The 1990s held a treasure trove of childhood cartoons that many remember fondly. Nickelodeon had “Rugrats” and “Spongebob Squarepants,” while Disney Channel had the original “Ducktales” and “Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers.” However, despite the amount of legendary series at the time, a little cartoon on a small channel would leave an impact on viewers like no other: 1993’s “Animaniacs.”
Following the antics of the Warner siblings and their cartoon cast, “Animaniacs” was revered for its Looney Toons-like presentation with attitude. It wasn’t like other cartoons, donning a style fitting the 90s standards of wit and satire. Since the series’ end in the 1999 feature film “Wakko’s Wish,” many had long-awaited the day when the Warner siblings would return to poke fun at more subjects. Now, 2020 has realized that wish with the Animaniacs Hulu exclusive reboot, simply titled “Animaniacs”.
Boasting the return of the original voice actors and passionate writers, the reboot had lots of hype around it. Thankfully, the release of season 1 on Nov. 20 lives up to the expectations.
Humorous, even 22 years later.
Amazingly, the show maintains it’s witty and satirical humor even after all this time. The original often poked fun at 90s culture and politics. In the even weirder times of today, the show has a surplus of fuel to keep the satire coming, such as jokes about President Donald Trump or how things have spiraled out of control since the Animaniacs last appeared on TV. With this style of humor front and center in the reboot, it’s like the series never ended.
Perhaps one of the funniest jokes is the constant poking fun of the reboot’s existence. These days, reboots are known to be hit-or-miss, led by a Hollywood desire to revitalize a franchise in the name of profit. The writers and the Warners are aware of this perception, and the show highlights this through a bombastic and witty song.
Of course, the mature and adult jokes also return, though less common than before. The Warners also make sure to reference running gags from the old series to viewers watching, such as the return of Bill Clinton playing the saxophone or Wakko’s sandwich.
Catchy and Witty Songs
Just like the original, the reboot features some good musical numbers. While the songs aren't as memorable or impactful as the old songs like Wakko’s “Nations of the World,” there are exceptions that showcase the Animaniacs satire the show is known for. This time around, the show treats its viewers with the Warners’ witty Reboot song or Dot’s “Suffragette City.”
Never out of place, the musical numbers are a welcome return to form for this reboot, as some of the greatest aspects of the show’s legacy came from its songs.
While the reboot kept the same formula, some adjustments had to be made for the Warners’ 2020 debut.
One significant difference was the sudden cut of the entire supporting roster of toons. Pinky and the Brain made a triumphant return, but the rest of the Animaniacs are nowhere to be seen. Characters may be referenced, but there’s nothing beyond a mention or a cameo. The change may have left old-school fans divided, but the cuts have allowed for more screen time with the Warner siblings and the rodent duo.
Another change fans noticed is the animation itself. It may not be as detailed or cartoony as the original, but it sure has a glossy new coat of paint. The first episode jokingly states you’re not watching a rerun, but a new Animaniacs with a new style. The technicalities are minor to the average viewer, such as vector outlines and a widescreen format, but when all added together, it looks amazing to see classic characters return looking better than ever.
The focus of humor has also shifted to situational-humor rather than verbal. The writing is still amazing, but there are entire scenes where the comedy lies in what’s going on, such as an exaggerated modern anime-styled fight or the Warners finding themselves selling out like most reboots in this age.
Without a shadow of doubt, this reboot is phenomenal. It’s the same “Animaniacs” everyone knows and loves, but with a hint of that modern zing combined with an emphasis on the show’s most popular characters. The Warners are cartoony as ever, Pinky and The Brain are still up for world domination, and everything is still totally insane-y.
In the age of cartoon reboots, it’s very comforting to see the resurrection of the Warners’ antics. They’re not your parents’ “Animaniacs”, but they’re not too different either.
The “Animaniacs” are selling out, but they know they’re doing it, so it’s cool.