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Villanos (Villainous)

Villainous (Spanish: Villanos) is a Mexican animated television web series produced by A.I. Animation Studios for Cartoon Network and HBO Max. It was created by Alan Ituriel, a veteran of the animation industry in Mexico. It is based on a 2012 web series of the same name which Ituriel had previously created and was initially picked up by Cartoon Network Latin America as a miniseries of ten one-minute episodes for the Cartoon Network Anything app (further episodes, along with a series of specials, were released later). The series is co-produced by Cartoon Network (through its Latin America Original Production unit) and A.I. Animation Studios.

On October 11, 2021, Ituriel's A.I. Animation Studios revealed that the series would be released on HBO Max Latin America and Cartoon Network Mexico, and premiered on both platforms on October 29, 2021.

Plot[]

Villainous is the story of Black Hat Org., run by the evil mastermind Black Hat (whose name is a synonym for villain, a reference to black-hatted evil cowboys from western movies), and his team of three less-villainous aides. Black Hat Org's mission is to assist other villains to solve their heroic problems. They sell evil inventions created by Dr. Flug and offer various services, such as advice on how to defeat the hero or take care of the hero themselves. However, things usually end up going wrong as the brilliant innovations and plans tend to have small and often comical flaws.

Production and release[]

The original Villainous webisodes were written, animated, and voiced by Alan Ituriel in 2012 for ThatPlaceToHangOut.com, an art website he jointly worked on. He had to use royalty-free music and voice all characters. He later said he was inspired by Guillermo del Toro and Captain Hook in Peter Pan. During the production of the new series, Cartoon Network was able to sign on YouTuber and popular Internet gamer Markiplier as the voice of 5.0.5. and attached a professional composer, Kevin Manthei, both upon request by Ituriel, to the project. Ituriel remained in control over most aspects as director, writer, storyboard artist, animator and voice of Black Hat. The English version is initially recorded first at TRACKS Productions using an Atlanta-based cast (with the exception of Ituriel and Markiplier) while the Spanish version was dubbed afterward at Dubbing House in Mexico. Apart from Ituriel, Markiplier, and Manthei, Carolina Paez was an animator, as was Kevin Martínez, and Diego Valenzuela wrote various episodes. A teaser trailer was also released on September 8, 2018.

The Villainous concept was pitched by Alan Ituriel at a contest run at the Pixelatl Festival in Cuernavaca, called IdeaToon Summit, in 2014. He met some Cartoon Network executives there and the concept was judged to fit the 6-11 year old demographic for CN Anything original content. Villainous has garnered very positive reception on Cartoon Network's online platforms, like the Cartoon Network's Anything application in 2016, leading CN to decide to continue their own "Pitch Me" competition through at least 2017 in an aim to find more web original shows. Villainous is the first of what CN hopes to be many successful short projects for their app and YouTube channel.

A TV pilot was released on June 8, 2019, with the Spanish-language version released seven days earlier, while a full-length series is currently in development. Ituriel later confirmed that season one is currently in production, while also announcing a new character, with a backdoor pilot later debuting as the Victor and Valentino episode "Villainy In Monte Macabre." Unlike the shorts, due to Warner Bros. merger with Discovery and the Covid-19 pandemic, while simultaneously produced in both languages (with scripts still written in English), the series was recorded in Spanish first at SDI Media in Mexico and dubbed in English afterwards replacing most of the original cast with a Miami-based cast at VOA Studios Miami, released on November 24, 2022.

On October 11, 2021, it was revealed that the series would be released on HBO Max Latin America and Cartoon Network Mexico, and it premiered on both platforms on October 29, 2021.

Reception[]

The reception of the series has been relatively positive. In June 2017, Victor Pineda Trujillo said that the mini-shorts had "a touch of humor from the 90's cartoons," is about overcoming demons of your life, has wonderful artwork, and a great message. In 2019, E.M. Lee reviewed the show's pilot, noting the enormous fanbase of the series, said the pilot was worth waiting for, and argues that the episode is very creative, having "highly entertaining" characters, which have an interesting dynamic with each other. Lee also praised the animation and argued that it introduces the "core set pieces" of the series, giving the audience "enough to get them interested in the rest of the series." Other reviewers said that Villainous is suited for fans of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Invader Zim while some said it gained online popularity for "lampooning popular Cartoon Network Shows." In March 2018, Catherine Lencione of Michigan Journal, a student publication of the University of Michigan–Dearborn, called the show unique and fun, with "colorful animation and character designs," saying it has the possibility of evolving "into something great."

Sources[]

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