I’m not that old. (Twenty-four, for those of you interested.) I grew up with morning cartoons and after school marathons of not just Anime, but American productions as well. As a matter of fact, this rant will be about Western cartoons.
Towards the middle of my High School career, I started to notice that there were less and less cartoons I wanted to follow. Besides Anime, there was nothing else worth following. (Hell, even Pokémon wasn’t worth following at this point. Then they started replacing regular Saturday morning Animes with “Totally Spies” and the likes…)
But I want to focus on a time before that. I’m talking about stuff like Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Gargoyles, Batman Beyond, Reboot, Swat Kats, Big Guy and Rusty, Rugrats, Doug, X-Men and heck… Animaniacs.
Beast Wars/Beast Machines
Remember when even kid shows had a continuous plot, character development, and intelligent dialogue? Yeah, me neither… But they did exist in 90’s cartoons. Kids back then were able to comprehend more than random lasers firing and silly explosions to accentuate a person’s bad-assness as they walk away. Things like personality and dynamics between certain characters actually made the shows. You don’t have to be told two characters were best friends or rivals. You can tell simply by how they spoke to each other. In today’s cartoons, to totally pass over the need to write scenes that develop this, a character would simply introduce another character by stating their relations in two seconds. Something along the lines of, “Here come’s my arch nemesis _____!”
|In Beast Wars/Machines, when a character met their demise, you actually felt something. Wait, kid shows don’t even kill off characters nowadays… For Beast Wars, Dinobot’s death was the greatest impact. He even had a good speech before he died. And Optimus gave him a good farewell too.|
Before the Matrix, there was Reboot. Honestly as a kid you don’t realize how incredibly fantastic a world inside your computer is, but man was it fantastic. Users winning games would turn the sprites into slugs called nulls, battles with viruses, traveling through the Internet and hell… Grownup Enzo. One of the coolest character developments EVER. He went from a kid I wanted dead so badly, to an adult that KICKED ASS. Losing his eye was the best thing to have happened to him…
See? Kid shows can be imaginative too… They don’t have to be recycled stuff. We save that for movies.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
|This was the Matrix. Before the Matrix. Jonny Quest was never cooler. Uploading your mind to save the world? Check. Race Bannon being super hot? Check. Father daughter relationship between Race and Jessie? Check. Hadji being more than just a sidekick and stereotypical Indian person? Check.|
Big Guy and Rusty
Never had I wanted to wave the Confederate flag or bust into a wedding (through a wall) with guns blazing yelling “WHO WANTS SOME?” with a giant robot, more than this point in my childhood. The jokes were witty, the development between a boy robot and his idol hit home, and we got to see some intelligent themes. If you like shows like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, you’d love Big Guy and Rusty…
Stuff on Nickelodeon
Even stuff on Nickelodeon made sense back then. Now I don’t mind Fairly Odd Parents and the likes, but with more and more shows catering to kids that have ADD, it’s really hard not to get annoyed. Remember these? (Sorry some are still images because of ownership.)
TODAY: Instead of saying something intelligent, kids are doing THIS ALL DAY:
This shit would make you wake up in the mornings on a Saturday. Usually around 8-11AM had some awesome shows… This was one of them. The idea was cool, the characters had spunk… And was it wrong to be attracted to dead guys?
Before Marvel and DC Re-Imagined, Re-Imaginings For Kids with ADD
We all know the origin stories to most of the major heroes of the DC and Marvel universes. I can see how it’s hard to keep new generations interested but it HAS BEEN DONE…
Shows like Justice League, X-Men, Batman the Animated Series, and Spider-Man would keep true to their comic counterpart, so of course the material was great. Heroes shouldn’t be one dimensional and need a back story and development in order to feel mature and real. Back in the early releases of super heroes, the universe was black and white. Good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other. They fought with BLAM, SPLAT, POW, and the day was saved. After a while, writers started giving our heroes personalities and personal struggles so that they’d feel more human. Peter Parker was a nerd and had girl and money troubles. Batman’s inner turmoil with his past and dark streak. Iron Man with his alcoholic problems… What do today’s heroes have in stuff like “Batman the Brave and the Bold?” Every episode can be described as “Something happened, Batman appeared, someone’s ass was handed to them, and the day was saved…” It’s almost like writers went backwards into the days when we didn’t have back-stories – only now it’s accompanied by fast paced music, seizure inducing light shows and really bad quips back at bad guys.
|The coolest and darkest Disney cartoon. Aladdin and Hercules were awesome, but Gargoyles was just epic… It was surprisingly dark and they weren’t afraid to kill people in this kid’s show. Of course they wouldn’t show blood and they wouldn’t show the actual deaths, but you got the point. Are kids that fragile today?|
Not every show has to be educational or have super deep content. I’ve had my share of mindless entertainment. Stuff like Two Stupid Dogs, Power Puff Girls, Johnny Bravo (for a season), Secret Squirrel, and Dextor’s Laboratory (Until it got really stupid, old, repetitive, and I realized they had every female character stereotyped as stupid or a housewife.), Ah! Real Monsters… These are examples of cartoons that didn’t offend me, try and shove pop culture references down my throat, or make me feel like I’d lost a million brain cells just by watching. But why can’t more kid shows be like Animaniacs and teach you something?
Holy crap, they mentioned Afghanistan before 99.9% of America even knew what it was. (Of course after 9/11, everyone suddenly learned a new country existed…)
Seriously, back then they paid their writers less. But they produced THIS. WTF are writers doing nowadays? And why do our school systems suck?
The only show that rivaled this in education back then was “The Magic School Bus.”
If I try hard enough, I can continue naming more and more 90’s shows. There were a lot and they were good. Bobby’s World, Freakazoid, Pinky and the Brain, Darkwing Duck, The Mighty Ducks, Extreme Ghostbusters, Extreme Dinosaurs, Mighty Max, Daria (MTV’s best cartoon- the movie sucked though.)… They rocked. Today’s stuff? Garbage. There are exceptions though, like Teen Titans, Ben 10, X-Men Evolution and Avatar the Last Airbender were good. But that’s just four. And I was able to name them without thinking too hard. They stood out amongst their turd peers…
I now leave you with one of the coolest opening themes ever: