“Thundercats, Ho!” That is exactly what I have been shouting in front of my TV for the last two weeks, ever since the reboot of the popular 80’s cartoon has aired on the Cartoon Network.
When I readied myself to watch the 2011 version of the ThunderCats, I was a bit apprehensive. Could the writers, as well as the artists, keep the story lines and animation fresh, but still nostalgic at the same time? This time around, Studio 4°C, a Japanese animation studio has reinvented Lion-O, Jaga, Tygra, and Cheetara for 2011 viewers with a touch of Manga to boot.
The plot of the original ThunderCats started with the destruction of the planet Thundera, with young Lion-O and his friends escaping to Third-Earth before their beloved home planet exploded. The 2011 version takes a few cues from the original story-line, but it is also a whole new cartoon for modern consumption. While I’ll always hold the original ThunderCats dear to my heart, the 2011 version feels more cohesive and provides, so far, a much more engaging storyline. Of course when I watched the original ThunderCats, I was only seven year old… and I wasn’t very much into plot details back then…
For the reboot – Thundera is a thriving empire with a whole community of ThunderCats serving Lion-O, and his father, the king. Lion-O is not drawn to be the beefcake he once was in the 80’s, but his character is already growing into being ‘Lord of the ThunderCats.’ Meanwhile, Tygra is Lion-O’s adopted brother, whereas in the original, Tygra was just Lion-O’s loyal friend and unofficial second in command. Also, this time around, Snarf is his usually adorable self, but he has lost his voice in the remake – which honestly I think is a good thing. The new Snarf sounds and behaves more pet-like and he is more endearing than even before. Cheetara is as badass as ever, her new costume could be considered a bit Playboy’esque (as one of our writers so thoughtfully pointed out) but all in all – the boys need this gal around to save their little furry behinds more times than we can count so far. Jaga is still as magical as ever but currently his character’s fate is in the hands of the shows villain. Let’s not forget WilyKit and WilyKat who are still street urchins, and so far are not welcomed into the pack that easily, but they have forced themselves into this tight-nit clique.
Of course, this newest version of the ThunderCats still has Mumm-Ra ( that villain we spoke about earlier) as the big bad. But some old friends like Panthro have suffered a different fate in this version of the cartoon – or does he? It remains to be seen if his character will be resurrected later in the season, but so far, all that is left of Panthro is his pair of claw nunchucks.
As for what lies ahead – for the first season Lion-O will be on the search for the Book of Omen, that will help him and his friends rebuild Thundera and overcome the evil Mumm-Ra, lizards and their leader Slithe. These villains have not only destroyed the kingdom that was Thundera but also killed Lion-O and Tygra’s father. By the end of the third episode he has already learned a tough lesson about being arrogant and the consequences of revenge, as well as the naivety that comes along with being a young lord.
At its core, the new ThunderCats takes on many adult themes: double-crosses, vengeance, the effects of technology, loss, and acceptance. Thundera is destroyed in the 2011 version too, but in a way that hits closer to home, unlike the 80’s version, and perhaps that is more fitting so that it can relate to audiences of today. There will also be new tie-in toys available this fall to coincide with the reboot – that should be fun for adults and kids to collect alike. The ThunderCats is on the Cartoon Network every Friday 8:30pm Eastern/7:30pm Central and rated PG for violence and probably Cheetara’s cleavage.