Initial Thoughts: Thundercats 2011

I was born in 1989—that kinda awkward, but kinda not period in animation and TV where I got the best of both worlds in terms of American animation. Major networks like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were still establishing themselves in the industry while I was growing up, which led to them airing not only their own original works, but filling in a majority of their airing schedule with older shows. As a result, I’d be exposed to things like Tiny Toon Adventures, Inspector Gadget, and Muppet Babies alongside the newer shows of the time like Doug, Rugrats, and uh… honestly, those are probably the two major ‘90s cartoons I grew up on; #teamNick.

Sure, I’ve heard of the action cartoons of the ‘80s even well before VH1’s I Love the series brought out nostalgia posers, but I was never all that into them. I guess for some reason, seeing teenagers in spandex fighting galactic aliens made more sense in Powers Rangers than anything I’ve seen from Transformers or He-Man. So when I heard that a new Thundercats cartoon was in the works, I initially felt rather indifferent to it all, never really following it at all when I was younger.

But then I got to thinking of other older series getting re-makes for newer generations. Transformers alone has had not only a line of live-action remakes, but at least two new animated series riding off the coattails of the franchise’s new wave of popularity. And from merely taking a glance at how that franchise has been treated, it was obvious even from a non-fan’s perspective that it was getting popular for completely different reasons that old-school fans of the series desired. It was a re-make that was rewriting the series for a new audience of fans, leaving the older generation in the rubble.

Enter my repeated exposure to the new Thundercats trailer, playing before the start of practically every movie I’ve seen within the past few months. The action scenes looked well done, all main characters from the original seem to be present (from what I remember), and they even respect the original series enough to pay homage to it through keeping things like its original logo intact. Skimming through online discussions, it looked as if old-school fans were actually excited for this new series. While it was clearly a rebooting of the ‘80s series, it didn’t distance itself from its source material to a disgusting degree. Knowing that at least a minimum amount of care had been taken to pleasing both the old and new-school audiences, I was on the bandwagon. By the time I saw the trailer an umpteenth time before watching Captain America, I was anxiously awaiting July 29th.

Wanting to be as informed about the series as possible, I was pleased when Cinemassacre put up their own little summary of the original series:

I was also glad (albeit, initially confused) when Cartoon Network started airing classic episodes of Thundercats just this past weekend. Already having had my fill of the basics from the above video, I simply checked out the first two episode of the series just to get a more general feel for what I should be expecting come the new series’ premier. Ho-ly crap. First off, I noticed that the animation style was incredibly crisp for something made in the ‘80s. Second, I was surprised to find just how detailed the plot was. Within the span of an hour, I had a well-established connection to every character, generally feeling for each of them when presented with a difficult task to overcome, or in the case of the enemies, thinking how dastardly of a deed they were planning against the protagonists. If you can get past the ’80s hokey voice acting and the fact that you’re watching a show about anthropomorphic cat warriors, definitely check it out… or at least the first two episodes.

And now the moment of truth: the premier of the new Thundercats series. Long story short, it was okay. Having no real connection with the older series except for what was mentioned, I can honestly say that nostalgia glasses didn’t get in the way of my viewing of it, though I will admit that I preferred the original’s premier episodes better. As expected from the trailer alone, events are unfolding rather differently than in the original, with an apparent peace in the world of anthropomorphic talking cats ruled by one king. In that sense, it was rather drab (I’m not all that big on the whole “old-school villages, townspeople and kings” type of setting), but it did have enough call-backs to the original to keep me interested.

Hearing Tygra’s “Now you see me, now you don’t” line again was cheesy, but entertaining as all hell. Other scenes featuring each main character show that they still prove to be similar enough to their ‘80s counterparts to keep old-schoolers satisfied. I must say that while Lion-O’s scene with the Sword of Omens was rushed, I couldn’t help but get chills when he cried out “Thunder… thunder… thunder!” That said, however, I was disappointed when nobody said “The Thundercats are loose!” Still, as a whole, the new Thundercats series proves promising, keeping old and new fans on a similar page of interest.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

4 Responses to Initial Thoughts: Thundercats 2011

  1. ladymoomcr says:

    I was fortunate, or just simply old enough to have enjoyed the original series back in the 80s so was hugely sceptical about this remake, have to say though, im pleasantly suprised. Really feels like as opposed to totally revamping it, they’ve given it a facelift and brought it up to todays standards. Love the way the new characters look and it scores highly with me for the fact i dont have to hear snarf every few minutes!

    • daemoncorps says:

      Snarf’s downgrade to the occasional meow was definitely more of an upgrade overall. I knew he was infamous in the original series, but it still took me by surprise when I heard him talking when they re-aired the first episode.

  2. ladymoomcr says:

    He just used to get in the way, added no value to the show. Whereas the new Snarf is just dead cute. A very very welcome change in my opinion! I hope they don’t somehow work into the plot his ability to speak!

    • daemoncorps says:

      Yeah, no idea how marketable old Snarf was, but I can totally imagine new Snarf on school girls’ notebooks. Hopefully if they do decide to make him talk, it will be after a good long run at which point the series will have hopefully reached and passed its prime, so fans won’t care anymore.

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