2001 animated series made for children’s TV channel Nickelodeon is a bit of
an acquired taste, which probably explains why it was cancelled before its
second season could be finished.
It has also become a bit of a cult item in the years since then. Like most
cults its appeal is difficult – if not downright impossible – to explain to
outsiders. Invader Zim is the sort of show you either “get”, or you
One can understand why the show was cancelled though. It is too noisy and
abrasive for most adult sensibilities and too dark and occasionally scary
for small children. It is however delightfully demented and will appeal to
adult and teenaged animation fans of a certain (twisted) mind set. Along
with Cowboy Bebop it counts as one of our
all-time favorite animation shows. But be warned: you simply might end up
hating it. (It is somewhat reminiscent of Cartoon Network’s Grim
Adventures of Billy & Mandy.)
The story involves an inept and overzealous alien named Zim who always
messes up and is sent to Earth as an undercover spy to pave the way for a
future alien invasion. It is all a ruse of course: the idea is to keep Zim
out of everybody’s hair. Back on Earth most of Zim’s time is taken up by
protecting his secret identity. A boy living next door named Dib knows that
Zim is an alien infiltrator is out to expose him . . .
THE DISCS: Anime Works has now discontinued its Invader Zim
DVDs and this title will from now on only be available in this manufactured
on demand using DVD-R recordable media by Amazon.com format. It is
unfortunate since this set excludes all of the special features such as
audio commentaries and animatics found on the old discs.
However to be fair thanks to Amazon.com lots of otherwise out-of-print
material (including music CDs) will still be available this way, which is
better than nothing.
WORTH IT? We love Invader Zim’s Calvin & Hobbes on
hallucinogenics aesthetic. It’s like pencil doodles of Tim Burton’s which
have come to glorious over-stylized life with bold lines, bright colors and
loads of delirious movement.
The show was largely created by “alternative” comic book artist Jhonen
Vasquez. Whoever read titles of his such as SQUEE’s Wonderful Big Book of
Unspeakable Horrors and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and thought that they’ll
make for kiddy-friendly fare for the same channel that broadcasts shows such
as Dora the Explorer and Rugrats probably should have their
minds read however.
RECOMMENDATION: See whether you can pick up the older DVD editions
perhaps via Amazon resellers instead.