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Friday, August 12, 2011

Thundercats on Cartoon Network Impression

A new take on a classic 80’s cartoon; say hello to the new Thundercats

So Cartoon Network has taken another classic series and re-invented it in the form of the new Thundercats, now airing on Friday’s at 8:30. All the characters are here but of course this more fleshed out story has more emotional moments and feels more epic. We meet Lion-O’s father (voiced by the original Lion-O) as well as a very strong Jaga, brother Tygra, Cheetara as fast and sleek as ever, a less vocal Snarf and one nasty looking, army leading Mumm-ra … and this is just the tip of the iceberg. So what’s the story like and how about the acting and animation? Let’s take a closer look at this new series first episode.

Story – The Thundercats are a vibrant race living on Third Earth, at war with the lizards for decades lead by a wise king with his impetuous young son, Prince Lion-O. Unlike his more mature older brother Tygra, Lion-O is always seeking out legend, especially fabled technology. Along with his pet Snarf he wanders the city exploring and getting into trouble until a much more grand form of trouble arrives. Soon technology makes a horrible re-appearance and a legendary evil awakens to destroy one king, enslave a race and set in motion a young prince’s fate. Lion-O takes up his role, helped along by Jaga and accompanied by Tygra and the Cleric Cheetara. The only way to stop the ancient evil known as Mumm-ra, Lion-O must find the ancient Book of Omens and set things right. A son’s vengeance for his father, a father betrayed by a close friend. Will he succeed; well that’s the fun of this new journey.

So the first episode pays homage to bits and pieces of the original series just look out for one mechanical bears arm for instance. The fleshing out of Lion-O’s family and background is nice and he is much younger, less buff, in this journey which is refreshing. No more does he age during space travel, to which the elimination of technology, putting the entire civilization on Third Earth to start with and tying Mumm-ra to the Sword of Omens as well as the book makes for a much more ‘anime’ story to be told. It was enjoyable to see one particular blind watchtower Thundercat and it cannot be emphasized how nice a non-talking Snarf is, heck even Wiley-Kat and Kit are less annoying but we do miss Panthro. Unlike the re-creation of He-Man a few years back the story, the back-story and history of the Thundercats is deep and this tale makes for one heck of a journey, not a tale of Lost Kittens which, really, is what the original series was all about.

Animation and Art Style – Core character design is very similar to the original series, even many of the settings are. The characters show their age more in body build and the clean animation is a joy to watch and on par with the best animated TV shows coming out of Japan. A bold statement, yes, but watch and you shall see, its one fine looking series. Sadly the awesome intro from the original cannot be matched even today in the quality it provided, one of the best US cartoon intros ever … EVER. The quality of the animation serves the source material well and should be approved by new and old fans alike.

Voice work and Music – The age appropriate card comes into play again with a cast that delivers solid lines and emotion while mixing in a nice sense of humor. Sounds sharp, sounds good and this extends to the effects and surprising for a TV series, the score. There are some fairly epic and emotional tunes in this first episode (and subsequent).

Miscellaneous – Nods to the original are scattered about from a mechanical arm to a blind watch tower guard … yeah, nods to the original rock.

Overall this new Thundercats is quite good, better than the recent revivals of Transformers (all of them as they get really mixed and away from original G1 series), G.I. Joe (on The Hub, check it out) as well as He-Man from a few years back and even Voltron. This is how a revival should go, rock solid.

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