THUNDERCATS Producer Talks Redesigning the Characters, the Anime Vibe, and Making Tygra Cooler

     January 27, 2011

Thundercats new series cartoon network image 2011 slice

The first official image from Cartoon Network’s new Thundercats series caused a big splash when it dropped a couple days ago, in part because of the extensive character redesigns.  Thundercats is a property precious to the hearts of many, and you have to be careful when you try to reintroduce it to a new generation.

Producer Ethan Spaulding realizes this, and went on record to talk about the new series, including the motivation behind some of the redesigns, the Japanese influence, and where Tygra’s whip was.  Read what he had to say after the jump:

Here are a few choice quotes from Spaulding’s interview with MTV:

On the approach to redesigning the characters:

We decided that it would be best to keep the core character traits of all the characters — specifically their colors — so at first glance you can tell who each one of them is. We really kept that core spirit of all the characters and just updated them with a little more realistic armor, and some of the ’80s aspects — like Lion-O’s exposed midriff. The original designs are great, but the world we have going on in this story, we had to fit our designs to that story, so that was our overall impetus.

On the “anime vibe”:thundercats-animated-series-image

The original show was done in Japan, and many people probably don’t know that. A lot of the artists went on to be in Studio Ghibli, and worked on [Hayao] Miyazaki’s first film. So “ThunderCats” does have a footprint in Japanese animation. We’re kind of going back and honoring that in the new series. I was always a huge fan of the original show and I love the Japanese animation and what they can do, so we’re really going back to the roots…

It’s more realistic, more real-world palette. The Japanese animations are great. The colors are keyed a lot different than the American animation, and there’s a little bit more variety going on. We’re fans of that style. You get a little more attention paid to the lighting in this show, the sense of atmosphere, and the scope of the project. We’re going for a movie feel, and hopefully we’re achieving that.

On making Tygra cooler:

Everyone wants to know about Tygra, but that’s sort of story-specific. I can’t reveal too much. Basically, we wanted to make him cooler than he was. The consensus was that he was the boring guy of the old show, so we wanted to make him more interesting and gave him another dimension. But don’t worry — he still has the whip. People were wondering where the whip was at one point, but it’s on his belt.

There’s more at the interview link.  For instance, Snarf, WilyKit, and WilyKat will appear in the series despite their absence from the photo.  You may also be interested in the November thoughts of fellow producer Michael Jelenic.