The Buzz: ‘Ballmastrz: 9009’ Is No ‘Superjail!’
Created by Christy Karacas, who is known for creating Superjail! and for being a founding member of the band Cheeseburger, Ballmastrz: 9009 is everything Superjail! wasn’t. Taking place in a bland post-apocalyptic setting, Ballmastrz: 9009 lacks humor and violence, and is full of cliched and annoying characters. While Superjail! boasted a simple premise, its episodes would often take surreal and crazy twists and turns. Ballmastrz: 9009 instead has an overly complicated premise that follows standard plot lines we’ve seen a thousand times before.
Ballmastrz: 9009 takes place in a post-apocalyptic world caused by the Rad Wars. In the wake of the destruction caused by the Rad Wars, a seemingly all powerful being known as Crayzar reformed society and created a sport known as The Game. In The Game, survivors quench their bloodlust as they fight to the death with sentient balls. All players killed in the game are brought back to life using B.E.H.O.'s (Biologically Engineered Healing Organisms.) The series follows the worst team in all The Game known as The Leptons. After another stint in celebrity rehab, Gaz Digzy, the best player in The Game, is demoted to The Leptons as punishment by Crayzar.
The first episode "A Shooting Star Named Gaz Digzy Falls Fast and Hard!" was so full of exposition it was almost unwatchable. For a show on Adult Swim it also seemed to have surprising very little comedy. Very few jokes were told and the ones that were told weren’t all that funny. One of the most persistent gags was the way that most characters spoke. Mocking anime like Speed Racer, the majority talked very fast with exaggerated expressions. Making fun of the ridiculous dubbing of older anime is one of the oldest jokes in the book and is so overdone, it was overdone ten years ago.
One of the main appeals of Superjail! was the over the top violence and how many episodes ended in a bloodbath. In Ballmastrz: 9009 however, while there is violence most it is either not shown or censored in some way. This wouldn’t be a problem if the show wasn’t promoting itself for its violence and craziness. Adult Swim has earned itself a reputation for shows that push the boundaries of animation and live action television, but Ballmastrz: 9009 seems like a step backwards as it plays things very safe.
Another issue is that on top of all the characters being little more than caricatures, many of them are annoying. Ace who seems to be the protagonist or deuteragonist of the show, is despised by just about every character of the show and that feeling is mutual for the audience. Ace is overly cheerful and obliviously obsessed with Gaz, despite her being a horrible person with no redeeming qualities. Besides that, there’s nothing more to him and a good portion of his screen time is spent fawning over Gaz. He’s the leader of The Leptons for some reason, despite being a young child and practically useless. Even when he gains new powers he only ends up hindering his team more. Clearly the show’s writers know this character is annoying, so it’s baffling as to why they would put him in such a prominent role.
Crayzar feels like the Warden from Superjail!, but much less interesting. What made the Warden interesting with his unlimited powers was how he would misuse them for his own petty wants. The Warden was a very flawed and immature character, while Crayzar is essentially perfect. Crayzar does say he’s only giving Gaz another chance for his own entertainment, but really, it’s to try to make her a better person. Crayzar’s name and design make him out to be some sort of crazy czar, but he comes off more as a perfect being that saved all of humanity and who works to help people better themselves. While you wouldn’t want a carbon copy of the Warden, this all benevolent character with no flaws is not interesting to watch.
Flip Champion, a member of The Leptons, was another character that was infuriating to watch. Having removed his arms and legs for some sort of abs magic, Flip is able to shoot out a long green tentacle out of his navel. Flip is useless to the team and every time he uses this ability he feels the need to monologue about how it works. He did this three times over the course of two eleven minute episodes. The first time he did it came off as an overly long gag, but wasn’t that bad as he was just setting up his ability. The second and the third time though, was clearly just used to pad out the second episode.
The only thing of any note that was impressive in any way was the animation. Even then, due to likely budget restraints, it was cheapened in certain areas. The crowd shots in both episodes were reused many times and were hardly animated. Crowd members were almost entirely static except for moving up and down. On the other hand, when the show had the budget, shots of characters moving and playing the game were well done and fluid and at times were even impressive. Despite this, the color scheme of the world was overly drab and boring and made me yearn for the color and life of Superjail!
Despite Ballmastrz: 9009 never claiming to be anything like Superjail!, it’s hard not to compare the two shows. Everything Ballmastrz: 9009 failed at doing, was done exceptionally well in Superjail!. That’s not to say Superjail! was perfect as it did go too far at times, but at least Superjail! did something different and had its own identity. Ballmastrz: 9009 doesn’t break away from the typical post-apocalyptic world and its characters aren’t going to stick around in anyone’s memory leaving the show to be soon forgotten. However, there are still plenty of episodes left to air, so maybe the show will improve as it finds itself. Unfortunately, with how weak it started off, audiences may not stick around long enough to keep the show running into another season.