Looking back on the greatest achivements of this new millenium I truly hope that alongside the person who cures cancer is the person who provided cable with On Demand. Whoever that was, let's just say I am very much hearting him right now as I sit here watching one of the greatest cartoon properties ever, Thundercats.
Now as far as 80's cartoons go no question He-Man's the undisputed king of the nostalgia kingdom. The transformation chant, the playsets, the end of episode morals, it had it all. However, if He-Man was the gold then Thundercats were the silver. Based around a band of humanoid cats who crashlanded on a planet as their race's last survivors they battled the evil Mum-Ra for possesion of the mystical Sword of Omens. And if you think my plot summation is too simplistic, clearly you never saw an episode.
Sitting here watching I marvel at so much of it. While the character designs were simplistic, there was a richness to detail in other areas. True, it was animated in Asia allowing the backgrounds an attention to detail that your average Saturday morning fare today is sorely missing, even amongst those with an Anime feel. You watch Thundercats and almost can't help but wait for some overly exageratted transformation sequence.
Then there are overall story elements they'd never get away with today. In the first episode alone their home planet blows up, ships in their armada get destroyed with presumably casualties and their mentor dies of old age. Oh and did I mention that the protagonists spend a good 1/3 of the episode naked? But it's weird cuz some of them have belts and there are lines seperating their legs from their torsos like they're wearing costumes but they're not. I guess they had to draw the line somewhere and that line apparently gets drawn at the depiction of animated feline genitals. Who knew?
Character wise the heroes were pretty simplistic, although watching it now I have to say Lion-O was a total dick for the first few episodes. Crash landing on Third Earth (some sort of descended version of our earth, but this was back before Al Gore so we don't know what happened to the first 2 although I'm sure it had more to with weird ass civilaztions constantly crashing here than global warming) in suspended animation Lion-O was a child before landing, but woke up an adult. From the second he wakes up, he starts barking orders at everyone like he hasn't just been asleep for 10 galacti-years (their term not mine, I swear). Not only that but he then proceeds to use the Sword of Omens which 3 seconds before he didn't even recognize and declares himself Lord Lion-O. The guy just realized he has pubes, granted no small feat considering they're presumably covered in fur, and now he's anointed himself king? The hell?! And the less said about him waking up fully muscular after doing nothing more strenuous than breathe for umpteen years the better.
Yet, here I sit typing while watching Mum-Ra turn to locusts to invade the village of the Berbils and all I can do is smile. In just 3 episodes the heroes have alternately threatened the villains with rattling their bones and breaking their necks. They even used the word reconnosaince in verb tense! I didn't even know that word HAD a verb tense!
I could go on and on as I just keep finding more and more to love again about this show. All I hope though is that this isn't some type of weird vision of the future cartoon because somehow I just know that if it is that means I probably wind up being Mum-Ra. Hmmm....although he was pretty ripped for a mummy.