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Thundercats: Season 1 Book 1
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A betrayal. A reluctant leader. A journey like no other. A roaring return for a mighty menagerie of animation icons. The Thundercats are back in an all-new animated series that purrs with sensational stories starring favorite characters. The exciting first eight episodes roar into action with the evil Mumm-Ra’s attack on the city of Thundera that destroys the cat civilization, leaving only a band of survivors – Tygra, Panthro, Snarf, Cheetara, Wily Kit and Wily Kat – and young prince Lion-O, the surviving ruler of his people. As the threats of Mumm-Ra ring in their ears, these determined cats know what they must do: find the Book of Omens, which holds the key to their future. Using his powerful Sword of Omens to achieve “sight beyond sight,” Lion-O guides his friends across the lands, facing vicious foes and making new allies. Prowl with the Thundercats through their all-new adventure series to the legendary temple that conceals their ancient secrets!
Produced by Rankin-Bass, the original ThunderCats (1985) was one of the toy-based sword-and-sorcery programs created for syndication in the mid to late '80s: the era of He-Man and She-Ra. For the new version, the characters have been redesigned--to match a new line of toys. Once again, the story takes place on the "Third Earth," a planet inhabited by creatures who resemble human-animal chimeras. The feline ThunderCats rule the Kingdom of Thunderra at the expense of other species until their old enemy, the living mummy Mumm-Ra, attacks with an army of lizard-men and a lot of high-tech weaponry. King Claudus is killed, leaving Prince Lion-O the enchanted Sword of Omens. Lion-O must find the Book of Omens and reclaim his kingdom, with the help of his brother Tygra, loyal general Panthro, the obnoxious kids Wilykit and Wilykat, and Cheetara (whose eye-spots make her look something like Annie Lennox). Despite the addition of the poorly integrated CG effects and mecha, ThunderCats feels hopelessly dated. The character development is minimal, and the voice actors deliver all the dialogue in hammy tones. When Lion-O draws his sword and intones, "ThunderCats, Ho!" the impression is more camp than heroic. Despite the many battle scenes and duels, there's not much sense of a narrative thrust. Lion-O and company wander around Third Earth, learning occasional Life Lessons, but there's no sense of much being at stake, let alone a kingdom. The tanks, robots, and arms Mumm-Ra's minions deploy are too obviously available at local toy stores. At a time when Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Bleach, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Gurren Lagann have offered new visions of what a fantasy-adventure can be, ThunderCats feels as passé as an Archies 45. (Not rated; suitable for ages 8 and older: minor violence) --Charles Solomon
(1. Omens Part One, 2. Omens Part Two, 3. Ramlak Rising, 4. Song of the Petalars, 5. Old Friends, 6. Journey to the Tower of the Omens, 7. Legacy, 8. The Duelist and the Drifter)
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Top customer reviews
If you have the original set this newest version is definitely worth adding to that collection as while the story might not be for everyone if given a chance it's sure to grow on them.
By the way, I just found out that there are 2 more volumes (or Books) in this series. I'll probably be purchasing those in the not-too-distant future if all goes well. I still say that Warner Brothers yanked it too soon. I would've liked to have seen Warner fully resolve the Thundercats storyline before ending the series.
And that is the set-up for this revamping.
First off, as someone who'd always found the original Snarf so vexing, I'm ecstatic that this new Snarf is rendered without speech. And I love the visual design on the new Wilykit and Wilykat and happy to see that they remain the same mercurial young tricksters. The early episodes take great pains to reintroduce each of the cast and how he or she fits into the new dynamics. Several of the core characters meet each other for the first time. Wilykat and Wilykit are street savvy urchins out to merrily grift their way thru life, that is, until the Thunderan Empire falls. They quickly latch onto Lion-O and his entourage. Cheetara, super-speed and staff in hand, pulls Lion-O's fat out of the fire and you can't blame Lion-O for harboring an instant crush. Panthro we don't meet until the closing moments of the fourth episode, and he's an older and more hard-bitten warrior than what we're used to. Lion-O's old wise adviser Jaga starts out with a more active role. And Tygra, we already know. Tygra is also this smug jerk at times. Episodes frequently touch on his and Lion-O's ongoing sibling rivalry and how Tygra seems to be juuuust that smidge superior to Lion-O.
THUNDERCATS SEASON ONE, BOOK ONE is obviously not the entire season of this reboot, but it does contain the first eight episodes, and I won't dis that. Narrative continuity is well served here as half the episodes included deal directly with constructing the Thundercats mythos. The two-part debut, "Omens," establishes Thundera and its eventual demise as a kingdom and Lion-O's ascension to the throne. "Old Friends," as seen mostly thru Panthro's eyes, recounts his rise in rank from grunt to trusted officer in King Claudus's army. "Journey to the Tower of Omens" finds Lion-O and his party finally locating the Book of Omens except that they must successfully navigate a series of death traps to get to it. In "Legacy" the Book of Omens entraps Lion-O into experiencing Thundera's very early days.
But those don't fall into my two most favorite episodes in this collection. Instead it's the surprisingly emotional "Song of the Petalars," in which our travelers befriend tiny plant pixies on their pilgrimage home and whose ephemeral lives span the breadth of one day. And "The Duelist and the Drifter," in which Lion-O while seeking supplies wanders into a bladesman's town where everyone engages in sword duels. The titular characters in this episode are pretty awesome, especially the (literally) Drifter. Meanwhile, "Ramlak Rising" offers the irony of fish-men crewing a ship navigating thru a sea of sand, fish-men with a craving for tasty Thundercat flesh.
I would never say that the 1980s series wasn't imaginative. It was very imaginative; it presented a compelling overarching story. Except that those individual episodes sometimes came off as very shallow stuff, written perfunctorily. This new series applies a richer, more latticed form of storytelling. It injects more depth and more character work. It feels more nuanced. The animation is tight with a clear anime influence, and they've stepped up the action sequences. The only thing I'm missing, really, is the ridiculously catchy original theme song. And, sorry, I still prefer how the original Cheetara looked. If I were to do a Top Five of sexiest animated female characters, Cheetara would easily make it. And if you're jonesing for Lion-O's awesome battle cry as he channels the Sword of Omens - "Thunder... Thunder... Thundercats! Ho!" - rest assured, bro, that's still there, even if the delivery's a bit different.
This two-disc DVD set coughs up a hairball with its absolute lack of bonus features. That's not exactly demonstrating sight beyond sight.