I will tell you that I know exactly zero people who found out about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being sold to Nickelodeon and didn’t have a strong reaction about it. Generally, the reaction from people, including myself, was surprise. Where did this come from? Isn’t TMNT celebrating its 25th anniversary? What’s going to become of our beloved childhood franchise? Reading comments on blogs and such, including Peter Laird’s, a lot of people think that there’s something wrong with the move. As someone who’s been around Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for pretty much all of my life, I’d like to talk about it a little, and what the future might hold in store for fans of the series.
A lot of people around my age, when they think TMNT, remember the 80s series and its cowabungas and Krang and questionable pizzas. They’ll say the new 2003 and on series produced by 4Kids just isn’t the same as the original. Of course, the funny thing about this is that in the eyes of many fans of the ORIGINAL TMNT, that is, the Mirage Comics created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the 80s cartoon was a travesty. I think even Eastman and Laird regarded it in that manner for a long time, much like how Tomino Yoshiyuki saw the Gundam franchise. But just like Tomino, they came to terms with how, while the 80s series didn’t really live up to their image and intent for TMNT, it still possessed a lot of fine qualities which made it so memorable and enduring.
One of the franchise’s main strengths is that its core concept is hardy enough to be twisted and molded into thematically very different stories. The original comics started as a parody but eventually became their own gritty universe. The 80s cartoon was fun and light-hearted and encouraged kids to pick favorites and eat pizza, like what Naruto does with kids now and ramen. The 2003 cartoon was somewhere between the two, with an emphasis on both toys sales and character development, possibly best represented by the time the turtles all went into the future and stayed there for a really long time. The TMNT movies got progressively worse, and they had Vanilla Ice, but I know I am not the only one who thought Go Ninja Go was the greatest thing ever as a kid. So while I might cringe at the thought of Nickelodeon trying to replicate that 80s success today, an attempt which would require a LOT of changes seeing as the old cartoon is really a product of that era, I’m also confident that it’s not going to ruin the franchise any more than any of the other adaptations have sullied its name. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get another Avatar out of the deal.
On another note entirely, have you ever seen how the 80s cartoon portrays sushi? You’d think that it wasn’t animated by Japanese people at all! I get the feeling that when they were drawing it, no one told them it was supposed to be sushi. I wish I had a screenshot to show you guys what I mean.