We live in an era in human history in the West, in which nostalgia is serious business and trumps everything else like the Queen of Spades in a game of Queen of Spades. We have HD Remasters, compilations, shorter anime cuts, games that go “back to the roots”, and today’s article focus, cartoon reboots.
Because many of the cartoon reboots that are made, do not resemble actual reboots in the slightest. In fact, they resemble the out-of-use term of “Inspired by”, much more than they resemble reboots. And the resulting backlash has been huge. In this article, we will cover a few of these shows such as The 7D, Teen Titans Go!, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates, who tried to hype up their source connection during pre-release and had to pay the price for the bad marketing.
The 7D is a recent, ongoing cartoon on several of Disney’s channels, in which seven dwarves live near a monarchial town in which they’re the main problem solver squad. They also own a mine system beneath their house, and there are also two villains with amorous feelings for one another. Now here comes the problem: The main description Disney used for the show during pre-release, was that it was a modern re-imagining of the Seven Dwarves from the 1937 Snow White movie.
Why this is a problem? Because it couldn’t be much further away from how the cartoon actually is. The only things that are the same, is the names of the dwarves and that they deal with mining jobs part-time. That’s it.
The land now have a good queen, and the nearby town is called Jollywood. The designs of the dwarves have dramatically changed too, since they no longer resemble trolls, but are now much more like garden gnomes.
But since Disney themselves brought the Snow White movie into the equation, people naturally expected “Wow, a background story for the dwarves. Now we get to see what they were doing before they met Snow White!”. The result of the clash, was catastrophic, including bad reviews from American entertainment sites.
A similar destiny also befell Teen Titans, at least to those who were unaware of the existence of DC Comics’ 1-minute sketch campaign. Seeing as the new show was to be called Teen Titans Go!, the fans of the Teen Titans anime* naturally expected another overly deep, convoluted, shipping-friendly superhero cartoon with anime influences. And the result of this? Well…
When people saw that it was rapid-fire non-sequitir humor, the backlash from the old fans was gigantic. Since nostalgia seems to be as important to cartoon fans as eating and breathing, they felt hurt, and have complained about it on the internet ever since. While I could understand it if they felt that the humor was too rapid, I would only accept that reasoning if they also complained about Uncle Grandpa, which has a very similar humor style.
This isn’t exactly a 2015-only phenomenon either. Back in 2011, Playhouse Disney decided to release Jake and the Neverland Pirates. After allegedly having been originally planned to be based on Pirates of the Caribbean during early production, the source was changed to Peter Pan pretty quickly. The background story Disney provided for the new show, was that three Lost Boys pirates were doing pirate things, while Captain Hook had become so frightening that his entire crew but Smee had left, and had to pick up two random musicians in a harbour to build up something that resembled a crew.
While those who were inclined to like the show in advance actually did like it, there was one very hard potato to swallow for those who had seen Peter Pan 1 and 2 and early parts of the Disney Fairies books: Captain Hook. Especially in Season 1, the only possible thing that could’ve happened to him, was that he had become senile due to old age. He was a bumbling buffoon in every single sense of the term, he failed to complete tasks á la “Would you choose a circle or a triangle?”, had a memory of five seconds tops, and completely failed to acquire simple terminology for objects (Including calling a round football for a “bouncy kicking thing”). For the fans of the Neverland continuity, including me during the first year, it physically hurt us to see Captain Hook like that.
It got better in later seasons as they at the very least spun different twists on his senility, such as Jake taking advantage of that Hook always did the opposite of what Jake does, Hook having a heart of gold upon being able to let go of childhood traumas, and Smee adoring Hook’s quickly changing mood.
In about two weeks, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar will premiere in Norway. As it has become known to me that the Lion King fans hate it, this will be a curious thing for me to watch, to see whether they have once again blown a show’s early potential on selling it as not only a reboot, but in fact a continuation. I also don’t respect Lion King fans very much, so there is a sense of vendetta for me as the local premiere draws closer, but whether I’ll truly like it or find several details about it very irking, the latter of which is admittedly a very likely possibility, remains to be seen.
* = If Avatar: The Last Airbender is classified by cartoon fans as an anime, then so can Teen Titans 2004.