Ninjago Compared To Bionicle And Hero Factory
There's been a lot of discussion lately about two major things:
1) Reasons Bionicle got unweildy near the end.
2) Criticisms and opinions of Ninjago.
In my opinion, some of the criticisms of Bionicle's later years are right on, and I think Ninjago has so far been a highly refreshing reform of those problems. Hero Factory started out to replace Bionicle, but I think Ninjago has passed it by far.
True, there is one key difference between Ninjago and Hero Factory, which is that Ninjago is half comedy.
But I actually think that has helped, in its own way, get past those problems I was talking about -- which is that I think sometimes Bionicle (and its fans) took the characters too seriously and felt the need to always know what was going on with a character once he or she was introduced.
That caused the later years of Bionicle to get watered down with all these side updates. That can be kinda fun to a point, but the great thing about some of Bionicle's early years was the ability to tell a story totally contained on one island or to one small group of characters. That allowed it to go deeper into just those characters.
Hero Factory by contrast has been called "episodic" by many people, by which they seem to mean that there is no overarching story consistency. But Ninjago does have that, at least so far; the main enemy is Garmadon and now his son. There's at least that common thread to tie the plot all together, similar to how Bionicle always had Makuta to tie it together from 2001 to 2010.
I also like how Ninjago mixes some epic themes with comedy, and even in the action sequences, the logic of what is really possible is not taken too seriously. Go to the Ninjago site and view the clip of Sensei Wu fighting shadows, for example. It manages to be funny and impressive, and doesn't worry about all the rules that Bionicle often carried along (which got really hard to remember).
Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with theorizing about how something can be possible. I could explain the shadow bit easily with a bit of magical Spinjitsu-ish power, for example. It's a pet peeve of mine when some people try to take away others' fun of thinking about physics. But by the same token, people shouldn't misunderstand that I want a story to take rules too seriously.
The one thing about Ninjago I don't personally enjoy much is the melodramatic kiddy voices, but it's no different than some of the Bionicle movie characters and we all know that little kids DO enjoy that, so there's nothing wrong with it. Most of what I've said above, though, was done well with Kung Fu Panda, without the kiddy voices, so Ninjago could probably have went that route. But it didn't, and I'm okay with that.
Also, Ninjago in Lego Universe is awesome and I'm gonna miss it a lot.
Another point I wanna make is that a lot of Ninjago's critics seem to be missing the point that it's supposed to be a fictional "science fantasy" genre universe, fusing technology, simple oriental designs, and magic all in one. I personally love science fantasy and I think the balance works wonderfully.
Most of the criticisms seem to hinge around the idea of looking to the real world and taking things that are not together on Earth, and making that some sort of rule to try to squeeze Ninjago into. I disagree strongly, and it's very refreshing that LEGO has cast aside that kind of boring, over-serious attitude. LEGO's just having fun with it, and the fun is infectious!
Keep it up, LEGO!