Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thundercats 2011

The 2011 reboot of Thundercats is what I was watching along with Highschool of the Dead to balance out watching My Little Pony man-wise. It's definitely just as mature, if not more mature than HSOTD because there are virtually no panty shots, and the violence is less over the top. But then again, Thundercats is a western cartoon about anthropomorphs and HSOTD is an Anime about ordinary high school students whacking zombies, they definitely cannot be simply compared.

Thundercats 2011, is a reboot, much like My Little Pony, of an old saturday morning cartoon but with a modern twist on it. Though since I haven't seen the 1980's series I couldn't tell you what exactly these modern twists are, but it definitely feels more recent. The story so far is thus, Lion-O (I call him Lionel because that's how everybody seems to pronounce it.) is the prince of the Thundercats, the Thundercats being a sort of feline noble family, and he's out to avenge the death of his father Claudus who was killed by an ancient enemy of theirs called Mumm-Ra, a sort of bat/wizard/demon type creature, who leads the Lizards against the Cats and wipes out the kingdom of Thundera (Presumably the land the Thundercats rule.) using their superior technology to overcome the Thundercats magical powers. Though the plot has an overarching story of stopping a specific villain, the series is still laid out across a series of standalone stories which tie into the overall story.

My main problem with Thundercats is that most of the things I gave away up there happen withing literally the first two episodes, and the following six it seems like the story is half over. The story so far has been paced incredibly fast, so fast that I myself have had to rewatch them so I can remember who's who and what they're all currently doing, which is quite bad if I rewatch it out of confusion rather than intrigue. Lionel for example changes from being a wide-eyed idealist concerned with myths and being compassionate towards his natural enemies the lizards, to being a natural born leader and acting as if he always was in the first three episodes, I personally think that he should've transitioned over the course of the entire series rather than three episodes, because he doesn't seem like he has a lot of character growth left to go through, and the series has barely started yet.

Another problem the pacing brings is that the other 4-5 main characters (Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, and the Thunderkittens.) barely have screen time to themselves, this gets to a ridiculous extreme in episode 8 when the other characters literally aren't even in that episode and they have roughly the same amount of lines as normal, it makes me different to care about anybody besides Lionel/O because they're all one dimensional. One excellent example of this is in episode three, after the introduction of the Thunderkittens, at the start of the episode, they ask to tag along with Lionel, Cheetara and Tygra (What with their home destroyed and their species endangered in the course of a day.) and Lionel tells them they can't join them since he believes they'll slow them down, then at the end of that episode, he says something to the effect of "We're not going to babysit them, so it's a good that we've learned they can take care of themselves.", even though their entire contribution to that episode was appearing, eating all the dinners and not getting killed by a Kraken type thingy. In the following episodes I'm certain they have more fingers and toes than lines of dialogue.

Not to say that the story isn't enjoyable though, the actual concepts behind the stories are interesting, the lessons they teach Lionel are relevant and, whilst very fast paced, are interesting and entertaining to watch if you're willing to pay attention to it.

Now onto the animation. One of the first things I said to myself when I observed the animation was "There must be a mistake, I accidentally watched an Anime instead of a western cartoon.", because the visual style and animation is very reminiscent of a modern anime, only the lack of Anime eyes let you know that this was a western production, except that's a lie because the studio in charge of the animation is in fact the Japanese company Studio 4°C, which would certainly explain a lot, me presuming the studio had creative input. This is definitely a good thing because the visual style of Eastern Animation with the more fluid characters of Western animation, and combined with excellent backdrops, makes it a treat to watch, just to see where the main characters will go next.

Since the animation is very good, I can't really speak about it for longer than a paragraph, so I'll just conclude by saying that I will personally continue watching Thundercats, because while I have many complaints about the way it's written, there's still a lot to like about it, most of all being just the premise of anthopomorphic cats fighting with swords to save their kingdom. If that doesn't do it for you, it's certainly very nice to look at, it has a kind of Avatar: The Last Airbender kind of look to it, and I've heard it's a similar type of adventure series by people who've watched that too.

What I'm saying is, if you like your adventure cartoons, and are willing to ignore the slightly clumsy pacing and characters, I recommend Thundercats, if you're an animation student like me, I also recommend Thundercats for the simple fact that not a lot of western animations nowadays look like this, but if you're indifferent toward cartoons, Thundercats will not change your mind.

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