Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thundercats 2011 is Surprisingly Good!

The original He-Man series was horrible enough, and I loved He-Man like the oiled, barbarian, body-builder father-figure I never had. So with interest in the He-Man cartoon continually waning, I had zero investment in its cheap knock-off Thundercats - in fact, as a child lurid-musclebound-scifi-fantasy-snob I never even owned a single Thundercats toy.

 And then, several years ago, a genius think tank decided to reboot He-Man with "ZOMG!MOREAWESOMEDESIGNS!" and punches that actually connected. And it was STILL pretty dull and shittily written, especially when compared to other cartoons of its time.

But wait! What's this!
So when it was announced that they were rebooting Thundercats this year - with an anime twist - my eyes were rolling so far that I could draw you a detailed diagram of the inside of my head. And then, despite these hollow protests, I INEXPLICABLY watched the first two episodes. Was it any good? Surpisingly: "hell" and "yes".

I haven't been following this story and discovered the episodes peripherally. I watched them streaming on Anime Ultima TV here which I assume is legal, right? Right? Because why else would it be allowed on the Internet!? I'll also state for the record that while I may know about a broad range of things (comics, ham, boobs, ewoks) I know virtually nothing about anime. I'm not an anime watcher. I don't even know if you'll be offended by me referring to Thundercats as anime. I don't know much. But I know I love you. Let me be. All I need is love.

I had no idea what to expect, so imagine my surpise when I actually, sincerely enjoyed this swashbuckling man-cat thing. Most of all I was taken aback by the level of sophistication, murder, betrayal and intrigue. It was more Game of Thrones than Masters of the Universe. I half-expected Tigra to push Wilykat out of a window while banging Cheetara.

Let me set up the scene a little. This version of Lion-O is more of a young, slender, irresponsible dick, who is a disappointing heir to his hulking, take-no-shit, impressively-bearded King father. Tigra is Lion-O's perfect brother (by another mother?) and he's a smug arrogant bastard who's an even bigger dick than Lion-O.  

Meanwhile, Cheetara is part of an elite squad of incredibly fast-running mysterious ninja clerics that work for the royal family, and Wilykat and Wilkykit are shiftless, pocket-picking hobo minstrels with delusions of granduer. Panthro is a General who went on an epic mission of conquest and hasn't returned, and Mum-ra is somewhat of a legend who hasn't been seen for years. And if I've spelled any of those wrong I don't give a damn!

The cats are the dominant race on the planet, living the high-life in Fancypants City, eating lots of meet, fighting each other for sport, and torturing and oppressing every other race, especially the lizards. It's like a big old furry ren' faire, but soon they are made to pay for their arrogance when a surprise shock and awe attack brings a terrifying new technology and the emergence of an old foe. (Clue: It's not Skeletor). (Nor is it Snagglepuss). Then the shit REALLY hits the fan and things get dark.

Watching a group of medieval cat-men being colossal dicks was entertaining enough, but when they start to pay for their actions I actually had that rare moment of, "Holy crap! These guys actually have a plan for this thing other than mindlessly bashing things together! And it's PRETTY DAMN GOOD!" It's well-paced, the character's are well written, and it managed to surprise me. And good god, let me tell you something, you DO NOT want Mum-ra's filthy evil bandages to wrap around you. That bit almost made me ill.

So if you're so inclined go and check it out. I'm going to watch episode three because I really want to know what happened next! I do believe that this is the sort of show that will have pretty broad appeal. Even if you're not a LARPer or a furry.

I give Thundercats 2011 four dickish cat-men out of a possible five.

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