Following his father’s death, 15-year-old Eli Shane embraces his destiny to follow in his dad’s footsteps to a secret, subterranean world called Slugterra. Filled with caverns and populated by a colorful array of characters, Slugterra is also home to the sport of Slugslinging, in which players duel using slug-filled capsules they shoot from guns. As the slugs reach top speed, they transform into larger creatures with superhero powers, which they unleash on their opponents. At the end of each face-off, the winner claims the loser’s slug, thereby accumulating an arsenal of varied weapons. But friendly matches are few and far between in a place where the nefarious Dr. Blakk has his sights set on domination, and he mutates the slugs he captures to that end. It’s up to Eli and his fiercely loyal crew to save Slugterra from the terrible fate Dr. Blakk has in store for it.
There are no expressed learning goals associated directly with this series. It does, however, indirectly convey a few choice concepts which I will cover below.
This show bears a strong parallel to the Pokémon storyline. They each have main characters who collect mythical animals and train them to fight each other to prove superiority over their opponents. Additionally, it seems popular for the same reasons. It appeals to the tween age group of boys at which it is aimed by representing many facets of the superhero genre mythos that is so popular today: super tech, an important mission to save the (underground) world, and a band of supporting characters to make it a fun time along the way.
The story of Slugterra is definitely age-appropriate for its intended audience, and there are no overt influences of commercialism in the storytelling itself. The series has become highly commercialized though, due to its being picked up by Disney not long after it was created. Its Disney association probably raises and reinforces its popularity, but its content does not seem to reflect any obvious relationship.
The plot is extremely formulaic, where each episode revolves around the next slugslinging duel and its attendant challenges and consequences. The dialogue is modern and engaging, although I wouldn’t say exceptionally witty or clever. It connects with its target demographic, but it tends to focus more on narrating the story events than developing the characters. The storyline seems to focus more heavily on the “wow” aspect of the gun technology and fight scenes too, rather than on the characters themselves.
The gun fights, or “slugslinging” are not fatally violent nor are they really comparable to using real guns. The weapons they use launch living animals at each other that fight with each other only. There is no overt emphasis on violence or use of guns, and there is only mild creature violence and mild peril in many situations.