The Cartoon Network has announced plans to revive iconic 80's franchise ThunderCats for an all-new series for next year. The series will be a collaboration between Warner Bros. and Japan's Studio4°C (The Animatrix, Halo Legends, Gotham Knights) which will focus on a more realistic anime style that will attempt to be "cutting edge" while maintaining faithfulness to the original source material. According to the press release:
“In addition to being Warner Bros. Animation’s first anime series, ‘ThunderCats’ marks our most ambitious foray yet into fantasy,” said Register. “The realism and dynamic visual style we’ve achieved are sure to thrill viewers, and the cool weapons, vehicles and technology should help the show appeal to a diverse audience.”
With its signature call to arms of "Thundercats, HO!," ThunderCats managed to come down the pike at the perfect time. It was 1985 and Masters of the Universe and its hero He-Man, while still on top of the world, was just starting to get stale. ThunderCats honed-in on the "swords and sorcery meets technology" genre with a unique twist centered on the lone survivors of a race of cat-people. They were led by a young Prince Lion-O who wielded a mystic sword with too many phallic parallels to list, that, among other powers, allowed him to see events from far away. The original ThunderCats cartoon series was slick, stylish, and intense with clear anime influences. Yet, it still carried many sensibilities that cartoons of that era had, including working-in "life-lessons" at the end of every episode to give kids a sense of moral guidance out of the action. For those wondering how the new show would take shape in light of the original's philosophy, the press release states:
"The new “ThunderCats” will appeal to viewers who have loved the characters all their lives as well as young newcomers to the franchise. A sweeping tale combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles with the highest of stakes, the grand origin story of Prince Lion-O’s ascension to the throne – and of those who would thwart his destiny at any cost – takes on epic dimensions in this sharp new telling. As the forces of good and evil battle each other in the quest for the fabled Stones of Power, Lion-O and his champions learn valuable lessons of loyalty, honor and mortality in every episode."
This is interesting move. If the quality of the show is as described, it could very well generate some great buzz that will bring in a healthy mix of young newcomers unfamiliar with the franchise, along with nostalgia-laden young adults with memories of plunging that battery-consuming plug into the backs of Lion-O and Mumm-Ra to make their eyes light up.
It should also be noted that when Masters of the Universe was revived in 2002 with what was also a slick and stylized update that aired on the Cartoon Network, it was met with relatively tepid response. However, there were a number of factors, including lack of exposure and support, which brought about the end of that short-lived revival. The strategy with ThunderCats seems to be promoting it as part of a return to action for the channel, to be alongside their hit Batman: The Brave and the Bold. ThunderCats has achieved a different kind of cult status than its 80's contemporaries, one that could translate very well to an update. (Along with a feature film that has been rumored for years.) If Cartoon Network can promote it well enough, then it could be a big hit for them.
(Promotional poster for the new series.)
Source: Press Release