If you think you are too old to watch cartoons, you probably are. So make room for us younger folks and die. Here are some cartoons I recommend, if you’re not too busy shooing kids off your lawn or trying to remember who you are. They’re in no particular order because they’re all winners.
1. Adventure Time
This show is the Ren and Stimpy of this generation. It is a seemingly harmless looking cartoon with plenty of subversive humor sprinkled in every episode so there’s plenty of things here to target multiple demographics. It follows a boy named Finn and his talking magical dog buddy Jake, who go on adventures that range from rescuing princesses from the evil yet misunderstood clutches of the lonely Ice King, or picking the crystal apple to make the perfect apple pie. It is already five seasons in, and every episode is fifteen minutes or so, but you can pick it up anytime you want and have a good time. Besides, who doesn’t like a unicorn made of rainbows who can speak fluent Korean?
2. Young Justice
I remember being very sad when Spectacular Spiderman had to end with Disney’s acquisition of Marvel and running into some confusing licensing issues with Sony. Then I heard that the show’s creative mind, Greg Weisman had moved to spearhead the Young Justice show, which combines the best elements of Teen Titans and Bruce Timm’s Justice League Unlimited. It handles the precarious nature of young sidekicks really well and make their team-ups believable in the real world sense. Essentially, the young sidekicks take on covert op missions that their adult counterparts cannot because they’re too well-known in the world. The show can get a bit dark, but because it is centered on adolescent characters, it is able to keep both adults and kids engaged in the story.
3. Transformers Prime
I am thankful that we get a quality new take on the franchise every generation. Or at least, the American produced ones (Beast Wars, Transformers: Animated, Transformers Prime), because the Japanese produced Transformers series are mostly terrible. This new show brings together Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, who were the original voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively, so you know this show is aiming to please. Then right off the bat, they kill off a fan-favorite Autobot in the first episode, just to let us know that everybody is expendable and they will kill off anyone in service of a good story. That was bold, and the show only gets better after that initial stunt. It also pays homage to the shows and movies that preceded this one, but it’s not so much that it preys on our nostalgia. It is two seasons in and it left us with a hell of a cliff hanger in the season two finale. I cannot wait for it to come back.
4. Star Wars: Clone Wars
This show takes place between the fifth and sixth movie in the new trilogy, but as far as Star Wars canon goes, this series is by far my favorite part of the whole thing. Clone Wars episodes are segmented by campaigns, very similar to the old Starship Troopers CGI show, which was amazing, and it focuses on many different characters, both soldiers on the war front and politicians in the background. But the most impressive part of the show is the fact that they actually make us care about the many clone platoons on the battlefield. Their character designs are all literally rendered the same, except with different facial hair or hair style, but they don’t share the same personalities. At one point, I actually knew some of the clones by their names, but have long forgotten them because I am terrible with retaining names. This is an awesome show, but it is also somewhat limited by the fact that it is sandwiched between two (terrible) movies, so we have some inkling on how things all turn out. I’d still give it a shot because this is much better written than the new trilogy and makes you care about the franchise, if you didn’t already.
5. Green Lantern: The Animated Series
There’s so much story to tell in the Green Lantern mythos and they finally found a venue to tell them all. The show covers not only the Green Lantern corp, but also the other corps from the comics, but they do it in a manner that isn’t overwhelming for the people coming into the series with no foreknowledge of the story. It is also headed by Bruce Timm (Batman TAS, Superman TAS, Batman Beyond, The Justice League) so you know it’s in good hands, and after that embarrassing Green Lantern movie, the character finally got some respect he deserves. The most surprising thing about this series is perhaps the fact that it is far more sci-fi than I initially thought. I figured they would want to root the story on Earth as not to alienate viewers, but they take so much care into humanizing each character (even an AI computer) that it really doesn’t matter. Plus, the animation borrows a lot of ideas from Pixar, which makes it all the more appealing to the eyes.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012 Nickelodeon)
The turtles are back and in CG, but don’t let that scare you off. It only serves to showcase smoother action sequences and character designs, and it looks really good. All the turtles have their own quirks and I’ve never been interested in Leonardo as a character until now (he’s basically a Trekkie in this version, who learns his leadership skills from both Splinter and the Captain Kirk rip-off from his favorite show), which says a lot for me personally. Even Splinter isn’t the geriatric Zen master that he usually is; he is a forty-something kung-fu master who is composed and funnier than he’s ever been, but is still unnerved by the dangerous world and his sons’ places in it. Shredder is menacing as ever (and totally bad ass), and the creators took their sweet time handling his first encounter with the turtles, which was worth the wait. It just recently reached its mid-season hiatus, which makes it the perfect time for everyone to catch up.
Aaaaaaand that’s it. We usually cover television dramas and movies here, but I thought I’d make some cartoon recommendations for this holiday season. I hope I convinced some of you to try out these shows and if not, the hell with you. Happy holidays.
Written by Daniel Lee