Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thundercats: Old Friends

       ThunderCats this week gives us four notable things in the first few minutes: the insides of the ThunderTank, an imposing new teammate, some unobtainable thundrillium, and another convention-defying location. The upside-down mine is a great concept.
I also loved the flashback, with its high fantasy feel and its younger, unscarred Panthro. And he has a tail! Now I’m confused. He looks to be as old as the main gang: what happened to their tails? I might dare dipping into the fanon to find out, but I really wanted my ThunderCats viewings to be an unsullied experience. No derivative works, no fandom trends, no reading the interviews with the creators, because then I’ll read the comments section. I want a relatively lone experience, like cartoons were before I was active on the internet. It’s a parallel reboot, in a way. So for now, the tails remain a mystery.
The Requisite Cute Moment in a nearly twinsless episode comes from preteen Lion-O and Tigra. This bit also contained some great subtle characterization, with Grune, prevented by species from becoming king, cheering on Tigra, another outsider just a little bit closer to the throne. 
Panthro checks out the enemy fortifications. For a General in an army that forbids technology, Panthro sure has a lot of it.
And then Lion-O jumps straight into said fortifications. Let’s do a quick comparison here. Ahsoka disobeys her teachers, gets into dangerous situations, magicks her way out of it, and her teacher lies for her  to excuse her actions, which are never mentioned again. (Sorry Plo, I can’t get over that.) Lion-O disobeys his teachers, gets into dangerous situations, gets outgunned (metaphorically) and falls back on increasingly desperate witty banter, and has to be rescued by said teacher, who then berates him.  Then other characters’ opinions get thrown in, and the group dynamic shifts a bit toward the resentful. Lion-O still gets to have his moment to shine (...literally) at the end of the episode. Also, Panthro is awesome. Which one is more interesting? Which more helpful to kids who are going to learn that life doesn’t always work out for them? Which is more relatable? 
For a lighter, more fun Star Wars fact: Panthro plays Jabba on Clone Wars.  He was also the Lion-Turtle on Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Captain Gantu in Lilo & Stitch, which is probably why I kept thinking “Hey, it’s that voice!” 
The montage of Grune and Panthro’s journey across exotic locations was great, leaving very little that needed like it needed to be filled in by speculation. It was paced nicely. There wasn’t much dialogue in it, but that works for the characters. 
(Is it an animator’s nightmare to draw people in pajamas or something? How can Panthro sleep with those spikes on? I laughed a little.)  
We also get some dialogue like “Until next time!” , and Tigra and Cheetara still need characterization, but I’m willing to forgive it. This episode left the filler (albeit enjoyable filler) territory we were in for the last couple weeks, to instead bring Panthro’s origin story.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thundercats: Ramlak Rising

I not-so-briefly reviewed the first episode of the Thundercats reboot over on my deviantArt page, but just have to keep complimenting the thing. If anybody here didn't know, I was a big fan of the original show back in the nineties.

Re: Thundercats Episode 2: This show is adorable. The twins are meowing. Also, spending about the first minute of the episode in silent preparation of a funeral pyre...that's very affecting, at the same time as seeming like the obvious thing  for the writer/director to do. Of course the death isn't brushed over. Of course this isn't Clone Wars.

The Thundercats are drinking straight from streams and assuming that believing in reincarnation is just what people do. (Nine lives, after all.) This really just is what the original show should have been. I'm enjoyin'. It's got some off voice acting and it's got some bare midriffs, but overall I think it's really well-done.

Yes, this is what it sounds like when Megan compliments television.

On a divergent note, I try to watch live-action series. I really do. I enjoy Doctor Who and I enjoy Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  But I'm starting to think of my inability to see them less than two years after their release as some sort of defense mechanism. Because really, waiting with baited breath for whatever canon-changing thing is going to happen on Red vs Blue each week is hard enough. If it was an hour? Of Joss Whedon?

How do you people manage?

I'm so used to writing fan fiction for movies or games where when they're over, they're over. None of this "you're gonna ship this for a week and then there's going to be a terrible betrayal next week and you're going to be all 'Nooo!' My wasted hours!"

I'm just not cut out for television. It's just too serial. Cartoons, though, are relatively harmless. Maybe.

But back to Thundercats.

One of the most memorable episodes from the original series was one involving a giant building surrounded by gyroscope arms, and I think there were some rock pillars as well. The landscape and the architecture were just so huge and unique and mobile. And the Sand Sea in this episode brought back that feeling for me. It's a sea. Made of sand. It has waves. It has pirates.

Isn't that just plain a cool concept? Combining a desert and an ocean into one odd uncrossable thing?

And the characters take a few moments to be amazed by it, to touch it. Way to make them interact with their world in a way that isn't plot-essential. That sort of stuff makes it more real.

(But why is "whiskers" the curse of choice why.)

The main plot of the episode revolves around a floating pirate ship lead by a combination of Captain Barbossa, Captain Ahab, and Captain Tarpals. It's pretty much a "monster of the week" episode, but seeing that's the kind the show hasn't showed off yet, that doesn't seem to matter. There's the occasional silly bit for the kids, there's some clever writing, and Tigra's costume is reminding me more and more of something the G.I. Joes would like. There's emotional depth as well--Lion-O is searching for a father figure and just happens to fall feet-first into finding the wrong one. Here we see a teenager trying to cope with his grief by getting vicarious revenge, and an old hunter in love with the hunt. The episode also features a pretty disgusting monster and a character forced to become a magical item.

This episode was a lot of fun and had a lot of notable elements. I am pleased. Watching this might become a regular thing.