Tuesday, June 9, 2015

PowerPuff Reboot: Pre-Release Thoughts

Well, well, well, things are starting to look up here. When I first heard that Cartoon Network was rebooting the Powerpuff Girls, I admit that I was a bit more than concerned. Partly because after I saw the anniversary special I saw an underwhelming and ultimately disappointing return of the girls to our TV screens. While the original voice cast returned for the special, the art style and writing that we were familiar with did not join them. The lack of any involvement by series creator Craig McCracken certainly didn't help either, but this was pretty much something that couldn't be prevented after he walked away from the series after it ended in 2005.

Cartoon Network seems to be trying to redeem itself with this upcoming reboot and the recently released information regarding the cast, new art style and the new executive producer for the series. Without further ado, let's get to my thoughts on the upcoming release. I'd compare writing styles, but until the pilot of the reboot is released I can't do so.

Art Direction

The art for the 2014 special. Oh, God... *Vomit*
Well, let's start with what we had in 2014, which gave me great concerns that this would be used in the 2016 reboot. In mid-to-late 2013, we were given some sneak preview images of the art direction that upcoming special would take. The plan was to use CGI animation to create the special, and it went drastically far away from the classic art style the McCracken brought with his original vision when the series was first released in 1998. Some characters did retain their designs under this animation style, but the girls themselves and villain Mojo Jojo were drastically changed (See image above for the girls). Needless to say, this should have been the indicator that things would be changing, and not for the better, by the time the special itself was released.

The recently released art for the 2016 reboot. Now that's more like it.
June 9th, 2015, Cartoon Network released some images of the new art style for the reboot. This is what I was hoping for in the 2014 special, something that closely resembles the classic art direction of the original series. Nothing trying to be edgy, no crappy CGI work, just a classic 2-D art that will make classic fans happy.

Voice Cast

The new voices of the girls. Not sure about this one.
This is the hard part of the announcement for me to discuss. As I stated in my notes about the 2014 special, the original cast from the series reprised their roles. For the new series, the only one reprising their role is Tom Kenny, the voice of the Mayor of Townsville. Cartoon Network decided to cast Amanda Leighton of Pretty Little Liars fame as Blossom, newcomer Kristen Li will voice Bubbles, and TV movie actress Natalie Palamides will voice Buttercup. This is a bitter pill to swallow, reading that none of the original actresses are reprising their roles.

"I have NO ILL FEELINGS for the actresses in the new PPG," Tara Strong, the original voice of Bubbles, said on her Twitter on June 8th when she first heard of the new casting. "We were just beyond hurt we were NEVER asked..." We, meaning Tara and her co-stars Cathy Cavadini (Blossom) and Elizabeth Daily (Buttercup). It's a shame that we won't be hearing those same voices that made these characters memorable, but hopefully this new cast will surprise us. That or Leighton will make a "Pretty Little Liar" out of me. ...Okay, I'm just gonna shut up now.

Production Team

Right now, we don't know anything about the writing team for the upcoming reboot, but what we do know is that Nick Jennings, the man who has helped direct Adventure Time and Spongebob Squarepants, will be on board as the executive producer of the new PPG. Jennings has won an Emmy for his work on Adventure Time, which already gives me some hope for the series. If he can find the right staff to work with him on this series, we could have a more true to the original reboot than I had feared we wouldn't have.

Bottom Line

With this new information, I'm leaning a bit more towards the excited side of the spectrum than before any of this was released. While I am sad that Cavadini, Strong and Daily will not be reprising their titular roles, I do have good (ish) feelings about this new team. I'm also glad that they did at least go into imitating the original art style for the upcoming release instead of something that would make the 2014 special look brilliant. Let's hope this all holds up next year.

Until the next review, have a nice day!