Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang is the first DVD collection of episodes of the Disney XD animated series Slugterra. What is Slugterra, you might ask? Well, it’s a place, a subterranean realm full where humans and other creatures compete in duels by “slugslinging.” This involves blasting tiny creatures called slugs out of special guns; when the slugs get to a speed of 100 miles an hour, they transform into magical beings that bear a remarkable (and likely not coincidental) resemblance to Pokemon. The way the creatures look, fight and are collected by humans is so Poke-like that its no surprise that there are already Slugterra toys and games.
Eli Shane is a teenage boy whose father Will Shane used to keep the peace in Slugterra; however, he met his downfall at the hands of the hilariously named Dr. Blakk, an evil and power-thirsty scientist who has been mutating the good-natured slugs into angry ghoulish monsters. Without Will’s expert slugslinging skills and eye for justice, Slugterra has been descending into chaos. However, on Eli’s fifteenth birthday he descends into Slugterra to take on his father’s old role and bring peace to the land, accompanied by a diverse group of friends that become known as the “Shane Gang.” Together, they plan on bringing Dr. Blakk to justice and saving the slugs from being used for his terrible deeds--mainly, taking over the world of Slugterra. Many slugslingers only view the slugs as ammunition, but Eli treats his as beloved pets. He strives to remind the others that slugs are more than just objects; they are living creatures too.
The show is incredibly earnest about being heroic and doing the right thing; characters are either good like the Shane Gang or bad like Dr. Blakk, with very little room for the in between. Eli wants nothing else in his life but to fight evil, making him a good role model for kids, albeit an unbelievable one. The animation style is colorful and creative, though a little too similar to video game graphics for this viewer’s taste. Nonetheless, Slugterra is a fun and vibrant animated program that many youngsters can enjoy.
DVD Bonus Features
Return of the Shane Gang collects the first five episodes of Slugterra, as well as an intro to Slugterra feature by show creator Asaph Fipke and story editor Rob Hoegee and some mini-eps called “Slugisodes,” designed to provide even more insight into the world of the slugslingers.
"Slugterra: Return of the Shane Gang" is on sale February 12, 2013 and is not rated. Animation. Directed by Johnny Darrell. Written by Asaph Fipke, Rob Hoegee, Scott Sonneborn. Starring Mark Oliver, Sam Vincent, Shannon Chan Kent.