I love cartoons; always have and likely always will. Before you ask, no, I'm not too old for cartoons; you can never be too old for cartoons. With that in mind, I did a list of 5 Underappreciated Cartoons about a month or so ago and it was great fun.
I had an absolute blast with it and with all the negative stuff I've been seeing online recently I wanted something fun to do that would switch off my brain for a while.
So, here are 5 more underappreciated cartoons!
Number 5: Batman Beyond (1999 - 2001)
Also called Batman of the Future, Batman Beyond is set in a distant future Gotham and follows 16 year old Terry McGinnis as he takes on the Batman mantle following the murder of his father. He is mentored by an elderly Bruce Wayne and has to defend Neo-Gotham from crime in the same way that Bruce had done.
I'm a huge fan of the dark knight. Superman is cool, don't get me wrong, but there's just something about a man relying on his wits (and a few gadgets) to get things done instead of superpowers that just resonates with me. That said, even as a kid Batman Beyond seemed overdone. The idea was good and the execution wasn't bad but it just seemed so pointless.
My personal feelings aside, however, the show has a cult following and was a huge critical success during its 3 season run. Sadly, not many people are very aware of the series - unless they've watched it - so it doesn't get a lot of love anymore.
4: Braceface (2001 - 2004)
Braceface follows 8th grade student Sharon Spitz as she goes through the trials and tribulations of teenage life. Of course, her braces have a tendency to become electrically charged which causes wacky hi-jinks.
The show ran for 3 seasons from 2001 to 2004 and, from what I can remember, it was very popular with audiences. I'm not sure how I found the show but I think I just happened to catch an episode while channel-surfing. At the time it wasn't something that I'd have watched regularly but it was also not like anything else on television at the time - that I knew of.
Beneath the bright colors and crazy misadventures, Braceface covered a lot of very... mature subject matter. There were episodes about addiction, racism/prejudice and sexual identity (yes, really) that all served in setting up the whole "growing up" narrative for the character of Sharon Spitz. One thing that I noticed - talking about the different episodes - was that a lot of them deal with acceptance.
One example can be found in the form of Sharon's parents. Her parents are divorced, they still love each other but are no longer in a relationship. When they start to kind of move on and see other people it causes some tension between them and their daughter. There are a few other episodes with this acceptance theme going but the one that I remember the most would be episode 11 of season 1.
In this episode Sharon's braces are removed so that some new adhesive can be applied. She thinks this is the perfect time to get her first kiss and then things go a little bit pear-shaped. Her younger brother disappears and she has to kind of decide on whether or not to help her brother or get that kiss.
It sounds corny but this particular episode sees Sharon come to an important realization: you shouldn't have to change yourself for someone else. That was a good message for young viewers, although, I doubt many of them really caught the subtext. Still, this was a fun series and it's a shame that it didn't go further than the 3 seasons it got.
3: Jackie Chan Adventures (2000 - 2005)
This is a show that doesn't get much attention anymore and I think that's because it's largely faded into obscurity. Unless you watched this show as a kid or had a friend introduce it to you, it's not likely that you'd have heard of it.
Jackie Chan Adventures ran for 5 seasons from 2000 to 2005 and was met with favorable reviews. The series follows Jackie Chan, an archaeologist who teams up with a secret organization to prevent various baddies from taking over the world via supernatural artifacts...wow, just writing that synopsis felt surreal.
The series spawned VHS releases, a video game, books, comics and a magazine series. That magazine series was my initial intro to the series as a whole and I still have the full series - with the exceptions of a few issues that have gone missing - I still take them out to read every now and then too.
What? Why're you looking at me like that? It's a cool series!
2: Totally Spies!
Totally Spies is a French-Canadian animated series that ran from 2001 to 2002; airing 156 episodes over the course of 6 seasons. It was basically Charlies Angels - albeit with the focus more on the comedy than the action.
The show followed three teenage girls; Sam, Alex and Clover, as they're recruited by the agency WOOHP (World Organization of Human Protection) as spies and sent on missions around the world to stop various bad guys.
Now, as campy and silly as the show was; I can still remember this series quite well - 17 (almost 18) years later. The characters were all unique and quirky which helps them to stand out to me - even now.
Sam was the smart one who came up with most of the plans and kept everyone together. Alex was a bubbly, sports-loving ditz. Clover was the stereotypical teen girl; interested in shopping and fashion more than anything else...well almost anything else. She was also completely boy-crazy; going after any male she found attractive.
True, it's a formulaic show with the same chain of events occurring per episode but it's still a fun watch. Now, after show ended it seems that interest sort of faded away - after all what more can you do with a cartoon after 6 seasons on TV and a feature film? The creators apparently wanted to see if they could generate renewed interest in the series and, with that in mind, the company behind the show created a YouTube channel. Whether they were successful or not, I'm not particularly sure but now the whole series there to watch and enjoy.
1: W.I.T.C.H. (2004 - 2006)
Based on an Italian comic book series of the same name, W.I.T.C.H. follows a group of 5 teenage girls who are chosen to protect the universe from various fantastical threats.
The series was a smash hit, airing 52 episodes over a 2 season run from 2004 to 2006. Particular praise was leveled at the characters and the emphasis on friendship and teamwork. The characters themselves are fallible, they make mistakes, they fight; in short, they're more human than you'd typically get in a fantasy show like this.
Now, I first saw this during a re-run weekend and it quickly became something of a favorite. Much like Totally Spies, this was like nothing I'd seen on television at the time. It had a unique story, characters that you could like with amazing visuals and themes to match.
It also helped that the opening theme was freaking awesome!