Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Old School Lane Presents: Top 10 TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise Episodes

On November 11, 2011 at 11:11 am, Chris "Kirbopher" Niosi released the first episode of his new animated webseries TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise, a remake of his 2004 sprite series TV Tome Adventures, on Newgrounds as a fresh start of his animation career wanting to create original shows after being known for creating parody cartoons such as Parody Rangers (a spoof on Mighty Morphing Power Rangers), the Nin10doh! trilogy (a collaboration with other animators featuring cartoon shorts parodying Nintendo games), Brawl Taunts (cartoon shorts parodying Super Smash Bros. Brawl), and more.

The show takes place in the year 2020 where gamers from all over the world play a virtual reality game called TOME (Terrain of Magical Expertise) to battle and interact with other gamers. The main plot focus on 5 players named Alpha, Kirbopher, Flamegirl, Nylocke, and Gamecrazed battling a group of hackers who are trying to find "The Forbidden Power". Alpha stumbles upon The Forbidden Power causing him to gain an incredible amount of power, but at the cause of not being able to control himself and causing people to suffer pain in real time. The episodes focus on finding out more about The Forbidden Power and defeating the hackers trying to get their hands on it.

Over three and a half years later with 15 episodes and 7 shorts, TOME has wrapped up its second season just last week on July 7. In honor of this, I'm going to list my personal top 10 favorite episodes. Interesting fact, I even listened to the newly released TOME Season 2 soundtrack when making this list. For the sake of encouraging all our followers to check out this amazing animated webseries, I will keep this article as spoiler free as I can and won't go into too much detail. With that out of the way, let's get started!

10. Gemini Tournament Yin (Season 1, Episode 8)

TOME announces that they're going to be throwing a tournament called the Gemini Tournament where two players team up and fight other teams to win the competition. The main teams consists of Alpha and Flamegirl and Nylocke and Gamecrazed with Kirbopher forcefully teaming up with a timid archer named Archy. The show's main antagonist Zetto also joins the tournament to have a shot of fighting Alpha after their bout in episode 5 with his partner Kizuna. Throughout the episode, our heroes take down the combatants with no issues until two of the hackers Neomutant and Dustbunny kidnap Alpha to retrieve The Forbidden Power from him. This episode has a great blend of action and comedy as well as leaving it on a pretty good cliffhanger. There are a lot of fun moments in this episode that makes it a memorable one.

9. Gemini Tournament Yang (Season 1, Episode 9)

The Gemini Tournament continues with Alpha and Flamegirl confronting Neomutant and Dustbunny of trying to retrieve The Forbidden Power. Meanwhile, Nylocke and Gamecrazed are continuing in the tournament trying to defeat the other teams as the competition gets more and more difficult, especially when they have to fight against Zetto and Kizuna. I prefer this episode a bit more than the first part because not only does it conclude the story of the tournament nicely, but it also gives a good life lesson in the end involving with not taking things too seriously and learning about having fun. Now, not a lot of people agree with this, in fact a lot of people hated the ending, but I think it was presented well.

8. Year One (Season 2, Episode 11)

The first episode of the second season takes place around the 1 year anniversary of TOME. A new competition is announced involving a player having the chance of battling the 5 Netkings, the creators of TOME, in order to win a special prize. The winner turns out to be Gamecrazed and he invites Alpha, Flamegirl, Nylocke, and Kirbopher along in the battle of the Netkings. The first Netking is Execk (voiced by Jon St. Jon), the programmer who built the Battle Grid. It also concludes with a very shocking plot twist as to who the next Netking is. Meanwhile, Zetto and Kizuna are becoming more stressed due to the incident that occured in the Season 1 finale. This is a great start of Season 2 with a new story and new threats being introduced in the show. One of the most noticeable things in this episode is the new designs of the characters having mostly monochromatic colors. Many people have had negative responses to the animation choice, but in time people became more and more accepting of it. I never had any issues with the new designs. I think it makes the colors pop and become more vibrant in the world they're in.

7. /FILE: ZERO (Season 2, Episode 00)

While it did air on Season 2, it's considered to be a prequel episode taking place before the events of the first episode of TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise. It begins with the Netkings discovering a way to translate human thoughts into transmittable data that could be used for full interaction in the new video game they're creating. While making the game, they inadvertently created a sentient computer program that had strong emotions that the Netkings bonded over. They named her SOFDTI and treated her as their own daughter. However, things turn a bit more complicated as SOFDTI learns about pain, violence, anger, and greed as the game progresses into more dangerous routes. It's around this time where we also learn about the origins of The Forbidden Power. If you've never seen an episode of TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise, this is a pretty good one to start with. There are some plot points that give into some major spoilers that are important to the story, but nonetheless, a good origin story.

6. Monstrosities (Season 2, Episode 14)

Zetto and Kizuna's plan to deal with The Forbidden Power is almost complete, but they only need a few components to gather. Meanwhile, Alpha, Flamegirl, Nylocke, and Neomutant infiltrate the lair, the main headquarters of where the hackers gather lead by Tigerlily, to take down their secret weapon. However, a hacker named Odboll (voiced by Ben Diskin) disrupts their plans and separated the group. Things turn for the worst as each of the players are defeated one by one and The Forbidden Power is released freely. It ends on a very depressing and somber note, but its delivery in drama is some of the best in the entire series. It caused me to even cry a bit.

5. Dragon Drama (Season 1,Episode 6)

In this episode, Nylocke and Gamecrazed help out a young player by the name of Hyperlynx (voiced by Jessi "Nowack" Nowacking) meet up with her friend Elescope (voiced by Mike "1Kids" Hecht) in a location she's not familiar with. Meanwhile, Tigerlily disrupts the group and attacks them. Nylocke and Gamecrazed then worked together to take her down before defeating their new friends. This episode is one of the most popular episodes of the series since it featured the #1 most popular voted character of the main 5: Nylocke (voiced by Martin "LittleKuriboh" Billamy from Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged). He showcased a side of himself to Gamecrazed (as well as the viewers) a side of him never seen before: he plays TOME to escape reality and to have fun. Nylocke is the overactive role playing character with the quirky personality and numerous catchphrases, so seen a realistic side of him was truly spectacular. Not to mention, he has a memorable and catchy theme song that you have to check out. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

4. Awaken the Beast (Season 1,Episode 5)

This was the episode that made me fully invested in TOME. While I was enjoying TOME in its earlier episodes, they just seemed to be missing a bit more conflict and progression. I wanted something a bit more other than the one-off hackers and The Forbidden Power. But then this episode came out and I was hooked. An interesting story: Chris was having difficulty with making the additional episodes after 4 due to Newgrounds letting him know that they would no longer fund him. It looked very bleak, but I'm so glad that he was able to pull it off. The first half of the episode has Alpha learning about The Gemini Tournament and a group of players wanting to fight him to gain a reputation as strong combatants. Then Tigerlily comes along and attacks the group which ends up with Alpha being fully controlled by The Forbidden Power turning him into Demon Alpha. The second half becomes extremely exciting and tense with the introduction of Zetto, a strong and over confident player who gets involved in a fight against Demon Alpha and wins. Zetto challenges Alpha with meeting him again at the Gemini Tournament for a rematch. This episode has a great amount of action and the background music compliments it immensely. It's also the first appearance of Zetto, who is one of my all time favorite characters. If you felt that TOME is starting off as just a decent webseries, this is the episode that transcends it into making it a great one.

3. The Warring Demons (Season 1, Episode 10)

This is the last episode of Season 1 and my favorite of that bunch. With The Gemini Tournament over, Alpha is feeling less control of himself and The Forbidden Power is becoming more threatening to everyone around him. He wants to find a way to get rid of it once and for all. He receives a message from Zetto that he knows information about The Forbidden Power and can help him remove it. Unfortunately things don't go as planned and Alpha and Zetto have a tense battle with one another. I can't go too much into detail with this episode since there's a major plot twist that affects the rest of the series. But trust me when I say this that this is a fantastic episode with tense moments, action, and great background music. 

2. Secret of the Netkings (Season 2, Episode 12)

Alpha, Flamegirl, Nylocke, Kirbopher, and Gamecrazed continues their challenge with the Netkings progressing further and further. But each Netking becomes more difficult than the last. But with perseverance and skill, they confront the 5th and final Netking Webmaster (voiced by Kyle Hebert). Meanwhile, the threat of The Forbidden Power returns and TOME is slowly becoming threatened. This episode has some of the best action, comedic, and tense moments in the entire series. My favorite scenes in the episode involved with Kirbopher, but I dare not spoil it because I want you to see it for yourself. Once you do, you'll see why and agree that they're memorable and hilarious.

1. Truth. Tears. Ambition (Season 2, Episode 15)

The last episode of Season 2 is truly not only the best episode of Season 2, but the best episode in the whole series. TOME has officially been corrupted with The Forbidden Power's true form Kajet, Alpha is still overwhelmed with distraught after seeing his friends being defeated, and the true villain behind everything is revealed. Again, I can't go into the major details,but everything about this episode is amazing. The story is well written. The acting is top notch. The background music matches the sad moments, the tense moments, action moments, and happy moments perfectly. The plot twists are shocking. The animation is smooth and fluid. But the one thing that nailed it for me was the ending. When I first saw it, it made me burst into tears. Everything about this episode was perfect and a fantastic end of an incredible journey through the Terrain of Magical Expertise.

Now whether there will be a Season 3 or not, it's hasn't been confirmed yet. I'm probably going to say an unpopular opinion about this, but I don't want one. If I do want to see more from TOME, maybe a movie, more shorts, or a game would be nice, but another season is not needed. I would like to see Chris work on a entirely new project and take everything he learned from doing TOME and make it incredible. 

That's it for this top 10 list. Let me know in the comments below on what your favorite episodes of TOME: Terrain of Magical Expertise are. If you haven't seen it yet, then check out the episodes right here. 

Also, if you haven't yet, check out episode 42 of Casual Chats where I interviewed Chris.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading and battle on!


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