Adventures of Lola and Chuchu Review

Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 7.20.52 PM
AKA: AOLAC
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Year Released: 2017-2018
Distributor: Anthill Studios/Peak Milk NG

Origin: Nigeria
Running Time: Webseries, 13 episodes, 5-12 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 3+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Eleanor’s Secret, Ben 10, Gadget Boy and Heather, PJ Masks, Cyberchase, Pokemon, Spy Kids, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Plaything (short CGI film)

Notes:
-The whole series is streaming on YouTube.

Fun Facts:
-This is the first series made from Anthill Studios.

-Fandom Bonus: Yes, that’s Ben 10 on the Peak Milk packets and the last episode features clips of that cartoon as the main characters watch it in one brief scene.

-Lola and Chuchu’s grandparents live in Abeokuta, Nigeria. It’s in the Southwestern part of the country with a population of over 445,000 people. Interestingly enough, that’s also the same city where famous singer Fela Kuti was born.

-Hilarious in Hindsight: Lola TOTALLY uses some of her telekinetic abilities by doing the hadoken stance like she’s straight out of Street Fighter. I know I’m not the only person who noticed that. That and (spoilers minimized) Chuchu gets a staff at one point and fights a lot like Kilik from the Soul Calibur series.


Looks like I’m back already to take on some Nigerian animation. After being very impressed with Plaything, I wanted to check out the rest of Anthill’s works that were featured online. I found out that they had a webseries on YouTube via Peak Milk NG who sponsored this particular series. With this situation at hand, this will also be an Iridium Eye first because this is the first animated series I’ve reviewed that’s NOT from Japan. Think about it. Every non-Japanese animated work I’ve reviewed so far was a movie or a short film, but never an actual series in itself. This is certainly expanding my horizons, right?

We’ll see what happens with this online series.

Adventures of Lola and Chuchu involve this sister and brother who are visiting their grandparents in Abeokuta. Things start out very normal in the house until after the kids accidentally break a lamp in one of the bedrooms. Both of them find a blue portal underneath the bed and are transported to a magical world known as Maamuland. One of the citizens named Zainab finds them and tells the children that their land has been under attack from the Shell-Backs and the Maamu spirits have been missing. She grants the siblings powers with some super suits and bracelets that can activate special abilities. Lola gets telekinesis, flight, and can fire energy projectiles while Chuchu gets super strength and speed. The two of them have to find the thirteen Maamu spirits and to defeat the Shell-Backs before they can go home and restore peace to Maamuland.

This was something different from the things I usually watch. The show is definitely more cartoony than most of the animation I cover, but I wasn’t bothered by it. I will say most of the fight scenes are very well animated and the dramatic angle changes and effects certainly give more impact to the action. Granted, a lot of the fights would still be G-rated, so don’t expect anything like Berserk or Hellsing here. I did like how competent the main heroes were as they use teamwork and help save each other from different situations. Much like Plaything and Lunch Time Heroes, the setting takes place in a nice neighborhood (well, when they’re not in Maamuland of course) and one wouldn’t have to change all that much for something like this to happen in America or Europe. It’s really only the accents that give it away that this was made in Nigeria, so it does break some stereotypes on that matter. There was one aspect that I found intriguing even though I’m not sure how intentional it was. In the final episode, Lola and Chuchu are able to get the Maamulanders to fight alongside them to take their village back. Wait a minute…there’s a show aimed at a young demographic that has an anti-colonization undercurrent? That’s freaking unheard of, but it does make sense when you consider that Nigeria used to be under British rule until the 60s. That interpretation is certainly intriguing and it was brave of the creators if it was the intention.

Despite the things I liked about this little webseries, I found this to be disappointing compared to Plaything. This isn’t just because it’s a show made for younger audiences which is fine for families, but there are aspects I didn’t care for. For starters, I couldn’t stand Zainab’s voice and dialogue. She’s nothing but an exposition figure and the way she had this raspy, slow, and talking in a strange voice that blended a Nigerian accent with something Slavic to my ears. Zainab always tells the kids to hurry and she even says “Time is of the essence.” twice throughout the series which was all too cliche. There were the Peak Milk plugs which were okay at first, but they got annoying later on as those chocolate and strawberry milk packets would show up out of nowhere for Lola and Chuchu to drink with recycled information all but one time. Going back to Zainab, there was one plotting aspect that made no sense with her in the final episode. In the penultimate episode, she’s the biggest cheerleader of the kids to save the day, but one episode later, she’s suddenly scared and begs the children to go home. This was plot hole whiplash for me and it would’ve been better if there was at least one episode in between that would give her reasoning why she would change her moods. I know some fans of other forms of animation (see: otaku) will instantly roll their eyes at the plot involving traveling to another world. Be honest, if this was made in Japan, you would instantly lump it as an isekai series even if you’re not wrong in labeling it so. The ending also ends on a cliffhanger, so I don’t know if there’s going to be a sequel or not.

The Adventures of Lola and Chuchu was an average series although I’ve dealt with far worse as far as family-friendly fare as a reviewer and as an overall animation fan. There was certainly an attempt to make a story that was nation/race-neutral which I do appreciate. The two main characters are decent enough to root for and I liked how they don’t succumb to African stereotypes. I wasn’t a fan of the basic plot when it becomes hindered by some parts of the finale. I’m not against a sequel since I’m glad there’s animation projects coming from outside America, Japan, and Europe. I do hope they can tweak those elements should they go forward with a sequel.


Adjustable Rating System:

Add 1-2 points if you like animation appropriate for the kids that’s not from the usual mainstream suspects.
Subtract 1-3 points if you can’t stand “trapped in another world” stories.

Pros:
-Decent main characters
-Good fighting scenes
-Smashes African stereotypes

Cons:
-Zainab was too annoying
-Overdoing the Peak Milk plugs
-Faulty plot elements especially with the last couple of episodes



Final Score: 5/10 points



Content Warning: Adventures of Lola and Chuchu is safe for most children to watch. Some of the fight scenes do get a bit intense despite being bloodless like how one monster chokeslams Lola in one episode which can be uncomfortable to watch. The subplot in the final episode having a potential anti-colonial slant will be lost on the younger audience though.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. Adventures of Lola and Chuchu is property of Anthill Productions and Peak Milk NG. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Anthill Productions and Peak Milk NG.

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