Rayman: The Animated Series

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Rayman: The Animated Series DVD cover

DirectorLaurent Jennet
Original run1999 – 2000
Number of episodes4 (originally 5 planned)
Purchase Rayman game for PlayStationClick here to purchase from Amazon.

Today, we are going to do something a little different. As many of you know, I’ve reviewed anime previously. But because I’m not terribly picky, I want to try something different. So, here is my first review on a European animated series.

Hmm, I wonder how many critics are there for that category.

So, who here played the original Rayman?

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Ah, sweet childhood memories…

Back when the PlayStation was a new console, this was one of the first games I got. It had unique cartoonish character designs, beautiful artwork, charming soundtrack, and challenging gameplay. Even with the cartoonish graphics, it’s not afraid to shoot for grittier locations and atmosphere (as shown in the Blue Mountain and The Cave of Skops levels).

Rayman Mr. Stone's Peak Rayman Cave of Skops Rayman Mr Skops boss

It is very much a unique specimen, and, for me, is a timeless classic. This game is nearly 20 years old and I can honestly say it still holds up pretty fucking well to this day.

I still own my copy of Rayman for the PlayStation and by god I treasure it. If you have never played this game before, do it. Either shoot for the PlayStation, Saturn, or PC version. The PSP/Vita ports are fine too. Just don’t bother with the GBA and DSi ports. They’ll cheat you out of aplenty.

Or hell, if you can, get the enhanced PC versions like Rayman Gold or Rayman Forever if you want a lot of extra challenging levels. They’re old as fossils but somehow run them on your new Windows computer, damn it!

JUST GO PLAY IT. NAO. DO IT! DO EEEEEEEET!

Anyways, this game’s spiritual successors are Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. While I think they are very good, I still consider the original to be superior. No hard feelings. It’s the nostalgia talking.

But many years after getting the first game, I had the opportunity to play Rayman 2: The Great Escape on the Nintendo 64. Definitely not a bad entry, but the complete shift in tone and setting bothered me immensely. With the exception of a few cameos, the sequel had very little to do with the first game in terms of story, characters, and even the world itself. Everything was all dark and muddy in comparison to the bright, vibrant colors of the original. The story is vaguely connected to the original.

However, the game was popular enough to be ported to many consoles, including an enhanced version for the PlayStation 2 and a port of the Dreamcast copy on the Nintendo 3DS. Still, it is a 3D platformer that definitely shows its age, even when compared to its predecessor. It is still pretty fun to this day but it just doesn’t compare to the first game for me. And yes, it also has its unique atmosphere too.

Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Yeah… this doesn’t look very dated at all.

But after those, I haven’t touched a Rayman game until Rayman Origins. I didn’t want to be disappointed by Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc since I had heard some pretty funky stuff about it, so I stayed away.

But enough of my fanboyisms. You’re here for something else.

Now, much to my surprise, I later discovered that there was a French animated series created by Ubisoft based on the Rayman games. It got an English dub too. Only four episodes.

…Well, shit, I’m going to be shooting myself in the foot by watching this, am I?

Ladies and gentlemen, Rayman: The Animated Series.

Okay…

This show baffles me with its existence. For whom was it even made for? Certainly not fans of the video games. As for children, it’s just way too boring. Apparently, this show’s first season was meant to be 13 episodes long. But due to poor ratings and lack of funding (which, oddly enough, was funded by the government of Quebec in Canada), the show didn’t take off.

And I’m glad for that. As an adaptation, it doesn’t even come close to capturing what the video games were like. Rayman was a typical video game hero who fights baddies and saves innocent people. But here, he’s just a wisecracking circus performer turned convict who rarely utilizes his powers to save the day. Hell, he’s not even fighting evil here! He runs away and that’s it! What a ripoff.

As for the setting, it lacks both the imagination and the passion that Rayman and Rayman 2: The Great Escape had. The series should have been fun and creative, but it’s just mostly one city.

And someone out there might be thinking, “Okay. This isn’t some serious anime you’re watching. It’s just a kid’s cartoon series that has more room to defy physics and add more slapstick.”

But that’s the thing. This series doesn’t even handle the comedic portion that well, with the lame jokes slipped into the dialogue and unfunny slapstick. It’s mostly painful to sit through.

And if you’re looking at this as a standalone series, it’s… how you say, blasé. The premise is weak, the comedy is weak, and the execution is so BORING. Ubisoft, how did you suck the fun and creativity out of one your most creative video games yet, and replace them both with bland, cheesy writing?

And honestly, I just see no redeeming value with this series. Despite having a varied cast of illustrious voice actors (Billy West, Kath Soucie, etc), the dialogue makes poor use of their talents. It sucks because they’re not too bad in this show, though the unnecessary stereotypical accents could be eliminated.

So… don’t watch this series. Even if you’re looking for a good laugh on how bad it is, it really doesn’t have that quality.

Now, my inner fanboy is going to cry in the corner for having sat through this butchering of a great video game series.

*sobs*

Rayman: The Animated Series

Price Varies
Rayman: The Animated Series
1.5

STORY

1.0/10

CHARACTERS

1.0/10

ART & ANIMATION

3.0/10

SOUNDTRACK

1.0/10

Pros

  • None I can think of.

Cons

  • A very loose adaptation of the source material.
  • Turning the Rayman series into a bland and unimaginative sitcom.
  • The dated CGI, which makes the characters look like soulless puppets with claylike faces.
  • Poor pacing overall.
  • The nonsensical plot holes, which shouldn’t be so apparent in a show like this.
  • The comedy and slapstick are very weak and unfunny.
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