On a distant planet, somewhere in the deepest reaches of space comes a cartoon to Disney XD (the cartoon-only channel of Disney). It features two prominent voice actors for the main characters such as April Winchell for the blue horse like creature named, Sylvia, and Jack McBrayer voice of Wander (who also voiced Fix-it Felix from Wreck-it Ralph). The best way to describe this cartoon is “Lovable friendly mountain folk, in space”.
That is not to say that Wander Over Yonder is “simple” by any means. It is probably one of the most technically produced cartoons of its time.
And it benefits greatly because of that. It’s well written, it’s funny, it’s entertaining. One of the small but really fun things I like about Wander Over Yonder is the title cards. Up till now, title cards in cartoons has been very traditional. Everything stops to display a stable entirely separate entity with the title and credits and such. In Wander Over Yonder, the title card is integrated into the cartoon, usually portrayed through an important theme or happening. They are usually always very simple (so far), with titles being like something like “The Pet” or “The Greatest”.
The voice acting is well done and thoughtfully laid out. The dialogue is written with the voice actors in mind, and it feels very natural. Surprisingly, the warm country bumpkin characters fit quite well with the strange outlandish space themes and settings.
Something that is strange, but is an incredibly welcome sight, is a return to old animation styles. In some cartoons, like Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, and Adventure Time (and Cartoon Hangover’s Bravest Warriors, Bee and Puppycat, and Doctor Lollipop are great example’s too), it’s more of a “throwback” to the past feel, that sets an animation trend. They use various techniques that are reminiscent of trends of the early 1900’s when animation was something brand new. Such things like “noodle” style arms and cell by cell animation.
Wander Over Yonder goes a little further than that by recycling old tropes and jokes along with style. For instance, one of the larger characters always wears sneakers, that are the same sneakers from any character made around the 1950’s and 1960’s (the big red monster from Merry Melodies, for example). Even basic character design follows the same character design tropes of this older time.
The plot of the show is fairly simple and laid out quite plainly: Wander and his trusty “horse” Sylvia wander about the universe on a grand sightseeing journey and lend a very friendly helping hand to anyone they come across that needs it. A secondary story, that intersects the one followed by Wander and Sylvia, follows the tale of Lord Hater, the alien skeleton monster that is hell bent on ruling the galaxy, whether he’s up to the task or not.
I truly found the show delightful. I would strongly recommend it. There is, sadly, far too much poorly made cartoons (and yes, even Disney is guilty of such practices) these days. Many newer cartoons have a quality far less than what “could be” due to studios demanding quick and cheap production by sacrificing quality. When I was young, I had amazing cartoons to watch. Everything from Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Tailspin and The Tick (Let alone Freakazoid, Anamaniacs, Pinkie and the Brain, Static Shock, and the like), all of which were cutting age animation of their times.
Now, we live in a time of terrible animations, that can be considered a kind of cartoon pollution, such as Total Drama Island, Barely Naked Animals, ADHDTV, and let alone the menagerie of terrible terrible live action “kid’s/family sitcoms”. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a slew of amazing cartoons out right now, but they are rare gems among the overwhelming trash television programming.
A quick list being: Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Legend of Korra, Kung Fu Panda Legends of Awesomeness, How to Train Your Dragon (Series), and the best cartoon airing since 2010 — My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. All are far and above the general trend of, well, un-watchable cartoons that plague television today. In a time where cartoons of the now are boiled down to cheap, poorly written, messes, once again, well produced, wonderfully drawn, great voice acting, and well thought out design teaches us that quality gets a better and stronger viewership.
So yes, give Wander Over Yonder a looksee. It is wonderfully delightful, and pleasingly light. As a side note, Jack McBrayer’s role, I feel, is very close to his role in the cancelled TV show 30Rock.