Does Everything New Suck?

Five modern shows that you'd have been proud to watch as an eight year old.
January 08, 2007
Like a lot of people here, I was an 80s child. I grew up on a steady diet of He-Man, the Centurions, Visionaries, Transformers, Go-Bots, Jem, M.A.S.K and... well, heck, basically every cartoon that went by.

Also like a lot of people here, I have fond memories of that time, a warm and glowing sense of nostalgia for styles, fads and trends long past. I could, and probably will, talk about that decade for hours.

But unlike a lot of people, here and in dozens of other places around the net, I didn't stop loving what was on television just because I grew past 15 years old. The more complaints that I see about how terrible animation has become, the more I want to scream from the rooftops just how good a lot of recent shows are.

So I will. Why am I putting this here on Retrojunk when it is so unashamedly recent? Because I want to show that the -spirit- of what we loved lives on, and that sometimes, as much of a nostalgic style can be found in what airs today as in a show we have to track down on DVD or BitTorrent.

5. Danny Phantom

Due to an unfortunate accident with his parents supernatural portal, Daniel Fenton becomes Danny Phantom, a teenager with supernatural superpowers who must track down the spirits he accidentally released and hide his ghost-related nature from his ghost-hunting parents, and the rest of the world.

Looking at my checklist... we've got a supernatural, powers and nature that he has to keep hidden... heck, a lot of the show reminds me of the animated version of Teen Wolf, and in a good way- it has the same supernatural premise, the mix of humor and action... and the jocks still dress as jocks have since time immemorial, if you want a nostalgic fashion buzz.

4. Kim Possible

The first of two teen superspy shows that I'm going to be listing, Kim Possible would have fitted well into any 80s lineup. Characterful recurring villains (like the awesome Doctor Drakhen, whose voice actor John DiMaggio can do a fantastic job of hyperbolic villainy), and support from an all knowing hacker back at base.

Also, like Danny Phantom, the show has a sense of referring back to styles and elements from the 1950s. Things like pipe-smoking scientists and buildings or vehicles with clean, sweeping lines- the kind of things that saw a revival in the cartoons of the 80s, because those things are timeless. ;p

Oh, and the jocks -still- wear the same clothing as ever they do.

3. Megas XLR

Evil aliens from the future are invading the planet, and only one man can save the world. One everyman, his rock-and-cheerleaders loving sidekick and their awesome trainer from the future, anyhow.
Simple fact- Jody Schaeffer and George Kirstic clearly love their old cartoons. Megas XLR is a show made for people that can remember things like G-Force, Wargames, rhinestone studded leather jackets, G1 Transformers, the Atari 2600 and a time when MTV actually played music.

Plus it's set in Jersey, so they're kind of at liberty to pretend the last 20 years never happened anyway. ;p

2. Totally Spies

Another show created by someone who shares a love of the 80s. The Beverley Hills setting, the valley girl stars, the set design that wouldn't have been out of place in Galaxy High... Totally Spies has been known to give me more of a feeling of nostalgia than some shows that were made in the 80s do.

And while the girls themselves may not be enamored of 1980s fashion, that's more than made up for by the fact that one notable episode featured a villain armed with the aptly named '80siser' gun. That's a degree of awesome that you just don't expect to see every day.

1. Justice League Unlimited

Perhaps the only show in the list that can directly trace it's ancestry back to cartoons of an earlier decade, Justice League Unlimited has a history that goes back not just to Batman: The Animated Series but all the way back to Challenge of the Superfriends.

Never intended as a full-on Superfriends revival, the show nonetheless resounds with references and homages to it's precursor show. On top of that, it counts as one of the best written cartoons on childrens TV in any era.

No. Not everything new sucks.

I've spent a lot of time in this article highlighting what I think is 'retro-noticeable' about modern cartoons, if only because this is a retro site. But really, that's not what's important. What matters most of all is that these cartoons are good. Every one of them deserves watching on their own merits just as much as because they have retro style.

I read a lot about the disdain many people of my generation have for the cartoons of this generation, and honestly, that makes me sad. Because when you get right down to it, I don't think that we stop liking cartoons because they got worse.

I think we stop liking them if we get old.

So do me a favor. Kick up your feet, commandeer the TV remote and give some of those shows a try. They're pretty much all showing. Watch, and remember what it was like when you were eight.

You might realize that the magic hasn't gone after all.
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