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Author Topic: The best superheroic animated cartoon of the 2000s is...  (Read 1498 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: November 13, 2006, 12:37:23 PM »

The Disney LEGEND OF TARZAN series.

The cartoons are a very pleasant surprise, because I thought the movie was not that great. But the series on the other hand, were obviously Burroughs inspired, and in a world filled with Tarzan on screen and stage, the Tarzan cartoons are the only ones that have really been able to duplicate a lot of the things that made Tarzan so magical.

For instance, the cartoon has a lot of fantasy elements, magic, witch doctors, and strange lost worlds filled with surviving Atlanteans or Ancient Romans. These are elements of Tarzan that are just never seen in versions of Tarzan on screen, where Tarzan is reduced to just another kind of jungle adventure series. My friends who only know Burroughs for Tarzan, and only know Tarzan from movies, are astonished to find out Burroughs was also a great science fiction writer as well...if you've READ Tarzan's novels, it isn't that surprising at all.

The Tarzan characterization in the Disney cartoon is clearly Burroughs's Tarzan: articulate, yet of few words, someone with body language that very much belongs to the animal kingdom. He doesn't do the whole "Me Tarzan" bungling seen in many film versions that have never quite gotten the character right.

And of course, to the best of my knowledge, LEGEND OF TARZAN is the first version of Tarzan to bring La to the screen. La! A magnificent, charismatic character. The series has her served by a race of cool-looking Jaguar-Men created by alchemy instead of a race of half-human apes, but STILL - this is the kind of fantastic world and vibe that ERB wrote about.

Jane herself is English in the Disney cartoon as she was in the Disney movie, but I can't really object to this change because the main conflict with that character in Burroughs is that she is from an uptight, stratified, fossilized society for whom Tarzan must civilize himself out of love. And replacing upper-class English for upper-class Southern doesn't change much...except having the sexy-voiced Olivia D'Abo growl out Jane's lines.

Some detractors of the series might mention the funny, talking animals, and here's my response to them:

1) They're not that annoying, and they're written with a great deal of dignity. There's no equivalent of "Scrappy-Doo" or "Snarf" among them;

2) I'm alright with Tarzan's animal friends being idiosyncratic and funny, because (and some may think of this as heresy) my personal favorite Burroughs period was after 1932 or so, when Burroughs could show a lot more of his warmth and wonderful sense of humor. In this time he created a lot of comical animal characters, like for instance, Nkima the cowardly monkey that cheers on fights but is the first to run away, in TARZAN AND THE CHAMPION.

3) Burroughs gave Tarzan's allies so many human qualities, that having them talk isn't that big of a step. In fact, in the stories, they already DID to Tarzan, and in an audiovisual medium, giving them voices is as good a way to represent it as any other.

The people that make the cartoon are clearly big-time Burroughs fans. There are elephant ghosts, lost civilizations, magic staffs, the whole bit. There are also tiny points of order that show uber-Tarzan geekiness: for instance, in the cartoon series, in the jungle Tarzan only encounters leopards, and encounters them where in the books, Tarzan encountered lions. This may not sound like much, but remember, in TARZAN ALIVE! Phillip Jose Farmer said that lions are savannah creatures, not jungle creatures, and he insisted that every place Tarzan encountered lions in the jungle, what he must have met was a leopard instead. Doing "leopards for lions" shows that these guys are fans, because they're responding to fan discussion. 
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2006, 11:06:52 PM »

I sort of agree, but only read the original Tarzan novel more than once...it was a fairly surreal vision of Africa as it was, an odd world of "savage jungle" and these huge but intelligent "apes".  What I did like the Disney movie for was the story of Tarzan's parents demise starting out as close to the novel, and I thought the battle of Tarzan and the leopard was the best action sequence in movies since 1933 King Kong vs the Tyrannosaurus.  What I really have always missed in all screen versions was the incredible tale of Tarzan returning to the cabin of his parents and teaching himself to read and speak by laboriously matching pictures and words.
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