Sharing Saturday – 80’s and 90’s Cartoons Prt 1

I’ve not posted in the blog for a while. This month I’ve had quite a number of problems with my health and so felt too tired to do so, and I’ve also had the courses to do, so my focus has been elsewhere. I’ve managed to come across some old cartoons that I used to enjoy growing up, and so I thought I’d share them. There were some very good cartoons that were around in the 80’s and 90’s, though for me, the most memorable ones were those which told a serious story, not those which were comedies or lacked depth in the story telling, and these will be the ones I am going to focus on. I am going to break them up though into themes, as practically EVERYTHING was made into a cartoon then. I was planning on doing just one article, but then I realised that there are so many of these that I enjoyed, splitting it up would be a better option. (It must be noted that I am not a fan of Japanese animation, or the style of drawing, so most of the ones I’m going to feature will be western ones.) There will be ones I don’t feature, as I am just going to feature the ones which I enjoyed watching the most. This week’s theme is science fiction.

Ewoks

Though in many respects, this cartoon could be considered a fantasy, rather than science fiction, I list it here because the universe in which it is set is a sci-fi one. This is one of the first cartoons that I remember really liking, and it is no doubt responsible for my life long love of Star Wars – particularly the franchise as it was before Disney took over it. For a long time, my favourite character was Wicket and he still holds a place in my heart, though he’s not as close to the surface as he once was. Incidentally, Ewoks are the only ‘teddy’ bear type characters I like – in general, I don’t like teddy bears. I like real bears, but not those. One of the things I like about the series is that all the characters are well-rounded and well thought out. None take a back seat because of their gender or age, like which happens with most series, so when people try to say that there are no strong female characters in Star Wars other than Ray, they are lying through their teeth. We all know that isn’t true, because we had Leia, Kneesaa, Latara, Padme, and others long before we had her! (There are so many strong female characters in Star Wars, I could perhaps do a feature on them every week for a year, if I was so inclined.) The sad thing about this cartoon, however, is that it’s never been fully released on DVD – all we have is a DVD with a few episodes from the first series released in the early – mid 2000s.

Thundercats

I really cannot recall if this was released first, or if we had Ewoks first, but I do have very fond memories of it. There was a time when I loved cats – big cats, I might point out, not domestic moggies, so this cartoon was appealing in many ways. I even liked the bad guys who were in it. I picked this up on DVD a number of years ago and enjoyed watching it again, though some of the scientific inaccuracies are kind of goofy. The stories are entertaining, and we see the characters grow. My one regret is that as a child, I never got the figures for these as they were ones I’d always wanted.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This is perhaps the only bit of Japanese culture that I came to like in cartoons! I think what drew me to it (apart from the ‘animals’) was the youthfulness of it. My favourite character was Michelangelo, but now, I would probably appreciate a character like Donatello more. Like with Thundercats, I would have liked the figures, but never got them. (Really, this is why parents and those who buy for children need to ignore gender-stereotyping when it comes to toys and think of them as being more gender-neutral, espeaically when they are connected to a franchise.) I did collect a lot of the merchandise, though, just not the items I really wanted. Of all the cartoons I watched, this one probably covered the most science themes in it, from robots, transporter experiments that went wrong, pollution, dimensional travel, dinosaurs, to name but a few.

X-Men

Ok, I mean the original X-Men cartoon that was made in the ’90s, not the loads that have been made since then. The quality of this series is astounding, and it is this alone which made me a fan of the X-Men, even if I’ve not really dabbled that deeply into the comics. The main problem I have with the comics is there are too many and I don’t know where to start with them. The reason why the X-Men has always stood out to me more than almost any other comic book franchise is the themes that it covers – the horrors and consequences of World War II, (let’s face it, Magneto, even though he is a villain, he is a very relatable one, given what happened to him and his parents because they were Jews), racism, fighting back against prejudice, the apathy that comes with weariness because you’ve been abused and betrayed one time too many, protecting people who hate you… It is probably one of Marvel’s best creations and because of the themes it incorporates, I find the characters far more relatable than the ‘perfect’ super-heroes of DC, and the Iron Man and Captain America of Marvel.

Spider-Man

The 90’s cartoon of Spider-Man was my first proper introduction to the super-hero. There have been other cartoons made since these 90’s versions of both Spider-Man and the X-Men (they came out as a response to the films of the late 90s and early – mid 2000’s) but these lack the maturity and depth of characters like these cartoons had. Peter Parker is perhaps the Marvel character I can identify with the most – he is a science whizz, he was brought up by his aunt and uncle after his parents died, his upbringing is pretty modest as they struggle financially. Even after finishing high school and doing to study science at university, he still struggles. It is very easy to be a super-hero when you have money and admiration already. It’s easy to do the right thing when it doesn’t cost you a great deal, and just brings in more wealth and admiration when you do it. Better yet, they have the support and help of the government…. (Or, really, are used by them…)

Finally, Droids, which is a sister-cartoon of Ewoks, Defenders of the Earth, the Silver Surfer, Jace and the Wheeled Warriors, and Ulysse 31 deserve an honourable mention here, but I just don’t have the time to review them all.