Bionicle G3: An Argument Against Too Many Changes

So I as have everyone else been listening to the TTV cast discuss over multiple podcasts how they would reboot our beloved franchise, and while I understand their reasoning behind a lot the changes they opted for, I must conclude in the end they’re just making too many unnecessary changes.

Its not so much that I don’t like the changes, but I feel that with each core aspect of the G1 era they change or do away with altogether it feels less and less like Bionicle. And to be quite frank; the series they’d been crafting –from the minifigures, to the elements, to the ancient tribal setting; comes across way more like a ‘Legends of Chima’ reboot than a Bionicle reboot.

Now I understand their motives for the changes they proposed, that the original aspects just didn’t make all that much sense if you thought about them, but herein lies what I believe to be the most common and greatest missed opportunity when it comes to reboots.

So the Elements of Ice and Stone don’t make all that much sense in the context of the other four [we’ll forget temporarily as we all had before that Kopaka and Pohatu’s names in Maori literally translate to ‘Ice’ and ‘Stone’…] if you’re rebooting the universe, then why not take the opportunity to instead explain why these Elements are things at all?
To paint a better picture of this idea, let’s take a look at Batman; what are his most unique and distinguishing visual features, what sets him apart from other caped crusaders? The Bat Ears on the Cowl; the Jagged Frills on his Cape; and the three Spiked Prongs on his Wrists.

Now in the immediate practical sense, what POSSIBLE use could ANYONE have for pointy edges on their cape? Same idea for the other details. Well, in ‘Batman Begins’, they actually went to meticulous detail to show just WHY Bruce Wayne added those seemingly useless design aesthetics; the wrist prongs come from his ninja training and are shown to have multiple practical applications; the ears not only serve to make Batman more bizarre and unsettling, but also have audio receptors that pick up more minute sounds from greater distances; and the jagged edges of the cape are actually special fabric that solidifies in certain ways, turning the cape into a glider.

Now Batsuit visual aesthetics aren’t necessarily the same thing as Elemental Superpowers, but at their core it’s the same kind of general idea.

For another comparison, let’s drawn on the yet-to-be-released ‘Power Rangers’ movie; yes, you have your Rangers, your Zordon, your Zords, your Rita Repulsa, your Alpha-V, and what-not; but do you really? Do you have the characters and other elements, or do you have a checklist of things to meet before you start doing altogether your own thing? It says a whole lot about whether or not you understand just what made the material you’re rebooting so great and iconic to begin with [or, on the flipside, what made it an epic failure and so detested] To get to the point; without all the context of Power Rangers; would you have had any idea the trailer you just watched was for a Power Rangers movie? You probably could pick up on the ranger’s outfits, but what’s to say this is a ‘Mighty Morphin’ reboot? What’s to stop it from being an entirely different set of teens, mentors, and villains to reboot with?

Now back to Bionicle; on the subject of the Elements, it could do for a good amount of world-building and lore if it was explained at some point just why there are these seemingly unusual elements, meanwhile you could take the time to explore how different these two elemental cultures are; Earth could be the more zen-like people, for example, as Earth is made up of millions of smaller particles and always moving, if slowly, they have a very accepting and generally patient attitude towards anything; meanwhile Stone could be very rough and firm, unmoving and stuck in their ways unless something ‘shatters’ them, like Stones. And perhaps while Water takes a similar approach to things as Earth, they can also get apprehensive if approached too quickly or are roughed about, becoming disheveled at first and then hitting hard more or less as one when they’re upset enough; Ice meanwhile could be more passive about things, only sticking about so long as they can before things get a way they don’t like and they gradually ‘melt off’, but otherwise will gather in mass.

These are just ideas to play off of, things to better define the cultures within the show and characters and better tie them to their respective Elements.

As for the origins for Elements like Ice and Stone? This is far more conceptual, but G3 is a reboot after all, so changes and retcons like these are generally acceptable; my idea is that originally there were only meant to be Four Elements; Fire, Air, Water, and Earth; however the Great Beings screwed up something awful [like they do…] and the four Toa ended up imbued with too much power, and said power ended up going out of control, forcing the Great Beings to put the Toa down [like doggies] and only Water managed to live through the ordeal [this could be Toa Helryx’s origin] initially the Great Beings decided to scrap the Toa idea and try for other guardians, but after they failed with the Skakdi, they went back to the Toa and decided to divide the Elements into more types so that the next Toa wouldn’t go crazy like the first ones. Thus Fire became Fire, Plasma, and Lightning; Earth became Earth, Stone, and Iron; Water became Water, Ice, and Magnetism; and Air became Air, Gravity, and Sonics. [The Elements of Psionics and Plantlife were actually equally distributed amongst them, but they proved to still cause problems, so they were removed and made into their own Elements, as well]
Again, these are just ideas that serve to not only explain anomalies, but also build the respective world and characters.

Onto the subject of scaled-down Bonicle; I understand the switch to conventional minifigures, especially with the notion of mini-fig scale Bionicle Lego sets, but to me the Bionicle characters just don’t look right as conventional minifigures, they look too clunky and limited, at least compared to how the constraction sets were. I could understand if minifigs were the only way to get down to minifig scale, but many [including myself] have proven that its possible to make minifig Bionicles of assorted pieces that are not only to scale, but are also perfectly functional and look pretty good to boot, even cooler in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen a lot of the concept art for Bio-minifigs and they do look awesome, but the alternative way does offer a lot more visual range.
Something else I would like to argue is the proposed notion of making Bionicle characters more human-like, as ‘human as possible’ I think one of the cast-members said. Again, I can understand their reasoning for this, as the viewers could relate more to more human characters; but at the same time, I feel this greatly takes away from some of Bionicle’s own exclusive charm.

The world of the Bionicle was an entirely alien, inhuman world that was all it’s own with no involvement of outside media or even sources [which meant specifically no human visitors or regulars] to make them ‘as human as possible’ I feel would be to take away that unique alien element. Yes, in many ways they were very much human like us [philosophically] but at same time their inhuman traits made them more unique. However, they can still be relatable. Allow me to provide to you an example;
We average, more or less well-off average and unremarkable young humans in our apartments, our suburban houses, and our Kent family farms with our school, our jobs, and our chores, cannot possibly hope to relate to the arguable Fire god robot who emerged with amnesia from a canister on a tropical island inhabited by smaller robots of a tribal culture, all of which is threatened by a Shadow god of pure evil the arguable Fire god is destined to overthrow… However, as we follow this robot’s story, we get to know him a little better, we see that he has anger issues, that he doesn’t get along well with others –even those like him, he can be careless and cocky, he’s confused, he’s secretly afraid but too insecure to show this, he wants answers but no one seems to have any satisfying ones;

THESE are things we can relate to, these are what makes a character human, despite the outward differences; flaws, imperfections, aspirations, hopes, fears; things we, humans, at our base core understand.

Another thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way is the approach towards the Rahkshi; once again, I get everything they’re saying, but there is another [arguably better] approach [also, TTV, please for the love of Mata Nui stop using strawman complaints to deflect any legit critiques towards your ideas. That’s just low] I believe the answer is not so much to make them visually distinct, but rather to remodel them so they have more distinct personas; so let’s reinvent the Kraata so that instead of having to transform them into Rahkshi shells for other Kraata to pilot [I think that’s how it worked…] they’re actually parasites that mutate hosts into fearsome shadow agents of Makuta-

This works again for world-building as Kraata can be used to make the Rahi violent servants of Makuta when the Toa Mata first show up instead of infected Kanohi masks, and the ‘Brotherhood of Makuta’ can be both a brotherhood of the makuta species, as well as another group of followers who use Kraata to not only signify their allegiance but also make it harder for members to back out

-Basically the Kraata are Shadow Leeches. Anyway, so come the time for the Rahkshi to come about, Makuta rips six Kraata from his essence and essentially alters them so that they’re far worse than previous Kraata, these parasites then find Matoran and bond to them, the individual dark aspects of Makuta playing into the Matorns’ own darker inner aspects, transforming the Matoran into Rahkshi; the ‘Sons’ of Makuta, who live to do his will and seek only his approval. This idea could work well as it not only gives the Rahkshi some much-needed personality and dynamic, but also adds some weight and tension to the conflict as the Toa Nuva realize their opponents are Matoran and need to figure out how to defeat them without killing them.

My point to all this is that [if you haven’t already guessed] while change is not inherently a bad thing and often times its necessary, sometimes what worked before really worked and it wouldn’t hurt to do it over again. If Bionicle’s small flaws were so irritating and detrimental, the franchise would not have lasted as long as it did nor have the following it now has. Granted; for both the sake of originality and making sense of things, some things DO have to be changed, but otherwise there’s a great opportunity to take what at first doesn’t seem to work and break down how it in fact could and does work.
The idea is not to just straight up replace something when it breaks; the idea is to fix the problem.

15 Likes

Changed category to Brickonicle as it pertains to TTV's G3.
-absolute_casual

1 Like

What changes in particular are you talking about? Because I'm not sure that anything that's been changed thus far really harms G3's faithfulness to Bionicle.

You have some great ideas here that really appeal to me. This part in particular reminds me of a BIONICLE element chart somebody came up with awhile back...

I agree with this a lot, actually. Though I've accepted the idea of minifigs by now, there's still a nudging at the back of my mind whenever I see conceptual artwork that's telling me something's off. I think that "something" is simply how limited minifigs actually are when it comes to visual appearance. IMO, it's hard to pull off something unique with minifigures, especially in BIONICLE's case.

And another point I really agree with.

Aaaand here's where I have to disagree. :stuck_out_tongue:
For starters, I think there should only be a single Makuta. If you want some interesting backstory, say that he annihilated the rest of his species out of jealousy or spite; but in the end, I think he should be the only one of his kind. Or at the very least, make him unique among his kind, like Ganondorf and the Gerudos from LoZ.
When it comes to the Rahkshi, I liked what TTV was proposing, honestly. Not much more to say on that since it's purely up to personal opinion at that point.

So yeah, all in all, I really respect and appreciate what you had to say here, Trotter, and I agree with a lot of it. I may incorporate some of what you suggested here in my own pitch for G3. Thanks for taking the time to articulate this argument!

1 Like

All of which were present in Bionicle G1?

Okay, I'm going to have to go through this again on the podcast, but I'll put this here.

Part of the whole point to doing G3 is for us, who critique all of the rights and wrongs done with G2, to go through that same process in a public form. It's to show us and, by extension, the fanbase, just how convoluted and complicated the process is. It's to show how you can't make everyone happy while doing something creative, and show how hard it is to reach a conclusion that not everyone even in the creative team is happy with.

So by not wanting change, you're partially proving our point - that it was hard for the G2 team to develop something that would make everyone happy, but that's how it is with everything anyone develops.

G3 is not informed by changes "just to make changes" by any means. All of the changes we've made come, at some level or another, because the majority of us thinks it makes sense and have a logical conclusion from what we want. We've debated what we want on the podcast so you guys can see what that discussion is like.

However, there's another caveat to that. A lot of people don't like change, and will never like it. We know a lot about that because we've been making video series for so long. But we're not making G3. We're making a show about making G3. If we didn't change anything, the podcast would be "Well, that was cool about Bionicle" ad nauseum.

Again, that's not to say that we ever change things "just to change them". The whole point of the podcast is to explain why things are changed. But you also have to understand that nobody is interested in doing G1 over again, on the level that it doesn't make for any sort of interesting show.

So we will debate our changes, we will discuss them, and we will make them. And we will listen to feedback. But the complaints that we hear a lot about "You're changing too much!" aren't the type of feedback we pay a lot of attention to. Someone is always going to complain when you change anything. The internet is completely resistant to change - but it also demands it. Our jobs as creators is to figure out where that line is.

As far as I'm concerned, we haven't reached it. And your post didn't really convince me at any point that we have. In essentially a combination of "I don't like this", "I think you're changing too much about Bionicle", "I have these other ideas that either you're already thinking about or don't solve the reasons we made those changes in the first place", nothing really convinced me that these changes were too much, or that your solutions would solve anything we hadn't already considered (like the Kraata infection concept, which was brought up like a month ago and we're waiting until we get to the villains to revisit that idea).

5 Likes

What Kahi said, plus, new things are interesting, old things are boring. We all knew the islands of Mata Nui, Metru Nui, etc., but Okoto was a new place to explore (which G2 squandered). We all know about the Rahkshi, the kraata robots, but what are these new "failed Toa" Rahkshi?

2 Likes

^Precisely this. Telling the same story twice isn't fun. The whole point of a reboot is to take an old idea and do it differently while not deviating too much from the original. There's a point of equilibrium that you have to shoot for, and so far, I feel G3 has done this well.

1 Like

I do believe you're right. It's something I hadn't thought about, honestly. Even while working on my pitch, I'm constantly trying to reach some sort of balance that I think will please everybody; but I kinda realize now that that's not gonna be possible because there's always somebody who isn't satisfied. Guess that's just the reality of it.

@Jakura_Nuva An interesting point of note with the Rahkshi is that as parasites, there can still be the multi-species/Hordika-type Rahkshi, maybe as foes who appear later on in, say, the rebooted Phantoka/Mistika era.

Technically there can also still be a single Makuta, even if his kind is still alive [maybe its because I like the name 'Teridax' so much] I do however like the idea of him having traits and features and/or whatnot that make him solely unique from the other Makuta, perhaps it could be something that makes him more of Mata Nui's 'brother' in more than legend only


@Jon A counterargument I would use is the 2003 TMNT series, while it was radically different from the 1980s cartoon before it, it did however remain incredibly faithful to the original source material, that is, the Mirage Comics; while at the same time the 2003 cartoon made changes that were not only necessary [as a means of fixing the flaws of the original] but also wholly original in other aspects.

I am puzzled by your statement that G1 Bionicle wouldn't make any sort of interesting show [maybe I'm somehow reading that part wrong,] when TMNT took a very similar approach in 2003 and was arguably the most interesting series of them all, as well as arguably the most well-made.

It is of course worthy to take into account that the 2003 series widely goes unmentioned by most people, as opposed to the 80s cartoon and the Nickelodeon series. Maybe the idea is that faithful representations are more disliked then divergents? If that is the case, then I find that reason to be incredibly petty, almost as if to say that people don't actually care about quality, but are interested in what is 'new'.

With my own take on Bionicle, I am not simply going 'Well, what was cool about Bionicle' ad nauseum, rather I'm taking the source material and going deeper into it, seeing what can work and how I can make what didn't work this time -and of course leaving out the aspects that didn't, much like what they did with the 2003 series.

Edited for Double Post - Waj

2 Likes

I think that what @Jon means is that 'remaking G1' wouldn't make an interesting podcast.

I see. But I would still argue that going in depth and making all these connections and fine-tuning everything would still be very interesting

1 Like

"Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished."-Avatar Opening Scene

3 Likes

During the 2001-2003 (and debatably through the 2004-2005) run, yes, tribal elements were a big part. That did change over time as they dug more into the epic's history.

I disagree. people are fine with change overall, they just don't like sudden change. people originally hated the idea of brick-based, and some still do, but over time a lot of people, especially the lore fans have softened up to it because they may have realized some benefit or possibility for telling a story. One gripe I have is that this sort of has to be taken in the same approach when talking about the gender of characters as a gradual discussion that leads to what most people will see as the best course of action:

the podcast's discussions on whether to make pohatu or lewa female could have probably drawn out over several podcast episodes

  • starting with one to bring up the discussion and decide the importance of the gender ratio,
  • then following that the individual characteristics that would change for the two main candidates,
  • followed by the changes in relationships (bromance vs romance, brothers vs just siblings etc.) with other toa and the effects it would have in the story,
  • then finally discuss which would/could better fit, allowing for discussion to go about before any changes and view the topic as a whole in the way the actual podcast discussed it.

The main difference between our G3 and the original G1 is that we don't have a Faber or a Greg or any of the great geniuses at the helm to organize and produce; we're all at the helm and all have different ideas. It can be difficult to get to this level of organized, methodical production, even in a podcast format where everyone is treated as a moderator on equal grounds in terms of objectiveness and sway. If it was it wouldn't be interesting or fun either, it would literally be politics, which kinda sucks. while the whole thing could have been less controversial, I understand the approach the team took.

this is a pretty good chart for G1. good find. even so there will be changes which would essentially collapse some parts of the chart, for instance the merging of earth and plantlife, which would essentially result in the four groups you suggested in your pitch a while back:

Fire - Lightning, Plasma
Water - Ice, Psionics
Wind - Gravity, Sonics
Earth - Stone, Iron

If you really wanted all the old elements, you'd have to combine some together ie psionics and gravity, magnatism and iron. and you'd still have light and shadow left over as a separate from the main chart.

perhaps. but then, we are talking about a 17+ year old toyline story with established tropes as an epic. However, there's a reason people still watch the original star wars trilogy or read hamlet or listen to people performing Bach: It's compelling. it just so happens that industry is obsessed with reboots, but end up doing a terrible job, See "The Wicker Man" with its reception difference in the 1973 classic and the Nick Cage not the bees remake, which is what I think you're getting at.

I personally thing there are great moments in the first three years of Bionicle that could be brought to life to great effect, such as Tahu emulating Lewa to get out of a sticky situation or pohatu and kopaka's first meeting (see schoolastic book 1 for both), or the non-canonical templar games' MnOlG, with the rich world-building and character development outside of the toa, which could be brought to the forefront and altered to tell new stories with environmental changes. I see these as mere guidelines and callbacks. The real story has so much to develop, as it is truly a playground for the toa and other inhabitants to make their own when they're developed, and even more when the culture each brings to the table is developed. true we don't want to just copy past g1 onto g3, but we can still take the inspirations and memorable moments we all enjoyed.

My argument against 'change for the sake of change' is that so often the original source material always provides a plethora of unused opportunities that can be utilized in the reboots; why not take two previously otherwise unconnected elements from the source and find a clever way to connect them, and thus maybe two oddities can validate each other's existence?

Say the Toa Metru, for example; so the Toa Mata/Nuva end up all staying more less the same... because, 5 guys 1 girl ratio and all [whatever reason, your pick] that same reasoning can only go so far before you get the other generations. Why then do the Metru have to follow the same structure? Well, you could say that the prophecy of the Toa Mata was well-known even as far back as Metru Nui, and when the Metru Toa showed up matching the descriptions of the prophesized Mata, everyone assumes they are the Toa of legend and suddenly the Metru become even more important.

Its not perfect, but its an example nonetheless