Okay, I’m just going to say it: I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I always have ever since I was a kid. I used to watch the cartoons and live action movies and play with my hefty collection of TMNT toys all the time. All. The. Time. The thing is I didn’t know I still loved TMNT until very recently, when I started watching Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.
Yeah, it’s pretty darn fantastic, and for a bunch of reasons.
Firstly, let’s just take a peek at the voice actors shall we?
Do you recognize any of those guys (the human ones)? Let’s take it from left to right: Donatello (purple) is voiced by Rob Paulsen, who has voiced pretty much everything, but you might recognize his voice most from The Animaniacs. Raphael (red) is voiced by Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee, the bromantic love interest of Frodo Baggins in that one movie series called The Lord of The Rings. Michelangelo (orange) is voiced by Greg Cipes, who also has quite a substantial list of credentials. Finally, Leonardo (blue) is voiced by Jason Biggs, that guy you fell in love with as he did unmentionable things to baked goods in American Pie. These guys are joined by a solid cast and some fantastic guest-actors, such as Lewis Black (I know!).
Great acting aside, this show stands strong for other reasons too. One of these reasons is the stellar animation. Seriously, this show has the best animation of any series that I have ever watched, and I watched A LOT of cartoons growing up. The animation is CGI mixed with classic cartoon and comic styles. This makes for some severely awesome action sequences and some enjoyably quirky visible emotions.
Probably one of the biggest reasons the new TMNT is so great is because it isn’t trying to be the beloved TMNT incarnations of the past. It has found the right balance of old and new; being just different enough to be fresh and exciting, but not neglectful of its roots. An example: Mikey’s catchphrase has changed from “Cowabunga!” to “Booyakasha!” and I’m perfectly fine with it. Purists may get their panties in a bunch about that one but what kid nowadays knows what the hell cowabunga means? Heck, I watched the old cartoons as a kid and I still don’t know what it means other than “Mikey is about to do something really freaking cool”. The show makes sure to appeal to kids of today and does so successfully with minor things like turtle-esque cell phones and mp3 players and the use of a social networking site called MyFace. But, these things that are used in order to appeal to kids also appeal to adults. This leads me to my next point.
This animated series is extremely entertaining for both kids and adults. It has some good lessons for kids, but it isn’t annoyingly in your face about it as other cartoons might attempt to be. Plus, the action scenes are just super freaking cool no matter your age. It also has some great humor for both kinds of viewers. For real, I laugh a ton during every episode. One of my favorite moments was when they made a throwback reference that probably only the older viewers would get, when Mikey said he wanted to get a tattoo of his face on his face and this happened…
In addition to the fantastic animation and comedy, this show also has some pretty solid character development and storylines. The writing is nothing less than great. Unlike some cartoons that might be out there, this show doesn’t just drop the viewer into some pre-established setting in which various meaningless and silly situations happen for an episode and then that’s it. When this series begins the Turtles still have yet to venture into the real world outside of the sewers. They are still growing and learning to master their art, and most enjoyably, they act like actual teenagers. The show tackles individual character development (like Donnie realizing a stick is a horrible weapon compared to katana, but learning to use it properly) while taking the characters through some decently long story arcs that branch over multiple episodes and build relationships.
Now, I know what you might be thinking after all this: “Daniel, aren’t you an adult? Why are you watching a cartoon? You’re a loser! Get a job!” Firstly, yes I am an adult. Kind of. Secondly, I believe it’s perfectly fine for an adult to watch a cartoon, if the cartoon in question is done right. I’ve already given some good reasoning for that and why this show in particular falls into the “okay for adults to watch” category. The new TMNT show reminds me of the older classic animated series such as Batman and X-Men. These shows were pretty adult, aside from them not being live action. These kinds of animated series are humorous, but also have depth and are interesting. They’re not made up of one-off silly, mind-numbing episodes. Perhaps the biggest thing these shows have in common is that they don’t treat children, their target audience, like idiots. They are made up of good themes, dense storylines, and characters with depth. That may be the most important part of all of this. These shows entertain young people while not talking down to them in the process. So yes, I am an adult who watches (some) cartoons, and you should too! Plus, TMNT was good enough to get picked up for two more seasons. So there’s that.
Plus, just listen to this awesome theme song