Several times in recent weeks, I have had occasion to comment that I am currently watching as many or more western cartoons than anime at the moment. In no way is this meant as a slam to anime. I still like it. I’m way behind on my watching, but that’s no one’s fault but my own. ^_^
I’ve written about Steve Universe several times already. It is, in my opinion, one of the finest cartoons I’ve ever watched, with moments of genuinely brilliant, Emmy-worthy writing.
Today I wanted to mention two cartoons that could not be more different if they tried.
First, if you are a fan of magical girl anime, you really must be watching Star vs the Forces of Evil. Star is a magical girl princess who has come from another dimension (As the OP says, “I ain’t from ’round here”) to live on Earth and the adventures she and her best bud Marco get into. It’s…well, it’s fantastic. ^_^
The story is smart, riffing on plenty of magical girl themes, but also just taking an intelligent tack on funny quirks of the genre, adding a dash of wacky and keeping the writing real for characters that are meant to be teens.
Star and Marco are often accompanied by a floating, glittery unicorn head and, of course, face evil bad guys, but the best episodes are often in the way every-day issues are blown out of proportion with magic. Shopping in “Quest Buy” with a gift card that if Marco doesn’t use, when it expires, will take them with it, for instance. A recent episode worth watching goes into the details of how Star’s magic wand has become corrupted and must be fixed. (Click this link and watch it, at least for the OP, but the episode is a decent one, as well.)
The pacing is generally fast, the episodes are “wackiness ensues” with lots of screaming.
The characters are likable. Marco and Star’s friendship is a friendship….and a good one. They have both had feelings for each other, but asymmetrically (which is the subject of a recent arc, in fact. This is the same arc which included same-sex kisses in a scene, a first for a Disney cartoon.) They make a great team, but are not perfect or one-dimensional. The bad guys do tend to be more for humor factor than any real threat. As handwaves go, it’s perfectly acceptable. It’s not that there isn’t a progression to the series, but most episodes can be viewed with no more information than that provided in the opening animation, but if you watch it regularly, you can see that there’s a definite change in Star and Marco’s relationship with each other and with their other friends (who do get caught up in their adventures, so yeah, they know Star’s a magic princess.) The writing assumes the audience is not a bunch of duds, which is refreshing. Things we’re thinking are things the characters say.
Ultimately, if magical girls without creepy service is a thing you’d enjoy, you’re probably going to enjoy Star vs the Forces of Evil. I certainly do.
Secondly, as far from the enjoyable teen antics of Star as possible, the other cartoon I’m consuming obsessively is:
Archer. No one who knows me well will be even remotely surprised that I like this cartoon. It’s vulgar and violent, but written for “mature audiences” as they warn you. This is not the immature tee-hee of fanservice. This is the hearty guffaw of “eat a bag of dicks” and nudity.
A fairly brilliant parody of the super-spy narrative idealized by James Bond, Archer is really, really offensive. Remember, as Miss Meteyard said, ““Some people can be funny without being vulgar, and some can be both funny and vulgar. I should recommend you to be either the one or the other.” Archer is funny and vulgar. It also must be the most fun job to voice act in the world. Aisha Tyler as Lana Kane is the absolute epitome of voice-acting in America right now, but it is the bitter, rich, intolerant, alcoholic Mallory Archer who speaks deeply to my soul. I aspire to her glorious level of incendiary, incandescent loathing. ^_^
A good example of why I like the series is this line, in which Archer complains about an overcomplicated CIA plan, “all it needed was a sign that said, ‘free bird seed.’” Laughed for a good ten minutes at that.
There’s a lot of implied sex in the series. Lana is primarily straight, but Pam has had sex with all the other woman in the office and some of the men. Cheryl/Carol is…who the fuck knows what she is, and while Mallory is always looking for a sugar husband, we are led to believe that she has also had sex with Pam at least once. One of the agents, Ray, is gay (and sometimes lacking the use of his legs or an arm) but he’s never gotten anything for it but a bunch of really insensitive jokes.
So, that’s what I’m watching right now. What are you watching these days? It’s an open thread in the comments! Let’s have those cartoon recommendations!