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Seeing a new toon |

Young Star

Seeing a new toon

UNWRITTEN - Maria Jorica B. Pamintuan -

Have you ever seen something at the mall and thought, “I gotta have that!” and then impulsively bought it? Well, I’m a magnet for these experiences. Often, I regret what I have bought and wish I hadn’t seen it all. But, once in a blue moon, there are things that I am glad that I got on impulse.

There must have been a blue moon last week, because for once, I bought something without thinking and didn’t regret it at all. I bought my childhood (or a piece of it, anyway). It was a set of Little Lulu comic books from the second-hand section of a bookstore. They were tattered and expensive for the condition they were in, but I had to have them!

This whole summer has been one of rediscovering my childhood. It started with a discussion with people who, like me, were born and raised in the ‘90s. Toys, movies, songs, and TV shows were talked about and those in the group who couldn’t relate were branded as “kids without a childhood.”

Talking about the shows made me crave those cartoons I loved to watch when I was a kid. I was sure they would still be showing on TV because they were great cartoons and sitcoms. I felt that they would go the same route as Voltes V, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes. My parents watched those shows, and I watched them too, three decades later.

With the summer vacation drawing to a close, and enrollment making life difficult for me, I didn’t have much time to watch TV. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on the way you see it), the hot-cold weather the past few days gave me a cold. I had to lie in bed for a while so it wouldn’t get worse. Finally, I had my opportunity to see if the stuff of my childhood was still as popular as ever.

As I settled down with the television remote control in my hand, I anticipated a good afternoon of lolling around, watching the great oldies and better newbies. After all, with the cartoons during (ahem) my time being so great, the cartoons of today could only be greater, right? So, lying in bed with a box of tissues beside me, I started to channel surf in search of the old networks I knew and loved.

The first old favorite I came upon was the Disney Channel. On the boob tube, there was Miley Cyrus in a Hannah Montana commercial. I hurriedly switched to the next channel and found Nickelodeon. It was a cartoon featuring two evil siblings in weird matching outfits playing tricks on another girl. I tried to watch it, but after 10 minutes of hearing and seeing the terrible two plan dastardly tricks on their classmates and elders, I gave up.

Disheartened, but still hopeful for some good TV show, I looked for Cartoon Network and was disappointed to see what was on was only a showing of Babe: Pig in the City. Annoyed at that point, but determined to find something interesting to watch, I searched for Animax, only to find out that it wasn’t available on our cable.

In desperation, I tried the local channels, but they were all showing either game shows or Tagalog-dubbed Spanish soap operas. I checked all the channels again to see if anything good was finally showing, to no avail.

Ever impatient, I dug out the TV Guide magazine to see what shows were going to be broadcast the whole day. To my horror, I learned that most of the shows I watched when I was small weren’t even being shown anymore. Those that were being broadcast had timeslots in the late evening and early morning!

I watched TV for the rest of the afternoon, but hardly enjoyed any of the new cartoons. The older ones like Dexter’s Laboratory and the Tom and Jerry movie on Cartoon Network were still leagues better than the contemporary ones.

Whatever happened to Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, Captain Planet, The Weekenders, Scooby Doo and Little Lulu? Oh yeah, they’re ancient history (or showing at 10:30 at night and 3 in the morning). In their place, kids can now watch Ben 10, The Mighty B!, and Phineas and Ferb (my videophile dad doesn’t even know these shows anymore), and yes, the ever-popular Hannah Montana. These shows are… okay, but are nothing compared to the shows five, 10, 30, years ago. The exception, of course, is the still-strong-at-20 The Simpsons, which I have only recently discovered, to the bewilderment of my dad.

I can’t say that cartoons these days are not as good as the cartoons before because they’re stupid, shallow and violent. A lot of cartoons of old were stupid, shallow and violent too! The cat and mouse games of Tom and Jerry were downright violent and unnecessary, but I watched them anyway. Cow and Chicken, Catdog, and Rocko’s Modern Life were really weird and disturbing, but they were some of my favorite shows when I was younger. Stupid as they were, I still love the old toons.

Many of the new shows were just remakes of the old cartoon series or movies. Take, for instance, the animated version of Mr. Bean, which is funny, but nowhere near as funny as Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean. The Emperor’s New School was spawned from Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove. It does no justice to the wonderful movie, just like the cartoon series Lilo and Stitch, Hercules and The Little Mermaid suffer in comparison to the originals.

Even the Powerpuff Girls have not been spared from the remake of death. Powerpuff Girls Z is the anime-tized version of the original Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. What was wrong with the roundness and handless-ness of the original? Bubbles even looks like a younger Sailor Moon!

Speaking of anime, it’s probably the one genre of cartoon that just keeps getting better. I wasn’t such a big fan of Sailor Moon; I preferred the gore and fighting in Ghostfighter. Doraemon, Detective Conan and Akazukin Cha Cha were addictive too. The old anime shows were great and the new ones are keeping up the standard. One Piece, Bleach and Naruto are popular for that reason. I could write volumes about anime, but let’s save that for another time.

Kids’ shows aren’t as great as before either. Then again, I grew up with Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street; I don’t think comparing anything with those shows is really fair. Dora the Explorer couldn’t hold a candle to Elmo and Cookie Monster!

I don’t want to be mean, but the shows of yesteryear trounce the shows of today. In terms of originality, story, characters, music and even design, the old toons tower over these pointy, shiny, new ones. That’s why they’re still being shown (albeit at the most obscenely late hours). And those great oldies that have been laid to rest at that great TV in the sky are still being sought by people like me on the Internet and on DVD.

Maybe I’m just getting old, and my tastes have changed, but I have to say that I would hate to be growing up on these shows (but I will admit that some are still awesome — SpongeBob SquarePants or Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends are remnants of the terrific toons of the ‘90s).

What kind of a childhood is one without the original Magic School Bus, Hey Arnold, Johhny Bravo, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Ahhh! Real Monsters? Well, not to sound juvenile, but it would be a totally lame childhood indeed.

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