Hasbro dropped off a package at Major Spoilers the other day. Stephen was hoping for Clone Wars toys, and I was hoping for Magic cards. We were not expecting the actual contents of the mysterious box…

Except for the fact that it was roughly DVD-case shaped and we knew it was coming.

Anydangway, when I looked at the cover of Conan The Adventurer, Season One I prepared myself for what was clearly poorly animated, cliche-laden, villain-of-the-week schlock.

as it turns out I was wrong on all but one count.

Not Villain-of-The-Week Schlock

Now, as the opening song explains Conan, the mightiest warrior ever, has a quest: To undo the spell of living stone cast upon his family by driving the evil serpent men back to another dimension and vanquishing their leader, the cruel wizard Wrath-Amon. What the intro doesn’t convey is that Wrath-Amon and Conan become enemies because Conan’s father, a blacksmith, harvested some awesome star metal from a meteor shower and forged it into awesome weapons. Wrath-Amon needs the starmetal to summon his dark lord of darkness and gets somewhat peeved when Conan sr. tells him that all the starmetal has been sold. So Wrath-Amon turns Conan Sr., Mrs. Conan, and Granpa Conan into stone. Just then, Conan returns with the last remaining starmetal weapon (an awesome sword) and goes all Hyborian on Wrath-Amon. We discover that the starmetal has the ability to bridge the gap between dimensions and that a Serpent man who gets close to it will lose his human guise and if struck will be sucked back to snakedimension.

And then the story takes off. Over the course of ten-or-so episodes Conan gathers companions, makes enemies and learns valuable lessons about friendship. Allies join Conan and then leave when they have other obligations, allowing Conan (and us) to visit them later so as to investigate cloak-and-dagger plots in their home turfs. It’s all surprisingly complex.

Not (Entirely) Cliche-Laden

I expected cliches, both in the speech of the characters and in the protagonists’ characterization. Fortunately there was very little of one, and the show gets away with the other by being set in the Hyborian age. You don’t hear characters shout out groan-worthy puns, in fact one of the strong points is the speech of each character as they each invoke their own gods and have their own sayings. You do see a party of strong guy, acrobat chick, priest and wizard (and then another strong guy eventually) but since all characters are very rarely together it feels more organic. The one issue is the talking animal sidekick, a baby phoenix named Needle, who subscribes to the Gurgi school of speech patterns.

Yes, Poorly Animated

I don’t want to just haul off and criticize the animation because the action is well done, but the characters are consistently inconsistent. In one scene Conan towers over team cleric Zula, in another they are the same size. The character’s faces (especially for female characters) will often look drastically different from previous depictions and there are some solidly awkward freeze-frames thrown in. So I guess I do want to haul off and criticize the animation.

Verdict: Surprisingly Watchable

The weird thing about this show is how watchable it is. Whenever it goes over-the-top it’s charmingly campy, whenever it breaks from tradition it’s surprisingly intelligent. Conan The Adventurer gets 3 and a half stars from me, could have been more, but the animation is often off-putting.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Author

Rodrigo

Rodrigo

Nobody really knows what Rodrigo's deal is. He is a perpetual enigma, an unknown quantity, the X factor. He's the new kid in school, the unlisted number, the person all your friends talk about, but you've never met. How can one person be so mysterious, you ask? THAT IS ALSO TOTALLY A MYSTERY! You can try to keep tabs on him on twitter by following @fearsomecritter, but that probably won't help.

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5 Comments

  1. Justin Wawrzonek
    July 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm — Reply

    Wow I remember watching this when I was a kid. I may have to pick this up.

  2. shamonfrom the bx
    July 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm — Reply

    I was just watching this the other day the the hub station i even remember this from when i was a kid and that lame season two the the kids .

  3. aerspyder
    July 26, 2011 at 5:44 pm — Reply

    Ah nostalgia. I loved this show as a child . . . (sigh) nerdy teen. I beleive that Rodrigo hit it right on the head: great story, great characters, poorly drawn.

  4. July 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm — Reply

    Yeah, I remember this show too. I’ve actually been mildly hoping it would show up on Netflix eventually. It really was quite good for what it was, surprisingly so. They managed to find a neat work around to all of the insane censorship of violence at that time. By having the enemies hit with weapons simply vanish, you completely bypass the problem of Conan hitting people with a sword.

  5. Lawrence Cabrera
    July 30, 2011 at 7:39 am — Reply

    This is one of the better cartoons of the time. I’ve been waiting for this since my wife purchased a pirated DVD online. She had no idea that the show wasn’t released officially and when we saw the comercial break, we realized that these were transfered from a vhs recorded right off tv.
    I watched the whole series. If think the art was inconsistant, you’ll hate the video quality on this. I am glad to finally own a official release. The series actually ran for about 66 episodes. And the story really was good. I think they only missed one or two plot lines when they wrapped the series. (No, I am not including the terrible series with the kids.)
    I give the series 4 out of 5 slices of meatloaf. It is really good. Everyone should watch it. :)

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