I’m going to give you a “kinda” review of this show. Mostly, because I don’t want to spoil anything. Don’t want to give any plot away. I just want to go over some of the character’s personalities, their relationships and some facts about this new Thundercats universe. Plus, a whole heap of comparisons to the old Thundercats.
First off, I thought the new show was quite enjoyable. For fans and newcomers alike. Die hard purists may not like all the changes made to the characters and places in the story. But I can tell them to lighten up. I loved the old show. As a kid AND as a grown-ass man. I am a Thundercat nerd. I really really really love it. And I like the new take on it so far. The first hour-long episode just aired and I was blown away. The animation, done by Japanese studio Studio 4∞C was really cool. Smooth character movement and really dynamic fight scenes. Their incredibly emotive faces reminds me of older animation (or the modern Japanese animes that care about this kind of detail) where they expressed so much more with their faces than with their words. Not surprisingly the plot was simple and yet full of smart ideas and a depth that you would expect from some of the dudes that brought you Avatar The Last Airbender.
The lure of the old show was the interesting blend of science and magic. Nearly every character had something to do with both. A psychic sword and an all-terrain battle tank with a gattling gun in the same show. It was very original. I mean, they were space cat people that used lazers and magical powers to fight a Mummy that had a crew of other aliens including a monkey man and a vulture man on earth in the distant future. That sounds like a drug trip through D&D into Flash Gordon. They even met King Arthur. The show was bananas.
The new show puts all these strange beings on one world, while completely separating their sources of power. The Thundarians (Thundercats) and Mutants (The other animal people, originally from another planet called Plun-darr) are now all from the same world. Did they evolve on this world? Did they migrate? We don’t know yet. I haven’t really seen too many species from the old show other than the kitties and lizards. Instead of fleeing a dying planet Thundera like a litter of superman kittens, they already live on Third Earth (It was ‘Third’ in the old show too. Why it’s ‘Third’ is still not known. It was once called First Earth so I guess it got two make-overs). The cats are all from a nation called Thundera. They live in a castle and use magic and swords. It’s all fantasy. The idea of advanced technology is superstition. Which is funny.
Allow me to (Kinda) introduce the Thundercats.
Lion-O knows his dad a lot more (His dad is voiced by the original Lion-O. AWESOME.) Tygra and Lion-O are brothers now (Angry? My brother is. Me, not really). Panthr-O is missing. Cheetara is kind of amazing. Snarf keeps his damn mouth shut (or at least no human-speak) and doesn’t annoy the hell out of me anymore. He is actually unbelievably adorable. Speaking of adorable. Wileykit and Wileykat didn’t have much story yet but they were quite… wily. They have pretty much the same personalities (Except being more like kids and being super cute and fun) and have REALLY great character designs. The Wileys were definitely a big plus on the show and I am very excited to see more of their antics. I actually like them MORE than their old school counterparts (heresy!!!).
Liono is a typical modern main character. Silly but full of righteousness and honor. The other cats think he’s kind of weird the same way people thought Sokka from The Last Airbender was kind of weird or crazy or different. The same way people in Generator Rex, Ben 10, and Young Justice all feel about one of their main characters. Every show nowadays has this guy in it. Lion-O wasn’t too typical back then. Or maybe he was. A typical fantasy novel-like hero. He used his whits to defeat most his enemies. (which maybe they have adapted this concept in a an interesting way…) He was quite clever and very skillful, which the new one is as well. However, the new lacks a very intriguing quality that really set the old one apart. The 1985 Lion-O was a twelve-year-old boy who, due to some sort of malfunction in the suspension capsule that he was in, was aged to about twenty-four. (Oh, space travel…) He was literally a child trapped in a man’s body that had to quickly learn all the traits that will make him a great leader. Other than his inherent smarts and noble notions. This gave him a sort of melancholy that happens when a kid is forced into adulthood by responsibility. (And broken stasis technology, I guess) The new one makes more jokes (Which are funny) and is pretty much a typical adolescent. Obsessed with strange things (and girls) and well on his way to becoming a regular grown man… Cat… The old one had a sense of humor as well but he also had a whimsical sense of adventure that only comes from being twelve. And that was constantly being crushed by the obligation to fight Mumm Ra and whatever ridiculous evils he was up to that day. I do miss this more stoic Lion-O and his complicated situation but the new one has promise. He is the teenager that the old school Lion-O might have been if he had grown up normally (normal for meow men). This makes him less tragic and original but opens the door to new things. Which I can’t really say is bad or good yet.
Cheetara however, is baaad. The good bad. She is a mysterious and powerful warrior who seemed like quite a promising character. They’re making her a sorceress which is interesting. I’m waiting for her badassery to fully develop. She had her signature super speed which was awesome. But so did a whole group of dudes. Back in the day, she was quite brave and cunning. She had an amazing determination and heart. With a roughness that was balanced with that special kind of “80′s” femininity. Calling her slightly precognitive abilities “Woman’s Intuition”. You can LOL. It’s cool. Not much of her psyche was delved into yet so I can’t complain or praise her too much. However, she did come across as THE super badass of the show. Like it should be…
Until Panthr-O shows up. Because Panthr-O is The Badass. Not just cuz he’s black. (Like Jazz on the Transformers, they’re black but technically not black cuz one’s a sports car and the other’s a cat man, but they’re still black) A lot of people were scared that he’s not in the show because he wasn’t in any of the trailers. Rest assured my babies, he IS in the show. The first thing I saw for the series was a picture released along with the promotional toys. He’s there. Like I said earlier, I won’t spoil anything by telling you where he is. But he is… somewhere. They didn’t “cut out the black guy” like so many people feared. Actually holding back his debut is kind of building the suspense for when he does show up. And probably kick some ass while building a tank or something. The door is open for him to be a father figure to Lion-O, like the old show. Not so much for Tygra.
Tygra is kind of a douche in the new Thundercats. Less of a smart, level-headed dude and more of… well, an asshole. Lording how much better he is than his little brother. Right in front of Lion-O too. It’s very common to have a character like this as a foil to the Lion-O type of character The old school Tygra was so interesting because of how detailed he was. He was wise, staunch, very pragmatic and logical, a scientist, an architect, afraid of water (Cuz he’s a kitty!), and partly psychic with the ability to project illusions (Cuz… he’s… a kitty?). While Lion-O was The Lord of the Thundercats, he was still a leader in trainiing. Tygra and Panthr-O led the cats before Lion-O was ready. They were his father figures and advisors. The writers can still make Tygra into something more like his past persona as he evolves and grows. However, It doesn’t seem like they want to go in that direction. Which is OK for the people that like the new Tygra. If you liked how much of a douche Prince Zuko was then you’ll love new Tygra. Don’t get me wrong. I love Zuko. And ANGST. OH MY GOD WHATEVER.
People that really know the their Third Earth/Thundera trivia will notice Grune. A very very different take on this Thundercat Grune now and Grune then. Seeing as how the old one was kind of a ghost-thing that was defeated by Jaga years and years ago. Grune’s new story is kind crazy and pretty damn cool. No longer just a General Zod rip off.
Slythe was there. He was a lizard man. And a bad guy. That’s all. No Monkian, Vultureman, or Jackalman. Yet. Hopefully they are awesome and not so BeBop and Rocksteady-ish. Meaning villains that are just there to fuck things up for their own boss. These guys, The “Mutants” from planet Plun-Darr in the old show, were at war with planet Thundera and the cause behind the destruction of the Thundercats’ home world. Now, there is an army of lizard men. Not much else said about them.
Super geeks like myself are hoping to see Bengali and Pumyra. The second wave of Thundercats from the original show. And the Ro-Bear-Berbils! Or the Snowmen! Or the other Snarfs! Or Ma-Mutt! Or The Lunataks! Or the super awesome Mandora. An Evil Chaser who hunts and captures the universe’s worst criminals with her space motorcycle, high-tech boomerang and laser gun…
Where was I? I’m sorry, I can geek out all day. Oh yeah. Fans will be looking for any of the characters from the rich and diverse universe of the original, and I certainly hope they do get to show all these crazy-ass different characters in the new universe. (Fans with quick eyes might notice some really nicely hidden homages, and character cameos in the first episode. And some not so hidden ones) I can’t wait to see the new angles and new takes on one of my favorite cartoon shows of all time.
I can has Sword of Omes?
This review was written just after the premier episode