Kubo and the Two Strings recently exploded into theaters to great critical success. It is considered by many to be the best film of the summer with its unique story, characters, and imagery. It’s worth mentioning that unlike most big budget projects recently, Kubo isn’t a reboot or a sequel. Earning a score of 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s pleasing fans and critics everywhere. When speaking about Kubo, CEO of LAIKA Entertainment and the films director Travis Knight said “The look is always rooted in the story. Each film has been different thematically and required a different look. This one was inspired by Japanese artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai.”
This look is one of the things Kubo audiences seem to love, from the character models to the stunning visuals and sequences revolving around Kubo’s use of music as a tool and a weapon. His use of music as a weapon not only shows his growing skill, but also his growth as a character. This skill of Kubo’s is awesome to be sure, but it is not unique to him.
Here are 15 TV And Movie Characters Who Use Music As A Weapon.
15. Demyx (Kingdom Hearts II)
Video game RPG’s are known for having some bizarre enemies, and this is certainly true for Kingdom Hearts II. Besides battling through some of Disney’s own movie villains like Scar from Lion King, the MCP computer from TRON and Jafar from Aladdin, you also have to battle a sentient jail that gains power from swallowing children, a giant mechanized Chimera from Halloween Town, and a pretty-boy named Demyx who reluctantly tries to defeat you with his water-controlling sitar.
Demyx’s powers are exactly as unimpressive as they sound; he just doesn’t seem to want to fight you. His heart isn’t in it, but orders are orders, so he does everything he can to stop you. Using his sitar, he commands water to form into a small army to try and drown you into submission. It is a singular ability for sure, and probably the most unique use of music on this list, which is saying something.
14. Lt. Colonel Bluegrass (Silverhawks)
Lt. Colonel Bluegrass hails from the ’80s space cop cartoon Silverhawks, also known as Thundercats in Space. If you watched it as a kid, your memory of the show was probably something about some badass cops that shot out of a spaceship and flew through space beating up bad guys. But did you remember that the pilot of their ship was named Bluegrass, and, even though he didn’t have wings like the rest of the team, he did have an electric guitar that he plugged into the ship to use as his weapon?
This show was ahead of its time — with its awesome musical battles and the extreme Lt. Bluegrass himself, it was the ultimate ’90s show — but it came out in 1986. If it weren’t for the fact that show didn’t last long (because unlike most cartoons in the ’80s, it was terrible), Lt. Bluegrass would definitely be higher on the list.
13. Lynn Minmay (Robotech)
Robotech is considered by many to be their gateway to anime. It is a show about aliens, war, and fighter jets that transform into robots. As humanity struggles to survive against a ruthless enemy, their only hope lies in… the voice of one girl. Yes, Lynn Minmay’s mesmerizing singing voice has a disorienting effect on the invading alien forces. This effect is the power of love, and it’s responsible for many of the aliens defecting from their ranks to join forces with the humans. The power of music in the Robotech universe is not unique to Minmay; in one form or another, it makes an appearance in every one of the sagas. Lynn Minmay is just the most well known of the singing warriors in the Robotech series.
12. Siren (1960s Batman TV show and Batman ’66 comic)
In the 1960s, audiences everywhere fell in love with Adam West as Batman on TV. The fun, lighthearted take on the Dark Knight and his rogues had people glued to their TV sets each week at the “same bat time, same bat station”. One of these rogues was Lorelei Circe, also known as Siren. Her ability to sing at 7 different octaves gave her the power to control any man who heard her voice. Like all great villains from the TV show, her character was complete with outlandish props and appropriately named henchmen like Allegro and Andante. Despite ultimately being defeated by Batgirl and Robin, Siren nearly succeeded in stealing all of Bruce Wayne’s fortune and getting him to kill himself.
Even though she only appeared in two episodes of the show, creators of the Batman ’66 comic liked her enough to book her for an appearance in print. Proving that maybe she wasn’t all bad, she sacrificed her voice (and with it, her powers) in order to set Bruce Wayne free from her control.
11. Brook (One Piece)
If you are not familiar with the anime One Piece, then here is a little context: pure insanity that doesn’t make any sense, pirates, and one hell of a buried treasure. The insanity isn’t just limited to the plot either — even the characters are beyond strange. Brook, an undead sword-wielding skeleton with an afro who sings and plays the violin (with a personal style somewhere between Jimmy Hendrix and Slash) is actually one of the most normal characters on the show.
Brook uses music in two very different ways. With his violin, Brook can exert control over others by hypnotizing them or making them fall asleep. With his voice, Brook sings from the shadows as a means of psychological warfare before he enters battle. You would think he wouldn’t need the psychological warfare, what with him being a super tall skeleton with an afro. However, in the world of One Piece, without a little music, Brook might just be another bag of bones.
10. DJ (New Mutants Vol 2 #12 Marvel Comics)
Mark Sheppard was a mutant who had different powers depending on what he was listening to. Marvel decided to give this super human ability the fancy label: Acoustic Eclectic Mimicry (which, honestly, no makes sense). DJ basically only showcases 4 types of powers in his entire run in the comics: concussive blasts from rock music, force fields from classical music, photokinesis (the ability to control light) from dance music, and flight from gospel. Tragically, DJ was one of the mutants who lost his powers after M-Day, which ultimately led to his swan song when a local mutant hate group, the Purifiers, blew him up along with a group of fellow weaker mutants.
Despite his brief run on the page, DJ’s power was very unique, one that would have been fun to see explored further. If he listened to reggae, would he get the power to calm down/control people? If he listened to country, would he get the power to wear pointy-toed cowboy boots without being made fun of? These are the questions that keep us up at night.
9. The Fiddler (The Flash Comic)
A fiddle may not seem like a dangerous instrument to most, but in the hands of Isaac Bowin, it was lethal. Bowin was a small time thief before being hauled off to jail, where he learned the mystic arts of Indian music from a fellow inmate. Using these newfound abilities, he started a life of crime in Keystone City, the home of the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. Initially only able to hypnotize people with his instrument, his powers soon grew to include force-field creation and the ability to shatter solid objects.
Not content to play second fiddle (wink) to more mainstream villains, the Fiddler was also known to customize his instruments with different weapons. Do you think he felt like he had no choice in life but to use a fiddle for crime because his last name was Bowin, or do you think a drumset would have just been unwieldy? Musical villains and their name puns never get old.
8. Buddy (The Six String Samurai)
A post-apocalyptic world full of musical samurais that are all trying to become King of Lost Vegas: that is the world that Buddy, the main character of The Six String Samurai, lives in. The film is basically Wizard of Oz on crack — and with a sweet soundtrack. Of course, instead of ruby slippers, everyone is after Buddy’s magic guitar pick.
The fight sequences in this film are some of the coolest things you will see, as they constantly switch back and forth between sword fights and guitar battles. The epic fight between Buddy and Death is something to behold; it’s a battle of musical styles as much as it is a battle for life and death. Buddy represents Buddy Holly and classic rock, while Death represents Slash and heavy metal. Despite the fact that Buddy only made it to number 8 on this list, his battles (while corny as hell) are arguably some of the most fun to watch.
7. Midvalley the Horn Freak (Trigun)
Thinking about getting into the assassination game with some friends? You should consider starting a band and using the sound waves from your music to kill people. That’s how Midvalley the Horn Freak got his start, and it turned out pretty good for him. With the use of his custom saxophone, Silvia, Midvalley could stop a bullet in flight, destroy buildings, and send people flying through the air.
He was so skilled he eventually became the 11th member of a group of specialized killers known as the Gung Ho Guns. Like all the Gung Ho Guns, Midvalley’s fight with the main character, Vash the Stampede, didn’t turn out so well. When Vash damaged Silvia, instead of surrendering, Midvalley pressed on with the attack, killing himself when his beloved saxophone exploded. No matter how deserved his ending was, Midvalley’s death meant more blood on Vash’s hands, which hurt the hero more than any of the villains’ attacks ever did. (Killing him softly with his song…)
6. Captain EO
This may be a little old for some of you, but growing up in the ’80s, Captain EO was the best part of Disneyland. Back when Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, everything he did was gold — and Disney wanted in on that action. The movie is about the titular Captain bringing a gift to an evil queen as a peace offering. The gift he brings is the gift of music and a kick ass concert and dance sequence that we assert holds up to this day.
So whom does Disney turn to when they want to make a cinematic experience with Michael Jackson? To create this family friendly space opera, they turn to the collective creative genius of George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and James Horner. This dream team plus Jackson’s ability to put on an amazing show made Captain EO a cult hit with music and science fiction fans everywhere. If that wasn’t enough, they used a combination of stop-motion, live-action and crazy ass makeup to bring this 3D film to life.
5. Sarah Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
Kid’s movies are terrifying, this is just a fact. If you don’t believe us, go back and read the original versions of children’s classics and they will give you nightmares! Hocus Pocus is no different, especially considering 3 characters were hung in the first part of the movie. Then you have Sarah Sanderson and how she uses her magical singing voice. Sarah has powers like a Siren from the Odyssey, which she uses to lure children to her sisters so the group can steal their youth and kill them.
There are a lot of villains on this list, but Sarah may just be the most evil. It doesn’t make it any better that she is portrayed as a simple-minded idiot, albeit one that fully understands that she is leading kids to their deaths and always seems happy about it. Hocus Pocus falls into a special category of Disney films that become more and more alarming the more you focus in on them.
4. Jigglypuff (Pokemon)
From this Pokemon’s very first appearance, Jigglypuff has been a fan favorite. Resembling a smooth pink cat-like Tribble, her cute exterior hides the temper of a diva. This hot-blooded crooner is as powerful as she is cute. There are very few occasions when her song is not able to knock humans and Pokemon out cold, and the seldom occasions where her song does fail usually only occur when she isn’t singing loud enough. Give Jigglypuff a loud speaker and we doubt there are more than a handful of creatures in the entire Pokemon universe that can withstand her song.
3. Dazzler (X-Men)
What qualities make for a good superhero? If you answered singing, dancing, acting and highly accomplished roller-skating, you would have a strange idea of what makes a hero. The stranger thing is that the Marvel comics of the early 1980s would have been right there with you.
Dazzler was a disco singer who could convert sound into light beams. Using her mutant abilities to enhance her performances, Dazzler became a huge music star. Early on in her appearances, she wanted nothing to do with the adventures of the X-Men, even after seeing their kind of action up close. She refused to join them, preferring to use her abilities to entertain. Unsurprisingly, she would eventually be drawn into the ordeals of mutants and would join up with all sorts of teams like S.H.I.E.L.D., the X-Men, A-Force, and New Excalibur. Still, even when she was out in the field fighting the good fight, her heart always longed to be back on stage putting on a show.
2. The Music Meister (Batman: the Brave and the Bold)
If you are not familiar with the animated series Batman the Brave and the Bold, then you have missed out. This series could easily be considered the best animated take on Batman after Batman the Animated Series. Its 2 seasons featured some of the craziest Batman stories ever seen on TV. The show was great about using obscure characters and stories from the Silver Age of DC Comics, while also being free to tread new ground.
And that is exactly what they did with the character of the Music Meister, a villain that can control people with his singing voice, and he uses his talents to control villains and heroes alike. His premiere episode was almost entirely musical and featured the vocal talents of Neil Patrick Harris. As this list has proved, DC has a few other musically gifted villains that they could have used for the show, but none of them are as fun as the Music Meister. The songs they wrote for this episode were so great that they put together an episode soundtrack that you can buy and rock out to whenever you want.
1. Todd Ingram (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a movie that deserves to be watched repeatedly; the movie and the graphic novel it is based on are simply amazing. The reality created by Brian Lee O’Malley is a love letter to nerd culture and music. With a handful of characters that could easily have found a home on this list it was hard to pick just one, but Evil Ex #3 Todd Ingram deserves the top spot. With his epic bass throw down against Scott and his vegan-based telekinetic powers, he seemed like an unbeatable opponent. The fight was over before it started, but Scott managed to survive by tricking Todd into drinking some coffee with dairy creamer in it. With the cow product ingested, Todd’s vegan powers were gone and he was thrown in vegan jail.
Honorable Mention: Batman crooning (Justice League Unlimited)
While technically not a use of music as a weapon, it is impossible to ignore Batman singing the blues in a Jazz club. The Dark Knight must sacrifice his pride and perform on stage for Circe’s club in order to convince the villain to turn Wonder Woman back into her human form (she was a pig for a while there). Kevin Conroy, the beloved voice actor of Batman, absolutely nailed it, and the performance made for one of the most memorable moments during the entire run of the Justice League Unlimited series.
It may not have been the first time we saw the Caped Crusader belt out a tune, but that doesn’t make this small screen moment any less epic.
Did we forget any of your favorite characters that utilize the power of song in combat? Let us know in the comments.
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