done right, but you’d DEFINITELY notice if it was done wrong. But there’s no real ambiguity at all! It’s extremely well done~
Also I’m just one of those people who loves seeing cooking in fiction, so really Beardo was bound to be a favorite of mine. A fictional shrink burrito has never looked more delicious!
...You think Mr. Logic has to eat? I mean. Sure he’s a robot but. I sure enjoy the thought of my favorite MMVPs hanging out.
I’m pretty sure it’d be functionally criminal of me to have a highlights section and NOT make my highlight the fact that at one point K.O. has a pocket full of cats. That’s the cutest thing ever! It’s just out of my hands.
BUT if I had to pick a second place, I just. Really enjoy the moment when Rad calmly and silently pokes one last miniaturizing burrito into K.O.’s mouth. Something about his total calm expression about it just. Cracks me up? Rad you’re doing amazing, sweetie.
That Was SO Cool!
This isn’t really a big fighty episode, but I do have to give some props to K.O.’s daring sewer adventure! It gives me some pretty killer The Borrowers energy… or. Wait, was that The Littles? Which one had the swordfights? ...Elfquest? ... definitely not Elfquest.
I Just Think It’s Neat
Seriously, like I said, I really love fictional food! When a setting clearly has it’s own kind of food and there’s a lot of thought put into it, it’s just literally one of my favorite things. Heck, if I ever do another essay/review series like this one, it’s probably going to be food manga BASED! That’s how much I love it! And while this episode isn’t exactly food focused it does give us another little look at the unique, over the top kind of food that the world of OK K.O. has to offer. Seriously I could, have and WILL just freeze-frame over that long shot of Beardo’s ingredients shelf, don’t think I won’t!!
Okay SO stick with me here. K.O. says at the beginning that MegaHugeMan is 5’10; and when he takes just one dose of the growth candy, he says he’s “at LEAST” taller than MegaHugeMan. So that means in THAT scene K.O. is over 5’10, and is also SLIGHTLY taller then Rad. Meaning for the first time watching this show there’s DEFINITE proof of Radicles’ height being somewhere around 5’10 to 6 feet tall!!
...I am. Absolutely not going to try to use that information to figure out a distinct height chart for the characters. Because that would absolutely be a lot of time and effort on something that objectively doesn’t really matter. But a part of me wants to. Oh, how a part of me wants to.
I just. I just really wanna know how heckin’ tall Raymond is, okay?
-Rad Likes Baklava!
….it’s just cute. That’s all I got!
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Once again we got it dropped pretty strongly! But Carol’s words of wisdom can kind of use a little translating; maybe something to the effect of…
Even if you’re not who or where you want to be, there’s things you can only do now!
But honestly I kind of also like Carols second piece of advice she drops near the end! It’s not always important you strictly follow people’s advice! Sometimes you gotta walk your own path. But I’m also going to toss in my own little Moral Of The Show.
We Got The Plot?
...No, seriously. We don’t! Most of the time when I sit down to write this section and think “man I guess there was no Overarching Plot” I wind up managing to dial in to find some little detail I hadn’t really noticed before, or having more to say then I thought I would. But this time, possibly for the first time this series, I got nothin! Beardo comes back again in later episodes, and we get another look at Gar’s crush on Carol but. Dat’s it!
Final Overall Thoughts
...And honestly, that’s not a bad thing! This is basically a True Standalone Episode of OK K.O., and really, it’s totally adorable and well put together. Sure there’s lots OF episodes of OK K.O. that aren’t really affected by the underlying plots- how smoothly they lay information into seemingly unconnected stories is part of why I run this blog, after all. But this episode still stands out to me!
In fact I’d like to officially deem this a Perfect Episode to Start With . If you have a friend who’s not sure about OK K.O., this might be one of the episodes that makes an easier pitch then just trying to jump in on the very first episode! Out of the episodes so far, I’d say Sibling Rivalry and I Am Dendy are also good picks for that! But one of these days when we’re further along I might make a ‘Where To Start’ guide as a side chapter!
But honestly that’s. Really about it! Bit of a short update this week, but that’s how it goes! You got your dense plot-setup episodes, your emotional development episodes, and then sometimes you just have a good goofy kid who wants to be tall. And that’s okay! Even if I don’t have as much to say about one episode over another, I hope you’ll still join me next time!
When I will have. …I will. Certainly have. Words. To say. About an episode. Oh such words. But that will be next week!
So until then- Let’s Watch The Show!
Don't forget, for news on delays for future chapters, progress, and my personal rambling you can find my contacts at Linktree!
Chapter 13: Episode 12: Presenting Joe Cuppa
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes, now available as a special seasonal latte! On the surface it LOOKS like just a delightful vanilla bean, whipped cream, caramel bits, and edible sprinkles affair, but the deeper you get, the more you discover the delightful dark chocolate character depth and fudgy chunks of lore. I am your host, a man who unrepentantly drinks instant Sanka, Friendlytroll!
Who… was… not actually looking forward to this one. If I may break format a moment.
Yes that’s right respected audience, it may be shocking to hear, but the man who’s committed to writing approximately 2,000+ words for each and every one of the 112 episodes of OK K.O. MIGHT not. Love . Every single one of those episodes? Strange but true! While it is incredibly rare (maybe about three or four out of, again, 112 episodes!) there are a few episodes I’ve been kind of. Dreading reviewing, juuust a little. And this is the very first!
But there’s no picking and choosing! And I might as well take the time to give these episodes a fair shake. Heck, maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remembered! It’s OK K.O., one of the most charming and well put together cartoons ever made!
...But I still had a few reservations. So what did I do? That’s right, just like K.O. himself would tell you- Everythings better with friends!! And as a special feature this week, I even got a few thoughts on the episode from one of my pals who watched with me, ZeroGrizz! Who’s own writing can be found right here on AO3!
I found this helped tremendously- and I’ll probably try this again in the future! Not just for episodes I’m less fond of, but for episodes when there might be so much going on, I could use help trying to talk about it!
So with that out of the way, let’s get on with the show!
It’s open mic night at the Bodega! ...Which in a show where aliens, animal people, secret underground trees, and 6-11 year old part timers are all things still feels like the weirdest thing I’ve ever typed out for this series. But it’s true! And, while sitting through Niels. Clearly incredibly terrible jokes is a drag and a half, the next (and last) talent to hit the stage is a real treat! ...At least, it is for Rad, as it turns out to be his personal favorite comedian from childhood, Joe Cuppa!!
…Well, Rad likes him anyways. And K.O. is young enough to be mostly delighted that he can recognize something is supposed to be a joke, and impressionable enough to want to like what Rad likes. But Enid is a tougher nut to crack. And Joe Cuppa’s old school ‘just kind of a series of weak-brewed puns’ delivery style isn’t impressing her any. And neither is Joe Cuppa sneaking back into the bodega to shoplift, either! What the what? Isn’t Joe Cuppa supposed to be some kind of big shot comedian? Maestro of the Mic?? Who for some reason decided to show up to an open mic night in a Bodega?? ...Okay in retrospect there may have been signs.
But it’s the sad truth; Joe Cuppa’s down on his luck! He mighta been big once, but no more. Bottom of the barrel? He can’t even AFFORD the bottom of the barrel! He’s getting priced out of the classier dumpsters in town! He can’t even get a mortgage on a dog house, folks. But all’s not lost- maybe he can get a job at the bodega! ...Well. He can . But being any good at it is another question; he just can’t stop cracking puns! Aaaand uh. Well.
He’s not really much good at anything else. Including fighting, as they discover when Shannon attacks the plaza! What can a coffee-mug headed man DO when the only thing he’s good at is telling jokes???
...Tell jokes, of course! And it turns out as stale as his punchlines- I mean, Java Jokes might be, they still pack quite a wallop! Clearly, Joe’s not running on decaf, eh?
And despite everything the day is SAVED thanks to… Joe Cuppa! And apparently his new action movie leanings were enough to see him headed back to Hollywood…for one last fresh brewtiful day.
I have to admit, I appreciate that this episode shows us more of how K.O. looks up to Rad- but without it having to be contrasted with Rad being a jerk! It’s genuinely wholesome to see K.O. mimicking his big buddy this episode. And I enjoy how we get a look into how K.O. processes stuff like comedy! ...Once he has “Jokes” explained to him. Sure he might be copying Rad a little, but at his age simpler humor might just be easier for him to understand!
Also I just kind of love that K.O. of all people is who bluntly tells Joe Cuppa that he might not be a great fit for the bodega? Sure he’s nice about it, but it’s still kind of adorably blunt for our favorite lil sweet bean.
In comparison, we learn something totally new about Rad this episode! Our favorite blue Rad-berry is, apparently, all about comedy! And as hokey as Joe Cuppas jokes might be, and as much as Rad seems to be in denial about his hero’s decline, it’s easy to sympathize. I think most of us have some goofy movies we loved as a kid that might not really hold up anymore. And the idea of little baby Rad curled up watching a rerun on tv of the wacky 198X comedy Coffee Shack is just adorable.
It’s refreshing to see Rad be so sincere about something- this really might be his most unguarded episode to date.
And Enid, on the other hand, just isn’t so hot on puns. But what we DO learn is that HER weakness is for Physical comedy! Seeing Enid crack up at Rad’s incredibly SIlent Era Film style shenanigans is honestly pretty adorable.
Also for our very first Grizz’s Notes when we were discussing the episode, she pointed out that it’s really interesting that Enid was able to talk Mr. Gar into doing the Open Mic Night! After all, putting up an event like this is pretty far outside of Mr. Gar’s usual wheelhouse. It’s really cool that she feels comfortable enough with him to try to set something up in the first place, and that he was willing to go with it- even if it’s just the one time. While Gar’s personal relationships with the Bodega Crew might mostly be boss to employee right now, this shows a little hint of fondness from the big lug.
Villain of the Episode
It’s SHANNON time!! That’s right, Boxman’s spoiled teenage robot daughter is BACK and she’s in fighting fit form! While before now we’ve mostly seen her using her ‘mastery’ of disguise, or working together (kind of) with her brother, this time Shannons got a new trick up her sleeve! It seems Shannon can shapeshift- and you better believe she’s bringing the hammer down with her brand new arsenal of tricks!
Shannon is just absolutely a delight this episode. For once she doesn’t really have any kind of plan- she’s just coming in swinging! Really her only misstep is to take long enough wanting to brag about how well things are going to leave our heroes time to regroup. And… possibly a slight lack of imagination.
You see, while Shannon’s shapeshifting powers are pretty fearsome, something I noticed is that her actual choices in forms are kind of. Interesting? Razorblades, now, that’s pretty hard to go wrong with. And a hammer is certainly destructive! But… a ring? A straw ? Shannon, sweetie. I can’t help but interpret it as her just not really being able to think of what to turn into - which is a pretty hilarious way to limit a shapeshifter character!
...Come to think of it, it’s a good thing the Boxbots are bad at teamwork. Raymond and Shannon would be too powerful if they thought to have Shannon turn into sports equipment.
Well this is an interesting one! For the first time- but not the last- the Minor MVP of the week is none other then the episode’s star! And this week we’re talking about Joe Cuppa!
He’s a man who’s head is a coffee mug, and also is basically a Rodney Dangerfield gag!
(Tumbleweed blows past.)
Okay, okay, there’s a little more to it then that. After all, we do learn a lot about him this episode. He’s a down on his luck guy whos gone from the big, freshly roasted whole bean good times to the gas station warmed-for-10-hours rough days. And it’s clear even if he WANTED to do something else besides comedy, it’s kind of what he defaults to. Even if it’s not the best idea, he tries to tell a joke! Which definitely isn’t painfully relatable in any way.
Of course we also learn he’s kind of arrogant. You’d think he could make a slight effort to get Rad and K.O.’s names right, for instance! And while he does get a little more appreciative of everything his young fans have done for him, that seems to go right out the window when he gets a shot at stepping back into the limelight.
But he does have his charming moments, I’ll admit. He’s earnest in a way that’s quite cute when he’s doing his best to work at the Bodega, and I can admit there’s an endearing uncle-ey energy when he finds his groove with his terrible jokes in the Shannon fight. Plus, I just.
I really adore the gags that play off his design. Him pouring coffee on the front of his face so it just kinda. Pours down?? Magnificent. Pulling a tiny copy of his own head out of his head ?? Which SPEAKS??? And screams when he tosses it back in??? Stupendous. The reveal of where his REAL mouth is??? Horrifying!! But I love it .
I’m a sucker for riffing off a design! And it feels a bit like the crew sat down, really LOOKED at his design, and proceeded to answer one question about how he works while raising just several more.
KO asking what a Joke is and having Rad and Enid just do their best to patiently explain is INCREDIBLY sweet to me. There’s no making fun of him, or even really calling attention to it at all! Instead they just. Make sure he knows!
Grizz’s Highlight: “Honestly Shannon's entrance stands out as the highlight for me with how bouncy and top form she is in it. but also KO not really getting the joke at first is somewhat relatable to me as an autistic gal who can have a lot of trouble reading tones. It sort of makes me wonder if he has similar trouble with reading intent from people? He seems like he's gotten better at it from when he was much younger but still has some trouble telling intent till the end of the series.”
That Was SO Cool!
The Shannon Fight was, hands down, worth re-watching this episode for ALONE. Her personality really gets to shine here- egotistical, confident, bold, and just an absolute brat! And the way she fights is a delight to see, not to mention the style~ I love that her buzzsaw theme is really pumped up to go with her new shapeshifting mechanic! And while he might not be a natural fighter, Joe Cuppa’s bad joke powered punching glove mechanic is really fun, visually. I love how it’s almost animated a little *slow* at first- it gives it a sense of weight that’s really fantastic.
Grizz’s Highlight: something neat I've noticed about Shannon is I feel like compared to the boys she has a lot more fluidity in her movements in general? Like Darrel tends to be a part of the scenery when he fights the bodega kids, Raymond has a lot of moments where he'll strike a pose during his combat-more of a performance. Shannon just has a lot more gesturing and fast motion going on which I just really like!
I Just Think It’s Neat
-Enid asking K.O. what he’s giggling about! She’s just so fond! And it’s a genuinely endearing moment of interaction between them, even if it’s small.
-The bathroom of a gas station in a sewer bit- I just have so many questions! Do. Do people need gas in the sewers? Do the Rat People? Are there secret underground road races through the sewers??? Cob, I hope so.
-Okay as much as Joe Cuppa’s gags might be a little unbrewable- uh. Unbearable . I did actually crack up at him jumping right to Java Jokes.
Grizz: (...) I also think it's neat that Enid could talk Gar into this to begin with! Alongside his crush on Carol it's a nice early indicator he's softer then he lets on with folks he cares about.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
U-um… um. D-does this episode. HAVE one? I can’t figure it out. ...GRIZZ? HELP?
Grizz: “Comedy Is Subjective. (But also Don't be a [Dingus] About It) cause even Rad wasn't laughing at Neil's shitty humor and we kNOW neil was about to tell a picking up a girl joke
YOU'RE NO GOOD NEIL”
That’s perfect! It’s honestly a great message to explain how humor can be subjective- neither Rad or Enid is right exactly, they’re just having a different experience. And Niel is, indeed, no good. He’s just… boy he’s not.
We Got The Plot?
Okay so. Cards on the table, this might be the most down to the wire I have ever spotted a granule of plot in an episode. I had a whole thing written up! But instead at the VERY last minute I realized-
According to this episode, It’s Possible To Have A Power You Don’t Know About.
Specifically, Joe Cuppa clearly has no idea he can use his jokes for battle; it’s as much a surprise to him as anyone! Not only does that mean that in this setting you don’t necessarily just. Know what your Powers are, but ALSO some powers have a specific trigger you need to figure out! In this case, the trigger is ‘tell a (bad) joke while in a combat situation’.
Pretty sneaky, but there’s no slipping world building past me! This is one of those details that won’t be relevant for a long time, mind… but it relates to something I think about a lot . One day… oh, one day.
Oh also, The Rat-People are NOT Plot. I thought they were! Like I remembered this episode and thought, oh hey! This brings up the Rat People, Right?? I had this idea maybe they were only ever mentioned, and as such, could be tied back to A Plot Thing, but uh. Nope. I forgot, we see them. They don’t explain nuthin. In fact they leave me more confused than ever before about the origins of A Certain Character… some things are beyond even the deepest divers of Lore, I suppose.
Final Overall Thoughts
So! Here we are, at the end of recapping an episode I wasn’t looking forward to! And it was...
...Actually much better then I remembered! A solid C, maybe even a C. Maybe it’s because I’m watching it now after having seen so much of the rest of the show, maybe this time I just was trying to see the good in it but. After having genuinely skipped this episode on my various re-watches, it’s just. Absolutely nowhere near as bad as I’d thought. Whaddya know!
Will it ever be one of my favorites? ...no, not by a long shot. And honestly there’s still things about it that bug me. “The joke is that the joke isn’t funny” is to me a comedy concept that’s best in small doses, and this episode spends just. A LOT of time on bad jokes, and the joke is how funny Rad and K.O. think it is, and that’s it. And the fact that the school of comedy it’s mimicking has a lot of tired old ‘hoho! WOMEN am I right??’ doesn’t help- not that I think the episode ever wanders into outright sexisim, exactly. If anything I think we’re meant to find that a little exhausting, like Enid does. But It’s just. Very tired.
...But there’s a lot to enjoy, too. There’s charming moments, and I’d totally forgotten that this is actually one of the few episodes where we really get Shannon as a solo villain. While Joe Cuppa’s actual jokes are very tired out, the jokes in the episode about Joe cuppa genuinely tickled me.
At the end of the day, it’s just not a bad episode. It’s just one of my *least favorite* episodes in a show that’s otherwise pretty much a home run to me. And heck, I can see plenty of reasons why to someone else it could be an all-time favorite.
And on top of all that, this episode marks the start of one of my favorite recurrent episode types on OK K.O.! The Minor Character Focus Episode!! I *love* these- spending a whole episode focused on the adventures and problems of colorful background characters is so, so much fun. It expands the setting, and makes it feel more fleshed out, and lets us see what’s going on around in the Plaza outside of K.O.’s perspective. Pretty much every single Minor Character focus Episode after this are some of my favorite episodes. So even if Joe Cuppa isn’t my cup of tea, I can’t help but celebrate the kickoff of the trend.
Also, on a small note, I appreciate that even tho Enid gets kiiiinda close to being the Sensible No Fun Arms Crossed Sole Girl Character in this episode (and, frankly speaking, veers uncomfortably close a few times in the early days) they manage to pull it back in the end. It’s not like she’s refined in comparison to Rad’s ~low brow ways~. She just has a different Low Brow Humor style then his. This is something that really stops being a concern at all later on in the series, but I’m still glad to see it averted here.
And I think that’s it! Grizz?
Friendly: Anything you'd like to add there?
Grizz:...the pinup Joe Cuppa joke was super funny to me
Grizz:I'M SO SORRY
Friendly:YOU AINT WRONG THO
Friendly:I also appreciate that like
Friendly:the gag didn't feel centered around him being fat
Friendly:but just like. How wildly inappropriate/unexpected it is
Friendly:...did he have nipples
Friendly:Im checking the wiki
Friendly:thank god for the screencap section of the wiki
Grizz:Only the pinkest around
Friendly: I just made a face irl
Friendly:but yeah they sure are huh
Friendly:it's haunting bc it confirms he's human
Friendly:Also can I just. Put this whole lil convo at the end of Final Thoughts
Grizz: Please do
So as always- Let’s Watch The Show!
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes which was sadly only ever officially translated in a terrible mirrored format with really cheap printing. I’m your host, a man who owns Sailor Moon volumes that are the approximate size of postcards but DEFINITELY cost 15$ each in 2001, Friendly Toll!
When K.O. takes a break at Beardo’s food truck with Rad, he winds up getting a little bit more than he bargained for! Not only is there just too much delicious food to choose from, but while he’s having trouble making up his mind, he winds up incurring the passive aggressive wrath of none other than Chameleon Jr.! This mean green teen and his gang of reptilian themed ne’er do Wells… or possibly Ne’er Do Much’s, want their shot at the food truck, and instead of using their words, just kind of scoff and insult our poor little bean! But once K.O. realizes (with… a little help) that he’s being insulted, he winds up taking Rad’s advice and taking… the low road .
Which. Admittedly winds up being some adorably mild sass talk and a couple of swipes. But still, it’s more than enough for Kid Chameleon to bring out the BIG GUNS. And a title drop! ...which winds up bumming K.O. out a moment before he remembers his MOM can certainly beat up ANYBODY. And she’ll probably be thrilled about being brought in to fight a totally random battle with some kids’ dad!
...Well, somewhat predictably, it doesn’t really go that way. Iiin fact K.O. winds up getting grounded, and also a pretty thoughtful lecture about trying to de-escalate a conflict. And Carol does decide to go meet Kid Chameleons dad, to properly put her money where her mouth is and show K.O. how to handle conflicts like a reasonable adult. ...However, what she winds up demonstrating is that the problem with handling things like a reasonable adult is that you kind of need the person you’re dealing with to also be a reasonable adult. And it turns out Chameleon Sr. is anything but!
Instead it turns out Chameleon Sr. is a gigantic oversized Kaiju Lizard Monster who taunts Carol and insults K.O.! And as it turns out… some things a mom just can’t tolerate . Insult her? Fine she can handle it. Insult her boy? ITS ON. And On it is indeed, which doesn’t wind up going that great for Carol! Which is when K.O. steps in to try to put his mom’s good advice to the test! Which… it fails! But luckily thanks to Beardo’s super spicy dragon burritos, and KO’s lucky grab on a giant… Zipper??? The conflict winds up being de-escalated after all.
And as Chameleon Sr. and Chameleon Jr. walk off into the sunset, it seems like everything turned out alright after all! Even IF K.O.’s still grounded… but at least at the end of the day, he has his mom right by his side. And… also grounded right by his side. Suppose that means she has to go to bed early?
That’s right, folks! For the first time- but not by any stretch the last!- we have an episode I can honest to cob call a Carol focus episode! Although in this case it’s definitely in the context of Carol and her role as K.O.’s mom, I still feel like we get a pretty significant look at who Carol is as a person this episode! And honestly, she’s just… so charming! Not just as a mom, but as a person.
Carol has a warm, goofy, mellow jockish personality that I honestly just adore. At this point in her life, she’s an incredibly confident person, who seems to have a lot of experience and wisdom under her belt. Buuut as it turns out, as wise as her advice to K.O. is, she’s not always actually able to follow it herself! But that’s okay; because she’s willing to admit when she messes up, too.
...And honestly it really is kind of cool to get to see her let loose on a jerk. And considering she’s up against someone literally a hundred times her size, it’s clear Carol’s not the head of a training dojo for nothing! She’s got some serious moves. And as always, she’s also got a really adorable bond with-
This is really one of those rare episodes where we get to see our Teeniest Bean both bein kinda rascally (admittedly at Rad’s urgings!) and also just bein’ a sweetheart. K.O.’s sincerity is really on display this episode. I really like how even though he gets caught up in a fight, but he’s not even super mad or anything. He’s just kind of going with the flow! It feels more like he’s trying to do what you’re supposed to do. Once his Mommy straightens him out, he winds up trying to follow her advice when it matters the most. And while we don’t quite see him being especially angry this episode, he DOES wind up a little more hurt by Chameleon Jr.’s words then I think Chameleon intended...
Which. Aw, jeeze, poor peanut. As we find out this episode, K.O. doesn’t have a dad. And in his own words, being reminded of that does kind of get to him a little! He has his mom, of course, but. It’s pretty clear K.O. Feels A Way about it. And sad to say, but this is in fact something about K.O. that is. Absolutely going to be relevant for the whole rest of the show. Not that it really comes up often, all things considered. After all. He’s got his mom.
Villain of the Episode
The Chameleon Family! Ugh, these guys!! While neither Chameleon Sr. OR Chameleon are officially listed as outright Villains, they sure are a pair of capital dang dinks. While I don’t actually agree in phrases like ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, I think in this case Chameleon Jr.’s spoiled cruddy attitude sure makes sense after meeting his dad.
Actually when I first sat down to write this I was all set to give Chameleon Jr. a little bit of a pass because I assumed he, like K.O., was a little kid! But to my INCREDIBLE shock, according to his official crew tumblr bio, he’s actually in the TEEN age category!!! What the actual heckity haystacks, man! Even generously assuming that maybe he’s more “middle school” teen then anything else, that absolutely upgrades his behavior in this episode from kinda cruddy to absolutely whack . You can’t pick a fight with a K.O.! He’s a BABY! Not to mention calling his dad in to fight for him when he didn’t wind up winning against a tiny baby child .
Aaaand speaking of, Chameleon Sr. is even worse than his dang kid. BUT I have to admit, for the purposes of this episode, he really works great as a major antagonist. The fact that he literally pretty much just outright says he has no intention of talking things out or making peace is. Just so overtly jerky that I kind of weirdly enjoy it. There’s no mincing words here! No matter his ultimate motivations, or how much he loves his son, he’s a big ol dang jerk!!
Which. Speaking of, I do actually appreciate that about this father-son dingus duo. A lot of kids media tries to do this thing where they want kids to have sympathy for their bullies- which is a kind but kinda misguided urge in my opinion- and sometimes they try to do that by showing the bully’s parents kind of suck. But. That’s just not always really the case. Sometimes a kid sucks because that behavior is being ignored or encouraged at home, and I think it’s ok to have characters who represent that! (Not that, if there is a problem, that’s really the responsibility of an unrelated person being hurt, but that’s a whole other conversation).
I’m afraid to say that so long as he’s in an episode, Beardo is always going to be the Minor MVP of my heart. It’s kind of cute how he’s clearly rooting for K.O. in his little skirmish too, right? You get the feeling he’s fond of K.O.! (Or maybe Chameleon Jr. is also kind of a terrible customer. You just KNOW that kid never tips.) And while Beardo doesn’t get a lot of action this ep, we DO get to hear his jamming musical theme, which is always a plus.
But also I do have to give some special mention to The Lizard Gang , which I am delighted to discover from the absolutely comprehensive (if spoiler-tastic) OK K.O. wiki is the official name of the crew of reptilian reprobates that Chameleon Jr. runs with! I have to admit, I sorta wish they’d shown up again just because of how much I love their designs. It gives me kind of a Gang Green Gang from the Powerpuff Girls vibe.
I really adore how K.O. and Chameleon Jr’s clash of wits FEELS super epic and devastating, even though it’s a totally ‘little kid’ level of wits. It really captures that kind of inner drama, where the right timed ‘I know you are but what am I ’ is the most devastating comeback possible. And it’s made all the more perfect by the way K.O. and C-Jr.’s actual fight is basically as doofy and ridiculous as an actual little kid fight is. I’m a big fan of kids media that captures that authentic kid feeling, and to me the squeaky toy noise as K.O. dramatically dives out of the way of Chameleon Jr’s sticky tongue is just perfect.
On the flip side, I also love how once their parents are actually fighting, Chameleon Jr. and K.O. are actually super distressed by seeing their respective dad and mom getting hurt! It’s not cool and fun like they might have thought it’d be; instead it’s kind of stressful and scary. It’s a small thing, but I honestly really think it’s endearing, and works very well with the overall message of the episode.
And finally, the little moment at the very end of the episode where Carol grounds herself after K.O. points out she did the same thing he got grounded for is absolutely the Best. It’s such a cute, fair way to handle her kid pointing something like that out! And the way K.O. reacts is totally a genuine kid response- the way she says she’s being Silly absolutely reminds me of my very own IRL 6 year old niece when my sister or brother-in-law are being goobers. Cap it off with Carol teasing K.O. about it a little and it’s just a really perfect little family moment from these two.
That Was SO Cool!
While obviously it kind of stressed K.O. and Kid Chameleon out, Carol taking on Chameleon Sr. did kind of definitely rule. I don’t think we’ve seen such a massive size difference in a fight since You’re Level 100, and THIS time it’s on way more even footing! Seeing Carol keep up and even come out ahead in a fight with such an overwhelming opponent is not only cool, but to me really shows an astounding level of creativity from the people who worked on this episode. Heck, just keeping the two characters in the same shot must have been difficult, let alone making it such a genuinely tense back and forth.
I Just Think It’s Neat
-Yo, you KNOW I’m here for that sweet sweet Fictional Food! Not only is Beardo dishing up colorful and delicious food for the good people of Lakewood Plaza, but he’s also dishing up some pretty great video game references! According once again to the fantastic
OK K.O. wiki! In order, we have:
--Joe and Macaroni is a nod to Joe&Mac, a cute lil caveman themed platformer for the super NES!
--The Spyro Platter, of course representing everybody’s favorite lil purple dragon survivor of the 90s mascot rush, Spyro the Dragon!
--If that turnip for Gnocchi Gnocchi Panic looks familiar, that might be because it’s a reference to Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic- aka the game that wound up being modified into the American Super Mario Bros. 2!
-- And finally, the delicious Dragon Dragon Burritos with their twin red-and-blue flame side effects are a reference to the Double Dragon series, a classic side scrolling brawler beat em up!
* But, again, wildly spoiler heavy! Seriously they spoil one of the biggest twists of the whole show in the same trivia section i got these cute video game reference easter eggs from. At this point no matter how much I love the Wiki, I have to genuinely recommend not to use it unless you are completely caught up on the show. Unless you don’t care about spoilers, in which case shine on you beautiful crazy diamond.
-The way KO mistakes a sarcastic insult for a complement is really near and dear to my heart. While that could definitely happen to any kid who hasn’t gotten a handle on sarcasm next, it’s especially common to have trouble with that when- like me- you’re someone on the spectrum. Misunderstanding that someone was being nice when they certainly… weren’t is a major bummer. But I do like seeing it in a protagonist, especially when it’s clear the only people making a big deal about it are stinkers.
-The way Chameleon Sr. has little hats on every single spike is just. Incredibly good to me. He’s just… really, really ready for Business, I guess?
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Man, this episodes a great one for good messages! Not only do we have two really good clear messages, but they’re actually articulated by K.O. and Carol at the end of the episode! We have “Inside every bully is a big sweaty troubled man.” AND “You shouldn’t escalate situations you can’t handle.”
True wisdom. ...especially that first one. Especially since, blessedly, the episode doesn’t try to tell you that means you should try to FIX them or anything… just. It’s the truth.
We Got The Plot?
In possibly the saddest example of We Got The Plot yet, this episode drops the pretty important fact that K.O. Doesn’t Have A Dad. Which. Oof. I honestly think Rad and Beardo are seriously the audience stand ins when K.O. drops that information on us. Up until now, it’s just kind of been… Carol and K.O. The question of K.O.’s dad just was never relevant until now. And now…
Well! Admittedly, we don’t find out a whole lot more about him. The way Carol talks about him seems to imply he might be dead, even if she doesn’t say so outright. He was a hero, and Carol clearly admired and respected him… and… he would have loved K.O.
Cripes!! ;n; But sad as it is to find out, this IS in fact going to be something to keep in mind going forward...
Final Overall Thoughts
Wow that wound up ending on kind of a sad note, huh? But make no mistake: this is a SUPER fun episode!! In fact, I honestly feel like this episode plays to some of OK K.O.’s greatest strengths. It’s an episode that feels a lot like an authentic kid misadventure, dealing with a very real Little Kid conflict, just in a world where that winds up involving power battles and a giant kaiju. It’s a really sweet, authentic episode with K.O. and Carol’s really well written parent-child relationship, which centers on a kind of genuine love and care that’s just so great to see. And, perhaps most importantly, it does all this while also kinda just.
Veering into a completely buck wild moment??? Which is made authentically all the more buckwild for how totally sincere it’s played in the episode itself. I’ve shown this episode to friends before, and I can say with all sincerity that watching people react to the giant zipper coming down is one of those perfect, sublime feelings of satisfaction. At least if you’re me.
Also, on the subject of K.O. and Carol, I just have to talk about how much I appreciate the way Carol is written. To once again get on the subject of ‘Boy, cartoons when I was a kid were still kinda whack huh???’, Mom characters in kids media are uhhh. Not. Always. Rendered with care. You kinda wind up with like. The Tut Tutting Responsible Figure (free with a Wild Wacky Boorish Fun Dad!), and/or this kind of bland Domestic Feminine Figure who existed to do housework and be as blandly sweet and mild as possible. Heck, sometimes at BEST when i was a kid a Mom got to be like. AS ‘wackily’ mean and irresponsible as the dad character. Which. Y…. yayyy? I guess?
As I’ve mentioned before with other examples of Oh Boy the 90s Was Not Great Sometimes Y’all media writing versus this show, I feel like this is something that’s finally really changing. And Carol to me may, honestly, be my current Gold Standard for a cartoon mom. Full stop. She’s kind and caring, but can still slip up! She’s not perfect; she can do things like give good advice and fail to follow it. And overall she just. Has so much personality! She doesn’t just exist passively in the background, you know? She feels like a person. She’s in the intro sequence!
I mean. Heck. When it comes down to it… do you know how cool it is to me that she’s Carol instead of ‘K.O.’s Mom’? Maybe that’s a small thing, and in all honesty it shouldn’t be impressive or even noteworthy. But it means a lot to me. Just like how it means a lot to me that K.O. and Carol are a single parent household without it ever really being a big deal.
And speaking of meta kids TV writing, BOY am I glad this episode Never Once goes for “hey, have you tried being NICE to a kid who’s being mean to you??”. Instead it’s just. Hey try not to escalate a situation, but also sometimes people are jerks. Again. That shouldn’t be so noteworthy, but it iiiis.
All in all? This is a really delightful episode. It’s another one of those episodes that I think works as a really great standalone; it really nails the kind of fantastical slice of life mood that I’m always fond of whenever it pops up. It’s not a big earth shattering battle (well, except literally), or a dramatic intricate plot episode. It’s just a moment that we get to share with these characters, and I really adore that.
And that’s it for this episode! Join us next time when we’ll be covering We’ve Got Pests, which while coming from a pretty different angle then this romp, is another of my favorites in completely buck wild plots. And until then-
Let’s Watch The Show!
Thanks for everyone's patience for the Shucksgiving break! To celebrate the holiday there's a fluff piece added to my drabble series, and as always news on when an update will happen and other information can be found on my social media presences found Here!
Chapter 15: Episode 14: We’ve Got Pests
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes and also a totally rad-tacular tude-tastic platforming game from 199X! I’m your host, a sassy arms-crossin’ cartoon animal who for some reason looks way more hardcore on the north american boxart, Friendly Troll!
It’s breaktime at Gar’s Bodega, and Enid is as cool as ever! So cool in fact that not even a sudden influx of pesky pests can harsh her vibe. But these aren’t just ANY pests: this tiny trio are… COOL pests?! Too cool for school! Too cool for poor Radicles and K.O., at least. But Enid, on the other hand, fits right in. And while she’s hanging with her cool new pals, poor K.O. and Rad wind up being left all alone with the terror that is… customer service .
That would be bad enough, but it turns out the Pest trio aren't all hacky sacks and good times. As Enid finds out, while they might be cool this whack trio has zero chill. And attempting to just hang out quietly for a bit has them call in a terrifying radical threat. That’s right. I’ve got news for you. The partybus is coming, and everybody’s jumping . New-new York to Turbo San Francisco, it’s an interstate free disco- and it’s headed RIGHT FOR THE PLAZA!
Soon the Bodega is FLOODED with a flock of wild Bros (otherwise known as a collar of bros), and K.O. and Rad are cornered at the counter! But not even a terrifying flood of vapid punch-hungry bros can stop K.O. from trying to be a hero, and he valiantly sets out to help their one actual customer find the product they need! But in doing so, he puts himself right in the path of… the party wave .
But luckily for K.O., Enid’s closing down the beach . Not only does she save K.O. and shut the party down, but she doesn’t let the pesty bunch leave without some brutal real talk about just what cool really means.
That’s right, y’all! Enid is front and center this episode! And while up till now we’ve known Enid is a tough nut to crack, this episode makes it clear she’s not just another apathetic youth! Enid is far more than that; Enid… is cool . That’s right, so cool it steals the reserved for separating subjects bold text format! SHE’S JUST THAT GOOD. Which. You know it actually took a second for me to realize this kind of is where that’s established? It honestly winds up such a strong part of her character I’m a little surprised to realize that before this episode they really do lean harder on her being ‘apathetic’ than anything else!
But cob knows it’s a welcome development! Because in the very same episode where we finally get a look at just how cool Enid is, we also learn that her coolness is rooted in far more than just extremely cool Strider- I mean, cool Pointy Anime Shades! Instead, Enid’s coolness is, in fact, rooted in self knowledge .
Enid knows who she is; and because she’s so sure of herself, she knows being cool isn’t something as shallow as who she’s pals with, or how she spends her time. She’s not embarrassed by her friends; instead, those friendships are a part of who she is. And she doesn’t need to be doing Cool Rad Party stuntz 24-7, either.
Which… you know, I actually really adore! I feel like a lot of time, ‘Cool’ characters are kind of either so distant the audience never really gets to get a feel for them, so shallow there’s not a whole lot of room to explore them as people, or that coolness has to come at the expense of being embarrassed by stuff. But instead right out of the bat we learn that Enid’s got a lot more going on. And that means a lot more to explore later.
Which, speaking of, this episode also kind of expands a bit on what we learned in You Get Me; while Enid *may* not really care about what strangers think of her, she does care about things that matter to her. Like K.O.! ...and Rad.
Villain of the Episode
While the rad-tacular trio of Gnarlio , Peej , and Cool Cat may not have an official name, I think I’m not overstepping my bounds by using the group name The Pests for this gnarly set of teeny tiny troublemakers! And while their whole steez may be far more “Chaotic Party Foul” then overtly villainous, I also don’t think it’s much of a stretch to deem these bad dudes to be some Bad Dudes!! Indeed, while it’s all hacky sack and cool times at first, it becomes pretty clear that when things get real, these whack punks just can’t hang.
And honestly, while they’re a little obnoxious, it’s a beautifully artisanal obnoxiousness that honestly makes them far more charming then they might have been otherwise. They feel to me like callbacks to the 1990s Cewl Animal Mascot era- Gnarlio especially feels like he coulda been bustin rad surfboard or BMX bike tricks on a CD case right next to Gex, Sonic, or on a bad day, Bubsy the Bobcat. And to me, it’s that mix of 90s ‘coolness’ with modern things Peej’s hashtag use that makes their designs so perfect. By making their coolness a weird mix of old trends and new to start with, it’ll at least still be funny even when it’s out of date.
For instance, even just since the original runtime of this episode, Peej’s hashtag obsession has dropped her from ‘yeah sure kids use hashtags’ to ‘out of date corporate account’. And I have to admit, I’m not actually sure I ever knew what Cool Cat’s 3d glasses thing was from. ...was. Was that a Dr. Who thing?
But it all still works . And while you might love to hate their How Do You Do Fellow Kids, Gex-esque ‘Coolness’, it really does make them totally fun, and totally Wicked Gnarly Rad Cool, Antagonists.
This one’s… actually kind of a pickle. Because on one hand, my heart absolutely belongs to Tumbles, the adorable living tumbleweed person who so desperately needs K.O. and Rad’s help this episode, that’s. Sort of all there is to them? Don’t get me wrong, their soft, shy hesitancy makes me wish they’ shown up more, but as Minor MVP’s go, they might honestly rival Gary from Do you Have Any More In The Back in sheer minor-ness. Buuut even more so there’s.
Something I need to discuss with y’all. If you have a moment to spare to hear the good word of Cob? Which is, in fact, the name of the heavenly corn-deity who answers Enid’s wordless request for a divine ear of corn for her flame kick popped corns!
Also, he’s the god of OK K.O.’s universe!
Honestly, every time I watch this episode I find myself totally charmed by Rad’s attempt at being Cool . It’s just completely and totally the cutest; and I have to say I think he was kind of onto something for a second there! I mean. I thought the little all Rad dance party was cool. But there’s no denying his sudden dive into the ‘00s Tude was. Maybe a bad choice.
But I do have to say I adore that as a writing choice; it’s *just* recent enough for kids *now* to recognize it as incredibly out of date, while 90s Radicalness is probably common enough to be like how a 50s greaser style read to people my age as kids! Like you know it MEANS cool, even if it’s so old you’d never have seen it IRL. ...and I’ll pause here for anyone else approximately my age to finish crumbling into dust a moment at that thought. Take your time.
But I also have to turn my attention to Enid’s Save With K.O. which honestly is just. Man she really IS cool!! And K.O.’s delight at seeing that he’s been saved is incredibly heartwarming.
That Was SO Cool!
Well! Now honestly I usually use this space to talk about a particularly impressive fight scene… but this isn’t exactly that kind of episode! So instead I’m just going to mention that this episode has a surprising number of full body rotations, especially in the Pests’s intro scene. While it’s not exactly noticeably flashy, anyone with a solid handle on animation can tell you that rotating characters in 2D incredibly difficult . So if you ever see it done smoothly? It’s basically a Giant Flex.
...And if you ever see it done smoothly with a character rotating and the camera rotating around the characters being animated? Then uh. Check the credits cause there’s basically like 80% odds that was James Baxter. (It’s not in this case, but my hat is genuinely off to animation director Eunyung Byung, who also did the beautifully smooth, weighty fluid-physics punching episode Presenting Joe Cuppa!)
I Just Think It’s Neat
-Shockingly, this episode reveals that Enid sucks. ...Not as a person!! Perish the thought! I’m just talking about Enid’s Lollipop Habit ! There’s just… not really a more flattering active verb for Lollipops the same way smokes is to cigarettes . That’s right, in the grand 4Kidz tradition, there’s no better way to show you’re a slick, cool customer then to have a steady sucrose habit. After all, this show’s for kids!
-In fact, generally speaking, the world of OK K.O. uses G-Rated versions of ANY non-kid-friendly substance! Just like how the legend of Zelda has it’s ‘Milk bars’, and hundreds of kids shows in the past have had characters kick back with a cold frosty root beer or juice box, this episode has our aggressive Party Boyz trying to hit the bodega up for Fruit Punch. AND we se Gnarlio * swigging *cough* apple juice as he parties hardy, too. Which. Honestly as far as g-rated alcohol substitutes go, I can’t think of anything that sums up the notion of a cheap, regret-filled time then Fruit Punch. Even Sunny D feels a little classier, right…?
* ... is … Gnarlio 21…? I mean I know we’re getting pretty nebulous trying to apply age rules to G-Rated Drinks, but it certainly indicated a higher age bracket. It’s unclear, but I’m going to stamp him as “probably tells his parents he’s totally going back to college next year”.
-I think it’s pretty adorable that K.O. remembers the brand of muscle-ache pads Carol uses! It’s a very clever setup and payoff for his heroic dive across a rush-hour store, and also just. It’s cute! It makes me think of K.O. helping his mom stick one on her back after a long day at the dojo. And I admit, it also makes me smile because I’m definitely someone who’ll always kind of associate the smell of Tiger Balm with ‘Moms’...
-I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty cool that Mr. Gar put in a chandelier. Guess he was trying to classy up the place?
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Being cool is about being real. And even if someone seems cool, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a real freakin’ pest!
We Got The Plot?
Enid’s Sense of Self
While for the most part we’re definitely in Real Character Exploration hours here, I think I’d absolutely pin this episode as really kicking off the future plotlines exploring Enid in a little more depth. Right now we know that Enid is confident in who she is and what she’s doing; but people are complicated. And sometimes what you project out to the world can both be the truth, and also kind of what you want for yourself… and for that matter, was Enid always this way? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.
The God of the OK K.O. Universe Is A Giant Ear of Corn, Who Is Referred to as Cob
...Okay to be completely honest, this fact is never… exactly plot relevant? I mean, it’s a thing that’s like. True , and a permanent part of the worldbuilding from here on out to be sure. I’m mostly just highlighting that here because it does come up after this and. Also. To be honest. Just because it’s a completely wild thing to be true . But it is! To such a degree that I’ve actually chosen to adapt the phrase into my artfully G-Rated authorial tone for these articles! ...Which might be getting a little meta, so why don’t we move this over to-
Final Overall Thoughts!
Oh my cob this episode. This is. Okay.
So the thing about this episode is that if you asked me at any point what my favorite, say, top 10 episodes of OK K.O. were, I doubt I would think to mention We’ve Got Pests. BUT. Even though that’s true? ...This is honestly kind of one of the episodes that really made me fall in love with OK K.O. as a series.
For one thing, you might have noticed by now that I really adore the character focus eps of OK K.O.- and this is a great first focus episode for Enid! ...well. Okay technically this is the second; but. To be honest… she sure did spend most of You Get Me trapped in stone, huh? Aaaand You’re Everyone’s Sidekick was about K.O., even if he was motivated by Enid.
BUT this episode is where I feel like the series finds it’s footing with Enid for good, and it really is a delight!
I also have a total soft spot for the way this show just kinda. Brazenly GOES for things. The Pests just BURST OUT OF A PIPE that’s always definitely been visible in the staff breakroom, and it’s never once questioned. Who are the Pests??? Where did they come from? Does K.O.’s reaction mean tiny rad people just occupy the same ecological niche as vermin? How does Gnarlio’s surfboard work?
NONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS COULD MATTER LESS and the show is 10000% better for it. It’s just. It’s happening! Don’t worry about it. It’s cool and funny and works for the episode, and that’s really all that matters. And this show is the best at that. It has continuity, but doesn’t really worry about it. It has internal logic; the show always makes sense inside it’s own context, and things like important story beats and emotional plotlines never contradict themselves. And it’s that energy that really shines.
...And nowhere does it shine stronger than this episodes ending. Because oh. Oh sweet fields of corn, the ending is absolutely where I fell hopelessly in love with the way this show handles it’s plots.
Now. Normally I kind of try to take an even hand with ‘spoilers’ in these writeups. I figure even if you haven’t actually seen the show (and if that’s the case: Welcome!! I’m so happy you’re reading my little writeups!) then you kinda have to be ok with episode spoilers if you’re reading these. And while I work hard on these, my descriptions of what happens can’t possibly replace the experience of actually watching the episode.
BUT. But. Just this once, just this VERY ONCE my dear readers, if you haven’t seen this episode, I implore you to check it out before reading any further. I left some key things about this ending out of my summary completely, and even waited allll the way to the very end here in Final Thoughts to talk about the ending just to make sure I couldn’t possibly spoil it for anyone. So please, PLEASE check it out. I’ll wait for you!
...Man the intro’s great, right? It literally doesn’t matter how many times I watch the show, I always love it- and if I’m talking to anyone while watching (like you!) I literally can’t help but comment on it.
Okay I’ll leave you to the rest of the episode! I gotta be doin’ my 1:30 AM pre-bed aerobics anyhow, I kinda cut it close writing these most sundays, bedtime wise.
Alright!! All done? Okay! So!
Obviously there’s lots of reasons to want to watch OK K.O. with friends. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do! But ONE of those reasons, and a VERY IMPORTANT one, is so you can experience the absolutely blissful sensation of watching your completely innocent buds smack face first into THIS.
Because no. This episode does not end with a goofy fight, or even JUST a moral about coolness, or ~learning who your real friends are~
This episode ends with ENID READING THESE CATS SO HARD THEY LITERALLY RE-EVALUATE THEIR WHOLE LIVES, ULTIMATELY TURNING THEMSELVES AROUND IN THE DIRECTION OF SINCERITY AND ULTIMATE POSITIVE CHANGE BROUGHT ON BY MATURITY.
Like. What? There is. In my semi-professional opinion as Media Enjoyer, no wilder choice that could have been made with this ending. It literally would have been LESS wild to have the episode just end with a sudden dance sequence. There may be no words for how much I love the completely wild swerve that this episode hits us with, BUT I’M GONNA TRY.
For starters, while it feels like a swerve, this episode’s ending is something far more powerful; to borrow a phrase from the gone but not forgotten BF Zaibatsu, THIS is the unexpected straight punch . Oh you THOUGHT it was gonna feint to the left with irony? A right hook punchline? No my friends; OK K.O.’s hands burn with emotional honesty ! It’s loud roar tells you to grasp… SINCERITY! ERUPTING… CHARACTER GROWTH!!!
Why? Because that’s how we do it . And even more than just being the twist-that’s-not-a-twist mind blower that it is, this ending is just… well. It’s sweet . After the initial wild shock of the straight-ahead-swerve, I honestly just. Kinda get a lil’ soft about what a sweet send off we get for these objectively purposefully obnoxious one off characters. I mean seriously. When do you ever see such a sweet, best case scenario given for this calibery of gimmicky single-episode characters on a cartoon?
Enid didn’t just send these three packing. She changed their lives for the better . And it’s cheesy, and unexpected, and in a lot of ways the sweet hearted mundanity of seeing their futures is the best punchline you could ask for.
...But I also just. Like it. Like.
Maybe in OK K.O., anyone can turn themselves around, if only they could manage to really look at themselves in the mirror, and figure out just who they are, and who they really want to be.
And maybe I can’t help but fall in love with that. I hope maybe you like it too! I mean. Ain’t it a nice thought? <3
So as always- Let’s Watch The Show!
And join us next time for You Are Rad, which continue the trend of getting a closer look at our elder Bodega heroes!
Chapter 16: Episode 15: You Are Rad
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes, and also a hot new line of shaving razors with 30 blades, a pull cord gas motor, and flame decals to DECIMATE your facial hair! I’m your host, genuinely unsure if his terrible teen ‘stache is worth buying a razor for, Friendly Troll!
K.O.’s only just gotten to work at the bodega when disaster strikes- he’s FORGOTTEN HIS NAMETAG !! But luckily for our favorite peanut, Radicles is there to save the day- lending K.O. his very own nametag for the day. And while at first K.O. is just goofing around pretending to be Rad, it’s not long before he finds out that as far as everyone else is concerned, a nametag and a set of fake straw antennas means he IS Rad! Which means K.O. has the chance of a lifetime- an opportunity to try and see what a day as Radicles is like!
And it’s pretty hard to blame K.O.- after all, how could he resist? Being Rad means he spends his time over confidently winning at games, hanging out with his aggressively dudely pals, and being reminded of his surprisingly sensitive and caring hobbies.
...Wait, what?? That’s right! turns out there might be a little more than we thought to Rad. And it’s just when K.O. makes THIS discovery that Rad makes another, far WORSE discovery… someone. Has STOLEN his NAMETAG. The fiend .
Well there’s obviously only one way this can end, of course. And no, it’s NOT with K.O. just. Giving back the nametag, which he’d be happy to do. Instead OBVIOUSLY the only course of action is for Rad and K.O. to have… an epic Rad Off . They face off head to head, and surprisingly, the contest is pretty much- well. Actually it’s no contest at all. Rad is killing is, just for some reason he keeps deciding K.O. must be winning. Because… I think Rad could use a hug. But as a result it all comes down to ONE event….
The Rap Battle . Finally, a chance for Rad to flex his actually quite adept rhyming skills, and K.O. can put all his new information about Rad to good use! ...A little bit TOO much good use, actually. While K.O. might be delighted to learn about his friends hidden depths, Rad isn’t ready for those things to be shared, and K.O.’s verse winds up embarrassing him. But K.O. thinks fast on his feet, and dramatically cedes the battle- and saved Radicles’ reputation! As… a… one dimensional macho doofus.
..But maybe it’s okay if just K.O. knows a little bit better.
This time our favorite Extra Terrestrial, emphasis on extra , takes the spotlight! And man, what a spotlight it is . Up until this point, we’ve pretty much just seen Rad the same way K.O. does! But this episode totally busts his story wide open. Not only does he have a soft spot, but it turns out Rad might be… kind of insecure. There’s no other reason I can think of for why Rad would act like K.O. was winning the Rad-off, and it honestly makes a lot of sense!
It’s not that rad’s insecure despite how full of himself he seems. He’s full of himself because he’s insecure. It’s clear that at some point, Rad got a very specific concept of ‘cool’ ingrained in his head that doesn’t actually square with everything about himself; so he’s GOT to be the biggest, baddest and Raddest!
And just like we saw in the last Rad focused episode, we see that Rad is a little more self aware about his problems then you might assume. If anything, I think that’s made much more explicit this time. Rad knows these traits are part of him. And he might not even really think they’re ‘uncool’. But he’s not ready to share them yet. And honestly I think that’s a very sweet, kind place to come from with Rad’s problems.
Villain of the Episode
None other then the dread threat of The Identity Thief . While we’ve had imposter situations before with the Mimic from Do You Have Any More In The Back, but it’s fatal flaw of not actually understanding who it was impersonating held it back. THIS foe is far more dangerous, as their knowledge of Radicles behavior allow them to *perfectly* disguise themselves as- Hm?
Puts hand up to my ear.
What’s that? It’s still just K.O. in disguise? And I’m actually wearing headphones playing Tatsuro Yamashi’s Ride On Time (Special Demo Edition), and NOT a newsroom type earpiece?
...Well then! In that case, I think this is a case of an episode actually having no antagonists! Besides maybe Rad’s short term memory.
While this IS an episode with a pretty high rate of minor characters, including what I think is Ted Viking and Foxy ’s first speaking role, but I’m afraid to say this episodes MVP status has to go to the one.
Gerald Nametag . Who is, surprisingly, only showing up here in his second appearance! We saw him once before in “You’re Everybody’s Sidekick”, briefly hiding in the troll-doll esque tuft of Red Actions’ regrettable haircut. And… really that’s about it! He just kidna shows up sometimes, scurrying about. Gerald is just a litle creacher, and he cannot change that.
Oh man, this episode is actually really tough to narrow down! I feel like this is one of those episodes where every gag lands, and everyones so sincere and cute and they’re friiieeends . Literally my favorite thing! But a few moments still stand out, like
How cute and loving K.O.’s impression of Rad is! Honestly I just. I just like how even tho K.O. *does* impersonate some of Rad’s more obnoxious traits, he also tries to follow Rad’s more admirable traits too! Like how in the arcade, he decides Rad wouldn’t be limited by choices, and he tries to go extra hard because he thinks Rad would, too. It’s just very sweet, and really feels like it’s never mean or exaggerated. It’s cute to see how K.O.’s admiration of Rad shines through even before he knows about his hidden depths.
Rad’s Desperate Search For A Nametag He Forgot He Willingly Gave to K.O. is, of course, a dramatic tour de force. The pathos! The drama! The deeply worrying cameo of Crinkly Wrinkly hunched over a pile of various nametags! As silly a sequence as it is, it does a fantastic job of making me, as the audience, go along with the idea of him forgetting he lent his nametag to K.O.. Like if he’d just gone right from realizing it was gone to confronting the ‘Imposter Rad’, it’d make him frustrating and unlikable. But instead, because he’s so genuine and sorrowful about it, I can’t help but feel sympathy for the goofus.
And finally, while it’s arguably a very fast, small moment, The way Rad opens up to K.O. a little bit at the very end is incredibly dear to my heart. While arguably Rad never actually noticed he was dealing with K.O., I can’t help but find it very endearing how instead of actually repeating the rap he did before, his new rap is him talking about his knitting hobby! I always like to think maybe he’s choosing to tell K.O. a little more about himself. Or maybe he really is just that much of a doofus. Either way, really, it’s just an adorably sweet end to the episode.
Think he knits K.O. a scarf for the winter?
That Was SO Cool!
Without a doubt, this episode absolutely BRINGS the cool with Radicle’s entry to the Rippity Rap Off! Not only does this give Rad the music video visual stlying he deserves, but honestly I always find his lyrical talents pretty impressive. It gives me Del the Funky Homosapien (aka Deltron) vibes in the absolute best way.
And along with how just seriously groovy the whole thing is, it’s also really cool to get a look at Rad at his best , which I think is a really smart choice considering how so far the show’s kind of focused on his more goofy, inept sides. But this sequence tells us once again- who’s bad? It’s Rad .
I Just Think It’s Neat
-According to K.O.’s inner monologue, Rad’s boots are patent leather! Considering how simplified this shows rendering is for clothes, I just enjoy actually getting a lil more detail about Rad’s clothes. Now if only I could figure out if his pants are meant to be pink jeans or not…
-When he’s impersonating Rad, K.O. gains a lil fangy underbite! I don’t got anything to really say about that! I just think it’s cute and good.
-K.O.’s notebook has a spellcheck function! That all too familiar red squiggly shows up under the word ‘sensitive’, which he’s of course adding to his fine selection of ‘Radjectives’. A word I can tell you MY spellcheck doesn’t care for even remotely.
-The fact that Rad specifically refers to his hair as an Afro! I actually remember the first time I saw this episode, catching this line just made me so happy! It’s a small distinction, but it means the world to me. It’s not just curly hair; it’s an afro .
-While it’s been a while since they last showed up in We Messed Up, this episode marks the return of Rad’s Girls! Nice to see them helping up as the background singers.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Sometimes there’s more to your friends then you might think… but also sometimes that might not be something they’re ready to share with the world, even if they’re okay sharing it with you.
Or to put it another way: Never out your friends, kids! .
We Got The Plot?
Enid’s D.J. Persona!
While she mostly pops her turntables out in what seems like a gag/narrative convenience, I couldn’t be MORE delighted to inform you all that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Enid’s skills at bringing the fresh beats that keep the party goin’. Especially since the episode she makes her triumphant return to the vinyl IS in fact one of my all time favorites.
Rad’s Awful Friends
...Okay, okay, I should be fair. TECHNICALLY Mega Football Baby and Bell Beefer haven’t actually done anything wrong yet. But I feel like it’s not breaking my rules on spoilers to say they’re awful, just look at them! You just know one or both of them smells like axe bodyspray and day old taco bell. To say the least of Mega Football Baby’s diaper. Or… why Bell Beefer is. Named. that. They’re not exactly major plot development characters, but they are pretty major components in Rad’s character arc!
-Does rad’s sensitive side and self awareness about not being ready to shade them count as plot? idk, I think this goes in character focus… What if we talked here about Main Character Development? Idk, I think its prob ok to talk about it twice.
Final Overall Thoughts
Wowee! We’re really into some of the first seasons hits now, in my opinion. Just like how our last episode really blew open Enid’s character for the show, THIS episode is absolutely THE definitive Rad episode. While Do You Have Any More In The Back definitely got us started on who Rad is, it kind of mostly focused on his more dingus-ey personality traits! So it’s really nice to see that get balanced out, and to get a more balanced look at who Radicles is.
Interesting to note, in the broadcast order, this episode is actually paired with You Get Me instead of We’ve Got Pests! And while I get why, I have to say this feels like a much more natural, and even grouping. I really would love to hear what some of the logic about the broadcasting schedule was, just for my own curiosity.
But there’s a lot to love in this episode! And something I really want to get into is the great way that Rad’s interests are handled. Like, sure, it turns out he has a surprising soft side. But at no point is one type of interest ever actually treated like it’s bad . It’s never even suggested that his more traditionally masculine traits or behaviors are fake . While he might have lied outright about his favorite animals and feelings on yoga, his love of bodybuilding and burping aren’t an act or anything. This is just ne information on top of what we already knew about him.
AND even more importantly, his love of soft things like kittens or knitting is never treated as being inherently shameful or embarrassing . Sure, Rad finds it embarrassing. But it’s clear that we, the audience, aren’t supposed to find the mere idea of a tough cool guy like Rad liking kittens to be a joke somehow. And well, I just really appreciate that. The habit of treating it as Endlessly Hilarious if a Big Tough Man likes something stereotypically considered ‘feminine’ is something that I wish I could say we had tragically only just gotten over but uh. TBH, we ain’t over it like at all.
And because of that, rad’s storyline is really near and dear to my heart, because it totally rejects the usual binary about this stuff. There’s no either or. There’s no “well if you like Soft things you must not REALLY like Hard things”. And it doesn’t gloss over how you might wind up getting pushback if you refuse to define yourself just one way or the other, too. Even if some of that pushback comes from your own fears and worries about how you’ll be perceived.
Masculinity, and seeking out a space for yourself inside that framework, is complicated. And all too often the vague solution I see people posit is that masculinity is Just Dumb And Bad, but whaddya gonna do?? So I genuinely really appreciate that in OK K.O., Rads desire to be ‘masculine’ isn’t bad. It’s just a problem that he doesn’t feel comfortable allowing himself to be more than that.
As a trans dude who’s kind of had to figure out my own space inside my gender, I just… like that. And also consider it more than enough reason to declare that Radicles is a trans dude who’s trying way too hard to pass. And my word is law.
So as always- Let’s Watch The Show!
Chapter 17: Episode 16: Legends of Mr. Gar
Hello and WELCOME to Let’s Watch The Show, an episode by episode fan analysis of the cartoon network show O.K. KO, Let’s Be Heroes a fantastical series set in the far flung future of… 201X?! W-wait a second…. um. Hrm.
Well either way I’m still your host, a man who already dresses like the 1980s concept of 2020, Friendly Troll!
It might just be the most ‘just another day at the plaza’ day at the Plaza yet, as we open with that ne’er-do-well Darrel trying to do a Graffiti on the Plaza Sign! This deja-vu inducing dastardly behavior won’t fly with Mr. Gar on the case though, and he sends him packing in short order- before heading out on one of his Secret Missions. The Bodega trio set about cleaning up, and when K.O. mentions just how cool Mr. Gar is, Rad decides to share the story of just how cool Mr. Gar was when he first met him- which sets us off on this episodes nifty little three part flashback structure!
It turns out when Rad first applied to the bodega, he was a stringbean lean goofus of a teen, who was too embarrassed of how common his telekinesis powers are in his family to think of them as something special. Instead, he tries to boast about power he doesn’t really have yet. But after Mr. Gar gets him to try using his TK beam out in battle, Rad is set on the path to confidence, and on his way to becoming the strong hero he is today!
Enid’s not too impressed though, and instead shares HER story. Enid got her job with no problem, but on her first day at the job she was too eager to please, and had no idea how to handle obnoxious customers. It’s only when a completely awful customer tries to get her in trouble for the store being out of a product that Mr. Gar makes it clear SHES the one in charge, NOT the customer! Enid gets the chance to show their unruly customer out of the store for good, and the authority granted to her by Mr. Gar is shown to clearly lead her to being the intense, confident person she is now.
But it turns out NEITHER of their stories impress the TRUE holder of Bodega lore- Crinkly Wrinkly?! Which means it’s unexpectedly smooth radio voiced theater as we’re treated to a. Somewhat. Baffling story of how Lakewood Plaza, and Boxman’s rivalry with Mr. Gar, came to be which. I honestly think needs to be seen to be believed.
That’s right! At long last, it's time to focus the spotlight on Mr. Garcia himself, and dive deep into some Bodega Lore ! Up until now we’ve seen Gar as a tough, cool boss who keeps the Bodega running, but is maybe kind of harsh, and stern. But this episode really lets us see that not only is he a great boss; he’s a mentor . He saw potential in Rad and Enid; strengths that they didn’t even realize were something valuable, or didn’t realize they had.
And to me, that’s a really admirable side to him. He’s not just running a hero supply store (and bodega); he’s also trying to train the next generation of heroes. And, specifically, the heroes who might have been overlooked. We don’t know Rad and Enid’s stories yet, after all, but clearly if they were going to go get a part time job as teenagers there probably wasn’t any superhero team internships or fancy training schools they could have gotten into.
Plus, the fact that he Will Not Put Up With customer bullhocky is. So deeply satisfying. Even if he’s kind of a harsh boss, the fact that he makes it clear to Enid that he’s on her side, and SHE has the power, is just so great. Working retail can be the worst; but with a boss like Gar, I imagine it’s not as bad as it could be. Heck, just the fact that Enid has a chair behind the counter is pretty great, sad as that is.
On top of all that, this episode shows Gar a sense of humor! After all, it’s a pretty good gag to claim Crinkly Wrinkly’s story about the origin of the Plaza is all true, right? ...Right?
Oh my cob Baby Rad is. Trying. So hard. Yeah it’s basically not a HUGE suprise that teenaged Rad was kind of settled at Baby's First Masculine Posturing, eh? But I can’t help finding it kind of endearing. He clearly wanted to try to set himself apart, and knew what he wanted to be, but didn’t really know how to handle that besides posturing. Seeing him light up when Gar shows him how his powers are something to be proud of is honestly incredibly endearing. Especially considering how much pride he takes in his powers in the present day.
On the other hand, seeing a nervous, eager-to-please baby Enid IS a bit of a shock! But unlike Rad, she’s already got her look and physical strength worked out a bit; it’s more her force of personality she hasn’t quite grown into. And just. Oh, honey. She’s so fluffy and unsure of herself! But clearly working at Gar’s has given her the framework she needed to grow into the cool, super-confident Enid we know now. And also at some point, she got a haircut. ...But not new boots, because those suckers can last you forever. And look pretty slick on a countertop.
Villain of the Episode
After a couple of episodes without any sign of the Bots, or really any more classical villains at all, this episode is a TREAT for quick and cute Boxmore moments! While Darrel ’s burgeoning graffiti skills don’t really get much time to shine, and Shannon only really is there long enough for me to note her cool Megaman style blaster arm that we never see again, I still love getting to see them both! And of course Boxman is. Uh. ...Amazing?? But probably inaccurate? ...Probably. I mean either way he’s likely not happy that Crinkly Wrinkly is out talking about him in a sailor suit.
BUT while I obviously love our dear Boxmore Baddies… I’m afraid the true villain of this episode.
Is Skateboard Nerd . Which. Yes, is in fact his name. Hoo, god. Right from the very first second, Skateboard Nerd is a rude, condescending, loud little jerk and oh cob he does not improve the longer you get to know him. It’s genuinely a triumph of obnoxious character design. I especially love how as soon as Mr. Gar shows up he immediately tries to make Enid’s behavior sound worse than it actually was. It’s that kind of authenticity horrible behavior that really reminds you the animators DEFINITELY all worked retail jobs at some point.
...Awful customer fight, Wally the White versus Skateboard Nerd, who wins?
I think none of you can blame me for refusing to highling Dogman as the minor MVP. I’m sorry, Dogman. You just… unsettle me. So instead, it’s time to talk.
About Crinkly Wrinkly . Who is Crinkly Wrinkly? Why is he. Like. That? We just don’t know. According to a piece of official art from Parker Simmons he’s… an elderly Sonic character ? I mean that’s as good an explanation as any but. Crinkly Wrinkly is an enigma. A worrying, worrying enigma. Also according to the OK K.O. wiki, he’s actually level 8 , which is only two levels lower than Mr. Gar???
Obviously, Mr. Gar’s Speeches to Baby Rad and Enid mean a lot to me. They’re not just adorable, they’re also Mr. Gar at his best. And getting to see how Rad and Enid grew into the people they are now is so cool. It really makes you realize they’ve been on their own journeys, just like K.O. Maybe someday he’ll be telling the story of how HIS first day at Gar’s went.
And I hope you can forgive me for being a little broad, because. Just. Everything about Crinkly Wrinkly’s Story About The Origin of Gar’s Bodega . This is one of those moments on the show that is a total DELIGHT to witness someone seeing it for the first time. What can I even say? It’s a masterpiece.
That Was SO Cool!
I mean i could talk about his effortless fight against Darrel- the way that it demonstrates an almost baffling mastery of fighting, and how somehow even though the joke is just how cool it is it still FEELS cool. But I think it’s honestly just faster to say… Mr. Gar? Like.
Just… Mr. Gar.
I Just Think It’s Neat
-The beginning of this episode has some really cute nods to the original show pilot! Not only is Darrel trying to spraypaint the Lakewood Plaza sign with the very same SMELLS BAD libel as he was in the pilot, but K.O. Rad and Enid’s awed reaction shots briefly have them drawn in the original pilot style!
-If you’ve been watching OK K.O. on Hulu, you can now clearly see this episode is the source of the uh. Frankly kind of genuinely baffling eyecatch they use for the show! It’s when the gang drop and give Mr. Gar 20… of everything .
-I just really like how giggly K.O. is when Rad’s jokingly using him as a broom for a moment. It’s a cute moment! You can really feel how it’s just them being silly together, not like Rad bullying K.O. or anything. I always enjoy these moments in the show where they’re just being cute friends.
-Rad’s ears are pierced??? Does he ever wear those again? I feel like I’d remember if Rad wore piercings again. He should! It’s a good look, dangit.
-That… lil satisfied fast nodding thing Mr. Gar does! I just like it, it’s cute.
Good Messages For Da Kidz:
Honestly pretty much every moral Mr. Gar drops this whole episode is totally gold. Like-
“ Sometimes it’s the things we’re ashamed of that are worth being proud of .” Are you KIDDING me?? That’s amazing advice! It even includes some wiggle room- like that’s not going to be true for *everything* you’re ashamed of. But it’s still encouraging, and pushes rad to polish his talents.
“ A true hero needs to be brave enough to look at someone straight on- before rolling their eyes at them .” ...Okay, admittedly this one sounds a little bit rougher, but. I honestly actually think this is also great advice. You can’t get too invested in what everyone thinks or has to say; and being able to shrug someone off really is a powerful skill. Though sadly, being able to apply that to customers varies a lot depending on where you work.
...But also, if anyone in my audience happens to do freelance: Please follow Gar’s advice and try to put yourself in as strong a position as possible when it comes to jerk customers.
We Got The Plot?
Uhhh. Well. Well? I. Suppose we did. Because we got-
Crinkly Wrinkly’s Origin of Gar’s Bodega/Lakewood Plaza…?
Hoh boy how to explain this one. I mean. Listen. This whole story is completely ridiculous. Even for OK K.O. But. I mean. Mr. Gar DID verify it as true, so. I… guess we could keep an eye on it? It honestly seems kind of far fetched to me. Like, okay, maybe Lord Boxman having once been Lad Boxman is just a little silly- but that sailor suit? And Mr. Gar building the Plaza himself is. A lot. Not to even mention Plazamo. Even if Plazamo is adorable. But…
Technically it’s uh... Backstory until proven otherwise? It’s worth noting for that, at the very least.
Final Overall Thoughts
Honestly I think if you’ve read the rest of the series up till now, it comes as no surprise that I’m really fond of this episode! (And, if somehow you decided to read this chapter first: hello! I hope you liked it! Isn’t this a fun episode?) It literally combines getting to see character backstory with just. Absolutely gloriously bonkers, off the wall comedic surrealism. The fact that the rest of the episode is (for this setting) pretty much a gentle slice of life episode (again for a world where most cars are battle tanks) just makes the sudden careening third act of Crinkly Wrinkly’s story all the more hilarious. It’s completely over the top in the best way possible, how can I not love it?
And honestly, something I kind of love is how while these are obviously important moments to Rad and Enid, they’re not exactly the most… dramatic, if that makes sense? Not that OK K.O. is a particularly dramatic show all that often. But I just really enjoy that we get to see important moments and things about these kids just… because! It’s not a story where K.O. is The Important One and everything else only comes up if it’s relevant to his story. Sure it’s centered on K.O., but it’s also a genuine ensemble cast. And they all have their moments!
And speaking of which, this episode also does something I find really neat in a structural sense! Not just in the structure of the episode, although I do find it really impressive how they fit three separate stories into a 10 minute time limit. But specifically I mean the structure of the season as a whole!
See, before this episode we’ve had a couple of instances of episodes centered on Rad and Enid that pretty much focused on expanding on them as characters. Specifically two instances of a Rad episode and Enid episode literally back to back, which doesn’t have any real significance, I just think it’s really cool how deliberately paced that is. More relevant is the fact that they very neatly take a second to show us who Rad and Enid were only after first establishing who they are now , but that’s not actually what I wanted to talk about either.
Instead, I want to talk about the fact that this episode is a functional gear shift . Because we’re actually right about to pivot in just a few episodes to taking a closer look at the adults of Lakewood Plaza. Including none other then Gar himself! Though we have a few pit stops along the way, first…
But until then, as always- Let’s Watch The Show!