Sometimes, I’m just in awe at how many adults complain that modern revisions of their favorite childhood cartoons are “ruining their childhood.” The latest cartoon that has raised the ire of geekdom is the Netflix She-Ra reboot that’s coming out on November of this year. You would think that fans would be upset that He-Man wasn’t getting his own show first or something like that. No, most fans are angry about She-Ra’s new simplistic look.
Some are complaining that she isn’t the sexy thing with a sword that rides a giant pegasus-like steed. Let’s ignore those guys (yes, they’re probably guys) for the moment because they’re not the focus here. What I like to talk about is the hate the new She-Ra is getting because of how simplistic her design is compared to the original ’80s cartoon. To some extent, I get it. If you compare the level of detail between the two shows, it’s night and day… with the new Netflix show looking like a kid drew it while the “old” cartoon shining like a beacon of inspiration and realism.
The more “cartoony” look does make the cartoon look more like it’s going to be more for kids and that’s getting a lot of adults upset… which is kind of strange since the original She-Ra cartoon was actually meant to be watched by kids. Oddly enough, She-Ra is just the latest rebooted animated show to have the Internet attack it. And, hoo-boy! Have we got a lot of rebooted cartoons that adults hate! In no specific order, you got Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DuckTales, Teen Titans Go! and Thundercats Roar! I have a feeling that I’m forgetting some but sometimes all this hate for an old geeky property just gets all blurry.
Of course, it’s not just the look but the overall tone that’s getting the adults upset. When the dark and moody Teen Titans of the early 2000s was changed to the perky and silly Teen Titans Go!, fans were outraged! How dare Cartoon Network change their serious animated show they loved as kids into a slapstick show, filled with nonsensical humor? All the crimefighting from the original show was replaced with the Teen Titans acting like fools.
But here’s the thing: I think the guys and gals who are upset with these reboots may be missing the point of these reboots. I don’t think these reboots are made for their generation; they’re being made for the younger generation.
A lot of the anger does tend to get focused on the art style as they just don’t look as detailed and refined as their older version. Like I said, I get that. Despite being someone raised in the millennial age, I like how older cartoons took things like body proportions and deep colors seriously much more than the clean-cut, factory-like quality most cartoons have today. From what I understand, animated shows today generally have a much cheaper look because they are. Most animated shows aren’t little cels cut and pasted together to form a moving image anymore. Thanks to modern computers, it’s much easier to make cartoons without having to outsource them to other countries anymore. A lot of the animation can be done by a smaller team in-house, however, this does mean they have to cut corners because, even with advanced technology helping out, it’s hard to produce a 24 episode cartoon and meet deadlines!
This particular simplistic art style has been the predominating style for a while now. I’m no historian but the trend for less detailed characters has been on the uptake since even the ’90s. For me, the first time this simplistic art style popped up was during Batman: The Animated Series. Despite using really blocky shapes and simplistic lines, no one complained that Batman didn’t look anything like the realistic character from the comics. It worked because the style was just perfect for what the show was going for! Now, who’s to say that these changes in artstyle won’t match the new tone of the revamped shows?
But that’s actually part of the problem for some people. A lot of these cartoon reboots have generally changed the tone of their favorite ’80s and ’90s cartoons and they don’t like it. One of the weirdest examples I can give would be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The original comic series was dark satire on how comics have become rather violent than the ones that came before it. But when they brought the characters into the cartoon world, all of the darkness and grittiness that exemplified the heroes in a half shell just evaporated. All of a sudden, they were pizza eating, fun loving, silly reptilian turtles. I don’t know what the reaction was from the comic fans but I bet they were upset but they were a generally small group so they probably didn’t make all that much noise.
Then came the second revamped Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. This one dumped most of the childishness from the original cartoon and went back to the more gritty roots of the comics. Actually, it was more of an amalgamation of the original comic, the original cartoon and the first series of live-action movies. It was also a big hit, thanks to the original fans becoming just a little older and wanting more “adult” stuff. But things started to change when Nickelodeon took over the reins of the franchise. The third TMNT animated series became more childish and the characters had younger features and more simplistic designs. This didn’t set well with a lot of fans. I know because my older brother didn’t like the look, and he considers himself a big Turtles fan! Even so, the show was a big hit because the younger audience dug it.
And that’s actually my point. While they may be franchises you grew up with, they’re not exactly made with you in mind. They’re made with the hopes of dragging in your kids and younger audiences. Children who may have heard about the Teen Titan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats and the many other reboots I’m forgetting and may have seen a few clips and episodes here and there but have no real attachment to these iconic shows. I know what I’m saying is insulting since you were the guys and gals that made these shows the icons that they are today but it’s the truth: you are not the target audience.
Actually, you have to be a little envious of the kids that will be getting these reboots in a way. Imagine, they can walk away from watching the new She-Ra on Netflix, then overhear the disgust from their mom and dad how the show is a disgrace to the original version. This will then make them realize the wealth of She-Ra cartoons that were made in the past and marvel at the detail and realistic look of the characters… and then laugh at how repetitive the animation was and how childish the stories were. Oh, and how silly and kid-friendly the “action” was supposed to be instead of actually showing intense fight scenes. Because that’s how it looked like to me when I just watched one episode.
The episode that I was must be a representation of the shows of the time and, honestly, I can see why kids then liked it. But I also see why cartoons today work well and how they tell continuing stories and actually don’t talk down to children. You have cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. You also have Gravity Falls, Regular Show, Adventure TIme and Dexter’s Laboratory. To a certain extent, you can also include the new My Little Pony animated series! Cartoons may have been more realistic looking then but there is something to be said about the cartoons being made today as they can appeal to both kids and adults but for totally different reasons. So, to poo-poo on the new rebooted shows just because they look more cartoony is dismissing the content.
But if you want to crap all over the new Thundercats Roar! look, go ahead. I know there are some kids that like the new look because it’s so weird looking… but… Blearch!
What do you think of nostalgic cartoons being rebooted? Let me know in the comments section below!