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Discussion in 'Back To The Inkwell - Classic Cartoons Discussion' started by CookieS, Aug 13, 2004.
Anyone remember Bots Master?
Re: Most Underrated 80s Cartoon
I sure did. I honestly can't say it was underrated, because it was mostly intended to showcase a 3-D process (I didn't catch on that you were supposed to wear 3-D glasses during some action sequences until near the end of the show's life on the air), but I consider it a guilty pleasure. Blitzy was my favorite character, particularly the episodes when ZZ went on vacation and left her in charge (poor bots), or when she impersonated the President's daughter. Some of the bots were real characters too, like the very cool Ninjzz or the cook. Some on this board might recognize the lead voice actress as Pixie from "Monster Rancher" or as a couple of the nastiest villianesses on "Inuyasha" (really now, if you were secretly planning to take over the world, would you have publicly up front top associates named "Lady Frenzy", or "Dr. Hiss"?).
Goldie Gold & Action Jack
Jayce And The Wheeled Warriors
The Mighty Orbots
Defenders Of The Earth
Goldie Gold was one of the best Ruby-Spears shows they did. It didn't have stupid characters like Hula Hula or the little boy who thought he was Mr. T, (Spike), & they never ruined it by adding a moron baby charater (Fangpuss, Baby Plas). It was just straight adventure. I also think Jem could have been bigger. It was written way too dramatic for little kids to understand all the emotional angst & love triangles. It was good for that reason, & I like just about any show about a rock band.
Frankly, I've always hated rock (one of the reasons I love anime soundtracks is they are scored with a much broader range of musical styles than American cartoons, which I suspect is unfortunately the reason many American producers dump the original anime sound-track for their own). However, "JEM" had a kind of bubblegum '60s pop sensibility that you simply don't hear today except in a lot of J-pop.
Some people say that 80's were the best years for cartoons and produced the best and all us in the know, know this isn't true.
What is true is that the 80's had THE best theme songs of any cartoon era... ANY. Whoever they were song the living hell out of the songs, one of my favorites being The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers and the other being Might Orbots.
My list of underrated:
The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
The SMURFS One-Shot: Origin of Smurfette
It really bugs me that cartoons today don't put much effort into their theme songs. Its always either a flavor-of-the-month sounding pop song (Kim Possible) or a lame voice-over that gets annoying after the third time you hear it (Powerpuff Girls). In some cases, a great theme can make a show worth tuning into (Bonkers was pretty lame, but its theme was so fun and catchy I'd tune in just to hear it).
My vote goes to Gummi Bears. Sadly, I got ToonDisney after it was dumped from the line-up so I remember very little about it. But considering Gummi Bears was the beginning of Disney TV animation, its really sad that its being hidden away to rot in a vault somewhere.
Jem doesn't get the attention it diserves considering how frickin' awesome it was. But that show at least got a DVD release (and a darn good one at that). Most of the other shows mentioned in this thread probably won't be that lucky
Although it holds up poorly by today's standards, Mighty Orbots was an unappreciated gem, combining 70's group shows like Jabberjaw with super robots. And for the time, the animation was nothing short of spectacular.
I'd have to go with Bravestarr.
Frankly I find anime scores to be just as uneven as American cartoon themes. Particularly from the 70s through early 80s most anime series were blighted by hideous disco soundtracks. A prime example is Gatchaman. The original score is unbearably cheesy, and the Battle of the Planets score was a great improvement. These days most anime are shackled to corny J-Pop songs.
Now, once in a while you get an anime with a great orchestral score (Yamato will always be my favorite), but that seems rare outside of movies today.
I totally agree with the importance of opening themes. The sad fact is that "Kim Possible" and "Powerpuff Girls" may well end up being the great themes of this era's shows, which is a pity. (Considering music strikes a deep chord within the human soul, it's astonishing how producers today slight the value of opening and closing credits for striking a nostalgic chord in audience's hearts --and wallets--for decades to come. Suppose TV Land were to commission a symphonic composer to score a symphony consisting of nothing but 1960s TV themes--imagine the nostalgic wallow that would be millions of baby boomers.) Incidentally, I don't know why CN chose to use the vocal versions of the "Totally Spies" and "Code Lyoko" themes so rarely, they give the opening credits a lot more punch than the instrumentals.
Personally, if I were to award the cup to best cartoon themes from the 1980s, "Voltron", "Thundercats", "G.I. Joe" (even if I didn't care for the show), "JEM" (the first theme, "JEM, Truly Outrageous", not so much the theme of later shows), "Garfield" (first season, I much emphasize, I didn't care much for the calypso tune they came up with for later shows), "Inspector Gadget" (yeah, I still say it's overrated, but the theme was great), and "Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles" (much better than today's--theme music, that is), "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (actually, I think Filmation's brillance in sound tracks in general kept them in business a lot longer than otherwise) would have to rank up there.
There was a lot of songs played during SatAM cartoons, like "Archie", "Scooby Doo", "Josie and the Pussycats", yet I can't remember any of them with an occasional exception like the themes of the shows and Archies' "Sugar". However, I remember quite a few of JEM's songs to this day, like "Music is Magic", "JEM, Perfectly Outrageous", "Time is Running Out", "She's Got the Power", "I've Got my Eye on You", etc. And the funny thing is, much of the time they really advanced the story. (I happen to share JEM and her friends' opinion that the Misfits' standards were just dreck, but I think they were wrong on "Hot Time in Hawaii"--it was actually a pretty funny song.)
I can't agree or rebut you for the most part, since anime themes of that era almost never survived to American shores, so I don't really have knowledge on it aside from vague snatches of memories of fan showings of shows like "Dirty Pair". The exception to this was the French versions of several animes they showed on the French CBC in the 1980s, which actually used the original scores. Even today, I get a charge out of listening to "Candy Candy", the entire show's score was exceptional (personally, I find the mouth organ just short of hideous as a solo instrument, but when inserted into an orchestral background it is unrivaled as a means to magically set a bittersweet mood: examples were Mitch Miller and Friends' numbers in the 60s, the instrumental passage in Tony Orlando and Dawn's classic "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" in the 1970s--and "Candy"). The feminine chorus in the opening score to "Catseyes" was a sort you rarely heard in American cartoons ("JEM" was an exception), the opening theme of Monkey Punch's "Three Musketeers" was stirring, the main theme of "Sherlock Hound" struck a chirpy and nostalgic note (well in keeping with Miyazaki), and the score of the anime-French hybrid "Mysterious Cities of Gold" was better and more memorable than about anything you hear today.
Macross sountrack >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Robotech Soundtrack.
Nuff said on that, although people today tend to underestimate the impact of that opening song.
Thundarr the Barbarian
Puppy's Further Adventures
Never saw it, don't even remember it being mentioned. However, lifting ideas from Arthur C. Clarke & William Gibson, folks involved like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Sunrise and Ruby-Spears--that's impressive roster of parties involved under any circumstances. That could indicate the show was a lot better than its recognition would indicate.
What? I thought you'd seen everything. Personally I found Centurions to be a fairly generic toy vehicle.
I never really looked at the show as a toy vehicle at the time, since originally, the toys in the U.K. were very badly distributed, and most people at first weren't even aware there were any toys. Even in the U.S., my take is that Centurions as a toy line didn't make an impression. So, certainly looking at the show as a toy-line tie in, it can easily be said that the series failed miserably. Indeed towards the end of the series, a new range of characters and weapon systems were introduced whose respective toys were cancelled due to lack of interest in the line. It was only by virtue of the fact that the makers wanted that magic number of 65 episodes that the show made any headway at all. Otherwise it really would be a short "generic" show.
As it is, there are plenty of those 65 episodes that are lousy, simple, kidvid. But many others actually made a genuine attempt to be more imaginative and different than contemporary U.S.-produced action shows. In addition to the makers trying to create a fairly well-developed future world, with ideas culled from a number of respected science-fiction sources (the aforementioned Clarke and Gibson, Richard Matheson, Star Trek, Blade Runner - a source of a great episode pastiche), the relatively small cast of characters ensured that the writers were able to make the most out of the large number of episodes and make then pretty rounded. Ace McCloud for instance was shown consistently as a pretty incorrigible ladies' man - there aren't many other characters in U.S. shows that behaved like that!
Most of the writers for the show were also part of the well-established group of 1980s cartoon writers whose work was seen in shows that certainly can't be described as underrated such as Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and G.I. Joe to name but a fraction. These people had the experience, and knew what it took to make a good episode.
The animation from Sunrise was also among some of the best animation from Japan for a U.S. show (maybe not quite up to the standards of anything from TMS, but close). Unfortunately, as time went on, quite a few of the later episodes (not all of them) were saddled with far more unimpressive, and cheaper, animation from Korea.
As yet another animated action show of the 1980s, it was naturally eclipsed by others that were able to make far better use of their toyline tie-ins. If the show had more support from Kenner regarding the toyline, and had been introduced just a year earlier (1986 was way too late to be competing with the likes of TF, G.I.J., MOTU...) then I'm sure that it would be far better remembered than it currently is. So while I do think the show is worth a look at the very least, I don't necessarily think it's the best one out there. But that's not what this is all about. What I do certainly think, is that it is one of the most underrated 80s shows out there.
Are you sure it was animated by Sunrise? The opening credits look awesome, but the standard animation looks pretty rough, not too far above Hanna Barbera territory.
I only watched it once in a while, so I must have missed those high concept episodes. The toy aspect sort of brought it down a notch for me. Sure, some of my favorites like G.I. Joe and M.A.S.K. were also hawking toys, but I felt they incorporated them into the show more seamlessly. The Centurions drew attention to the merchandising with the constant transformation sequences in which you could see how the accessories were to be attached to the action figures. Also the villians appeared to be minimally designed hunks of plastic with little human heads (possibly left over from another toy line?) stuck on.
It was certainly better than a lot of 80s action shows though, and as mentioned those opening credits are really sweet.
Apparently it was indeed animated by Sunrise, at least initially. There used to be an interview online with one of the show's producers. He confirmed that Sunrise did animate the show, since he had to go to Japan to supervise their animation for it!
For some reason (time or money?), somewhere along the line, Ruby-Spears decided to have some of the episodes animated in Korea. I've not compiled a list of exactly which episodes were animated in what country, but some obviously have far better animation than others. It's hard to tell, because there's no real trend. Most of the early episodes are clearly well animated, but afterwards it’s a scattering of both good and bad animated episodes. The final five part story for instance obviously had parts 1, 3, and 5 animated in Japan, and parts 2 & 4 in Korea as there's a very noticeable change in quality.
Of course, Ruby-Spears' decision not to credit the animation studios at all in the end credits of the show has made it difficult to identify the animation studio that actually drew the episodes. It was always obvious that the shows were outsourced, but even though Sunrise not only animated but apparently storyboarded their episodes as well, it does seem more than an oversight that they (and whichever Korean studio was used) were not given credit.
That's nothing new however, as Toei were only ever formally given credit for their Transformers work on the initial three part pilot episodes and the movie. For the rest of the series their name (and later AKOM's) was conspicuously absent.
13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.