With the recent announcement of Invader ZIM‘s return as a television movie, I couldn’t help but ponder how neglected the alien invader sub-genre has been in animated programs. It’s such a fun premise: an alien invader comes to earth, infiltrates society and tries to take over the world while defending themselves from humans who saw through their disguise. Invader ZIM is certainly the most notable one, but Disney XD premiered Kid vs. Kat in 2008 and it was a pleasant addition. Kat, an alien feline from an overpopulated world, was sent to Earth to secure food for his planet and to make humans slaves in the process. It wasn’t quite the same, as Kat was unable to speak and disguised himself as an animal instead of a human, but it still nailed many of the same tropes.
In 2012, Young Jump Animation, a Malaysian animation studio, partnered with Motion Pictures in Spain. Their idea was to create a cartoon about an alien plant girl who invades Earth, disguising herself as an ordinary human in order to enslave humanity and make them gardeners to help nourish her people. In order to make their dream a reality, they hired John R. Dilworth, the creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog, to direct the pilot for the animated series. The pilot ultimately ended up a little bit different than the actual show, as changes naturally occur in production, but I feel like his input was certainly a positive addition. The series, Pumpkin Reports, ultimately premiered in 2015 and eventually made it to several nations worldwide, most notable being Nickelodeon in parts of Europe.
Where Invader ZIM was a show that focused primarily on the aliens, Kid vs. Kat and Pumpkin Reports skewed more towards the humans. Max, a formerly popular kid who lost his reputation when he tried to reveal the truth about the alien invasion, is the show’s main character. When Loom Prxbtlyp arrived on Earth, she took the name Teresa and was “adopted” by a family, making Max her new brother. With his core group of friends, he tries to ensure that Teresa’s plans fail and to prevent her from doing her assigned reconnaissance work and signaling the alien invasion. Yet it was Teresa, the villain, that I found to be the main draw of the show.
Teresa is a fun character. I adore her personality and mannerisms, with her generally monotone way of speaking and her very limited understanding of human society. Where ZIM was expected to conquer an entire planet by himself (had he actually been sent out on a real mission), Teresa is a scout. Her job isn’t to do the heavy lifting for her people. She merely needs to send daily reports to help her people’s actual military by providing them with much needed intel about humanity. It’s unfortunate that we never get a chance to learn more about her people, the Kemii, and the only other aliens of her type that we see are bumbling officers who spend more time goofing off than taking her reports seriously. Still, Teresa is very alien, and along with her partner Goliath – who takes on GIR’s role from Invader ZIM – the two often use their tentacles in their daily lives.
At this point, it doesn’t look like Pumpkin Reports is going to get another season. As is so often the case, these characters will be left adrift with their missions incomplete. We will never know what became of Max and Teresa, but for what it’s worth, I genuinely believe Pumpkin Reports is a cartoon worth checking out.