The Platypus, my Opinions and Me 4

I wrote this in response to a friend who posted a blog entry about heroes and memes a few weeks ago:

My top ten favorite cartoons are as no particular order:

-More than meets the eye! Robots in disguise! This was one of the first cartoons to spark my interest in robots and Japanese animation. No Go-Bots here folks; though I watched that show, I always thought it was a cheap and lazy rip-off of the genuine article! The plot was so simple, so basic, that all you had to do was listen to theme song to get the premise. Good robots vs. Bad robots who are trying to drain the Earth of it's natural resources and use said resources to get back to (and take over) Cybertron. And the humans are caught right in the middle. Too easy. The battles of good and evil were summed up nicely whenever Optimus Prime and Megatron got to slug it out. A friend of mine asked me a few years ago who I thought was the best leader in comics/animation/pop culture. I honestly couldn't think of one. His answer was Optimus. To this day, I can't think of any leader that comes close. Tough but fair. Patient. Supportive. Assertive but not in a threatening way. I could go on, but I think most would get the drift. Naturally, Megatron had to be the exact opposite of Optimus making him the perfect foil; nasty, mean-spirited, cold, detached. Hell, even the voice actors got it right, Optimus sounded like your kind uncle, and Megatron sounded like the uncle your mother never left you alone with. Together, these two showed that good and evil sometimes doesn't have any gray areas. I liked the fact that the transformations weren't that complex either and the toys mirrored said animation. Which was just the way I liked it, until Michael Bay puppy-touched the naughty parts of my childhood. Damn you, Michael Bay.

-A Real American Hero! The Joes were fighting terrorists before fighting terrorists was the in thing! Of course, it was meant for kids, so out went the olive drab BDU’s that 99.9% of our Armed Forces wear and in came all the brightly colored outfits that hurt my eyes now, but at the age of 8 were the coolest things I’d ever seen! Couple that with punching, kicking, gunfire and explosions and what you had was the perfect show for a pre-pubescent American child; essentially it was the first cartoon that I’d seen that contained adult themes, which help set the stage for my love affair with anime. I love the way that every episode ended as if to say, “hey mom and dad, we know we’ve exposed your child to 22 minutes of violence, so here’s a safety lesson to make up for it.” I like the fact that even though they (the Joes) were part of a covert, elite fighting squad that animated kids my age knew who they were and even called the Joes out by name before the daily lesson was given. Of course, I only thought up that stuff years later, at the age of eight, all I wanted to see was Gi-Joe kick some scaly, Cobra ass. Yo Joe!!!

-Oh sure, I could go on a rant about how butch of a man He-Man really was with his lack of clothing, muscle on top of muscle physique and boyish haircut, but honestly, it’s been done to death. Was He-Man gay? Meh. Never really gave it much thought. Again, I’m eight, maybe nine at the time of this show’s airing. So I see a guy as strong as Superman do the things that Superman does, on TV. In my living room. Every afternoon. Let’s keep it real here folks, there’s only a handful of things boys want out of their cartoons, either something zany, something with mild to moderate violence or some feats of strength. He-Man had the secondary and tertiary points down pat. You mix that with some mysticism, Sci-Fi and swords and you have a hybrid that boys simply can’t get enough of. As an adult, I realize that they used many of the same frames time and time again, but as a youngster I noticed, and didn’t care. I was caught up in the magic of Castle Grayskull!

-Ah, those miserable little blue creatures. Of all the cartoons on this list, this one is the most innocuous...and the most fun! You may be asking yourself, WTF? Yes, I said it, I’m a fan of the Smurfs. I find that one of the more interesting things about the Smurfs is the animation style. If you look at ANY animated TV show from that era, they all look dated. Worse, if you look at some of the cartoons from the 80’s or earlier on an HD TV, you can see the sketch marks the animators left behind! The Smurfs is the only show from the 80’s that doesn’t look like it’s from the 80’s; it looks like it was made in the early 90’s. The animation is very advanced, making all the other’s on this list look like rank amateurs. And, I can’t finish this section without mentioning Gargamel, at least 90% of the episodes had to do with his insatiable quest to find the Smurf Village and eat every Smurf in sight. And, try as he may, he never fully succeeds. Gargamel has tried everything that the FCC would allow him to do on a Saturday morning. He even created a female (Just how did the Smurfs reproduce? On second thought, never mind.) just to distract the Smurfs...and she ended up joining them. Of course, if he was able to create Smurfette, why didn’t he make his own Smurfs for personal consumption; just a Smurf farm where he can harvest Smurf and Smurf parts for his meals? Yeah, the FCC would have definitely censored that!

Voltron (Lions)
-Gotta be the Lions, the cars just didn’t do it for me! Five Lions. Five beings. An intergalactic force of evil. Let’s get it on! It almost seems mythical, five individuals; on their own, powerful, when they join as one, virtually unstoppable. Of all the entries, this is the only one that’s considered anime and definitely the catalyst for me insofar as developing a relationship with anime! Every Voltron fan can tell you the part that stands out in every episode, the part that most of them pantomimed when it happened: form blazing sword! It is the primary way that Voltron killed a Robeast. And most of the time, it was a vertical slash that split said Robeast down the middle so fast that for a second, the Robeast seemed whole. And then, a massive explosion and no more Robeast! It’s the same stock footage for every episode, and I still don’t give a damn! I never get tired of a nasty Robeast gettin’ what he has coming to him.

Thundarr the Barbarian
-Cheesy? Yep! But every time I watch it, I can’t change the channel or look away. Again, not heavy on story, but the theme is the same, good vs. evil. Thundarr takes place centuries after the Apocalypse. Not much is known about his origin, but one thing’s for certain, Thundarr, like all the barbarians before him, was not to be messed with. Especially with sidekicks like Ookla, Princess Ariel and his Sunsword; a weapon that can cut through many, many things! There was no pretension, no putting on of airs, just a barbarian, his energy sword, an overgrown teddy bear with teeth and attitude and a sensual looking sorceress fighting baddies. ‘Nuff said!

-The Justice League, for kids! Superman, Batman, Wonder-Woman and all my favorites from the comics rack! I don’t remember enough of these episodes. I had to be all of 5. At this moment in my life, I was far beyond just watching the show, I was the NEWEST member of the Super Friends! Whenever the show came on, I would put on my Batman Underoos and join in the adventure! Righteous! Superman fights Solomon Grundy, I’m there too! Batman and Robin fight the Joker? Me too! And it didn’t really stop with the Super Friends. I did this with just about every iteration of the Justice League until I was 8! Three years of jumping over furniture, off of beds and hiding under kitchen tables with Black Lightn, er I mean, Black Vulcan, Apache Chief and Samurai! Good times!

-Hear the thunder, hear the roar, ThunderCats are loose!!! I used to love that theme song! And that rallying cry, so simple yet raw and emotional! This was one of my favorite weekday cartoons. I remember everyday after school, walking with my friends from the bus stop, unlocking the door to the house and depending on my sister’s schedule, entering an empty home. As any latchkey kid can tell you, there’s a ton of stuff you can get into when you’re alone. Mine wasn’t matches or prank phone calls, but ThunderCats! Everyday, I’d watch Lion-O and the ThunderCats do battle with all manner of evil on Third Earth. Most of it was linked back to Mumm-Rah in one form or another! Whatever it was, the ThunderCats were more than capable of dealing with said threat with their speed, martial arts and tech...until they weren’t! The Lunataks had their number and one of ‘em even broke the Sword of Omens in half! WTF??? Luckily, the new Thundercats were there to fix the Sword of Omens! I looked forward to seeing the newbies (Ben-Gali, Pumrya and Lynx-o) in action, but alas, as far as the studios were concerned, they were done telling the story of the ThunderCats. Or were they...

-An insta-classic. It was simple: three made up siblings (Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner), were so insane, that the staff at Warner Bros. couldn’t handle the Warner siblings, so they were captured and locked in the Warner tower. Some 60 odd years later, Yakko, Wakko and Dot escape from the tower and hilarity ensues. This show picked up where Tiny Toon Adventures left off. It was relevant, irreverent and often times more adult than many small children could pick up on! It was slapstick. It was word-play. And sometimes, just plain silly. Yet another afternoon show that I enjoyed watching, and I was a young teenager at the time. I didn’t care. Funny is funny. This show had it. It even produced a spin-off called “Pinky and the Brain”. Another good one. Only the Animaniacs could spin-off a show about two lab mice trying to take over the world. Friggin’ brilliant!

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
-And finally, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. As you’ve already read that Spider-Man is one of my favorite characters. So when I found out at the age of five that not only could I see him on the comics rack, but that every Saturday morning, I could see him in my living room, there was a request sent to Santa for a pair of Spidey Underoos!!! Add Iceman and Firestar (two basic powers for kids my age to understand, ‘natch) and a young fella’ like myself was hooked! Also, this cartoon introduced me to the X-Men; Iceman and Firestar were X-Men (okay, Firestar really wasn’t. In fact, she’s one of those rare characters that was originally created for the show but became popular and were eventually turned into comics characters), and two of the stories were X-Men centric. On a side note, if you want to see a cheesy Wolverine with a HORRIBLE accent, check out episode 16, “A Fire-Star Is Born”...Worst. Wolverine. Eva!!! Anywho, this cartoon is a staple of any Spidey fan. So far, Marvel has only managed to produce ONE Spidey cartoon that I’d find acceptable, and the bastards canceled it! Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is responsible for me being the Marvel fan that I am today, no matter how many times they screw me and the rest of their fan base over, I still find myself coming back to the characters that I grew up with, the characters that taught me that having an imagination was okay.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my Underoos!