DVD REVIEW: Conan the Adventurer - Season One
Classic Sunbow cartoon hits home video...
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Conan was birthed in 1932 by Robert E. Howard, a Texas pulp author who committed suicide at the tender age of 32. By far Howard's most popular creation, the barbarian has been featured in countless short stories, novels, and comics not to mention two Hollywood blockbuster films and two animated series.
The first and most successful animated series, Conan the Adventurer, was brought to life by Sunbow in 1992 and ran for a total of 65 episodes over 14 months. While the animated series spawned a toy line and a sequel animation, Conan and the Young Warriors, it wasn't nearly as well received as Sunbow's previous work; Transformers and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
Conan the Adventurer was intended to be a way to introduce the younger audiences to the rugged, ruthless, and relentless Cimmerian warrior originally created by Howard who, in the original short stories, pillaged and plunded his way through the countryside, reeking havoc on his enemies. Instead, what the creators of Conan the Adventurer did was dilute Howard's original creation so much as to brings to life a completely new warrior who, by all intents and purposes, was Conan in name only. Now I'm not necessarily complaining if it helps the younger audience find the true Conan written by Howard. Likewise, there are indeed various similarities between the original stories and the animated adventures; however, at best, Conan the Adventurer is Conan-lite.
The first season, comprised of 13 episodes, follows Conan as he grows and seeks revenge on the evil wizard Wrath-Amon and his serpent-men. It was Wrath-Amon, after all, who turned Conan's father, a blacksmith, and the rest of Conan's family to stone after Conan's father refused to share the special star metal with him. Conan's father used the star metal to create a sword (and various other things) and, of course, Wrath-Amon wants the star metal for his own maniacal purposes. Thus, Wrath-Amon turns Conan's family into "living stone" to punish them.
Grown up, Conan finds and joins a number of other warriors - including the Prince of the Wasai Tribe Zula, the hero's love interest and circus performer Jazmine, and the powerful Xanthan wizard Greywolf - and together, the foursome seek to battle the serpent-men and seek vengeance on Wrath-Amon.
By today's standards, the animation is archaic. However, all things considered - especially the fact the series was made in 1993 - it's not that bad. Likewise, the characters are decently designed and support the story, there's plenty of action, and there's even a solid amount of humor thrown into the mix. In all, you've got yourself a series which, for many, will be a fun, enjoyable guilty pleasure cartoon.
To diehard Conan fans, Conan the Adventurer will probably seem a bit childish as well as a bit of a letdown. Of course, it should considering it's aimed at 8-12 year old boys. To Conan newcomers, Conan the Adventurer will hopefully point them towards the original material and they'll find their way into some of the best pulp literature ever written (at least according to this fan and reviewer).
Conan the Adventurer is available now on DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley