First Impressions: Everything Wrong With The ‘Animaniacs’ Reboot

  • by Ben Yardley
  • 1 Month ago
  • 2

The highly anticipated reboot of the classic 90s cartoon Animaniacs is almost here, and the streaming service Hulu has dropped yet another trailer for the upcoming season.

Unfortunately, for animation nerds and fans of the original series, the most recent trailer is probably less impressive than initially hoped.

For starters, what’s up with the character designs, especially of the Pink and Brain duo? Their new designs are less rounded and bouncy, opting instead for a sharper, rougher style that emphasizes their fur with distracting and prominent lines not seen in the originally softer-on-the-eyes designs.

Compare the screenshot of Pinky and the Brain in the new Animaniacs show (top), to the screenshot of their designs in the original run (bottom). Images courtesy of Hulu/Warner Bros.

Untrained eyes might not detect much of a difference between the old and new designs, but more discerning viewers will notice the two lab rats now have more hair sticking out of their ears, and instead of fading the fur line on their hands and feet, there’s just messy jagged strokes to divide the fur on their wrists and ankles.

And why is the Brain’s brow so furry now? He looks like a long-lost cousin of the Brain instead of the real Brain we all know and love.

Moreover, what happened to the shading? There’s virtually none on any of the characters in the new show, which makes them appear flatter than they did in the 90s original.

The new Brain (left) versus the old Brain (right). Notice the lack of shading and messier eyebrows, as well as the more jagged lining in the new design compared to the smoothness of the original. Images courtesy of Hulu/Warner Bros.

In general, the animation is less consistent and soulful than the first series. Particularly, the animation of the Warner siblings is noticeably inconsistent. Sometimes it’s on point, while at other times it looks stiff and lifeless.

Yakko and Wacko specifically seem to suffer from this phenomenon throughout the new trailer. Sometimes they look just like their old selves, if not better. Other times, they look like bootlegged imitations.

And, disappointingly, the writing in the reboot appears to be much lazier than it was in the original. For example, the new trailer briefly shows a scene featuring the main characters drawn in an anime style in what is undoubtedly a spoof of popular Japanese shows.

While the Animaniacs themselves are still recognizable, there’s no denying they look a little off in some scenes. Images courtesy of Hulu/Warner Bros.

The thing is, this isn’t a fresh joke any more. Over the years, virtually every American animated series has played out this ‘joke’ of an anime-style rendition of its own characters. From Futurama, to The Simpsons, to Rick & Morty, to South Park, to, well, heck, Powerpuff Girls and Lilo & Stitch even got their own official anime adaptations.

Now don’t get me wrong, their anime counterparts don’t look bad or anything. But Animaniacs is better than this. It can be more creative than this.

And finally, I hate to bring it up, but the writers behind the Animaniacs reboot have forced this upon us: politics.

Yakko, Wacko, and Dot in anime form. Image courtesy of Hulu/Warner Bros.

Now look, I understand Animaniacs in the past was often a soft satire that was usually tame enough for kids to watch but clever enough for adults to appreciate. That’s all good.

But. As I recall, nearly every episode in the show’s original run showcased a very positive caricature of then-President Bill Clinton. You couldn’t escape it. Bill Clinton was in the original Animaniacs theme song wearing cool sunglasses while he jammed out on a saxophone. The Warner brothers and sister even gave him a shout-out in the lyrics of the theme song.

The contrast between how Bill Clinton was portrayed in the original run, to how President Donald Trump is portrayed in what looks to be a caricature of him as a disgusting cyclops monster in the recent trailer for the reboot, couldn’t be more stark.

If it wasn’t for the obvious double standard, this wouldn’t even be an issue. But considering Hollywood and a lot of the media we consume has noticeably become more and more polarizing as of late with accusations of being outright propaganda in some cases, it’s very disappointing to see this in what was once a mainstream show like Animaniacs which is primarily targeted at younger viewers.

I’ll have to reserve full judgment until I see how the joke is played in the show, but just going off the trailer – it’s not a good look.

Bill Clinton as portrayed in the original Animaniacs show. Image courtesy of Hulu/Warner Bros.
Donald Trump as portrayed in the Animaniacs reboot. Image courtesy of Hulu/Warner Bros.

Plus, you know, since the election is coming up soon it sucks to be reminded of it in an Animaniacs trailer. I was hoping for more escapism from a rough election year, which the first teasers (to their credit) did a good job of offering.

Another strike against the new show is that it apparently has gone and done away with classic Animaniacs characters for what seems to be nothing but political reasons. At the very least, a lot of iconic characters from the original series are absent from all promotional material released so far.

But, to be entirely fair, there are some bright spots in the new trailer. For one, the reboot has reunited virtually the entire cast of voice actors from the original series, like Tress MacNeille (Dot), Rob Paulsen (Yakko, Pinky), Jess Harnell (Wacko) and Maurice LaMarche (The Brain). And they all sound perfectly spot-on here, as if a day hasn’t gone by between now and the series’ original run.

Plus, the music in the trailer is extremely well-realized. It hits all the right nostalgic notes. (The jokes, on the other hand, are a bit more uneven, but I digress.)

Animaniacs debuts on Hulu on November 20th. Check out the new trailer below:

2 Comments

  1. I agree about the stilted look of Pinky and the Brain. The animation of the Warners has its problems but I mostly like it. As you say sometimes they look even better than the original show, although in general it’s less consistent. I disagree about everything else. The show has always been slightly left-winged and I don’t have a problem with it. I live in Spain but I would have found it weird if they didn’t have any Trump jokes at all. I thought the cyclop thing was an imaginative take on it. It probably make it less dated that other type of jokes. Also I remember original Animaniacs making fun of politicians like Al Gore (which was portrayed as the evil computer Hal from ‘2001’). The anime parts might not be fresh but I like it. It hasn’t been done with Animaniacs and it looks well done. There is not an infinite number of subjects to spoof and the original Warners also parodied ‘obvious’ things like ‘The Lion King’ or ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The main problem to me , apart from Pinky and the Brain looking more like a Family Guy kind of show, is that it seems very focused on the Warners and that may detract from the variety of the original series.

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