Saturday Morning Cartoons!
December 19, 2011 3 Comments
Ah, Saturday morning cartoons. If you were a 90s kid, you must’ve experienced the joy of waking up early every Saturday morning to watch the cartoons you loved. It was the only reason to get up at 8 am in the morning. You grabbed your bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (because who doesn’t love CTC?), cuddled up in a soft blanket and sat up close to the television screen. Saturday morning cartoons were a treasured past time that almost every kid looked forward to at the end of each exhausting school week. But one of the most amazing things about Saturday morning cartoons was that they had anime. Oh yes, they were among the many blocks on channels that introduced little kids to the world of anime. Of course, I wasn’t aware they were called anime. They all seemed to be grouped together to be generally recognized as “children cartoons”. Each channel had something new and interesting to offer when it came to anime. So when two shows you loved aired at the same time, and some fancy technology like DVR didn’t exist yet, you had to keep switching back from channel to channel between commercials to get as much of each show as you could.
Among the cartoon channels I watched back in the day, there was Kids’ WB. They had plenty of well-recognized and highly-watched shows like Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures. But one of their most watched shows was Pokémon. Oh man, Pokemon. Every kid on the schoolyard went batshit crazy over the series, and when schools began to ban it, they started smuggling cards behind the buildings. It was definitely some hardcore shit. I’ll admit, I went crazy over it as well. I collected some cards despite never bothering to learn the game. I collected merchandise, ate food with Pokemon marketing. Anything that had anything to do with Pokemon, I had to have it. I’m not sure when I stopped watching Pokemon. I was certainly sure it was past the episodes that contained the original 150. Afterwards, I just stopped giving a shit about every Pokemon afterward. (With the exception of
Pikablue – I mean Marill)
Kids’ WB also had Yu-gi-oh, which a lot of my classmates were into as well, but not me. I really tried to get into the show, but could never understand what was going on, and the character designs freaked me the fuck out. I’m sure it was a good show in its own right, but just not for me. The WB also aired a show called Cubix: Robots for Everybody, which had just the weirdest, and admittedly some pretty god awful CGI. This was in the early 2000s though, so it was expected to look like crap. For some reason however, I bought a lot of kids meals to get the parts to build my 6′ Cubix figure, which I actually still have today. Why? Dunno, maybe I thought robots were fucking cool or something back in the day.
Back to shit I care about, Kids’ WB also had Cardcaptors Sakura which was quite the surprising and well-entertaining mahou shoujo show (though not my first). This was one of the few shows I watched with my sister (the others being Sailor Moon, Pokemon and Hamtaro). Cardcaptors had a unique concept for a show, where almost every week, there was a new kind of ability or power that Sakura would gain with each card she…captured. Erm, anyway… the show didn’t air for very long, unfortunately. No one in my class besides myself, even knew about the series. Regardless, it still remains one of my treasured childhood shows.
Moving on to another biggie of a channel, there was Fox Kids. The best thing on Fox Kids to watch, was Digimon. Digimon is my absolute favorite childhood show, and even to this day, I could remember how exciting it was to watch Digimon. Fox aired the first three seasons of Digimon (you know, the ones that mattered), and every other season afterwards was given to its bastard son, Jetix. Digimon had an excellent dub, with characters that had personalities that gave much life to the series. Again, I was also in the minority when it came to debates on Pokemon vs Digimon with my classmates. They called it a ripoff, but they were wrong. Oh, so wrong. Digimon had specially designed monsters and villains, along with an engaging plot from start to finish. Though I didn’t have anyone to share the experience with, I still fell in love with the series, and the movies that came along it.
Fox kids also had a show called Monster Ranchers, which I ironically assumed was a Digimon ripoff, but turned out to be pretty different. I only caught a few episodes of Monster Ranchers somewhere in the middle of the series but never followed through it properly. Oh well. Finally, there was a show called Medabots. Yeah this show was silly and generic as shit, but I still found it somewhat legitimately enjoyable. Robots that had little keys to activate them and were used to fight against each other, was a pretty bland idea for a show, but I still have a few good memories from watching that show.
And now we move on Toonami. Ah yes, one of the biggies. Although Toonami was just a cartoon block on Cartoon Network, it was definitely one of the most popular ones when it came to anime. The show that would usually come on were things like Rurouni Kenshin, the Dragon Ball series, Gundam and so on. The ones I did watch the most was Dragon Ball and uh.. Hamtaro. Now I never got around to actually finishing Dragon Ball. Whenever I tried to catch it when it was airing, it was in the middle of some arc and I could never properly follow the story. But of the ones I did see, the tournament episodes were among my favorites. As for Hamtaro, I’ll admit I did watch a lot of its episodes. Yeah, I was pretty young when it aired so that shit was just up my alley. For a show where mildly retarded hamsters ran around and had silly adventures, it was somehow entertaining. I can’t exactly explain the appeal of it at the time, but it sure was somethin’. There are some other shows I should note here that also aired on Toonami like Bobobo-bo-Bo-bobo or whatever the fuck it’s called, and Zatch Bell, but they never really caught my interest. Every once in awhile, Toonami would also air Miyazaki movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and whenever they came on, I would get excited to watch them, despite having seen them many times. Toonami was just incredible in the 90s (and early 2000s), but sadly it is no more. Rest in peace, Toonami.
There’s one other block of shows that aired on CN, and it goes by the name of Adult Swim. Adult Swim had a variety of mature, and well-received shows like Paranoia Agent, Samurai Champloo, Yu Yu Hakusho, and .hack. Again, I would only be able to see the episodes somewhere in the middle of the series so never really caught on to some of these shows. I did however, go back to some of them recently and view them in their entirety. One of these days I’ll get to finishing Hakusho. But one of the most memorable things that aired on Adult Swim that I did watch entirely, was Akira. Akira was a straight up awesome watch, and despite not knowing what in the hell what it was about at the time, I was fascinated by the glorious amount of destruction that occurred in the movie. Sadly, Adult Swim doesn’t air as much anime as it used to. Presently, it usually airs only Durarara, and Bleach (and occasionally FLCL), and while those aren’t bad shows per se, it’s just sad to see them be what is left of anime on Adult Swim.
And the last one I must mention here, and as it pains me to say it, there was 4kids. Now I know 4kids TV has bad rep for being one of the worst dubbing companies for anime, and for pounding their licensed shows with down-right unnecessary censorship (and I do agree), but I must admit, they did introduce me to some shows that I would’ve never picked up or heard of, if not for them. My favorite show on 4kidsTV, was Shaman King. Although Shaman King has some pretty corny writing and an upfront racist looking character, I admired the lore of the series. Kids fighting against each other by using the ghosts of historical warriors was a pretty neat concept, and the whole show revolved around a tournament to see who would be the next Shaman King. I can’t say this show was absolutely special and spectacular, even from a kid’s point of view, but it was still legitimately entertaining in its own right.
And so on there were other shows like Kirby’s Right Back at ya, which was pretty…. not good. Silly show that understood little about the actual game and felt about as awkward as watching that travesty Mario Bros movie. Same goes for their other video game adaptation, Sonic X. I really really hated Sonic back then, and I still do now. I tried watching X for the first couple of episodes, but it had just downright poor quality. Looking at their MAL pages, I’m surprised they even had that many episodes, despite not being very popular. Speaking of weird shows, they also aired Ultimate Muscle, which was not too bad? Yeah it had wrestling and wrestling was manly, but what in the hell was with these character designs. The humor was also really raunchy, relying on fart jokes and whatnot. But the main reason anyone watched this show, was for the fights and fights only. Every week, Kid Muscle would fight someone who had a unique way of fighting and Kid had to come up with new tactics and strategies to beat them. It was interesting in a way, though I never completely followed this series through. The last thing I want to mention from 4kids, was their licensed show, One Piece. Yes, I know they butchered the show with silly censorship and poor dubbing, but regardless I did watch a few episodes. I did find the series interesting, but got rather confused by the way they ordered their episodes. 4kids did indeed take out episodes completely which not only threw the audience off, but gave them a misguided direction of the progress of the series. I only managed to watch 5 or 6 episodes before I gave up on its dub. Eventually, I’ll go back to the original series and watch it properly for once.
Did you have any beloved Saturday morning anime cartoons? Tell us in the comments below!