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Why I Like MCOG
« Thread started on: Mar 17th, 2012, 5:14pm »
It seems strange at 34, still liking a cartoon that is almost the same age I am.
Modern animation series, at least some that appear on terrestrial TV are poor imitations of their ancestors. Most are frivolous affairs and ver formulaic, with no real plot thread running through them.
You could argue that about Tom and Jerry cartoons, but those were just utter genius, along with the rest of the Loony Toons family.
A few 80's cartoons were ok, but full of morals and a bit too black and white. The "and remember kids, never play with matches" skit at the end of He-man, and other titles that have long since been forgotten, were so condescending it was incredible. These, like He-man, Thundercats and one or two others were good, but didn't leave a lasting impression.
So what makes MCOG so different. The animation, while good, isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but is pretty standard for the time. In retrospect, it does have a slight anime feel to it, but that was irrelevant in the 1980's, I just enjoyed it for what it was. The characters are easily identifiable and well portrayed, but the backgrounds were awe inspiring. When trying to remember what this show was, the only picture I had in my mind was the condor flying over a waterfall - it made such an impression.
Besides the animation, the story is well thought out and developed. Each character, the main ones at least, go beyond the surface. They have flaws, fears and moments of redemption that allow the watcher to gain (dare I say it) an emotional attachment to them, you want to know what happens to them.
This is high adventure - while very loosely based on a book (which I have never read) - there is a clear goal for each of the protagonists.
Find the Cities of Gold - Mendoza, Pedro, Sancho and to lesser extent the children
Find a Parent - Zia, Esteban
Find his ancestors, or their legacy - Tao
All these goals intermingle imperceptibly, drawing the story along and binding the characters to each others fate, whether they like it or not. The relationships between characters is also very complex. I'm not ashamed to admit - I love the character of Esteban - as it says in episode 1 he has a sweet nature. He is fantastically determined and optimistic, but also very vulnerable at the same time - Mendoza makes a great, but flawed, father figure - Esteban saves his life on several occasions.
There are moments that can touch the viewer as well - Esteban being told to treat his host like his own mother and the very last few minutes of the series itself.
The story itself is very much believable, yes there are things that stretch the imagination (a giant condor made of gold would be soooooo heavy), but the way the show is presented it is just possible that these things could have existed. A mixture of fact, fiction and science-fiction that works really well until the rather big surprise towards the end (the Olmecs - where the hell did they come from?) which plunges into Sci-Fi Fantasy. (I can't help thinking of the monkeys from the wizard of Oz).
I couldn't remember the final episodes at all, and I have a feeling that the latter stages I have never seen at all. Don't get me wrong, it works brilliantly (if a little bizarre), and has a very anime and Japanese type feel to it.
The end really is bitter sweet, and you can't help yourself from thinking what if? Was it the right thing to do?
I can't think of anything bad to say about the show, and it stands there amongst other shows like Dogtanian, the Dreamstone and Ullyses 31 (Sp?) which are very much in the same spirit of adventure (and very much adaptations of existing novels, except the Dreamstone).
If the new series is coming out soon, I really hope that justice has been done to the original - it has potential to be very, very good or very disappointing.
Here's hoping that we see Esteban, Zia, Tao, Kokapetl, Mendoza, Pedro and Sanchez very soon!