80's Cartoons

Cubo has a new Night Owl programming block, with He-Man, She-Ra, and Bravestarr. As I write this now, Bravestarr is showing. She-Ra was on the previous half hour. What strikes me as the strangest thing is the visual style of these shows. Both were produced by Filmation in the 1980's, but... there's something else about them that I could have never recognized as a kid.

The visual style for both very much resembles the weird mingling of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and whimsy that Heavy Metal used. I suppose it isn't terribly surprising because Heavy Metal was released in the early 80's. Given what it was, it had to have been a massive influence on the animation industry. It was too gorgeous and adventurous to not be. It certainly wasn't aimed at the children though.

But these cartoons were aimed at children. Or maybe not really. I mean, they have after-school special type plots and public service announcements (the episode of She-Ra had a PSA about 'bad touch', for example), but I don't think modern cartoons would handle an episode about racism and greed quite the way this Bravestarr episode has ("Kerium Fever", incidentally). I know that Larry DiTillio, (or was it Bob Forward Jr.?) wrote for several Filmation series in the 80's, and one only has to watch Beast Wars to understand that Mr. DiTillio (or Mr. Forward for that matter) doesn't exactly aim everything he writes squarely at the kids.

These cartoons weren't the absurdly watered down things we see aimed at kids today either. While the morals hit you over the head like a hammer, the villains, as LittleLostGeek puts it, are nightmare fuel. Then again, the earliest memory I have of watching cartoons involves watching the Night On Bald Mountain sequence from Fantasia, and that should have scarred me for life by all accounts.

Truth be known, I missed most of the 1980's animation, seeing them long after the toy lines they were designed to sell had ceased to exist. He-Man was brand new when I was born, and I was three when Transformers debuted in the US. So maybe I just like old things.
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