Major Lazer Review
Some of you may be familiar with Major Lazer as the electronic music group. They’re responsible for hit singles such as Lean On, Get Free, Powerful, etc. I’m sure a lot of you didn’t know they actually made a cartoon show though, and a pretty damn cool one at that. If you’re a fan of their music and are familiar with their album art, the Jamaican guy with the laser cannon on his arm that appears on every album cover is Major Lazer himself and the main character of the show. He also appears in numerous of their animated music videos. I wouldn’t call myself a really big fan of Major Lazer as I don’t go out of my way to find their music, but I do like some of their songs. However, I was a big fan of the animation used in some of those music videos so I was pretty excited to find out they were making a show out of it. The excitement was justified as the show lived up to my expectations. On that note, let’s begin with the Major Lazer review.
Major Lazer follows the adventures of a large, muscular Jamaican man who has a laser cannon attached to his arm. The episodes usually center around Major Lazer going on some psychedelic-like journey to defeat bad guys sprinkled with a bunch of clever, musical or modern day metaphors along the way. Alongside Major Lazer on his team to destroy evil forces are Penny Whitewall and his homie Blkmrkt. The episodes usually feature a bad guy of the week, but General Rubbish and President Whitewall are a recurring opposition to the main squad. Their role on the show is very similar to characters like Dr. Wily in Mega Man or Cobra Commander in GI Joe, although President Whitewall is somewhat of a ‘friendly foe’ due his relationship as Penny’s father.
Overall Rating: 86/100
Voice acting: A
Art Animation: Resembles 80’s action cartoons like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and other shows like that. Bright colors and pretty animation.
Genre: Mainly action and adventure with a heavy emphasis on music throughout the show.
Premise of Show: A buff Jamaican dude with a laser cannon for an arm defeats villains alongside a teenage girl and a computer hacker.
Episode Length: 11-12 minutes
Network/Where to Watch: ADHD block on FXX, Hulu
Episodic or Continuity? Episodic
Buy Season One!
Characters in Major Lazer
Major Lazer (Voiced by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)- The titular character of the show and a total weed smoking, laser cannon blasting badass. He speaks with a thick Jamaican accent as one would expect with his appearance; he kind of looks like Bob Marley on steroids in a GI Joe styled outfit. He’s a man of few words, and not much is known about his background. He battles against President Whitewall’s evil minions with Penny Whitewall and the hacker Blkmrkt. Major Lazer stays cool, calm, and collected… Probably because he’s always high. He is impulsive and responds to action when he needs to though, and he always finds a way to defeat the bad guy and save the day. When he’s not fighting evil, he runs his club ‘The Groove’.
Penny Whitewall (Voiced by Angela Trimbur)- The daughter of President Whitewall and a frequent ally to Major Lazer. She is an outgoing, attractive, popular high-school student who likes to party and hang out with friends. Most episodes feature her in some way as a secondary protagonist behind Major Lazer, either with her needing to get saved by Major Lazer or sometimes even saving the day herself.
Blkmrkt (Voiced by John Boyega)- An 11 year old child prodigy who is part Jamaican and part Chinese. He is extremely intelligent and can invent all types of crazy devices as well as hack into any type of network. In the three person team with Major Lazer and Penny, his character stays more behind the scenes as the brains behind the operations while the other two are usually the ones who actually go on the adventures.
President Whitewall (Voiced by J.K. Simmons)- The president of Jamaica and a corrupt, rich, power hungry tyrant. He also happens to be the father of Penny Whitewall. He hates music and he hates Major Lazer; yeah, he’s a giant bag of fun. Who honestly hates music besides the reverend from Footloose? Apparently this guy.
General Rubbish (Voiced by James Adomian)– President Whitewall’s righthand man and the one who does all the dirty work. Whitewall usually just chills back at his lair while General Rubbish is the one gathering all the bad guys to go attack Major Lazer, which always ends in failure. He appears to be made out of trashcans and speakers.
Even though Major Lazer is a brand new show that premiered in 2015, I get this strange sense of nostalgia when watching it. This is mostly due to the general art style and animation largely resembling popular action cartoons from the 80’s, and this was exactly the creator’s intentions. The overall look of the show is very similar to 80’s cartoons such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Saint Seiya just to name a few. The show itself feels very ‘familiar’ on a multitude of settings without actually knowing anything about anything. It’s a pretty cool vibe, to be quite honest.
The basic premise of the show revolves around Major Lazer and his squad defeating Whitewall’s evil henchmen and other bad guys with some cool Major Lazer tunes playing in the background. The episodes themselves have a trippy, psychedelic-like vibe to the adventures they go on and the situations they find themselves involved in. It makes for a pretty captivating 11-minute ride. A lot of episodes are centered around Penny since she is the most ‘normal’ one out of Major Lazer and Blckmrkt, and in general just your typical teenager. She’s like your sense of realism within the show, and essentially the character you’re meant to relate with the most since she doesn’t have any superpowers like Major Lazer or a genius mental prowess like Blkmrkt. Many episodes start fairly grounded with Penny just in class at school, but shortly after an episode conflict is introduced where things start taking a very surreal turn. Major Lazer himself usually takes the focal point at that moment and saves the day by vanquishing the bad guys through means of a trippy, psychadelic journey. While the two shows are very different in many ways, I almost get a Captain Planet vibe from the show. Penny is similar to the Planeteers in the sense they are all normal people with no real powers on their own, but they are connected with an omnipotent superhero that they can call upon for help to save the day when matters get too difficult to handle themselves. The art animation and style have some striking resemblances as well, so that helped draw the comparison. G.I. Joe definitely contains the most similarities to Major Lazer though as far as 80’s cartoon graphical influences go. Major Lazer himself even looks like a cyborg GI Joe character that would fit right at home in that show. G.I. Joe was a pretty sweet show, so no complaints at all here. The creators knew that most of Major Lazer’s fanbase (the musical group) is very weed and drug-friendly, so a lot of the episodes have very bright and colorful visuals. The animators knew exactly what it was they were doing when they designed the style to this show, and dammit did it work. I really dig the overall look and feel of the show in general.
The music in Major Lazer is excellent and top notch. First of all if you’re a fan of reggae, dancehall, and electronic dance music in general, then there is no doubt that you will absolutely love the music in this show. I don’t listen to these genres much on their own, but I do like some songs in those respective genres if they happen to catch my attention for whatever reason. Well, Major Lazer has achieved chart-topping international success for a reason… They are good at what they do. So good in fact, that they make people like me a fan of their music without even really being a fan of the individual genres that they incorporate. They have such a unique fusion of various genres that it’s really hard to pinpoint them into a singular specific one. Whatever you want to call it though, it’s good stuff. Of course the show prominently features music from Major Lazer, but they have other popular musical acts lend a hand as well such as Vampire Weekend, Riff Raff, Trinidad James, just to name a few. They all voice a character in the episode their music is featured in, and usually at some point will perform a musical montage to their song as well. In a very weird way you could say the show has similarities to series such as Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and even Disney movies in the fact that they all can randomly bust out a musical number in any given moment. Except instead of singing about friendship and love like the aforementioned programs do, the spontaneous songs in Major Lazer are about weed, sex, purple drank, and other related things, so… Yeah. A bit more of an adult version, you could say.
One of the coolest aspects about the show is how it gives personification to various modern day terminology and brings them to physical form through clever plot devices. For example, most of you probably have heard of the term the ‘bass drop’. It’s that moment in a song where it might pause for a brief second only to resume with a very heavy, hard-hitting bass. Well, one episode of Major Lazer treats the bass drop as an actual, literal raindrop/teardrop-like object that contains all of the world’s bass power. I thought it was pretty clever. Another episode was based around the term ‘throwback thursdays’ and used it to go back in time and eventually to the end of time itself. The series is littered with cool little hijinks like this, so if you’re up to date with current social media terminology and modern ‘slang’, you’ll probably find yourself amused at various witty metaphors and references.
Final Verdict: If you’re a fan of Adult Swim-type cartoons, Major Lazer music, and/or various 80’s action cartoons, there is a VERY strong chance that you will greatly enjoy this show. Especially if you’re a fan of all three of those, which in that case I’m sure you will love this show. Just don’t go in expecting an incredibly deep story, complex themes or character development. As an adult cartoon show, Major Lazer is not like Rick and Morty when it comes to dealing with mature themes and developing an extensive world, rich with lore. It doesn’t try to be though, and it doesn’t need to be. If you’re just wanting to chill out for 11 minutes, look at some colorful visuals, listen to some cool music (and maybe smoke a bowl or two) alongside a fun little adventure, then Major Lazer hits all the right notes. This ends the Major Lazer review