LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu Makes for a Fun Asian Ghost Month Watch! (Part One)

16 Aug

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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The latest season of LEGO Ninjago is certainly worth watching during Hungry Ghost Month. In Asia, this tradition of entertaining spirits during the start of a new lunar month is widespread and based on folkloric beliefs. Some of what’s presented in the series comes into play, and it adds to the versatility of what this world represents. Although this latest season’s introduction is in part due to the events from the last story-arc, to see how much of the spirit realm influences daily life needs to be observed. Lord Garmadon is the blame when he had to cast powerful magic to open a portal to the Cursed Realm to save the day. He may have inadvertently traded places with Morro, a renegade spirit. When this ghost saw that Lloyd is the new Green Ninja, he had to figure out a plan in how to possess him.

But Morro also has a vendetta against Sensei Wu. He was a former pupil whom Wu thought was the chosen one. But when the master saw an ambition and arrogance that would rival even Darth Vader, he knew the boy was not the one (“Winds of Change”). The number of episodes made to tell this latest chapter is shorter than its early seasons, and the 10 episode count makes for a perfect weekend watch. The storytelling is top-notch and the Hageman Brothers have outdone themselves in how they pay respect to a few supernatural Asian traditions.

On the toy front, the playsets are fairly cool. Yellow green and transparent green bits are used to mimic the luminescence of the supernatural warriors. While some folks may be disappointed in the fact that very few glow in the dark parts are used, the creative use of existing LEGO parts is what makes the toy set worth seeking out. While brick bits can be painted with luminescent paint, not many folks are going to play with toys in the dark. For aftermarket ideas, the kits from this series are begging to be modded with EL wire or led lights to create a proper supernatural display piece. And in this tale, all the tropes are used to varying degrees of success. A few expected plays on the haunted house scenario (“The Temple on Haunted Hill”) shows that even a mild scare can be fun. The puzzles and mazes (“The Crooked Path”) feel eerily familiar, like it was borrowed from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the novel version), when Harry had to find his way through the traps before reaching the Department of Mysteries. To engrain this series to pop culture, the incidental music from Ghostbusters is used (“Cursed World Parts I and II”). This latter idea feels unneeded; it detracts instead of adding to the world.

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At least for H.P. Lovecraft fans, the finale makes a fitting nod that even this master of the macabre can approve off. When the Preeminent takes shape with houses built all over it, this marriage of cosmic terror with LEGO philosophy makes for a great visual treat. Sadly, the likelihood of this toy set materializing is slim, but this latest season is still fresh and toy sets are still to emerge since its broadcast from last month.

In this series, the terror is taken lightheartedly. Watching this latest season is like taking a guided tour through Disney’s Haunted Mansion with the Power Rangers. They’ll fight to protect you from a force from the Cursed Realm that’s trying to invade this world of Ninjago.

In terms of how this series is related to ghost month, the finale acknowledges that the Mouth of Hell is literally opened for ghosts to enter the Ninjago realm. They are hungry for a fight, food or entertainment! A few villagers are doing their best to appease them. In a very loose interpretation of the beliefs, just how the Preeminent is led back to Hell is appropriate. It’s led into the water where the trenches may send it back. In a realm where the principles of yin and yang are important, this beast was not destroyed, but merely defeated. The entities that represent Cloud City and the Cursed World represent extremes and to have one destroyed does not make sense. That also includes Lloyd’s belief that his father is gone for good and the fact Cole is a ghost. Maybe his body is hidden somewhere and that can lead to a subplot for the next season for him to reintegrate himself.

Lego-Ninjago-Masters-of-Spinjitzu-Season-6-Episode-6-Kingdom-ComeSince this LEGO universe has 16 realms, maybe the physical body is hiding somewhere. Typically, the transition from one form to another is one way, but in the world where LEGO represents infinite possibilities, the chances of recovery is possible. Maybe a duplicate body can be found in another realm. In part two of this examination of this series, a look at what realms exists may hint at what’s next for this series now that Chima is gone. Any emphasis on LEGO’s original properties hinges on Ninjago until a new animated series is developed.

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