Any parent who watches kids shows geared towards an educational angle will know that by and large, they are somewhat grating for adults. You can’t object though, because it’s teaching your child, right? There are a few gems out there worth seeking out and Ask The Story Bots is definitely one of them.
Ask The Story Bots started as a series of YouTube animated shorts exploring questions like ‘how do we hear’, ‘how does a computer work’ and ‘why can’t I just eat dessert all the time’? The Bots themselves are Beep, Boop, Bing, Bang, and Bo; multicolored animated units that are sent out in order to research the answers. In doing so they can explore the real world, get stuck into stop-motion animation sequences, produce music videos, or have detailed chats with surprisingly A-list celebrities.
Oh yes. The first time you watch Ask The Story Bots dealing with the inner workings of a computer you might do a double-take when it is Snoop Dogg playing the Operating System. Or Zoe Saldana detailing where planets come from. Or Kevin Smith as ‘Super Mega Awesome Ultra Guy. The list goes on: Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Edward Norton, John Legend, and Jennifer Garner. It seems the celebrities can’t help but queue up to be on the show.
So what is it that so appealing? Well, Ask The Story Bots hits that wonderful middle ground of being fun for all ages. Not in ‘grey appealing to all so appealing to none’ way. This is a show that hits the educational angle with engaging animation and songs but is also genuinely funny and inventive. In the episode that deals with how the body processes the food you have all the sugary treats depicted as a ‘live fast die young’ frat house, and the protein meats are all goggle-eyed muscle heads pumping iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger style voices.
The show uses a ‘magazine format’ so that each episode is structured to be a collection of thematically linked short segments. This betrays the YouTube origins, perhaps. But regardless it means that we can swing through 4 different animation styles per episode which keeps the message fresh throughout. The episode which explains how sound works takes us through the whole process from soundwave generation, ear biology, and brain processing. The three bones of the inner ear-bashing into each other and arguing about it through the medium of puppetry is worth the price of admission alone.
One thing that many kids’ shows rely on – which drives adults to rip out their hair – is around 5 minutes of repetitive content that is the same every episode. It pads out the run time and gives the little ones something familiar to grasp on to (tightly). However, Ask The Story Bots never does this and instead throws in so much original content per episode that it puts its contemporaries to shame.
Yes, Ask The Story Bots is a kids show. However, I can genuinely say that I would be happy to watch it by myself as it’s just so darn inventive and fun. If you do have kids then this is a must-see!
Words by Michael Record