ThunderCats (2011) is an American/Japanese animated television series, produced by Ethan Spaulding and Michael Jelenic. The series is a reboot of the original 1980s TV series of the same name which ran from 1985 to 1989.
While the old series was produced by Rankin/Bass, the reboot was developed by the American company Warner Brothers Animation, who owns the rights to ThunderCats, in collaboration with the Japanese company Studio 4°C. Unlike the original series which had an American look, the 2011 series has a Japanese Anime look with elements of western animation.
Despite being based on the original 1980s TV series, the 2011 version differs greatly from it. Apart from the muted color schemes of the Anime characters, the story was also given a much darker and mature tone. A lot of the focus was on character development and the story arc which had numerous sophisticated themes. All of this made the show seem more like a movie than an animated series.
Even though many of the characters from the original show are included in the 2011 version, their appearance and personalities have been greatly modified to fit the darker tone of the new show. The 2011 series also introduced a number of brand new characters, locations, and items.
The show premiered on Cartoon Network on July 29, 2011 in an hour long pilot. The 2011 series was planned for 52 episodes spread over two seasons but unfortunately it was cancelled after only the first season of 26 episodes on June 16, 2012. While initially it was stated that the show had been put on hiatus, Art Director Dan Norton confirmed in early 2013 that the show had officially been cancelled. Reruns of the show later aired on Adult Swim's Toonami block along with Sym-Bionic Titan.
The animation duties on the 2011 ThunderCats show were split between Warner Bros. Animation and the Japanese company Studio 4°C. The look of the new series was vastly different from the original ThunderCats show. The character designs showed heavy influence of Japanese Anime, a look that the original 1980's show strove hard to avoid. The entire show also had a very muted color scheme with earthy tones dominating the palette.
The music of the 2011 ThunderCats show was composed by Kevin Kliesch. He has revealed in interviews that he took inspiration from John Williams, James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith, among others. The music was largely orchestral, however Kliesch also incorporated elements of electronics into the composition.
- Main article: ThunderCats (2011) Cast and Crew
The show centers around the young ThunderCats prince Lion-O and his band of Thunderians as they are forced to flee their once thriving kingdom of Thundera after it is attacked and destroyed by the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra and his Lizard army. Lion-O, who wields the powerful Sword of Omens, must lead a small band of surviving Thunderians to seek out the Book of Omens which is said to have the knowledge needed to defeat Mumm-Ra.
- Main article: ThunderCats (2011) Characters
- Main article: ThunderCats (2011) Episode Guide
The pilot episode of ThunderCats 2011 was watched by over 2 million viewers and was among the highest rated shows for that night. The show received a lot of positive reviews, being described by some critics as "amazing" and "epic".
Most of the praises were directed towards the show's stunning visuals and the mature and complex storyline as well as the character development. The show received positive reviews from most of the critics. However, some critics gave negative reviews to the show, criticizing it as being a marketing ploy for a new toyline.