I grew up on He-Man, David the Gnome, Paw Paws and Pound Puppies. I can scarcely remember it but my mother has reminded me that in the mid-80s I had the Castle Grayskull set and a bunch of figurines. Thundercats, Gigantor(cause somehow it was on TV?) Dragon Ball and DBZ in Spanish cause that was the channel playing it before Cartoon Network ever got near it. That was my shit. Wondering what cartoons are the freshest in your memories or what you think about when you lazily remember your childhood.
I feel like once a year you post something about that show and I think “oh shit that’s that show I saw like two episodes of as a kid and could never remember the name of!” before immediately forgetting it and starting the cycle anew.
That’s a cool one that I found out about thanks to the internet.
My family didn’t have cable TV growing up, so I didn’t get many cartoons, but I did watch a lot of Disney’s Recess as a kid. That show was so good at capturing the creativity and wonder of youth, along with taking the schoolyard clique thing to an extreme.
It also had a pretty good episode about peaceful protest.
Spongebob Squarepants was also a big one.
That show was, and still is, a fucking trip.
I watched Gundam reruns whenever they came on, and I think that sparked both my love of giant fightin’ robots, and anime in general, which is what I spent most of my teenage years watching.
EDIT: I was the only one of my friends who’s parents let them watch The Simpsons (no idea), and to this day it’s probably one of my favourite shows (such a hot take, I know).
I feel lucky to have grown up with Batman: The Animated series playing regularly. I feel like there hasn’t been any action cartoons that have topped it, but I haven’t kept up on a lot of shows in my adult life.
I feel similarly about The Simpsons season 2-9. It may have informed a lot of my sense of humor.
I was super into Beast Wars in elementary school, and then Batman the Animated series (still the best film/tv version of Batman imo). Animanics and Freakazoid are classics. Jackie Chan Adventures is still a show I go back and watch again and again. In middle school I’d always to go over to a friends house to watch Rocket Power and some of the other afternoon Nickelodeon stuff that I don’t remember as well.
I think what I watched most was Studio Ghibli and Disney films.
Totoro was, in particular, a favourite.
I also remember watching things like Sazae-san, Doraemon, Sally the Witch, Chibi Maruko-chan, Anpan-man, and Crayon Shin-chan, but I don’t have much particular nostalgia for them.
When I think about my own aesthetics, sense of humor, and storytelling habits, I really think Batman: The Animated Series stands as one of my earliest positive influences. As much as I loved the Fox X-Men show at the time (and probably would’ve said it was my favorite, as a kid), B:TAS is the one my mind wandered back to as I grew older and thought about how to tell mature genre stories that didn’t try to “escape” their genre roots. Even just thinking about the Harvey Dent arc that runs across the show’s first season… God, very few American cartoons were doing stuff like that then! It showed such respect for the young audience, and the payoff was just
It’s also probably a big part of why I grew up to love Cowboy Bebop and The Big O. They shared animation teams, after all!
Other than that:
Gundam Wing got me back into mecha after being tentatively into them as a kid watching Robotech and playing Battletech/Robotech games. It also actually formed my tastes in a really weird way: I came to love the melodrama, faction-based politicking, and the (at the time) eye opening relationships between the lead boys, but hated the over-powered Gundams. It helped me understand what I liked about mecha shows, and eventually led me to real robot anime, especially those like 08th MS Team, Votoms, and 0080: War in the Pocket!
I could legit go on and on: I was a young devotee of The Real Ghostbusters and later, Gargoyles. And all of that is to bring up zero comedic shows, like Ren and Stimpy or The Simpsons!
honestly i watched more nature documentaries than cartoons as a kid so that was really my most formative influence
however i did also watch pokemon & spongebob and like…a lot more yugioh than i originally remembered until i recently watched some of the shows in earnest and realized how much of it seemed familiar
The usual afternoon players of the mid 90s were big for me, TMNT, B:tAS, Ducktails, Tale Spin, etc.
But the anination that left the biggest impression were the weird things that snuck in from the sides. Something popping up for a short while on Nickelodeon or showing up at the local video store. Probably from Japan or at least originating internationally. The Noozles. A Rupert the Bear animation with Paul McCartney.
The most resonant for me was a VHS home recording of Unico, two films about a little unicorn produced by Sanrio but created by Osamu Tezuka. Though Unico was a sincere and loving creature who always ultimately triumphed he/she existed in a deeply dark and psychedelic world out to ruin him/her and other beings of the world. The two movies we had have had a deep and lasting impression on the work I create.
I watched more garbage cartoons than I care to admit. I feel like animated movies were more formative. A few visually-striking movies jump to mind, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and the Rankin and Bass version of the Hobbit and the Return of the King (and I guess the Ralph Bakshi LotR one too) and of course the Ghibli movies.
There was a period in my childhood where my family had no cable for about a year or two, maybe three. The only channels we could get on tv was the most basic of channels, stuff like the news or network television. No Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, so if I wanted cartoons, I had to go with PBS. I ended up watching a whole lot of Arthur, Cyberchase and Between the Lions. Arthur definitely still holds up.
So for several years my brother and I were doing cartoons on youtube and now we have a Mister Rogers recap podcast so it is fair to say cartoons and childrens television good and terrible have shaped me hugely (and yes those are pretty shameless plugs but if it makes you feel any better we haven’t figured out how to monetize our dumb projects)
All the Disney Afternoon stuff was pretty big, DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck. the one that really sticks out for me is TaleSpin because of how very very weird it is, like, conceptually they took characters from the Jungle Book and transplanted them into a vaguely 40s alternate history setting about a small plane for hire company. also it really misled a young, impressionable as to the amount of dieselpunk he could expect to see in the world going forward.
is Rocky and Bullwinkle still on TV? I don’t know why it would be, but I don’t know why it would have been on when I was a kid because I’m not fifty. anyway I loved it, there was really nothing like it when I was a kid and not much like it even in it’s heyday, and smarter than it had any right to be. speaking of those cartoons I used to make one of them was basically an extended Rocky and Bullwinkle homage/parody/ripoff.
Tintin, do people know there was a Tintin cartoon? my mom used to watch it in French when she was growing up in Montreal so I guess this is another old one it occurs to me that I am painting myself as some sort of preternaturally old man who putters around the house in slippers and wears bowties. this is not an inaccurate picture.
ReBoot! see this one’s hip and modern, computer graphics and everything. I was big into computers as a kid and I was big in to Reboot and at this point I’m not sure which came first. I didn’t love it’s late season shift to darker more serialized stores if I’m honest, but at least we got a satisfying resolution to that arc. [the joke here is that we did not]
The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show which I only realized later was a bunch of old theatrical shorts packaged together into a TV block. it was so good, just pure classic cartoons, and Animaniacs followed pretty closely in that vein. Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, also very formative for my father who had his home office on the other side of a thin wall from the TV so he heard a lot of that show and references it to this day
Lastly, because I see I have written another enormous treatise again, it’s not a cartoon but it might as well have been, The Muppet Show was huge for me, we watched it every Sunday and informed so much of who I am today.
Batman: TAS. It remains THE definitive batman cartoon for me.
Behold, my personal holy trinity of “shonen shows shipped to america heavily based on tie ins with an existing card/video game.”
Trieze did nothing wrong…
Unico and the Island of Magic really screwed with my head when I saw it on HBO as a four-year-old. God damn evil sentient marionette!
Otherwise, my early years got a heaping dose of Voltron, Thundercats, and M.A.S.K. Later on the Disney Afternoon programs became a regular thing for me.
But that Unico movie specifically scarred me for life. Geez.
Courage the Cowardly Dog is why I’m weird, it’s why I’m good, hell yeah.
Beast Wars. I think I may have actually shed tears when Dino-Bot died.