Today we’re going to take a look at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Motion Comic. Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: the voices are off. The actress voicing Buffy doesn’t really understand inflections, the actor who voices Xander actually sounds like Xander, but he needs to work on his pacing. The actress who voices Faith is probably the best out of the group. I do understand that it would have been impossible to get the cast back to voice the characters – but for the Buffy video games they managed to get back everyone except for SMG – so it kind of hurts that they didn’t get ANYONE. Forget the new characters or the core 4 (Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dawn) are you honestly telling me that they couldn’t get: Felicia Day (Vi), Indigo (Rona), Adam Busch (Warren), Iyari Limon (Kennedy), Tom Lenk (Andrew), Anthony Stewart Head (Giles), Marc Blucas (Riley), Faith (Eliza Dushku), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy), Robin Sachs (Ethan), Rudolf Martin (Dracula), Harry Groener (Mayor Richard Wilkins) or D.B. Woodside (Robin) – really they couldn’t get a single one of them? Really?
As the episodes progress it gets increasingly harder to tell Willow’s voice apart from any of the other females. Giles – I don’t know if it’s the accent or the actors fault but it’s just so off. It was actually easier for me to accept Buffy, Xander and Andrew’s voices but if you think about it: Anthony, Michelle, David, Eliza and Alyson have all been in the public eye and consistently on tv ever since Buffy ended it’s run. The accents on the new characters could be better and part of me wishes that Satsu had an accent – don’t even get me started on the Asian vampires in the Wolves at the Gate episodes – the accents aren’t there, the only one with a consistent accent is Kimiko (a character I really wish stuck around.)
The episodes do give us many new characters like Leah, Rowena, Simone, Satsu, Rowena, General Voll, Aluwyn, Roden, Lady Genevieve Savidge and others plus it makes all of the characters from the Fray comic book now officially cannon (well they were before but now they’re directly tied into the Buffyverse in a way that can’t be discounted. It’s interesting now that I’ve watched the dvd I’m kind of getting the urge to do a wishful casting segment on characters that are strictly Buffy Season 8 characters… hmm… be sure to look for that, this is a post that might come sooner rather than later.
The way the issues break down is pretty simple with a few exceptions (The Chain, Anywhere But Here and A Beautiful Sunset) The Long Road Home, No Future For You, Wolves At The Gate and Time Of Your Life are all 4 ‘issues’ each that add up to roughly 44 minutes a story, which is what the original tv episodes ran. The single issue episodes are good – I don’t mind how short they are time wise because the stories are really strong enough to carry it without a lengthy build up. I’m not going to lie though, I do fear for some of the single issue stories in the second half of season eight if they do release the rest of the season as a motion comic.
Special features… okay where to start? I’m not exactly sure that this counts as a special feature because it is a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack that comes with not only a standard definition version of the episodes/issues but a high-definition version as well. The first ‘real’ feature really isn’t anything spectacular in and of itself – it’s just a cover gallery of the first nineteen issues. There’s no new information here but it sure is pretty.
There is a feature that allows you to make your own Buffy centric comic book thanks to Tooncast Studio. Now this actually makes me sad because I really wanted to try this out – I knew it would be cheesy as hell but it seemed fun and I wanted to try it. So of course that means when I pop it in my dvd-rom that my computer won’t even read the disc at all. I’m assuming that it’s my dvd-rom that’s the problem and not the disc itself so I can’t fault the dvd.
The next special feature is kind of random and honestly it’s a bit of a let down. The Buffy Trivia Experience is just what you’d expect it to be… trivia. Basically you turn it on and then watch the episodes/issues and it plays ala VH1’s popup videos where random trivia pops up. There’s nothing wrong with this particular feature but think about this… Buffy is popular, but it’s a limited market and it’s been off of TV for seven years so that takes away selling points, this is an animated motion comic adaptation of a comic book series (even though it’s officially Season 8) so it closes the gap even more in it’s marketability because it’s an animated vampire ‘movie’ based off of a comic book. What I’m trying to say here is it is doubtful many people will run into this and just decide to buy it if they have no prior knowledge of Buffy in general, and anyone who has this obviously is a huge fan of Buffy and a fan of the comic books. The pop up trivia while good isn’t delivering anything new here at all for die hard BtVS fans – I would much rather have had pop up bubbles explaining behind the scenes information as to why certain scenes are the way they are or notes from Joss or the writers. To me it would make more sense to have had that especially since there is no writer/director/actor commentary.
We get the ‘test pilot’ – which is done like any pilot, a brief version of what will be the start of the series/movie to show how it can go – and it’s nice but there’s nothing new. It seemed like there was a bit more music to this than the actual first episode. I don’t mean to be down on the special features but it would have been better if they gave us a little bit more – maybe an animated version of Buffy’s opening credits (but use the comic images and play it out like the TV credits) but then who would you include? Obviously Buffy, Willow, Xander and Dawn but would Faith, Leah, Satsu, Rowena, Giles, Faith, Andrew, Twilight, Vi, Kennedy, Renee, Amy or Warren have made the cut? Again this is something that’s for the diehard BtVS fans, they could have thrown in the original pilot, or even the BtVS: Animated Series pilot because that’s a bit part of issue #20 so it could have been positioned as a ‘things to come’ type of deal.
We get a smaller version of the first issue packed in with the dvd set which is nice and I’m glad that they did it for people who haven’t actually gotten the issue but for me it’s a little much. I’m a huge OCD personality when it comes to things and collecting the Buffy comics is one of them and I’m pretty sick of having to buy the first issue over and over. There’s the first print with the two covers, there’s a black and white pencil version of the cover (the only one I don’t own, mostly because it goes for over 350 dollars), the second print, third print, fourth print, fifth (and billed as) final print, The Long Road Home collection, the motion comic singles, the motion comic set and now the smaller print in the motion comic set. It passed going overboard about 5 prints ago.
The final special feature: Under Buffy’s Spell is watchable but some of it is pretty expected. Jane Espenson joking about how no one was shocked about Buffy and Satsu having sex; Jo Chen was there talking about working on the covers for Buffy, Buffy fans talking about how they had never read comics before but now they want to since Buffy is a comic book. It was nice but it kind of felt like someone just went around Comic Con and asked people questions about it. A proper sit-down interview would have been more entertaining and it could have possibly given us a bit more information.
At the end of the day this is a pretty solid dvd and it did make me want to check out other motion comics, which I guess is a good thing. There’s the OCD aspect of myself that needs to have a complete collection so I would rather they waited to release the entire season together, or at the very least some type of guarantee that they will be doing the second half of the season. That’s the one real concern I have – I’m afraid that they won’t release the rest of the season and that is a shame.
Special Features: SKIP
Overall Rating: A-