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The 80s didn’t suck, the 70s did

December 22, 2015

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So, watching Onepunch-Man #12 got me to thinking about the beeeeeeautiful animation in Irresponsible Captain Tylor. And that got me to thinking about older animation in general, particularly cartoons. And you know what I found? I found people being “cool” by saying the 80s sucked and the animation was clunky and you’d need nostalgia goggles to appreciate it.

I also found these people to be full of shit.

Now, a quick disclaimer. First off, I’m just talking about animation from the POV of a layman. Also, when I say the 70s, I don’t actually mean the decade. I’m talking about Hannah-Barbera. Because animation-wise, Hannah-Barbera sucked balls. Which in and of itself, is totally OKAY! It was a product of the economy/industry at the time. They had to find the balance between acceptable level of animation vs the willingness of the consumer to accept the product, and apparently that level’s pretty low.

And hey, there’s plenty of shitty animation companies, way worse than Hannah-Barbera, be in the 70s, 80s, 90s or even now.

So why single out Hannah-Barbera? Simple. Because they had a few super-awesome pop culture defining titles that stigmatized animation, leading to dumb people arbitrarily saying animation from the 80s was clunkily terrible. People picture recycled backgrounds, 5 frames for a running animation and stilted action when they think retro animation, and it’s kiiiiiinda H-B’s “fault”.

Look, 99% of animation, be it from the 80s or otherwise, is bad. I mean, just dreadful bad! But the 80s actually had a hell of a lot of shows that had animation or detail that just put so many shows to fucking shame.

So I’m going to rattle off a few and I invite you to go to YouTube or KissCartoon and check ’em out for yourselves. I’m not necessarily saying these shows are GOOD. I’m just saying their animation (OR detail) was good and people who say all animation from that era was bad, can suck a bag of rotting pretzels.

First up, let’s start with THE big boy of the 80s, Transformers. Transformers was, well, it wasn’t the best quite honestly, but it was hardly as bad as many make it out to be and honestly, you wouldn’t really spot the animation errors or inconsistencies unless you were paying more attention than you’d normally do for a cartoon. That said, it was still more fluid than the really crappy stuff and the backgrounds were fairly good.

Now, if you want the Real Good stuff, who ya gonna call? The Real Ghostbusters. Again, not the greatest “choreography” but by gum, honestly, look at that animation and those ghost designs. It was goooood.

Onto more obscure stuff, we have the Bionic Six. Oh good grief the Bionic Six. The picture quality’s not great, it hasn’t been remastered yet, but look at the absolute beauty of that show. Check out the pilot (Valley of Shadows) and finale (That’s All Folks) and tell me it ain’t gorgeous. Admittedly, again, fight choreography’s lacking and the dialogue coulda been stronger.

Next, we’ve got the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, which again, is a thing of utter beauty. To be honest, the animation’s quite limited, especially in the pilot. But the art is fucking brilliant. Galaxy Rangers was also my first exposure to Scarecrows as scary ass fucking demons. You gotta remember that the main alternative to scarecrows at the time was the Super Friends Scarecrow (in an admittedly really good episode) and the Wizard of Oz. Check out this bit and imagine showing THIS to today’s 3-7 demographic.

Silverhawks, another show that could have had better fluidity in its animation. But goddamn if it wasn’t pretty. Same with a lot of shows really. Silverhawks and Galaxy Rangers had absolutely brilliant settings. They were space cowboys WAY before Cowboy Bebop. GR in particular, introduced me to many many tropes. The character Shane Gooseman was my introduction to edgy angst. The dude behaved like Dirty Harry and was part of a Super Soldier program and his fellow Super Soldiers are spread out in space like all the assassin chicks in Kill Bill were.

And then we had shows like Robotix, which had really clunky designs but daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayumn, all that detail in the background and the robo-guys themselves.

Of course, if we wanna talk fluid animation, then aside from the aforementioned Real Ghostbusters, we’ve also got the Mighty Orbots, which was the full package as far as animation went. As was Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and Starcom (well, the pilots anyway).

Finally, a personal favorite of mine. Which wasn’t near as pretty as some of the shows mentioned above, but goddammit, I loved this show: Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. The dialogue holds up to this day.

The point is, there’s lotsa good animation out there and if you love anime and cartoons, you can still enjoy the older stuff. The surprising thing is that while the older stuff might not hold up as far as overarching stories go, and some of them weren’t even great episodically, a lot of them look fucking insanely good.

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