[Update: Check out a trailer for the new ThunderCats cartoon!]
Children of the '80s, your latest nostalgia trip is drawing near. After announcing last June that ThunderCats would return to television on Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. has released the first official artwork and a revised plot synopsis for the series.
The new show will be animated by STUDIO4°C out of Japan. The animators are veterans of anime movies and TV shows, as well as notable western work like the latest Transformers animated series, as well as the Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight film tie-ins.
While the original ThunderCats was also produced in the United States and animated in Japan, the anime influence is much more intentional and obvious for the new series. You can see the Japanese heritage in Lion-O's shorter, more segmented hair and asymmetrical costume. The more exaggerated size difference between the characters (Cheetara is smaller and waifish, while Panthro is a huge bruiser-type) also feel very eastern. The new look should allow for much better differentiation between the main cast.
Warner Bros. has also released an extended synopsis for ThunderCats:
The new “ThunderCats” will appeal to viewers who have loved the characters all their lives as well as young newcomers to the franchise. A sweeping tale combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles with the highest of stakes, the grand origin story of Prince Lion-O’s ascension to the throne – and of those who would thwart his destiny at any cost – takes on epic dimensions in this sharp new telling. As the forces of good and evil battle each other in the quest for the fabled Stones of Power, Lion-O and his champions learn valuable lessons of loyalty, honor and mortality in every episode.
The newest incarnation already has a promising pedigree in executive producer Sam Register, who's worked on everything from Teen Titans to the previously mentioned Transformers. He's also an executive producer for Young Justice, as well as the generally top-notch series of DC Universe features like Batman: Under The Red Hood and the upcoming All-Star Superman. Michael Jelenic (writer of Wonder Woman and Legion of Super Heroes) and Ethan Spaulding (Avatar: The Last Airbender) are also producing.
Check out the trailer for the ThunderCats cartoon on Cartoon Network:
In addition to the official artwork, fan site ThunderCats Lair snagged a few photos from the London Toy Fair. In the finest tradition of 80s cartoons, the series is being made with an eye for its merchandise. You can see action figures for Lion-O, Cheetara, Panthro and Tygra, as well as a plastic Sword of Omens and what looks like a faithful recreation of the Thunderian's car/tank.They also got a look at some more promotional art.
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There is also news about ThunderCats' voice cast. Larry Kenny, the original voice actor for Lion-O, will return to play Lion-O's father, Claudus. Matthew Mercer, who's had bit parts on dubbed versions of anime favorites like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun as well as video games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, will play Tygra. These two are the only voices cast so far, but Panthro's revised character model looks perfect for fellow Bebop alum Beau Billingslea.
ThunderCats is scheduled for a 2011 debut on Cartoon Network.