Cartoons

Cult Cartoon Essentials: ReBoot

ReBoot is a Canadian CGI-animated action-adventure computer animated television series that originally aired from 1994 to 2001 (48 episodes). It was the first half-hour, completely computer-animated TV series. A sequel series, ReBoot: The Guardian Code is in production.

ReBoot is set in the inner world of a computer system known by its inhabitants as Mainframe. It was deliberately chosen due to technological constraints at the time, as the fictional computer world allowed for blocky looking models and mechanical animation.

The first season of ReBoot was highly episodic, with each installment being a self-contained episode (except for the two part finale). Most of the episodes established characters, locations, and story elements, such as the gigantic game cubes.

 

When The User loads a game, a game cube drops on a random location in Mainframe, sealing it off from the rest of the system and turning it into a gamescape. Bob frequently enters the games, reboots to become a game character, and fights the User’s character to save the sector.

If the User wins a game, the sector the cube fell in is destroyed, and the sprites and binomes who were caught within are turned into energy-draining, worm-like parasites called nulls. When this happens, they are said to be “nullified.”

Within the series it is never clear if there is a “cure” or reversal for degrading to a null, although in season four it is revealed that their sentience and intelligence still exist within them, when the heroes managed to put the null that was once Dot’s father into a robot, which enabled him to move around and speak like he used to. The season also established the characters Hexadecimal and Megabyte who were viruses, and were primary antagonists in most episodes.

The second season was initially as episodic as the first but later featured an extended story arc that began with the season’s seventh episode, “Nullzilla”. The arc revealed that Hexadecimal and Megabyte are siblings, and introduced an external threat to Mainframe: the Web, which was set up in fearful mentions in “High Code” and “Painted Windows”. The sixth episode, “AndrAIa”, also saw a new character in the titular AndrAIa join the cast.

Creator Gavin Blair has said the move to a longer arc came from “shrugging off the shackles of ABC and their BS&P” after being cancelled – the last episode would reveal Megabyte’s ships were called ABCs.

A creature from the Web entered Mainframe from Hexadecimal’s looking glass (which was shattered by Mike the TV), bonding with her. Mainframe’s nulls reacted spontaneously and covered her to form a monster dubbed Nullzilla, which was defeated and neutralized by the protectors of Mainframe.

The Web creature located Megabyte, took him over and forced him to merge with Hexadecimal, forming a next-gen super-virus called Gigabyte. Gigabyte was eventually neutralized as well, but the Web creature escaped into the bowels of Mainframe, where it began stealing energy to stay alive and grow. Mouse, a mercenary and old friend of Bob’s, helped to find the Web Creature, but was almost destroyed by a bomb set by her employer, Turbo. The explosion created a “tear” (an unstable energy-based anomaly) which the Web creature used to create a portal to the Web.

As a result of this, the protectors of Mainframe had to team up with Megabyte and Hexadecimal to close the portal. An army of CPU police clashed with an invasion of creatures from the Web. In the midst of the chaos, Megabyte betrayed the alliance (with the CPUs calling the ABCs “treacherous dogs!”), crushing Bob’s keytool, Glitch, and sending him into the Web portal before closing it.

Originally, Mainframe thought they’d follow up the second season with a film. The treatment was called Terabyte Rising and was to include flashbacks to the destruction of Mainframe’s Twin City. This was dropped but much of it would be used for the fourth season.

The show’s third season exhibited a marked improvement in modelling and animation quality due to the advancement of Mainframe Entertainment’s software capabilities during the time between seasons. Subtle details, such as eyelashes and shadows, as well as generally more lifelike sprite characters, were among several visual improvements. The show’s target audience shifted to children aged 12 and older, resulting in a darker and more mature storyline. After severing ties with ABC following the second season, the show actually reached a greater number of households through syndication.

The season started with Enzo, freshly upgraded into a Guardian candidate by Bob during the Web incursion, defending Mainframe from Megabyte and Hexadecimal, with Dot and AndrAIa at his side. When Enzo entered a game he could not win, he, AndrAIa, and Frisket changed their icons to game sprite mode and rode the game out of Mainframe. The accelerated game time accelerated Enzo and AndrAIa’s aging.

The following episodes follow adult versions of Enzo and AndrAIa, who are now in a romantic relationship, as they travel from system to system in search of Mainframe. The older Enzo adopts the name “Matrix” (previously his and Dot’s surname), carrying a weapon named “Gun” and Bob’s damaged Glitch. The time spent in games and away from Mainframe hardened both Matrix and AndrAIa: Matrix developed a pathological hatred of Megabyte, and grew into a muscular, shoot-first-ask-question-later hero, while AndrAIa turned into a level-headed warrior.

As the season progresses, Matrix and AndrAIa are reunited with Bob and the crew of the Saucy Mare and return to Mainframe, which has been almost completely destroyed by Megabyte and his forces in their absence. The group reunites with Dot and the resistance, then heads to the Principal Office for a final battle with Megabyte. Megabyte is defeated by Matrix, but not before Megabyte’s handiwork causes the system to crash. All final problems in Mainframe were dealt with by The User restarting the system, setting everything right and restoring everything as it was again for the protagonists, with one major exception: younger and older Enzo now exist simultaneously, as Matrix’s icon was still set to “Game Sprite” mode. Because of this mishap, he was not recognized properly by the system when it rebooted, so it restored a copy of his younger self.

After the end of the third season, two TV movies were produced in 2001: Daemon Rising, which addressed the problem the Guardians were facing in season three (and used much of Terabyte Rising), and My Two Bobs, which brings back a corroded and mutated Megabyte in a cliffhanger ending. The two movies, broken up into eight episodes in its U.S. run on Cartoon Network’s Toonami, revealed much of Mainframe’s history, including the formation of Lost Angles, Bob’s arrival in the system, and the origin of Megabyte and Hexadecimal. The films end with Megabyte in control of the Principal Office, and the characters scattered and about to be hunted down

Initial plans for the fourth season included three films broken into 12 episodes, followed by a 13th musical-special episode. Due to a change in deals and budget, the series was reduced to eight episodes. The following plan was to produce 30-minute episodes. These would be edited down to 21 minutes for broadcast and the extra scenes added to the film versions for DVD release. Against the writer’s wishes, these scenes were cut from the scripts. After this decision was made, the eighth episode was rewritten to end on a cliffhanger.

Creator Gavin Blair has publicly refused to reveal the plans for the resolution and final episodes, in case Rainmaker ever wants to produce an official conclusion.

 

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