is by far my favorite 80's cartoon, having watched it on Toonami
in the mid-90s. Nostalgia Filter
aside, while the storytelling was nothing spectacular, this series did raise the bar on aesthetic presentation and art design. The series is a limitless sci-fi and Fantasy Kitchen Sink
full of imagination.
First and foremost is the visuals. The intro is one of the greatest of the decade, able to perfectly introduce each character with nonstop action in a slick Japanese anime style to the sound of an incredibly catchy and rocking theme song. It's too bad the actual animation in the show is not as good, but the designs more than make up for that. The look is a sort of blend between 80's anime, American comics, and fantasy book illustrations, very much like Rankin Bass's previous animated adaptation of The Hobbit
and The Last Unicorn
. The designs are quite detailed, with wavy hair and fur, claws, facial features, and intricate backgrounds. They really make ThunderCats
stand out from the likes of more generic looking 80's cartoons, except for the similar body builds of the Cats.
The series falters when it comes to the plot, like many other cartoons of the time. While there are running arcs throughout the 130 episodes, such as Lion-O's trials, the new Thundercats, and the treasures of Thundera, there are a great deal of episodes merely there to teach a lesson of the week to fill air time. Plot holes and inconsistencies and Ass Pulls
abound, and at times some episodes premises make very, very little sense. However, there are the occasional diamonds, and the series offers some legitimately awesome moments here and there. My favorite is Lion-O's trial against Cheetara.
As far as characters, they sty mostly flat, but are mostly likeable and fill their roles. Lion-O goes through some development as he grows into a king. Panthro is very cool and always great to watch, and Snarf isn't so bad as his reputation makes him. The rest of the Cats mostly just fill their roles and not much beyond besides a few occasions. Same goes for the Mutants. Last but not least, Mumm-Ra is an amazingly hammy villain that steals the show whenever he shows up.
Overall, if you can get past the cheesy formulas and some of the more dumb elements, ThunderCats
is a great cartoon and worth checking out for some nostalgic Saturday morning cartoon action and fun.