After being attacked by a Japanese assassin, the Teen Titans travel to Tokyo to track down a criminal with the power to make art come alive.
Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo (2006)
Directed by Michael Chang, Ben Jones, Matt Youngberg
Written by David Slack
Starring Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Hynden Welch,
Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Keone Young, Cary-Hiroyuki Tanaga
Spin-Off of the 2003-2006 TV series Teen Titans
Based on characters from DC Comics
Teen Titans was a series that was decades ahead of its time. It combined goofy comedy for kids with dark adult themes that made for a memorable and celebrated animated series. The less said about its silly, childish follow-up series the better, but this TV movie works as closure that fans never really got. And while it's pretty good, it could be so much better. The decision to make the villain an ancient living paintbrush, but then pull out the rug and reveal that the real bad guy is the cop, seemed less like the high stakes of a movie spin-off and more like an average episode of the show. Why not have one last confrontation with Slade, or Terra, or Trigon, or any of the much, much better and personal villains we had during the show's run?
The Titans are attacked by a colorful assassin who turns out to be Japanese, so Robin (Menville) leads his team to Tokyo to find the mysterious Broshogun (Tagawa). Broshogun is a myth, but his criminal empire is very real. Meanwhile, Starfire (Welch) realizes she has feelings for Robin and struggles to tell him. It was nice to finally see this plot thread through to a satisfying conclusion. Also, Beast Boy (Cipes) becomes a karaoke sensation, Cyborg (Payton) takes "all you can eat" very seriously, and Raven (Strong) becomes a mascot for Japanese gum. They didn't have enough story to fill an entire movie, so a lot of dumb shit just happens to pad out the runtime. The final battle is pretty cool, but there's never a feeling of real stakes. On the series, they stop an all-powerful demon god from annihilating the planet. In the movie, they stop a cop from making artistic criminals come to life. There's a gap there.
We get a bizarre scene where Beast Boy sings the show's theme song karaoke style, with goofy translated lyrics. Robin gets arrested for murder. Raven can't find any English books. Tokyo is loaded with stereotypes and that doesn't really help. Again, it's not bad, but it could've been so much better.