Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I love cartoons. People who tell you that cartoons are only for children have obviously lost all sense of fun in their lives. Try going back now and watching the cartoons you grew up with as a kid. I can almost guarantee you that you'll get so much more out of it than when you were a kid. (Unless you only watched weird 70's/80's cartoons. Then you'll just start asking yourself, "What was I thinking?!")

I remember a quote from someone who wrote the original Looney Tunes shorts who said they did not even think about making the cartoons for kids. Their goal in making the shorts was to make each other laugh. It just so happened that children liked them too. That's how you know you're doing it right, when you've got something that anyone of any age can watch together and everyone enjoys it.

When I was little, I just liked the bright colors and funny characters in cartoons, but as I got older I began to see that there was so much more to them than just falling anvils and "Bad ol' Puddy Tats." Animation is an art form. It can be used for any genre, not just comedy. The programs and movies that I watch now cover a wide variety of themes, and not all of them make you laugh.

For me one of the biggest joys of watching an animated film, provided that I don't get so swept up in the story that I forget it's an animated movie at all, is just watching purely for the artistry of it all. Whether the film is hand animated, or done using a computer, if it's done well, it is a thing of beauty to watch. I have recently started watching Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's films, and they are nothing shot of gorgeous. The films that he and the staff at Studio Ghibli make, put many American studios to shame in how detailed and rich the artwork is. They are like watching living paintings. I may have to write some reviews of some of my favorites here.

But this post is not about movies, it's about TV shows. As I said in my Disney Channel Reviews post, I watch a lot of animated programs. I've already done a very thorough review of my favorite, Gravity Falls. It continues to get better and better. Since I wrote my review, I have an even higher opinion of it than I did before, if that's possible. The quality of the writing just keeps getting better. I wish it were scheduled more often though. There haven't been any new episodes in almost three months! If it were a drug I'd probably be going into withdrawal. :p

In addition to Gravity Falls, the Disney Channel has two other series that are almost as funny. First up is Fish Hooks. Fish Hooks is a crazy, random, riot. It is so full of random humor that sometimes it can barely hold its plot together. The characters are completely off the wall crazy, and the animation style is very unique. It sort of a mix of flash animation with photographic collages. It's pretty different than most shows I've seen, but it works. The show is about a school of fish. A "High School" of fish. It has all your basic high school stereotypes in fish form. The show takes place in a pet shop where all the fish tanks are connected. The fish themselves are all animated regularly, but the backgrounds, and any other animal or person is a collage. There is not much to say about the plot. It's about the crazy adventures that three fish, Oscar, Milo, and Bea, have as they attend high school. If you don't like random humor, you probably won't like Fish Hooks, but if you do, you'll love it.

Phineas and Ferb is the the other show on Disney. 6 months ago if I were asked my favorite cartoon, I definitely would have said Phineas and Ferb. But then Gravity Falls came along and... Well, Phineas and Ferb is now second. But just because I now love Gravity Falls more, doesn't mean I love Phineas and Ferb any less. It is still one of my absolute favorite shows. The characters are all excellent, the writing is hilarious, it is very random, but always maintains a coherent plot, it also uses music in a way that most shows do not, and it does it well.

On its face, Phineas and Ferb is a show about two step brothers who build giant complicated inventions, and their older sister, Candice, who always tries to "Bust" them, by tattling to their mother. That's only half the show though. The boys own a pet platypus named Perry who is, unbeknownst to them, a secret agent, who sneaks off every day to fight his arch nemesis, an evil "Genius" named Dr. Doofenshmirtz. It's one of those shows where you just need to watch it to understand why it is so funny. I can't explain it well enough on my own, you just need to see it for itself.

There is also an animated show on Disney XD that I watch, but it is very different from the shows on Disney. The show is called Tron Uprising. It is not at all a "Funny" series. It's a spin off from the Tron movies, and I watch it mainly for the artwork. It has some of the most stunning animation I've ever seen. Half the time I'm not watching for the plot, I'm just watching for the visuals. It's basically eye candy. :)

The plot is about a world inside a computer where the "Programs" all look like people in shiny light suits, and they drive light cycles. They are all under the rule of an evil program named Clu, and there is a program who is working with Tron (The main character from the movies) to overthrow him. I hate to say it, but sometimes I get bored by the writing. The visuals are what makes up for it for me. It is a very cool looking show. If you liked the Tron movies, you will like this show. I don't really recommend it for just a casual watcher though. It's good, but there are better shows out there.

On Cartoon Network, there are a bunch of series' that I watch, all of which are completely different from these. First up is Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It takes place between Star Wars Episodes 2 & 3, and while mainly following Anakin Skywalker's apprentice, Asoka Tano, it also can go off and have an episode starring pretty much any Star Wars Character they've created. It has pretty unlimited possibilities storytelling-wise. This show has gotten flack for "Looking like a video game," but I don't care about that at all. It may not look "Real" but it's computer animated. They weren't trying to duplicate reality. I think the design is very good. The writing is better than that of some of the Star Wars films, and the characters are great too. If you like action/adventure you should love this show.

Also based on a movie, is the series Dragons: Riders of Berk. It is based on the movie How to Train Your Dragon. The film that made me believe that Dreamworks had real potential as a serious animation studio. Dragons is about the same five viking teens from the movie, after the dragons have become accepted by their society. When it first aired I was a little disappointed. The animation was excellent, but the writing was a little weak. Since then, however, the writing has vastly improved, and I now look forward to every new episode.

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, tone-wise, is The Looney Tunes Show. Basically this is a sitcom starring the Looney Tunes. I wrote a review of it over a year ago, HERE. Since that time my views of the show have evolved somewhat. By the end of season one, I still really liked it, but I didn't feel it was quite as good any more. I thought the writing had gone somewhat downhill, and that some of the characters, had changed into something that their classic counterparts were not. Daffy especially just seemed over-the-top mean sometimes. I mean, he's always been a comedically mean character, but sometimes it seemed to me that he just went too far. As a whole, the show was still usually pretty funny, it just didn't feel exactly like "Looney Tunes" anymore. Thankfully these issues have been resolved! After months of waiting, they finally brought the show back recently, and the writing was back to being it's greatest again. I now can highly recommend it once again.

One of my favorite "Non-Comedic" shows of all, including live action, is an animated series called Young Justice. It is the best super hero show I have seen since I was a kid watching the Animated Superman and Batman series' in the '90s. I have loved the DC comics characters ever since then, and they are all perfectly represented in this show. The animation is awesome, the writing is excellent, and the characters are all great. The show follows the "Sidekicks" of the Justice League, Superboy, Robin, Miss Martian, Aqualad, Speedy, Artemis, and Kid Flash. There are many more characters that join the show later, but these are the ones the show began with with.

When it first started, it kind of seemed like another Super-Powered Teens kind of a show. Not that that's a bad thing, the show was still awesome, it's just that "Super-Teen" shows have been done before. As the season went on though, it just got better and better, and when season 2 began, the show somehow managed to get even better than before! It flashed forward 5 years. The main characters are now all adults, some have abandoned the group, and may have even joined the "Bad Guys." The dynamics have completely changed, to the point where it almost seems like a new show, but that is a good thing. There are now even more "Kids" joining their "League," and some of the oldest ones are trying to convince the "Adult" Justice League that they are good enough to be full fledged members of the Justice League, instead of just "Sidekicks." The stakes are now higher as some of the Justice League seems to be being framed for crimes that they don't remember committing, but there is video evidence proving their guilt. The Young Justice League is trying to fill in where the "Adults" can't go and investigate, because they are no longer trusted.

Anyway, enough of my rambling on that show, if you can't tell, I REALLY love it. :) Unfortunately it also suffers from really bad scheduling. I haven't seen a new episode in months. I'm hoping that the new year will bring new episodes. I really need a Gravity Falls and Young Justice fix. :)

And those are the cartoons that I currently watch. If you like animation, I highly recommend any of them. If you think cartoons are "Only For Kids," I highly recommend rethinking your life. You sound like you need a good laugh. :)

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