Blog #12: Five of My Favorite Animated Characters
Hey everybody, so usually I couldn’t figure out what to write about for this, my last blog post, but I eventually decided to just list five of my favorite animated characters and of course give my reasons for why I chose them. Now, these “rankings” for lack of a better word aren’t meant to be taken as one character being better than the other, for example No. 5 on the list isn’t worth less or inferior to the character that is listed in the No. 1 spot. Notice that the title of this post doesn’t say “My Top 5…” or anything like that, it’s just for you guys to be reminded that these characters are five that have been picked out from among a very numerous group of characters that I consider my favorites, and I of course can’t list them all for practical reasons. Alright so let’s begin:
1. Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes
Why him?: The long-eared galoot with a Brooklyn accent who constantly outsmarts the likes of Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, and Daffy Duck is probably, along with Mickey Mouse, the one of the most recognizable symbols in American animation and in animation in general. Like most of the Looney Tune characters, the stories that Bugs Bunny was put in by the animators were so creatively done and the laughs which they produced are classic. The “What’s up Doc?” phrase is probably one of the most known catch phrases that has ever been produced by the American film and television industry. Truly a classic, Bugs Bunny’s adventures and the character himself is so classic and creatively written that he stands the test of time, as I’ve never once found myself thinking that he and the other Looney Tune characters were boring, and nor did they ever grow old. Some jokes and humor lose there taste after a while, but with Bug and company, nothing of the sort ever takes place a both people of older and younger generations will laugh and enjoy watching these classic characters without them ever getting old
2. TJ Detweiler from Disney’s Recess
Why him?: Now of course I couldn’t pick all of the main six for this, so I went with my slight favorite, The Prankster Prince, Mr. TJ Detweiler. Growing up, while I watched Recess, became drawn to TJ’s character mainly because of how strong his sense of friendship is and how loyal he is to his friends. I mean just look at the other five of the main six and you’ll see how no matter who they are, or no matter what “label” they have, TJ is strong friends with each of them, and he’ll stick up for them like no one else. His friendship with the character Gus, who is the new kid at Third Street Elementary, is so impressive and loyal even though Gus is considered a nerdy, new kid. One episode in which TJ shows his great love for his friends is in the “Picture Day” episode where Gus is excited that he’ll be taking his first ever school photo which he previously hadn’t done as his family would move a lot, and subsequently Gus is worried that he won’t be able to stay clean long enough in order to take to photo. So, as a truly awesome friend, TJ and the gang go through all of the stops and lengths in order to keep Gus clean, just for the sake of his first school photo. That character trait is what makes TJ such a wonderful character to watch and that is what principally endeared me to him.
3. The Joker from Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited
Why him?: Well I thought would put at least on villain on this list, an I could think of no one other than The Joker, from the DC Animated Universe tv shows such as Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. Simply put, I absolutly loved this version of the Joker and thought Mark Hamill did an outstanding with voicing the Joker as well. While this Joker couldn’t actually kill anyone on the shows, or at least on screen, as they were meant to be mainly for children, I thought this Joker very much rivaled Heath Ledger’s version from The Dark Knight (2008) that was very impressive as well. Mark Hamill made this version of the Joker the right blend for a series or two that were meant for kids as he was have the Joker be humorous at times, while at the same time not losing sight of the fact that the Joker is meant to be a dark, sinister, raving, psychopathic criminal. This version also did an excellent job in keeping with the dark tone that is meant to be a part of the Batman story and very much was a part of Batman: The Animated Series. Overall, his signiture laugh is excellenty done by Mark Hamill as well and again the humor and jokes that the Joker spews are very hilarious, while still carrying a darker, sinister meaning. This version is so well done that at times I’ve busted out laughing, even though The Joker is the villain who is trying to destroy Batman and the like.
4. Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Why him?: The Last Airbender series was such an excellently made tv series, from it storyline to its characters, the show was so well rounded. Out of all of the character on the show, I liked Prince Zuko a bit more than the rest, or more accurately he stood out from the rest simply based on the dynamic nature of his character and his development as a character. Watching Zuko go from banished and disgraced prince of the Fire Nation, to outlaw, and then to hero was so intriguing for to watch and the greatest, or most powerful moment in the series for Zuko was midway into the second season of Last Airbender during which, Zuko and his uncle Iroh were living as outlaws from the Fire Nation. In this paritcular moment, which came as he was trying to master a special technique in the firebending arts, Zuko was given a moment in a rainstorm where he was able to face himself. This moment was so powerfully done by Zuko because it showed his confusion, frustration, and inner turmoil that plagued him throughout the first two seasons and partially through the third. It was a good demonstration of how much he was fighting within himself to discover what his destiny and purpose was as he increasingly came to the realization that him earning back his throne and honor, and most of all his father’s approval and love were nothing really but false, albeit noble, hopes. Overall, I just think that Zuko’s character development was outstanding, well-paced, and excellently done by both the animators and the voice actor for Zuko, Dante Basco.
5. Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold
Why her?: Well in this list I had to include a female character, and so I thought that I’d go with Helga Pataki who I thought was another very well developed character. One of the best things I’ve come to appreciate about cartoons that I grew up with in the 1990’s was how well they were at telling stories and how they were able to meld the humorous moments and deeper moments in order to get across significant and sometime powerful messages. In this sense, I thought that the creators, writers, and animators for Hey Arnold really nailed this aspect with the character of Helga and her background. As I’m sure many of you know, Helga mainly comes off as a bully toward the other kids at P.S. 118 and Arnold is especially targeted by her as she constantly berates and makes fun of him by calling his such names as “football head.” Helga of course actually has a secret crush on Arnold as she keeps a locket with his picture in it inside her shirt around her neck, this is despite the fact that she abuses him. For much of the first couple seasons of Hey Arnold, this duality to Helga’s character was sort of what was mainly featured, and their was really no explanation as to why Helga is so mean to Arnold if she is so madly in love with him, other than that it was her way of keeping her tough reputation among the other kids, and because she was afraid of the rejection that might come if she actually revealed her crush to Arnold and the following humiliation that would allegedly come from the rest of the kids. However later on in the series, particularly in the episode title “Helga On the Couch,” the reasoning for Helga’s bully behavior toward Arnold and the other kids was revealed and explored, and it was excellently done if I might add. Leading up to this episode, it was known that Helga suffered from having a mom and dad who barely paid her any attention and constantly having to live with being compared to her older sister, Olga, who was considered prettier, smarter, and more likeable than Helga, and whom both parents, by their actions, paid overwhelmingly more attention to and fawned over. However, with this episode, “Helga On The Couch,” these feelings of Helga and her backstory were explored more in-depth. In the episode, Helga is told by the school principal to visit with a child psychologist, who was visiting the school that day, after the psychologist, while following and observing the students, observed her abhorrent behavior toward the other kids, and especially toward Arnold. While at the psychologist’s office, Helga reveals that she has been ignored by pretty much everybody, including and mainly by her family, and that she acts like a bully in order to get attention and not be stepped over. Also, it is revealed that her infatuation with Arnold began when they were both in pre-school as he was pretty much the only person who actually cared about her and paid her any attention. This was evidenced by the fact that on their first day of pre-school, Arnold let her share his umbrella, as it was raining and she had no coat or jacket as her negligent parents were to busy with Olga that they didn’t even notice to dress Helga properly or walk her to pre-school for that matter which did pretty much on her own. Arnold also complemented her signiture pink bow on the first day of pre-school, and thus she became smitten with him. And, it was finally revealed that she treats Arnold the way she does because she is afraid of what he’ll think of her and the he’ll ultimately reject her like so many others have. So after saying all of that mouthful, I think this episode help make Helga more human, and it gave the audience, me in particular, the ability to really understand Helga, to cheer for her, and to have the hope that one day she’ll change and reveal her secret crush to Arnold, and live happily ever after. Sorry for the cliche, but it fit.