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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 276 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Feel the Magic, Hear the Roar: Thundercats Fans Speak Out
Aside from the boilerplate Saturday morning cartoon orgy, which was good for many years, 1985 and 1986 were pretty good years to come home from school to catch cartoons: Transformers, G.I. Joe, Voltron, She-Ra (yes I watched it, sue me), etc. One of the best of the lot was a cartoon about a group of anthropomorphized jungle cats who crash land on earth and establish a new life, fighting the forces of evil in the process – The Thundercats.
"Oh shit! Cheetara’s getting ready to shower! Mmm, that’s right baby, take it off…"
Led by Lion-O (for the longest time I thought his name was Lionel), the lord of the Thundercats, this group of crusading felines fought for truth and justice and managed to piss off a sorcerer mummy along the way. They were at first led by Jaga, an Obi-Wan Kenobi type and Lion-O’s mentor. There was also Panthro, a cross between Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee who is pretty much the only cartoon character ever to use nuchakus as his main weapon. Then there was the wise Tygra, who could camouflage himself like a tiger by turning invisible. Cheetara was the lead female who had super speed (and a killer rack and great abs and luscious ass…oh, god, I’m so wrong…). Rounding out the group was the twin Thunderkittens, WilyKit and WilyKat and Lion-O’s sidekick whatever-the-hell-he-was, Snarf. The source of the Thundercats’ powers was the Eye of Thundera, a mystical gem embedded in the hilt of the magical Sword of Omens that could call the other Thundercats whenever Lion-O was in trouble – which was every five minutes or so. Primarily fashioned as a dagger, the Sword of Omens could grow into a full-size sword when commanded and had a bevy of powers, including giving Lion-O the ability of “sight beyond sight,” allowing him to see danger when it manifested.
"WTF?! Go put some clothes on, Tygra you homo! Cheetara, you’re fine as is."
The story starts off as the Thundercats, inhabitants of a doomed planet, set out in space for a new life, but are attacked by mutants from the planet Plun-Darr along the way. Barely escaping, they’re forced to go into suspended animation while Jaga remains to guide their ship to the closest planet, Third Earth. Eventually, Jaga grows older than Count Dooku and disappears ala a Jedi Knight whose time has come. When the Thundercats land on the planet, the mutants pursue them in order to get their hands on the Eye of Thundera. When Lion-O was introduced, he was a kid obly as old as the Thunderkittens. But when he emerges, he’s fully grown with a power lifter’s physique, but still with the emotional development of the boy he was. The Thundercats fight off the mutants and set about establishing a life on Third Earth.
It’s not hard to imagine what Ssslythe’s trying to bite…
Their primary enemies are three of the mutants that attacked them: Jackal-Man, Monkian and Ssslythe, a reptilian. But their main enemy was a powerful mummy wizard named Mumm-Ra who could transform from a withered old husk into a ‘roided-up maniac whose only vulnerability was his ugly-as-sin mug when reflected back at him. When not causing trouble for the Thundercats, Mumm-Ra usually hung around his tomb in his own pyramid. There were other villains that the Thundercats encountered on Third Earth, including Hammerhand, a pirate with a steel arm, Grune the Destroyer, a renegade Thundercat, and the Princess Ta-She, who had the power of the Doomgaze, which could hypnotize men. In addition to the enemies that they made on Third Earth, the Thundercats also made allies including the Ro-Bear Berbils, robotic panda bears that are sweeter than a truckload of Starburst.
Although Mumm-Ra would never admit it, he did rather enjoy the Crotch Cam…
When watching Thundercats, it’s easy to see many of the influences that the creators used to shape the mythology of this cartoon. There’s the sword and sorcery element with the Eye of Thundera and Mumm-Ra, a space element with intergalactic travelers, a Superman element as the Thundercats are the lone survivors of a destroyed planet, a martial arts element with Panthro and the Thundercats’ code of honor, and a Star Wars element with the ghost of Jaga guiding Lion-O, among others. The stories that made up this show were varied and usually pretty good; and to a 13-year-old kid in the mid-’80s, Thundercats rocked. Upon seeing it today, the animation was sharp, but not quite as sharp as I remembered. Mumm-Ra was definitely one of the more original villains that I can remember. He was The Mummy long before Imhotep that’s for sure. And back then, and I could really identify with Lion-O, as deep inside, he was still pretty much a kid. And Snarf was always good for a laugh. But my favorite Thundercat was Panthro, because I dug that he used an unconventional weapon, could kick serious ass and he invented the awesome Thundertank, the Thundercats’ version of a Hummer. And was it just me or did Cheetara inspire serious thoughts of bestiality?
The weirdest moment on the show was definitely when Michael Jackson made a guest appearance…
If there’s one bad thing about Thundercats, at least from my perspective today as opposed to back in the day, is the thinly-veiled morality that emanated from every episode. This show, although utilizing many of the different elements that older fans could to relate to, this was definitely a show made for children. Lion-O was not only discovering how to be a man and a leader, but also just a decent person. And although he got to put foot to ass every now and then, he had to learn the lesson every episode. Jaga would show up every couple of minutes to tell Lion-O how he was screwing up at any one particular time. Me personally, I would have seen if the sword could cut a ghost after awhile. Still, this was a very unique show and it still holds up well twenty years later, especially Cheetara (mmmm Thunderass…)
7.9 out of 10
Tarzan was looking a little fem in his last DVD movie…
Nice. The transfer is pretty good and it’s easy to see that this show inspired a lot of the anime to be found today, although the characters could seem to alternate from clearly and well-drawn to blocky in places. Unfortunately, it’s also in TV-screen. But did I happen to mention Cheetara by the way?
7.5 out of 10
The music for Thundercats was very distinctive and catchy, and it comes through nicely in Dolby Digital. There’s also available Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles. Gatos del Trueno! Hooooo!
7.5 out of 10
Panthro was lucky that Thundercats came along when he lost out on Game of Death to Bruce …
The only goody on this set is a seven-minute feature, Feel the Magic, Hear the Roar: Thundercats Fans Speak Out, where a couple of Thundercats super fans, including Wil Wheaton, strangely enough. They encapsulate the show pretty well in the amount of time they have, but the real draw of this feature is seeing Wheaton sing the Thundercats theme song. Scary.
4.0 out of 10
The box art of this set is cool to say the least, although I didn’t get the full set, but the first two discs. Still, the packaging I had featured the Thundercats symbol with a felt cat’s head. Tres bitchin’.
8.5 out of 10
"Hey Cheetara, this ain’t my only weapon that grows…"