Review: ThunderCats Roar

ThunderCats Roar – [rating=1]

It feels like only yesterday the first-look trailer for ThunderCats Roar debuted online, sending seemingly everyone into a rage. The trailer threw everyone off, with it’s explicitly cartoony style of animation and a shift to comedy. The initial reaction was so bad that it currently stands at 8.2k upvotes against 115k downvotes on the original announcement video. The series was set to debut in 2019 but there were no updates on the show, leading many to believe it had already been cancelled in response to the backlash. Having missed its 2019 release window, it was unclear when (if ever) the show would premiere, but Cartoon Network surprised their app users by uploading the first couple of episodes two weeks into January. The rest of the series will be launching in February this year.

So after all the hate, the controversy… just how is ThunderCats Roar? Is it really as bad as people thought it would be? Sadly, yes.

I had a little glimmer of hope in me for this show to actually be good and prove the naysayers wrong. I figured it would maybe be like Teen Titans Go!, Cartoon Network’s current golden child and unfortunately the reason the original, more mature Teen Titans animated series got cancelled. While it is frustrating and has been the subject of online conversation for years, many of the people disgruntled by TTG! have grown to like the show despite it’s different style and tone because it is genuinely funny – even making nods to the original show’s style in tongue-in-cheek fashion. This is not the case for ThunderCats Roar. They’ve taken everything good about its source material and made it unlikeable. This could easily have not been a ThunderCats show and something completely new.

The show follows the same story as the original ThunderCats series, with Lion-O and the ThunderCats — Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, Wilykit and Wilykat — escaping the destruction of their home world, Thundera, and crashing on the mysterious and exotic planet of Third Earth. As the newly appointed Lord of the ThunderCats, Lion-O attempts to lead the team as they make this planet their new home. A bizarre host of creatures and villains stand in their way, including the evil Mumm-Ra, Third Earth’s wicked ruler who will let nothing, including the ThunderCats, stop his tyrannical reign over the planet.

While the premise of the show remains the same as the original series, the creators take liberties in taking all the characters and dumbing them down 100% and also changing the tone of the series and the animation style (which has changed from a cool more mature look to “chibi” style).  The characters in the show are now so unbelievably annoying it makes it almost impossible to watch without grimacing. Lion-O is portrayed as the leader, yet is incredibly stupid, impulsive and seemingly has to be babied by the rest of the team. Snarf is now some weird robot companion for Lion-o who acts as a swiss army knife played for laughs that don’t land. “Snarf do a thing!” is just one example of the show’s comedy, while Tygra telling Lion-O “You’re doing leading!” is another. Why Tygra had to go from the cool guy, badass council leader to what can only really be described as Lion-O’s babysitter… I do not know. He’s still described as the “serious one” but he’s more like the whiny one. Cheetara is “the fast one” but that’s about it. That’s all she gets right now. Panthro likes to wreck and build stuff. Wilykit and Wilykat are just… there. They’re a couple of little kids, but somehow manage to be a lot more useful and a lot less annoying or hyperactive than their leader.

I really wanted to like this new show but I’m struggling to find one appealing thing about it. It almost feels like a parody series. Even if I view it as a whole new thing and it wasn’t a ThunderCats remake, my opinion would remain the same. I watch a lot of cartoons. I am in no way trying to demonise this show for it’s new more “cartoony” style, but when it relies on “random humour”, stupid facial expressions and sound effects that are literally just someone blowing a raspberry or going “pew-pew” for humour, you’ve lost me. It’s hard not to cringe at that point. Perhaps the only redeeming thing I can personally find about it is the potential to have Mumm-ra be a funny villain. His scenes were actually pretty funny, so if they can play that well, instead of just a dumb sounding bad guy who gets beat easily like in these first episodes, I could see that being fine.

I sincerely hope kids (who probably haven’t seen the original show) will enjoy this, though. After all it is solely aimed at them, right? Surely.
You can check out the newly released preview for the show below.

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