While the notion of non-kid-friendly re-interpretations of fictional works originating as stories told under a not-appropriate-for-minors level is nothing new (think back to Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon), reading the recent news about Death Note had me thinking that there are several cartoon series I would like to see get the for-mature audiences-rated cartoon series treatments. Curious about what they are? Take a seat and read. But if you feel uncomfortable about the subject of this feature, you are welcome to leave, but be glad at least that the entire text of this column is 100% R-rated comment free.
1) Guardians of the Galaxy
The world of Guardians of the Galaxy is a big place full of possible out-of-this-world adventures, but let's think about this for a moment: the Guardians have gotten themselves into various perils, but what if they faced kinds of peril that could not be shown in their currently running animated show due to it being a show for young viewers (like say a physically violent war between pimps from across space)? Also, given Rocket Raccoon is a bitter creature with two rows of sharp teeth, imagine how intense he could get in his war game as a soldier if Guardians of the Galaxy went the for-mature audiences-rated cartoon show route. And let's not forget the green-skinned warrior Gamora being once an assasssin working for space tyrant Thanos in Marvel Universe lore, and non-kid-friendly animated GOTG series could allow her to could revert to her old brutal ways when playing the clean fighter may not always cut it. By the way, anybody would like to see the talking tree Groot get it on with Rocket after both failed find love with women? It could happen if Disney had the guts to allow it happen in an alternate telling of Guardians of the Galaxy.
2) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
One of the problems with this 1983 classic animated series is Skeletor, the archnemesis of He-Man, is very cheap in his reign of terror; he plans all these evil schemes, but when things do not go his way, he does not go brutal torment on his minions, nor does he actually bring physically harm on He-Man's family and friends during his villaiin activities in attempts to defeat the superhero himself. He does not act as scary as he looks if you ask me. Going the for-mature audiences route could not only up Skeletor's game as a figure of terror, but also pave way for new allies of He-Man who are willining to save the hero's homeworld Eternia in ways he can't if it contradicts his moral code, the main thing that caused his war to remain apparently endless throughout the course of the 1980s animated series itself.
3) Digimon Adventure
Digimon Adventure may be a show made specifically for kids, but in today's time, its worldwide fandom consists of more than just kids except there are still tadult viewers outside Japan who may find it dumb to enjoy a cartoon meant for kids.
Maybe Digimon looked too tame to have the same North America-based mass appeal as South Park. Now, seeing that the canon of Digimon (like that of Gundam) involves a multi-continuity structure, I doubt an R-rated digimon could hurt the charm of the original since the horrors of death, a recurring major plot element in like every animated incarnation of Digimon, could happen to any character no matter how extreme it gets. And you know how the Digimon were able to enter the human world in the first three animated Digimon T.V. series? Well, not-for-minors Digimon could not only expand the horizons in terms of their discovery of human culture including adult situations (like say getting high on booze, and mary-jane, hearing dirty jokes, and encountering strip clubs), but also dipict Digimon deaths in ways that can be as grotesque as any M-rated action video game.
4) Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
While a Saturday morning animated series of the 1970s, Bill Cosby's famous animated sitcom was never afraid to touch on risque narrative subjects except that there would be limits on what was possible to include in a cartoon show for kids at the time of its run. Supposed Fat Albert was to go the not-for-minors route?
Do that and it could address topics involving perils and hazardous situations humans need to avoid taking part in that the typical kiddie cartoon show today can't touch on (ex: pet abuse and the failure to avoid believing in shock lyrics from not-for-kids rap music) due to limits imposed by media censors. Whoever says it takes a kiddie show to function as a cautionary tale?
5) DC Super Hero Girls
Recently, Bruce Wayne/Batman and Barbara Gordon/Batgirl became the first super-heroes of DC Universe lore to star in an R-rated animated film (Batman: The Killing Joke anyone?), and it is a matter of time until more DC universe super-heroes get their shots at it. While I never saw the all-female superhero team-focused animated webseries DC Super Hero Girls, I believe that a non-kid-friendly take on this could help the story remain true to the grim nature of the comics while still featuring the heroines in super-hero high school, even to tell stories of edgy matters like 1) how Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy would be driven by tragedy and drug use to become twisted senslessness criminals like The Joker, 2) Kara Zor-El/Supergirl going the Zack Snyder Superman-like approach in taking down unreasonable barbarians from space, and 3) how would Diana Prince/Wonder Woman deal with her school's principal when that principal turns to immoral risky measures like participanting in illegal dog fighting to win money to keep the school afloat.
Plus, what's the worse that could happen in letting the diva in clown make-up who is Harley Quinn engage in potty mouth stand-up comedic performances once in a while if it could not impact her charm as a violent -but-comedic vixen? Remember, DC Universe super-heroes are not just for kids anymore and a for-mature viewers cartoon series version of DC Super Hero Girls could do much as in tackling dark subjects as the comics about those heroes do.
I am not saying all kid-fiendly/family-friendly cartoons should be given the not-for-minors cartoon treatment, but rather I'm saying getting such a treatment culd do wonders for some if the door is open. I hope you have fun reading this column, and feel free to suggest any kiddie/family cartoon series other than what I listed that you'd like to see get the not-for-minors cartoon series treatment in the comment box. Thanks for reading, see you next time, and enjoy the Fall season of animated television (whatever your tastes in cartoons are).