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Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo + Lost Episode

 Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo

“It’s about time.”
– Cyborg (after Robin and Starfire kiss) 

Originally released: February 6, 2007
Written by David Slack
Directed by Michael Chang, Ben Jones & Matt Youngberg

Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo is the first feature-length animated adventure for the popular superhero unit, and its producers pull no punches in delivering a stylish and crowd-pleasing story for the Titans’ considerable fan base. Trouble takes the Titans–Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy–to the Land of the Rising Sun after the ninja Saico-Tek assaults Titans Tower. Once in Japan, the team discovers that a mysterious figure known as Brushogen (who is considered only a myth by the authorities) is behind Saico-Tek and a horde of anime-inspired creatures that are laying waste to Tokyo.

Will the Titans locate Brushogen before his monsters cause more havoc? And will the long-simmering emotions shared by Robin and Starfire finally come to a head in this exotic location? The answers, of course, are all to be found in this 75-minute blast, which gives the Titans faithful all the action and smart scripting they’ve come to expect from the weekly series, as well as a few pleasant surprises and numerous nods to Japanese pop culture.

The DVD is fleshed out by two supplemental features: “The Lost Episode,” which aired only on the site, and an interactive game, “Robin’s Underworld Race Challenge.”

Robert Ito as Mayor / Bookseller
Janice Kawaye as Nya-Nya / Timoko
Yuri Lowenthal as Scarface/Japanese Biker
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Brushogun
Keone Young as Commander Uehara Daizo/Saico-Tek/Sushi Shop Owner

  • The official DVD release of the direct-to-video Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo was February 6, 2007. The animated feature first aired on Cartoon Network on September 15, 2006. It premiered at San Diego Comic-Con on July, 22, 2006.
  • Each of the three directors directed a 20-minute-or-so chunk of the movie.
  • Aqualad has a brief cameo on the map as the Titans travel to Japan.
  • Beast Boy’s suitcase stickers reference past events of the series: a Doom Patrol logo, the Mega Monkeys 3 video game, The Tidwell moped (seen in EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH), Steel City (home of Titans East), and Ben’s Bacon (a reference to series director Ben Jones).
  • Writer David Slack described the movie as a high-adventure set in Tokyo; He mentioned how the show was inspired by anime, so it made sense to do an adventure with a Japanese locale.
  • When the Titans are watching TV, we see five teens with their backs towards us; This is Kaneda and his gang from the 1988 cult classic anime movie, Akira, by Katsuhiro Ôtomo.
  • One of the creatures that battles the Titans is a take-off of “Astro Boy.”
  • Inspector Daizo is nearly identical to “Lupin the 3rd” nemesis Zenigata.
  • The female cat creature that fights Beast boy looks like one of the puma sisters from “Dominion Tank Police.”
  • The version of the Teen Titans theme that is sung by Beast Boy in the karaoke bar is the Japanese version of the theme song used during the original series.

Glen Murakami on TROUBLE IN TOKYO (via Newsarama):“David Slack and I discussed the Titans video inbetween seasons 4 and 5,” Murakami recalls, “but it wasn’t green-lit until after season 5. David and I wanted to do a story big enough and different enough from the regular series to warrant being a video. I think I might have suggested Tokyo just because the series was so influenced by anime. It seemed like a natural progression to take them to Tokyo.”

Trouble In Tokyo is a feast of inside jokes about Japanese culture. For instance, the main side villains include a Mighty Tetsuwan clone, a cat-girl, a giant mecha that gives a whole new meaning to the term “Iron Chef,” a no-face ghost. If PsychoTech seems familiar, say Ultraman. Then there’s the head of Tokyo’s main crime fighter unit, Inspector Daizo. His uniform is almost a button-to-button realization of Lupin III’s Zenigata (although he’s hardly as bumbling).

Still, this mini-movie manages to keep the more purist-at-heart happy with its non-stop action and reliance on the personalities in play here, not the jokes. A good example of this is to look at how Robin grows throughout the episode.

“Teen Titans has always been a character driven show,” says Murakami. “I wanted the audience to care about the characters as people first and being a super-hero second. It’s important to understand what Robin and the Titans are going through, to relate to them.”

Robin and Starfire enjoyed a long-term romance in the comic book series. Here, they kiss romantically for the first time.

EPISODE SCREEN CAPS [click to enlarge]:

The Lost Episode

Starfire: “Why does the Punk Rocket wish to hurt people with his music? Music is a glorious expression that is supposed to make one feel happy!” 
Raven: “You obviously haven’t heard any of my music.”

Originally aired: January 2005 as an online promotion
Written by Rick Copp
Directed by Matt Youngberg

Can the Teen Titans stop Punk Rocket’s plans for sonic supremacy?

Greg Ellis as Runk Rocket

  • This episode aired as a promotion with Post Cereals. Specially marked boxes provided consumers with a token code to log onto and view the “Lost Episode.” The promotion ran in January 2005.
  • The episode runs 12 minutes long. It is produced by the same animated team that is responsible for the Teen Titan series. The quality and animation is exactly the same as a typical episode of the series.
  • Silkie appears as Starfire’s pet in this episode – which places it after the events of “Can I Keep Him?” but before the events of “Titans East”
  • First appearance of Punk Rocket – who is somewhat-inspired by Punk Rocker Billy Idol.
  • Greg Ellis – who provides the voice of Punk Rocket – also provided the voice of Malchior in SPELLBOUND.
  • Characters spotted in the crowd scene: Hive Mistress [FINAL EXAM] last seen missing on a milk carton [DECEPTION]; Slade’s butler, Wintergreen [DIVIDE & CONQUER] seen with Hive Mistress; Mad Mod; Character designer Derrick Wyatt; The goth kid from SISTERS; The Actor’s Studio host and Khary Payton’s father [EPISODE 257-494]; Finally, the conductor is Mumbo in his ‘human’ form.
  • This episode was included as an extra on the DVD release of the direct-to-video, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, on February 6, 2007.

Producer/Story Editor David Slack on THE LOST EPISODE: “Rick Copp wrote that one. We were tied up with the series itself at that point. We would have loved to have been involved but the timing just didn’t work out. And they got Rick, who’s great. I think it came out really well. […] I do remember when we were first talking about it, Glen [Murakami] and I had this whole idea of the Titans jumping from cereal box to cereal box. But that wasn’t ultimately what Post wanted. “

Completely unrelated to this episode but fun to consider: The first 1960’s incarnation of the Teen Titans incorporated music plots into some of their stories to boost sales.

In Showcase #59 [1965], A rock ‘n roll trio known as the Flips, who use a specially gimmicked motorcycle, surfboard, and baton as props In their act, are accused of a crime spree on the eve of a benefit concert in the town of Clarkaton. And in TEEN TITANS (first series) [1967], D. J. Deejay becomes the world’s first disc jockey to broadcast live from Earth-orbit – with a nefarious secret message from an alien. The Teen Titans were also referred to as “The Fab Four” – an obvious reference to the Beatles. And they often hung out in their Titans Lair headquarters “digging those groovy beats.”

EPISODE SCREEN CAPS [click to enlarge]:

Visit the Teen Titans Animated Series Guide for more information. Titans Go!

End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author

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