Vik's Top 5 Cartoons of the 90's
by Vik Azeem
If you weren't watching cartoons in the 90's you have already failed in life. OK, that's perhaps too harsh. Let me say that if you haven't watched the following shows you must simply take a trip to WalMart or Amazon (if you're lazy like me) and purchase these gems with no questions asked. To make it even easier, you can probably stream some of them on Netflix or download movies (tread light on the downloading if you have Verizon). No excuses here (except if you have jury duty).
Cartoons have come such a long way in the last twenty years. It's been like a snowball rolling downhill, gaining momentum, growing and growing before at last finally landing in a giant river of Mcdonald's Mac Sauce. Yes, tastes good, but drenched in it? Let's get to the list.
5. Dragonball Z
Let me preface by saying that I am not in any way biased towards anime. I have watched exactly one anime show in its entirety, and that is Dragonball Z. And that took about nine years. Yes, Cartoon Network was terribly slow in debuting new episodes and I actually had to get the Buu Saga on DVD in order to finish the show. That said, Dragonball Z is a highly unique piece of creative material. It's about a group of fighters who can never have peace in the world for long because a new villain conveniently and continuously pops up after the previous villain has been thwarted. You get extremely long drawn out action scenes, I mean like eleven episodes of one guy throwing a punch. And three episodes for a facial expression. BUT, fear not, the payoffs to these fights are always worth it (juice is worth the squeeze). It has a good mix of universal themes such as family, working together for a greater good, and training for battle against aliens. Goku on the surface seems to have a back story similar to Superman, and maybe that's why I hate him. But if Goku isn't your cup of tea, you may be drawn to Vegeta, the most alpha character in all of cartoon history. He is the anti-hero, who the writers of the show seem to hate as he never wins a meaningful battle. This guy trains like Rocky, in fact a common Rocky montage is what Vegeta does on his day off! It's the characters and the in-depth storylines that put this show in my top 5.
This may be a bit of a surprise entry, but I have to give major props to the entire original Nicktoons line-up. I’m talking the original trio of Doug, Ren and Stimpy, and Rugrats. Nick would go through several network transformations over the year, mostly for the worse. But back in the early nineties these three shows were all fantastic in their own right. But I only had room for one on the list and I went with Rugrats. Although a kid’s show it is similar to Gargoyles in how it still manages to entertain in different ways as an adult. I don’t have children yet so I assume that I’ll appreciate Rugrats on an even different level after I do. Sadly, Rugrats in later episodes replaced some of the voice actors and brought on board new writers who couldn’t quite capture the magic of the original episodes. But if you are able to catch the first three seasons of Rugrats, they are absolutely classic.
I went back and watched Gargoyles as an adult and I gained a whole new appreciation for how sophisticated and mature the storylines were. This is an adult show disguised as a kid's show that still works for kids also. As a kid, you see monsters taking on bad guys. As an adult? You see a tragic story about misunderstood monsters who are not the heros the city wants but the hero the city needs (sorry Batman). I can’t recommend Gargoyles enough if you enjoy intelligent storylines and deep characters.
The theme music to X-men would always get me hyped up on Saturday mornings. If you don't remember it, check it out on Youtube immediately. It made me want to toss my bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch across the bed and go start beef with my parents. "Clean my room mom? I don't think so!" Alas, no amount of mutant powers could prevent the broom shot to the head as I staggered up the stairs to clean my room. All of your favorite characters are here: Wolverine, Gambit, Cyclops, Beast, and throughout the show almost every character was given a significant storyline. The highlight of the show was probably the Phoenix storyline with Jean Grey. But it was always fascinating to follow the love triangle between her, Wolverine, and Cyclops. But I digress, if you love the movies you will love the cartoon.
1. The Simpsons
A show that is still going on 26 friggin years later. The Simpsons debuted in 1989, but I think we can all agree that the showed peaked in the nineties. Actually if you were to poll Simpsons fans I’m sure the consenus would be that the show exited its peak after the ninth season. It has still been better than most shows on television, but the nineties is where the show shined the brightest. The major difference between this show and the others on my list is that the Simpsons aims for comedy first and everything else second. One of the major things about the Simpsons in its first ten seasons is that beyond the comedy there was a lot of heart to the show and a surprisingly strong family centric element. The characters became more individual later on but it’s it early years the Simpsons really was a family based show.
If I missed one that you really enjoyed, maybe you should write some articles. No, seriously...we're always looking for more contributors. Talk some trash and then back it up with a list of your own! We'd love to hear from you.