Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cartoon Profiles: Droids

So what do you get when R2-D2 and C-3PO are licensed to appear in a cartoon series?

Probably the closest thing to a Star Wars universe story that just happens to be a cartoon instead of a movie.

Now, that sounds like a no-brainer. But the recent Clone Wars stuff (both the Genndy Tartakovsky hyperactive cartoon stuff and the CGI-based stuff) weren't quite Star Wars cartoons. (Genndy comes closer. My only problem is that he takes the Jedi just a smidgen too far. And, well, most of them weren't really stories so much as extreme fight sequences.)

Even though Droids was really a pretty weird experience, my immediate conclusion after watching just one episode (I've seen more than that, but I'm generalizing) is "Well, that's better than I ever would have expected." The animation is pretty good for the time period, as this clip demonstrates.

If you ever wondered what it would be like to see Artoo dance, well, you can thank me in the comments.

But one of the fairly key things that this cartoon does successfully, and which really makes it for me, is the fact that it sounds like Star Wars. The recent Clone Wars movie which bugged so many people didn't bug me for a lot of the same reasons, but it did bug me because it all sounded off.

The "good sound" of Droids can be attributed to the simple fact that Ben Burtt, the sound guy for the original movies, was a big figure in the cartoon's production.

As for the writing itself, Droids was relatively unusual next to its contemporaries, because it had serialized storylines. Watching one episode of Droids is... pretty dumb, really, because you're just getting a little chunk of something.

Also, unlike the Ewoks cartoon it is associated with, it's a highly energetic series (or so says my sister, who watched a few episodes of Ewoks with my kid brother-I was busy elsewhere at the time).

So you could do a lot worse than Droids did.

-Signing off.

1 comment:

liminalD said...

Droids and Ewoks were fun cartoons back in the day, but Droids was definitely better - it had much greater scope, and who doesn't love Artoo and Threepio?

I love the two Clone Wars cartoons - sure, the figures and textures of the newer cartoon felt a little stiff and wooden to begin with, but from the third season on the models used were slightly better proportioned and there was a greater appearance of softness and flexibility to the textiles and hair and so on. They toned down Ahsoka's more irritating tendencies and redesigned her and she became AWESOME. The stories were generally pretty engaging and well put together too - there were a couple of clunkers and some that were obviously for the kids, but there was some pretty grim stuff in there too.

The older Clone Wars was very sleek and stylish, and did quite a lot with its sparse dialogue and plots. It WAS mostly fight scenes, but they were incredible. And my personal favourite - we got Shaak Ti and Roron Corobb kicking ass. I also really like the way they handled Anakin's spirit quest on Nelvaan - the cave wall animation is especially ominous.

I'm really looking forward to Rebels, can't wait to see some more of Dave Filoni's take on Star Wars. And I expect it'll feel more like the original movies than ever with the architecture, ships and so on taken directly from Ralph McQuarrie's concept work :)