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.


  1. This "unsullied experience" thing interests me. I think that's a good idea, one that I should try more often.

    Also. You are completely correct in your observations and comparisons of Ahsoka and Lion-O. Ahsoka really is a terrible role model for children, psychologically, because she teaches them that you can insist on having things your way, and not only have no negative repercussions, but everyone will be bending over backwards to make sure you never have to cope with any undesirable situation. It sounds like Thundercats is doing everything right in terms of writing and characterization that TCW is doing wrong, and this is only like what, the third episode?

    (Oh, voice actor trivia.)

    (I, I don't know whether animators have some sort of studied aversion to pajamas Nem. My best guess is that they didn't want to bother to design any? Plus it's easier to consistently animate the same character in the same set of clothing. I dunno. I would not like to try sleeping with spikes on.)

  2. I'm very tempted to see if there's any really good fanfiction out there, but I also just want to be able to form my own opinions without the fandom. There are pros and cons of that, but I'm gonna see if I can make it a theme of a sort.

    Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought re: childhood development. Mind you, I have no idea what ideas young!me was presented with through Thundercats and Digimon and the like, and how they affected how I turned out. As we've said, this is not a childhood development blog. But, still. No need to elaborate on how that Ahsoka-Plo bit bothered me.

    TCats isn't doing everything right-- someone on dA rightly pointed out that Lion-O's attitudes toward kingship change episode-ly, and Tigra and Cheetara are still relative mysteries-- but it is doing really well. Fourth episode if you count the hour-long premiere as one.

    (I knew I'd heard him before!)

    Srsly, it's a recurring theme. Maybe it is less time-consuming to not worry about clothes. But those spikes looked epically not sleep-conducive. :P)

    P.S. Coloring Six now.

  3. Also, life-changing field trips with Panthro. Grune went on one.

  4. Yay, Six coloring!

    Ahaha it seems "life-changing _____ trip with _____" is a recurring theme in our extended lives currently.

  5. I like this theme. It's going to be the new meme except actually it's old.