In recent posts, I’ve been covering more recent cartoons. Tonight, I’m going to cover a show as recently as…um…September 2015. This cartoon is a Computer-Animated series featuring kid superheroes. It’s only been on the air for almost 3 months now, but already I’ve come to love it. Fun fact: the show is produced in France, and the original dialogue is in English.
In 2015, Entertainment One in Toronto with FrogBox Productions and TeamTO in France teamed up to co-produce a cartoon series titled PJ Masks. This show is based on the book series “Les Pyjamasques” by French author Romuald Racioppo. The program premiered in the United States on September 18th, 2015 on the Disney Junior block on Disney Channel. It debuted to an American audience of 1.6 Million viewers. The show is about three 6-year-olds who are normal kids by day. But by night, they transform into three young pajama-like superheroes fighting to stop fiendish villains from messing with their day. These are the heroes of the night. These are the PJ Masks!
The broadcast of PJ Masks airs with two half-episodes lasting about 11 minutes each. Disney Junior’s United States broadcast of the program aired commercial-free. Two half episodes for many programs on television usually are split by a commercial break. However, all (if not, most) programs on Disney Junior on Disney Channel air uninterrupted, making for a better adolescent viewing experience.
Connor is a tan-skinned boy with brown spiked hair on the front of his head. By day, he usually wears a blue sweater and blue pants. By night, Connor becomes “Catboy,” the leader of the PJ Masks. Catboy appears in a blue cat uniform with stripes, a tail, and cat ears on his mask. His powers running at lightning speed, and super-hearing in which he can hear sounds from great distances such as a villain’s evil laugh. Also, he can leap incredible distances and heights. But like most cats, Catboy is (very much) afraid of water, even when he’s not Catboy. He is the oldest member of the PJ Masks and is very stubborn about his team leadership.
Greg has blonde hair and he usually wears a green sweater with a gecko silhouette on it. Greg is the youngest of the trio. By night, Greg becomes “Gekko.” He appears in a green lizard-like uniform with frills and a tail. His powers include super-strength, super grip used to climb up walls and hold on to moving objects, camouflage, changing color like a chameleon, and running on water. He can be over-competitive when playing games. As referenced in the opening theme, Greg/Gekko is not very good at rhymes.
Amaya is the only female member of the PJ Masks. She has long brown hair and is usually seen wearing a wing clip in her hair. She usually wears a red dress over top of a pink shirt with red glasses. In the night, Amaya becomes “Owlette.” She appears in a red birdlike uniform with an owl-like mask and a cape that resembles owl wings. She has the power of flight, night vision owl eyes, and can stir up gusts of wind from her owl wings. Like Catboy, she has super-hearing in which she can hear things from great distances.
The PJ Masks get around the city in any one of three transportation vehicles, respectively. If quick transportation on the ground is most effective, the trio will take Catboy’s CatCar. If aerial transportation is needed, they would take Owlette’s Owl Glider. If ground or amphibious transportation is required, they would take Gekko’s Gekko Mobile. Like Gekko, this vehicle can also camouflage itself and climb up walls.
You would expect the villains to be adults who emerge in the dark of the night to commit their fiendish acts. However, the villains on PJ Masks are just as pint-sized as the heroes themselves. In the first 13 weeks of airing, there have been only three villains. Romeo is an evil mad scientist with the goal of global conquest to make the whole world love him. He wears a mad scientist coat, boots, pants, goggles and a black and white hairstyle. He uses his own robots and inventions to aid him in world domination, and he usually drives around in his mobile lab. Romeo has committed acts from stealing a roller-coaster train ride to putting his face on every book in the city.
The only female villain in the show is Luna Girl. She uses her Luna Magnet to control things, and she also has a swarm of moths follow her to help with her mischievous activities. Luna Girl is depicted with white hair, a black mask, and a gray suit with a lunar crescent symbol on it. Most of the time, she’s very evil, but sometimes she appears to be sweet and profound. In her first appearance, she steels the sprinkler water from the city park and she uses clouds to block the sun to end summer. By night, Luna Girl controls the clouds and exploits Catboy’s aquaphobia (fear of water) by making the clouds rain on him.
The third villain is called Night Ninja. He wears a full-body navy-blue ninja suit with nighttime stars on it. This guy usually has his henchmen, the Ninjalinos, to do all his evil work while he watches from the sideline. The Ninjalinos wear an identical attire to Night Ninja, except the Ninjalinos ninja suits are purple, not navy-blue. They don’t speak, but they sing and mumble instead.
This show serves two underlying purposes. The first purpose is to provide comedic entertainment. The second is to provide an educational experience for children ages 2-7 in
the form of learning personal and friendship lessons. For example, in the first episode, Owlette was very excited to ride the train ride that Romeo stole. Owlette was shown to be very impatient, and her impatience got her into trouble when they were trying to spring a surprise attack on Romeo. The lesson to learn there is to be patient and just wait.
Another example is Catboy’s fear of water. When Catboy’s friends were in trouble, the rain from Luna Girl’s clouds seemed to impede Catboy’s drive to save Owlette and Gekko. But as much as he hated getting wet, he didn’t hate that as much as letting his friends down. The message in this situation is to conquer your fears and be dependable, regardless of the circumstances.
In various other forms of multimedia, there are many superhero series’ that show transformation sequences. On PJ Masks, all of the crime fighting occurs at nighttime. But when an irregularity is discovered during the day, the PJ Masks shouts “PJ Masks, we’re on our way! Into the night to save the day!” Once nighttime rolls around, the show’s announcer narrates a superhero introduction bit that is reused in every episode. This sequence shows the three PJ Masks in their daytime forms, wearing pajamas in their respective bedrooms. Once the outdoors is completely dark, it’s “GO Time!” Using their animal amulet wristbands, they transform into their alter-egos known as the PJ Masks.
The opening theme for this show was composed by Eric Renwart and David Freedman. The theme begins with a very mysterious sounding bit with horns, gradually increasing strings, and percussion. This sequence builds up to the PJ Masks identifying themselves with backup vocalists repeating them. The melodies have that superhero feel to it, one that I would describe as a Superman theme and a Batman theme mashed together. Halfway through the song, the PJ Masks join in with the vocals in the form of rhyming. Catboy and Owlette come in with the lyrics “…‘cause bedtime is the right time to fight crime…” Then, Gekko exclaims “I can’t think of a rhyme!” That part of the song I thought was hilarious because Gekko says that he couldn’t think of a rhyme when he was, in fact, rhyming. The original score is composed by Fabrice Aboulker. Aboulker’s score during nighttime scenes resemble scores you’d hear in the Batman series’ from the 1960s. The use of horns are especially prevalent in scenes where the PJ Masks set off in their respective vehicles. During scenes of stealth or planning, you hear an action-style score with fast-paced wooden blocks or bongos with a piano playing deep notes that sound almost like the theme from The People’s Court.
The cast of PJ Masks is mainly composed of child voice actors and actresses. Jacob Ewaniuk is the voice of Connor (Catboy). Ewaniuk has also performed voice roles as Timmy Tibble on PBS’s Arthur from 2012 through 2015, and as Nick on PBS’s The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Greg (Gekko) is voiced by Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, best known for his role as Barker Simmons in the 2012 film Parental Guidance and as Henry Bennigan on ABC’s The Whispers. Amaya (Owlette) is voiced by Addison Holley. Holley has been the voice of Layla on an episode of PBS’s Caillou in 2010 and as Julia on PAW Patrol in 2013. Romeo is voiced by Alex Thorne, Luna Girl is voiced by Brianna Daguanno, and Night Ninja is voiced Trek Biccino.
I enjoy this show for its depiction of child superheroes as well as child villains, too. I’ve seen other pint-sized or adolescent superhero cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls and Teen Titans. Such show has long since left the airwaves of American Television only to be left to reminisce on. I think that PJ Masks are the start of something new for children’s television, as are many other programs on Disney Junior. Since this show is only 3 months old, if I had to make one recommendation for the show it would be introducing more villains for the production crew to work with. I think that three villains are simply not enough. But in terms of educational and entertainment value, I would give this show a 9.1 out of 10. That may be the lowest rating I’ve given any of the reviews I’ve done to date, but I’m confident that this show has plenty of room to impress me. One of the things that I love about this show is, whenever a villain has been defeated, the trio shouts…
“PJ Masks, I’ll shout horray! ‘Cause in the night, we saved the day!”
- Addison Holley. Digital image. Internet Movie Database. 7 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <http://www.imdb.com/media/rm398059776/nm3204147?ref_=nm_phs_md_1 >.
- EOne/FrogBox. PJ Masks. Disney Junior/Disney Channel. 2015. Television. Screen Captures
- Grant, Denise. Kyle Harrison Breitkopf. Digital image. Internet Movie Database. 15 July 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <http://www.imdb.com/media/rm307354112/nm3827460?ref_=nm_ov_ph >.
- Jacob Ewaniuk.JPG. Digital image. Arthur Wiki. Wikia, 16 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <http://arthur.wikia.com/wiki/File:Jacob_Ewaniuk.JPG >.