Believe it or not, but Rayman had a 3D animated cartoon series that began in the late ’90s. And let’s say there’s a GOOD reason why it should stay forgotten.
|Original run||1999 – 2000|
|Number of episodes||4 (originally 5 planned)|
|Purchase Rayman game for PlayStation||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?
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).
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’s art direction 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.
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. There are VHS and DVD copies of it out there, but they’re now extremely rare to find. This series 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, so here is my first disappointment. Our establishing setting here is… a circus. Pardon my French, but what the fuck?
Like I mentioned before, Rayman 2: The Great Escape threw me off because of the different setting. But at least it’s still clearly a fantasy world so I treat it as a different interpretation of the series. Here, it doesn’t resemble anything you would expect from a Rayman game. It’s far too mundane.
But… let’s give it the benefit of the doubt…
So the episode starts with with a large, hulking character named Rigatoni threatening his circus performers, saying that he won’t feed them if they don’t perform well at their next circus act.
Part of the charm of the original Rayman designs is that every character, including the enemies, has no limbs. Of course, Rayman 2: The Great Escape threw this design choice out of the damn window and this series follows suit.
…Sorry, fanboyisms taking over again.
The girl named Betina starts the circus act off. A dimwitted rabbit named Lac-Mac finishes the whole thing up with a juggling act.
Well, that’s the shortest fucking circus act ever…
And for some reason, Admiral Razorbeard (the main antagonist of Rayman 2: The Great Escape) is a ringmaster working for Rigatoni. Yes, an infamous space pirate robotic captain is made to be the wormy sidekick for a circus leader.
So Razorbeard puts all of the circus performers back into their cages and leaves.
Also, the series isn’t very good with its character introductions and you’re only going to keep getting confused if I keep pulling names out, so I’ll explain them to you.
Betina is the red-haired girl who resembles Betilla the Fairy in the first Rayman, though she’s just a human girl with no magical abilities.
Cookie Luvagetto is a mole who complains a lot, and he is supposedly based on a scrapped character in the first game.
Lac-Mac is the hideous, dimwitted blue rabbit who was the main star of the circus and looks strangely like Globox the Toad in Rayman 2: The Great Escape.
And finally, Flips is the fly/fairy thing who speaks in high-pitched squeals.
*sighs* And that is all you need to know about them.
Betina goes into a rant.
Betina: Poor Lac-Mac. He’s so good. He’s funny. But people love him! It makes me so mad! If only the people how he was treated! How WE were treated! I wish there was a way out of here.
Yeah. Let’s put more emphasis on the dimwitted rabbit than ourselves. Be mad that Lac-Mac is imprisoned, people! BE VERY MAD!
We cut to Razorbeard and Rigatoni discussing their new captive, who is none other than our hero, Rayman. Granted, I’m not really sold on Razorbeard’s voice here, who sounds like an old man with an accent. He seems more intimidating in Rayman 2: The Great Escape with his mechanical grunts.
They are trying to tame him as a new circus performer, but Rayman refuses to comply. Razorbeard makes another attempt to educate Rayman, but the two end up arguing through some unfunny dialogue. Also, Rayman has the voice of Billy West.
Yep. When you hear Rayman’s voice, you might recognize either Stimpy from Ren & Stimpy or Phillip J. Fry from Futurama.
Not sure if crazy or stupid.
And to his credit, I prefer this voice over the one in the original Rayman. The funny thing about that game is that the PlayStation version cut out some of Rayman’s voice clips. In the Saturn version, he has those voice clips. Whenever Rayman says, “Excellent!” after beating a boss, I cringe. It sounds like Mandark from Dexter’s Laboratory if he caught the flu.
Rayman attempts to leave the circus but Rigatoni ain’t having it, explaining that “any freak who comes in will never come out.” And he throws Rayman into a cage with the other circus performers.
Okay, I have a few questions.
- Why is Rayman even at the circus?
- How did he get captured? If Razorbeard is his captor, I don’t buy it. Based on what you have seen of Razorbeard so far, would you believe that he captured Rayman?
- Why did Rayman just let them imprison him? Couldn’t he just fight back and escape?
And also, Rayman’s personality is that of a sarcastic, laidback jerk with a New York (or Boston?) accent, sort of what you would expect Stimpy to be like if his personality was more like Ren’s.
Rigatoni tries to give Lac-Mac a bit of special treatment, but Lac-Mac demands to be freed. Rigatoni threatens the whole group that he would toss them in the dungeon—this circus has a dungeon? He makes his evil laugh and leaves them alone.
We see the circus taking off in flight. Don’t ask. Then, we see the circus performers in their cages discussing a plan.
Cookie: Oh, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?
Rayman: I’ll tell you what we gonna do. We’re gonna get outta here! That’s what we’re gonna do.
Cookie: No chance. Rigatoni knows our every move. *scene focuses on security camera*
Betina: We have to try.
Rayman: Who does he think he is? What does he think we are? Locked up in cages like animals.
…Why does that give me Elephant Man flashbacks?
So Rigatoni sits in his giant room of television screens—which is weird considering they’re inside a floating circus tent, and why he would need that many screens for this one tent—and watches over them. Doesn’t he have better things to do?
Admiral Razorbeard comes into the room to check on the prisoners and leaves.
…Wait, who the fuck is piloting the FLYING circus?
Meanwhile, the circus performers are getting Lac-Mac to perform a new trick. Apparently, Lac-Mac is strong enough to bend cast-iron steel to make shapes.
Lac-Mac: Lac-Mac strong.
Rayman: Lac-Mac strong?
So Rayman tells Lac-Mac to bend the MUCH THICKER STEEL BARS apart to free himself.
Admiral Razorbeard comes in to find that the prisoners have escaped. In a very pathetic sequence, Razorbeard is easily apprehended. Final boss of Rayman 2, everyone, and he can’t even swat a fly in front of his face.
So instead of trying to hunt down the circus performers, Rigatoni and Admiral Razorbeard just sit around and lament their loss. I swear. if Rigatoni makes a lot of money from his circus, how come he doesn’t put some money into tough bodyguards? He probably has more than enough money to afford a SECURITY CAMERA NETWORK so why not pay less for bodyguards?
Rigatoni calls the police with a CORDED PHONE in a FLYING CIRCUS and speaks to Inspector Grub.
Without telling Grub that Lac-Mac was kidnapped and that he may have had accomplices, Grub just runs out of the door and Rigatoni swears vengeance on Rayman.
By the way, why does he blame Rayman for the whole thing? This is pretty much a group effort by those circus performers, not just Rayman by himself.
The episode ends when Rayman and group walk into the nearest town. They come across an old mechanic who is attempting to fix his car.
Rayman: Nice set of wheels!
Mechanic: Oh, this hunk o’ junk? It don’t even work! I should get rid o’ this car.
Rayman: My friend here *points at Cookie* can fix your car.
Mechanic: Man, I been working on this car for ten years. Listen, if your friend can fix it, then he can have it.
So you’ve been trying to fix this one car for TEN YEARS. You’ve kept it, probably to use it again for yourself, but considered to get rid of it because you couldn’t fix it. And you’re willing to just let someone have it if they can fix it? I know this is a cartoon but WHAT SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?
By the way, Cookie does fix the car. Yeah, even though it was never indicated earlier in the episode, Cookie is a genius mechanic. A ten-year effort becomes moot in a single afternoon. So the group takes the car and leaves.
…Well, that whole thing was poorly paced.
The episode continues from Lac-Mac-Napping, where Rayman and the gang are cruising through the city with their newly acquired car.
And yeah. Apparently, this world has cars, even though there were never such a thing in the games. I know this is an adaptation and you may have to make changes. But making this fantasy world too close to the real world defeats the point of making it a fantasy in the first place. It’s just boring.
Meanwhile, Inspector Grub receives a very convenient group shot of the circus performers in his cop car. Well, at least he knows who he is looking for now.
And how does he receive the picture? Through a fax machine in his cop car. Again, HOW?! YOU STILL NEED A PHONE LINE TO CALL PEOPLE AND FAX IN THE LATE ’90’s, YOU JERKS!
Grub finds the group passing by and pursues them. However, Rayman as the driver manages to outmaneuver him and the group escapes.
After Cookie complains about feeling sick, the group stops to take a break. Okay. If the police were after you just a while ago, what the hell makes you think you’re safe to wander in the streets now?
And Cookie complains about the situation too, claiming that every cop is after them and he rather be at the circus. Yeah, apparently, one cop going after you is an indicator that every one of them is after you. Either that, or Cookie has psychic powuhz which helps him realize that.
Or hell… the whole group realizes they are criminals now. How? They weren’t there when Rigatoni made his phone call to Inspector Grub.
Rayman tries to calm Cookie down, but he thinks our limbless hero is full of crap and leaves alongside Lac-Mac, saying that he’ll be writing his final will and testament. Um, okay then…
Betina: Why did we even take him with us?
I don’t know, Betina. Why did he even follow you without a complaint and helped the group acquire a car in the previous episode?
So yeah, this little spat just comes out nowhere.
Cookie begins writing his will and generally acting like a jerk, hurting the feelings of Flips. Flips deals with this by sleeping in the car. Okay I guess…
Meanwhile, Rayman and Betina discover that their car is being towed.
Man, whoever owns that property was so serious about that rule that he called towing services within a single minute. And they came in that same minute.
Though they could shrug off their loss, Lac-Mac confesses that Flips is still inside the car.
Rayman and the group wanders through the city, trying to figure out how they are going track down Flips. Rayman spots Inspector Grub in the distance, suggesting that maybe they should ask him. Cookie points out that they are still wanted criminals, so Rayman disguises himself as… this.
And like with many police officers in bad cartoons, Inspector Grub tells the oddly disguised Rayman on where he may find a towed car. But after Rayman slips up and reveals his full head of hair, Grub chases them across the city.
The group is safe again after getting inside a suspended train. By a big fucking coincidence, they find their car.
However, they have just missed Flips and end up at a scrapyard called Scrapyard.
So where do towed cars go? To the Scrapyard to get chewed up by some giant cyclops hippopotamus-cow.
Wow. If someone towed my car and sent it to the scrapyard to get chewed up by a giant monster on the same day, I would be suing them up the ass.
The group finds Flips in one of the cars, which begs the question… why are there two different tracks that lead to the same place?
But they find Inspector Grub, who is asking around about his wanted criminals. Rayman and the group manages to sneak in to the Scrapyard, taking Grub’s car with them in the process. Hyuck-hyuck.
Betina: This place is a disaster. How is anybody supposed to find anything in here?
BECAUSE IT’S A SCRAPYARD, YOU DUMMY, NOT A LOST-AND-FOUND!
Rayman: They don’t. That’s why it’s called a scrapyard?
YEAH! LISTEN TO BILLY WEST!
So Rayman gets on the conveyer belt in a scenario strangely reminiscent of the climax of The Brave Little Toaster.
But it looks like Rayman is too late as the giant cow chews up the car and Flips along with it.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!
Nah, that is not how it ends.
In this confusing few seconds, Rayman’s right hand acts on its own and dives into the beast’s throat. Or is Rayman shouting, “GOOO GEEEET ‘ERRR!” even though his mouth didn’t move and ordered his hand to act on its own and rescue Flips? I have no idea.
So Rayman rescues Flips and everyone is all happy. However, Inspector Grub catches them in the act.
Inspector Grub: Not so fast. Now one more time… stand still with your hands up!
But Lac-Mac ends up saving them at the last minute by chasing the inspector away with a giant machine. Wait, what?
Yeah. Apparently, Lac-Mac has vanished from the episode after the group has sneaked into the Scrapyard and hasn’t been present for the entire rescue sequence, just so he can perform that little deus ex machina rescue.
…That… is just poorly set up…
So the group escapes AGAIN and Inspector Grub swears vengeance against them, and then watches his car getting chewed up by the giant cow.
HA! YOU’RE SUCH COMEDIC GENIUSES, WRITERS!
So Lac-Mac, being the idiot he is, drives them at the edge of a platform. Because the writers feel the need to put in one more deus ex machina, Rayman saves them by using his hair helicopter ability.
Actually, this helicopter ability is one of Rayman’s powers in the games. NERD ALERT: But it is mostly used for gliding, not actual flight unless the level itself calls for it.
As if the writers realized, “Oh! That’s right! Rayman can’t actually fly with this ability!”, the group loses height and tumbles down probably hundreds of feet down below, dying in the process.
Tch. Nope, they survived.
Earlier in this episode, Betina was about to fall from a conveyer belt while rescuing Flips and Cookie had to save her from becoming a giant red stain on the ground.
But just seconds ago, everyone was falling from a much greater height and survived without a scratch. So that first sequence was entirely pointless.
Consistency? FUCK THAT! WE HAVE MONEY TO THROW INTO THIS CRAP!
And the group just so happens to fall into an empty hut, in which they can call home. They think they are safe once again, but they hear someone in a floor just below them grumbling.
The episode starts off with Inspector Grub attempting to throw a dart at a picture of his wanted criminals, but the world hates him so much that the dart bounces off the wall and hits him in the head.
You know, here is what I want to know: how come this high-ranking police officer wants to capture Rayman and his group and put them back in the circus where an abusive circus leader uses them as tools to rake in the cash? Do these citizens have no human (or whatever the fuck you call them) rights whatsoever? And also, why is he the only police officer going after them?
Upstairs, Cookie is bitching about a headache and every other superficial thing while Betina complains about him complaining. Through some incredibly unfunny dialogue, they decide to take Cookie to the doctor’s office.
And well, not much else happens. Cookie just sits through the doctor’s unconventional tests while unfunny slapstick happens.
The doctor declares that Cookie is fine physically, but also suggests that Cookie’s “illnesses” are in his head and he should get confined into a mental institution. And that is what happens: he sends Cookie into an underground insane asylum.
…Um, what the fucking fuck.
Rayman suggests that he and the group should rescue Cookie, but Betina thinks Cookie had it coming because of his constant whining and complaining.
Jesus, this chick doesn’t fuck around.
But she begrudgingly agrees to help Cookie. But then, Inspector Grub walks into the doctor’s office so they have another problem in their hands.
And despite having an insane roommate, Cookie seems to adjust to the asylum life pretty well. Inspector Grub walks in, which the scene reveals that the crazy bi-polar roommate is none other than his own mother.
While Rayman and the group are searching each room, Inspector Grub tries to talk to Cookie, having felt he met him before.
And then we get… probably the only genuinely funny scene in the series. Lac-Mac walks into a room and asks the inmate if he has seen Cookie.
…I don’t know what it is, but I guess that uncomfortable few seconds seems like comedy gold compared to the rest of the crappy jokes in the series.
Meanwhile, Inspector Grub continues to badger Cookie with a bunch of questions, and he seems to forget that he is questioning someone in an INSANE ASYLUM. God, what an asshole.
But Grub does manage to find out that Cookie is one of the suspects he is looking for and strangles him, but Grub’s mother attacks him and allows her roommate to escape.
So once again for the nth time this series, the group gets chased. And believe it or not, there is an overused, clichéd Scooby Doo homage with the doors and the hallways.
Towards the end, Inspector Grub finds them but once again his own mother knocks him out and even helps the group find an escape route.
If she has known about this shortcut, how come she doesn’t use it herself? Or hell, why didn’t anyone else in the asylum use it and why did no employee seal it?
By the way, remember that crazy cookie guy that Lac-Mac met earlier? Well, the asylum doctors mistake Grub for that same guy and end up confining him.
When you think about it, this guy disregards human rights to capture his convicts. And here he is, getting denied those same rights. Life’s a bitch, ain’t it.
So Rayman and his pals drive towards the sunset, the moral of the story apparently being do not complain too much or you will get sent to the insane asylum, and they share a laugh. HA HA HA HA!
This episode starts off with Cookie making breakfast. Unsatisfied with how it tastes, Cookie wants to go grocery shopping for… whatever ingredient he’s missing.
Everyone talks about Inspector Grub and Betina laments over him not having any friends, just a man (or aardvark thing) doing his job.
You know, she has a good point. Despite trying to capture them for a psychotic, abusive circus leader and a former space pirate captain, maybe Grub is just a working stiff who needs a girlfriend.
But to see if he is home one floor below, Cookie drills a hole into the floor while a variation of the Mission Impossible theme plays and place a telescope made of pipes into it.
Don’t you just get sick of Mission Impossible references in kid’s cartoons?
And also, ummmm… wouldn’t the Inspector notice there is a pipe with a lens on it sticking out of his ceiling?
True enough, the Inspector walks into his home with a bouquet of flowers. The group figures out that if Grub impresses his date enough for her to be a girlfriend, he would be more preoccupied with her than chasing after the group.
Grub cooks dinner and prepares for his upcoming arrival, until the doorbell rings. And he greets…
But because Grub is such a nervous wreck, he ends up mucking up the date with his clumsiness and stuttered lines.
Rayman, Betina, and Flips take it upon themselves to do whatever it takes to make this date succeed. So they invade Grub’s home and intervene. But as Grub catches on to how the date is set up without his doing so, he gets too distracted by his date.
Date: Sorry about my speeding. Hmm hmm hmm~
Grub: You were going 65 in a 35 zone.
Date: Thanks for not giving me a ticket. Hmm hmm~
Grub: Ohh, well ee-hee-hee~
65… MILES PER HOUR?! Or KILOMETERS PER HOUR?! Either way, Inspector Grub is a horrible police officer!
But thinking they need help cooking the meals, Rayman, Betina, and Flips recruit Cookie into making a four-course meal. Flips refuses at first but ends up doing so anyway in his own terms. While Cookie is finishing making dessert, Lac-Mac spills a bunch of dishes which arouses the attention of Grub and his date (does she even have a name?)
Grub checks his kitchen and finds Cookie’s meal sitting on a lone table. Instead of investigating further, Grub takes this opportune moment to bring the dinner over to his date, which seems to please her.
Rayman and his friends look on triumphantly from the top floor, thinking their mission is a success. But then…
Grub almost succeeds but he ties the table cover around his neck, thinking it’s a bib for some reason, which ends up spilling the dinner all over his date and causing her to leave.
But Rayman has another idea and SOMEHOW tracks Grub’s date to her house, delivering her a bouquet of flowers under the guise of Grub’s apology and an offer for a date to the movies.
Grub receives a phone call from his date, confused about the “flowers” but takes the opportune moment to set another date. Rayman and his friends watch on and nod in victory.
This is the best episode of them all, because…
IT WAS NEVER FINISHED AND AIRED BECAUSE THE SHOW GOT CANCELLED! WHOO!
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.
Rayman: The Animated SeriesPrice Varies
- None I can think of.
- 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.