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Six Cartoons even a 90s kid will enjoy
I’m gonna be straight with you. Lots of cartoons today have problems. Sometimes it’s that a series is so old, it’s grown incredibly stale. Now, while I won’t name any names (coughspongebobcough,) I’ll also admit, I’m kind of picky when it comes to what cartoons I can and can’t get into, but can you blame me?
I grew up with a number of great shows to watch as a kid. A lot of us did. I’m talking about shows like Codename: Kids Next Door, Danny Phantom, The Weekenders, and Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Suffice it to say, me and a generation of kids who grew up in the 90s had it pretty sweet when it comes to cartoons.
Sadly, I think most people my age can all agree that it seems most cartoons are rather…”poor,” to say the least. Shows like Secret Mountain Fort Awesome tend to be the norm, while shows that actually have potential, like Young Justice, get cut down in their prime. The universe weeps…however…there is hope.
Scouring the farthest reaches of the television universe, I believe I’ve stumbled upon six ongoing animated series that even the most discerning of 90s kids can enjoy watching, as if Dragonball Z was coming right after it. The following series all bring together various elements that made past shows entertaining. Some feature a central story that keeps you curious about what’s going to happen next. Others are 15 minute stories that entertain you from start to finish with the characters’ misadventures. Some are even a mix of the two.
So, without further delay, let’s begin with the first series. Note, that this isn’t an ordered list based on quality.
1. Ultimate Spider-Man
We kick this list off with arguably everyone’s favorite spider-themed hero, starring in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, on Disney XD. While it does borrow the name from the comic, we’re still following the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. Ultimate sees Peter work to make a name for himself as a hero to New York, rather than a “menace,” as he’s called by J. Jonah Jameson. Peter eventually becomes an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, though he’s not the only hero to do so. Along the way, a Who’s Who of Marvel characters make their appearance. From Spidey’s classic Rogues like Venom, Doctor Octopus, and Kraven the Hunter, to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, like The Avengers, Doctor Strange, and “Ultimate” Deadpool (and it does indeed, get as weird as you would think.) Not to mention Spider-Man’s own S.H.I.E.L.D team, including the likes of Iron Fist and Nova.
Taking place within the same continuity of other Marvel shows, like Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Avengers Assemble, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces, and Spidey’s trademark sense of humor is in full-swing in this series. The storylines are also engaging, ranging from the whimsical to the slow-burn, and while it can drag at times, it’s not without purpose. Everything is usually topped off by Parker laying down a beating on the baddie of the week, along with a nice moral message. I find it a little cheesy, but in a good way. Final verdict: If you’re a Spider-Man or even a Marvel fan in general, this is a show you’re probably going to like 8 episodes out of 10.
2. Steven Universe
Cartoon Network struck gold and precious gems when they launched this series. Following the trials and mysteries of young Steven Universe, one of the four Crystal Gems–magic beings who derive their powers from their gemstones. Our heroes spend their time either protecting Beach City (and the world/universe,) or often just hanging out. While Steven brings a decidedly human element to the otherwise alien group, it’s quite clear that the Gems care deeply for him. Almost as if he were their little brother or even son, which makes for an entertaining and heartwarming dynamic, as the Gems (Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst,) all have their own little quirks, along with Steven who is…a little odd, but in the best way possible.
Currently in the tail end of season one, the mysteries of Gem culture are set to be the centerpiece for season two. It promises to bring a lot of questions brought up in season one (if they don’t get answered beforehand) to light. A series that does a fantastic job of endearing you to the characters and their relationships, as well as one that will give you plenty to think and talk about, Steven Universe is a must-watch series for any cartoon fan.
3. Regular Show
Indeed anything but. You really can’t judge Regular Show by its appearance, because admittedly, at a glance, it doesn’t look like anything special and like anything, it’s not for everyone. That said, if you’re cool with letting your mind relax and going with the flow, Regular Show is right up your alley. Following primarily the daily lives of park workers, Mordecai (the blue jay,) and Rigby (the raccoon,) as they attempt to do things the easy way. Seemingly pretty average things. Unfortunately, things always seem to find a way to snowball on the friends and their co-workers, leading to the hijinks that make up the bulk of the series’ action.
While Regular Show is a very one-and-done show by the look of most episodes, you might actually be surprised to know that there’s a continuity to the series as well as something of an overarching story dealing with the love life of Mordecai, and his two crushes. It’s during these episodes and moments that a slightly different side of the series and characters come into play as we see them deal with relationship issues that probably are pretty common to people, and that sense of realism helps bring Regular Show back a bit, and add another enjoyable element to the series. If you’re down for having a fun afternoon, nothing beats watching Regular Show with the bro, yo. Know what I’m sayin’?
4. Phineas and Ferb
Even if you’re a 90s kid, you probably caught a little bit of this series growing up, and more than likely it reminded you of another pint-sized inventor from your childhood. However, Phineas and Ferb both as a series and as characters have managed to carve out their own entertaining niche in cartoon history. Following the age-old storyline of the super-smart children, Phineas (the red-head,) and his brother Ferb (the green-haired one,) embark on the difficult task of making the most of their summer days. They spend them doing the outrageous, like building haunted houses and roller coasters. All the while, they unintentionally stay two steps ahead of their older sister Candace, as she tries to bust her brothers and get them in trouble with their mother.
Phineas and Ferb is pure throwback entertainment right here, and its simplicity only adds to its status as a commodity. Well there’s that and the side-story dealing with the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz as he plots to take over the Tri-State area and does battle with Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus, who unbeknownst to them operates as Agent P. So yeah…simple. Now go watch it. Again, simple.
5. The Amazing World of Gumball
The Amazing World of Gumball is a pretty out there series. Not unlike Regular Show, it’s a series where anything can happen at any time. Following the misadventures of the Watterson family (pictured above,) and in particular their eldest son Gumball, The Amazing World of Gumball is quite the show to watch. With a fish for a brother-son and classmates that include a ghost, a T-Rex, and a peanut…spirit…moose…thing, as well as a giant ice cream cone, you’re in for a show that has a lot of quirkiness to it.
The Amazing World of Gumball has arguably been a sleeper hit for Cartoon Network, and with good reason. It’s not a very deep series, but their are various parts of the series that show a more relatable side to the characters in the series, regardless of what they happen to be, and especially for the Watterson family unit. It’s a nice break from the silly. Though it does also, at times, make you miss the silly. If you’re down for a show you can watch with any member of your family (that you like) and feel close to them, this show right here is the show to watch.
6. LEGO: Ninjago – Masters of Spinjitzu
Before there was The LEGO Movie, there was LEGO: Ninjago. Last but certainly not least is one of the surprisingly deeper additions on the Cartoon Network lineup. LEGO: Ninjago takes place in the fictional land of Ninjago and follows five ninja; Kai, Zane, Jay, Cole, and Lloyd as they battle the various forces of evil that inhabit the land. Granted, that was actually a very simplified overview of Ninjago, and while this is still the case, as the series enters Season 4, a lot has changed from the days of Season 1.
Ninjago is a show that does a great job of making you care about its characters, from the tragic past of Lord Garmadon and his family, to the mysteries surrounding Zane, and the never-ending struggle of good vs. evil. The video above takes place in the beginning of Season 4 and shows a big change in the lives of The Ninja since the end of Season 2. While it’s not something I make a habit of doing, I have to say, if you plan on getting into LEGO: Ninjago, you should definitely look into Seasons 1, 2, and 3.
Oftentimes, I kind of think growing up in the 90s spoiled me and a lot of people. We had some pretty great childhoods. Sometimes, it’s hard not to be cynical of what’s on television because it doesn’t always live up to what I grew up watching. Still, if you look hard enough, there are plenty of series that can be fun and entertaining to watch.
And of course there are plenty of other series. Avatar: Legend of Korra recently ended to a lot of praise for example, and Gravity Falls has grown into a very fun series to watch. A prime piece of entertainment comes in the form of the mini-series Over the Garden Wall, and then some, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even shows like Sonic Boom can prove to be entertaining. Even if the source material was a little…eh…
Point is, if you’re willing to give television today a chance, and you know where to look, even you can find something worth watching.