Thundercats, the iconic 80s animated series is getting another reboot thanks to Cartoon Network, entitled Thundercats Roar. That should make a lot of 80s kids very happy, right? The answer is a resounding NO.
You see, my generation is currently powerless and can do nothing but frown upon the prevailing styles of animation today. Today’s styles of animation are so unlike the animation styles of 80s cartoons such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Bravestarr, MASK, GI Joe, Bionic Six, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and Thundercats which call for realistic-looking muscle-bound humanoid characters, amazing backgrounds, great music and mostly fluid animation.
Many of them also include moral lessons and public safety announcements. We are oh so proud of them and still watch them as grown men and women in the mid-30s and 40s. That’s how much some of these shows hold up. The current prevailing style of animation is totally cartoon-like that lack detail, look goofy and are more colorful. If you’re familiar with cartoons like Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, Star and the Forces of Evil and Gumball, that is what kids can expect of Thundercats Roar.
Thundercats Roar is set to arrive in 2019. As soon as the series was announced and its trailer spread, the internet suddenly exploded the way Twitter did with Roseanne’s comment about Valerie Jarrett. Okay, maybe not big enough to force the Cartoon Network to cancel the show, but you get the point.
The reaction to the trailer was mostly negative. Cartoon Network received plenty of vitriol as to the approach to the reboot’s animation. Guess where and who the vicious amount of hate came from? Well, my generation, at least many of us, the same guys described in the previous paragraph. Yours truly included. Yes, I hated on it for a while, well until the dust settled.
One has to wonder why? What is it about Thundercats that resulted to such a reaction? The original Thundercats was an awesome piece of animation with an almost anime feel at a time when anime wasn’t mainstream. The series had a serious tone and was full of fast-paced action about a group of cat people who escaped their doomed planet and sought to live in peace on a version of Earth in the far distant future.
Peace wasn’t easy as they’re constantly besieged by the evil Mutants and the evil mystical entity Mumm-Ra as well as the various dangerous denizens of Third Earth. I loved Thundercats mostly because of its action and fantasy elements. It was on mostly during weekday afternoons, and would I rush home from school to watch the series. Thundercats also featured amazing toys and vehicles such as the iconic Thundertank. So, for most adults of the same opinion (key word adults), seeing the new direction the Thundercats was heading is a big letdown. So how or why would you go from A to B?
That was a question based on emotion and intense eye-melting visual stimuli because the 80s and 90s generation would call many 80s and 90s cartoons totally awesome. Again, allow me to enumerate the stuff available back then during Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons.
Thundercats, Silverhawks, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Centurions, Inhumanoids, Visionaries, GI Joe, Transformers (G1), The Legend of Zorro, Sky Commanders, M.A.S.K., Bionic Six, BraveStarr, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra, Dino-Riders, Rambo (Yes, Rambo), Mr. T, Robocop (Yes, that too), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and finally, The Real Ghostbusters; the list goes on. Yes, one has to admit that most, if not all those above were designed to sell toys. But the toys were equally awesome weren’t they?
We had a good run, didn’t we? And we perceive the current trends in animation as lazy, dumbed down as if the networks are under-estimating the intelligence of the current generation of kids who we feel deserve the same stuff we had and maybe even better. Thundercats was quite serious, but like Teen Titans Go, we can’t help but expect a lot of lunacy and fart jokes in Thundercats Roar.
But a simple analysis of the current situation is needed as to why Lion-O is now Steven-O. The first and foremost argument of the non-haters is that Thundercats Roar is not for us adults. The target demographic for Thundercats Roar are kids ages five to ten. These kids don’t know what Thundercats are nor would they care. What they’ll be seeing will be new to them, and they’ll just take what’s coming to them, farts and all and maybe they’ll like it.
Counter-argument, then why use the Thundercats name when they can easily just create a new silly-animated action property that kids would love anyway? Aren’t they worried that adults will be in an uproar for ‘dissin’ such a respectable franchise? Because putting a comedic spin on an already existing franchise with already thought-of concepts and characters and applying an easier style of animation is more cost-effective than thinking of something else. Because Cartoon Network is a corporation and they’re just doing their cost-effective corporate thing. Us adults are the least of their concerns because we should be busy doing our 9 to 5 thing. Not to mention it worked out well for Teen Titans Go. They’re having a feature-length film you know. The trailer has a nice fart joke too.
In an aesthetic sense, cartoons may be going back to its roots. Mickey Mouse did it recently. Betty Boop wasn’t exactly oozing with sex appeal. Popeye was entertaining enough like most cartoons from the 30s to the 60s. Even the Cuphead game is now considered a fresh hit.
The current cartoony styles of animation deserve some credit with hits like Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Adventure Time and Rick and Morty. Probably because they have great stories and writing and their brand of comedy kind of suits their animation style. Some styles really tend to be off-putting. I used to hate on the weird style of Jumanji the Animated Series but grew to like it. Plus, they’re originals, and they started out that way, unlike some reboots. Sometimes, animation style just doesn’t fit as I could never get behind the style of Jackie Chan the Animated Series but I loved The Batman created by the same team of animators.
Sometimes, switching animation styles just hurts the eyes as we tend to like what we’re used to. The original Ben 10 and Ben 10 Alien Force was great, but then they changed animation styles, and it just got worse with the Ben 10 reboot. The original Teen Titans was a solid, serious action series that kids and adults are into but then they gave us Teen Titans Go. As mentioned, The Batman was an awesome series which I liked because the villain redesigns were cool and they could go toe-to-toe close-combat with Batman. Then they cancelled it and switched to the campy Batman: The Brave and the Bold with stories that are so out there compared to the grounded and serious The Batman. Networks and their lousy cancellations.
Speaking of cancellations, Thundercats was previously rebooted in 2011 which is more of an anime style. The reboot was supposed to re-vitalize the series in a more modern setting of serious story-telling and a revival of toy sales. Sadly, it was prematurely cancelled because of poor viewership and toy sales. Where were we Thundercats fans? Me, admittedly I could never catch the 2011 reboot. It was in an odd timeslot and back then I never really had the time.
Anyway, the point here is, where does the hate for Thundercats Roar take our generation? At the end of the day, nowhere. All we can do is lament at the state of today’s kids’ entertainment and be good parents and watch the current crop with them. And the biggest point to this debacle is that we haven’t seen everything yet. It was just a trailer. We’re not supposed to judge nor are we supposed to in the first place. Who knows, we might get to like it like we did Spongebob. Yes, admit it, you like Spongebob.